Both the Obama administration and regime-change advocates agree that the Sudanese army continues to engage in serious human rights abuses in new war zones, such as the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states of north Sudan, where guerrillas loyal to South Sudan's victorious People's Liberation Army have refused to lay down their arms. They are united in demanding that the Bashir regime lift its ban on the delivery of humanitarian aid to war refugees.
Added to these border feuds is the unresolved eight-year-old uprising to the west in Darfur, where the brutal behavior of the Sudanese army led the ICC to indict Bashir for crimes against humanity and genocide in the wake of at least 300,000 deaths from disease and violence. Bashir has managed to make peace with only one of four Dafur rebel factions. Another, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), is gearing up for more war, reportedly fortified by more sophisticated weapons pillaged from arms depots in Libya. On Nov. 12, JEM joined the guerrillas fighting in South Kordofan and Blue Nile to form the Sudan Revolutionary Front, which has the declared mission of marching on Khartoum to overthrow Bashir.
Since South Sudan's secession in July, Bashir has tried to protect himself from internal and external enemies by enticing various opposition parties to form what he calls a "broad-based government" prior to writing a new constitution, which is likely to further emphasize the Islamic and Arab character of his regime. This has provoked fears among the approximately 500,000 to one million African and Christian remnants in the north that the regime will discriminate against them even more than it does today. So far, however, there have been no takers to Bashir's offer, leaving him dependent on the army and Islamists who brought him to power in 1989.
Sudan's opposition has, in fact, been coalescing -- but not around Bashir. A score of opposition parties have formed the National Consensus Forces led by Farooq Abu Issa, a former foreign minister and longtime head of the Cairo-based Arab Bar Association. "We're calling for an intifada [uprising]," he told me, noting Sudan already had had two successful revolts and that he himself had played a prominent role in the 1964 October Revolution.
Another historic opposition figure, Sadiq el-Mahdi, head of the Umma Party and leader of the negotiations arranging for General Abboud's departure, has been conducting his own on-again, off-again talks with Bashir. Mahdi said he is offering Bashir a "soft landing" -- meaning a negotiated transfer to civilian rule. His plan includes a "kind of amnesty" for Bashir, under which a new civilian government would press the ICC to allow him to stand trial on the same genocide charges, he told me -- but before a Sudanese court. "He can only hope for a political deal to save himself," he said.
So far, Bashir has shown no interest, gambling that he can continue to keep his longtime enemies divided and the army united behind him. But if simmering wars and the traditional opposition don't bring him down, economic struggles and an energized youth movement just may.