Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Placing the Sudanese Lesson on the Arab Politician’s Table | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Does the secession of South Sudan, which now seems to be imminent, indicate the dawn of a new historical period, whereby other areas of our Arab world will follow the same trend? They would be assisted in doing so by external powers, interested in dividing large states into smaller entities, so that they can be handled more easily. The secessionist trend has already manifested itself in countries such as Iraq, Yemen and Somalia, yet the problem could extend to other states and areas.

Therefore, Arab countries must be cautious not to repeat the same mistakes committed by Sudan. These mistakes were a driving force behind the call for secession, because the country’s weak development plans only served certain parts of the nation, and sections of its population, at the expense of other components of society. This had a negative impact upon unity, and was a catalyst for separation.

The pillars of sustainable national unity are social justice, in every sense of equality, and a comprehensive development program that impacts upon every citizen, regardless of his location within the homeland. This is what Sudan has long neglected, whilst the northern political elite took interest in its narrow circles. South Sudan cannot be blamed for opting for secession, considering the miserable living conditions that its people have endured. Instead of crying over split milk, Arab leaders should re-assess their own states, and underline the marginalized areas which suffer from starvation, negligence and illiteracy, areas where potential dangers breed. When starving citizens are protesting, an incident which occurs these days in more than one area of the Arab world, this is an indication of an imbalance within a country. These countries should not wait until seditions emerge in order to admit their mistakes, dismiss officials, and take the appropriate measures. Rather, these measures should already be incorporated into the Arab politician’s vision.

Thus, the Sudanese lesson must be placed upon the Arab politician’s table: Ever since Sudan was granted independence, the southern Sudanese have gradually raised their voices and demanded their right to development, as Sudanese citizens (enjoying full citizenship). Unfortunately, these demands did not gain the attention of any of Sudan’s previous military or civil governments. These governments seemed preoccupied with the quarrel taking place between Khartoum’s elite, which was dominated by political score-settling and bellicose rhetoric. Today the South appears to be slipping away in front of everyone’s eyes, like a glimmer of sunlight. Nobody can say for sure that this secession will be the last in the region. In parts of the Arab world, social development remains imbalanced and divides components of the same society, like our brothers the Egyptians.