Iran urges hand power in Sudan to civilians

Wounded protester is carried to safety – the Sudan military killed 60 protesters on Monday

IRAN’S Foreign Ministry on Tuesday urged Sudan to address the people’s demand in the country and immediate transition of power to civilians.

The ministry’s spokesman Abbas Mousavi expressed concerns over the escalation of conflicts in Sudan and warned on the country’s turning into a battle field of foreign powers.

‘It is necessary that all local parties of the conflict avoid accusations and hate speech and sowing distrust against each other,’ he said urging them to resort to political, democratic and negotiation procedures to find a way out of the crisis.

He also warned on foreign powers’ intervention that might prolong and complicate the crisis, as well as the groups that try to promote violence, extremism and terrorism.

He expressed hope that on the eve of the great Muslim festivity, Eid al-Fitr, all Sudanese parties stop clashes and take steps toward restoration of stability and security in their country.

Sudan’s defence minister announced a three-month state of emergency in the country after the fall of Omar al-Bashir’s government in April. He also said that a military council would observe the transition in the next two years.

But protesters insisted that al-Bashir’s removal from power was not enough. Tens of thousands remained in place in Khartoum and other camps around the country, pushing the generals who replaced al-Bashir to swiftly hand over power to a civilian-led administration.

Military forces on Monday suppressed a sit-in protest of civilians in Khartoum that resulted in the death of 60 people, according to the witnesses.

Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC) has decided to cancel all agreements with the main opposition coalition and will move ahead with elections to be held within nine months, its head has said.

The announcement by Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in the early hours of Tuesday came after security forces fired live ammunition to clear the main protest site outside the military headquarters in Khartoum, the focal point in the demonstrators’ months-long struggle for civilian rule.

Protest groups said at least 60 people were killed and hundreds wounded in the raid by the security forces, calling it a ‘bloody massacre’.

‘The military council decided to stop negotiating with the Alliance for Freedom and Change (group representing protesters in negotiations) and cancel what had been agreed on and to hold general elections within nine months,’ al-Burhan said in a televised statement.

Al-Burhan said the TMC would now move to set up an interim government to prepare for elections, which he added would be internationally supervised.

Monday was the worst day of violence since the military overthrow of long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir on April 11 after months of mass protests against his three-decade rule.

The bloody assault and dispersal of the Khartoum sit-in now risk escalating violence even further, making a more intense face-off between the military and protesters more likely.

Pro-democracy protesters vowed to keep up their campaign, suspending talks and calling for ‘total civil disobedience’ to ‘paralyse public life’ across the country.

‘This is a critical point in our revolution. The military council has chosen escalation and confrontation,’ said Mohamed Yousef al-Mustafa, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals’ Association (SPA), which has spearheaded the months-long protests.

‘Those are criminals who should have been treated like al-Bashir,’ he said. ‘Now the situation is either them or us, there is no other way.’

For his part, al-Burhan said military leaders would investigate Monday’s violence, but claimed that the coalition representing the demonstrators shared responsibility for the bloodshed.

In his televised statement, the TMC head accused the alliance representing the protesters of ‘extending the negotiations and seeking to exclude other political and security forces’ from being in a transitional government.

The TMC and protest leaders had made progress during talks in May over an interim cabinet and legislative body, but they split over the make-up and leadership of a sovereign council that was being discussed to govern Sudan during a three-year transition.

On Friday, the TMC had called the sit-in ‘a danger’ to the country’s national security and warned that action would be taken against what it said were ‘unruly elements’.

On the same day, the military had also ordered the office of the Al Jazeera Media Network in Khartoum to be shut down, without giving a reason for the decision, while also withdrawing the work permits for the correspondents and staff of the Qatar-based news organisation.

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif’s initiative to propose a non-aggression agreement was one of the factors that foiled Saudi Arabia’s anti-Iran plots, the state news agency IRNA said on Tuesday.

Led by Zarif, the Iranian diplomacy pivoting around interaction with the world, especially neighbours, has since long ago invited the regional states to form the council for regional talks in Western Asia to create a unified will against the threats, especially terrorism and extremism.

What’s more, in his visit to Baghdad in May, Zarif suggested signing a non-aggression treaty. He explained Iran’s policy for creating indigenous stability and security in Western Asia and the path to implement it.

This is while certain Arab nations have taken up another path, which one could say that it is making fire next to gunpowder warehouse.

Regarding Zarif’s initiative, the Islamic Republic News Agency IRNA carried out an interview with Iranian analyst Qasem Rahimi.

Rahimi said: ‘Some may not have realised how Zarif’s suggestion to sign a non-aggression treaty is… So we need to try hard to detail the peace-pivoting suggestion.’

Saying that this is the first time Iran has proposed such a thing, he added: ‘Iranians have always been peaceful and have not violated any country in the last two hundred years… This is really sad that the interest and the cultural and social stance of the Iranians be hurt by promoting Iranophobia in the region.’

‘Some regional countries, led by the Saudis, held the Mecca summits on May 30-31 to exploit the clash between Iran and the United States to further pressure Iran and promote Iranophobia in order to reach their ambitious goals. That’s while one week prior to the summits, Zarif made the suggestion that could make a serious rift among the coalition-making and Iranophobia policies.’

Rahimi added that a by-product of the non-aggression suggestions could be the redundancy of extra-regional forces in the Persian Gulf.

‘At least, the cost of persuading public opinions of the West and the region will be very high for them.’

Rahimi also said that the next important issue is that if the region welcomes the suggestion, it will prevent the region from changing into the biggest weapons stockpile in the world, which will consequently save a lot of costs that can be used in cultural, social and welfare plans and to strengthen the ties among the nations, and will in turn result in reinforcing peace in the region.

Separately, Zarif has lashed out at US ‘economic terrorism’ against the ‘innocent’ Iranian people, saying war and talks will never go together.

On his official Twitter page on Monday, Zarif posted a video showing a ‘little boy whose heartbroken mother can’t get him prosthetic legs as he grows’ and emphasised that innocent civilians are being targeted by sanctions and economic terrorism applied to Iran by the United States.

‘This is @realDonaldTrump’s ‘economic war’. And war and talks – with or without preconditions – don’t go together,’ the top Iranian diplomat pointed out.

Zarif’s post came a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington is keen to hold negotiations with Iran ‘with no preconditions’ amid the intensification of tensions between the two countries.

Addressing a news conference in Switzerland earlier in the day, the US secretary of state said: ‘We are prepared to engage in a conversation with no preconditions. We are ready to sit down with them.’

In reaction to Pompeo’s statements, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Moussavi said a game of words by the United States is not important to Iran, but the Islamic Republic expects a change in Washington’s general approach to the Iranian nation.

‘For the Islamic Republic of Iran, a game of words and expressing covert goals under the guise of new words is not a criterion for action, but a change in the United States’ general approach and practical stance toward the Iranian nation is the criterion,’ he said.

On Sunday, Zarif described new US sanctions against Iran as ‘economic terrorism,’ warning of ‘consequences’ if the US keeps up its pressure against the Iranian nation.

In an exclusive interview with ABC news on Sunday, Zarif said Washington’s maximum pressure policy ‘targets ordinary Iranian people’ and that Iran will respond in self-defence.