The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Imperialism and Its Watchdogs

Nov 8, 2021

Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.

The military coup on October 25 and the accompanying crackdown did not bring Sudanese workers to their knees. They took to the streets en masse on Saturday, October 30 to stand up to the forces of repression, which once again did not hesitate to open fire.

Dictator Omar al-Bashir was forced out in April 2019 by the army after five months of mass protests, the repression of which failed to stop them. The military leaders then chose to share the leadership of the country with civilian figures associated with the protest movement. Behind the facade of that shared government, the military retained all real power, both through absolute control over the forces of repression and through direct control of the country’s major businesses. This lasted a little over two years. But on October 25 the leaders of the army decided to put an end to this fiction and openly take over the leadership of the country. They imprisoned the civilian leaders, including Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok.

They didn’t factor in resistance by workers and the Sudanese people. On the day of the coup, many demonstrators took to the streets, blocking roads with burning tires and braving the forces of repression. They did not want the return of a military dictatorship as in the days of Omar al-Bashir. Some even went to the army headquarters in the capital Khartoum, where the army opened fire and killed several people. In the evening, barricades were burning in the city. During the following days, rallies were held in major cities across the country, until the climax on Saturday, October 30.

The Sudan Professionals Association (SPA), which led the movement two years earlier, the unions, and the Sudanese Communist Party called for a general strike and a mass demonstration that day. Groups gathered that morning and then were joined by a massive crowd that marched through Khartoum. They defied roadblocks set up by the repressive forces, with cries of “Close the roads, close the bridges, we are coming through!”

The demonstrators chanted “On October 30, al-Burhan will be in Kober,” promising the military president a cell in Kober prison near deposed dictator al-Bashir. The same day, demonstrations took place in all the major cities of the country: in Omdurman and Bahri as well as in Khartoum. Protesters protected their neighborhoods behind barricades of tires, bricks, and uprooted trees. Resistance committees organized the resistance. Calls were made for the movement to continue.

The demonstrators have experienced the military’s duplicity and are calling for a government made up entirely of civilians. The method called for by the SPA to achieve this is civil disobedience: that is, peaceful demonstrations, regardless of the extent of the repression. It was such protests two years ago that forced the army to accept the compromise of shared government—after mercilessly slaughtering protesters surrounding military headquarters. Hamdok and the SPA leaders put their hope in these peaceful mobilizations—combined with pressure from the world’s great powers—to force the military to a new compromise. But the military leaders will only agree on a new power-sharing combination if it leaves them the real power—even behind the facade of an administration made up only of civilians.

All the heroism and sacrifices of the Sudanese people run up against this military apparatus, ready to carry out fierce repression again. The military does not lack support. It enjoys the direct financial and military support of the leaders of Egypt as well as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—who in fact are only the intermediaries of imperialism. Maintaining imperialism’s domination in this region of the world requires political stability in the governments there. Faced with peoples mired into poverty, the surest means of maintaining order is dictatorship, and sometimes bloody repression.

The leaders of the great powers who speak time and again in favor of democracy, and to whom the SPA appeals, are the same leaders who have a vital need for dictatorship to maintain their order. So, if workers and the Sudanese people seek support, it is instead on the side of their exploited sisters and brothers from neighboring countries and from the whole region that they can find help in putting an end to imperialism and its watchdogs.