7 dead, 2,496 arrested during Sudanese protest

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…As Iran decries ‘illegal’ U.S. designation of Guards, retaliates with terrorism listing***

Seven people were killed and 2,496 arrested during anti-government protests in Sudan over the weekend, state-run media reported on Monday, citing the country’s Interior Minister.

Bushara Aror told parliament that 15 civilians had also been injured, as well as 42 members of the security forces, according to state-run news agency SUNA.

Protests against the rule of long-time President Omar al-Bashir, meanwhile, continued in the capital of Khartoum, with at least tens of thousands of people staging a sit-in at the army headquarters on Monday.

Some witnesses put the number of demonstrators at almost one million people.

In the presence of heavily armed security forces and riot police, protesters were chanting slogans to encourage the army to help them overthrow Al-Bashir’s government.
Some held placards that read: “The army and the people are one’’ and “One army is unity.”

Earlier on Monday, security forces unsuccessfully tried to disperse demonstrators by using tear gas, but the army stepped in to protect the protesters, eye witness said.

Security forces injured three soldiers and several civilians, an army official said on condition of anonymity.

The Sudanese Professional Association (SPA) had called for widespread rallies and a march on the army headquarters on Saturday, the 34th anniversary of the 1985 uprising that toppled the then-government of President Gaafar Nimeiry.

The military removed Nimeiry before handing over power to an elected government, which in turn was overthrown by al-Bashir in a coup in 1989.

The East African nation has seen ongoing protests since December 2018, when a sharp hike in bread and fuel prices caused a public outcry.

The oil-rich country’s economy was badly affected when it split with South Sudan in 2011, and the government is currently facing an economic crisis while also battling several rebel groups.   

Meanwhile, Iran on Monday warned that Washington’s designation of its elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organisation could endanger peace and stability in the Middle East and beyond, state TV reported.

Tehran also took retaliatory action by naming the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) as a terrorist organisation and the U.S. government as a sponsor of terror.

“This unwise and illegal measure is a major threat to regional and international stability and peace … Iran labels the American regime as a supporter of terrorism,” Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said in a statement.

U.S. President Donald Trump designated Iran’s Guards a foreign terrorist organsation on Monday — an unprecedented step that will raise tensions in the Middle East.

Iranian authorities have said the U.S. decision is a great mistake that will endanger U.S. interests in the region, where Iran is involved in proxy wars from Syria to Lebanon.

Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Zarif said on Twitter that the move was aimed at securing the re-election of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday.

“Another misguided election-eve gift to Netanyahu”, and another “dangerous U.S. misadventure in the region”, Zarif tweeted.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards commanders have repeatedly said that U.S. bases in the Middle East and U.S. aircraft carriers in the Gulf are within range of Iranian missiles.

Iran has threatened to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf if the U.S. tries to strangle Tehran’s economy by halting its oil exports.