Bring Sudanese troops home now

21 April 2018

By Salah Shuaib

The Sudanese troops fighting hard now in Yemen, who were sent there by order of al-Bashir, should return home. The process of implementing this task is much challenging. But, we urgently should initiate a broad and stormy civil movement to help our sons get out from this Iranian-Saudi sectarian conflict.

Thinking profoundly about this dilemma, we should have a comprehensive perspective to deal with the high casualties facing our young troops participating in that war zones. In the absence of justifiable ethical reason concerning the participation of the country’s armed forces in the conflict, the news of the systematic death of these Sudanese youth in the Yemeni battlefields is painful, sad and Heartbreaking.

Almost all the soldiers sent to Yemen are victims of poverty, which is caused by Al-Bashir’s policies. Whether some of them have volunteered to join the mission or are merely ordered by the government to participate in it, they are all faced with a painful reality. Given the fact that there is no place for them in the country’s miserable workplaces, fighting for Al-Bashir is their only option available to them now.

Thus, the single aim our troops pursue in Yemen is to secure their economic status only by killing their war rivals. The other reason for this participation in war is that al-Bashir seeks the Gulf’s internationally influenced boost so that he could attain a personal advantage from sending our troops to the pyre.

Since he is almost always obsessed and surrounded by an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court, ICC, al-Bashir, in putting our sons in the battle front-line, targets two things: sustaining his regime economically and maintaining his regional defence against the ICC’s inevitability.

Last week, according to a Radio Dabanga report, “hundreds of Darfuris were reportedly transported from El Geneina airport in West Darfur to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in two large aircraft, for military training. They will then be deployed by Sudan in the war in Yemen.”

Sources in El Geneina told Radio Dabanga that “the recruitment process is carried out by officers of the UAE. According to the sources, “each recruit who is fit to fight and is no more than 30 years old would be given SDG1 million (*$55,000) in advance to sign a service contract for five years.”

Ironically, despite that al-Bashir has ventured to send Sudanese these troops to fight in Yemen, but his regime didn’t get any assistance from the Kingdom, the initiator of the Yemeni war. And this proves that al-Bashir’s priority in this sectarian conflict was to get personal gains from it since he is more preoccupied with the ICC issue, rather than by protecting the holy lands, as he justified his decision to enter Sudanese troops in the battlefields.

Paradoxically, while Sudan witnesses now severe economic crises under the watch of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries- even the worst fuel crises are currently existing – Egypt has been receiving all kinds of political and mouthwatering economic assistance from the same countries, despite the position it took to send no single soldier to Yemen.

Unfortunately, Sudan has lost the Hala’ib Triangle due to the regime’s adventures to assassinate the former president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, during the first half of the 1990s. Also, Alfashga, a fertile agricultural land located in eastern Sudan, has been counted as lost, too.

Ironically, al-Bashir sent the Sudanese soldiers to die fighting on behalf of others while his main responsibility requires instructing the troops to liberate their occupied lands.

Besides, some Sudanese provinces significantly suffer from the absence of security, where criminal gangs daily attack citizens. Known as having active human smuggling and trafficking networks in its eastern borders, Sudan has failed to stop such disgraceful acts.

Also, some gangs that terrorize citizens exist in the country’s capital, as its security officials acknowledged; subsequently, the localities have failed to curb this new phenomenon.

In fact, deploying Sudanese troops to help enhance security in Khartoum and other areas, instead of fighting in Yemen, is a necessarily needed task. But, it is certain that al-Bashir’s interest has always been above the people’s, so do not be surprised by his deliberate recklessness of the security of his own country.

The regime’s fake parliament has ignored discussing the president’s decision to send Sudanese troops to Yemen. In fact, most of the members of parliament themselves are always instructed to follow al-Bashir’s policy, and not to state a word of objection or rejection.

But, it is strange that the Popular Congress Party’s parliament members have preferred not to question the Sudanese defence minister about the escalation of the death toll of the Sudanese soldiers engaging in the battlefields.

Of course, the so-called independent media working in the country cannot criticize the regime’s military matters. Therefore, the Sudanese opposition should exercise pressures on al-Bashir to withdraw the country’s troops who are playing the role of the mercenaries.

In fact, all previous Sudanese governments were keen to take neutral positions in the Arab conflicts and willing to contribute to solving them peacefully. Social media efforts, which is the only room for our opposition parties to connect with the victims’ parents, must be intensified to lobby for bringing our sons back home.

Since there are no any convincing moral justifications for Sudanese troops to participate in such a sectarian conflict, which helps only in deepening the existing gap between Sunni and Shiite, all of us should stand firmly against the continuation of the presence of our troops in the Yemeni battlefields. We must act now and campaign to bring these troops back home.

Still, there is room to preserve Sudanese soldiers’ souls who bear the responsibility of escalating the heavy combat, even though Saudi Arabia’s troops are the ones who should bravely be responsible for achieving the mission.

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Four Christians charged in Sudan amidst state-church conflict

20 April 2018

New criminal charges have been brought against four members of one of Sudan’s largest Protestant denominations, while 36 other Christians will appear next week on unspecified charges.

Azhari Tambra, Mina Mata, George Adem and Kodi Abdulraheem were charged with ‘causing physical harm to police and supporters of a Muslim businessman’ on April 11, according to World Watch Monitor. The charge relates to events that took place when police and an armed mob attacked the premises of their church, Bahri Evangelical Church, in April 2017. They are due to face their next hearing on April 23.

The church compound belongs to the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC), which for several years has been in conflict with the Sudanese government over the state’s attempt to confiscate or sell off church land.

Christians in Sudan have complained of severe persecution by the government. Link to image.

Charges were dropped, however, against SPEC members Yahaya Abdulraheem, Zakaria Ismail, Idris Harris, Paulos Tutu and Salim Hassan, due to lack of evidence. Thirty-six other Christians are set to appear in court on April 26, on charges currently unknown.

Tension between the Sudanese government and SPEC began in 2012, when the government reinstated the chair of the SPEC’s Evangelical Community Council, who had previously been dismissed for fraud. After complaining of his removal to the state, Hamad Muhammad Salah was reinstated to the role of council chair despite the government lacking the authority to make such a move.

Since then, Salah is alleged to have been selling church property, which the Evangelical Community Council is responsible for, to businessmen with government affiliations. Churches belonging to the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) have also been confiscated or destroyed. Church members who peacefully protested them have found themselves imprisoned and physically assaulted by authorities. SPEC resistance to the forcible takeover of one of its school properties last year resulted in the stabbing to death of church elder Younan Abdallah, according to Middle East Concern.

Alongside state demolition or confiscation of church buildings, the building of new churches in the majority-Muslim country has also been banned, while church leaders frequently face harassment, detention and persecution. In a report for Christian Today, author Rebecca Tinsley has described Christians in the country as facing ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘systematic bombardment’ by their government.

Sudan became increasingly authoritarian following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, with Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir promising a stricter form of sharia law across the country. In February seven church leaders were fined for ‘objection to the authorities’, in another conflict over the state confiscation of churches.

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Sudan: Darfur Rebels Claim Deadly Attack On Sudanese Army

20 April 2018

Torong Tura — The rebel forces led by Abdelwahid El Nur claimed the killing of 27 Sudanese soldiers in Jebel Marra on Wednesday evening.

The statement by the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-AW) announced that the clashes took place in Torong Tura. “After their defeat the government forces burned several villages, including Boli and Arua, on Thursday morning,” the statement read.

The rebels claim that the Sudanese army burned property of residents in the process, “causing the displacement of hundreds of them. They are living in the open in a difficult humanitarian situation.”

El Nur has refrained from joining informal talks about the resumption of peace negotiations between the Sudanese government and two of Sudan’s main armed opposition groups, the SLM-MM and JEM.

Last week, consultations about the continuation of the peace process between the parties started in the German capital. The informal talks collapsed, for which both sides have started to blame eachother. [https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/sudan-govt-rebels-blame-each-other-for-failure-of-berlin-negotiations ]

End March and early April, government forces attacked the areas of Sawani, Rokona, and Libei in East Jebel Marra. The areas are the last strongholds of the SLM-AW.

The area of Libei is now accommodating more than 50,000 displaced who have fled the military confrontations and militia attacks on their villages.

Activists told this station earlier that the villagers are still living in the open or hiding in caves after their villages burned to the ground.

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Sudan’s al-Bashir fires foreign minister by presidential decree

20 April 2018

Link to image.

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has issued a presidential decree relieving Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour of his position, state news agency SUNA reported on Thursday.

The news agency did not provide any further details or say who would be appointed in his place.

Ghandour on Wednesday asked parliament to step in and help Sudanese diplomats, who had not been paid their salaries in seven months or given funds to rent Sudanese diplomatic mission headquarters abroad.

The funds requested by the foreign ministry amount to less than $30 million, he said, the first public comment by a Sudanese government official on the central bank’s inability to provide foreign currency to cover state affairs.

Sudan has been largely cut off from international financing in the past decades by U.S. sanctions, which were lifted in October.

Since then, officials have been trying to attract investors to help prop up its economy, which has been struggling since the south seceded in 2011. That cost Sudan three-quarters of its oil output, the main source of foreign currency and government income.

The central bank has for years avoided publicly releasing information surrounding its foreign currency holdings.

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200 child soldiers freed in S. Sudan, but problem continues

Apr 18

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JUBA, South Sudan — More than 200 child soldiers were released by armed groups in war-torn South Sudan, part of a series of releases that will see almost 1,000 children freed in the coming months.

An estimated 19,000 children are believed to be in armed forces amid the country’s 5-year civil war, which has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions. South Sudan has one of the highest numbers of child soldiers in the world, according to the U.N.

At the “laying down of the guns” ceremony, 112 boys and 95 girls were returned to their families in areas outside the town of Yambio on Tuesday. It was the first community release of child soldiers where children were directly reunited with their parents and siblings instead of first going to institutions.

“It’s about sending a clear message that children should not be in the army,” UNICEF’s representative in South Sudan, Mahimbo Mdoe, told The Associated Press. He called on all of South Sudan’s armed factions to release all children.

The release comes weeks ahead of the young country’s third round of peace talks, scheduled to be held at the end of the month in neighbouring Ethiopia. A ceasefire signed on Dec. 24 was broken hours later and another round of talks were inconclusive.

To date, the U.N. has released more than 2,000 child soldiers, yet despite progress and the government’s commitment to halt the recruitment of children, advocacy groups say it continues.

“Thousands of children are exploited as cooks and porters and as domestic slaves, while girls in armed groups are regularly subjected to serious sexual abuse, taken as ‘wives’ by their captors and kept far beyond the frontlines,” said Sandra Olsson, program manager at Child Soldiers International, a rights group.

South Sudan’s government says it condemns the use of child soldiers and blames the opposition for recruiting children.

“It’s happening in areas not under our control,” army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang, told AP.

The opposition says the children in its ranks weren’t recruited but were taken in after government soldiers murdered their families.

“Many children who come to us are traumatized by what they have seen the regime soldiers do to their parents or relatives. Many witnessed their parents molested and killed,” said opposition spokesman, Lam Paul Gabriel.

But several children released by the opposition said they had been taken by force, speaking to AP at their release in February.

“They tied my eyes and tied our bodies to theirs,” said a former child soldier in Yambio earlier this year. AP is not using her name to protect the identity of a minor.

Nervously clasping her fingers, the 17-year-old said she was abducted from school in the middle of the day at the age of 14 by opposition fighters who “came in shooting.” She said for two years she was ordered hike from town to town with the soldiers and loot houses of towns that they captured. She saw many other children get killed in crossfire. “I just kept praying not to die,” she said.

The children released this week will get food assistance for three months, psychosocial support and vocational training, to help reintegrate them into their communities, said UNICEF. But some aid groups say this type of short term “emergency intervention” is not enough to keep children from returning to the armies.

“Demobilization and disarmament rarely stick while war is still going on,” said Samantha Nutt, founder of War Child USA, an international humanitarian organization that provides support to children and families in war zones.

Without longer term help from the international community, Nutt said many children will be “back in the bush fighting again a year from now.”

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South Sudan’s refugee flow is often a children’s crisis

2018-04-15 12:00

The flood of South Sudanese refugees from the country’s 5-year civil war has been called a children’s crisis.

More than 60% of the well over one million refugees who have poured into neighboring Uganda are under the age of 18, government and United Nations officials say. More than two million people have fled South Sudan overall.

Amid the fighting, over 75 000 children have found themselves on their own in Uganda and other neighboring countries, according to the U.N. refugee agency, separated from their families in the chaos or sent by their parents to relative safety.

While many children have reunited with relatives after crossing the border, others are matched by aid workers with foster families in an effort to minimize the disruption in their lives. Without parents, some children are left vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, aid workers say.

 Some teenagers find themselves the head of their households, taking care of siblings. One 16-year-old boy now takes care of his younger brother. “My father was shot in the war,” he said. “And then my mother, I don’t know where she went.” He doesn’t know if she’s dead or alive.
More than 60% of the well over one million refugees who have poured into neighboring Uganda are under the age of 18, government and United Nations officials say. More than two million people have fled South Sudan overall.Amid the fighting, over 75 000 children have found themselves on their own in Uganda and other neighboring countries, according to the U.N. refugee agency, separated from their families in the chaos or sent by their parents to relative safety.While many children have reunited with relatives after crossing the border, others are matched by aid workers with foster families in an effort to minimize the disruption in their lives. Without parents, some children are left vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, aid workers say.

Some teenagers find themselves the head of their households, taking care of siblings.

One 16-year-old boy now takes care of his younger brother. “My father was shot in the war,” he said. “And then my mother, I don’t know where she went.” He doesn’t know if she’s dead or alive.

The two brothers fled to Uganda on the back of a car after seeing their father’s body on a street in their village. After arriving in Uganda they were taken to a reception center run by the U.N. refugee agency.

Efforts to support the children have been hurt by a recent scandal in Uganda in which officials were accused of inflating refugee numbers to siphon off aid money. That has shaken international donors.

Aid workers say resources are stretched thin as they try to place the unaccompanied children with foster families with close ethnic ties.

It’s crucial to place children with families that speak the same language, said James Kamira, a child protection expert with the World Vision aid agency.

One young mother of two, Beatrice Tumalu, now takes care of eight other children who are not her own.

“I feel pity for them,” she said, as she grew up under similar circumstances during the years that South Sudan fought for independence from Sudan. That independence was won in 2011, and South Sudan’s civil war broke out two years later.

The unaccompanied children have little of that aid workers call psychosocial support to help deal with trauma. In one refugee settlement just six case workers are available for 78,000 children, according to the Danish Refugee Council.

Another 16-year-old said his parents died three years ago in South Sudan. He walked into Uganda last year and later was placed with a foster family from another ethnic group.

“Staying there, it is not very well,” he said of the cultural and communication issues.

Sitting against a tree, he opened the Bible he carried with him and began to cry as he read one passage: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

South Sudan’s many unaccompanied children need stability and education or “we can lose actually that generation,” warned Basil Droti, who is in charge of child protection at one settlement for the Danish Refugee Council.

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Actions of Lt. Col. Melanie Childs saved scores of South Sudan refugees

16 Apr, 2018 5:00am

As the attack helicopters buzzed over densely-packed city streets, and rotor-blades and machinegun bullets kicked up dust and fear, people ran for their lives.

The South Sudan civil war raged on the streets of the world’s newest country’s capital, Juba. Mortars exploded and RPGs rounds fizzed. Caught in the middle, were 30,000 internally-displaced civilians living in a ramshackle, rambling camp.

They began running to the nearby United Nations headquarters where 1800 international troops were stationed, with a clear mandate to protect civilians.

However, as the battle intensified, with hundreds dying, UN soldiers started turning away the refugees, carrying their lives with them – 20L containers of water, mattresses, babies – seeking safety and protection.

Inside the compound, New Zealand Defence Force Lieutenant Colonel Melanie Childs, who was attached to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UMISS) as a deputy plans officer, was getting increasingly frustrated.

“It was a very challenging situation,” said the Christchurch-born East Timor and Afghanistan veteran.

“We had a number of troop contributing countries who didn’t react the way they needed to. There was widespread confusion over whether these civilians should be allowed in or pushed back.

“What resulted was a bunch of staff officers getting out on the ground, trying to explain to these different nations that, ‘This is our job, to protect them, this is why we are here’.”

While orders from the Joint Operations Centre were failing to be carried out, either through translation issues or the fog of war, Childs decided to take her own action.

Alongside a Dutch lawyer, she hit the chaotic streets and started corralling hundreds of refugees and convincing them to follow her inside the UN compound, which was a relatively safe zone. She was in radio contact with a British Royal Marine who was doing the same. Elsewhere, US police officers and Norwegian staff officers also rounded up refugees caught in the crossfire.

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600 Sudan orphans thank Qatar Charity’s largesse

April 16 2018

Snapshots of the celebration. Link to image.

More than 600 orphans participated in the Arab Orphans Day celebration organised by the Qatar Charity (QC) office in Sudan.

A number of activities and events were held on the occasion, which was attended by Dr Mustafa al-Sinari, deputy commissioner of humanitarian aid in Khartoum State, in addition to a number of QC’s partner organisations.

The celebrations included plays and performing arts presented by the orphans, which dwelt on issues of sponsorship and philanthropy. Besides, the orphans were able to express their wishes for the children of Palestine through paintings.

A variety of entertainment programmes for children were also presented by a specialist team as part of the celebration.
The attending guests expressed their gratitude to Qatar, QC and the sponsors for their efforts in the service of orphans in Sudan, Qatar Charity said in a statement.

The orphans sponsored by QC expressed their gratitude towards the charity and Qatar through drawings, colouring, wall paintings and clay games. Nine outstanding orphaned students were honoured during the celebration for their academic performance.

The celebrations were held as part of QC’s activities for its sponsored orphans in Sudan for this year. A number of sports, health, education, entertainment activities will be implemented with the aim of providing comprehensive social care to orphans, the statement noted.
QC sponsors around 10,000 orphans in Sudan, providing financial support as well as comprehensive education and healthcare. It also organises targeted activities for them.

The organisation said it “strives to develop its work and implement development projects for orphans in Sudan.” It had previously built the Sheikha Aisha Bint Hamad Bin Abdullah Al-Attiyah Model Orphans City, which was opened in mid-April last year, at a cost of more than $12mn in Al Damar, River Nile State.

The Model Orphans City has 200 houses, each consisting of two rooms, a hall, a kitchen and a bathroom, four schools for boys and girls, a kindergarten, a health centre with 18 doctors and nurses, a vocational training centre, a mosque with a capacity of 850 worshippers, playgrounds, a children’s park, two artesian wells, 28 water coolers, 32 shops and a sanitation system.

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SOUTH SUDAN IS HANGING ON TO HOPE

This article was first published by The Washington Examiner on April 14, 2018.

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News about my country, South Sudan, probably doesn’t make it very often to your social media feed. When it does, it’s for stories about deadly attacks, or refugees fleeing their homes, or the humanitarian emergency that keeps many of my compatriots in its grip.

Seven years ago, South Sudan was born into an atmosphere of optimism. My father’s generation had persevered through decades of war, relishing the promise of a new horizon to build prosperity. Finally, that possibility seemed close to becoming a reality, but the conflict that broke out in 2013 shattered it.

Since then, tens of thousands of South Sudanese have been killed. Half of the population is now food-insecure. One quarter has been displaced. We had momentary reprieves from violence, including the 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict, but South Sudan remains at war with itself. Today, violence is part of our everyday life.

If you think that there’s no hope for peace in South Sudan … well, it’s not your fault. After all, everything you hear is bad news. But my perspective is a bit different. I’m a 32-year-old South Sudanese development worker with Search for Common Ground, and I see daily evidence that hope is very much alive in my country when I go to work.

My organization runs programs that build relationships of trust between groups across ethnic and political divides. We call ourselves peacebuilders. We look at the drivers of conflict at the local level and bring everybody to the table to find resolutions. We find ways for communities to work together toward addressing shared needs, like safety, education, representation — the titular “Common Ground” in my organization’s name. In this way, we create bonds of mutual trust, even in the most polarized environments.

We then use media to reinforce these bonds by giving a voice to those at the margins of decision-making. Radio, the most popular medium in South Sudan, is an especially powerful tool to achieve that. Currently, we produce two radio programs in partnership with the Catholic Radio Network. The first is a talk show called Hiwar al-Shabaab, meaning youth dialogue; it provides a platform for young people to call in and discuss their issues. The second is a drama, Sergeant Esther, following the trials and triumphs of a female police officer who uses nonviolent methods to uphold the law.

I know what you’re thinking. Local peace initiatives and radio shows seem small in comparison with the daunting problem of interethnic conflict in South Sudan. However, the results we achieved are groundbreaking. In areas targeted by these projects, independent evaluators measured a staggering 200 percent growth in interactions between tribes, of which 90 percent were positive. They measured the increase in intertribal trust at 63 percent.

I see these accomplishments and I wonder — what would happen if we scaled these initiatives to target hundreds of communities across South Sudan? How would my country change?

Internationally, many efforts to end the war are taking place. In February, the High-Level Revitalization Forum held in Addis Ababa brought together the South Sudanese government, opposition parties, and other actors to revive the components of the 2015 Agreement. The Forum ended without major gains, but many saw it as a promising sign that future talks could bring about a new peace agreement.

I believe that these institutional efforts are critical to solving the crisis. But without grassroots peacebuilding efforts now, it will be difficult to rebuild the relationships needed for citizens to embrace the peace agreement when it comes. As the world’s largest dedicated peace-building organization, we know it from experience: in absence of local buy-in, ceasefires negotiated at the national level don’t last.

That’s why it’s so important to support and scale local, pragmatic, effective peacebuilding programs in South Sudan. Not only are they transforming violence into cooperation in local communities, they also are a promising avenue to build a national constituency for peace, which can serve as the backbone for future peace talks. The way to ending the horrific and hugely destabilizing crisis in my country goes through grassroots peacebuilding as much as it does through high-level efforts.

It’s time for the international community to recognize that the kind of local work we do as peacebuilders works. It’s time to invest in it and take it to a wider public. It’s time to link local experts with policymakers, so that any peace agreement is built on the needs of the people who are supposed to uphold it.

It’s time to embrace and cultivate the signs of hope that I see everyday as I do my job. When that happens, I bet you’ll start hearing different news about South Sudan.

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Deadly Yemen ambush stirs calls to withdraw Sudan troops

Although Sudan has vowed to remain in the Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen, calls for Khartoum to withdraw its troops from the war-torn country have increased after a deadly ambush.

Sudanese soldiers patrol outside the west of the Yemeni coastal port town of Mokha. Link to image.

Dozens of Sudanese soldiers were reportedly killed by Huthi rebels in northern Yemen in an ambush last week, Yemeni military sources said. The insurgents reported the attack on their Al-Masirah website.

The losses are reported to be one of the heaviest suffered by Sudan since deploying hundreds of soldiers in 2015 as part of an Arab coalition fighting on the side of the Yemeni government.

Khartoum has neither confirmed nor denied the report.

But photographs, purportedly of soldiers killed in the ambush, have been posted on social media, making opposition leaders and analysts question President Omar al-Bashir’s decision to join the Saudi-led coalition.

“People ask… ‘What benefit have we got from this major decision?’ — and they have no answer,” Ghazi Salaheddin, a former minister of state for foreign affairs turned opposition leader, told AFP.

Before “we didn’t have a single drop of bloodshed between them and Sudanese … Now Sudanese are involved in combat with Yemenis.”

The ambush has triggered online outrage against the coalition, with activists and citizens taking to Twitter and Facebook urging Khartoum to withdraw its troops.

“Bring back our sons and brothers! Why are we fighting a war that is not ours?” activist Islam Saleh wrote on Facebook.

– Parliament sidelined –

A Sudanese soldier flashes a victory sign outside the Yemeni coastal port town of Mokha. Link to image.

Bashir’s decision to deploy troops came after a major foreign policy shift by Sudan that saw Khartoum break its decades-old ties with Shiite Iran and join the Saudi-led coalition.

Deploying troops means casualties and so a decision like this needs parliament’s backing, said Salaheddin.

“Which is not the case here,” he said, pointing to what he called a “lack of parliamentary support and… no clear political objectives” to the deployment of troops.

The alliance was launched to push back the Iran-allied Huthis, who seized control of much of Yemen including the capital Sanaa, and to restore the internationally recognised Yemeni government.

Bashir, who came to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, has said that joining the coalition was an “ideological” move.

“From the beginning, they said it was an ideological decision aimed at protecting the holy sites in Saudi Arabia,” said Khaled al-Tijani, editor of Elaff newspaper, referring to Mecca and Medina.

“I don’t think it’s Sudan’s job to protect the holy sites.”

Sudanese also doubt the intentions of Saudi Arabia, Tijani said, as several high-ranking Saudi officials have visited neighbouring Cairo but not Khartoum.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Cairo last week and agreed on massive investments in Egypt, which is also a member of the coalition but has not deployed troops.

“Saudi Arabia helped Egypt with tens of billions of dollars but Sudan has received peanuts… People feel it’s a type of discrimination,” said Tijani.

“There is not enough compensation for Sudan from this strategic relationship as it is shedding blood in Yemen for this coalition,” he said.

For Tijani, the losses in the Yemen ambush were proof of a foreign policy “failure” by Khartoum.

– Foreign policy failure –

Khartoum has not disclosed how many troops it has deployed but insists it will remain in the coalition.

“I renew my commitment that our troops will continue with their mission within the Arab coalition until it achieves its noble goal,” Bashir said last week.

Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour reaffirmed the pledge at a meeting with envoys of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt on Tuesday at which the diplomats offered condolences to families of Sudan’s “martyrs” in Yemen.

Some experts say Sudan will ultimately benefit.

“Sudanese troops are guarding borders between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, which is why Saudi Arabia is in need of the Sudanese military,” said columnist Ahmed Al-Noor.

“In the long term, Sudan will benefit.”

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