The Sudanese regime is on its way to becoming the next Iran, regardless of whether President Omar Bashir remains in power or not. The country is moving towards becoming a full-blown sharia state, comparable to Iran, Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan under the Taliban. Towards that end, 500-700,000 Christians have been told to pack up and leave by April 8 or they’ll be treated as foreigners.
The Bashir regime has always been an enemy of the U.S. and those who value human rights, but it is now doing everything it can to please its Islamist opposition. The regime knew it would raise the ire of the Islamists when it allowed the mostly-Christian region of South Sudan to become an independent country. In the hopes of staving off a rebellion, Bashir promised to remodel his country based on sharia law with Arabic as the only official language. He also promised not to seek another term in 2015.
Bashir’s most powerful opponent is a cleric named Hasan al-Turabi, the leader of the Sudanese branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. It is hard to overstate his impact on the growth of Islamic extremism and terrorism. He has been called “Sudan’s Osama” and “The Pope of Terrorism.” After helping Bashir come to power, Turabi used his base in Sudan to build close relationships with every virtually single Islamic terrorist group and government. He worked hard to bring together secularists like Saddam Hussein, Sunni radicals like Osama Bin Laden and Shiite radicals like Iran and Hezbollah into a common anti-Western front. Turabi became close with Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, though he today criticizes some of their tactics as being “counterproductive.”
After South Sudan seceded, the Islamists demanded that Bashir made good on his word. They formed the Islamic Constitution Front and drafted a sharia-based constitution. The imam of Khartoum’s Grand Mosque endorsed it and said Bashir must “either rule by Islam or go.” Other members of the group explicitly said they’d revolt if their wishes aren’t granted.
Bashir, right, declared that that any person whose great-grandparents were born in the south or is part of a southern ethnic group will no longer be considered a citizen after April 8. That means that the country’s 500-700,000 Christians must get out now or have their rights reduced to that of a foreigner. This is nowhere in the news. Imagine if Israel had issued such an order to 100 Palestinians.
The Sudanese Christians are facing increasing persecution. In February, eight bombs were dropped on a Christian college built by Franklin Graham’s charity. Humanitarian aid is being blocked to those in the Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile Provinces, forcing the U.S. to consider an operation to rescue about 500,000 people from imminent famine. Any presence of foreign troops in this area would probably trigger a call to jihad by Islamist clerics and possibly the Bashir regime.
This isn’t to say that Bashir is a friend of the U.S. who was pushed into a corner. It is true that his regime has become much more cooperative on counter-terrorism since 2001. The State Department nearly delisted it as a State Sponsor of Terrorism last year as a reward for letting South Sudan vote on independence. The State Department’s eagerness to mend ties with Sudan led it to overlook its ongoing support for terrorism.
The State Department conceded that Hamas, Al-Qaeda and Palestinian Islamic Jihad operate in Sudan. It reassured us that the regime “does not openly support the presence” of the latter two, but doesn’t preclude the possibility of secret support. After all, Bashir’s rule is tyrannical and it’s hard to believe that high-profile terrorist groups could operate in Sudan without the regime knowing.
The State Department downplayed Sudan’s support for Hamas, saying it is limited to fundraising. This is demonstrably false. Israel has carried out airstrikes on convoys delivering Iranian arms to Hamas through Sudan since January 2009. There were two strikes in December 2011 alone. An opposition newspaper was shut down in 2010 after it disclosed the existence of an Iranian arms factory in Khartoum used to supply Hamas and Iranian-backed militants in Yemen and Somalia. This is made all the more serious when you consider the fact that when Ayatollah Khamenei visited Sudan in 2006, he declared that Iran would share its nuclear technology with Islamic allies.
Omar Bashir will either implement the Islamist agenda or they will remove him from power and do it themselves. Either way, Sudan is on the way to joining the ranks of Iran and Saudi Arabia.