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October 2012 - Posts

Violence in Hashaba, North Darfur: A brutal portent, another UN disgrace

By Eric Reeves

October 31, 2012 — Yet again the UN is managing to say little if anything about atrocity crimes in Darfur—crimes in which Khartoum’s National Islamic Front/National Congress Party (NIF/NCP) regime is clearly implicated. It is implicated by virtue of its support, active and implicit, for "security forces" that rule by terror in Darfur; in the present case—as so often in the past—this has meant Arab paramilitary forces. The village of Hashaba North and its environs (approximately 55 kilometers northeast of Kutum in North Darfur) were attacked from September 26 through October 2 by what have been repeatedly described by eyewitnesses as Arab militia forces and Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) aerial military assets. Very high numbers of civilian casualties were soon reported by Radio Dabanga ("between 250 and 300 people," October 4, 2012), along with repeated descriptions of the attackers on the ground as belonging to "pro-government militias." Many thousands of civilians have been newly displaced.

Even more disturbing and significant, however, is a subsequent attack on the follow-up investigation, a robust UNAMID patrol (UN/African Union Mission in Darfur) comprising 16 vehicles in all. On October 17, 2012 a very heavily armed militia group—which had carefully anticipated the route of the UNAMID convoy traveling to North Hashaba—fired from high ground down upon the highly vulnerable UNAMID forces. UNAMID returned fire, but faced very intimidating weaponry and overwhelming tactical disadvantage; with the killing of one UNAMID soldier and the wounding of three others (one critically), the force retreated back to Kutum. The South African soldier killed was the 43rd to die in a mission that has been consistently poorly led, betrayed by militarily capable nations such as the U.S. that have refused to help equip the force properly, and by a lack of political will on the part of UN and African Union leadership in demanding of Khartoum security and access for UNAMID personnel, and accountability for atrocity crimes committed by the NIF/NCP regime’s soldiers and militia proxies.

The character of the weapons used in the attack on UNAMID forces was reported in uncharacteristic detail (Agence France-Presse [Khartoum], October 22, 2012):

"’[The attackers] used arsenals of high-calibre weapons that were never used before,’ UNAMID spokeswoman Aicha Elbasri said in a written reply to AFP questions. ’This includes mortars, medium machine-guns, rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47 rifles, and anti-tank guns.’" Edmond Mulet, deputy head of UN peacekeeping operations, would later declare in an October 24 briefing of the UN Security Council that the attacking force used "heavy machine guns," a fearsomely destructive weapon when fired with the advantage of significantly higher ground position.

This was no ordinary militia assault: it is clear that the UNAMID convoy was attacked, on the basis of advance intelligence, so as to prevent the investigation of atrocity crimes reported from Hashaba. Indeed, although the UN merely hints at this reality, I am aware of no analyst not connected with the UN or UNAMID who disputes this conclusion or has offered a plausible alternative explanation. UNAMID has declared that it will proceed with a third mission to investigate the crimes at Hashaba, but given the motive for the attack on this most recent mission, it will likely take a great deal of time in obtaining adequate security guarantees from Khartoum and the SAF. As on countless previous occasions, after Khartoum’s proxies finish sanitizing the site there will little be left in the way of evidence from the attacks of late September/early October.

Further, this attack on the UN must be seen in light of the regime’s repeated, utterly false claims about human security in Darfur, chiefly that there is no major fighting in Darfur and that civilians are secure and able to return safely to their homes and lands. In the very recent words of Deputy Governor of North Darfur, al-Fateh Abdel Aziz Abdel Nabi:

"’[T]here is very good improvement in the security situation’ compared with its peak in 2004, he said, with incidents limited to Kutum and Mellit. ’And they are isolated and they are under control.’" (Agence France-Presse [el-Fasher], October 17, 2012)

The assault on UN Security Council-authorized peacekeepers was designed to ensure that this perverse narrative was preserved as much as possible, at least with respect to civilian massacres and other atrocity crimes. The excruciatingly limited truth of this claim by Khartoum about "the peak [of violence] in 2004" has somehow—in some quarters—made it acceptable to consign these early years of the genocide to a past that no longer concerns us directly or bears on an understanding of events such as those at Hashaba. This inevitably works to skew the history of the region profoundly, from 2005 to the present (see the sections on Darfur in my recent Compromising with Evil: An archival account of greater Sudan, 2007 – 2012).

Indeed, the evidence is so clear in this attack on civilians in Hashaba, and in the subsequent assault on UNAMID, that there is only one issue left undetermined: what is the degree of command responsibility for the specific atrocities in Hashaba on this particular occasion? How far up the Military Intelligence chain-of-command did foreknowledge of the attack on Hashaba go? (Military Intelligence long ago took the lead in organizing "security" for Darfur.) Of course we can’t yet be sure. But the more important question is how far up the Military Intelligence (MI) chain-of-command did foreknowledge of the assault on UN peacekeepers go? Again, we can’t be sure, but given evidence of growing powers for the military and security elements within the NIF/NCP regime, it is highly unlikely that such an action could be undertaken without at least tacit prior approval from someone senior in the Army or Military Intelligence/Khartoum. The alternative is to believe that a field officer for MI with foreknowledge of the attack felt it to be insufficiently important to report back to Khartoum. For certainly some MI officer(s) in North Darfur was involved in or knew of the attack, especially given the nature of the weaponry—again, a UNAMID spokesperson has spoken of "arsenals of high-calibre weapons that were never used before," and deputy head of UN peacekeeping operations Edmond Mulet reported specifically on the attackers use of "heavy machine guns." This kind of weaponry simply could not have gone unnoticed, and yet the UN is characteristically diffident in drawing the most obvious of conclusions.

Further, Radio Dabanga reported in late September that the governor of North Darfur had been warned of the impending militia attack on Hashaba by a local official from the town itself, Abdella Rifa:

"Rifa blamed the Jangaweed militias for carrying out the ’barbaric attack’ [on Hashaba] and held the government responsible for the incidents. [ ] Rifa said that the leader of the Jangaweed militia that carried out the attack is called Al-Nur. He also said that the group moved to attack from their base in Damrat Al-Quba. According to Rifa, they knew beforehand that the militia was going to attack and they informed the authorities including the governor of the state, Mohammed Osman Kibir, ’but they did nothing.’" (Radio Dabanga, September 28, 2012)

[ For a highly detailed account of the locations and purposes of bases such as that at Damrat al-Quba, see Sudan Tribune (October 1, 2012), "Darfur war crimes, changes in demographic composition, and ethnic displacement," by Hamid Eltigani Ali of American University in Cairo. ]

In short, the UN—by refusing to do more than plead with Khartoum to investigate crimes committed by the regime’s own proxies forces—is complicit in an appalling silence despite clear evidence that Khartoum is responsible for a brutal attack on a major UN peacekeeping convoy. Again, on October 17 when it was attacked, the UN force was approaching Hashaba to investigate credible reports of atrocity crimes. The UN is refusing to make the obvious connections between the nature of that mission and what we know of Hashaba, what has been reported by several news sources, what we know of the circumstances of the attack on UNAMID, and what we know of previous regime complicity in attacks on UNAMID (see my 2008 account). Such complicity in silence, concerning egregious violations of international law, is finally of a piece with the absurdly mendacious claims by various UNAMID and UN officials about human security in Darfur (see Appendix 1).

These self-serving and deeply dishonest comments provide the context in which to assess the meaning of UN calls for an investigation of the attack on UNAMID near Hashaba, a call sternly echoed by other international actors. Here we are being asked to believe that Khartoum will somehow feel more pressure to find those responsible for the attack than it has previously when confronted with such "calls" and even "demands." For we should not forget that on October 2, 2012, four UNAMID soldiers were killed and eight injured in West Darfur, not two kilometers from their main base in el-Geneina (and very close to a Khartoum-allied militia checkpoint). Reuters reported (October 2, 2012) a UNAMID statement that the force "came under fire from all sides," and we heard then from the UN:

"In a statement to the press, Council President Gert Rosenthal of Guatemala said the Council members called on the Sudanese Government to swiftly investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice."

And from the U.S. State Department:

"The State Department said on Thursday [October 4] it was ’appalled’ by an attack that killed four Nigerian peacekeepers and wounded eight others earlier this week in Sudan’s western Darfur region. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States condemns the ambush on UNAMID personnel that occurred on October 2, and called for an investigation into the attack and for those responsible for the violence to be held accountable."

The European Union completed the familiar refrain with its own entirely predictable statement (October 4, 2012):

"[EU High Representative Catherine Ashton] deplores the attack on UNAMID peacekeepers that left four Nigerian peacekeepers dead and eight others injured in an ambush in El Geneina, West Darfur. She strongly condemns the attack and calls on the Government of Sudan to work closely with UNAMID to bring the perpetrators to justice."

Almost as if to emphasize the impotence of this condemnation and demand, Ashton also speaks vaguely about "reports of a violent incident in Hashaba," the very "incident" that would lead to a UNAMID investigating force, and the brutal assault upon that force by Khartoum-allied (and likely -armed) militia forces:

"The High Representative is also deeply alarmed at reports of a violent incident in Hashaba in North Darfur, which appears to have cost the lives of large numbers of civilians, including through aerial bombardment. She calls for UNAMID to be allowed immediate access to the area and urges all Parties to end the cycle of violence in Darfur and to pursue a comprehensive and inclusive peace settlement."

To date there has been no accountability for the October 2 killings, though Khartoum claims to have made arrests in the case. Here it might be useful to keep in mind what Agence France-Presse (October 22, 2012) reports concerning comments by UN officials about previous attacks on UNAMID:

"The dead South African is the 43rd peacekeeper from UNAMID to be killed in hostile action, but UN sources have said they were unaware of anybody previously being brought to justice for the attacks."

Hashaba and Tabarat

Although violence has been accelerating for well over a year in Darfur—despite UN and African Union claims to the contrary—what we have seen in North Darfur over the past three months offers a grim view of the region’s increasingly likely future, especially as the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) begins to draw down its forces, claiming "realities on the ground" justify such diminishment of a force that never achieved 90 percent of its mandated strength, and has proved itself disastrously incapable of protecting civilians and humanitarians—and itself.

To date, UNAMID has not investigated the events of September 26 through October 2, although Radio Dabanga has provided a number of eyewitness accounts that make for chilling reading and suggest that civilian casualty figures are indeed frighteningly high. UNAMID had sent a small, preliminary investigating force to Hashaba on October 3 shortly after events were first reported; but the only follow-on was the ill-fated October 17 mission that was so brutally attacked.

It should be noted that this is certainly not the first time UNAMID has been prevented from investigating atrocity crimes in North Darfur, as it continues to acquiesce weakly before Khartoum’s denial of access. On September 2, 2010 in the market area of the village of Tabarat, some 20 kilometers west of Tawilla (south of Kutum and site of a UNAMID base), more than 50 ethnically African men and boys were killed, most by gunshots at point-blank range. Despite desperately urgent reports carried by survivors to the UNAMID force stationed at nearby Tawilla that evening, UNAMID refused either to intervene or to evacuate the scores of wounded, many of whom subsequently died of their wounds. Reuters reported (Khartoum, 17 September 2010) various eyewitness accounts from Tabarat, which give us some sense of what likely occurred in Hashaba. In Tabarat as well, Khartoum’s security forces prevented UNAMID from investigating for over a week, and it is still the case that what we know comes primarily from a series of Reuters interviews with survivors of the massacre:

"Darfuri men were shot dead at point blank range during a surprise Arab militia raid on a busy market this month in which at least 39 people were killed and almost 50 injured, eyewitnesses said on Friday. The attack on civilians was reminiscent of the early years of the counter-insurgency operation in Sudan’s west, which took up arms against the government in 2003, complaining that the region had been neglected by Khartoum. The International Criminal Court in The Hague has since issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide and war crimes in Darfur, charges he denies.

"Details of the September 2 attack on the market in the village of Tabarat have not previously come to light. The government prevented peacekeepers from visiting the site until days later. But five survivors of the attack told Reuters that heavily armed Arab militia had targeted male victims and shot many at point blank range. One diplomat said the militia were likely from among those armed and mobilized by the government to quell the rebels. Those militia, known as Janjaweed, were responsible for mass rape, murder and looting. Many of the tribal militia still support the government but Khartoum has lost control over some.

"In Tabarat, men were rounded up by militia wearing military uniforms who rode into the market on horses and camels pretending to be buying goods before spraying the shops with gunfire. Then vehicles mounted with machine guns and carrying militia fighters appeared and rounded up some of the men, survivors said.

"’They laid them down and they came up close and shot them in their heads,’ Abakr Abdelkarim, 45, told Reuters by telephone from the town of Tawilla, where many of the victims had sought refuge and medical help. ’(Those killed) were all men and one woman—some men were tied with rope behind the cars and dragged until they died.’"

RUN FOR HIS LIFE

"Adam Saleh said he had run for his life and hidden in nearby fields to watch from afar. ’They were targeting men—all of them were shot in the head and chest, only those who were running away got shot in their legs and arms.’ Nour Abdallah, 45, said the attackers let most of the women run away. She could not escape and so lay face down in the dirt. ’They told me not to lift my head up or I would be shot too.’

"Saleh and others said after the attack they had gone to the joint U.N.-African Union (UNAMID) peacekeeping base in Tawilla to ask peacekeepers to come to Tabarat but they had refused. ’They also refused to come and help us recover the bodies,’ Saleh added. UNAMID has said both rebels and the government prevented it getting access to the area.

"A UNAMID spokesman said he could not comment on the witness reports but an internal document seen by Reuters showed UNAMID had received similar witness reports of men being executed. The only aid agency working in Tawilla, Médecins Sans Frontières, said it could confirm 39 people died and it had treated 46 injured, many with ’serious gunshot wounds.’ ’We saw only men,’ said MSF head of mission Alessandro Tuzza. He said he could not comment on how the victims were shot but that MSF was still negotiating with the government to get access to the area in North Darfur province.

"The witnesses said they had buried 41 bodies in common graves but more were still in the bushes around the market. Sudan’s army denied involvement in the attack and said the local government was investigating. ’The North Darfur government have formed a security committee to investigate this.’ Presidential adviser Ghazi Salaheddin visited the area on Friday on a fact-finding mission."
(Opheera McDoom for Reuters [Khartoum], September 17, 2010)

There never was a proper investigation or account of the Tabarat massacre by the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur, and there is strong evidence that this was deliberate on the part of the UN Secretariat (see my April 17, 2012 analysis of a powerful unofficial report by the last credible UN Panel of Experts for Darfur, a panel originally authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 1591, March 2005).

North Hashaba and the Broader Reign of Violence in North Darfur

Little notice was taken when Arab militia groups attacked and looted Kutum town in early August, and also attacked nearby Kassab camp for displaced persons, despite the immense implications of these attacks. There was also nearly contemporaneous violence in Mellit and Tabit, as well as the huge Zam Zam IDP camp outside el-Fasher—all in North Darfur (see my compendium of reports on violence in the region from August through September 2012).

In the twelve weeks since the attack on Kutum, a major town and a center for relief efforts, tens of thousands of civilians have been newly displaced. Humanitarian supplies (including fuel for water pumps) were looted and infrastructure destroyed; built over a number of years, these facilities have not been replaced and are unlikely to be rebuilt. A highly-informed and thoroughly reliable source on the ground in North Darfur reported to me at the time, in urgent terms, the nature and implications of this attack:

“Kutum town has been overrun by Arab militia since last Thursday [August 3, 2012]…all of the INGOs [International Nongovernmental Humanitarian Organizations] and UN offices in the area have been thoroughly looted and their staff relocated to el-Fasher. All of the IDPs from Kassab IDP camp have been displaced [approximately 30,000 civilians—ER]. The markets in Kutum and in Kassab have both been thoroughly looted.” (email received August 5, 2012)

This source goes on to note that in the case of the fighting in and around Kutum, while beginning in a personal dispute between individual members of two Arab tribal groups:

“The fighting, however, has not been between the two tribes but focused on looting the IDP camps and the INGOs and the markets in the town.”

The implications of this violence have not been reported anywhere—by the UN, UNAMID, or even Radio Dabanga. But they are enormous:

“Most of the north part of North Darfur (all the way to Chad) is served from Kutum and now all [humanitarian] organizations have lost all capacity because of the looting, and I do not see the humanitarian community reinvesting in the basic infrastructure because of what has happened. This is going to cause huge humanitarian issues in Kutum and the IDP camps there. All the fuel at the INGOs was looted. This fuel is for vehicles but also for the generators to run water pumps in town and outside of town. This could turn bad, as it is the rainy season is right now.”

Radio Dabanga (August 2) also reports eyewitness accounts of the destruction of compounds belonging to (among others) the UN World Food Program and (Irish) GOAL, as well as Kutum’s market areas:

“Eyewitnesses from Kutum, North Darfur, told radio Dabanga that pro-government militias stormed the Al Gusr, Al Dababeen and Al Salam areas and the entrance of a large market. They added that the pro-government militias attacked humanitarian organizations’ compounds in Kutum town.”

But Kutum was only the start: violence has continued, and the brutal assault on Hashaba in particular demands a reckoning that was never accorded the Tabarat massacre. Here a timeline reveals actions taken and not taken, as well as reports heeded but for the most part unheeded (dates, major events, military forces, and casualty reports are highlighted; all highlightings throughout this brief have been added):

September 28, 2012: Radio Dabanga---

As it has so often, Radio Dabanga provided the first and what is still likely the most comprehensive and authoritative account of atrocities committed in and around Hashaba. The September 28 dispatch also strongly suggests that the militia forces which attacked the UNAMID convoy on October 17 were those responsible for the carnage in Hashaba:

"A heavily-armed militia group linked to the Sudanese government has attacked and killed 87 people, including children and women, over the last three days in North Darfur State, eyewitnesses said. According to the witnesses, government-backed militias groups riding on four-wheel-drive vehicles and with an unusual amount of heavy arms wreaked havoc between September 25 and September 27, in Hashaba area of Kutum locality in North Darfur State. The witnesses said that the assailing groups destroyed properties, blocked main roads and killed 87 people including women and children. More than 60 people were also injured in the attack and are being treated in the hospital of Al-Fashir. A local official in Hashaba, Abdella Rifa, said the militias burned and depopulated three villages in the suburbs of Hashaba, including Khashim Al-Wadi village, Um La’ota village, and Tabaldia village.

"The official painted a grim picture, [ ] saying that the displaced population is living under dire humanitarian conditions and there are no available paramedics to treat the wounded. Rifa blamed the Jangaweed militias for carrying out the ’barbaric attack’ and held the government responsible for the incidents. [ ] Rifa said that the leader of the Jangaweed militia that carried out the attack is called Al-Nur. He also said that the group moved to attack from their base in Damrat Al-Quba. According to Rifa, they knew beforehand that the militia was going to attack and they informed the authorities including the governor of the state, Mohammed Osman Kibir, ’but they did nothing.’"

September 30, 2012: Radio Dabanga---

"[M]ore than 2,000 people who fled the recent attacks around Hashaba have arrived to Ba’ashim area, north of Mellit, North Darfur, on Sunday, 30 September. Sources told Radio Dabanga that these people traveled for three days by foot, hiding around mountains and valleys when it was light and moving only by night. This way, sources explained, the victims could avoid being found by pro-government militias.

"Witnesses said these people are suffering from fatigue, adding that they barely ate or drank anything during the three days they traveled. Upon arrival in Ba’ashim, a remote area, most people were transferred to Mellit city where there are enough facilities to support them, sources explained. They added that the 2,000 people who arrived in Ba’ashim represent only one fourth of the victims who fled the Hashaba attacks. Most of the victims fled to Dar Zaghawa, north of Hashaba and others fled to El-Fasher, sources pointed out. According to witnesses accounts, Hashaba and surrounding villages saw intense aerial bombardments last Wednesday and Thursday, 26 and 27 September. In addition, pro-government militias were also accused by sources of invading the area during the same period. The attacks allegedly resulted in more than 80 people dead or injured around Hashaba area, sources told Radio Dabanga. They added that villages were also looted and plundered."

October 2, 2012---

A deadly attack on UNAMID peacekeepers is reported from West Darfur, only two kilometers from their major base in el-Geneina and very close to a checkpoint manned by pro-Khartoum militia forces. Four peacekeepers are killed and eight wounded.

October 3, 2012---

A preliminary UNAMID investigative team travels to Hashaba; sufficient evidence is found to warrant a very substantial follow-on investigation; this would take form as the October 17 UNAMID convoy of 16 vehicles.

October 4, 2012: Radio Dabanga---

"According to a survivor, between 250 and 300 people got killed or injured following last week’s attacks in Hashaba, North Darfur. The survivor Ishaaq Adduma Adam Ishaaq, who got seriously injured, told Radio Dabanga he witnessed the burial of 168 victims, from Friday, 28 September until Tuesday, 2 October. He added that there are still tens of bodies lying in the vicinity of the battlefield that have not yet been buried. Ishaaq, who previously owned a water supply tank in the area, said that hundreds of people who fled Hashaba are still wondering around valleys, mountains and deserts. He suggested the people who fled Hashaba, hiding mostly around Jaira, Anka, Amorai, Guadara, Baashim and Umm Sidr, could die soon due to thirst or starvation.

"The source also told Radio Dabanga that at about 10:45am on Tuesday, gunmen coming from several different directions attacked the area. They were riding horses, camels and Land Cruisers, he added. According to Ishaaq, just about 15 minutes after the gunmen attack, an Antonov plane bombed the area. He said these attacks lasted four days, from Tuesday to Friday.

"Ishaaq also reported that gunmen attacked three different markets on Tuesday. He saw at least 25 people being killed, at least 10 who got injured and several other seeking refugee inside wells. According to the source, the markets in Kutum, El-Fasher and Zanga Zanga (in Hashaba area) were attacked and looted."

October 9, 2012: Radio Omdurman (Khartoum)---

"The authorities arrested those who are involved in the [October 2, 2012] attack on UNAMID near El-Geneina, in West Darfur,” Radio Omdurman reported in a Sudan Media Center news alert, which gave no more details" (via SAPA, October 9, 2012).

Reuters also reported Khartoum’s claim that "’suspects involved in the killing of (U.N.) soldiers have been detained,’ Sudanese government radio said in a text message sent to mobile phones. It gave no further details" (Reuters [Khartoum], October 9, 2012).

Three weeks later there are still no further details.

[ From October 4 – 17 only Radio Dabanga reported on violence in greater Darfur, including North Darfur—see Appendix 2. The focus on attacks in Hashaba and on UNAMID troops should not obscure the larger collapse of human security in Darfur: see http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3473 ]

October 17: Sudan Tribune reports the attack on UNAMID, offering the first full account---

"A South African peacekeeper of the United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) was killed on Wednesday [October 17] and three others were injured in an ambush by unknown gunmen, which took place in North Darfur. The morning incident occurred approximately 10km from Hashaba North, North Darfur, while a UNAMID convoy was on its way from Kutum to assess the situation in the area, following recent reports of violence. The investigation mission, which consisted of military, police and civilian personnel, followed an initial UNAMID assessment mission carried out on 3 October.

"Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General has condemned the attack and called for immediate investigations into the incident. Aichatou S. Mindaoudou, the Acting Joint Special Representative and Joint Chief Mediator also condemned in the “strongest possible terms the second criminal attack on our brave peacekeepers in the course of this month, during which we have lost five peacekeepers. These attacks will not shake our resolve to fulfill our mandate and help the people of Darfur." ’I call on the Government of Sudan to investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice,’ she added.

"The UN Security Council (UNSC), in a statement issued on Thursday [October 28], says it condemns ’in the strongest terms’ the 17 October attack on the UNAMID peacekeepers, and expressed their condolences to the family of the peacekeeper killed in the attack, as well as to the Government of South Africa and to UNAMID. They too called on the Government of Sudan to swiftly investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice."

But we have heard such "calls" and "demands" too many times before. Two weeks later there is no evidence whatsoever that those responsible for the attack will be held accountable, even as there are no further details from Khartoum on the claimed arrests of those responsible for the October 2 killing of four UNAMID soldiers. Given the obvious motive for the October 17 attack, and the character of the weaponry, and the deliberation with which the convoy was assaulted a mere ten kilometers from its destination, it is extremely unlikely that Khartoum will do anything to arrest those responsible. Perhaps some straw-men suspects will be set up, or the rebels will be blamed—but this makes no sense of the evidence as we have it. Khartoum’s security forces simply have no record whatsoever in "bringing to justice" those responsible for war crimes and atrocity crimes in Darfur. Here again we should recall the assessment offered by UN officials to Agence France-Presse (October 22, 2012): "UN sources have said they were unaware of anybody previously being brought to justice for the attacks."

"Condemnations," "demands," "callings upon" are all part of a wearyingly familiar refrain that Khartoum has been ignoring for over eight years. Indeed, Darfur’s recent history has been largely determined by Khartoum’s ignoring of demands from the international community. UN Security Council Resolution 1556 (July 30, 2004)

Demands that the Government of Sudan fulfill its commitments to disarm the Janjaweed militias and apprehend and bring to justice Janjaweed leaders and their associates who have incited and carried out human rights and international humanitarian law violations and other atrocities….

This "demand" has of course been contemptuously ignored, creating a dismal precedent: Khartoum’s disarming of its militia proxies was also part of the Abuja "Darfur Peace Agreement" (May 2006), as well as the "Doha Document for Peace in Darfur" (July 2011). Yet as U.S. special representative for Darfur Dane Smith concedes in a recent interview with Radio Dabanga, the Doha agreement has yielded "nothing yet on disarmament of militias, nothing yet on the issue of land" [seized by Arab militia groups from African farmers]" (Interview with Radio Dabanga, September 21, 2012).

October 19, 2012: Radio Dabanga---

"Residents from Hashaba, North Darfur, estimate that between 12 and 13 thousand people have fled the area due to recent attacks, Radio Dabanga was informed on Friday, 19 October. They described the region as "virtually deserted" after the militia attacks and aerial bombings last September [2012]. According to witnesses, Hashaba and surrounding areas including Umm Laota, Khashim Wadi and Tabadiya are completely abandoned. They said some residents fled to El-Fahser, Mellit and Noam Valley, while others fled to El Sharkeya, the only remaining village around Hashaba area. Witnesses asserted that those who fled Hashaba and surroundings lost their properties and livestock. Sources added that villages got completely burnt during the recent attacks and that the situation in the region is now tense, as fear and insecurity dominate local residents."

It is hardly surprising that Khartoum did not want a UN investigation and the consequent publicity that might highlight these large-scale atrocities—so clearly reminiscent of precisely "the violence of 2004." It was to halt the investigation that Khartoum’s militia proxy attacked the UNAMID convoy.

October 18, 2012: Radio Dabanga---

"Witnesses claimed pro-government militiamen carried out the attacks that left one [UNAMID] soldier dead and three injured. The four victims come from South Africa. Al-Basri said that two of the wounded peacekeepers were transferred to an El-Fasher hospital for treatment. However, she said one of them was subsequently taken to Khartoum as a surgeon described his situation as ’critical,’ on Thursday.

"Witnesses claimed pro-government militiamen carried out the [October 17] attacks that left one [UNAMID] soldier dead and three injured."

Such eyewitness accounts reported by Radio Dabanga have been repeatedly confirmed, even as they are consistently ignored by UNAMID, especially concerning aerial attacks on civilians and sexual assaults on women and girls. Here, however, ignoring these reports means ignoring strong evidence concerning an attack on UNAMID itself.

Radio Dabanga’s dispatch notes as well:

"Senior government officials from West Darfur announced in a press statement earlier this week that the perpetrators who ambushed UNAMID troops in El-Geneina, West Darfur, have been arrested. The officials include West Darfur governor Haider Galukoma and the head of the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA) Dr. Tijani Sese. As reported, the attack on 3 October left four soldiers dead and another eight injured. Radio Dabanga asked [UNAMID spokeswoman Aisha] al-Basri whether UNAMID had been officially notified about these arrests, to which she answered the mission was aware of reports stating that individuals were arrested in connection with the attacks. She appealed to the government to arrest the perpetrators connected to these crimes and to bring them to justice."

[ The direct answer to Radio Dabanga’s question—"has UNAMID had been officially notified about these arrests?"—is clearly "no." ]

"Despite announcing the arrests, the officials did not provide any further details about the detainees, such as where they were arrested, what their names are, which group they are affiliated to, and the motives for the attack. The government also did not announce when and where the perpetrators will be brought to trial."

October 17, 2012: Agence France-Presse [el-Fasher, North Darfur]---

The response of European countries and the U.S. were tepid, not to say euphemistic in the face of evidence that an avalanche of violence is rolling through Darfur:

"’We are concerned about the recent deterioration in security in some parts of Darfur,’ said Tomas Ulicny, the EU ambassador leading a two-day visit by six other top diplomats to North Darfur state."

"The European Union is one of Sudan’s major donors, and Ulicny said the bloc is committed to its assistance, but development needs peace and stability. Recent reports ’were not that positive,’ he said."

Moreover, a Khartoum-appointed official took the opportunity to remind the visiting Europeans that the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA) and the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) reserve "the right to expel any person who is deemed to be posing threat to national security (Sudan Tribune, October 17). The context, notably, was expanded humanitarian and development assistance to the region. (On the issue of "humanitarian" vs. "development" assistance in Darfur, see my analysis of Khartoum’s "New Strategy for Darfur" [September 2010], a clear attempt to downplay the need for humanitarian assistance and thus the need for a continuing presence by international relief organizations.)

October 18, 2012: Radio Dabanga reports on a UNAMID press release, as well as further details from eyewitnesses to the attack:

"[UNAMID] peacekeepers were victims of a combined arms attack involving automatic weapons and mortar fire, a UNAMID press statement reads. Witnesses recounted to Radio Dabanga that the UN convoy was ambushed by pro-government militiamen. They said that an unknown armed group opened fire on the convoy from one of the mountains in Wadi Berbey, at around 30 kilometers north of Kutum. The witnesses noted seeing a number of Land Cruiser vehicles and camels and horses inside the valley behind the mountains. UNAMID peacekeepers returned fire and withdrew its convoy back towards Kutum."

October 22, 2012: Agence France-Presse---on the nature of weaponry used in the attack on UNAMID:

"A deadly attack on peacekeepers in Sudan involved weapons ’never used before’ and may have aimed to prevent them reaching an area where violence had been reported, the mission told AFP on Monday. The ambush on Wednesday about 10 kilometres from Hashaba North in North Darfur state killed one South African member of the African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and wounded three others. ’This criminal attack against a UNAMID convoy of 16 vehicles was carried out by unidentified assailants who have used arsenals of high-calibre weapons that were never used before,’ UNAMID spokeswoman Aicha Elbasri said in a written reply to AFP questions. ’This includes mortars, medium machine-guns, rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47 rifles, and anti-tank guns.’"

October 24, 2012---Edmond Mulet, deputy head of UN peacekeeping operations, reveals yet more about the weaponry used in the attack:

"The attackers who fired heavy machine guns, mortars and rocket propelled grenades from high ground withdrew as UNAMID peacekeepers returned fire. The patrol then returned to base without having reached Hashaba."

Following this dispatch there has been no further reporting of substance on either the Hashaba atrocity crimes or the assault on UNAMID forces seeking to investigate those crimes. Hashaba seems destined to become another "Tabarat," reported briefly—and in appalling detail—even as it reveals a disgraceful failure by UNAMID to respond. The disgrace in the present case is not, of course, that of the courageous men on the ground but rather UNAMID leadership as embodied in men like Gambari and Adada.

To date Aichatou S. Mindaoudou, the Acting Joint Special Representative and Joint Chief Mediator to UNAMID, has given no indication that she is prepared to be more robust in confronting Khartoum over its continuing violence against civilians, humanitarians, and peacekeepers. Moreover, she is the political leader of a UNAMID force that is contracting, never having reached even 90 percent of its mandated size. Hervé Ladsous, the French head of UN peacekeeping operations, claims the draw-down is justified to "reflect the realities on the ground," implying among other things that there has been an increase in human security—making some soldiers and police redundant—when just the opposite is all too clearly the case.

This is sheer expediency, an effort to reduce the size and expense of the world’s largest, most expensive, and least successful UN peacekeeping mission without admitting this conspicuous lack of success. But the answer is not to abandon the people of Darfur, who have in the main only become less secure in recent years, but to commit to a meaningful force on the ground, backed by a clear political determination to confront Khartoum over its intransigence and obstructionism, and to demand that the regime ends all responsibility, direct and indirect, for assaults on UN-authorized peacekeepers.

On present evidence, it is difficult to believe that Mindaoudou has either the political will or power to salvage what remains of UNAMID and begin to reverse the current slide toward even greater catastrophe. Certainly she is finding no help in the UN Secretariat, the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, or influential international actors such as the U.S., the EU, the AU, and others. The complete abandonment of Darfur is impending.

*****************

APPENDIX ONE: UNAMID assesses itself

• Former special joint representative to UNAMID Ibrahim Gambari declared in anticipation of his retirement party in September, “I am gratified to note that barely 31 months on, all the objectives I set out to meet have largely been met.” Gambari might tell the families of the murdered UNAMID soldiers of his comprehensive success.

• A year ago Gambari gave a statistical account of his success: “Our figures have shown that the number of armed attacks in all three Darfur states has fallen by as much 70 percent over the past three years, which has resulted in more displaced people returning to their homes.” (Radio Netherlands International, September 14, 2011)

This is pure mendacity, reflecting only the hopeless constraints on UNAMID’s investigative powers.

• Of course Gambari’s outrageous claims are nothing new: his African Union predecessor, Rodolphe Adada of Congo, declared on the occasion of his departure: “‘I have achieved results in Darfur. [ ] There is no more fighting proper on the ground.’ ‘Right now there is no high-intensity conflict in Darfur. Call it what you will but this is what is happening in Darfur—a lot of banditry, carjacking, attacks on houses’” (Agence France-Presse [Khartoum], August 27, 2009). In retrospect, this assessment looks spectacularly foolish and pompously self-serving—nothing new for Adada.

• UNAMID spokesman Chris Cycmanick, in a May 2012 interview with Radio Dabanga, "described the security situation in Darfur as ’relatively calm’" (Radio Dabanga, 20 May 2012).

• Former UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Georg Charpentier offered a similarly optimistic assessment of Darfur last year: "We are seeing a ’trend of decreasing overall violent incidents in Darfur’" (January 20, 2011).

APPENDIX TWO: Only Radio Dabanga reported on violence in Darfur from October 4 – 17

Only Radio Dabanga has reported on violence in North Darfur between October 4 and the murderous attack on the UNAMID convoy (October 17). Aerial attacks on eastern Jebel Marra have been particularly frequent, and the Kutum/Kassab area remains the target of relentless violent attacks—rape in particular continues in epidemic fashion (vicious and cruelly destructive attacks that Ban Ki-moon chooses no longer to mention in his reports on Darfur and UNAMID).

RAPE

Gunmen rape 18-year-old woman
KASSAB CAMP (10 October 2012) -Two gunmen raped a young displaced woman in Kassab camp, North Darfur on Wednesday October 10, Radio Dabanga has learned. A witness told Radio Dabanga that the gunmen arrived on camels and attacked five displaced women when they were on their way back to the camp from nearby farms. The gunmen seized one of the displaced, an 18-year-old woman, and raped her several times. The four others managed to escape from the insurgents and fled back to the camp. The witness explained that the incident was reported to the police, UNAMID as well as the Sudanese armed forces. The perpetrators have not yet been persecuted, the witness continued. He noted that rape incidents keep reoccurring, without any action of police or UNAMID troops, the witness continued. Gunmen break into the camp at night-time with the purpose of raping women and looting properties, he added to Radio Dabanga from Kassab camp.

Ten gunmen rape 16-year-old girl
KASSAB CAMP (14 October 2012) - An armed group of ten raped a 16-year-old girl on Saturday October 13 in Kassab camp, North Darfur, sources informed Radio Dabanga. Kassab camp sheikh, Taher Ismail, told Radio Dabanga that a gunman in military uniform abducted the displaced girl, while threatening her at gunpoint, from the camp on Saturday afternoon….

Three gunmen rape girl in Zam Zam
ZAM ZAM CAMP (18 October 2012) - Zam Zam camp, near El-Fasher in North Darfur has witnessed three separate incidents in one week, including one rape case, a camp activist told Radio Dabanga on Thursday, 18 October. He explained that unidentified gunmen carried out the attacks, which took place on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, after a period of relative calm. Witnesses said the first incident involved a rape case, in which three gunmen raped a 20-year-old girl in her home when her parents were away. [ ] A witness informed Radio Dabanga that the mission halted night patrols at the camp about one year ago and that day patrols were halted six months ago.

GENERAL INSECURITY

The complaints of Darfuris in all regions are no longer regarded with any apparent seriousness, even as their urgency continues to grow.

Tawila citizens complain about insecurity
TAWILA (12 October 2012) - Citizens from Tawila locality, North Darfur, have complained about the constant attacks they suffer from pro-government militias, Radio Dabanga has learned on Friday, 12 October. They said attacks commonly happen on roads, markets, and farms, adding that especially the road between Tawila and El-Fasher is often targeted. Besides, due to the road insecurity, traffic and trade between El-Fasher and Tawila has almost stopped, they stressed.

When speaking to Radio Dabanga, residents used a recent example to illustrate the seriousness of the situation in the city. They said that last Tuesday a vehicle carrying 19 passengers traveling on the road between El-Fasher and Tawila was attacked by pro-government militias. According to sources, eight passengers got injured, five of which were transferred to a hospital in El-Fasher due to their critical condition.

Citizens said that two policemen tried chasing the militia who attacked the passengers’ vehicle, but that the gunmen killed one of the officers and injured the other before stealing their car. Residents from the area accused pro-government militias of carrying out attacks in the region for a long time now. They demanded that state and local authorities secure the road between Tawila and El-Fasher, arrest these militias and bring them to justice.

Gunmen open fire on citizens in Kabkabiya
KABKABIYA (14 October 2012) - Three citizens were severely injured on Saturday October 13 in the area west of Kabkabiya in North Darfur, when an armed group opened fire on them, Radio Dabanga has learned. A witness told Radio Dabanga that an armed group, in military uniforms, driving a Land Cruiser vehicle opened fire on a group of citizens, who were on their way back from the market. (See also my overview of such violence, July 22, 2012)

MILITARY VIOLENCE

Notable also, however, are the increasing reports of attacks by Darfuri rebel groups now part of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), including an attack with artillery on the military airbase outside el-Fasher (October 26, 2012). Earlier Radio Dabanga had reported:

Militiamen killed in battle with SRF
ABU DELEK / ABU ZEREIGA (18 October 2012) - The Darfur rebel coalition, Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), announced killing dozens of pro-government militiamen on Wednesday in the area of Abu Delek southeast of El-Fasher. The rebels have claimed control of the area. Mustafa Tambour, military spokesman of SLM-Abd al-Wahid al-Nur, told Radio Dabanga that SRF troops, consisting of SPLM-MM, SPLM-AN, Karbino and JEM, attacked pro-government militias in the area of Abu Delek, southeast of El-Fasher at approximately 8:00 Wednesday morning. Tambour added that 63 government troops were killed and dozens injured during the battle. He explained that among the victims is militia commander Lieutenant Saif al-Din Mohamed Adam. In addition, SRF troops seized 19 Land Cruiser vehicles and destroyed eight other vehicles, as well as seizing several light and heavy machine guns and ammunition.
Abu Zereiga airstrikes
Residents from south of Abu Zereiga, Mashrou’ Sag al-Ne’am and east Dar al-Salaam, told Radio Dabanga they were exposed to heavy airstrikes from 7:00 Wednesday morning until 2:00 in the afternoon. In addition, the residents said that the villages of Mashrou’ and Sabi, East Jebel Marra, were exposed to an airstrike carried out by a Sukhoi fighter jet at two in the afternoon. The airstrike sparked fires in the surrounding areas and poison is feared to have spread among residents.

See also an important new report from Small Arms Survey (Geneva) on military violence in Darfur, especially eastern Darfur: "Forgotten Darfur: Old Tactics and New Players," Claudio Gramizzi and Jérôme Tubiana (July 11, 2012).
Available for download at:
http://smallarmssurveysudan.org/pdfs/HSBA-SWP-28-Forgotten-Darfur.pdf

Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College, has published extensively on Sudan, nationally and internationally, for more than a decade. He is author of A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide. His new book-length study of greater Sudan (Compromising With Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 - 2012) is available in eBook format, at no cost: www.CompromisingWithEvil.org

The Yarmouk complex: Sudan in the world

By Magdi El Gizouli

October 30, 2012 — Sudan’s Military Industry Corporation (MIC), established according to its website in 1993, has as its motto the phrase ‘for peace we gather all our effort’. The phrase mocks the fact that the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) which grew out of the Egyptian-clad and British-disciplined Sudan Defence Force (SDF) has been consumed throughout its history in battling insurgencies within the country’s territories. Ghazi Suleiman, once a regime-critical human rights lawyer and today a loud enthusiast for President Bashir, did not mince words in spelling out the esprit de corps of the SAF officer class with reference to the envies and passions of his own social milieu, the educated effendis of the professions. An innocent-looking TV presenter asked Ghazi over Eid whether there was anything he regretted during his rather dramatic life of political zigzags. Ghazi, priding in his frankness, said he regretted the decision to enter the law faculty of Khartoum University instead of joining the army. Had I been an officer, he said, I would have surely managed to pull off a coup and realise my dream of becoming the country’s president, the uncontested Bringi (number one).

Ghazi’s fantasy is shared by many an effendi, officers and civilians alike. In an address to the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on 5 September this year Mubarak al-Fadil al-Mahdi effectively invited his interlocutors to back a coup plot against President Bashir, justified as is the habit with the necessity to facilitate the leap to democracy. “The army could be the conduit for transition, as happened previously in Sudan, and recently in Egypt and Tunisia”, said Mubarak, another president hopeful whose political ambitions are perennially thwarted by the superior clout of his cousin and chairman of the National Umma Party Sadiq al-Mahdi. The perpetuation of Sudan’s civil wars stems in part from this investment in the power of guns to short-circuit political struggle. Combine Ghazi’s officers and Mubarak’s marketing strategy and you arrive at the elemental features of effendi political projects, shared by the rulers and their contenders: self-referential with little regard to the people to be ‘saved’, ‘liberated’, ‘delivered’…etcetera, and extraverted, whereby external anchor is sought to compensate for the deficiency in domestic legitimacy.

With that in mind it might have been cheaper for Israel to solicit the cooperation of the security-military establishment in Khartoum rather than bomb the Yarmouk complex, in particular that a history of joint ventures is not lacking. Jaafar Nimayri, Sudan’s president between 1969 and 1985 and President Bashir’s role model, partnered with Israel without as much as a whimper in Operation Moses which involved the air-lift of Ethiopian Jews or Falashas to Israel via Sudan in 1984. In recent years Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) evolved into a trusted subcontractor of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the ‘war on terror’, delivering “important, functional and correct” information in the words of a State Department official in 2005. President Bashir’s government, handed over Carlos the Jackal to the French with a price-tag attached, offered to ship off Osama bin Laden to the Saudis and then to the Americans, and transferred al-Qaeda suspects to the mercy of the CIA with little discretion. Israel was apparently compelled by domestic political concerns and wider geo-political constraints of its anti-Iranian zeal to strike at Khartoum rather than bargain. In that sense, Israel and Iran were text-messaging in missiles over Sudan’s territories, and Khartoum but a screen.

President Bashir, the proverbial naked king, picked up the Palestinian wrap to cover up his exposed ‘defences’ in a televised meeting of the Council of Ministers the day after. Israel, he said, targeted Sudan because of its position against the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Nafie Ali Nafie, ran off with mantra. Sudan will not be deterred by Israel’s aggression from supporting the Palestinian cause, he told a function of the ruling National Congress Party. The claim is to say the least hypocritical. The commitment of the ruling elite in Sudan to the Palestinian liberation struggle is as sincere as Ghazi Suleiman’s human rights antics, convertible if priced. Short of allies to support its counter-insurgency campaigns President Bashir’s government picked up weapons wherever it could find them, Iran being one provider. The bill, it seems, included space for Teheran’s military to operate in, much like the readiness of the government to rent off thousands of acres of agricultural land in the country to any foreign investor able to flash some cash. Ali Mazrui developed the concept of ’multiple-marginality’ to define Sudan’s predicament, a notion that could well be employed to grasp its multiple-dependencies, and consequentially the promiscuous foreign policy of its effendi rulers.

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

Is Juba going back to Khartoum?

By Zechariah Manyok Biar

October 29, 2012 — What I heard from my Church on Sunday, October 28, 2012, sent chilly air down my marrows. It made me worry about the future of our country. What I heard was that our pastor had been called by many people, asking him to advise preachers against criticizing the government on the pulpit. I would have ignored these alleged calls had it not been mentioned that the pastor was lastly called from the Office of the President, telling him the same thing.

This news which I heard from the preacher on the pulpit is not the only concern for my writing of this article. Earlier this month, I was told by the journalist of one of the most popular radio programs here in Juba that he had repeatedly been called by security people, telling him that any topic that he wanted discussed must first be licensed by the National Security. I could not believe this because I thought such a thing could not come from our President. I trust our President in two areas: patience and tolerance. I did not expect him to order security people to silence those who criticize him. I believe and still believe that he would be the last person to do this.

However, I could be wrong if his Office can call pastors to stop them from preaching biblical chapters which criticize leaders. The Bible I know talks about good and bad leadership, military ethics, service delivery, corruption, social issues, and many other ethical issues. Where did the Office of the President get the Bible that does not criticize these things?

Those who think Bible should not touch anything on good governance are trying to give us a Bible we still do not have. Even if verses on good governance were absent in the current Bible, then why are preachers prevented from talking about good governance today when we know they were encouraged by the same leaders to talk about it during the North-South civil war? Or is it because the leaders then were in Khartoum and not in Juba?

Not only that, the President himself does speak politics before the congregation in his Church. Why would pastors be the ones regarded as stepping outside the teaching of Jesus when they mention politics inside the Church? Are we being honest to ourselves?

I am now afraid than before that Juba is going back to Khartoum. It is in Khartoum where we hear of security people examining news to see which ones to allow and which ones not to allow to be published. It is also in Khartoum where we hear leaders not accommodative of criticisms. How different are we from Khartoum now if these practices could be extended to Churches to silence preachers from telling the truth?

If my whole life was spent in the bush from the age of 12 years to the age of 30 years, then I will say this: dictatorship starts with the fear of criticism, if our leaders are not aware of this fact. Criticisms are means through which bad practices are exposed to be corrected. A leader who wants to improve in the areas of leadership weaknesses does not silence criticisms. That is the only way people respect him or her. People respect leaders because of how they show their areas of strengths not because of covering their leadership weaknesses. We cannot respect leaders if we think they want to keep us in the dark on issues affecting our lives.

Silencing of critics is not going to work in South Sudan. History tells us more in this area. Philosophers like Socrates were forced to drink hemlock in Greece thousands of years ago because they criticized vices in their government. Socrates died but philosophy did not die. Pastors who used to tell the truth in the early Church were killed in Europe by other Church leaders. They died, but reform in the Church did not die. We must know this fact.

Today, how can preachers stop talking about current issues and still regard themselves as authorities on ethical issues? How can preachers of Churches like Emmanuel Jieng stop advising political leaders, civil servants, army leaders, and leaders of organized forces when these Churches are full of these people as members?

If good governance is addressed in political rallies (which I doubt), then most of the above mentioned groups are not members of political parties. Civil servants, army and leaders of other organized forces are not obliged to attend rallies of political parties, even though it is commonly taken for granted here in South Sudan that they belong to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). It is only in places like the Church where they can be taught about the importance of ethical behaviors in their offices. A credible Church cannot shy away from teaching these leaders that it is wrong to abuse their offices.

Not only that, Churches, philosophers of ethics, and the media act as check and balance in a setting like ours where opposition parties exist in names only. A political leader who wants to lead without check and balance would be the one to feel comfortable in our current affairs.

Those of us who grew up in the SPLM/A know very well that one of the reasons why we took up arms against the government in Khartoum was to change it from dictatorship to democracy. But now that we have a country of our own we seem to behave like the current Muslim Brotherhood led government in Egypt which was known for criticizing former President Mubarak for not respecting the rule of law. But when they got the power, they did exactly the thing they were against when President Morsi attempted to suspend the Prosecutor General Abdul-Megeed Mahmoud simply because officials under Mubarak accused of orchestrating violence against demonstrators last year were acquitted in court in line with the rule of law. Is this the way we want to behave in South Sudan?

Zechariah Manyok Biar lives in Juba, Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at manyok34@gmail.com

Abyei Final Status: A triumph of justice at last

By Luka Biong Deng

October 28, October — On 24th October 2012, the fifteen members of the African Union Peace and Security Council unanimously accepted the proposal submitted on 21st September 2012 by the AUHIP on the final status of Abyei. The AU Council considers this proposal as representing a fair, equitable and workable solution to the final status of Abyei and it is based on the existing agreements and it takes into account the needs and interests of the communities. Sudan and South Sudan are expected to engage each other within six (6) weeks seeking to reach consensus on this proposal. If the two countries failed to reach consensus within six weeks, the AU Council will endorse this proposal as final and binding. The proposal will then be forwarded to the UN Security Council for endorsement and enforcement under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

Besides its acceptance of the 21st September Proposal, the AU Council calls on the Parties to immediately implement the Abyei 20 June Agreement, particularly the establishment of Abyei Area Administration and Abyei Area Council. Importantly, the AU Council urgently calls on the international community to assist the safe and dignified return of IDPs to their home areas in Abyei area. It also requests the AU Commission to convene an international donors conference for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Abyei area, including addressing the economic needs of the nomadic population.

The unanimous acceptance of this proposal by the AU Council is a great victory to the people of Abyei Area. It came at the time when the people of Abyei reached the level of despair and hopelessness as a result of deliberate policies of the regime in Khartoum. It is equally a victory to the people of the South as they have been feeling the same agony and suffering inflicted on their kith and kin in Abyei by the regime in Khartoum. It is a victory to the people of Sudan, particularly the Arab nomads, as there will be more opportunities for a genuine peaceful co-existence between the communities along the border. It is a victory to the SPLM as it has managed to stand by the people of Abyei who participated remarkably in the liberation struggle that brought peace and independence of the South. It is also a victory to Africa as it shows the ability of the continent to resolve its problems by itself. The unity shown by the AU in providing African home-grown solution on the final status of Abyei will make the international community to have a unified position to support such solution.

One should really congratulate President Thabo Mbeki, General Abdusalami Abubakar and President Pierre Buyoya for their profound and deep understanding of the complexity of issue of Abyei. Such understanding provided them with clarity and wisdom in coming up with a well-studied proposal on the final status of Abyei. When reading the letter of their analysis of the final status of Abyei that was sent to the two Presidents on 17th September as the basis upon which they based their proposal, I was struck by reasoning, sense of justice and fairness. In particular, I was impressed by their use of the award of the Permanent Court of Arbitration not only in defining the area of Ngok Dinka but also in ensuring the conduct of the referendum for the Ngok Dinka as the main beneficiaries. The 21st September Proposal has provided clarity for the conduct of Abyei Referendum in terms of eligibility of voters, composition and chair of Abyei Referendum Commission and the timing of the conduct of the referendum. In fact this Proposal on the final status of Abyei is a triumph of justice over injustice that has perpetuated by the regime in Khartoum on the people of Abyei.

The South, despite its reservation of some provisions of the Proposal, accepted the proposal as the only way to resolve the final status of Abyei. Sudan, however, rejected the Proposal and insisted on partitioning of Abyei Area as a win-win solution. By accepting the Proposal, the AU Council has ruled out the partitioning of Abyei area. The real question is whether Sudan will accept the Proposal within the six (6) weeks? Although the regime in Khartoum is accustomed to deny justice to the people of Abyei, it is aware of the high political and economic costs associated with the rejection of this Proposal.

A rejection of this Proposal will put Khartoum for the first time in a direct confrontation with the AU that protected Bashir from the arrest of the international court. In particular the AU ordered all its member states not to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in apprehending President Bashir over crimes against humanity in Darfur. However, this position of AU has created a legal challenge among the AU member states which are signatories to the Rome Statute. If Bashir rejects the Proposal that has been accepted unanimously by the AU, then he will run a high risk of being apprehended soon by the AU member states which are signatories to the Rome Statute.

Also if Sudan rejects the Proposal, then its relations with the South will be fragile and tainted again. It will be extremely difficult to implement in good faith the agreements that Sudan recently signed with the South. If Sudan rejects the Proposal and then it is endorsed by the AU Council and the UN Security Council as final and binding, Sudan, instead of being relieved of its huge debts, lifting sanctions on it and receiving more developmental assistance, will face additional and severe sanctions.

I am not sure whether it would be wise for Bashir to take that path of defying the AU and international community as he personally stands better chances of renewing good personal relations with his brother Salva, getting more support from the continent and more recognition from international community. In fact the regime in Khartoum that was at a brink of imminent collapse has now more chances of survival with the agreements that it entered into with the South. Some sources suggest that the regime in Khartoum will eventually accept the Proposal and to exonerate itself from any political blame as a proposal imposed on Sudan.

Although the benefits of accepting the Proposal are enormous for the people of Sudan, President Bashir and not the NCP may not see clearly these benefits. Some circles in the NCP confided to us that President Bashir has personalized the issue of Abyei with passionate attachment to Misseryia tribe because of some intricate incident when he was commanding military operations and counterinsurgency warfare in the South. Some said that Bashir hardly sees the bigger picture of Sudan and the party when it comes to the issue of Abyei and people in the party do fear him or tend not to challenge him when it comes to the issue of Abyei.

Given this subjective personalization of the issue of Abyei by Bashir and coupled with the weak voices in the party that can advice him correctly, it becomes necessary to explore advice from outside Sudan. Although Bashir is in short supply of friends in the continent and region, there are still some countries that are in good talking terms with Bashir. In particular the leaders of Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Norway, China, Russia and probably South Africa could use their diplomatic relations with Sudan to convince President Bashir to accept the Proposal.

Also the humanitarian alliance called “The Elders” that includes prominent international personalities such as Mandela, Carter, Tutu, Kofi Anan, Graca Machel and Mary Robinson is to be encouraged to take the lead to convince Bashir to accept the Proposal. President Bashir, more than any other time, needs courage to accept this Proposal as he is overwhelmed with fear, he needs peace as he is obsessed with wars and he needs to inspire hope in him as he is in despair and suicidal while awaiting indictment by the international court. These are the same objectives of the “The Elders” as articulated by Mandela when he turns 89 years: “The Elders will support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict and inspire hope where there is despair”.

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. This article was published first by the New Nation Newspaper

Post-Bashir: the sheikhs and the officers

By Magdi El Gizouli

October 24, 2012 — The Sudanese Islamic Movement (SIM) held a series of conferences at state and sectorial levels over the past few weeks in preparation for its awaited general convention in November. Ahead of the conferences the Movement announced a rule barring state governors from competing for the leadership of the organisation in their states. Only Osman Mohamed Yusif Kibir, the governor of North Darfur, distinguished himself by ‘accepting’ the nomination of the Movement’s Shura (Consultative) Council in his state, and was thus announced Secretary General of the SIM in North Darfur for a second term. As governor and chairman of the North Darfur chapter of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) Kibir unites in his person the three h’s in NCP/SIM jargon, the hakuma (government), the hizb (party) and the haraka (movement). An envious NCP official from the region told a press conference in Khartoum on Saturday that Kibir’s command of the three h’s amounted to “religious and moral corruption”. Hassan Bargo, in charge of the Chad file in the NCP during the height of the Darfur conflict i.e. a manager of Khartoum’s support to Chadian rebels, dismissed the SIM’s conferences as mere “window dressing”, and called on the leadership of the organisation to allow for a generational shift at the top in order to avert an ‘Arab Spring’ in Sudan. Hassan Osman Rizig, the Deputy Secretary General of the SIM, said Kibir will eventually be forced to choose between the hakuma and the haraka, and cannot enjoy the pleasure of the power polygamy. Whether Rizig can enforce the constitutional pedantry of the SIM high office in Khartoum on al-Fasher’s sultan is the wrong question I suppose. Rather the issue is whether the regime can afford a fracture of fragile power in al-Fasher between the three h’s. Like most Sudanese Kibir and Bargo find it hard to grasp the subtle difference between the NCP and the SIM since up the ladder only the jellabiyas change.

The clamour around the November conference nevertheless is not without substance. The incumbent Secretary General of the SIM, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, also the First Vice President and the Deputy Chairman of the NCP, declared to the conference of the SIM women sector that he is not interested in another term at the helm of the Movement. Time has come for elders like himself, he said, to withdraw to advisory functions and allow a younger generation of leaders to manage the affairs of the SIM. Conveniently enough, the proposed constitution of the Movement sets a two terms limit for election to the office, an exact fit to Taha’s occupancy of the post. As Taha, the perennial deputy, announced his intent to slip out of the jellabiya of the SIM’s Emir unidentified sources in the NCP told in-house journalists that a consensus was emerging in the party to nominate Taha for presidential office in the 2015 elections, a proposal that the SIM’s second in command, Hassan Osman Rizig, did not deny. Rizig, cautious not to step on toes bigger than his, said the NCP general conference was the only platform where such a decision could be met. Meanwhile, Taha’s cheerleaders in the Khartoum press went on early campaign, popularizing the notion that the deputy’s moment has at last arrived; who else but the loyal Taha deserves the top jellabiya? The immediate drive for the succession stir is the open secret that President Bashir’s health is compromised. A spokesman of the Palace in Khartoum said the President had a throat surgery last August in Qatar but was in good health. “All rumours that his health is not good are baseless”, affirmed the spokesman without offering further details. Notably, the presidential uncle, al-Tayeb Mustafa, wrote in support of a Bashir exit in 2015. “It is in the interest of the President, after a quarter of a century of rule, to rest in dignity at the end of his current term, away from politics and its whirlwinds”, he concluded after listing the immediate duties requiring President Bashir’s attention: oversight of the implementation of the Addis Ababa agreements with South Sudan, securing Sudan’s borders and bringing an end to the rebellions in South Kordofan, the Blue Nile and Darfur, stabilisation of the political and economic situation in the country in preparation for a new era of good governance and peaceful transition of power. Well, judging by his 1989 coup statement President Bashir and Co had a quarter of a century to do the same.

The Taha cheerleaders, it seems, are consciously ignoring the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) establishment, the ‘old Sudan’ political party jealously guarding the throne. At President Bashir’s side two senior officers have survived the habubs of the NCP-SAF alliance safe from plane crashes and early retirement. These two gentlemen - Bakri Hassan Salih (Minister of Presidential Affairs) and Abd al-Rahim Mohamed Hussein (Minister of Defence) - are unlikely to surrender ultimate authority to the NCP/SIM bureaucracy without at least a fair bargain. If Taha and his captains find it difficult to discipline Mr Kibir into abiding by the SIM’s rules then the tanks at the SAF headquarters are surely not going to follow their command whatever the jellabiyas they happen to wear.

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

South Sudan and the question of "14 Mile area"

By Sabrino Majok Majok

October 23, 2012 — The Cooperation Agreement recently signed in Addis Ababa on September 27th, 2012, has been received with mixed reactions in South Sudan with negotiators and their colleagues at an extreme end while people of Northern Bhar El Ghazal, civil society, and well-wishers at reconciliatory and balanced position of the agreement. In presence of these two opposing views, therefore, it’s worth clarifying people of Northern Bahr El Ghazal’s position.

Our position is that the so-called “14 mile,” has never existed and has never ever been part of any peace agreements, including CPA.

Furthermore, the area that South Sudanese negotiators called “14 miles,” is not part of any claimed or disputed areas whatsoever when it comes to Sudan and South Sudan post independence issues. As such it is mind boggling and absurd, really, to constantly hear and read comments on cooperation agreement by South Sudanese negotiators who portray themselves as gifted, Angel-like few in the country. They say that they understand “14 miles,” better than citizens of Northern Bahr El Ghazal State; that the argument of the people of Northern Bahr El Ghazal State is “out of ignorance.” But the opposite is true: Pagan, Salva Mathok, Makuei Lueth, Paul Mayom, and Dr. Marial’s views are unfounded, presumptuous and imaginary that warrant strongest condemnation they deserve. Yes, Pagan and colleagues’ views are just like somebody telling you that you do not know what is inside your house. Why? Because people of Northern Bahr El Ghazal know very well which areas are theirs and which are not, it is just simple as that. This general truth does not need Pagan, Makuei and the rest to interpret it; nor do we need rocket scientists for the same purpose.

But one thing is crystal clear. The area now being referred to as “14 miles” lies deep inside Northern Bahr El Ghazal territory and has never been contested at any time in history.

In fact, our villages are located many miles north of River Kiir. Had it not been for the unwarranted incursion into our land by Khartoum successive and dictatorial regimes during the long war, our borders with the North would have been more than 100 miles North of River Kiir.

Secondly, our gallant forces, SPLA, at Kiir Adem, Warguet and Majak-Wuoi are stationed many Kilometers North of River Kiir while Sudan armed Forces are stationed at Abumatharik (Majok Anei Yor) which is 50 miles North of Kiir while on the eastern side of Kiir River, SAF are stationed at Meriem (Rum Mamer) which is 35 miles North of River Kiir.

One therefore wonders why our forces would be required to leave their positions North of Kiir 10 Kilometers then continue moving Southward up to 14 miles (22 kilometers) then move further for additional 10 kilometers as stipulated by the agreement. If this goes as planned by the likes of Pagan, then it means our forces would be stationed 42 kilometers South of River Kiir only in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State. I can’t help posing a question here: how many kilometers would the Sudanese Armed Forces move back Northward from current position at Abumatharik and Meriem? I think it’s high time that Pagan and the ilk educate the public, particularly the people of Northern Bahr El Ghazal whom he considers ignorant.

At this juncture, I would like to inform fellow South Sudanese citizens that the people whom Pagan Amum and his team continuously referred to as ignorant know what Pagan’s group is upto.

To take you back in time, Pagan close ally and current Government spokesperson, Dr. Marial Benjam, once said before our historic referendum when he was interviewed on SSTV that the two Sudans have high chances of reuniting in the future like East and West German during the cold war era.

With this in mind I cannot agree more with comrade Del Rumdit Deng in his article published on Citizen News Paper dated October 15th, 2012, when he observed, “...by putting together all these agreements, one can clearly see unionists’ invisible hands in full play for the rebirth of New Sudan Ideology...We have our independence but we don’t control our international borders. Without our international borders we don’t have our international sovereignty.”

In any eventuality, Pagan’s reference to Great people of Aweil as ignorant is a misnomer. Consequently, ignorance rightly reflects back to Pagan Amum Okiech and his team who assume that they know our villages more than we do.

And regardless what pro “14 miles” say on media, the Great people of Aweil will never ever relinquish an INCH of their land to Sudan.

One also wonder what level of English Proficiency should people of Northern Bahr El Ghazal attain to understand Cooperation Agreement? What special linguistic qualities do Pagan Amum, Salva Mathok Gengdit, Michael Makuei, Paul Mayom, Dr. Marial and others have that make them understand the agreement better than people of Northern Bhar El Ghazal whose land was given to Sudan?

Sabrino Majok Majok is a citizen of Northen Bahr El Ghazal State. He is also the director general at the state ministry of finance. He writes this as a citizen, not a member of the government. He can be reached through sabrino.m.majok@gmail.com.

 

South Sudan skepticism on security deal with Sudan is real

By Isaiah Abraham

October 21, 2012 — Juba leadership on the Cooperation Agreement has started to be dismissive and abusive to those questioning some pieces in the agreement. Some of our lawmakers have joined the prey and are out to criticize whoever criticizes the agreement. They have even cracked as there are calling some section of our society ‘Northern Bahr El Ghazal’ people verses others. Legislators everywhere have moral duty to protect the larger interest of the nation and not just their local constituents.

Constituent bigger like South Sudan is what binds us all. It was uncharacteristic, just unfair therefore for lawmakers to localize national pressing matters to specific individuals or groups to fight it out. Why leave the border matters to states affected, I have asked such question many times? MPs for the areas of Mile 14, Abyei and Panthou, Hofra Al Nahas and Kaka are like any other MPs in Western Equatoria, Jonglei, Lakes etc whose lands have no dispute with the Northern Sudan.

I found it cruel when the matters in question were left to people affected to sort it out, while the rest of the country goes indifference. This should not have been the case. The issue of Mile 14, Abyei, Panthou, Hofra Al Nahas is for the entire nation called South Sudan not for Northern Bahr El Ghazal, Western Bahr El Ghazal, Western Upper Nile or Northern Upper Nile.

People everywhere aren’t happy that the negotiators allowed Khartoum a foothold on these lands. We have made a mistake to sign away Mile 14 just to repeat ourselves, under the pretext of a buffer zone. We have allowed our lands to be occupied and expect others from outside to help us out. No amount of explanation will extinguish the fire of anger against the President and his team on this matters of Mile 14, Panthou and Hofra Al Nahas. Abyei, Mile 14, Panthou, Hofra Al Nahas and others are becoming disputed because someone has entered them by force, and we never responded earlier on the ground or diplomatically.

These places are 100% South Sudan lands. Our negotiators succumbed to pressure from unknown, and hence a failed test for our leadership. President Kiir is to be blamed on this occupied South lands by Arabs, and now he has gone further to be offensive against anyone who questions his judgment. His statement that he fought the war and should be left alone rub salt to injuries. Again that he ‘won’t cede an inch of land to the North’ came too late too little. We aren’t buying this belated chest thumbing statement from the man we all know his previous promises. We know him better. No one has faith in Arbitration Court courses either.

Who is this that wants to fool us that the argument isn’t about land but military disengagement? Remember someone argued that it is just a temporarily arrangement to allow forces to disengage and later on the border demarcation will determine the real owners of the land. That is a lie. Why apply disengagement partially? Buffer Zone practice is applied when the two sides lay claim on an area. All disputed areas could have been demilitarized. That is exactly the trend. Mile 14 moreover has never been one. Why didn’t the AU call for the demilitarization of all disputed lands? There is a sinister, and hence a problem.

The same way mediators avoided Panthou, Hofra Al Nahas and other lands that are disputed, where Sudanese Armed Forced are embedded, should have been the case for Mile 14. Mile 14 is used by Rezeigat Arabs during the summer, demilitarizing it after Sudan Army was chased away from there makes it an automatic disputed land. Allowing Khartoum to talk about another claim is too far an aggression. They will return to Mile 14 that now people are talking of it being a disputed land; they are immune to condemnation. Forget about International Community, we should have learned by now how the world out there works.

Badme a disputed territory at the heart of conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea was awarded in 2002 to Eritrea by UN backed Commission but to date the Ethiopians troops are firmly on the ground. Is that scenario not going to repeat itself in our case for Mile 14, Pantou, Hofra Al Nahas and other disputed areas? I do think so. Majority of our people are stricken with fear that someone hasn’t articulate well to protect the right of people on our land; we have lost out our rightful lands to Sudan through cowardly and ignorant or both.
Why is it that our leaders want to play politics in the face of an anomaly? This is arrogance at best and a skullduggery! Our leaders know where the truth is, but aren’t telling it. The issue of Mile 14 and other disputed lands isn’t small thing for the head of state to dare sarcastically that people who oppose the deal are to go to war. Sir, people will go to war with you first if you don’t stop your clumsy approach to such critical matters of our existence! Khartoum has found a weak character they can manipulate. In the face of challenges our president has clearly become another challenge to our people. Our people didn’t elect Kiir to give away our land, and then spew disparage at his disgruntle people.

Mr. President has sharpened his derogative remarks against those opposed to the agreement during his address to security officers on Tuesday that those who are unhappy with the agreement ‘are people who were with the Jalaba/Diaspora, and never had time to fight with him in the bush’. How about me sir, I was with you in one of the battalions (Tiger/Tumsah) you led, what will you say about me? I participated in the demonstration on Monday in Juba, all the way to parliament, to denounce the buffer zone dog for Mile 14; I went there for reasons known to all- land, land, land. We had expected our lawmakers to reverse the arrangement on Mile 14 and go with the rest of the agreement.

People have started to belief that someone have given away our land in exchange for oil deal with Khartoum. The document should not have gone like that, people. Unfortunately, we have people who aren’t standing up for their rights. Shame them! Kiir must go! He has proven disrespectful to his people. His foul mouthing isn’t tolerable anymore.

Get it right and just to emphasize the matter we are trying to say, we are not rejecting the Cooperation Agreement with the Sudan, especially for an agreement that will last for few years. But if the matter touches land, it becomes so complex to clear even after the expiry time. The agreement isn’t all bad. People became happy that at least the oil production will flow again for the economy to resuscitate and that there will be relative harmony between Sudan and South Sudan once belligerent countries. But look, there are eight (8) agreements for the intended cooperation, but one known as security agreement has spoiled the rest. The agreement has no meaning if the issues of Panthou, Kaka, Abyei, Hofra El Nahas and Mile 14 aren’t resolved. The security agreement should have been thrown out of the window by the lawmakers until grievances or grey areas surrounded these matters are resolved. This is where we are coming; the issues of land are so grave for anyone to dip his/her fingers.

Our president should own it up. This is what we are saying and he got to fix it. He failed to show leadership, so do the lawmakers in our land. Our legislators could have gone the document and make amend before ratifying them. What is this argument that if the president signs it the document can’t be challenged. Who is this god in South Sudan that when he does something it can’t be reversed? Whether Kiir or Garang sign it, people are supreme; they can redo what has been botched for the good of all. Mile 14 and Panthou are sold out for no reasons at all. Oil or no oil, we have been cheated by a ruthless clique in Juba. To them the agreement is ‘excellent’, the agreement ‘hasn’t been understood’, the ‘media has failed’ to articulate it to the people, ‘reactionary forces’ are behind rejection of the agreement,‘insignificant number’ in our society, people who objected to the agreement are‘diaspora’ and that they also ‘opposed CPA but’ later cheered it when the flag was raised. That is utter nonsense!

Majority of our people are not opposing the agreement for the sake of it but had hoped that the leadership in Juba would do the necessary changes before going for a law. Bad deals create more troubles than solutions and hence uncalled for under the face of realities surrounding our rights.

My people have suffered under President Kiir and his heartless clique; I have no kind words again against these people. The demonstration we made as people of South Sudan on Monday- not as Northern Bahr El Ghazal people- will go to history as the beginning of things to come. Mr. President isn’t apologetic and this is worrying. The people of this country deserve a leader that respects their views; we have never had problems with him since he accidently ascended to power in 2005, because situation dictated that people exercise patience.

For the past eight years we have learned bitterly that Mr. Kiir is the problem and should be removed. He has failed us in many fronts, and on this matter of land he must not be forgiven. Our men in uniform in Mile 14 therefore are to remain in their places and let Mulana Makuei, Mbeki or Pagan come and dislodge them by force. AU must deploy any troops around Mile 14. We will see how to go about Panthou and Abyei now that someone is selling our lands to Arabs.

Isaiah Abraham lwrites from Juba; he’s on Isaiah_abraham@yahoo.co.uk

Will AU and UN fail Abyei again?

By Luka Biong Deng

October 18, 2012 — The first round of the AU Roadmap has come to an end on 27th September when the direct negotiation between the two countries ended with the signing of the Cooperation Agreement. The last phase of the AU Roadmap is to ensure a comprehensive agreement by resolving the issues that the parties have failed to reach agreement. The AU Panel is expected to present to the AU Peace and Security Council final and binding proposals on the unresolved issues. The AU Council is expected to endorse these proposals without changes.

These proposals will then be forwarded to the UN Security Council for endorsement and enforcement under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. It is likely that members of the AU Council and UN Security will unanimously endorse these proposals as it would be politically and diplomatically undesirable for any member of the UN Security Council to challenge a resolution adopted by the AU.

The Cooperation Agreement was received with mixed feelings in the two countries. While it is generally accepted with jubilation in Khartoum, the people of the South, particularly the people along the border with Sudan, received it with a deep sense of disappointment as the issue of border is not addressed. As most people of the South rely on what they can hear from a friend or relative because of poor communication infrastructure, the Agreement is poorly understood and its benefits to the South are blurred. One journalist questioned the value of the four freedoms to the people of the South as Sudan continues with Sharaia law that prohibits alcohol. Some even consider the four freedoms as another way of reunifying the two countries and inviting again the domination of jallaba.

Equally, the way the people of Sudan received Bashir as triumphant hero created in the South suspicion about the agreement. For them anything related to the South that makes Bashir happy must be terribly bad to the South. This is well reflected in the lukewarm reception accorded to President Salva and the negotiation team when they returned from Addis Ababa. Despite the SPLM has made serious efforts to explain this agreement to its leaders so as to ensure its ratification by the parliament, the leadership of the South has an arduous task to explain the benefits of this agreement to the rural people in the light of the unresolved issues.

The unresolved issues of border and the final status of Abyei are not only the unfinished business of the CPA but they are also central to the successful good relations between the two countries. Certainly, if the people along the border with Sudan are unhappy, then it will be extremely difficult to realize the fruits of the cooperation agreement. The real challenge to the leaders of the two countries, the African Union and international community is to make best use of the last phase of the AU Roadmap to ensure the effective implementation of the cooperation agreement by finding solutions for the unresolved issues.

On the disputed and claimed border areas, one is a bit concern that the Cooperation Agreement did not address the issue of the disputed and claimed border areas within the framework of the AU Roadmap. The Agreement instead of referring the issue of border to the AU Panel to come up with the final and binding proposal to be endorsed by the AU Council the parties are asked to continue again negotiating without time bound the disputed and claimed areas. Given the politicization of the border and the dragging of the communities in the border politics, it is almost impossible for any country to accept any amicable resolution over these areas except through a third party.

It is only with the final and binding international border arbitration that each country will exonerate itself before its citizens from any loss of any part of its territory to the other country. Although this process will be lengthy and costly it is worth taking as it will reduce the high tension that is now developing along the border of the two countries. The initial idea of the AU Panel to expose the two countries to the non-binding opinion by the AU high-level border experts will be important to prepare the parties of what they will expect from international arbitration.

On the final status of Abyei area, the international community will be at the litmus test again of whether they will fail the people of Abyei to enjoy peace. The proposal by the AU Panel on the final status of Abyei area is not only rooted in the agreements (Abyei Protocol, the ruling of Abyei International Tribunal and 20 June 2011 Addis Agreement) signed by the parties but it is also based on the wealth of international experiences and practices. The proposal of the AU has resolved the critical issues that delayed the Abyei Referendum not to be conducted simultaneously with that of the South on 9th January 2011. These issues are the definition of other Sudanese residing in Abyei area and who will be eligible to vote in the Abyei Referendum and the chair of Abyei Referendum Commission.

On the definition of other residents, Sudan insisted to define nomads who seasonally traverse Abyei area as residents and eligible to vote in the referendum, while SPLM retains the position based on international law and practices that nomads are not residents and subsequently not eligible to vote in Abyei Referendum. On the chair of the Abyei Referendum Commission, Sudan as usual dishonoured its gentleman agreement with SPLM that the chair of Southern Sudan to be the nominee of Sudan while the chair of Abyei Referendum Commission to be the nominee of SPLM. When its nominee to chair the South Sudan Referendum Commission was accepted by the SPLM, Sudan refused to accept any nominee of the SPLM to chair the Abyei Referendum Commission.

The Proposal of the AU Panel clearly defines other residents who will participate in the Abyei Referendum as residents who shall have “permanent abode” in Abyei area. The “permanent abode” is defined in Google as a house, apartment, dwelling place or other residence that is maintained as a household for infinite period, whether the occupants own it or not. An abode is not permanent if it is occupied only during a fixed or limited period of time for a particular purpose. Also the Proposal clearly resolved the issue of the chair of Abyei Commission to be appointed by AU Commission in consultation with the two Presidents of the two states. The Proposal has gone beyond referendum and made specific suggestions on making Abyei as a state with special status and with specific funding mechanism to transform it as an area of conflict to become the epicentre of sustainable economic development and good relations along the border of the two countries. Importantly, the Proposal allocates the oil revenue from Abyei area to Abyei state (30%), localities in Southern Kordofan state in north of Abyei area (20% for five years subject to review by the national government after five years) and national government (50%).

The international community has failed the people of Abyei many times as well articulated by Enough Project in its recent policy brief titled “Forgotten Again: How the World Has Failed Abyei” and the article by Prof. Eric Reeves in June 2011 that expounded the failure of diplomacy in the case of Abyei and Darfur. Now the international community has the chance not to fail Abyei again in the last phase of the AU Roadmap and the UN Security Council Resolution 2046. It would be morally and politically critical for the AU Council to adopt the proposal of the AU Panel on the resolution of the final status of Abyei.

The AU is expected not only to endorse the proposal but to come up with measures to ensure the parties accepted the proposal. In particular if Bashir rejects again the endorsed proposal, the AU should review the membership of Sudan in AU and his protection from the ICC. The AU should explore other economic and political sanctions that should isolate Sudan. The Government of the Republic of South Sudan as a member of the AU should review its bilateral relations with Sudan including the recently signed Cooperation Agreement. In particular the South should review its payment of $3.028 to Sudan as Transition Financial Assistance, joint campaign for debt relief, mobilization of international community to assist Sudan and lifting of economic sanctions.

Also the members of the UN Security Council are expected to unanimously endorse the AU endorsed proposal on the final status of Abyei. If Bashir rejects the UN endorsed proposal on Abyei, the UN Security Council should effect more severe sanctions on Sudan, particularly economic and political sanctions. In order not to harm the people of Sudan from the individual behaviour of Bashir, the international community should stand together to apprehend Bashir and hand him over to ICC. The UN Security Council in collaboration with AU to explore a possibility of ensuring the conduct of Abyei Referendum in 2013 even without the consent of Sudan. The US Government is having higher moral and political obligations than any other member of international community to take the lead and to ensure the full implementation of the proposal on the final status of Abyei. The resolution of Abyei conflict in the CPA was based on the US Special Envoy John Danforth’s proposal that was presented to the parties in 2004. The AU, UN and USA in particular are expected not to fail again the people of Abyei but to restore hope and stability in the area by fully supporting and implementing the proposal of the AU Panel.

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. This article was published first by the New Nation Newspaper

Sudan: Protecting the freedoms of religion and speech

By Ambassador Joseph Stafford

October 17, 2012 — When I arrived in Khartoum over three months ago to take up my duties as the Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy to Sudan, I was immediately struck by the friendliness and openness of the Sudanese people and their interest in the American people. I was welcomed warmly everywhere I went. Both my wife and I felt as if we were right at home from the day we arrived.

I began to travel around the country and my first impression proved to be consistent far and wide. The people of Sudan are indeed among the friendliest on Earth. While it is no secret that the official relationship between our two countries is a challenging one, I believe that there is a reservoir of good will in Sudan toward the United States. Despite the bilateral challenges, the U.S. Government works with the Sudanese people on a broad variety of programs that, among other things strengthen food security and agricultural development in Sudan; promote environmental quality and stewardship; support democracy, human rights, peace, and rule of law efforts; increase education quality and access; reduce and prevent disease; and address refugee and humanitarian crises. As an example of our commitment, through USAID, the people and Government of the United States contributed over $280 million last year to humanitarian programs in Sudan. The United States has also invested over $410 million last year in the security and protection of the people of Darfur, through its contributions to funding UNAMID. And I am delighted to tout our exchange programs that have allowed Sudanese youth, professionals, and others to travel to the United States to share their culture with Americans and to bring back their experiences to share with the people of Sudan.

Then the violent attacks on our Embassy of September 14 happened. I was stunned. Several thousand, angry individuals came to cause damage to our Embassy over an offensive film the United States Government had absolutely nothing to do with. As Secretary Clinton said, “We absolutely reject its content and message.” I am personally disgusted by this crude attempt to denigrate Islam’s holy prophet. Those that were offended had every right to be and to make their feelings known, including by peaceful protest, but certainly not through violence. The act of harming innocent people in the name of a religion is surely the greatest possible offense against that religion. This is especially true of a great world religion such as Islam, which has made so many contributions to global civilization.

Two days prior to the attack on our Embassy, on September 12, entirely different sort of demonstrators came to our Embassy. They too were outraged by the film, but they behaved in a peaceful, honorable and dignified manner, befitting their faith. They presented their grievances in a thoughtful letter to the U.S. Government which was respectfully received by one of my colleagues. We in turn passed their letter to senior decision makers in Washington. We firmly believe in the freedom of assembly, as well as in freedom of speech and religious tolerance. The model behavior of the 12 September protestors was a credit to their group and to the faith they represent.

This brings me to the matter of freedom of expression. People cannot enjoy this freedom unless they have both the right to express their beliefs freely and the assurance that they will not face violence or discrimination if they do. When individuals use their freedom of expression purposely to insult others, on a religious basis, a racial basis, or the like, it is right to criticize such speech as irresponsible, misinformed and hateful, and yet recognize at the same time that the speaker nevertheless has the right to express his views, even obnoxious views.

Last year, the United Nations General Assembly embraced this basic truth with a new resolution that recognizes two universal human rights: the right to religious freedom, and the right to speak freely. It is noteworthy that the founders of the world’s great religions were strongly opposed by many powerful members of their societies when they first began preaching. Clearly, freedom of religion and freedom of expression are closely interrelated.

The United Nations General Assembly resolution urged governments to combat discrimination and violence, and let all people participate in society no matter their religion. And it underlined the need to do so by respecting the right to freedoms of opinion and expression.

The United States supported the resolution, and its predecessor in the U.N. Human Rights Council, Resolution 16/18, because they were for the first time consistent with our First Amendment and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The resolutions advance religious freedom in a world scarred by violence and discrimination motivated by religious hatred. And they do so while embracing the principle articulated by Secretary of State Clinton, that “the appropriate answer to speech that offends is more speech.” One appropriate response to an obscure, crude film that insults a religion is to embrace public discourse about that film in newspapers and online, and to seek out dialogue through other media as a celebration of the positive values and glorious history of that religion

The United States remains committed to the freedoms of expression and religion, and I strongly urge the Government of Sudan to demonstrate that same commitment. I believe it is possible to pursue religious freedom while also combating violence in the name of religion. I also believe that the vast majority of Sudanese people condemn the violence of September 14, remain friendly to the United States, and share my eagerness to see the Government of Sudan take steps along a path toward normalized relations. In closing, let me assure the citizens of Sudan and their government that the United States Embassy expects to reopen soon and once again be at their disposal for assistance, cooperation, and dialog.

The author is U.S. Charge d’affaires to Sudan

I fear for the future of Abyei and other disputed areas

By Isaiah Abraham

October 15, 2012 — Sudan and South Sudan have agreed on oil production fees, freedoms for their nationals, buffer zones for their two countries, certain economic matters, banking, trade, post service benefits and security. But the future of Abyei and the status of the disputed areas of Panthou, Hofra Al Nahas, Kofi Kingi, Mile 14 and Kaka remain uncertain. Though there have been ballyhoos from stakeholders that a chapter has been opened between Sudan and South Sudan, the absence of will to put to rest disputes in the aforesaid areas is a reminiscence of trouble ahead as far as the relations between the two countries is concern.
To begin with, there can never be peace on the border between Sudan and South Sudan if the issue of Abyei and other disputed areas isn’t resolved. Khartoum and Juba have no choice but to confront this fact and agree. Whether modalities are the problem or not, it seems as if one side is dragging its feet and won’t like these questions to go away. The agreements were just conspicuous of the situation on Abyei, Panthou and others, and that was just not right. South Sudan in particular should not be excited about the signed agreements. The agreements to this author are just bad. They only serve short term goals,, even if they are for three and half years. That period is long and will dire repercussion in many years thereafter.

I know the negotiators on the side of South Sudan would want to save faces after their disastrous approaches to issues on our streets. They are also avoiding international claustrophobia but the truth is that we have negotiated as weak partners, and ended up with nothing concrete. Abyei future really bothers me after this agreement. I hear the Chief Negotiator on the Southern side upbeat that someone somewhere will use a stick to force Khartoum to accept the African Union Road Map. I doubt! Khartoum will never be moved with sanctions or otherwise. Where does the confidence brother Amum is exuding coming from? Realistically we could have accepted the idea of a referendum Chair coming from the North, and then get our acts together to let our people (Ngok Dinka) who are still hanging in the Northern Sudan come home and vote.

There will be no Misseriya single soul to vote of course, but Ngok alone can make history to vote 100% for South Sudan. We can do it if the likes of Dr. Francis Mading Deng are serious. We have stake in Abyei not just people but the land, this is South Sudan piece and shouldn’t be left to Northern Sudan that way. Dr. Barnaba Marial (South Sudan Information Minister) has become another Iragi Mohammed Al Sahhaf. He says we shouldn’t be alarm, even if it takes years. He cited the United States vs Canada border disputes, North Korea vs South Korea etc, and the question is: can we wait indefinitely for Abyei and Panthou status? You wrong sir! We can’t wait.

Panthou, Hofra Al Nahas, Kofi Kingi and Kaka town, the Sudanese Armed Forces are firmly there, and if that is the case, what does South Sudan have as an option after the failure of talks over these areas? I’m not buying any threat from UN, AU and Mr. Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki against Khartoum. The talks to me have failed. I call them failed talks because they never addressed real pressing issues of land ownership and political destiny for Abyei. The give given (dead line) given for soul searching is already approaching. The next round of talk after twenties is likely to yield nothing since the principles leaders of Al Bashir and Kiir won’t be there. There is still too much bad blood as hard liners are digging in. Doubts hover over the said freedoms, banking and trade agreements.

Khartoum hates South Sudan and want it die. We sometime back predicted that peaceful resolutions of land in favor of South Sudan will be remote. We are at it, and time will justify us again that we have achieved basically nothing. Viability beta chunu are these people talking about when one side is superior, established and grounded. South Sudan is disadvantaged. It has been compounded by poor judgment and bad governance on the side of these leaders. They are giving up Abyei slowly unfortunately.

The Abyei matter can’t be treated like that and expect the public to keep quiet. The negotiators are blowing hot and cold at the same time. Somewhere they thought the case will end up in the court, and in another they are for a political decision from Khartoum. This is a risky business and I suggest that our people follow this matter to the end without giving it up. We can do the same to Panthou and areas in Western Bahr El Ghazal. We must not leave our small piece to Northern Sudan. It wasn’t in place to leave Panthou, Hofra Al Nahas and Abyei behind and expect Khartoum to accept peaceful negotiations of these areas. Stakes are high, and look forward for our leaders to go to the drawing board.

But now that there are different voices against and for on the said agreements, what do you make of the whole lot as a concern citizen or observer of the Sudanese affairs. Well, I for one don’t want to reinvent the wheel, the agreement was sanctioned by our leader Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit; it was also negotiated and passed by people we are confidence of their ability. The Council of Minister on Friday moreover passed the text in toto; the ball has moved to its irreversible stage with Parliament on its way. Who cares again here if there are questions hanging over the so-called ‘excellent’ agreements?

My query however what our leaders should doing in the next phase especially on Abyei, Panthou, Hofra Al Nahas and Kofi Kingi. I want our leaders to know that people are not happy that the negotiators have succumbed to so-called to internal and external pressures to accept a bad deal. Economic issues yeah, are necessary but political. People had high hope that the Addis Ababa Summit will yield final resolutions of the pending issues of Abyei and Panthou. Our people will one day go it alone on the ground without the knowledge of the Juba. Nothing is easy; they got to pursue the issues above with the vigor it needed to ensure acceptable solution for all.

Isaiah Abraham can be reached at Isaiah_abraham@yahoo.co.uk

Addis Ababa Deals: Fixing damages of leadership ineptitude

By James Okuk

“In fact, the life of a private citizen would be preferable to that of a king at the expense of the ruin of so many human beings” – Machiavelli.

October 13, 2012 — Tricky Agreements usually avoid clarity and specificity on critical issues of disagreements and conflicts. That is why the silent deals behind inks on white papers often push ahead and leave many windows for the future circumstances to determine the final outcomes. This is exactly what has happened with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the SPLM/A on behalf of Southern Sudan/Liberated Areas and the National Congress Party (NCP) on behalf of Northern Sudan/Government of the Republic of the Sudan.

The CPA addressed the details of how the two parts of the Sudan (Southern and Northern) could stay together peacefully, sharing wealth, power and security for an interim period of six years (2005 – 2011). The conduct of the referendum for the people of Southern Sudan (including Abyei referendum) was supposed to mark the end of the interim period. But nothing much was said about the aftermath of the referendum result, especially if it ended up in secession of Southern Sudan. Each side was left to seek what it thought could suit its utilitarian interest. This is the departing point where the conflict between the two split countries (Sudan and South Sudan) emanated.

On one hand, NCP Khartoum is used to economic wars and sanctions. It also knows the tactics of managing the tough times and dusty political weathers. Its leaders could turn as many stones as possible to find alternatives when the usual is lost. They don’t easily resort to utopia and fantasy when it comes to economy. Thus, they have failed to fall under many upheavals that came across them except separation of South Sudan.

On the other hand, SPLM Juba is still novice on management of state affairs, especially the economic aspect of it. Its leaders thought that economic war is like gathering morale for holding a rifle (aka AK47) and destroying the enemy in the shortest time possible. They forgot that the wild life in the rebellious bushes is totally different from the civilized urban life in the peaceful states. Yes, the SPLM/A commanders had managed to run a pseudo-government in the bushes of Southern Sudan without monthly salaries and other privileges of comfort, simply, because life in the bushes and jungles does not depend on money but solely the will to survive. Nonetheless, they failed to run the Republic of South Sudan on the same bush model because living in towns and cities necessitates periodic circulation of money within an atmosphere of viable economy.

There is no any experience known worldwide where a country can survive without money and other urban facilities. The SPLM Juba failed to establish such impossible precedent. Hence, it has to come back to its proper senses and strike deals of rescue from Khartoum with the help of African Union and the United Nations. As a result, Juba had to lick the unnecessary vomits it has sprayed all over. Its inept SPLM leaders had no choice but to rush to Addis Ababa in order to sign the nine deals so as to avert economic grave and political collapse. Now things have opened up with a breath of relief from the disaster that was about to happen. Praise the Lord, Alleluia!

I hope the child-like SPLM leaders in Juba have leant their lessons that economic war is not a joke nor can it be won on mere propaganda that lack the sense of truth and care for the common good of the people. It is a war that can disturb super powers to the core, leave alone pretentious dwarf economy like the one still germinating in the nascent Republic of South Sudan. Also I hope they have been advised that becoming a foolish donor of multiple oil pipelines constructions while this resource is non-renewable is being unmindful of appalling living standards of masses in South Sudan. Why not build a diversifying rail way that can last even if oil dries up in future?

As no country is left alone to behave like an island on the face of the United Nations, the African Union and other regional organizations, the governments of the Sudan and South Sudan were urged and pressured to negotiate out their post-secession disputes and strike some necessary bilateral deals. The two governments were even offered high level mediators to help them overcome their contentions. The chief mediator happened to be one of the former prominent presidents of a country that has wealth of experience in conflict and its resolution. Not only this but also he is well-experienced and respected internationally, particularly, in dealing with incompetent but cunning carless presidents of some poor African countries. He knows how to play into their nerves and pin them down conscientiously on what military dictators fear most; regime change/collapse.

That is the reason I am unhesitant to say that Mr. Thabo Mbeki of South Africa must be a silent tough man who knows how to tame troublemakers and train them to behave responsibly as statesmen. You can see how Mr. Pagan Amum has changed greatly after the agreed deals between Juba and Khartoum have been signed in Addis Ababa. From being a radical he came back as a moderate orator who has learnt to be a diplomat in his encounter with the opponents and the media. Perhaps, if he maintains this momentum he could gain confidence from some of us for future presidency.

Someone who is not interested in international history of conflicts and their comparative resolutions would tend to think that there was something new in Addis Ababa deals. Specifically, the SPLM novices in countries affairs might have got shocked to learn that history of inter-states conflict of interests did not and does not begin or end with them after achieving the dream of South Sudanese for a viable independent state.

Also most of those deals are what normally the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of South Sudan would have been drafting/pursuing instead of the unnecessarily usurpation by the SPLM Secretariat without any sufficient justification in meddling into government affairs.

Put in order of importance, the bilateral deals between the Sudan and South Sudan could lexically be arranged with comments as follows:

1 - The Agreement concerning Oil and related Economic Matters: It is the center and driver of all the agreed deals. It was forced into the throats of the SPLM and NCP by the International Community. It is known that hungry people could be angry revolutionaries and both Juba and Khartoum have already started sensing this. Thus, they were seriously obliged to get the needed petrodollars into their pockets first and then continue politicking later at leisure on other contentious issues. Suffering of the common people and begging while sleeping on a valuable resource is regard as foolish and intolerable by the fatigued world donors. Also fantasy and emotional drunkard decisions do not help bring genuine solutions to real problems. Hence, Juba was asked, first and foremost, to open-up the shut-down flow of South Sudanese crude oil to international markets via Sudanese ports. The United States of America and China don’t joke or lie when it comes to economy. It is either “do or die!” Now President Salva Kiir has learnt to take orders and heed to commands from world’s superpowers. He had tried to be tough headed as a show off for no dignified end. A Good Cowboy Now!

2 - The Agreement on Security Arrangements: Not very different from that between Chad and the Sudan. The aim is to control rebels’ activities and discourage them from pursuing regime change in each other’s capitals. By this deal, Juba would help Khartoum control the activities of Sudanese rebels in Blue Nile, Kordofan and Darfur and discourage them from pursuing the change of NCP regime. On the other hand, Khartoum would neutralize the activities of South Sudanese rebels and discourage them from pursuing change of SPLM regime by barrels of guns. Looked at critically, this deal is nothing much really but survival strategy for the ruling parties in the two-countries-with-one-system. With this deal, President Salva Kiir can think of sleeping in peace and remove all the coup preventing road blocks around J-One and near his residence in Juba. He can also remove the fear of travelling freely to different parts of South Sudan, especially to Upper Nile State for graduation ceremony next time. On the other side of the lake, the deal will relieve President Al-Bashir from escaping to Kanana again in fear of direct attack from rebels inside Khartoum. But it will not save his neck from chains of the ICC arrest warrant though Ocampo is retired back to Argentine.

3 - The Agreement on Trade and Trade-Related Issues: it similar to the ones done amongst many countries. It is about supply and demand with profitable but fair price to each trader and customer crossing to the divide-line. This deal will minimize the exploitation done on South Sudanese markets by the traders of East African countries and their local partners. Now they will face tough competition and diversification of commodities sources with low prices, especially the fuel and cement. Northern part of South Sudan and Sudanese traders will be the core beneficiaries of this deal.

4 - The Framework Agreement on the Status of Nationals of the Other State: it is not very different (in principle) from that between Egypt and the Sudan, though its full implementation has never materialized up to the day. However, the four freedoms in the deal could work in terms of free entry visas to each other’s countries at any time and in any legalized place. It is a great relief to those who own properties and have business interests or investments across each the divide.

5 - The Agreement on a Framework for Cooperation on Central Banking Issues: it is similar to the ones done amongst many countries. It is about controlling inflation and value of each other’s currencies. This deal is necessary for a viable trade between the two countries and easy facilitation of monetary transactions. Now a South Sudanese could give a bold head of Dr. John Garang to a Sudanese without any offense.

6 - The Agreement on Certain Economic Matters: Division of Assets and Liabilities, Arrears and Claims and Joint Approach to the International Community: It is a common normal practice worldwide between countries that have split peacefully. But this deal is of a great concern because it might involve international law suits, in case.

7 - The Framework Agreement to Facilitate Payment of Post-Service Benefits: It is a right, pursuable internationally whether there is agreement or not.

8 - The Agreement on Border Issues (including demarcation): Not very different from that between the USA and Canada (officially known as “the International Boundary” and the longest international border in the world). While Canada and the United States both boast their world’s longest undefended border title today, final placement of the border has not been without difficulties. But most concerns there have been about what goes across the border instead of where the border actually is located. The Sudan-South Sudan boundary is the longest in Africa and it will take time for its disputes to get finalized. Why then stop the rest of state life running because of some areas of the unmarked borders? A game of Tom and Jerry could be played by Juba and Khartoum on the unmarked and un-demarcated areas while life continues in the rest of the settled areas. After all the SPLM and NCP leaders are like Tom and Jerry behaviorally.

9 - The Cooperation Agreement: It re-affirmed the commitment of developing political will between Khartoum and Juba that will enable creation of good neighborhood of two viable states. This is the normal duty of diplomats in their diplomacy. That is why the Government of the Sudan rightly appointed one of its top notch Ambassadors to come to Juba for this purpose though South Sudan sent a lowly experienced Ambassador to Khartoum out of nepotism and misunderstanding of the purpose of international relations. I hope President Salva Kiir could correct this mistake as soon as possible.

The NINE DEALS did not consider Abyei Area as part of the Republic of South Sudan yet until its status is finally decided either by a referendum as agreed in Naivasha as stipulated in the CPA or by another new method agreed by Juba and Khartoum. Although the gentlemen of Abyei got disappointed to see the agreed deals working without the fate of Abyei and Nine Ngok Dinka being known yet, this time they failed to insert Abyei problem as conditionality among the negotiated issues of South Sudan.

The mediator’s prudence had it that the Abyei Area issue be tackled separately on a different agenda as it has proven since Addis Ababa Agreement in 1972 to be a complicating factor in good relations between the South and North of the Sudan. Though many of the Abyei people would prefer to remain in the Sudan, I would love to see them joining their real blood brothers in South Sudan in near future.

As for the former SPLM/A comrades, Malik Aggar, Yasir Arman and Abdelaziz Hilu, the time has come for Salva Kiir and SPLM in South Sudan to forget them despite the pledge at the independence declaration in Juba on 9th July 2011 that they shall not be forgotten. They need to get it well that the umbilical cord between them and South Sudan has been cut in Addis Ababa deals and there is no turning back. They have been left in the cold to carry their own crosses and survive on their own the wrath of genocidal regime in Khartoum. South Sudan can only afford to host them as unarmed refugees without any dignity of struggle against marginalization left in them.

This is bitter but the heroes of Ingassina and Nuba Mountains must be regretting the day they fought a treacherous war in the same trenches with the Mother SPLM/A of South Sudan. They are like intimate brothers who ended up as strangers. May be those who are after Popular Consultations in these two areas will win, though this has become an internal affair of the Sudan where Juba has no much to say but advice only.

* The author is a member of the opposition SPLM-DC

Sudan and South Sudan Cooperation Agreement are bad but

By Isaiah Abraham

October 11, 2012 — On September 27, 2012, the leaders of Sudan and South Sudan signed several bilateral agreements in the Ethiopian’s capital Addis Ababa. Both countries have had series of political engagements on the same matters of disagreement for the past three years. The matters in contention were border demarcation, security along their common borders, Abyei status, debts as well as the oil production fees disagreement. But other matters have overshadowed these areas for reason best known to stakeholders in the talks. These talks were under the auspices of the African Union. Former South African president Mr. Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki led an AU High-Level Implementation Panel on the same, with full backing from the United Nations Security Council particularly Resolution 2046 of May 2, 2012.

For many years after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of the 2005, there have been different levels of talks on unresolved matters of the same. Last year especially after independence of South Sudan negotiations were heading nowhere until December the same year when both sides couldn’t talk good terms anymore. Earlier this year, talks broke down on oil charges and security incursions on both ends deteriorated. Each accuses the other for the break down of peaceful resolutions of disputes. On oil for instance, Khartoum confiscated South Sudan oil ships destined for the overseas markets, and issued threats of doing more unless their suggested oil transit fees are accepted. Earlier on and within the Interim Period there have been negative voices about lack of transparency in the oil production. Issues of trust override anything else, and there a stalemate.

Oil status triggered everything. The leaders in the South in January this year decided to close down oil production to avoid Khartoum pipe lines charges. They did it in protest and many people supported the decision including this little author. Though we then cheered up our leaders for closing the oil production, consequences are felt everywhere. Our banks dried up and so-called friendss ran away when we badly needed their help. Majority of the people have different views against those in power. That is them, but this author will close with a lament line against leadership of this country.

Let’s move on to our discussion. We are hearing the signing of many agreements between the two countries of the former Sudan, majority of them are economic materials, what do you make of the whole lot as a concern citizen or observer of the Sudanese affairs. Well, I for one don’t want to reinvent the wheel, the agreements are sanctioned by our leader Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit; it was also negotiated and passed by people we are confidence of their ability. The Council of Minister on Friday moreover passed the text in toto; the ball has moved to its irreversible stage with Parliament on its way. Who cares again here if there are questions hanging over the so-called ‘excellent’ agreements? Remember Dr. Barmaba (South Sudan Information Minister) has become another Mohammed Said Al Sahhaf of this country; Mr. Al Sahhaf was the last Saddam’s Information man in Iraq.

I wish this man goes away from that docket and Professor Dhieu Mathok Diing takes over. Dr. Dhieu is the man to watch, highly learned, civilized and humane. He could have been used more there or Labor Ministry than Dr. Marial whose sole purpose to divert, divert, deny, deny, defend, defend.

So, what agreements are we talking about so to speak? Just to refresh your memory, we are told that the agreements are: oil , certain financial matters, banking, trade, post service benefits and annex known as cooperation agreement. There are also nationals and security agreements. If you piece each agreement, you will find that 90% of its favors the Republic of the Sudan against South Sudan and hence a problem. Though it is too earlier to celebrate as the agreements are still ‘work in progress’, signs are that Khartoum and Juba are bound to make a rush and end up disadvantage one another. South Sudan will be disadvantaged!
Its not any secret that we still have long way to go or mediators of the Sudanese Peace Talks were virtually ambiguous about what concrete course of action to take on hot matters of Abyei, Panthou, Hofra Al Nahas, Kofi Kingi, Kaka and 14 Mile.

If the world is fair and if at all there was good faith on the side of Khartoum, why should anyone settle for soft parts of dispute leaving behind grave matters that are important to the two sides? No one was interested in economic matter before political settlement of the aforesaid real issues besetting the minds of our two nations.

Conspicuously, President Omar Al Bashir has got away once again before the watchful eyes of the so-called International Community? Didn’t I hear them saying that anyone whom the African Union find guilty of rejecting the AU proposal shall be held accountable? Why don’t these people go by their threats we have heard them propping then? What do the UN and the AU think they will be doing when one party violates its principle every now and then? May be the date line is still ahead for the UN and AU to react, but as usual there will be no action against President Omar Al Bashir!
Look, Khartoum was asked to stop bombing South Sudan, and they never stop it. No action was taken. The UN in South Sudan even 2 weeks confirmed airdropping of military supplies to their militiamen deep inside South Sudan in Pibor County (Jongelei State), and with all glaring facts around, no one bothers to probe who is this Al Bashir that doesn’t respect international engagements? To be exact, someone must keep watch against President Omar Al Bashir hawks to torpedo the process, especially security.

On Abyei however President Al Bashir was right on two points; the issue of an
external Chair for Abyei Referendum and another law to repeal the current Abyei Legal Status. Re-called also that in Kadugli on June 20, 2011, there was some sort of an agreement for peace and administration of Abyei Area that reinforces the Abyei Peace and Administrative status. It would have been unfair to overlook previous arrangements, temporary as they may seem. To have a foreign Chairperson to oversee the Abyei Referendum would have been weird. Chair should be from within, either from the North or from the South.

I suggest that before the 20/10/2012, let’s accept the Chairperson to be from the North surely that person will not interfere with the result. If framework is right, everything will be alright. The Abyei Referendum exercise will not be like the South Kordofan gubernatorial election, this But Misseriya tribe eligibility is out of the question. They aren’t residence of Abyei and therefore have no any legal right to vote in that crucial. This is an international exercise and with this era of dotcom Ngok Dinka shall vote fairly though it might not be free.
On freedoms for nationals of Sudan and South, they are to be unpackaged. There is too much ambiguity. Northerners are allowed by this agreement for employment, because if they are to own and dispose property, what does that tell you about his/her employability rights. How could he/she get a property when unemployed? Employment isn’t all about employers; one can employ himself/herself, right/wrong? The same is true with issues related to buffer zones or security arrangement as a whole. More work needs done. I didn’t see any reason why should our forces be moving back from certain disputed areas, while Sudan Armed Forces are left untouched in some key strategic areas. Our forces on Mile 14 therefore must stay put! It is unfair if today we are force to leave this place when Arabs are firmly in Panthou, Hofra Al Nahas and others.

Though the agreement is generally not fair, let’s not throw it away altogether. Our situation at the moment requires that we go by the agreement. To reverse it will worsen the situation. We earlier made some mistakes in our economic judgment. If the intention is to keep the viability and peace for the two nations, then let’s go for it. That is what happens in negotiation when you are in a weaker position. However, our leaders must understand clear here that our people aren’t happy with all the agreements except post service benefit agreement and oil production agreement.

But an overall, I fear for the country under our current leadership status. Even if people talk of aspired successes, I see nothing coming out from our men at the top. Government with such myopic mentality will certainly not deliver. The same people, the same brains! There are daily miasma news every turn you go in our land, and anytime South Sudan Al Sahhaf (Dr. Marial) comes out and open his mouth, you feel like cursing yourself. Mr. Marial, the agreements your government signs with the Sudan are bad, they aren’t ‘excellent’. For a short while yes, but in the long run, you will remember why they aren’t nice. Sir, they rob me and you of our own mastery and the promise we made to own our affairs. Economy isn’t anything small. If someone controls it, forget about any future for your own. Viability beta chunu? How did we get there in the first place? But for the sake of socio-economic meltdown, the very creation of our own, let’s give a benefit of doubt and see what’s next in 2013 about Kiir and his men. I want them out!

Isaiah Abraham can be reached at Isaiah_abraham@yahoo.co.uk

What does it mean to talk of cooperation without justice and inclusion?

By Anne Bartlett and Adeeb Yousif

October 10, 2012 — Looking at the multiple sites of conflict, misery and humanitarian disaster around Sudan, one might be forgiven for asking what it means to talk about peace and cooperation when there is barely any sign of justice and inclusion. What is the point, for example, in labeling vast swathes of Sudan as “rebel territory”, its people as “belligerents” and the unelected minority in Khartoum as “the government” when this fiction does little to describe the actual reality on the ground? How effective are agreements that have been forced on the Government of South Sudan when they leave key issues either unaddressed or unresolved for large numbers of people? The answer seems pretty clear, yet in recent weeks, this is precisely the game of expedient diplomacy being played by the international community with, one might add, potentially disastrous results.

Even a cursory look at the recent set of agreements makes clear that that the majority of people who are suffering as a result of Sudanese government sponsored violence are not considered part of the equation. Not only are their problems ignored, but the NCP has been given a free hand to do whatever it wants to such people because their lives lie on the wrong side of national borders. This message is of course not wasted on the regime in Khartoum which is now pursuing campaigns against innocent civilians with renewed vigor. Take for example the escalating program of harassment, intimidation and killing over recent weeks in Darfur where more than 80 people were killed in the Hashaba area in Northern Darfur — 20 of whom were women and children. Elsewhere, IDP camps have been demolished around Kutum, dozens of people killed in bombing raids in the areas of Aradieb Al Ashara, Katur, Dubow and around east Jebel Marra and 16 people kidnapped by militia in Gurni, Jebel Marra in their way back from Kabkabia, Northern Darfur. Central Reserve Police known locally by Abu Terah flagrantly commit human rights abuses with absolute impunity. Recently Nigerian UNAMID personnel were also killed — by whom it is not clear — but local accounts suggest that government backed militias are taking advantage of the chaos to dirty the reputation of Darfuri people.

In the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and elsewhere, political movements are being cut out of agreements between those in Khartoum and the GoSS, despite the fact that they control large sections of the border. Elsewhere, Abeyi remains a contentious and unresolved issue; the 14 mile zone is fast being turned into a “son of Abeyi” situation, and the problems that remain are left to fall back on the terms of the CPA which, as we know, has already been broken on multiple occasions. The Sudanese Media Center talks of the need to “sensitize the peoples of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan on the steps needed to promote security and stability”. Quite what sort of “sensitization” they have in mind isn’t exactly clear, but if it is anything like the kind of “sensitization” they have employed elsewhere, it hardly inspires confidence. Add to this the fact that the agreements are full of gaping holes, invitations to discord, diplomatic speak and promises that will be next to impossible to implement, and one is left with a feeling of impending doom.

Meanwhile, all of these issues seem to be of little consequence to international powers who are busy using Sudan and South Sudan as a playground for their own geopolitical interests. Besides framing the situation in a way that suits their interests, they are now playing a game of diplomatic chess that has little to do with the interests of the Sudanese and South Sudanese people, and rather more to do with their own needs and aspirations. For example, in recent days Russia has stepped into the breach and now appears to be advising the GoS on the matter of Abeyi. Not content in committing gross abuses of human rights on its own southern borders, Russia now seems to think that it has something to add to the discussion of borders thousands of miles away in Sudan. Of course their unbridled altruism has little to do with the people of Abeyi and rather more to do with the glistening black stuff under the ground in the region. Elsewhere, China plays its own role: a kind of “keep your mouth shut” but carry on regardless role. In this role, China makes little public comment as long as it can continue with its agenda of ratcheting up trade and debt relations in equal measure. Finally the US has recently made its donations to South Sudan contingent on certain kinds of behaviors – most particularly democracy. Of course it is hard to dispute the value of democracy, but it is unclear how this can really be achieved while multiple competing geopolitical interests force the South Sudanese government to run in a variety of directions at the same time, rather than concentrating on a viable long term strategy for governance.

This obsession with geopolitics, diplomacy and getting “in on the ground in South Sudan” by international actors is simultaneously accompanied by a complete indifference to resolving the tensions and conflicts that have shaped both countries over recent decades. It is almost as if involvement in one sphere is accompanied by a belief that other groups are expendable and can be left to their fate. There appears to be a hollowing out of attempts to mediate grievances inside Sudan as a way of pandering to the regime in Khartoum and getting them to “do the deal” on the border situation. The idea seems to be that if legitimate grievances are ignored long enough, they will somehow go away. However as anyone familiar with the history of Sudan will point out, history isn’t exactly on the side of those who want to bury their head in the sand.

Taken together, these facts suggest anything but a rosy future for cooperation. The irony is that in their desire to pursue a piecemeal approach to conflict resolution, the international community will ultimately set the parameters for future violence. The fact is that legitimate grievances do not go away; they only grow. Pretending that the Government of Sudan is a legitimate partner is foolish in the extreme; using South Sudan as playground for expedient diplomacy, geopolitical aspirations and greedy corporate interests will do nothing to help this young country get on its feet. Maybe the time has come for international actors to take a long hard look in the mirror. If they are honest, they may not like what they see.

Anne Bartlett and Adeeb Yousif are Directors of Darfur Reconciliation and Development Organization. Anne Bartlett may be reached at albartlett@usfca.edu; Adeeb Yousif may be reached at adeeb@drdoafrica.org

How beneficial is cooperation agreement with Sudan?

By Beny Gideon Mabor and Thuou Loi Cingoth

October 7, 2012 — We were honored and privileged at the roundtable by Radio Miraya with SPLM Secretary General, Pagan Amum, last week, where we were asked for a comment each on national agenda of greater concern. Our participation was only healthy and objective but educative and straightforward on issues of common interest in regard to the deal.

As shown during debate, we also promised that our views on this subject matter shall be done in good faith and does not represent any level of government nor political color but purely personal views in accordance with public interests. We will substantially object protocols of the agreement as follows:

1. Framework Agreement on the Status of Nationals of Other State And Related Matters (Four Freedoms).

As you have already heard the items of the agreement from the Secretary General, please allow us to definitely refute item per item through social media as the only forum for individuals to express our views in accordance with press freedom guaranteed by the constitution and the law.

First on the framework agreement on the status of nationals of other state and related matters or generally ‘four freedoms’, part II of the Framework Agreement that is freedom to reside, movement, undertake economic activity, acquire and dispose of property which is the intention of the whole agreement.

The legitimate questions here are as follows: (1) where do we benefit as South Sudanese in these freedoms considering our level of poor private sector development, trade and industry? (2)If such freedoms were original desires of the Sudanese people before independence of South Sudan as stipulated in this agreement, why South Sudanese overwhelmingly voted for separation by 99.83 percent if peaceful co-existence was voluntary will of the Sudanese by then? (3) We are confident that nothing binds us anymore or common interest between the Republic of South Sudan and Sudan with exception of fewest mutual interests governed by international law.

The four freedoms that exist between Sudan and Egypt are that they are both Arabs and Muslims and they shared many things in common, unlike South Sudanese whose majorities without denial are Africans, Christians and animists. Therefore, the question is if there are advantages or wellbeing of such freedoms, why not the Government of the Republic of South Sudan enters into such agreement with sisterly East, South and Central African Countries that have no conflict of interests in politics, governance and religious beliefs with the Republic of South Sudan?

To our fear and the rest, the framework agreement will be a silent driving force toward potential unity of the country at any time should political leaders score their game. Germany did the same and South Sudan cannot be exception if it is not watch out. This potential unity project was also cemented by Ambassador Francis M. Deng three weeks go before he left to go and take up South Sudan Embassy in the United Nations in New York.

With these so-called four freedoms, if the agreement is ratify by the Assemblies of the two States as the National Assembly in Sudan already ratified the agreement, then Sudanese spy agents will immediately thrived into South Sudan under disguise of the agreement on trade and trade-related issues stipulated under Article3(v) of the Cooperation Agreement .

Worriedly, they will do homework of collecting information across all sectors including strategic ones and send them to their masters in Khartoum Administration that may possibly jeopardizes our national economic and security interest. Generally, those who supported the so-called four freedoms are the fewest ones with properties in Sudan and that is an ugly face of always advancing personal interest over public interest. We dismiss it and there is no reason to have four freedoms.

2. Outstanding Negotiations and CPA Commitments (Disputed& Claimed Boarder Areas and Abyei Referendum)

The above items are the focal point of all misunderstanding of the post-secession issues between Juba and Khartoum. The African Union High Level Implementation Panel and South Sudan Delegation were mishandled by Khartoum Delegation and President Bashir in person arrogantly rejects the agenda on Abyei Referendum and the disputed and claimed areas to be worked out.

The question of who is resident of Abyei became stalemate and the parties in presence of the AUHLIP mediating team fails to reach amicably solution. From where do we expect further understanding on the final status of Abyei, disputed and claimed areas through AU Peace and Security Council as agreed under Article 4 (2) of the Cooperation Agreement? And whether by law it is acceptable for the Permanent Court of Arbitration to entertain the same case of Abyei which was before it four years ago and its ruling was out rightly rejected by Khartoum government? Legally speaking, we are not aware of other Arbitration Court than the Hague-based PCA whose its judgment on Abyei was final and have no jurisdiction to retrial the same.

The AUHLIP, Ethiopians Government and the United Nations is ignorance of this bad faith from Sudan, yet have pressured the Republic of South Sudan to sign the soft agreements that were selectively worked out under the influence of Khartoum.

Therefore, where are the independency of the mediators and the best will of the agreements in such situation where a party in dispute has upper hand and conflict of interests in resolving dispute in question? Why the headache viability of the two states is only a major burden on the Republic of South Sudan and Khartoum does not care about it?

The tyranny government of the National Congress Party so far violates the principles of the African Union Constitutive Act and the United Nations Chapter concerning relations and cooperation between states and respect of each state sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In fact Khartoum government even further violates the agreement on Article 2 (2) of this very Cooperation Agreement long time ago since the coming into force of the said agreements. Otherwise, they would have not enter our air space, encroach onto our lands and continue supporting militant groups to destabilizing peace and security in South Sudan.

Indeed the Cooperation Agreement is of no use but a tactical delay in the best interests of Khartoum. It must be rejected and seek other means of demarcating our border with Sudan and any means the voice of the Ngok Dinka people be heard even without referendum. The young men and women of 18 to 45 years know this more than anybody.

3. On Oil Agreement

This item is an agreement signed hurriedly by South Sudan Delegation knowingly that it is not good decision. They also know very well that it is not the popular will of the people of South Sudan whose people Assembly endorses the oil shutdown six months ago and whose civil population went on street across South Sudan in support of the same wise decision.

Compulsorily, the agreement was easily agreed by South Sudan Delegation or both parties with only option to survive and recovers the economic bailout the governments are facing in two countries.

But is that the best decision? What is different now and before the war broke out in Heglig (panthou)? This is clear evident that there is nothing new about oil agreement. Khartoum has stolen our oil and the Government would have learned the lesson that catch a thief and take care of yourself. There is no reason to allow oil flow through their facilities again.

Second, the Republic of South Sudan gave up its economic interest and undertake to provide hostile Khartoum government with what is so-called transitional financial assistance (TFA) worth of 3 billion US Dollars, the largest economic package ever given in the world in total defiance of our lowest gross domestic product upon which oil receipts account for 82% of the GDP according to the World Bank Economic Report in March 2012. The 3 billion US dollar to date in the mind of many stakeholders and the citizens is not clear and has no legal basis to pay it.

Therefore, the question is why we pay Khartoum such money including acceptance of oil to flow through Port Sudan again when in fact we did not reach agreements on two strategic issues of broader demarcation and the fate of the people of Abyei? Is it not clear that Khartoum will increase their military position with this very money and will not listen to us nor reach any agreement on the outstanding issues of the CPA and commitments?

Nevertheless, it is finally clear and of course undeniable that our government has terribly misused the oil money for the last eight years by single-handedly depending on oil receipts as salary and other dubious businesses engineered by corruption. The reason why we are where we are today.

Do you know why the government was under pressure to sign oil agreement? It is simply because the government fails to revitalize non-oil revenues and finally fails to build alternative oil pipelines through other friendly countries for the last eight years.

It is evident that we are running out of reserves to run the government. Ironically, whose fault is that between the citizens and the government? With this oil agreement if mistakenly ratify by the South Sudan Assembly, and then did the Government of South Sudan and our President H.E Gen. Salva Kiir promise to form government of accountability, transparency and the rule of law where the suspects of corrupt offences accused to have stolen 4 billion USD are to be weeded out?

We are afraid when the SPLM Secretary General said that they have brought the agreement and the effective management of resources is not his responsibility but of the government. In conclusion, we are of the opinion that the South Sudan National Legislative Assembly, pursuant to Article 3(2) of the Cooperation Agreement not to ratify these agreements. This is in consideration of the above implications surrounding the partial deal that the Republic of South Sudan incurs double losses in its resources and security interest.

The renegotiation of the CPA/2005 is a clear negation of our sovereignty and integrity. The people of South Sudan have suffered so far and it is not new to us to continue suffering until the Government of the Republic of South Sudan secure a good deal on its oil transits mechanism through other means in order to safeguard our total sovereignty and territorial integrity as the foundational principles of our constitution which we are ready to defend and abide by it.

The authors are independent commentators on Politics and Governance. They can be reached through: benygmabor@gmail.com

Darfur war crimes, changes in demographic composition, and ethnic displacement

By Hamid Eltgani Ali

October 5, 2012 — This year has been the bloodiest year ever in Darfur. The government has stepped up its air campaign in East Jebal Mara and in other parts of Darfur. Short-wave radio signal receptors revealed a communication between a government official and an air commander that the latter’s mission had been accomplished by destroying all the rats! The “rats” in question were civilians working on farms. The government has embarked on dangerous road of ethnic cleansing and demographic engineering to uproot the African tribes in North Darfur.

The first phase of the government demographic engineering has started with a brutal massacre that occurred this week in Hashaba, Um La’ota, and Tabaldia, in North Darfur. In this incident the government used seven fighter jets to provide air cover for the Janjaweed to block the roads and massacre more than 87 innocent villagers, including women and children. This is an old tactic used by the junta in Khartoum to commit genocide in Darfur eight years ago. The ultimate result is the destruction and displacement of the African tribes in Darfur, in particular the Zaghawa tribe. This is beginning. The world is silent. Darfur Regional Authority is tacitly in agreement with the government that is why they remained silent.

The military juntas in Khartoum are masters of deception, and they have brought out their old play book for the game. Since they know that Darfur is no longer on the world’s agenda, they return again and again to spill more innocent blood. For example, during the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with South Sudan, the government exploited the world’s sympathy and blessing for the hallmark peace deal to commit war crimes in Darfur with impunity. Vice President Ali Osman Taha Al-Ezarik, the mastermind of the CPA, promised the Bush administration to clear up the Darfur rebellion in matter of weeks. The administration gave its blessing, on condition that if the conflict was protracted there would be consequences and they would have to submit to talks! Today, once again, while the world’s attention is focused on South Kordofan, the Blue Nile, and South Sudan, the regime is using this as a cover to commit war crimes, including demographic engineering and ethnic displacement in Darfur.

The regime has prepared a master plan to displace the African tribes, particularly the Zaghawa tribe in North Darfur. The government has divided the areas owned by the Zaghawa, Meedoub, Tinger, and Massalit African tribes among the following Arab tribes:

  1. the Megour area to the Iragatt tribe
  2. the Ba’ashooum and Wa’khaem areas to the Zayadiea tribe
  3. the El Housh area to the Awlad Rasheed tribe
  4. the Mouzbad area to the El Maharia tribe
  5. the Ombarou and Orshee areas to the Galoul tribe
  6. the Abugamra area to the Awlad Tago tribe
  7. the Wadi Saira, Eid Elkhar, Karnoi, and Tuna areas to the Awlad Zaid, Awlad Eid, and Awlad Kluab tribes

In order to carry out this racist Arabizing project, the government has set up training and mobilization garrisons for the military and its Janjaweed militias. The Army’s mobilization garrisons are in the following areas:

  1. Gareed Elsaul, north of El Fasher
  2. Doamaya, west of Niyala
  3. El Genenia
  4. Malha and D’rea She’gea, north of El Fasher
  5. El Salayaa, north of El Genena
  6. Areas of military mobilization under the supervision of the joint patrol forces (Sudan and Chad) include Abou Saroog, northwest of El Genena; Bear Saluba; Birk; Teeuna; Bahai; Om Geraus; Kari Yari; and Ombaro.
  1. The militias’ mobilization and training areas are:
  2. the Quba area east of Kutum, where there is cavalry with more than 160 trucks mounted with machine guns. This week’s massacre in Hashaba was launched by the Janjaweed commander Elnour from Quba.
  3. the Da’awa area southwest of Kutum, where there is cavalry with more than 180 trucks mounted with machine guns.
  4. the Mustraha area near Kabkabia, the headquarters of the notorious Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal.
  5. the Serif Benuo-Hussein area, where there is cavalry with more than 160 trucks mounted with machine guns.
  6. the garrison of Essia Hussein, with sizable cavalry.

The objectives of this project are:

  1. to create an iron wall between the African tribe of Toboo in southern Libya and the African tribes in Darfur, particularly the Zaghawa;
  2. to secure the Chadian borders from any infiltration by the opposition forces in future;
  3. to eliminate the historical existence of the oppositions of Chad, Sudan, and Libya along the borders of these countries;
  4. to conquer and displace the African tribes, and in particular the Zaghawa tribe, because of their role in the Darfur struggle;
  5. to distract the Darfur rebel movements from their goals and drag them into war in the desert, with the aim of “domesticating” the violence into inter-ethnic conflict and thus to prolong the survival of the regime.

This new wave of demographic change will be very brutal and costly, because other countries in the region will become players. It will be funded by Libya and carried out by the Sudan junta and their militias. For example, the rebellion in southern Libya by the African Toobo tribes has raised fears in both Sudan and Libya that the African tribes could create a depth for their struggles. The Sudanese government has convinced its Libyan counterpart to replace all of the African ethnic groups with tribes of Arab origin in order to isolate the Toobo from the Zaghawa tribes. This racist Arabizing project will extend from north of El Fasher to the Libyan border, encompassing the border with Chad and including West Darfur.

In order to avert this catastrophic event, all the Sudanese people must realize that these bankrupt juntas have no future. They must go today, rather than tomorrow. The longer they stay, the messier the country becomes, and the harder it will be to rebuild the social fabric. It is important for the tribal leaders in Darfur and the rest of the country to avoid such heinous and satanic plots that can only escalate ethnic tensions.

The Darfuri movements should not squander their energy in domesticating the conflict. Instead, they must take the struggle to the gates of Republican Palace to dislodge the juntas. This is a struggle between the past and the future. It will be costly, but there is no option other than to continue marching for the dawn of justice and freedom. The country needs radical change. The old temple must be demolished to build a newer one. It is time for all the rebel movements in Sudan, with the rest of civil society, to set a clear agenda and roadmap on how to govern Sudan and put an end to the human suffering under the juntas. The change is coming, we must work for it.

* The writer is professor of Public Policy at the American University in Cairo.

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