University of Khartoum students and riot police clashed on Wednesday [July 10] when police prevented angry students from demonstrating in the streets, confining the demonstrations to university grounds. Meanwhile, President Omar al-Bashir mocked those calling for an Arab Spring in Sudan and asserted that they are living through a burning summer and a “fire that will burn all enemies.”
Hundreds of students from the University of Khartoum reportedly attempted to leave university grounds on Wednesday, chanting anti-government slogans and calling for the overthrow of the Bashir regime. The students chanted “no more dictatorship after today,” “the people want to overthrow the regime” and “Freedom, Peace, Justice.” The police responded by firing tear-gas canisters from outside the university’s walls, and the students responded by throwing stones and empty bottles. There were some limited clashes before the authorities closed the main road that leads to the center of the capital. The students said that some of them were wounded by the police’s rubber bullets, while others choked on the thick tear gas.
In the meantime, Bashir announced that sanctions were being imposed on companies whose home governments are hostile to or imposing sanctions on Sudan’s government. He asserted that “friendly countries” should be allowed to reap the benefits of his government’s action against the other companies. He asserted that there is no Arab Spring in Sudan, just a hot summer.
In a public speech celebrating the opening of a sugar factory in the White Nile state in the center of Sudan, Bashir castigated those seeking to overthrow his government and “return the people to the era of suffering.” He added that “the people have demonstrated their awareness and their full knowledge” of where their interests lie, and that those interests lie with the government staying. He said that those hoping that the Arab Spring will move to Sudan “will not see it because we are passing through a hot summer, a burning summer” that will burn all of Sudan’s “enemies.” He did not go on to name these enemies.
Bashir announced that countries whose governments are hostile to Sudan have been banned from doing business in the country. However, he stated that he was opening the doors to investments from “friendly nations whereby both [sides] can benefit.” He continued, “How can they boycott us and fight us while we host their companies? I order all [government] officials and the private sector to stop dealing with these companies. We have many friends.” Sudanese officials accused US groups of disrupting the opening of the sugar factory that Bashir inaugurated yesterday by preventing it from importing American technology.
In related news, the ruling National Congress Party accused the opposition Communist Party and the Popular Congress Party of trying to overthrow the government with “sleeper cells.” They alleged that these cells were planted among citizens, and that they have emerged during the demonstrations in recent weeks.
National Congress Party official and Deputy Parliament Speaker Samia Ahmed Mohamed said in a statement on Wednesday that a number of opposition parties and political entities, particularly the Popular Congress Party and the Communist Party, have played a role in sowing chaos among the citizens. They have done this by “non-peaceful methods of agitation and protest,” in addition to vandalizing private and public property. She said that both parties raised slogans relating to bringing down the ruling regime, and that they had planted a large number of “subversive sleeper cells” among the citizens to try to disrupt the country’s security and social order.
Mohamed said that the two parties are planning large-scale actions in residential areas to bring the masses out onto the streets, and that these parties are trying to convince them to reject the government’s austerity plan by all means.
For its part, the US State Department denounced the suppression of civilians and the arbitrary arrests of peaceful demonstrators in Sudan. But the Sudanese police denied the accusations and said that what took place were merely “skirmishes.”
In other news, the suffering of Sudanese citizen Ibrahim al-Qosi, who has spent nearly 10 years in the US Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba has come to an end. A US plane landed at the Khartoum airport before dawn on Wednesday after he was released by US authorities, according to an announcement from his family.
Qosi was welcomed in the Khartoum airport by his father, some family members and Ambassador Fath al-Rahman Ali Mohammad, who is responsible for US affairs in the Sudanese Foreign Ministry. Qosi said he was delighted to return to his country and asserted that he will “remain true to his family and country.” He also said that he was “subjected to a great injustice,” and thanked the government and all “freedom-loving people” for their efforts to release him and return him home.
A military tribunal at the US Guantanamo Bay prison issued a 14-year prison sentence for Qosi, who was the driver and cook for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Qosi and the US government reached a plea agreement that paved the way for his release. In the deal, Qosi would spend two years in Guantanamo before being sent back to Sudan.
The US military tribunal said that Qosi admitted to having left Sudan in 1996 to join Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, where he first worked as a cook, then as a logistics assistant and sometimes as a driver. He confessed under oath that he had “knowingly supported al-Qaeda in hostile actions against the United States since 1996, when bin Laden ordered his followers to commit terrorist acts against Americans.”
His full name is Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi, 51, born in the city of Atbara (north of Khartoum). He graduated from Sudan University Business School in 1987, worked first in a private company, and then as an employee for the company Wadi al-Aqiq, which was owned by Osama bin Laden until he sold it and left Sudan in 1996.
Qosi’s brother Mahmoud Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi is the dean of Jarif Technical School in Khartoum. Mahmoud says that Ibrahim al-Qosi is respectful, mature, honest and hard working. Mahmoud said that because of Ibrahim’s honesty, he was selected by Arab investment companies in Khartoum in 1988 to work as an accountant. He then worked for the bin Laden-owned Wadi al-Aqiq company as an accountant in the 1990s, and continued working there even after bin Laden had sold all his companies and properties in Sudan. Qosi then traveled to Pakistan in 1998 to work and study. He was arrested by the Pakistani government in cooperation with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 2001 and was transferred to Guantanamo in early 2002. Mahmoud said that his brother Ibrahim has been married to a Moroccan citizen since 2000 and has two daughters living with their mother in the family home in the northern city of Atbara, Sudan.
Another Sudanese national named Osman Mohamed Nour is still imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay and is expected to be released in 2014. Guantanamo has held 12 Sudanese prisoners, who have been released in batches since 2007.