KHARTOUM

- The Sudanese government has exercised the virtue of silence so far on the largest closure of eastern Sudan carried out this Friday noon by the supporters of Al-Nazir "Turk" from the southern border of the region at the "Khiari" station to "Osif", where the continental road leading to Egypt.

This is not the first time that the Supreme Council of the Beja Opticals and Independent Amaudiyas in eastern Sudan has protested the closure of the national road linking ports on the Red Sea with the capital, Khartoum, and the rest of the country.

But the closure process that began today is the largest ever, after the head of the Hadandawa tribes, Syed Muhammad al-Amin Turk, head of the Supreme Council of Beja Opticals, succeeded in attracting other entities through the Higher Coordination of Eastern Sudan entities.

After a popular revolution toppled the ousted President Omar al-Bashir on April 11, 2019, Turk began a movement from the barren foothills of the Red Sea State, where his very poor Al-Handawa clan villages, to mobilize supporters through addresses in the local dialect.

Now Turk - who leads the largest tribes in the east - is reaping the fruits of his movement between the valleys and the mountains by organizing a complete closure of the region, which includes the states of Gedaref, Kassala and the Red Sea, where the country's ports are.


gradual escalation

Briefly, Al-Nazir Turk tells Al Jazeera Net that the closure will not be the end of their escalatory movement in protest against the path of eastern Sudan within the peace agreement in Juba signed on October 3, 2020.

He asserts that a gradual escalation began with the closure of the national road in several locations, and will extend in the coming hours to ports and the international airport in Port Sudan.

Turk's supporters were able to close the national road at about 6 points in the Red Sea, Kassala, and Gedaref states.

According to Mubarak al-Nur, head of the Eastern Sudan Gathering and a member of the Supreme Coordination of Eastern Sudan Entities, the ports are now practically closed by closing the national road at the Aqaba station, located at the highest point in a mountain range crossed by the asphalt road.

Al-Nour adds to Al-Jazeera Net that the Eastern Sudan assembly was able to close the national road at the Al-Khiari area, which separates the state of Gedaref from the state of the island in central Sudan, as well as closing it near the city of Gedaref and "Al-Zero", where the complex of the Upper Atbara and Setit Dam.

The road is expected to witness a congestion of trucks, as the protesters have so far excluded private cars and the movement of organizations and others (communication sites)

Traffic paralysis

In the Red Sea state, the Beja Optical Council, led by Al-Nazer, closed the national road at Aqaba, which leads to the ports of Port Sudan and Suakin on the Red Sea.

Sharif (the son of Al-Nazir Turk) confirms that the council's supporters also closed the road at Jibet and Osif in the Halayeb locality, where the continental road connecting Sudan and Egypt.

In an interview with Al Jazeera Net, Sharif indicates that the protesters also closed the national road at the Butana Bridge at the entrance to Kassala State and in the town of Aroma, without any intervention or reaction from the government authorities.

The road is expected to witness a congestion of trucks, as protesters have so far excluded private cars, the movement of organizations, police and ambulances.

According to Mubarak Al-Nour, the escalation will include closing gold mines, crop markets in Gedaref, ports, and the pipeline for export if the demands are not met.

In addition to the presence of the coasts of Sudan on the Red Sea in eastern Sudan, the region is bordered by 3 countries: Ethiopia, Eritrea and Egypt, and is linked to Sudan by continental roads.

The closure is a means of expression by the societal components in the east of their protest against the lack of seriousness of the government (communication sites)

Protesters' demands

The decision of the Supreme Council of Beja Opticals, Abdullah Obshar, confirms to Al Jazeera Net that canceling the eastern path in the Juba Peace Agreement is the main demand of the protesters, but the demands developed into the government's solution to its procrastination and adherence to the path.

He pointed out that the government does not move until after the escalation occurs by making promises that it does not implement, explaining that the Prime Minister sent a ministerial delegation headed by Minister of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers Khaled Omar Youssef two months ago, and then the Nazir Turk met Arkawit in the Red Sea state and received a memorandum containing several demands that the government did not implement none of them.

Obshar believes that any contacts and promises from the government will not work with the current escalation, because the people of the east are waiting for serious decisions.

Mubarak al-Nour attributes the escalation to marginalization and historical grievances suffered by eastern Sudan, which does not now find its share of equitable representation in the Council of Ministers, the Sovereign Council, the diplomatic corps and the regular forces.

He affirms that the Supreme Coordination of Eastern Sudan entities is now calling for the abolition of the East track in the peace agreement, because it does not represent the region and does not express its real issues, and the signatories of the track do not represent the people of the East.

He continued, "We demand a negotiating platform for the whole of the East. If the government shows readiness for that, there will be a solution, otherwise eastern Sudan will secede and demand the right to self-determination."

track owners

Paradoxically, the same resentment against the government is evident among the signatories to the eastern Sudan track in the Juba Agreement.

Abdel Wahab Jamil, chief negotiator in the eastern track and Secretary-General of the United Popular Front for Liberation and Justice in eastern Sudan, says that what is happening in the east is a crisis of authority before it is a crisis related to the track.

Jamil explains to Al Jazeera Net that the closure is a means of expression by the societal components in the east of their protest against the lack of seriousness of the government, which has lost even the rights and gains stipulated by the East track in the agreement.

He points out that the escalation in eastern Sudan has now gone beyond the demand to cancel the path to dissolving the weak government that has failed to fulfill its commitments and promises.

Jamil stresses that, as signatories to the East track, they are now meeting with the demands of the Beja Optic Council, which rejects the track, explaining that, as the chief negotiator, he has previously sat with the rejectionists and reached meeting points with them.

He continues, "If the government is serious, an agreement can be reached with the Beja Optical Council, but it does not want to gather the signatories to the East track and those who reject the track in one session. It sits with each party in closed rooms."

Protesters in eastern Sudan block the national road between Khartoum and Port Sudan last July (communication sites)

government position

Until this Friday evening, the federal and state governments in Port Sudan, Kassala, and Gedaref seem unconcerned about the closure of the national road throughout the entire region.

However, government sources confirmed to Al-Jazeera Net that a meeting yesterday evening, Thursday, of the Supreme Peace Council approved the formation of a high-level committee to negotiate with Al-Nazir Turk.

According to the same sources, the committee consists of a member of the Sovereign Council, Lieutenant-General Shams El-Din Kabbashi, Cabinet Minister Khaled Omar and Minister of Foreign Affairs Maryam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi to negotiate with the leaders of eastern Sudan.

The security authorities have so far distanced themselves from the security dealings with the protesting groups that closed the national road in eastern Sudan at more than 6 points.

According to information obtained by Al Jazeera Net, the Council of Ministers refused a few days ago to impose exceptional measures in order to enable the authorities to deal with the activity of protest groups that intend to close national roads.

Protests threatened the continuation of the work of strategic facilities, as happened at the power plant in Meroe Dam (in the north of the country) and the oil fields in West Kordofan and East Darfur.

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