Sudan’s “Arab Spring” may have finally sprung. After more than week of sporadic protests across the country, Sudanese are expected to come out in mass on Friday, followed by a general strike on Saturday. The question is: how hard will the regime suppress these protesters. “Street protests have entered their second week in Sudan, and activists have called for mass demonstrations on Friday, June 29. The demonstrations have been dubbed ‘licking your elbow’ protests, referring to a Sudanese metaphor for achieving the impossible. They have also called for a general strike day on June 30, the 23rd anniversary of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s National Congress Party coming to power. Many Sudanese hope this will be the country’s third revolution. The first one was in 1964, when 20-year-old student activist Ahmad al-Qurashi was shot dead by security forces, sparking a mass non-violent movement and toppling General Abood. And President Gaafar al-Nimeiry was removed from power following protests that led to a military coup in 1985. The current protest movement began on June 16, when female university students in Khartoum demonstrated against government austerity measures that increased the cost of student housing.” (Al Jazeera http://aje.me/M9hAx3)
All Eyes on Geneva for BIG Syria Meeting Tomorrow
Kofi Annan’s last ditch diplomatic push for a political solution to the Syria crisis will face a major turning point on Saturday as leaders from all 5 permanent members of the Security Council, plus relevant regional players (minus Iran and Saudi Arabia) meet in Geneva for talks. “Russia proposed changes on Thursday to his plan for a national unity government in Syria, despite initially supporting it, but the United States, Britain and France rejected the amendments, Western diplomats said. The suggested changes are related to Moscow’s refusal to support the ouster of Syrian President al-Assad, diplomats in New York said on condition of anonymity. Foreign ministers from Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq will also attend the meeting. Iran, Assad’s other close ally, was excluded – a condition set down by the US – as was Saudi Arabia, which has supported the Syrian opposition. Annan’s spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told Reuters: “The talks are on course and the preparatory meeting is going ahead this morning [Friday].” (Al Jazeera http://aje.me/Lzzlji)
UN Arms Trade Treaty Negotiations Kick Off Next Week.
The two top arms exporting countries in the world (the USA and Russia) are not exactly warm to the treaty, but not exactly opposing it either. Here’s a curtain raiser. “Delegates from more than 150 countries are to meet next month (July 2-27) at the United Nations in New York to draft a global arms trade treaty. The proposed legally-binding treaty would set international standards to regulate the import, export and transfer of conventional weapons – from aircraft carriers to machine guns and small arms. Major arms exporters, such as the United States, and major importers, such as India, will participate. Daryl Kimball, head of the Arms Control Association, a private research firm, said ‘there is more regulation today of agricultural items like bananas than we have for the sale of conventional weapons that kill people every day through armed violence in various parts of the world.’” (VOA http://bit.ly/NSs4jx)