French-Sudanese journalist Rachid Saïd Yacoub was interviewed on France 24 TV on April 10, 2019, a day before the military coup that deposed Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir. Yacoub, who is the spokesman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Sudanese Professionals Association – which has been playing a major role in the protests in Sudan – criticized Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir for having been brought to power by the Islamic movement and by the Muslim Brotherhood, and for having turned the military into an organ of the Islamic movement. Yacoub said that Al-Bashir rules Sudan on behalf of a clique of people within the military institution that are connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. He stated that the most important goal of the current protests is to establish a Sudanese state that is based on citizenship and he explained that the revolt in Sudan is different from the Arab Spring revolts because it is a revolution against the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic regimes, while the Arab Spring had been largely led by Islamic movements that strove for the establishment of Islamic regimes. He added: “We want to eliminate those Islamic groups.” Rachid Saïd Yacoub has been living in France since the 1990s. The Sudanese Professionals Association is an umbrella group consisting of 15 Sudanese trade unions.
Following are excerpts:
Rachid Said Yacoub: It is a mistake to say that Al-Bashir is a general ruling on behalf of the army. Al-Bashir is a general brought to power by the Islamic movement. He is an Islamic general from the Muslim Brotherhood movement who took over power in the name of the army but has never ruled on the army’s behalf. Al-Bashir cleansed the army of all the patriotic servicemen and turned it into another organ of the Islamic movement.
Al-Bashir is not ruling on behalf of the entire army. He rules on behalf of a clique within the military institution. They control the military because they hold commanding roles. This group of people is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood and to the Islamic movement in Sudan.
Host: At one point, Al-Bashir was even an ally of [Hassan] Al-Turabi.
Rachid Said Yacoub: He allied himself with Al-Turabi, and then he deposed him, but then he became Al-Turabi’s ally again before his death. Al-Turabi’s successors – Dr. Ali Al-Hajj and Ibrahim Al-Sanousi – at still members of Al-Bashir’s government.
The main issue in Sudan is to build a state based on citizenship that will respond to the aspirations of the Sudanese people. Whoever wants to call it a secular state can do so, and however wants to call it a religious state can do so. The important thing is for citizenship to be the basis for this state.
In the Arab Spring, the Islamic groups led the rise against the secular regimes. These Islamic groups rose to power in those countries. In Tunisia, the Ennahdha movement – which is an Islamic movement – came to power through elections…
Host: It didn’t happen in Algeria…
Rachid Said Yacoub: In Egypt, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood took power. In Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood drove the country towards the crisis of the armed struggle. In Sudan, we have a unique situation in which the revolution is against the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic movements. We oppose a regime that calls for an Islamic state. In our case, the supporters of a secular state are fighting an Islamic regime, and this is very different from the revolutions of the Arab Spring.
Participant: But in Egypt…
Rachid Said Yacoub: We are fighting those Islamists. We want to eliminate those Islamic groups.