By: Justin Ambago Ramba
April 25, 2012 (SSNA) — This week South Sudan woke up to the old days of the politics of immediate interest by the so-called international community which unequivocally confirms why we had to fight for fifty years before anybody ever took us seriously. What we are seeing now is never new in any way, and it only confirms what our history books will read like.
Historically we have always lived with what is clearly a game of narrow interests that went on for over fifty years – the life time of our struggle against the notorious Arab colonialism. Today we are taking home one important lesson that clearly demonstrates that whenever an abuser is perceived stubborn enough and unwilling to concede, even the so-called friends and fellow mankind can maliciously conspire for a partial settlement at the expense of the offended and the cheated. It is all about standing ones ground and the rest is granted unto them.
This is how it is from time immemorial, for otherwise how does one square this circle when Khartoum that has all through acted heavy handedly in the five decades civil war with what is today the independent republic of South Sudan and it went on to replicate the same behavior in Darfur as reflected by the state orchestrated Darfur genocide, then the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile regions and yet the International Community has every time found it easier to put pressure on those fighting this rogue regime instead of holding it responsible for its crimes.
We all acknowledge that President Obama’s strong warnings and his personal concern that the progress so far made by the two countries toward peace and prosperity was now "at risk of unraveling". This landmark statement, from an exceptional statesman obviously came at a time when the barren negotiations mediated by Thabo Mbeki of the African Union (AU) have evidently become a hopeless exercise.
But urging the two nations to step back from the brink though a sensible thing to say however at this particular time there is abundant proof that the ailing regime in Khartoum is determined to go back to an all-out war with its southern neighbour possibly in an attempt to vent its frustration about the sanctions imposed on it by the US administration but also as a way of garnering public support at a time when its popularity was down to a minus reading.
Whether Khartoum have thought it all through before betting on such a war will depend on how much the regime have learned from the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) it signed with South Sudan as represented by the ruling SPLM party. This is so because as things stand now the Khartoum regime has come to equate any peacefully negotiated settlement with its rivals in Darfur, southern Kordofan, the Blue Nile region or even the neighboring South Sudan as a risky deal for fear of having still to relinquish more power, influence, territorial control and much more in form of the different natural resources in the due process.
The independence of South Sudan and the subsequent loss of 75% of the Oil with it were set to scare the “Jallaba” from going that path again as seen in their reactions following the NCP and SPLM-N Addis Ababa Agreement.
The US President thinks that the two countries still have a chance to avoid being dragged back into war, which he stresses will only lead to one place; more suffering; more refugees; more death; more lost dreams for them and their children.
Of course the President was directing his videotaped message to the people of the two countries but deep inside we all remain concerned for there exists a strong reason to believe that this message can only bear relevance to the government of South Sudan. Anyone who has followed the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the Sudan (North) can testify that Khartoum under the present regime has no any sympathy for any of its citizens from the marginalized regions of Darfur, Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile or Eastern Sudan.
Yet this is not the first time that the US President has come out strongly to show his deep concerns over the issues of peace and war in the two Sudans. Had it not been for his personal involvement in the last moments, this same Khartoum regime wouldn’t have allowed for a peaceful referendum which saw the secession of the South Sudan to take place.
Now he [Obama] has outlined the steps that he thinks the two sides need to take in order to de-escalate the situation, one can only assume that the US President is back to find solutions to the remaining post-referendum issues that continue to threaten any chance of an everlasting peace between the two neughbours.
"We know what needs to happen — the government of Sudan must stop its military actions, including aerial bombardments," Obama said.
"Likewise, the government of South Sudan must end its support for armed groups inside Sudan and it must cease its military actions across the border," he added.
This far President Obama believes that a cease fire may be achieved in the few coming weeks and not months. Ironically though Khartoum – an extension to the axis of evil has for propaganda purposes chosen to exploit Obama’s speech and the others in the UN to portray for itself a diplomatic victory. Not only that, but as I write Khartoum war planes continue to torment civilian settlements and big towns more than fifty kilometers deep inside the South Sudan territory. Given this status quo no wonder the two sides are more likely to choose to re-organise their troops and replenish their military hardware for another showdown should a definitive solution remain elusive.
This time around if the international community is going to take the lead in the negotiations it must be stressed that a time frame must be adhered to. Topics to be addressed should not be outside the CPA namely the border demarcations, Abyei referendum and human rights in the two countries.
No surprise that Khartoum will always try to mix up things by bringing in the issue of its countless northern rebels into the Sudan –South Sudan negotiation should there be any. Another important point here is the US sanctions on Khartoum a point already mentioned but worth stressing since the US President do not openly want to acknowledge it. This remains central to Khartoum’s anti-South Sudan, anti-Christian and anti-Western behaviour and rhetoric.
Al Bashir’s inner circles and sympathisers alike feel that the US is favouring Juba over Khartoum and this gives them the feeling that if they cannot reach Washington directly, they can still do it through punishing South Sudan or the people of the Nuba Mountains and the burning of Christian worship facilities as seen in the latest arson on the Presbyterian church in Khartoum (Gereif Shariq) immediately following the withdrawal of the South Sudan military from Panthou (Heglig). But it is important that none of these should be allowed to spoil the talks, should there be one soon.
On the other hand we have heard the caring Obama’s explicit envisagement of the problems within the Sudan (North) when he remarked that: "all those who are fighting, including in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, must recognize that there is no military solution".
It however remains to be seen how he (President Obama) plans to literarily drag the genocide regime in Khartoum back to the negotiations table after al Bashir and his so-called ‘Presidential Uncle’ chose not to recognize the preliminary truce inked in Addis Ababa between Dr. Nafie Ali Nafie the Presidential Assistant for al Bashir’s NCP and the rebels of the SPLM – North.
There is no wonder at all for it is easy to tell others that there are no military solutions to political problems. This too they (South Sudan- Darfur – Nuba – Ingassana – and the Beja Peoples) already know and so when people take up arms to fight injustice it isn’t out of ignorance. Those who oppose military confrontations must be willing to provide the alternative routes, otherwise word alone cannot liberate neither unshackle those who have seen nothing in their lives but bondage.
I do not for a second entertain the idea that the US with all its capabilities is unaware of the contradictions which exist within the ruling elites in the Sudan (North). To be credible President Obama will have to take Khartoum back to the negotiations whether through persuasion or pressure, that is left for in his capacity as the chief of the strongest nation on earth. Maybe he will do well to involve Khartoum’s two friends – China and Russia the fact that there exits this marriage of convenience between political Islam as preached in Khartoum and the international communism both in Beijing and Moscow.
So far there is no room left for much optimism and experience has taught us that any slight thing to be undertaken in the UN Security Council often takes ages with China and Russia going one way while the rest of the world goes the other way. And although this may be the last opportunity for the Obama administration as well as the International community to hammer an over-lasting solution for the two Sudans let no one erroneously assume that South Sudan will remain to be their much ‘disciplined boy’ while Khartoum goes on and on with its bombing spree.
It might have been too easy for the so-called International Community to restrain the nascent state of South Sudan from taking the law into its hands when it chose to militarily reclaim its territories that are illegally annexed by Khartoum this time around. But should the same hypocrites [international community] fail to make Khartoum understand that the CPA is there to be implemented and not to be fiddled with following what we have witnessed in both Abyei and recently Panthou (Heglig) – then it won’t be too long before a defiant South Sudan stands up for its rights.
When that time comes the international community will only have itself to blame for the people of South Sudan too are fast learners.
Author: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba. Can be reached at: [email protected]