Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Sudan: a slaughtered country and a suicidal regime | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In a research paper prepared by Dr. Ghazi Salahuddin, an advisor to the Sudanese President and one of the pillars of the National Islamic Front (NIF)’s regime, presented last year to the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, he said “The secession of the South does not only mean that Sudan has lost one fifth of its land mass and one third of its population, but also that its geopolitics have changed. Despite these sacrifices, the most important goal, i.e. peace, has not been achieved and the two nations created by the partition are teetering on the verge of war.”

This is an important admission of failure by one of the regime’s symbols, although Dr. Ghazi failed to address the question that instinctively comes to the mind following his analysis, namely: Who is responsible? It is indisputable that the current NIF regime is responsible, for it has fueled wars and raised slogans of Jihad. Then it oversaw the negotiations that eventually led to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), and also signed the terms of an article that provided for a referendum on the self-determination of the South, hence paving the way for its separation. The regime made all these decisions in complete isolation from the Sudanese people, and the Northerners were not consulted about the fate of their country. The regime was so arrogant that it did not attach any importance to the people’s opinion on the most significant decision ever made since Sudan’s independence, and perhaps the most significant in its modern history. In fact, The NIF twice took liberties in its dealings with Sudanese people: firstly when it staged a coup against the regime, which it was once a part of, hence rejecting the principle of the peaceful exchange of authority, and denying the Sudanese people the right to decide their own destiny through the ballot boxes. Secondly, the regime declined to ask the rest of the Sudanese people what they felt about the southern secession referendum.

When this regime came to power via a perfidious coup in 1989, it first statement claimed that the Front had come to rescue the nation, to maintain the country’s unity and preserve its freedom and dignity. The NIF pledged not to relinquish a single inch of Sudanese soil. So did the regime keep its promise and fulfill its duty? Or has it proven to be a failure that now deserves to be held accountable, particularly since in its opening statement the NIF attacked political leaders whom it branded as “traitors and corrupt”, accusing them of squandering national unity and “provoking racist and tribal battles, until the citizens of one nation carried arms against each another in Darfur and South Kordofan, let alone the national tragedy in the South”?

The regime has proven to be an abject failure in terms of maintaining Sudan’s unity. Not only did it throw away the South, but its current policies are also threatening the unity of what remains, due to the wars it has waged extending from Darfur to South Kurdfan and the Blue Nile, and perhaps further beyond. If people returned again to read the 1989 coup statement, they would find that the regime has failed to fulfill many of the promises it gave to justify its coup. This necessitates that Sudan’s Islamists must be held to account for their record over the past 23 years.

In one of the memorandums that young members of the NIF are said to have presented to the regime’s leaders, under the banner of the National Congress Party, there were significant hints that the NIF had planned, or sought, to separate the South with the aim of implementing what it termed as its “Civilization Project” in Sudan. This is because it regarded the South as an obstacle hindering its plan to declare an Islamic Republic in Sudan, which it is now attempting to revive through a new constitution project promoted under the name “the Second Republic”. The drafters of the memorandum – described as the mediating leaders within the regime – claim that with the separation of the South, “the danger, which brought salvation into the country aboard tanks, has now gone”. This was also reflected in the celebrations of some of the regime’s adherers’ when the South voted for secession in the referendum last year.

The problem is that the regime failed in its calculations that prompted it to sacrifice one fifth of the country’s land and one third of its population, and nevertheless, it also failed to achieve peace or even acquire the oil share it had long dreamed of. Therefore, the regime has ultimately failed to create the climate necessary for it to move to the stage of the “Second Republic”, or to draft the “Islamic Constitution.” The war moved into northern territories such as South Kordofan and the Blue Nile, after the regime failed to address the problems of these regions, whether through the vague text that formulated the CPA in 2005, described as a “popular consultation”, or by reaching an agreement with the SPLM in the North, with which it could have contained their fighters, solved the problems and ended the grievances that have sparked conflicts there. The government’s poor dealings with wars and grievances have caused strong armed movements in Darfur and the SPLM in the North to unite under a new “Revolutionary Front”, in order to fight the regime in the North, and seize its remaining oil areas. Such armed movements have received backing from the South, with whom peace with the North has shifted into overt hostility and then war within a few months.

The regime’s supporters always argue that the regime is not responsible for this new round of wars, which they consider to be a “foreign conspiracy” – a favorite theory of the Arabs – to topple the regime in Khartoum. Yet, by providing such a pretext, they are helping the regime evade responsibility for throwing away the country’s unity without achieving peace, and for failing to benefit from the transitional period between 2005 and 2011, following the signing of the CPA. This period was squandered in political maneuvers, instead of acting to make unity an attractive option. The regime failed to settle the issues pertaining to borders, wealth or economic arrangements prior to secession, which all led to the recent war between the two parties. This round of war will be even fiercer than all previous ones, because it will be between two independent states and in accordance with new rules, after the South strengthened its military potential following separation. With the existence of a front that comprises the armed movements in Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile, in addition to the economic and financial crises now pressuring the regime in Khartoum, we are facing a grave danger in a country being slaughtered as a result of the policies of a regime that is still confused but trying to convince itself, and ultimately committing suicide.