When Will Juba Cease Being Subordinate to Khartoum?

By Philips Al-Ghai

May 22, 2013 (SSNA) — When the government of S. Sudan closed down oil production in late January 2012, the news was received with ululations. Those who hold S. Sudan close to their hearts thronged the dusty roads of Juba in celebration. I was no exception.

In my humble burrow, I managed throwing a couple fists in the air. Then sank the whole euphoria in with my favorite 21-years-long-war songs from the great Koryom division of Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA). For those who abhor Khartoum with her Islamic Sharia laws, religious prejudices, warmongering, and racially based discriminations, it was a perfect day. We couldn’t simply afford funding our destabilization with our own resources. Full stop.

After all, it doesn’t require big brains to comprehend that Khartoum is an anopheles mosquito that –when it bites –leaves the victim with malaria, encephalitis, and dehydration. Whether the laws of Economics defy that fact is another question. But the enemy was biting and had to be stopped.

The “economists”, as they called themselves, had other ideas. They found it wise to wait, for a few more months, until they receive the lecture notes from their Western professors, before they could decide whether to join or disjoin the party. The SPLM-DCs, on the other hand, were not to be left out. They predictably had some important message –to tell us –from their godfathers in Khartoum.

And with the two forces combined, cometh the D-Day for the SPLM, and to the amazement of celebrants like myself. Someone was stabbing another in the back! There were countless low moans all-over. The decision, all of a sudden, was branded as impotent, uninformed, and impulsive in the media. It left many scratching their heads. And others scared about their political future.

A mob of deserters is what independence gives you these days, isn’t it? They wait until it goes wrong. Then kick you right in the teeth. How can one trust Khartoum as a business partner? When did this ‘passionate’ trust start?

That was not the end of the tale though. With president Kiir and his SPLM household frightened out of their wits by the media, Al-Bashir knew the time was right to play his cards. Thanks, the “economists” and the SPLM-DCs did a great deal. So, he made his expedition to Juba to push through the last phases of the scheme. Heavens forbid if I were in the crowd that was blindly forced to get their brains baked in that scorching sun along the sides of Juba roads in honor of the bloody fugitive. Neither would I have liked to be one of those merchants who lost a heck of fortunes on the day, just because some dupes wanted them to shut their businesses down. All in the name of Bashir…….what a mediocrity that was!

As one would expect, Al-Bashir got another priceless opportunity to inspect the work of his notorious boys under the command of David Yau Yau, and flood their heads with up-to-date scorched-earth policies he has adopted in Darfur, S. Khordofan, and Blue Nile so far. Besides, he was able to tether the confused SPLM camp with the promise of oil flow. With the mob on their heels, he knew it is a temptation that president Kiir and his compatriots wouldn’t resist. He also had this superstition that the SPLM might play a crucial role in taming the no-nonsense Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) in the North. Finally, before he could get back to his palace to wait for the outcomes, he ensured the addition of a few uncertainties to the Abyei issue. And Chief Kuol Deng Kuol’s murder was coordinated to that effect.

Now as he sits in Khartoum, smiling at yet another bunch of successful tricks, and while the moneymen in Juba still contemplate on how to divide up the sales of the first few barrels of oil, comes another big rumor: the oil has stopped flowing! Whether it holds water is yet to be seen. But you wouldn’t be surprised, would you?

Only a fool would expect Bashir to hang onto an agreement after Yau Yau’s recent victory claims, Chief Kuol’s demise, and with Sudan Armed Forced (SAF) taking advanced positions in the battlefields.  Why entice Kiir and the co if his plans are working? It is a pity that Juba is too naive to see such ploys.

Meanwhile, if the closure of oil flow transpires as the prophets of doom predicted, I would expect the “economists” and the SPLM-DCs to tell us who to blame this time. Unless we accept risks and stop politically motivated criticisms, Bashir will always manipulate Juba at his convenience.

Philips Al-Ghai can be reached at [email protected]

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