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The art of revolution: What went right in Sudan and Algeria

15 100 592

Sudan and Algeria can easily evoke memories of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions of 2010 and 2011. Like their neighbours, Sudanese and Algerian protesters managed to overthrow their autocratic leaders after decades of rule, in a matter of months, and without a single shot fired.

Marching, chanting, resisting and daring, the people of Sudan and Algeria pressed on with their calls for freedom and democracy until they were able to disarm the old guard - politicians and generals alike - and force them to acquiesce to their initial demands.

It may still be too early to judge, but so far it looks like these latecomers have learned important lessons from Arab as well as other revolutions. In fact, Sudan and Algeria may well be able to deter counter-revolution and avert the dangers of civil war.

The signs are hopeful.

So far, revolutionaries in Sudan and Algeria are still firmly on the path of non-violence, a la Tunisia and Egypt.

Peaceful protest has proven the least costly and the most constructive among all possible strategies and scenarios, not only to confront repression, but also to pave the way for democracy. Indeed, non-violent revolutions are most capable of splitting the regime's rank and file and straining its legitimacy.

If history is any guide, violent revolts tend to coalesce and galvanise a dictatorship's base, making it harder to bring down. They also produce alternative leadership that is no less violent than the repressive regimes they aim to overthrow.

Those who fight and kill their opponents with enthusiasm and determination are likely to turn against their allies and people with equal vengeance.

But for civil disobedience, boycott, demonstrations and other forms of non-violent strategies to work, they require popular mobilisation. In Algeria and Sudan, people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, young and old, women and men, secular and religious came together in their demand for freedom and better living.

Sudan's leading popular voice, the Sudanese Professionals Association, reflected this embrace of inclusiveness rather brilliantly in its recent call to put "Christ at the heart of the revolution", asking Christians and people of all other confessions to participate in a day of civil disobedience and worship for peace.

Such inclusion of different elements of society prevents the regime from taking........

© Al Jazeera