The Venetian businessman detained for a year in Khartoum says he hopes the population will be spared, but he speaks of a real war and fears it is only the beginning.
Barricaded in his home in Khartoum, near the airport now in the hands of the militias, is Ayman Abbadi, the lawyer who for eleven months followed the case of the Venetian entrepreneur Marco Zennaro, detained for almost a year in Sudan in 2021 in due to a trade dispute. And he is the first person Zennaro has called, ”with great concern” after ”the war broke out in Sudan. Because it is a real war, sudden and precipitate. People I’ve heard from have told me of tanks on the street, aerial bombardments, heavy artillery, raids. Compared to the 2020-21 coup where protesters were armed with stones and their voices, there are now two armies confronting each other”. Speaking to Adnkronos, Zennaro said that ”I didn’t expect the dispute between the two factions to end in war. There are two armies that respond to different commands” and ”now it seems that the only way out is for one army to dominate the other. The regular army has defined the other paramilitary as ‘rebel’ and asked that it be dissolved”.
News of at least a hundred deaths is arriving from Sudan, ”I’m afraid it’s just the beginning” says Zennaro with mixed emotions. Because if on the one hand he says ”I hope that the population will be spared”, on the other, he who started going to Sudan in the mid-1990s, recalls that ”the military factions know who they are, they are well recognizable, but unfortunately in Khartoum their offices and headquarters are placed in a civilian context, of houses” which makes it ”complicated to distinguish the objectives”. Abbadi, says Zennaro, ”he told me he was locked up at home and very worried. He lives in the Riad district, near the airport which is now in the hands of the militias, the so-called irregular army. He hears constant shelling. Difficult to make predictions about what will happen in the next few days”.
‘Ramadan ends at the end of the week, particular that all this happens now’
But Abbadi isn’t the only one Zennaro has called, not the only one isolated. In fact, the owner of ZennaroTrafo in Marghera telephoned the hotel in Khartoum where, having been released from prison, he had been placed under house arrest. ”I heard from the managers of the Acropole hotel, who have always been extremely kind to me during my troubled year in Sudan. The hotel is near the Presidential Palace and they told me that they have been locked in the hotel for two days without energy, without water and cannot go out. An extremely difficult situation”. Furthermore, continues the entrepreneur, ”I have received news from Comboni college, also in the area of the Presidential Palace in Khartoum, which are closed with students in the classrooms. They can’t go out and they don’t have water, because the bombings destroyed the tanks, they’ve been without light for a couple of days”. In Khartoum, explains the businessman, when there are emergencies ”they close the bridges and isolate easily. So people can’t go back home”.
A situation ”that leaves me very perplexed and amazed, thinking of the so peaceful Sudan that I lived in the years prior to this degeneration. I never thought it could end in this spiral of violence”. Because ”the country I knew was poor, but there was affinity. It has always been difficult to get the various ethnic groups to agree, in commercial negotiations there was always a lot of discussion, but there was never this desire for prevarication, this form of aggression”.
Zennaro was also in Khartoum in 2021, when the coup d’état took place on 25 October. ”I was locked up in the embassy for a week without the possibility of calling home, the connections with the Internet had been cut. But now it’s different, the news is coming. And it’s weird,” he says. How ”very strange”, according to the Venetian entrepreneur, is the timing of what is happening. ”At the end of this week Ramadan ends. In the Muslim spirit, the Eid celebrations begin afterwards and are a moment of serenity, joy, religious peace. It is really unusual that all this is happening now”.