Sudan Port Blockade: People from the Beja tribe have blocked roads around the main port for more than two weeks to rally against what they say is a lack of political power and poor economic conditions.
However, Sudan’s government is warning that it’s about to run out of life-saving medicine, fuel, and wheat as the protest enters its third week. The Sudanese cabinet called on demonstrators to negotiate with the government rather than hold up critical goods.
The demonstrators agreed last month to allow the resumption of exports of crude oil from landlocked South Sudan via a terminal on the Red Sea. Last month, protesters closed two main oil pipelines, including the only one transporting fuel to the capital Khartoum.
The Sudanese government has pledged to work on a political solution to the problems of eastern Sudan and called on the protesters to start a dialogue with the government.
Sudan Port Blockade & The Beja Tribe
The Beja people are an ethnic Cushitic-language speaking people inhabiting Sudan, Egypt, and Eritrea. In recent history, they have lived primarily in the Eastern Desert. They number around 1 237 000 people.
The Beja are traditionally Cushitic-speaking pastoral nomads native to northeast Africa, formerly referred to as Blemmyes. A geographer named Abu Nasr Mutahhar al-Maqdisi wrote in the tenth century that the Beja were at that time Christians. The Beja were Islamized beginning in the 15th century.
The now-Islamic Beja participated in the further Muslim conquest of Sudan. The Beja Congress was formed in 1952 with the aim of pursuing regional autonomy from the government in Khartoum. Frustrated by the lack of progress, the Beja Congress joined the National Democratic Alliance in the 1990s.
The Beja Congress effectively controlled a part of eastern Sudan. They sabotaged the oil pipeline to Port Sudan several times during 1999 and 2000. In 2004, they allied with the rebel movement of the Darfur region, the Sudan Liberation Army.
Beja society was traditionally organized into independent kingdoms. According to Al-Yaqubi, there were six such Beja polities that existed between Aswan and Massawa during the 9th century. Among these were the Kingdom of Bazin, Kingdom of Belgin, Kingdom of Jarin, Kingdom of Nagash, Kingdom of Qita’a and Kingdom of Tankish.