“We're all Palestine”: a view from Sudan

For the world’s dispossessed, Palestine is the grand frontier of colonial struggle. It represents an amalgam of righteous indignation, of prosperity; of hope, of duty; of sacrifice, of resistance...

4 min read

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Following the outbreak of the 2023 Sudanese civil war, many were forced to flee their homes. Those lucky few who were blessed by the secular bureaucratic gods of western nations, managed to relocate safely abroad—-though their worthiness to exist there is routinely investigated, lest they smuggle in even the slightest sentiment of non-capitalist property relations. There are others, also displaced by the war, who have less fortunately found themselves in neighbouring Egypt. There, capitalists—unrestrained by any ambiguous calls for human rights—have managed to advance accumulation by taking advantage of this Sudanese military disaster and slashing workers’ wages, aware that the influx of Sudanese refugees is an influx of cheapened labour power.

Deep inside the inferno of Sudan’s civil war, there are the proletariat and lumpen-proletariat: the people the West will never hear of. Many of them are now gone—simply disappeared into the ether, with no recourse, following the sound of a bang! Others desperately evacuated their homes in an effort to rebuild somewhere less treacherous.

My friend Mohammed is one of them. He has wandered from village to village, looking for a safe haven. He ventured northwards to Wadi Halfa, on the border, where his skin complexion disallowed him entrance to Egypt. The complexion of his passport likewise excluded him from the safety of the West. That, and the fact that he is broke.

Mohammed is the oldest child in a single-parent family. With no luck in the north, he retreated southwards to Al-Jazira state, where he settled in a humble village. Before he could bring his family to the new settlement, Mohammed, along with his new comrades in the village, needed to build a sewage infrastructure, rebuild the walls of an abandoned mud-house, connect the electricity to operate the 2 fans and a small TV, and find a job. He now works as a bus conductor for inter-state routes.

Along with many other things, the civil war in Sudan has devastated the communications infrastructure, fracturing the flow of communication between Mohammed and me. The scarcity endows every opportunity to connect with Mohammed with a particular richness, this true Spinozan friendship. Which is why his latest text is what I would like to start with when talking about the incomparable atrocity visited upon the Palestinian people by the Israeli state.

“Palestine will rise!”

This was Mohammed’s latest message to me. It seems straightforward, innocuous; however, considering his circumstances, it’s profoundly radical. Here we have a man who has been displaced and discombobulated by Sudan’s political turmoil; who spends his days trying to make ends meet by standing in the doorway of a 1984 Mitsubishi Rosa bus, sailing the patches of asphalt in the sea of dirt, stopping at archipelago-villages to pick up and transport his fellow refugees, similarly lost and wandering. In his spare time, he teaches IT to his village comrades, who cling desperately to the ideal(ism) of technologically-determined progression. He once told me, “it’s sad and useless to teach them about IT, but it’s a fantasy that momentarily sanitises the despair.” For Mohammed, my Spinozan friend, his solace in despair is the thought of Palestinian liberation.

He’s not alone. Mohammed’s despair and misery is shared by the working class of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), after the purposeful usurpation of OUR REVOLUTION by international financial and aid organisations, and the military class. But when it comes to Palestine, even the most desperate among us cry out for their liberation. The Palestinian cause is the one worthy cause that is shared by all in MENA: from Sufis who believe that the next Mahdi will liberate al Aqsa mosque, to socialists who believe that Israel is the extension of empire in our region.

When it comes to Palestine, even the most desperate among us cry out for their liberation. The Palestinian cause is shared by all in the Middle East and North Africa.

Mohammed’s words are radical and comforting, in a time where many draw the line of “impartiality” so close to the Israeli state that it denies the very existence of the blood-filled quagmire that Palestine has been turned into. His words are a refreshing contrast to those uttered by people who pathologically cling to the notion that “Israel has a right to defend itself”; to the endless caveats that must be recited before any mention of the fact that it’s a war crime to carpet-bomb Palestinians.

His words are the creed of the world’s dispossessed. For us, Palestine is the grand frontier of colonial struggle. The Palestinian cause represents to us an amalgam of righteous indignation, of prosperity; of hope, of duty; of sacrifice, of resistance. As if, miraculously, the liberation of that olived land will collapse the hegemony of the petro-dollar; the modern slavery in the form of the Kafala system; the acquiescent dictatorships beholden to international debt organisations; the aid sector that exhibits pictures of the poor to fund lavish parties in closed compounds; the hidden international courts that penalise nationalisation in the Global South; the special economic zones that dispossess wage-labourers from their ‘citizenship rights’…

What many in the West do not seem to understand is that we are Palestine, and Palestine is us. My friend Mohammed, that poor fellow, currently feeling the breeze as he hangs from the door of a Mitsubishi bus in rural, war-ravaged Sudan: a free Palestine is his solace. Let his words remind us that we are the many: “Palestine will rise!”.


Mohamed Khougali

Mohamed is a Marxist who was involved in the 2019 Sudanese revolution that ousted the 30-year dictatorship. He is also the director of the documentary ‘In the Shadows of Modernisation’.