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Monday , January 27 2020

Bashir’s Friday and Macron’s Saturday

Ahmed Al-Jarallah Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

IN the Western world, particularly in France, preference is given to the economy over politics and well-being over anything else.

Therefore, when the French took to the streets in protest against the fuel price hike, the move opened doors to the recurring crisis related to calls for improving the living standard of the working class.

Indeed, the matter reached the point of demanding President Macron to step down, but the demonstrations did not contravene the Constitution and the law. In Sudan, and generally in the Arab world, the economy comes third, and perhaps 10th, as along as politics and its skewed details are present.

Demonstrations and protests are transformed from being about difficult living conditions to the orphaned slogan which Arabs have been using since 2011: “People want to topple the regime.” Every Saturday in France, people go out to the street to protest and air their demands, and then return to their houses. When these protests started about two months ago; they turned into riots, but the security forces managed to contain the situation.

The government also gave some concessions as per the available capabilities and in a manner which does not negatively affect the economy that was already stagnant Every Friday in Sudan, people go to the streets to protest, but the situation there is different.

The country has been suffering from economic embargo for many years. It has been enduring civil wars, separatist movements, living crisis and total absence of partisan development plan which can be depended on.

The country itself has limited capabilities due to extraordinary conditions. It looks at what is in hand to find solutions. Despite the circumstantial differences between these two countries, the tone of protests remains under the ceiling of not demanding for the ouster of the regime.

However, there is fear that the protests in Sudan could transform into the civil war trap which countries fall into. This means more starvation and calls to separate from the main State. This notion is based on the Arab heritage of such kind of crises, but it seems the Sudanese learned from the French.

They did not clone the Arab method used in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and other countries which fell into the trap known as ‘Arab Spring’. This point is credited to the Sudanese, but the government needs to provide job opportunities for about five million unemployed youths and reduce the unemployment rate which has reached 20 percent; whereas 36 percent of its people are living below the poverty line in a country that possesses vast natural resources making it a first class producer and importer. Resources in France appear limited compared to what Sudan has; but due to planning and effective management, it joined the ranks of major countries.

In the African Arab country with vast wealth, management is absent which, on its own, is the source of the problem that needs to be solved wisely, or else, the crisis will intensify further. President Bashir did not suppress the demonstrations in the manner that Arabs are used to.

This means the doors are still open to solutions which will rescue the country as it cannot offer something it does not possess. Nonetheless, fixing the economy is inevitable as opposed to depending on political confl ict; given that such confl icts put Sudan to its current situation, especially the lack of proper management and utilization of natural wealth for the last six decades – since it liberated itself from colonization.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

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