The Future Of The Political Process In Sudan In The Light Of The Civil-Military Power Struggle
The military's recent coup in Sudan has once again highlighted the importance of analyzing the relationship between civilian and military leaders in the country. The military's decision to overthrow the civilian government was met with protests and condemnation from both the Sudanese people and the international community. In response to this pressure, the military was forced to release the Prime Minister, claiming that they had only held him for his own safety.
Despite these developments, the situation in Sudan remains unstable, and the military continues to view itself as the only qualified entity capable of managing political power in the country. For example, the military's ongoing relations with Russia suggest that it is not willing to relinquish power easily. It is likely that the military's recent concessions are temporary and that, given the right opportunity and international protection, it will once again attempt to exclude civilians from political life.
However, it is also important to note that the civilian side of the conflict is not without blame. The civilian party in Sudan has failed to unite in their demand for the military's withdrawal from politics over the past 70 years, with ideological differences continuing to be the biggest obstacle to any reconciliation between revolutionary forces. Therefore, any stability in Sudan is dependent on two main factors: firstly, the military must understand that their duty is to protect the country from external threats and not to hold political power, and secondly, civilians must recognize that the military will not easily give up its status and power, and that ideological differences must be overcome in order to prevent further fragmentation of Sudan.
Under the rule of the Islamist regime, Sudan witnessed various internal conflicts, including a civil war in the south of the country that lasted for more than two decades. In 2011, South Sudan seceded from Sudan, becoming an independent state.
In 2019, another popular uprising erupted in Sudan, this time against the regime of President Omar al-Bashir, who had been in power since the 1989 coup. The protests were led by a coalition of civil society groups, trade unions, and opposition parties, demanding an end to the military rule and the establishment of a democratic government.
Eventually, the protests led to a coup by the military in April 2019, resulting in the ousting of al-Bashir. A transitional government was established with a power-sharing arrangement between the military and the civilian opposition. However, tensions between the two sides continued, and in October 2021, another military coup took place, resulting in the detention of the Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and the suspension of the transitional government.
The situation in Sudan remains highly unstable, and the ongoing power struggle between the military and civilian leaders has resulted in political and economic challenges for the country. It is essential for Sudan to achieve a sustainable and peaceful resolution to the ongoing civil-military struggle to ensure the establishment of a stable and democratic government that can effectively address the country's challenges.
First: Civil-Military Relations in Sudan
The management and control of civil-military relations in Sudan is one of the most important factors in the struggle for political power. This issue has historically arisen from many factors. However, the permanent intervention of the army forces in the policy-making process and their preference for the military coup method is one of the main reasons for the civil-military struggle in Sudan. This situation is seen in the early stages of the formation of the Sudanese army and continues in all subsequent stages.
Especially in the 1970, during the rule of Sudanese President Jaafar Nimeiri, when the army forces preferred the military coup method to end the political differences, it is seen that the army became the de facto ruler of the country under the pretext of civil war between the legitimate government in the north of the country and the separatist forces in the south. The military argues that it has to take this step to keep control of the country. The second Sudanese civil war (1983-2005), on the other hand, deepened the causes that helped army forces take full control of the country. In this context, in order to understand the process of civil-military struggle in Sudan, it is necessary to have a historical perspective. This struggle is one of the main causes of political instability and conflict and therefore remains a major challenge for Sudan's political future.
Army leaders did not accept the idea that the government in Sudan could be run by civilians. This attitude is one of the main reasons for the political instability in Sudan. After the overthrow of Omar Hassan al-Bashir's regime in Sudan, the army's desire to lead the transition period stems from this insecurity. Military leaders in Sudan wanted to play an important role in the country's administration, as they did not trust politicians and civilian rulers. Also, army leaders have developed a belief that the government in Sudan cannot be run by civilians. This belief has resulted in military coups and military interventions. The same is true for politicians who believe that the military in Sudan is an important ally of the Omar al-Bashir regime. These politicians participated in the efforts of the army leaders to preserve and expand their power. However, recently, civil society movements and international pressures in Sudan have begun to question the role of military leaders in the country's administration. Civil-military struggle in Sudan is a problem that requires strong political will and long-term solutions.
In this process, the Sudanese army used a number of tactics to gain superiority in the civil-military struggle. One of these tactics was to cause the civilian opposition to split within itself and to redirect the supporters of the army to different factions within the civilian bloc. In addition, the military sought to preserve military powers to limit the ability of civilians to be involved in political decision-making. Therefore, the civil-military struggle in Sudan continues as a long-standing power struggle between army leaders and civilian leaders. This is a traditional and widespread example of conflict in civil-military relations. Claims of superiority by military leaders to control political activities in Sudan can hinder the functioning of a democratic government. Intervention of army leaders in political activities can thwart the will of civilian representatives and lead to political instability in the government. In addition, attempts by military leaders to control civilians can also trigger divisions within the military. Therefore, cooperation and dialogue between elected civilian representatives and senior military leaders is important in civil-military relations in Sudan. This cooperation is important both for the security of the country and for a government that complies with the principles of democratic administration and the rule of law.
Second: The Impact of Conflicts Between the Military and Civilians on the Future of Sudan.
This coup took place as a result of the civil-military conflict in Sudan and worsened the unstable political situation of Sudan. After the coup, Sudanese people took to the streets and mass protests began, demanding a democratic government. The coup administration used security forces to crush these protests harshly, and many were killed or injured.
The coup administration also became a government condemned by the international community and faced with sanctions. This further worsened Sudan's economic situation and deepened the problems of poverty and unemployment in the country.
The Sudanese people continue their demands for a democratic government and political stability. However, the struggle between the military administration and civilian political forces continues, making the political situation in the country uncertain. The future of Sudan will depend on the outcome of the struggle between a military rule and a democratic government and the development of domestic and regional conditions. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan's declaration of a state of emergency and the dissolution of the Council of Ministers and the Sovereign Council resulted in the suspension of many articles that set the course for the democratic transition and power-sharing between civilians and the military. The military had taken full control of state institutions, not only arresting Prime Minister Hamdok, but also arresting and detaining more than 300 political activists.
Third: The Future of Relationships Between Civilians and Soldiers in Sudan
The coup carried out by the military party caused a gap in civil-military relations in Sudan. As a result of this situation, the pressure of the Sudanese people and the reaction of the international community, the army had to release the prime minister. However, the military claims they are concerned about the prime minister's safety and are holding him for fear of being targeted.
After the military coup in Sudan, the international community began to impose harsh sanctions on Sudan, which put the army administration in a difficult position. In addition, the Sudanese people taking to the streets to express their democratic demands left the army in a difficult situation. Therefore, the military had to come to a compromise with the civilians, and a new agreement was reached on November 21, 2021. This agreement stipulated the establishment of a competent government to manage the transition process and set the frameworks by setting fourteen conditions. However, the future of civil-military relations remains uncertain and the course of developments in the political process seems to determine the direction in which these relations will progress.
This agreement received mixed reactions as there are those who see this agreement as a repetition of the above and will not benefit Sudan in the process of building real democracy. Rather, it is nothing more than a pacification of the conflict between civilians and the military, which will resurface in the first fundamental conflict.
While many political forces in Sudan and some regional powers welcomed this agreement, seeing it as the only way to bring security to Sudan.
The current situation in Sudan is still unstable, and the military, which sees itself as a qualified force giving the military the ability to run political power on its own, continues, as do media outlets and networks. On the other hand, the military's relations with Russia show that the military does not intend to back down. Therefore, it can be said that the concessions made by the coup are temporary and that when appropriate opportunities arise and international protection is provided, the Sudanese army may return to its attempts to exclude civilians from political life. It is possible to state that the civil party also plays a major role in ensuring stability in Sudan. But there has been a failure to unite civilian parties in their 70-year demand for the military to step away from politics, and ideological differences remain the biggest obstacle to any rapprochement between the people's revolutionary forces. The full attainment of any stability in Sudan depends on two main factors. First, it is understood that the task undertaken by the military is to protect the country from external threats. Second, they need to be aware that civilians will not easily abandon the status and power the army has acquired, but that ideological differences should not be overcome, leading to the survival of the army and further fragmentation of Sudan.