Sudan has two economic options: Quick fixes or lasting reform

I am afraid that what is currently happening in Sudan might be the second wave of what is called the ‘Arab Spring’. This supposed spring often ushers in bloodshed and instability leading to huge losses for any country.

I am afraid that popular turmoil in Sudan might lead to the horrific and tragic situation suffered by the countries that were invaded by the bloody phenomenon of the ominous Arab Spring. Here, I am not condoning the undeniable mistakes, but I ask these people to learn from events that took place in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.

All the people who rebelled, initially wanted to enhance their standard of living, but the situation unraveled in the way we see it today. I have no doubt that if the people who ignited these uprisings are asked to choose between their living conditions before the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ and the present horrible state of affairs; they will choose the situation that existed before. This is what they, except the Islamized ones who have no value for humans and their homeland, will choose. 

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Any reform, particularly in the economic sphere is generally painful, particularly in countries afflicted with chronic errors – as is the case in Sudan. One of the approaches adopted by decision makers to address the situation is to continue finding temporary, quick-fix solutions, which might inhibit the pain for a while, but without eliminating the disease, or at least besiege it and prevent it from spreading and worsening.

History shows that temporary solutions and avoiding the root cause of problems end up making temporary solutions redundant. If people become addicted to such temporary solutions for a long period, it is difficult for them to accept and welcome long term reforms.

History shows that temporary solutions and avoiding the root cause of problems end up making temporary solutions redundant

Mohammed Al Shaikh

Food basket

As many economic experts assert, Sudan is probably highly dominated by Arab countries, being the food basket of the Arab world. It possesses the right conditions for agricultural revival, which gives it real capabilities, not only for addressing its real food problems, but also for meeting the needs of the Arab region.

Its fertile soil has rich nutrients and it also has a strong labor force. However, poor planning and mismanagement by authorities have led to its present precarious situation. The other thing that I am afraid about for Sudan is that there are many internal and external players, who want to cease the opportunity for worsening the situation. They view revolutionary disturbances as opportunities for achieving their goals.

The other thing that I am afraid about for Sudan is that there are many internal and external players, who want to seize the opportunity to add fuel to fire. They see in these revolutions and unrest an opportunity for achieving their goals.

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These are many actors both within and outside Sudan who are as such, primarily the Muslim Brotherhood. In the beginning, Sudan fell to the sway of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, after trying out their demagogic ideology they have realized that it does not provide any solution. It has gradually put aside the Muslim Brotherhood prescription and moved toward liberal economic solutions.

Probably this experience was one of the key reasons behind recent disturbances. Moving away from one economic path to another mostly causes a gap that needs time for citizens to adjust to, especially if this transformation is about shifting from rentier economy to a productive economy. It seems that this is what Sudan has decided to adopt and what the pro-regime media has been talking about.

Sudan is passing through a very difficult phase, where the Sudanese decision-maker will be left with two options; either to persistently continue with economic reforms or revert to temporary solutions and subside goods thus burdening the treasury as the case has been. I hope that Sudan would not face what the countries that were invaded by the winds of the “Arab destruction” have suffered from.

This article is also available in Arabic.
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Mohammed Al Shaikh is a Saudi writer with al-Jazirah newspaper. He tweets @alshaikhmhmd.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:54 - GMT 06:54
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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