Juba & Khartoum: They want to be both Partners and Enemies at the same time and Expect Progress!

By: Justin Ambago Ramba

November 17, 2012 (SSNA) — To set the platform for the arguments that will follow we would all want to assume even if only once that there is no any slightest doubt in the back of our minds on the fact that the current Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU) will deliver more solutions to the continent’s problems far more than her predecessors. This much will be wonderful.

We would also like to believe that Ms. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma must have come to office with the full knowledge of South Sudan and Sudan conflicts and that she too is also aware of Khartoum’s long records of dishonoring Agreements. It would also count as a bonus.

If all that is said above is true then the AU new boss’s comments made on Saturday 10th November 2012 will  clearly go down as a true reflection of  her anticipated expectation on the future of this African Union Implementation High Panel (UNHIP) brokered Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement (CCA) between President Salva Kiir and President Omer al Bashir.

Without much ado at this stage the right thing to do is obvious. We have  to thank God that Ms. Zuma is quick enough to realize that things are not going well as far as the implementation of the so-called Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement (CCA) recently signed between South Sudan and Sudan is concerned.

She (Dlamini Zuma) too did well to recognize that the meeting between the South Sudan and Sudan committees that took place in Juba, the capital of South Sudan was nothing but a complete failure. That’s like keeping on top of issues, isn’t it?

So it was  also  a great move from her side when  she explicitly expressed   her concerns and frustration over  the delay in the operationalization of the buffer zone between the two countries which by all means   remains to be the centerpiece in the 27th September 2012 Addis Ababa Cooperation Agreement.

Nonetheless, for those of us who have meticulously followed the history of the countless agreements signed by Khartoum be it in Addis Ababa or elsewhere, we are not in any way surprised by the way how the delegations from the two countries concluded the first leg of their technical committee’s meeting in Juba. Failure to agree is what they do best. In other words they seem to have beforehand agreed to disagree!

Sadly enough though it’s only now that it has become abundantly clear to all including those that saw us as prophets of doom, that the whole meeting in Juba was an utter failure, for the simple fact that Khartoum which refuses to talk to its northern rebels of the SPLM-North had strangely enough tried to use the Juba meeting to forge an SPLM/NCP anti SPLM-North front which would have then gone out to win the war in favor of this crazy Islamist clique.

In short the Juba Meeting can be summarized as a meeting where the two sides consumed all their time disagreeing on how to deal or not deal with the SPLM-North rebels who are now fighting the Khartoum regime. This if anything, it stands to tell you what the  NCP Islamists intend to extract from this so-called Cooperation Agreement, and probably it may be  their sole reason  for wanting to normalize with South Sudan.

Ms Zuma also rightly responded promptly to her instinct that warned her of the possible collapse of this hard earned truce and she did well to remind both Juba and Khartoum that the whole world is watching their moves. Her emphases about the need for the full and timely implementation of the security arrangements, which will in turn enhance confidence between the two States is well placed.

However Ms Zuma will need to go yet another step further if the AU is to ever see a practical implementation of this so called Cooperation Agreement between the two Sudans take place on the ground. For as things stand it is indeed illogical to expect a full and timely smooth implementation of an agreement that was entirely sealed under external pressure without continuing to exert the same pressure throughout the course of events.

Reasons behind Khartoum signing the agreement in the first place:

Long time ago the author  had warned about how Khartoum will change its stance in the last minute and sign any agreement proposed by the AUHIP of former President Thabo Mbeki  with the sole aim of  escaping  the UN Security Council’s deadline. And it has come to pass just as speculated.

To further confirm what the author had written earlier, we are now face to face with Khartoum which has always dishonored truces.  And what we are seeing now is that  even before the ink on the Cooperation Agreement  could dry, the old foxes of Khartoum are already  back to what they do best and that’s to put hurdles on the way of implementing any agreement they sign,   while at the same time pretending  as if they are really serious about the implementation.

We all know that the Cooperation Agreement requests the two governments (Juba & Khartoum) to refrain from supporting rebel groups in the two countries. It can also mean that the two countries may also have to play positive roles in order to bring about peaceful settlements to each other’s problems.

So far so good, however Khartoum by the nature of its Jihadist orientation doesn’t in fact believe in a peaceful settlement in any of its countless rebellions with groups known to  operate within the Greater  Darfur and many others  all   along the  nearly 2000 km border with the new republic of  South Sudan.

This is obviously the case for while South Sudan has openly voiced its suspension of assistance to SPLM-North which is now a foreign organization or at least should be seen so, yet it is never denied its support for what it considers a just cause for which the northern comrades (Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and the various Darfuri rebel groups) are fighting for.  On the same theme Juba went on to suggest its willingness to help mediate for a peaceful settlement for its northern neighbor’s crises, a role of course never appreciated by the Islamists who rule over the Republic of Sudan (North).

This same position would have been adopted by the SPLM leadership in Juba should  the Islamist NCP government In Khartoum offer to mediated a settlement between Juba and  the David Yau Yau’s  rebels.   At least this helps the reader to see the other angles of what in fact is a multi-faceted crisis.

At any rate it is equally worth stressing here that although Khartoum has long since made up its mind not to go in the direction of having South Sudan as a player that can help bring about a peaceful settlement in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains or the Blue Nile region, yet for purely propaganda purposes it continuously prefers to highlight the link between these rebel groups and the SPLM government in Juba.

As part of the NCP’s bigotry mind set it cannot and will not especially after its bitter experience with the Naivasha Agreement (the CPA) opt again for any truce where it will be requested to share power with other armed groups. The NCP  is not  ready  to do that with any of the various Darfur rebel groups nor is  it  ready to do so with the SPLM-North and of course even more unthinkable with the recently formed the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF).

What President Omer al Bashir and his think tanks of the hardline Islamists in the other Arab countries the likes of Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradawi and the cohort want in the Sudan is a total military victory over all the rebel groups for the fact that these rebel groups are largely drawn from the indigenous Black African populations and are at the same time advocating for a secular Sudanese state.

For a keen observer it’s easy to see that Khartoum made efforts to conceal its main motive behind the signing of the Addis Ababa Cooperation Agreement. All that it sees it is yet another golden opportunity to replicate and establish in place another Idris Deby in Juba. If such a replica can be produced, Khartoum is dreaming   for the joint assault on the rebels by the two neighboring countries. No wonder that the NCP is determined to drag South Sudan into what is realistically an all North-North crisis.

But what do you as a concerned viewer think would be the response of the SPLM led government in Juba towards this weird position taken and adopted by the Islamists of the NCP? Of course as old time comrades the SPLM led government in Juba may find it somehow embarrassing to completely disengage with the SPLM-North, a choice they will have to weigh carefully against the backlash of continuing to lose the much needed Oil revenue that can only come by fully normalizing with Khartoum.

Again in the hope of achieving the New Sudan dream, the SPLM leadership in Juba is required by its ideology to stick to the total eradication of all the injustice in the center of power in Khartoum if they are to have the Sudan of their dream (united or fragmented) especially when the rosy dream of building the alternative oil pipeline to the Indian ocean is not easily forthcoming as initially and naively expected.  

What do the cooperation agreements mean to different people?

Now for the SPLM led government in Juba this Cooperation Agreement with Khartoum should offer the much needed   breathing space and financial relief for the regime in the face of the well-known self-inflicted economic suffocation that followed the abrupt closure of the country’s Oil industry.

President Salva Kiir who continues to suspect a military coup in the making will be very happy to have the inflow of the Oil dollars    as it will enable him to continue buying the necessary and much needed loyalty within the military establishment and the other opportunistic politicians that his regime badly needs for survival at this particular moment in time.

In Khartoum it cannot be overstressed that the NCP dominated regime will want to get back to popularity by injecting the billions of dollars that it will get as a subsidy by Juba once the Oil resumes export through the Khartoum owned pipeline.

But as already mentioned elsewhere in this article,  this Cooperation Agreement also  provides the cunning  NCP with what  it considers  as a  golden  opportunity – a rare one which it can exploit at wish in order to twist the arms of the SPLM in Juba to either accept and play  “Idris Deby like role in the region” or languish under the already self-inflicted economic embargo!.

As for the opposition political parties in both South Sudan and Sudan, conscious of the fact that each group has to work within the frame work  established following  the Independence of the former from trhe latter,  they both know very well that the future of the two neighboring countries depends on how peacefully the relationship between the two now separate entities can be maintained.

The two economies will obviously do better through border trading and free movements of people and goods. However they (the opposition parties) are also aware of the fact that any improvement in their individual countries’ economies will definitely translate into the two totalitarian regimes to not only cling to power, but also improve their chances of isolating the others even the more through the abuse of public coffers.

For the rebels of the Republic of Sudan (SPLM-N & the Darfur rebels), the Cooperation Agreement  is indeed a thing to worry about especially when issues like the creation of a demilitarized buffer zone are considered central to its successful implementation.

But as the rebels claim that they are controlling more than 40 percent of  what is known to be an  ill-defined borders between the two countries, it even becomes more the point that the border issues can only be effectively addressed when Khartoum reaches settlement with these rebel groups.

The other group represents the Sudanese refugees in South Sudan, the Southern Sudanese and Sudanese populations living along the border areas and those South Sudanese living in the North and the North Sudanese living in the South. These groups do see in the Cooperation Agreement a rare opportunity for them to lead a decent life wherever they live at the moment given the “Four Freedoms” are packaged in the cooperation truce.

Where does all the above leave the Addis Ababa Cooperation Agreement (CCA) from being understood or being misunderstood – from being correctly interpreted or being completely misinterpreted – from being timely, fully and correctly implemented or to altogether end up in  the extreme case scenario, but the most likely,   whereby agreements after agreements  share the common fate of being dumped  in the dust bin without the least implementation (e.g. Malik Agar/ Nafie Ali Nafie – Addis Ababa Agreement). This is where Ms. Zuma should concentrate her efforts, if she is to do anything different from what her predecessors did for peace in the Sudan(s)

However our generous advice to Ms. Zuma at this juncture  is that,  whatever reports she gets from her former South Africa’s  President Thabo Mbeki on the Sudanese Politics; she must take it with a pinch of salt. Mbeki quitted the Darfuri dossier without a clear break through, Abyei is another dilemma on his hands and God knows what he will do with the difficulty to implement Addis Ababa Cooperation Agreement between the two countries.

There’s no intention of the author of this article to undermine the AUHIP (Thabo Mbeki’s group) skills in mediating between SPLM and the NCP, however let the truth be told and be made known to the entire world that there is no room left for the two ruling parties (the SPLM & NCP) to cooperate on any issues of mutual benefit be it political or economic given the fact that the two just cannot work together.

The real PEACE in this region lies outside the domains of both the SPLM and the NCP and unless a true democracy prevails in Juba and Khartoum altogether under new regimes, the two countries will likely remain at loggerheads for decades to come.

These two countries are already the worst failed states in the world and the peace, security and development that they have failed to provide for their citizens, just doesn’t exist for them to provide to one another. This is a neighborhood where love has long since been replaced by hatred.

Let us also not forget that these two (the SPLM & NCP) regimes have long been fatigued by war and if anything they have both run out of ideas. Both are playing their cards now not that they want to win or to lose, but in fact their ultimate goal is just to remain in the game as long as possible regardless of what they are actually capable or incapable of delivering to their people.

Both the SPLM and the NCP must come to terms with this, “They cannot be both Partners and Enemies at the same time and expect any progress in the so-called Cooperation Agreement! But most urgently is that the UA under Ms Zuma  leadership must clearly understand the true dynamics of the politics in this sub-region. Nothing here resembles the textbook stories and this is indeed a lesson overdue”!

The Author, Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, is the Secretary General of the United South Sudan Party (USSP). He can be reached at: [email protected] or [email protected]

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