INTERVIEW - transcript of communication with Abdel Moneim Elhoweris

We conducted the following interview with Abdel Moneim Elhoweris - a Sudanese consultant and activist whom we met in Khartoum and later corresponded with - during the course of researching our article, "Uncertainty in Sudan," for the April 2009 issue of In These Times magazine. His views on sanctions toward Sudan are of particular interest, as are his insights into Sudanese political dynamics. Unfortunately, very little of the interview made it into the final article. We are therefore, with his permission, making the full transcript available here.

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

[KF & SF]: Do you think the U.S. should end its sanctions towards Sudan?

[Abdel Moneim Elhoweris]: Yes, I think U.S. should end its sanctions towards Sudan, because those who suffer most from the sanction are the ordinary people not the regime! Sanctions, the experience tells normally affect more those not targeted, ‘the sanction on Iraq before the invasion, when thousand suffered tremendously, particularly children, is the best example.

What do you see as the proper role for Western activists to play in regard to Sudan and the Darfur conflict?

Expose human rights and other abuses; give support to the victims inside Sudan on one hand, while joining hands with Sudanese civic societies inside the country who are working under difficult conditions on the other.

Can you evaluate the popularity and hopes for Obama amongst the Sudanese people?

After eight dry years of Bush presidency, echoing the slogans raised by Obama and his team, on issues like the closure of ‘Guantanmou’ prison, working with other to tackle the global financial crises, address global warming and solving chronic international crisis, i.e. Middle East, Darfur etc. People are putting Obama high hoping he will materialize his pledges.

How is Bill Clinton remembered within Sudan?

I think, with respect despite his order to a attack the pharmaceutical plant in Sudan the year 1998.

What is your evaluation of the Sudanese relationship with China?

I think, It is a merely economic relationship focusing on Sudan oil and imports from China, i.e. not an strategic one, if it is for China to choose between Sudan and U.S. China would opt for the U.S.

In your view, how significant are the Doha talks?

An unsuccessful attempt by the ‘de facto’ regime of Khartoum with the help of the Arab League, the AU and Qatar to suspend the indictment expected from the (ICC) on president Al-Basheir.

What are the prospects for peace and justice in Darfur? What ultimately needs to happen to resolve the conflict?

Unless a ‘constitutional conference’ is held inclusive to all Sudan’s political parties, civic organizations, rebels, the current government and true representation of the social fabrics of Darfur, addressing issues such as: Governance and rule of Law, democracy, human rights, federalism, transparency and accountability, and to reach consensus on all issues, there will be no peace in Sudan as a whole.

What do you see as the likely impact of the expected ICC warrant for Bashir's arrest?

I think, for some days after the announcement of the ICC decision, Sudan will witness orchestrated demonstration by the regime in Khartoum, with loud rhetoric’s and may be some isolated attack incidents on western embassies. Then every thin calms down and life returns to normal, leaving the regime exposed to mounting pressures from the west  to give real concessions in return to freezing the arrest warrant.

What is the state of the opposition, and especially the political left in Sudan today?

Extremely weak, tamed by the regime, with narrow financial capabilities to fulfil its manifesto’s!

 

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