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September 2012 - Posts

Sudan, South Sudan Reach Agreements

KAMPALA, Uganda—The presidents of Sudan and South Sudan on Thursday signed a number of agreements that will pave way for the resumption of vital oil exports and create a demilitarized zone along their contested, oil-rich border following weeks of negotiations, officials from both countries said.

The pact marks a partial resolution of issues that had raised the specter of armed conflict between the two states a little over a year after the South seceded from Sudan. It should also start the gradual return of around 350,000 barrels a day of South Sudanese oil supply to world markets, where prices remain high.

This is a big step forward regarding our relations with South Sudan. Rabie Abdelaty, Sudanese government spokesman

President Omar al Bashir of Sudan and President Salva Kiir of South Sudan have signed a total of eight agreements that will create a 10-kilometer demilitarized zone (about 6 miles) along their border and allow resumption of oil exports. However, they failed to establish a mechanism to resolve disputes over five contested border areas, including the oil-rich Abyei region, said Rabie Abdelaty, the Sudanese government spokesman.

"The presidents have just signed the agreements, this is a big step forward regarding our relations with South Sudan," Mr. Abdelaty said. Talks over the unresolved issues will be held in the near future, he said.

A South Sudanese spokesman also confirmed an agreement had been reached on oil exports and a demilitarized zone.

South Sudan gained formal independence from Sudan in July last year after a two-decade civil war. South Sudan retained at least 75% of the former nation's oil fields but it has to rely on pipelines and ports in the north to ship its crude.

Initial optimism over the split soon dissipated as South Sudan's oil exports were halted in January over a dispute about how much the south should pay to use pipelines that carry its crude through its northern neighbor to an export port on the Red Sea. South Sudan refused to pay the high transit fees Khartoum was demanding and the accused the north of stealing its oil, a charge Sudan denied.

The two countries came close to an all-out war in April after South Sudanese troops captured and occupied the Sudanese oil town of Heglig following a weeks of skirmishes. Days of deadly clashes destroyed oil facilities, including a refinery and a processing plant.

Under the terms of Thursday's breakthrough three-year oil-transit deal, South Sudan will pay $8.40 a barrel for using the pipeline operated by Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Co. and $6.50 a barrel for using the pipeline operated by a Chinese-led pipeline consortium known as Petrodar.

The full resumption of Sudanese exports would go some way toward easing global oil supplies. About 1.5 million barrels a day of oil production from countries not in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have been shut over the last several months because of a combination of technical and security issues, according to the International Energy Agency.

The supply disruption from Sudan and South Sudan accounts for roughly a fifth of that total and its resolution should ease the burden on countries such as OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia to meet rising global oil demand.

Both nations' economies have also suffered badly because of the halt of oil shipments, which provided crucial foreign-exchange revenue.

Ole Hansen, head of commodity trading at Saxo Bank, said the new agreement will "alleviate some supply worries in the [oil] market," but added that it is unlikely to prompt anything more than a limited slide in oil prices because of nagging fears of a conflict between Israel and Iran.

By midmorning, international oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 21 cents higher than Wednesday's close at $110.24 a barrel.

South Sudanese officials said it may take at least three months to resume shipments, but others predicted a slower return. Consultancy JBC Energy said a full resumption of oil exports from South Sudan could take between six and 12 months. Michael Poulsen, an oil analyst at Global Risk Management, said that important oil-production equipment could have been damaged during recent fighting in the border zone and would take time to repair.

Other deals signed Thursday include the border demarcation agreement, an economic cooperation deal as well as a deal on the protection of each other's citizens, Mr. Abdelaty added. Both sides have previously agreed to a referendum over the future of the dispute border region of Abyei, but the terms of the vote have not been settled.

Darfur is missed out in the "Joint Statement" of the Foreign Ministers of the Western Powers

By Mahmoud A. Suleiman

September 26, 2012 — The above title comes against the backdrop of the Joint Statement issued by the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide and United Kingdom Foreign Secretary William Hague about the meeting to be held between the NCP regime’s president Omer al-Bashir and his counterpart President of the Republic of South Sudan in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Sunday 23rd September 2012.

One acknowledges the importance of the upcoming meeting and its anticipated outcomes which many hope to be positive and binding to all parties and put an end to the unpalatable running saga. Moreover, one hopes also the meeting to be conducive to overcoming the chronic suffering of the brotherly people of the two Sudans. However, one wonders whether the leverage of the Western Powers will succeed in curbing the intransigence and the prevarication of the Sudan’ ruling NCP regime in Khartoum. The NCP regime is renowned for noncompliance with covenants and peace agreements signs with parties in the conflict.

The NCP establishment is responsible for igniting sedition and destroying the social fabric among the people of Sudan who have been living in harmony over the years for its doctrine of divide and rule. This is besides waging devastating wars that affects the civilians through killing, displacement, deprivation of basic necessities of life.

The “Joint Statement” has focused exclusively on the dire conditions of the people in the South Kordofan “the Nuba Mountains”, the Southern Blue Nile and of course the outstanding issues between the republic of South Sudan and Sudan from the perspective of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which to some analysts “not quite” comprehensive in its content and/or implementation.

The “Joint Statement” talked about the SPLM/A-N in respect to the 2011 Framework of Agreement-dubbed as ‘Nafie Agreement’ by some- signed by the SPLM/A-N and the NCP regime but abrogated by Omer al-Bashir to wage war instead exterminating considerable number of civilians and displacing the survivors into the middle of nowhere to shelter themselves in caves and live on leaves of wild trees as a result of the use of Sudanese government humanitarian Aid as a weapon for its never ending devastating genocidal wars.

While the Sudanese people regret the secession of the southern part of the then greater motherland Sudan, they acknowledge the reasons led the brotherly compatriots to take that hard decision. They suffered racism, ethnic cleansing amounting to genocide at the hands of all the successive governments of Sudan since independence; similar to what continues happening in the issue of Darfur.

The “Joint Statement “referred to fails deliberately to address the central Sudanese, the Darfur Crisis, which has plagued the people and crippled the region from achieving sustainable peace, stability, rule of law and development ten years on. This atrocious war in the region continues in spite of the plethora of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions (17) passed on the Darfur Issue; some of which had been passed under the Chapter 7 of the United Nations (UN) Charter but remain without implementation. The reason for this is attributed partly to inaction and the major part is the role played by the vested interests of some Veto-waving UNSC founding members in the continuing viability of the NCP regime. The National Islamic Front (NIF) and its offshoots that consist of the infamous National Salvation Revolution (NSR) and the current NCP regime do not hesitate to offer royalties to their alleged enemies in order to stay in power even if those concessions are clearly against the false Islamic slogans based on hypocrisy they hail and chant, raising their voices.

And what hurts the Sudanese people more is the continuing call by some political circles in the international community on the Sudanese protestors not to aim for toppling the NCP regime but to be allowed to change from within itself. Those who hold that opinion have forgotten the phrases attributed to the late Dr. John Garang de Mabior that the “NCP is so deformed to be reformed.” Nevertheless, the Sudanese people have determined to liberate the country of the despotic NCP regime using all available means which include peaceful protests, Sit INS and armed protected demonstrations to oust the corrupt racist genocidal entity akin to what has happened to similar regimes in the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya and now in Syria. The NCP regime today is at its weakest and the Sudanese people made up of youth organisations, women activists, trade unions, political parties, armed resistance (Sudan Revolutionary Front) and the patriotic members of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) are determined to work together to overthrow the regime and send the members of the clique implicated in the heinous crimes to the ICC for trial.

At this juncture, the people of Sudan in Darfur draw the attention of the international community represented by UN, EU, AU, league of Arabs Countries and the Association of Islamic Countries that the war in Darfur has not subsided and is contrary to the propaganda machine of the government of Sudan and its hirelings Aerial bombardments by Antonov airships and MiG 29 bombers of civilian targets, burning of villages and displacements continue while the World has forgotten the Darfur Issue. It is a time for reawakening the conscience of the World to impose a ‘No-Flight Zone on the Darfur Region.

Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman is the Deputy Chairman of the General Congress for Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). He can be reached at mahmoud.abaker@gmail.com

Salva-Bashir Summit: The Final Round of the AU Roadmap

By Luka Biong Deng

First Published by the New Nation Newspaper

The African Union Roadmap and the UN Security Council Resolution 2046 will conclude on 22nd September the direct negotiations on all the pending issues between South Sudan and Sudan. This new deadline came after such negotiations were extended by 50 days when President Bashir failed to turn up for the summit scheduled on 30th July in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It is unlikely that such deadline will be extended again as that will tarnish the credibility of the AU and the UN.

If the two countries amicably reached solutions on all the pending issues, then the Panel will summit such agreement to the African Union Peace and Security Council for endorsement and to be forwarded to the UN Security Council for enforcement. If the parties, however, failed to agree on any of the pending issues, then the Panel will submit to the AU Council the agreed solutions and proposed solutions for issues not agreed upon for endorsement as final and binding solutions. These agreed solutions and proposed solutions will be forwarded to the UN Council for enforcement under Chapter VII of it Charter.

It is expected that the AU Council that is now chaired by Egypt will convene its next meeting immediately after the deadline date of 22nd September to receive report and proposed solutions from the Panel. Also the UN Council may convene Sudan Forum meeting on 27th September in New York to receive progress report from the Panel while waiting for the final report including the AU Council’s endorsed resolutions for all the pending issues.

The Parties are still negotiating with the hope of preparing a comprehensive agreement on all the pending issues for the two Presidents to sign in the summit scheduled on 23rd September in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. While the two Presidents seem to accept to attend the summit, one is not sure about the participation of President Bashir as the increasing call for his arrest by human rights activists is haunting him wherever he goes. Although the new leadership of Ethiopia will provide President Bashir with all necessary protection, the business will not be as usual after the death of Prime Minister Meles as there could be some discontent voices in Ethiopia questioning his visit.

While the spirit of the negotiating teams in Addis seems genuine in resolving all the pending issues before the summit, the Parties are trying to capitalize in the remaining days to maximize their gains. This last minute behavior, particularly from Sudan, produces rather erratic positions that sometimes create an environment of despair and apathy. The negotiating team of Sudan seems not only divided but also so weak, uncertain, irrational and unreasonable. On the other hand the negotiating team of the South has shown beyond any doubt that it is serious and determined to reach agreement with Sudan. One may fear that the South may concede to the level that it will make it difficult to sell such agreement to the people of South Sudan.

Generally, the Parties seem to make progress in all the pending issues and with some sticking points in oil and other payments, border, security arrangements and Abyei. On oil, Sudan unsurprisingly reneged smartly by arguing that the agreed transit fee of $1 per barrel is only for the oil entitlements of the Government of South Sudan but not for the oil companies. It has managed to set $4 per barrel as transit fee for the oil entitlements of the oil companies. This high transit fee if accepted by the oil companies may be indirectly borne by the Government of South Sudan. Also, despite the South has forgiven all its arrears and claims, Sudan refused to give back to the South its two remaining oil consignments out of the five oil shipments that Sudan commandeered. While the South, in the spirit of friendship, accepted to avail to Sudan $3 billion as assistance, Sudan indirectly filed through its oil company a legal case against the South by claiming a compensation of $1.2 billion for the loss of its shares in the oil fields in the South. Despite these artificial differences created by Sudan, one expects that the summit can easily resolve these differences.

On the border, the Parties are likely to resort to the final and binding international arbitration on the five disputed areas after having the non-binding opinion by the AU Border Team Experts on the disputed areas. However, there is a sharp difference on the claimed areas including Panthou (Hegilig). While Sudan refuses to consider these claimed areas for international arbitration, the South is adamant to take these areas for arbitration. Other sticking point on the border is whether the Parties will continue with exploration and development of natural resources in the disputed and claimed areas. The South sees it appropriate to halt such activities until the ruling of the international arbitration, while Sudan insists to continue with these activities in the disputed areas. Probably, the Panel may assist the summit to reach agreement over the issues related to the border.

On the border security arrangements, Sudan continues to reject the map provided by the AU and UN for the establishment of the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone. In particular Sudan singled out 14 miles area and proposes the forces of the South to withdraw beyond 14 miles and suggests a joint Dinka Malual-Rizeygat traditional administration of the 14 miles area. The South on the other hand maintains its unconditional acceptance of the map provided by the AU and UN. The South rejects the proposal of Sudan on 14 miles and proposes the demilitarization of all the disputed and claimed areas if Sudan continues to reject the AU/UN map. It is most likely that the Panel may propose an amicable solution to the summit to overcome the differences over the border security arrangements.

On the final status of Abyei Area, the Panel maintains its position to present to the two Presidents in the next summit its proposal on the final status of Abyei as per the provisions of Abyei June 2011 Agreement. Prior to the summit, the Panel shared with the two Presidents its analysis of the basis upon which its proposal on the final status of Abyei will be based. The analysis of the Panel about the final status of Abyei seems to clarify the issue of eligibility, the expected outcome of Abyei Referendum and the challenges for making such outcome to create as much of a win-win situation. It is worth noting that while Abyei June 2011 Agreement mandates the Panel to make a proposal on the final status of Abyei to be considered by the two Presidents, the AU Roadmap mandates the Panel to propose a final and binding solution to the final status of Abyei if the Parties failed to reach a solution.

It is most probable that the Panel may propose a referendum with only Ngok Dinka and other residents as eligible voters but not the nomads and such a referendum to be conducted within one year by a commission with a chair to be appointed by either AU or UN. Other possibility and as the outcome of the referendum is known, the Panel may propose immediate transfer of Abyei to the South with specific proposals for mitigating the consequences of such transfer. It is most likely that President Bashir may reject direct transfer and may opt for a referendum, while President Salva may go for immediate transfer and to commit himself to exert more efforts to mitigate the consequences of such transfer on the Misseriya pastoralists and Government of Sudan. The issue of the final status of Abyei may be the only issue that the two Presidents may not agree and that will force the Panel to make a final and binding proposal to the AU Council and the UN Security Council.

It is clear that the remaining issues that may require the final decisions of the two Presidents are solvable if there is a political will. The two Presidents are coming to the summit after they have experienced the economic, political and social costs of bad relations between the two countries. It would be suicidal if the two Presidents in the next summit failed to reach amicable solutions for all the pending issues.

President Bashir in particular will face enormous challenges if he continues to be intransigent as his days are counted. Even the Islamic movements worldwide see Bashir as a liability to Islam. His recent visit to Egypt might have sent him the right signals as he failed to receive due attention and courtesy even from some well-known Islamic leaders and scholars. In Sudan, the political Islamists in the NCP see Bashir as a real liability and they may work for a change from within and that may result in a miserable end to Bashir. The uncontrolled and reckless demonstration in Khartoum against US and other western countries over the unjustified film made by individuals about Prophet Mohamed and the poor containment of such demonstrations send a clear signal to the friends and sympathizers of Sudan in the western countries of the need to support the option of a regime change.

President Bashir stands only chance during this summit to cleanse his image by boldly agreeing with his Brother Salva on all the pending issues including Abyei and SPLM-North and that might give him a window of opportunity to exist peacefully from power and with a legacy of peaceful and stable Sudan with good relations with its twin country, the Republic of South Sudan.

Luka Biong Deng is a senior member of South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Co-Chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC). He can be contacted at lukabiong@kushworld.org

South Sudan and the logic of extraction

By Anne Bartlett

Over recent years a recurrent theme on the lips of politicians and population alike in South Sudan, is the issue of corruption. Corruption, we are told, is like a cancer that is eating the society from the inside and the problem that must be rooted out if South Sudan is to move forward. Letters from President Salva Kiir and others encourage the dishonest individuals hand back the alleged $4 billion that has been stolen. Once this happens, we are assured that South Sudan can secure a brighter future – one that is not tarnished by poverty or stunted opportunities for its population.

On a recent trip to Juba, I was thinking about such issues while sitting in one of those “international hotels” that charge international prices. Feeling rather like a fish out of water in such a place, I sat in the courtyard and looked around at the clientele frequenting the hotel. It didn’t take a genius to realize that there were basically three groups of people who spent their time there. The first was the international crowd: aid workers, foreign officials and consultants who were in South Sudan for business and needed a place to stay which resembled the kind of accommodation one could find elsewhere in the world. The second group was there to meet with the first group. This group consisted of politicians and others interested in either conducting business, or figuring out how to handle some of the rebuilding issues facing the country. The third group was there to meet with the second group. These people were basically foreign or home grown opportunists, hangers on and petty criminals looking to see what kinds of benefits they could extract if they spent enough time around people who could afford to pay for these kinds of hotels. The only other people that one could find in these international places were foreign staff and, for the most part, foreign owners. South Sudanese people were notably absent, except the few young people who were waiting the tables because they were unable to finish their education at Juba University and other educational institutions.

Surveying this scene filled me with sadness. After 20 years of civil war and struggle on the part of the people of South Sudan, it seemed clear that the foundations of the economy were being built on a logic of extraction which implicated foreign governments, NGOs, the GoSS and private corporate interests in spending vast sums of money on overpriced basic services. It also seemed clear that this logic of extraction is far more dangerous than corruption alone, because it links money for hotels (often obtained by dubious means), to a systematic money making machine that is able to remove vast sums of money from the economy not just once, but every single day. The fact that one can struggle to find a room in a city like Juba where room rates can cost upwards of $150-$200 per night, illustrates the sheer amount of money that is being extracted from what should be spent on much needed development and infrastructure projects. It is not overstating things at all to say that every penny extracted in this way, is a penny stolen from South Sudan’s future.

Thinking about this issue I also found myself wondering why these “international” places have become so attractive. In simplistic terms one might reply by saying that that there is lighting, security, cold beer, and air-conditioning – and all of this is true. But there is a bigger question about what “international” means to local people. Does “international” signify something that South Sudanese people feel they don’t have? Is “international” merely a code word for power, money or security that is supposed to come from somewhere else? Is the “international community” a thing that is supposed to come riding over the horizon to rescue local people?

These questions become even more important when one watches the endless rounds of movement leaders and politicians parading through Washington DC looking for photo opportunities with “international” leaders. This desire to be outside of South Sudan is almost like a disease, where those in power don’t believe in themselves unless they can show that khawagas do. It is almost as if the actual landscape of politics in the USA and elsewhere doesn’t really matter, as long as there is the smiling photo with a politician – any politician - who is famous. Whether the person one is photographed with is in power, is likely to get into power, or even cares what the South Sudanese are suffering seems to be of little consequence. Instead it is all about the air travel, the photograph that proves one has reached the West and the suggestion that one is now “in” with the international crowd. The big question here is what this all means. Is this the New Sudan that Dr. John Garang envisaged where elite and foreign interests extract huge sums from the economy without helping the people and where politics has been outsourced to those who want a photo opportunity on the White House lawn?

Rather than looking outwards for solutions to crisis — for loans, for advice and for those who can rebuild South Sudan in an “international” image, maybe the time has come to look inwards. South Sudan most certainly does not need the Washington Consensus from the IMF and World Bank; neither does it need loan conditionalities and a long slow slide into debt at the hands of the Chinese. Maybe the African people who have always been innovative in solving their own problems, can develop South Sudan in their own image, if only given the chance. If oil revenues are used sensibly to kickstart the agricultural base of the country rather than being wasted on expensive hotels, there is the potential to feed not only South Sudan but also much of the region. Further, rather than talking about South Sudan’s economic integration into East Africa or the world economy, it would be more to the point to make sure that local kids have the education they need so that they have the skillset to compete for the nation in the future. This future is possible without barrels of cash too. A lot can be achieved with creativity, quiet thought and belief in what the power of “local” rather than “international” can do.

South Sudan is now at a critical juncture. The time has come to stop taking from the country and start putting back. There is no need to continue with the useless, self-serving behavior of Khartoum’s political elite that has so long dominated the landscape of Sudanese politics. Instead there is a different route to political, economic and social sustainability: one that builds, rather than extracts.

In the final analysis, South Sudan can believe in itself, or outsource that belief to others. For myself, for the people, and for the future of this young country, I sincerely hope that it is the former, rather than the latter.

Dr. Anne Bartlett is a Professor of Sociology and Director of the International Studies Graduate Program at the University of San Francisco. She may be reached at albartlett@usfca.edu

The Arab Spring: Turabi rehabilitated

By Magdi El Gizouli

 Hassan al-Turabi, the veteran chief of the Sudanese Islamic Movement turned opponent to the long reign of his disciples under President Bashir, appeared yesterday on al-Jazeera to celebrate the rise of Islamic forces to power in the region. The ‘sheikh of freedoms’ as his party followers prefer to call him spoke with the comfort and vindication of a pioneer; his miscegenation of Islamic themes and ideals with Leninist principles of vanguard organisation delivered the “first Islamic state in the Sunni world” to use the title he conferred on the regime born out the 1989 coup d’état orchestrated by the National Islamic Front (NIF), the political cloak of the Sudanese Islamic Movement at the time.

Today, Turabi sits snugly in the opposition, eviscerated from power in 1999 after a drawn out struggle with President Bashir, a struggle that robbed him of his political achievement but not of his intellectual property. Thanks to repeated cycles of detention and house arrest Turabi can safely claim victimhood in President Bashir’s state, the regime he authored almost singlehandedly but that soon mutated beyond his control. Both men are eager to impress their Islamic credentials upon the winners of the Arab Spring. As Turabi the sheikh was debating the challenges of Islamic rule in Doha with Rashid al-Ghannushi, the Chairman of the ruling Ennahda Movement in Tunisia, Bashir the rayes, endowed last month with a Master’s degree from Sudan’s Gezira University for a thesis titled ‘Challenges of the Application of Sharia in Contemporary Societies”, was busy marketing himself to his Egyptian counterpart, the Moslem Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi.

The two heads of state, Morsi and Bashir, discussed the Nile water shares, said the spokesman of the Egyptian Presidency, and confirmed that “the position of Khartoum and Cairo regarding the Nile Basin crisis is identical”. To Cairo the 1959 Nile water agreement is sacrosanct; the colonial-era treaty grants almost the entire average annual flow of the river to Egypt and Sudan, to be shared at 55.5 and 18.5 billion cubic meters respectively. Ethiopia, acting alone and in partnership with the six other upper riparian states, has recently challenged the 1959 agreement demanding equitable utilization of the Nile between the nine countries that share the river thus precipitating a crisis yet to unfold with Egypt. Just this month Wikileaks released a document claiming that President Bashir agreed in 2010 to host an Egyptian airbase with the objective of launching a military attack on Ethiopia’s Grand Millennium Dam, the brainchild of the late Meles Zenawi, in case diplomatic efforts fail to deter Addis Ababa from pushing through with the project. The same Bashir however reportedly told the Ethiopian ambassador in Khartoum, Abadi Zemo, in March this year that Sudan will provide all the necessary support towards the success of the construction of the Millennium Dam. Judging by precedent Bashir has not strayed far from established standards of post-colonial Sudanese statesmanship. Abboud coyed to Nasser and agreed to drown Wadi Halfa under the lake of the Aswan High Dam for Egypt’s benefit; Nimayri followed Sadat’s lead to become the only Arab ruler to support the Camp David accords and make Sudan the second largest African recipient of US aid after Egypt; and Bashir himself initially camouflaged as an Egyptian stooge. Under pressure, and after his captains failed to assassinate Mubarak in 1995, President Bashir put a lid on Turabi’s pan-Islamic machinations in an attempt to appease the Egyptian Sublime Porte. As officers in the Egyptian-clayed Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) the three were well that the Governor General’s Palace in Khartoum had several keys, one of them at least in Cairo.

Turabi possibly imagined himself the elephant in the room between Morsi and Bashir. The copyrights of political Islam in Sudan remain his, Bashir’s Master’s thesis notwithstanding. On the other hand, his relations with Egypt’s Moslem Brothers have long been burdened by the sin of his breakaway from Egyptian orbit in the 1960’s when he scoffed at the so-called educationalist and evolutionist methods of the mother organisation to launch the Sudanese branch of the Moslem Brotherhood onto an independent ‘revolutionary’ course. Along that path he rubbed shoulders with many a dissident Egyptian brother, Ayman al-Zawahiri to name one shining star.

The author is a fellow of the Rift Valley Institute. He publishes regular opinion articles and analyses at his blog Still Sudan. He can be reached at m.elgizouli@gmail.com

Anti-film protests spread across Muslim world

By AYA BATRAWY and LEE KEATH

 (AP) — Angry protests over an anti-Islam film spread across the Muslim world Friday, with demonstrators scaling the walls of U.S. embassies in Tunisia and Sudan, torching part of a German embassy and clashing with security forces at an American fast-food restaurant that was set ablaze in northern Lebanon.

Egypt's new Islamist president went on national TV and appealed to Muslims to not attack embassies, denouncing the violence earlier this week in Libya that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador. Mohammed Morsi's first public move to restrain protesters after days of near silence appeared aimed at repairing strains with the United States over this week's violence.

Police in Cairo prevented stone-throwing demonstrators from nearing the U.S. Embassy, firing tear gas and deploying armored vehicles to push them back in a fourth day of clashes in the Egyptian capital.

The day of protests, which spread to around 20 countries, started small and mostly peacefully in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The most violent demonstrations took place in the Middle East. In many places, only a few hundred took to the streets, mostly ultraconservative Islamists — but the mood was often furious.

The demonstrators came out after weekly Friday Muslim prayers, where many clerics in their mosque sermons called on congregations to defend their faith, denouncing the obscure movie produced in the United States that denigrated the Prophet Muhammad. At least one protester was killed around the region.

Several thousand demonstrators protested outside the US Embassy in Tunis and battled with security forces, throwing stones as police fired volleys of tear gas and shot in the air. Some protesters scaled the embassy wall and stood on top of it, planting a black flag with the Islamic profession of faith, "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet."

Police chased them off the wall and took the flag down.

The heaviest violence came in Sudan, where a prominent sheik on state radio urged protesters to march on the German Embassy to protest alleged anti-Muslim graffiti on mosques in Berlin and then to the U.S. Embassy to protest the film.

"America has long been an enemy to Islam and to Sudan," Sheik Mohammed Jizouly said.

Soon after, several hundred Sudanese stormed into the German Embassy, setting part of an embassy building aflame along with trash bins and a parked car. Protesters danced and celebrated around the burning barrels as palls of black smoke billowed into the sky until police firing tear gas drove them out of the compound.

Some then began to demonstrate outside the neighboring British Embassy, shouting slogans.

Several thousand then moved on the American Embassy, on the capital's outskirts. They tried to storm the mission, clashing with Sudanese police, who opened fire on some who tried to scale the compound's wall. It was not clear whether any protesters made it into the embassy grounds.

The police then launched giant volleys of tear gas to disperse the crowd, starting a stampede. Witnesses reported seeing three protesters motionless on the ground, apparently dead, though there was no immediate confirmation of deaths in the violence.

Ahead of the expected wave of protests on Friday — a traditional day for rallies in the Islamic world — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton explicitly denounced the movie, aiming to pre-empt further turmoil at its embassies and consulates. The film, called "Innocence of Muslims," ridicules the Prophet Muhammad, portraying him as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester.

"The United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video," she said before a meeting with the foreign minister of Morocco at the State Department. "We absolutely reject its content and message." She said the video was "disgusting and reprehensible."

Egypt's Morsi said his TV address that "it is required by our religion to protect our guests and their homes and places of work," he said.

He called the killing of the American ambassador in Libya unacceptable in Islam. "To God, attacking a person is bigger than an attack on the Kaaba," he said, referring to Islam's holiest site in Mecca.

His speech came after President Barack Obama spoke with Morsi by telephone. The Obama administration has been angered by Morsi's slow response to the attack Tuesday night on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. He made little more than vague statements about it for days without an outright condemnation of the breach, in which police did nothing to stop protesters from climbing the embassy walls.

His silence reflected the heavy pressure that Morsi, a longtime figure from the Muslim Brotherhood, faces from Egypt's powerful ultraconservative Islamists. They are using the film issue to boost their own political prominence while challenging Morsi's religious credentials.

Leaders of Egypt's Jihad group, a former militant organization, held a conference in the Egyptian city of Alexandria and said anyone involved in "defamation" of the prophet should be killed. They called on Morsi to cut relations with U.S.

"I appeal to President Mohammed Morsi to cut our relations with those monkeys and pigs," said Rifaei Taha, a leading member of the group.

Several hundred people, mainly ultraconversatives, protested in Cairo's Tahrir Square after weekly Muslim Friday prayers and tore up an American flag, waving a black, Islamist flag. A firebrand ultraconservative Salafi cleric blasted the film and in his sermon in Cairo's Tahrir Square said it was upon Muslims to defend Islam and its prophet.

Many in the crowd then moved to join protesters who have been clashing for several days with police between Tahrir and the U.S. Embassy. "With our soul, our blood, we will avenge you, our Prophet," they chanted as police fired volleys of tear gas.

Elsewhere, one protester was killed in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli in clashes with security forces, after a crowd of protesters set fire to a KFC and a Hardee's restaurant. Protesters hurled stones and glass at police in a furious melee that left 25 people wounded, 18 of them police.

In east Jerusalem, Israeli police stopped a crowd of around 400 Palestinians from marching on the U.S. consulate to protest the film. Demonstrators threw bottles and stones at police, who responded by firing stun grenades. Four protesters were arrested.

Security forces in Yemen shot live rounds in the air and fired tear gas at a crowd of around 2,000 protesters trying to march to the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Sanaa. Though outnumbered by protesters, security forces were able to keep the crowd about a block away from the mission.

A day earlier, hundreds of protesters chanting "death to America" stormed the embassy compound in Sanaa and burned the American flag. The embassy said nobody was harmed. Yemen's president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, quickly apologized to the United States and vowed to track down the culprits.

In Tripoli and Benghazi, civil soceity groups planned demonstrations to voice their opposition to violence and the killing of the U.S. ambassador. Worshippers during Friday prayers said that they will carry flowers and lay them in front of the ambassador's house in Benghazi.

Over the past days, since the attack on the consulate, hundreds held protests in Benghazi and Tripoli city centers mainly against the attack on the consulate.

A small, peaceful demonstration was held Friday outside the U.S. Embassy in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Hundreds of hardline Muslims held peaceful protests against the film throughout Pakistan, shouting slogans and carrying banners criticizing the U.S. and those involved in the film.

Police in Islamabad set up barricades and razor wire to prevent protesters from getting to the diplomatic enclave, where the U.S. Embassy and many other foreign missions are located. Protests were also held in Karachi, Peshawar and Lahore, where protesters shouted "Down with America" and some burned the U.S. flag. About 200 policemen and barbed wire ringed the U.S. Consulate in Lahore.

About 1,500 protest in the eastern city of Jalalabad, shouting "Death to America" and urge President Hamid Karzai to cut relations with the U.S.

A prominent cleric in Indonesia urged Muslims there to remain calm despite their anger about the film. But Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, a branch of the international network that advocates a worldwide Islamic state, on its website blamed the U.S. government for allowing the film to be produced and released, calling it "an act of barbarism that cannot go unpunished."

US Elections in 2012: The Implications for Sudan-South Sudan Relations

First published by the New Nation Newspaper

By Luka Biong Deng

The US is the biggest economy and the most powerful democratic country in the world. However, despite the huge size of its economy, economic growth has slowed down, particularly compared to China, the world’s second biggest economy. While gross domestic product and industrial production in the US grew by 2.3% and 4.4% respectively this year, growth rates of the same indicators in China are 7.6% and 9.2% respectively. Also, while the rate of unemployment in the US is 8.3%, it is only 4.1% in China. Alarmingly the American current-account balance faces a deficit of $483.2 billion, while China enjoys a current-account surplus of $197.1 billion. If these economic indicators continue at the same trend, the economy of China can easily surpass that of the US by 2017. This grim economic climate constitutes the heart of the election campaign. People hope for an administration that can restore hope and put the US economy on the path of recovery.

The relations between South Sudan and the US have been special, particularly during the liberation struggle from 1983 to 2005. During this period, South Sudan was among the countries that received the highest US humanitarian assistance in Africa and funded agricultural rehabilitation and economic recovery programme in relatively stable areas. Thanks to advocacy work of the churches and friends in the US, the cause of the people of South Sudan received the highest attention in US foreign policy, particularly during the tenure of President George Bush junior. The issue of South Sudan was repeatedly mentioned during the State of the Union addressed by President Bush. Also during this period the number of Southerners who migrated to the US on the humanitarian grounds increased considerably, particularly children who lost their families. Now the US is one of the countries with the highest number of migrants from Southern Sudan.

The US also played a critical role in the conclusion of the CPA in 2005. At some point, President Bush became personally involved in the peace talks; he made phone calls to Dr. John Garang and President Bashir whenever there was a deadlock. In particular, the US came up with a proposal for resolving the conflict in the Abyei area when the peace talks were about to collapse over the issue. After the end of the civil war, South Sudan continued to top the list of countries receiving the US humanitarian and developmental assistance.

The leaders of South Sudan became regular visitors to the White House. I was one of the people who had the honour of accompanying President Salva Kiir in one of his meetings with President Bush to the Oval Office and I was impressed by the cordial and special relation between the two leaders. I remember the Texas hat given by Bush to Salva Kiir to symbolize that special relation. That hat became his special brand in Sudan. For the people of South Sudan, the name of President Bush symbolizes the solidarity shown by the US during the difficult times of their struggle.

On the other hand, relations between Washington and Khartoum deteriorated during the Bush administration. The US put Sudan on the list of countries sponsoring terrorism after the attempted assassination of Egyptian President Mubarak and Sudan becoming a base for operations of Al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations, as well as a base for investment by Osama bin Laden. Also with the eruption of the civil war in Darfur in 2003 and crimes against humanity committed by the regime in Khartoum, the US imposed economic sanctions on Sudan.

Despite this tough policy towards Sudan, Washington developed a parallel line of cooperation and exchange of intelligence with Khartoum in the name of fighting terrorism. There is evidence that the US started training, equipping and conducting bilateral operations with Sudan’s intelligence since the early days of September 11 or even earlier, during the Clinton administration. This partnership seems to have been a tool for Washington to influence the regime in Khartoum. It may explain the lukewarm position of Washington towards the increasing atrocities in Darfur and the attack on Abyei in 2008.

After Bush came Barack Obama. I had the opportunity of attending the National Democratic Convention that confirmed Obama as their candidate to the office of the President in 2008. His spectacular acceptance speech was not only inspiring, it also projected him as a timely leader to save the US and restore hope in the world. When he became the first African-American to become President of the most powerful nation in the world, his victory was celebrated worldwide, particularly in Africa and South Sudan. As a descendent from the Luo ethnic community, the people of South Sudan believe Obama is a true South Sudanese as the origin of the Luo community has been proven to be in South Sudan.

During his first tenure, development assistance to South Sudan increased considerably. The Obama administration continued America’s commitment to the full implementation of the CPA, particularly the conduct of the referendum that resulted in the birth of the new nation. However, the special relations that existed between Bush and Salva Kiir did not continue under Obama. This could partially be attributed to the new US foreign policy and partially to the conduct of the South in not keeping the US informed about some of its strategic decisions.

The leadership of South Sudan failed to visit again the Oval Office, except for a meeting between the two presidents at the side of the last UN General Assembly meeting. In the light of its new foreign policy of constructive engagement and dialogue with the Islamic and Arab world, the Obama administration at times took a ‘moral equivalence’ approach on issues related to Sudan and South Sudan.

The intelligence partnership between Khartoum and Washington continued during the Obama administration and its implications became more evident. The US failed to defy Khartoum’s expulsion of 13 key humanitarian agencies from Darfur in 2009. It also kept quiet about the delay of the conduct of the Abyei Referendum and the invasion of Abyei in 2011. Paradoxically some senior US officials even entertained and suggested the partitioning of Abyei area. The US Special Envoy, Mr. Lyman has made it very clear now that Washington is against partitioning of Abyei area. In addition, US has not taken a strong stand on Sudan’s gross human rights violations in Southern Kordofan, its dishonouring of the political partnership agreement with SPLM-North and the theft of Southern oil by Khartoum. In the light of many considerations, the Obama administration seems to settle for the devil it knows and becomes cautious about any change that may bring extremists to power in Khartoum. Despite this intelligence partnership, the regime in Khartoum is becoming more repressive while strengthening its relations with terrorist and extremist organisations.

I was honoured again to attend the National Democratic Convention earlier this month and witness the nomination of President Obama for the second term. The challenge facing President Obama in the 2012 elections is how he lived up to his promises of restoring hope to those without jobs, saving the planet from global warming and closing the prison in Guantanamo. His Republican rival argues that 3 million more Americans are out of work than four years ago and that national debt has risen by $5 trillion. He also argues that Obama’s global warming efforts have evaporated, America’s standing in the Islamic world is not higher than it was under President Bush and the prison in Guantanamo remains open.

On the other hand, listening to speeches, personal accounts and experiences during the democratic convention, particularly the enlightening speech of Bill Clinton, the democrats defended the performance of President Obama and argued convincingly why he should be given another four years. The real success of Obama is less about what he achieved but more about what he averted. It is a common fact that he inherited an ailing economy with a collapsing banking system, two car manufacturers close to bankruptcy and a declining employment and housing market. Most economists agree that Obama has averted economic recession and put the US economy on the path of early recovery. Also Obama is credited for invigorating US foreign policy and containing terrorism by killing Osama bin Laden.

The issue of Sudan and South Sudan has also featured in the current election campaigns. The Republicans accuse the Obama administration of not doing enough to support the new state of South Sudan and put pressure on Khartoum. The Democrats, on the other hand, boast they contributed to the birth of the new nation based on the free will of its people. It was highly appreciated that Obama mentioned South Sudan in his acceptance speech during the convention in Charlotte. Equally, the timely visit of US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to Juba showed America’s commitment to its special relations with the South.

While the special relation that the South enjoys with US will always remain non-partisan, the relations between Khartoum and Washington are likely to come under serious scrutiny during the campaign. If Obama is re-elected, his administration may revisit its intelligence partnership with Sudan and review its policy of considering the regime in Khartoum as the best option for Sudan. The new Obama administration may also engage with other opposition forces, particularly the SPLM-North. If the Republicans win the elections, relations between Juba and Washington may improve to the same level as existed under the Bush administration. The Republicans will most likely take a tougher position on regime change in Khartoum and support other democratic forces to lead a peaceful democratic transition.

The best option for Khartoum is to take the current talks in Addis Ababa seriously and reach an amicable solution on all the pending issues with South Sudan and the SPLM-North. This will provide Khartoum a golden opportunity not only for reviving its special relations with the South but also in nurturing good relations with Washington.

Luka Biong Deng is a senior member of South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Co-Chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee. He can be contacted at lukabiong@kushworld.org

Open Letter from SPLM-N to British Foreign Secretary

Open Letter from Dr Omer M Shurkian Principal Representative of the SPLM-N Office in the UK and the Republic of Ireland to the British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

SUDAN PEOPLE’S LIBERATION MOVEMENT (SPLM-N)

Dr Omer M Shurkian,

Date: September 10th 2012

Rt Hon William Hague, MP
Foreign Secretary

It is now over a year since the renewal of hostilities in both South Kordofan and Blue Niles States in the Sudan on June 6th and September 1st 2011, respectively. Over such a period, the humanitarian situation has been extremely deteriorated by fighting. The plight of civilian population in the Two Areas is appalling, and human rights abuses are increasingly on the rise. These human rights violations include aerial bombings and artillery bombardments of civilian targets, summary executions of SPLM members and sympathisers, kidnapping and murdering of internally displaced persons and refugees, burning and destruction of villages, health and education centres, worshipping buildings, market places, food stocks, and looting of properties and animals, to mention but a few. It is beyond words to describe the barbaric acts of reaction as shown by the Sudan Armed Forces against non-combatants in the war-stricken zones. The photographic evidences of victims we continuously receive from the conflict-affected areas are horrifying, heart-rending and enraging. They are too gruesome to be seen by, or to be shown to, anybody. The abuses are absolutely barbaric; they are systematic.

From the early weeks of hostilities, the SPLM-N has so far signed the Framework Agreement with the Sudan Government on Political Partnership and Political and Security Arrangements in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan States in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on June 28th 2011. Not only did the Sudan Government reject categorically the agreement, though it was signed by one of its key leaders, but it went on to launch another war in the Blue Nile State, dismissed its duly elected Governor and the Sudan Armed Forces were unleashed on unarmed population, committing atrocities against them. On February 9th 2012, the UN, AU and the League of Arab States submitted to the warring parties a proposal for access to provide and deliver humanitarian assistance to the war-affected areas of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States.

While the SPLM-N signed the tripartite proposal, the Government in Khartoum refused to sign, depriving its citizens of a chance to survive. All diplomatic efforts to date have failed. The UN Security Council Resolution 2046 of May 2nd 2012 called for the conflict in Sudan’s Two Areas to end, and stressed the urgent need for a negotiated political solution, based on respect for diversity in unity. In particular, the resolution urges the Sudan and the SPLM-N to accept the tripartite proposal to permit humanitarian access and deliver emergency assistance to the affected population in the Two Areas. The Government of Sudan has rejected the resolution. On August 4th 2012, the SPLM-N signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the Tripartite Partners (the African Union, the League of Arab States ant he United Nations) on humanitarian assistance to war affected-areas in Blue Nile and South Kordofan States.

We, therefore, appeal to the British Government to put pressure upon the Sudan Government to achieve the followings:

  • urgent humanitarian relief and assistance are needed by granting aid organisations immediate and unhindered access to the conflict-affected areas in the exerting economic, political and diplomatic pressures upon the Sudan Government to honour and implement all agreements it has signed with either the SPLM-N or the tripartite partners under the auspices of AUHIP, including the Memorandum of Understanding as signed on August 5th 2012;
  • an investigation of human rights violations to be carried out by ‘an independent international institution or committee, with the purpose of realising justices and averting the recurrence of such atrocities.’ This will uphold the international law and the pursuance of justice;
  • embark on a concerted effort to reach a durable, political solution to this renewed conflict in the two states through looking into the political future of the whole Sudan whereby new modalities for the co-existence of all marginalised people of Sudan could participate fully and equally in power- and wealth-sharing.

These peace-building blocks alluded to are not entirely the SPLM-N’s demands; it is worth noting that the Sudan Government/National Congress Party had agreed and signed the Declaration of Principles with the SPLM-N in Addis Ababa on June 28th 2011 in which a number of the above-mentioned peace-blocks were stipulated.

In the name of humanity, dignity, morality and human rights, we cordially appeal to you to exert your influence upon the UK Government to rescue the citizens of these Two Areas from these appalling situations and imminent extermination by the Sudan Government. They are looking for the International Community for survival and justice. They were failed before by the UN in the past civil war (1983-2005). Will they be failed again?

Thank you very much.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Omer M Shurkian

Principal Representative of the SPLM-N Office in the UK and the Republic of Ireland

• Copy to Rt Hon George Mudie, MP

Regarding the stolen $4 billion

By William Ajang

September 7, 2012 —One quality of leadership (and a soldier for that matter) is to take a calculated bold step, regardless of its repercussions. That is exactly what our president did on 3rd June 2012, that surprised you and me. Even though 2months had passed and no dime had been return to our emptied treasury, let us all congratulate and support him. I assumed he is scheming next moves – do you play chess game?

You said yes? Good, that’s how politics play out. There are important steps His Excellency can still explore and that is the purpose of this article. 1st) Not all the receivers of the 75 mails are suspects, some of them are as innocent as Jesus Christ. Possibly there are other individuals still out there who didn’t received letters but had mouthful with our cash. So after this wider advertisement, a shortlist is crucial to filter out thieves from gentlemen. 2nd) H. E. can seek assistance from foreign countries. In most of the civilised countries corruption is eradicated like a folio, so whoever hid money there is likely to be exposed. That can be easily executed by his two DGs of security organs. We may get hundreds of millions to mitigate current austerity. 3rd) There was a mockery exercise called asset declaration done months ago by Anti Corruption Commission and we are yet to hear whose assets had been repossessed by government. No citizen of sovereign country who was poor yesterday and the next day he is found building five-stars hotel! The source (s) of money must be clarified in order to protect national security. The safest way to differentiate thieves from those who might had risked national security is through this. I will give you fourth before the end of article, so please continue!

Corruption should be treated as a crime against the nation and should not be allow to grow roots. Of course fighting corruption is a riskiest business, just like fighting marijuana or cocaine but it is a war worth fighting for. It require few words and a lot of actions. A country where leaders want to be rich while their co-patriots are mired in abject poverty is not healthy society. Mr. Greg Mills from South Africa who is an economist by profession, the Author of the well-researched book “Why Africa is poor” sum up the debate in one phrase. The answer is; ‘the main reason why Africans are poor is because their leaders have made this choice”. There is sparkle different from being ‘broke’ and being ‘poor’, the former is temporary while the later is permanent. Even countries without natural resources can be broke at certain point but they can never be poor if their leaders opted for prosperity of his subjects. Singapore and Rwanda being such examples. The deterrent come to force when there is mechanism for reward and punishment – reward to epitome good Civil Servants and punishment against the crooks. In this particular anecdote, I want to give this short story.

A Russian dissident, Mr. Josef Krushnykov was found guilty of treason against Czar’s regime. It wasn’t the first time Mr. Krushnykov was involved in a coup d’état, it was his third. So soon after the verdict he was sentenced to be hang and Czar happily signed it. But something puzzling happened, the hangmen tightened the noose around Mr. Krushnykov’s neck and pulled the stool away.

When Mr. Krushnykov hanged loose, the rope reared and the lucky-man landed, he survived. Because in those ancient days such incidents were associated with superpower. So the survival of Mr. Krushnykov was perceived to be some kind of divine intervention. But alas! Mr. Krushnykov said something stupid again that would eventually cost him his life. The hangmen went back to Czar to seek his advice. After narrating the whole episode, Czar meditated and finally asked “what did Mr. Krushnykov said after he landed a life”, the hangmen laughed and said; he stood up and told small crowds that were watching the execution “you see what I have been telling you all along, that this government cannot do anything qualitative, even the ropes to hang convicts was thus poor”! An outrageous Czar entered his bedroom and emerged with sisal ropes that he had bought for his new wooden bed. He handed it over to the hangmen and ordered them “go and try this”! This time Mr. Krushnykov was not that lucky, neither was he right that the government made poor quality ropes.

Here is the 4th) we need to hang at least few corrupt officials who are proved guilty as charged. You cannot tell me nobody is guilty or else you must explain the whereabouts our $4b. Such an action - I bet a cow - will deters corruption practices because our thieves are third-world-parvenus who value wealth much more than dignity. In fact they are not thieves, they are kleptomaniacs!

Finally. Now that our economic is in ICU, isn’t it time to make use of our economists’ brain such as those worked in World Bank, Africa Development Bank, IMF – even newly Economics Graduates are much more better than static experience from ancient Khartoum banks. Those ancient economists wouldn’t even download information from website! The inflation had to be stabilise, trade and commerce need to be tackle, agriculture schemes, et cetera et cetera. It is a proven reality the market often react positively following government’s good policy or positive action. In any case our advisors do not like South Sudanese Economists for some reasons, then we can look for a foreigner. In fact Mr. Straus Khan, the former IMF boss, is idle nowadays. I know now you are laughing for my ludicrous because Mr Khan is a reputed womaniser. Well.. our ladies don’t speak French and Mr. Khan’s English is terrible, so by the time he recruit a translator, our economy shall have improved and by then we can happily send him back to Paris. Now Mr. President, do you have a sisal twine?

Author is reachable at awilliamchan@yahoo.com

Sudanese Opposition Forces must unite or perish!

By Isaiah Abraham

September 6, 2012 — The political classes in the Republic of Sudan have missed a
rare political opportunity to topple the government in Khartoum during
students’ uprisings. The then economic conditions faced by the government there
could have been used as a good ground to forge an alternative, and bring down
the system peacefully. Alas, Northern political forces have wasted golden
chance to unite and bring about the change every Sudanese has been yearning
for. They had difficulty trusting one another or group trusting another on
power. The dogged problem has always been who should be who first; they did it
before the ‘animal’ was finally killed. The Umma Party, the Democratic Unionist
Party (DUP), Popular Congress Party, the Communist, the SPLM-N has a daunting
task now to change the system in Khartoum. Unity for the opposition forces is
paramount, if the threat of removing the current government in Khartoum is to
become real.

By unity they could form a formidable force that would be
reckoned with against the long worn out party called the National Congress
Party (NCP). The NCP fortunately or unfortunately is regrouping, and so long as
they will be again in partnership with South Sudan’s Sudan People’s Liberation
Movement in the South, the lot has already been cast in favor of them. Sooner
or later the economy of the Sudan will pick up as there will be billions of
dollars flowing into their Central Bank from South Sudan. Sudanese as they are known
have short memory. They will resume their lives, despite irreparable
socio-political damage brought about by ruthless regime in power (Khartoum).

The Sudanese people have paid the brunt of Khartoum brutal
policies and it is time the country move away. The clique in power has no
intention of leaving power under any circumstances unless the opposition
extraordinary to change tact. South Sudan has escaped narrowly, but Western
Region of Darfur, Nuba Mountains and South Blue Nile have become next targets
for the regime in Khartoum. Time and again, the world was warned that Khartoum bends
to shed more blood of innocent human beings in the country, but the powerful nations
were indifference and still like that. It becomes worse under President Barack
Hussien Obama of the United States of America. I pray he loses the election in
November! People thought that the world is moving closer, and if there is an
outcry at a certain corner, others shouldn’t be indifference, but hurry to put
off that fire. There is no hope under President Obama; rhetoric alone isn’t
enough, rogue regimes will finish others.

Sudan needs world attention, especially now that it is more
incline to clear any living being off the land of the Nuba. The Main Opposition
forces haven’t lives up to the expectation of the people of the Sudan. Their
sectarian orientation goes against new order. It has alienated many, and
somewhat work in favor of the dying regime in power. Why don’t these people
unite or seek genuine intercourses and alliances among themselves. For Khartoum to go therefore, the main traditional
opposition forces must make unity attractive to other political forces. They
got to join hands with the Sudan Liberation Movement factions, and the
SPLA-North so to quickly bring down the government. There is chance to do just
that.

Alliance is the way to go! Political marriage for all is
overdue, so to squeeze life out of the NCP. Time to do it is now. The
leadership issue must not be given much attention at the moment. Imam Sadiq El
Mahdi has proven to me that he is a nationalist figure and should be respected.
He came up with a clear cut strategy that could have helped had it not that his
idea of uniting all forces under certain project was shot down in its infancy. Other
prominent groups rejected outright, and no consultation and communication made
to those with arms in the bushes. Great ideas are conceived by a few and later
to many. I don’t think it was right to throw away the baby along with the
water, simply because the messenger was a wrong one. Opposition Groups are
becoming weaker and irrelevant unless they try something new.

I urge Imam El Mahdi to continue to be on the front line for
change in the Sudan. He must define problems faceb by the Nuba Mountain and the
Blue Nile, and fight for their rights. The same must be true with the region Darfur.
They too deserves peace and political consideration. Dr. Abdallah Al Turabi was
vocal, and has since gone underground.

The underlying issues are well documented and differences on prospective shouldn’t
divert attention away from forging for unified front. The Ansars and Ketimiya are
still forces to be beat on the political field; they got to set national agenda
for the small Sudanese political parties to follow. Islamic extremism slows
down the country shift; Sudan has to settle down after ages of strife and war.
Compromise is a necessity if President Al Bashir is to be retired. He was a
good man, but somewhere lost his stamina and should be removed. There is time
for anyone, and Sudanese deserves more.

Northern Opposition Forces have no any excuse not to topple
the government in Khartoum. They have experiences, shared practices/policies; they
have one objective, and are in fact the majority. What stands between them and
that goal is lack of trust as to power struggle. Once they put that behind and
move towards their main goal, the smooth will be their going.

But why unity? Well, unity of the opposition parties will lead
to peaceful removal of the regime, and this in turn will relieve the country
from external and internal pressures. We all know all that don’t us? Externally,
the country will regain its lost glory among world powers, and dignity of the
country will be restored. Internally the current map of the Sudan won’t temper
with. Agenda for areas under trouble politically will be crafted. The
government will stop fighting its people. Regionally, there will be bilateral relationship
between the two former Sudans (South & North). The two people of the two
countries have many in common; as the border will be reopen for social and
economic activities. There will be peace and then development for both
countries. Northern Opposition must unite or perish!

If change is effected in Khartoum, the dangerous man on
earth will have no place to lay his head. Dr. Lam Akol sanctuary will end; he is
fighting a losing war, a misguided man who thrives through treacherous schemes
in the name of being intelligent. His militias under him will be subdued by the
mighty SPLA. Renegade Major, David Yau Yau will be a past tense in few weeks or
days to come after his grisly attacks against civilians and the SPLA forces. No
one has ever escaped SPLA hands after spill their blood. Juba shall forge a different approach, and dissidents from
both sides will have no ground to fight from either North or the South.

You must wonder what makes this author so nosy to Sudanese
affairs when there are plenty of matters to write about in his home country
called South Sudan. In another word someone is confused what makes Southern
based writers jumped to the affairs of another country. Like everyone else, I
have an interest and my interest is peace and stability. Stability of the Sudan
is our stability in the South. Remember the iconic sayings that ‘injustice
somewhere is injustice everywhere’, and ‘war is contagious’.
So the writer isn’t campaigning for anything closer to unity
between the countries, the Sudan and the Azania/Nile Republic (Uncle Lagu and
the group love to call it South Sudan). Our divorce was mutual and definite or
forever.

On the side of South Sudan therefore there is need to search
soul and take serious Hon. Dr. Luka Biong Deng premonition about the country’s
relations with traditional allies in the North. Our leaders are becoming
lukewarm these days of issues beyond the borders, something so strange and
unacceptable. South Sudan must not shy or make any mistake to abandon these
people under any pressure. We must not be ashamed to support Nubians and the
Funj people in their hour of need. They are under threat socially and
politically. Darfur case came late into equation. Let the United States of
America or any other group talk, we have a duty to stand in solidarity with our
brothers and sisters in these areas. The NCP is merciless; the white man will
realize things when they are too late about these.

The author lives in Juba; he onIsaiah_abraham@yahoo.co.uk

Natsios and his heretical revelations about Sudan

By Abdullahi Osman El-Tom

I read with tremendous outrage the Op-ed article published by Andrew Natsios, ex-US Envoy for Sudan, in the New York Times, August 24th, 2012. To say the least, the article is insulting to the intelligence of thousands of Sudanese who have been demonstrating over the last two months in Sudan, calling for the ousting of Al-Bashir, the apparent darling of Mr. Natsios and other US diplomats. Such a crass article must have found itself on the page of the reputable paper The New York Times purely because of Mr. Natsios’ famous name and certainly not for what the submission could offer its readers. The article smacks of superficiality, inhumaneness and an utter absence of intellectual rigour, the last being a cherished principle in the world of academia, where Mr. Natsios is currently working. It is ironic that western media, the New York Times being no exception, can say anything at all about Third World people. They know that their 3rd World ‘victims’ do not count among their western consumers and thus they have no need to worry about their analysis even if it leads to carnage, death and misery.

In reading Natsios’ analysis, one is struck by his desperate plea to keep Al-Bashir in power, an insane view given the records of Al-Bashir with genocidal massacres of two million in South Sudan and the Nuba Mountains, around half a million in Darfur, displacement of 2.5m, rape of tens of thousands of women and many other miseries visited on the beleaguered Sudanese people. Barring a need for urgent psychiatric attention, why would anybody on earth in his full faculties recommend keeping such an evil monster in power? Regretfully and I would not hesitate to say embarrassingly, that is precisely the message of Mr. Natsios is sending us with his incessant arguments. Keeping Al-Bashir in power is so important for Natsios that he felt obliged to repeat it at the beginning as well as at the conclusion of his submission. Thus he warned US policy makers and others that Sudanese opposition groups who are intent on “toppling Al-Bashir would soon be at odds with one another”; western allies were warned that changing the regime “would (only) set the stage for a new war” and; that with the ousting of Al-Bashir, “they should have no illusions about prospects for a democratic peaceful Sudan”. Well, the expert has spoken and the US policy-makers have nothing to do but listen. Never mind that this prophecy is portraying an image of a country at peace with itself and its people but which would be turned into a living hell if its caring head, Al-Bashir were removed. The wars, ravaging in Darfur, Kordofan, Blue Nile and with South Sudan hardly register in this insidious logic.

Let me give Mr. Natsios some credit before I proceed. In as much as the article infuriated some Sudanese, it also pleased others in the country. Indeed the article reads like a miraculous work of one of Al-Bashir’s advisors, although admittedly all of them are too intellectually-challenged to come up with such a forceful defense of their dictator. Nonetheless, the Khartoum establishment was so thrilled with the article that it featured it in its strongly-controlled media as well as its powerful paper Al-Intibaha, edited by Al-Bashir’s uncle and racist demagogue, Al-Tayib Mustafa and to whom we owe credit for bringing this article to our attention. If Natsios wants to salvage his spectacular failure as an Envoy, this article is an ace right away and may even dissuade Al-Bashir from treating the USA with absolute contempt, causing him to disown his “USA under my shoes” speeches.

Perhaps I have been too harsh on Natsios and his apparent admiration for Al-Bashir amid deep mistrust of Sudanese opposition parties and utter hatred of JEM in particular. In his favour, his thesis is well in line with US policy in Sudan and to which he contributed during his term as an Envoy. In mid-2005, we, the Darfur rebels, were told in private that we were not ready to rule Sudan and that we ought to share power with Al-Bashir. That private policy has now become public and official as well. Princeton Lyman, the current US Envoy, has declared publicly that it is the policy of the United States “not to depose Al-Bashir but to reform him”. Thus, Natsios can take pride in at least beating the bandwagon in Washington, and to the hell with the ideals of justice, democracy and human rights that the USA says it stands for.

Dwelling on Turabi’s past in the article gives a good insight into the driving force behind Natsios’ mindset regarding Sudan’s politics. Turabi did play a formidable role in the Sudanese Islamic movement but his time has gone. He was ousted more than a decade ago and is unlikely to play any important role in Sudan’s future. The problem of Natsios and his generation of diplomats or ex-diplomats is that they are stuck in that ugly era of human history. They see the world through the Islamic fanaticism of the 1990s, haunted by Bin Laden and his evil and tragic attacks of September 11th. Despite this, what is perplexing to me is that Natsios cajoles us into accepting Al-Bashir as a hero to take us out of that era. As he says, the US has succeeded in persuading Al Bashir “away from spreading radical Islam to Africa” while preserving his “Islamist ideology and institutions” in the country. Well, Natsios cannot be more wrong. Al-Bashir has changed very little. He is still involved in ferrying arms to Islamist radicals in Palestine, supporting Iran in its dubious Middle East gambles and supporting fanaticism in Somalia. Much more ominously, he is keeping his “Islamic ideology and institutions” in place, as Natsios himself admits.

In a strange revelation, Natsios claims that the anti-Bashir coalition includes several Islamic groups, one of which is the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), which is “inspired by Turabi’s vision of Islamism”. This finding is presented as a causal fact that requires no justification. But what is Turabi’s vision that Natsios is talking about? The article did not specify this vision but we can abstract it from his review of early policies of the current regime when Turabi was in power: support for Al-Qaida and housing its operatives, exporting Islamist ideology in Africa and beyond, banishing women from the public sphere, application of sharia laws, establishment of separate Islamic courts, operation of Islamic banking, replacement of English with Arabic, etc. Now, I am familiar with all official literature of JEM, for I have either drafted, co-written, translated or participated in their discussion before their release. JEM official literature is clearly at odds with all of the above and does not support Mr. Natsios’ thesis. His misinformed reading is a result of not doing his homework, ignorance and sheer disingenuous thinking.

But there is an odd passage in Natsios’ critique of Turabi. He says in a critical tone that “Turabi wanted governors to be elected and for the parliament to be able to impeach the president”. Regardless of Turabi’s motive for introducing these powers in Sudan and given Natsios’ citizenship in a land where these powers are taken for granted and practiced since independence, wouldn’t you think he would give Turabi credit for this particular point? Apparently not and for the simple reason that such powers threaten the survival of Al-Bashir’s presidency. This is simply bizarre coming from an ex-Envoy of the superpower that has rightfully and commendably championed democracy across the world.

In his narrative on the formation of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), Natsios states that JEM opposed the adoption of the proposed “central principal of a secular state”. He then jumped to the conclusion that JEM supports “sharia law and the defining notion of Sudan as an Islamic state”. The conclusion exposes Natsios’ intellectual laziness and lack of seriousness for he had obviously never bothered to read the SRF agreement documents. These documents are riddled with passages at odds with the “support of sharia and Islamic state”, such as civic state, removal of religion from politics, equality of all religions, separation of powers, freedom to worship all gods, etc.

Obsession with the term “secular” has been a rampant affair in the west and is not confined to Mr. Natsios. It is true the term is elastic and means different things to different people. One does not have to subscribe to post-modernism to state that words do not have meanings that are independent of their utterers. Even a first-year linguist would tell you people do not retrieve meaning from words; they attribute meanings to words. After all, the American Constitution allowed slavery in the past and moved on to outlaw it without any change in its original wording.

The term “secular” is besieged by problems that cannot be reduced to simple semantics. It has a different ring in the Muslim world and carries certain meanings that are not necessarily shared in Europe and North America. In Sudan as well as other Muslim countries, the term “secular” reflects an ideology that is hostile to biblical religions. With such understanding, the term becomes problematic, offensive to many and equally undemocratic in its spirit and connotation. I do not share the vision that “secularism” is anti-religion but accept prevalence of such erroneous understanding among the populace of Sudan. For this reason, the SRF reached a consensus to use the term “dowla madaniya”, meaning “civic, civilian / non-theocratic state. Support of the sharia part of the debate is a figment of the imagination of Mr. Natsios and did not feature in the deliberations that led to the signing of the SRF.

It is clear in this response that Mr. Natsios has not kept pace with developments in Sudan over the last 30 years. He has a poor understanding of the consciousness that has taken place among the marginalized Sudanese including JEM. It is silly to assume that JEM is fighting to restore Turabi’s ideals. Indeed the JEM revolt is against all traditional parties and their visions including the Popular Congress Party of Turabi.

Finally, ignorance is no source of shame. What is shameful is not to face up to it and do something about it. Mr. Natsios needs to kick-start his learning about Sudan before resuming his pontification about it. If he has the humility to seek help in this regard, I will be ready to oblige.

Abdullahi Osman El-Tom is Head of Strategic Planning of JEM. He can be reached at: abdullahi.eltom@nuim.ie

After Meles: The Fate of South Sudan and Sudan Future Relations

By Luka Biong Deng

As the people of Ethiopia, the continent and the world at large will pay the last tribute and farewell to the Prime Minister Meles next Sunday on 2nd September 2012 in Addis, the implications of his death will start to unfold. There is no doubt that the death of Prime Minister Meles will have serious consequences for the future relations between South Sudan and Sudan. Meles was one of the few African leaders who had a deep understanding of the bumpy and turmoil relations between South Sudan and Sudan and that ended up in bitter divorce. The new breed of African leaders who championed the liberation struggle of their people came to appreciate the struggle of the people of the South for justice, dignity and freedom.

In particular Meles and President Afawarki of Eritrea who spent sometimes in Sudan during their liberation struggle witnessed the status of the people of the South in the united Sudan. Both of them described that the status of Ethiopian and Eritrean refugees in the Sudan was even better than that of Southerners in their own country. In 1991 after the fall of Mangestu who was the closest ally to the SPLM, the new leadership of Ethiopia adopted a strategic approach to build good relation with the SPLM rather than confronting it.

Although people may differ in assessing the legacy of Meles, the people of the South in particular would always remember him as leader who distinctively contributed in the birth of their new nation. Also the people of the South would remember him as a leader who stood well with them during the difficult times of their struggle. Although the South did not prominently appear when the body of the Prime Minister Meles arrived to Addis, the government in Juba and for the first time in its short history declared three days national mourning and lowered its flag in recognition of the role Meles played in the birth of their nation.

In fact one would say that Meles reminded most people of the South of their late Leader Dr John as they both shared the rare trait of visionary leadership in Africa. In some of his meetings with President Salva that I was privileged to attend, I was amazed by his intelligence, knowledge, analytical ability, meticulous focus and far sightedness. In one of these meetings, I was impressed by his articulation of how to combat poverty in Ethiopia by focusing on rural infrastructure as basis of economic growth and low-cost housing scheme as means of creating employment and availing the poor with critical economic assets for breaking the cycle of poverty.

I had few chances of meeting him individually and I was shocked by the level of his knowledge about the details of the CPA, particularly the problem of Abyei. He was clear that the issue of Abyei may not need a referendum as that would be a waste of resources for an outcome that is very clear as the Ngok Dinka will logically vote to join the South. He was also having a specific housing scheme for Abyei to avail low-cost and affordable housing for the people of Abyei area as a way of compensating them for the repetitive loss of their assets. I had a chance also of meeting him during the 5th International Conference on Federalism that he hosted in Addis in December 2010 under the theme of “Equality and Unity in Diversity for Development”. As I participated with a paper on the experience of Sudan on decentralization and having the honour of reading out the resolutions of the conference, I was struck by his articulation of the Ethiopian unique ethnic federal democratic system as the basis for unity, peace building, good governance, and equitable and sustainable development.

In Khartoum, the death of Prime Minister Meles was mourned differently. Although no national mourning was announced, all the public media and press gave in-depth coverage of his legacy and his role in developing special relations between Ethiopia and Sudan. The relations between Khartoum and Addis started deteriorating after the assassination attempt in Addis on President Mubarak, the former Egyptian President. By the time President Bashir became isolated regionally and international over atrocities committed in Darfur, Prime Minister Meles kept special and personal relations with President Bashir. In fact Meles was the only friend left for President Bashir in the region and continent. Meles was the only leader in Africa who attempted to see some positive aspects of the tainted image of Sudan. Certainly, the regime in Khartoum is mourning for losing the only leader who used to listen to them and moderated their extreme positions to the continent and the world. With the death of Meles, the regime in Khartoum will be in short supply of African leaders who would play the role played by Meles.

Probably one would say that Meles took a high political risk in associating himself with President Bashir who is seen as a real liability to his own people, the region and continent. In recent years, Meles started to recognize that his investment in good relations with Bashir was not yielding fruits, particularly after his invasion of Abyei and his act of forcing the people of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states to go back to war. Also the recent Islamic voices in Ethiopia that call for establishment of Islamic state in Ethiopia had angered the people of Ethiopia. Sudan and other Islamic countries are alleged to have hidden hands in orchestrating and supporting such agenda of political Islam in Ethiopia and even across the continent. For sure Prime Minister Meles during his last days might have regretted the way President Bashir let him down in his pursuit of sustaining peace in Sudan as well as building good relations between South and Sudan.

There is no doubt that Meles was the only leader in the continent who had good relations with South and Sudan even during the difficult times when the two countries were at the brink of large scale war. Definitely South and Sudan will remain key strategic neighbours to Ethiopia. The way the new leadership of Ethiopia will continue to play the special role played by Meles in keeping good relations with both South and Sudan will depend on the new strategic interests of Ethiopia after Meles. The fact that the Deputy Minister was not confirmed immediately as the new Prime Minister shows that there are still serious political discussion within the ruling party. The confirmation of the current Deputy Prime Minister will be a litmus test to the commitment of the ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Revolutionary Front (EPDRF), to its policy of the unity in diversity under the ethnic federal system. Despite the ethnic politics of the big ethnic groups (Oromo, Amhara and Tigray), one expects that EPDRF will eventually convince these big ethnic groups to confirm the current Deputy Prime Minister who hails from a small ethnic Wolayta group as the new Prime Minister and to be assisted possibly by competent deputies from these big ethnic groups.

If the EPDRF confirms the Deputy Prime Minister as the new leader then Ethiopia will set another good example of smooth succession in Africa but it will also provide a rare precedence of a civilian to become the Commander-in-Chief of the liberation army. With the confirmation of Mr Hailemariam Desalegn as Prime Minister, EPRDF would make a practical sense of its commitment to its principle of unity in diversity within the ethnic federal system and that will make Ethiopia even stronger and more united. With Hailemariam as a new leader, there are opportunities that EPDRF will consolidate its achievements and work towards creating more political space and freedom of expression with the aim of making Ethiopia more democratic and prosperous. Also there are opportunities that the new leadership in Ethiopia will build new relations on new basis with its neighbours, particularly Sudan and South Sudan.

With new leadership in Ethiopia, the South will have even stronger relation with Ethiopia as such relations have gone beyond relations between leaders to people-to-people relations. President Salva will certainly be the closest African leader to the new leadership in Ethiopia and South will be on the top of the strategic friends of Ethiopia. The regime in Khartoum may have difficulty in relating easily to the new leadership of Ethiopia and the special relations that prevailed between Bashir and Meles may not continue in the same level and flavor.

The EPDRF as the ruling party in Ethiopia may revisit seriously its relation with the National Congress Party, the ruling party in Sudan, in the light of the alarming political Islam voices in Ethiopia. One may expect that the relations between Ethiopia and Sudan may deteriorate to the level that Sudan may revisit not only its position towards the mediating role played by Ethiopia between Sudan and South and but also its membership in IGAD. This may force Sudan to seriously take the African Union Roadmap and the UN Security Council Resolution 2046 as the only opportunity for normalizing and strengthening its relation with the South as the only potential friend available in the region.

Luka Biong Deng is a leading member of South Sudan’s governing Sudan People’s Liberation (SPLM). He is a former minister of Cabinet Affairs and is currently a Co- Chair of Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC) representing South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit.

He can be reached via lukabiong@kushworld.org

This article was first Published by the New Nation Newspaper.