Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The creeping war in Sudan | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page

Unless a miracle takes place, Sudan is approaching a catastrophic war which will be even fiercer and more bloody than all the previous rounds of fighting. This is what many have, for quite a long time, been warning against, due to the government’s abject failure in dealing with the peace issue and the consequences of secession, as well as a result of the minor considerations of some of those in power in Khartoum. The manner in which the al-Bashir regime has handled the South Sudan issue and the Peace Agreement was always leading in one direction, namely hostile secession. The North is now paying the price for the government’s failure to manage the transitional period following the signing of the 2005 peace agreement which ended with South Sudan’s 2011 referendum on secession. This government not only failed, during these six months, to create an atmosphere where unification would be viewed as an attractive prospect, it also failed – disastrously – to solve a number of dangerous issues prior to secession.

No rational person can believe that the al-Bashir government failed to anticipate that the South would vote for secession, rather than unity. This was clear and the writing was on the wall, as the saying goes, therefore this justifies the questions that have arisen regarding the government’s true objectives for failing to solve the problematical issues of borders and wealth before the referendum in the south. This is because issues of this sort, if they remain outstanding or vague, are often a cause for wars between countries. In fact, Sudan had better chances of resolving these issues via negotiations before, not after, secession. Yet, the government squandered these opportunities in the same manner that it squandered unity, and it ultimately seemed glad about the South’s secession. Isn’t it true that some government supporters even celebrated the “divorce” from the South, slaughtering sacrifices in Khartoum and expressing their joy at what they deemed their salvation from the South and true independence for the North? What is even stranger is that one of those who celebrated the South’s secession was writer al-Tayeb Mustafa, who happens to be President al-Bashir’s uncle, and who also heads the Just Peace Forum, which has nothing whatsoever to do with either justice or peace!

This coalition continues to provoke hostility and incite war by launching media campaigns against anybody seeking to bring Khartoum and Juba together. Toward this endeavour, the coalition has supported calls to expel the southerners and occupy Juba, the capital of South Sudan. What kind of genius prompted some individuals, particularly within al-Bashir’s inner circle, to celebrate the South’s secession and consider this to be “great” for the North, and then later demand the invasion of Juba? The problem is that those individuals calling for this are not the voice of dissent, rather they are part of the regime and some of them are even part of the President’s inner circle. This, however, means that the reins of government are in the hands of the regime’s “hawks” despite the talk about disagreements within the party, not to mention reports that some youth within the Islamist movement have brought their complaints to the leadership, calling for the rectification of a series of failures.

In fact, the al-Bashir government, not matter how many peace slogans it raises, will remain a government of war. Under this government, Sudan came to experience a series of endless wars, and it continues to jeopardize what remains of the country. Ever since the regime emerged to seize power via a military coup, it continued to start wars, and sow the seeds of antagonism and division until Sudan is in flames with creeping wars which extend from the farthest west to the farthest east, whilst signs also indicate that it is likely that wars may extend elsewhere. This government fought against the South for 16 years, adopting the slogan of jihad against its own people. Towards this endeavour, the Sudanese government sought assistance from Islamist groups in other countries, as was evidenced by the striking admissions made by the Egyptian al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya [the Islamic Group], which confessed it had made a mistake in participating in the wars in Sudan; a participation which they acknowledged has contributed to this deplorable status quo. Nevertheless, the Sudanese government has failed in its primary duty, namely protecting the country’s soil.

Central governments do not fight for separation, but rather to preserve unity and the safety of the country’s soil. However, the al-Bashir government is the exception to this, for it fought in order to ultimately divide the country via a peace agreement that achieved only a short armistice, not peace, and paved the way for secession, not lasting unity. It is odd that following this long episode, the government is once again declaring war and is threatening to invade the South, claiming that South Sudan is conspiring with foreign parties to undermine the rule in the North by backing armed groups in South Kordofan, the Blue Nile and Darfur, in addition to waging an economic war by ceasing its oil exports.

The regime may need to be reminded that 10 months ago al-Bashir himself threatened to cease oil exports through northern seaports as part of the nail-biting game between the two sides over their oil dispute. Such threats have rebounded on the regime; Khartoum seized some of the South’s oil cargo on account of the existing dispute between the two sides, the South resorted to the Samson Option whereby it ceased its oil exports and closed its oil-fields. This has served to raise the pressure within the corridors of the al-Bashir government, which is now facing an economic crisis which it declines to admit; indeed it is trying to delude people into believing that it will restore the oil revenues that went to the South via mining and exporting gold.

It is striking that the government is speaking of gold as a solution to its crisis, rather than agriculture which has been completely destroyed under this regime, with this destruction extending to the [Nile] Island Project that was once regarded as the prop for Sudan’s national economy. It is odd that the government is saying this after it has concluded dubious deals whereby it has sold much of the country’s land [to foreigners]. I fear that people will wake up one day and discover that what remains of their land is nothing more than a handful of barren plots and “a rented capital.” I fear that people will one day discover that the best of their land has been sold to foreign companies thanks to the regime’s brokers and widespread corruption, which has already begun to affect those in power.

The regime, in its current crisis and in light of the signs of discontent in the North, is rushing towards the war option, particularly after its policies have only exacerbated the hostilities with the South, serving as a cause for new wars in Northern Kordofan and the Blue Nile, as well as Darfur. Due to this rush to war, the regime is dragging the entire country into the abyss!