Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Mirror of Lies - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

Sudanese President Omar al Bashir smiled as he made some harsh statements earlier this week saying, “We will not relinquish Sudan and we will not hand it to colonialists.” He scoffed at the international community that “whines” about the Darfur crisis and identified the source of the problem as the undermining of Sudanese greatness.

Bashir said, “Deception and ambushing with respect to the country is not over.” He added: the goal is the (greater) state of Sudan. All the states that become greater countries are no “manlier than us”.

The leader of Sudan continued to mutter words of this kind, stating that he will not accept the presence of any “foreigner” [in the form of] international troops for which the Security Council, the African Union as well as major forces in the world are pressuring Sudan in order to station these forces in the troubled Darfur region. Bashir stated that he accepts the presence of African soldiers only. Despite his blatant hesitancy, Bashir once accepted the presence of forces to be formed by the United Nations “in collaboration” with the African Union. A delegate in South Africa and a member of the Security Council, Dumisani Kumalo, stated that the foreign minister in Bashir’s government, Lam Akol, had assured him that Sudan accepted the UN leadership of the international forces. However, Bashir adopted another stance, as he has done this time, as he declared war again on foreign troops.

There are some Arab politicians who are skilled in deporting problems and employing issues such as nationalism and national and religious feuds to serve their own interests, just like every demagogic ruler. They usually employ such a method instead of addressing the problem itself and doing their best to solve it. What could President Bashir’s statements achieve apart from provoking public sentiment and offering no solution to the major problem in Darfur.

There is no point in saying that what is happening in Darfur at present is nothing but the work of “thieves and bandits” as described by Bashir himself. Those “Janjaweed” soldiers had created an international crisis. Before this, they had committed major crimes against Sudanese citizens – before any other considerations – in addition to the fact that they [citizens] were Muslims like them [soldiers]. Such crimes cannot be condoned. The displacement of approximately two million people in the desert and along the borders with Chad and the killing of nearly 300,000 people at the hands of “bandits and thieves” are disgraceful acts. Such actions make the Sudanese government subject to accountability. One cannot turn a blind eye to these crimes perpetrated against Sudanese “Muslim” citizens in Darfur under the pretext of national dignity or simply because Britain, France, the United Nations and Hollywood star George Clooney have shown interest in what is happening there.

This discussion will not be aimed at the tragedy of Darfur nor will we speak about the hit-and-run game between the Sudanese government and the world. In fact, we are facing another game of hit-and-run that is being practiced by ineffective politicians towards public opinion. Who was it that spoke about Sudanese “manliness” and greatness with all due respect to the Sudanese nation?! The issue here is one about specific crimes and genocides and who should be held accountable. This is the question. We wish that President Bashir would demonstrate the manifestations of this greatness that the authority has achieved in Sudan!

Is it clear through the state of extreme poverty in Sudan or the frustrations that Sudanese citizens suffer from or rather through the conflicts between former comrades of the Islamic Revolution? Where is this greatness when all reports talk about the fact that after the Salvation Front had brought General Bashir to power, wages decreased, purchasing power weakened and failed to benefit from the abundance of goods, in addition to the outbreak of diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis once again. Currently, 120,000 university students in Sudan face difficult living conditions that drive many of them to abandon higher education, whereas 57% of young people state that migration is their priority (as stated in a report prepared by Secretary Sayyed Ahmed and published in Asharq Al Awsat in May 2001).

And so what have “foreigners” got to do with all these issues? Do all these statistics and facts signify some kind of greatness?! Does “manliness” exist only through the actions perpetrated by the Janjaweed militia?! Or is it that manliness and greatness lie in the provision of development, achieving peace and abandoning adventurism based on useless national or fundamentalist pretexts?

Where are all these big promises that were made by the godfather of the former regime, Hassan al Turabi, who is currently an object of anger, when he considered the idea of a greater Sudanese state and drew up a 10-year plan that states that Sudan would transform at the hands of Islamists into a greater state where Sudan would become “one of the best developing societies politically, economically, socially and constitutionally,” at the beginning of the new millennium.

Now, seven years after entering the new millennium, the man behind the plan has just left prison to which he was sent by Bashir and has adopted a biased stance against the regime. We also see Sudan deteriorating economically and in the field of development with crises erupting everywhere, despite what is said about the achievements of peace in the south or the imminent controlling of the misfortunes in Darfur.

The question behind this argument is why do we lack openness in facing problems? Instead of reaching out to problems using the right path where all aspects of the solution would be tackled, we avoid them and this escapism is always conducted under the pretext of protecting and discussing conspiracies of others, that is, “strangers”. Why not give these strangers the opportunity to intervene in our problems? Why don’t we resolve these problems on our own instead of wasting time and effort in verbal battles and heroic odes that only weave webs of lies?

It is not only those in power in Sudan, however, who alter and reproduce problems by changing the method of presentation. In fact there are many parties in the Arab world that do the same. In this regards, I would like to refer to a “nice” statement that was made by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki in a celebration organized by Iraqi journalists this week for the 38th anniversary of the publication of the first edition of ‘Al Zuwraa’.

Al Maliki said, “There shall be no renaissance in Iraq without free press… that renounces the culture of hatred.” Sound words! But who said that the current Iraqi disaster is due to a lack of free press? Perhaps we should apologize to al Maliki as such words may have been used out of courtesy to Iraqi journalists who live in the worst place possible for journalists. But this does not stop us from disagreeing with al Maliki’s assessment as the catastrophe in Iraq is much deeper. Iraq suffers from a dirty sectarian war and from loyalties to external parties practiced by all forces, as well as corruption and a lack of sense of responsibility and the exchanging of lies between all individuals in government. Undoubtedly, al Maliki addresses followers of the Daawa Party in “Hussainiya” with a discourse that differs from that which he adopts as a prime minister. Also the discourse with which Tariq Hashemi addresses the Muslim Brotherhood movement is different to that he which he uses as he occupies the post of vice president. Perhaps good intentions amongst “some” Iraqi parties are present but the general truth states that war in Iraq is a sectarian war and that there are certain parties who serve their confessional agenda and do not care whatsoever about what is inflicted upon Iraq and what is in the best interests of Iraq whether it is the sect or the party. What kind of talk about free press would serve Iraq when we are continuously reading and hearing about the “explosion” of a number of Iraqi newspapers, magazines and satellite channels and radio stations accompanied by the explosion of descending sectarian sentiments.

Whoever looks in the mirror will see everything. Yet those who favor distorted mirrors will only see what they want to see. However the moment that the false mirror is removed, the person looking into it will be surprised to see the real features staring back. He will then see the smoke and destruction that he should have been seeking to bring under control as he looked into his mirror of lies. Who would really want to see such a reflection?

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.

More Posts