Asharq Al-Awsat- A high-ranking leader in the Arab Al-Misiriyah tribe in the contested Abyei area between north and south Sudan has announced his rejection of the ruling the International Arbitration Court [IAC] in The Hague issued Wednesday, which re-demarcated the area. He considered it “unfair” to his tribe and called the National Congress (the ruling party led by President Omar al-Bashir) opportunistic and panting after the oil in the Hajlij area which might see another conflict when the boundaries between north and south are demarcated since the southerners are claiming it is part of Al-Wihdah Province in Upper Nile, south Sudan, and not the north.
Hamdan Ahmad Ali, who identified himself as the “emir of the mujahidin in Al-Misiriyah tribe”, said in a telephone interview with “Asharq Al-Awsat” from the Abyei area that the majority of his tribe which is of Arab origins rejects the IAC ruling on Abyei which gave the oil wells to his tribe. He added that “his tribe does not care about oil as much as it cares about land, water, and grazing grounds” for the huge cattle his tribesman own. He pointed out that “oil does not mean anything to us and cannot be a substitute for the grazing grounds, water, and lands that our brothers in the Dinka Ngok have acquired” under the ruling.
Al-Misiriyah tribe is demanding that all the lands north of “Bahr al-Arab” should be their areas, including the town of Abyei, the province’s capital, and are saying that the Dinka Ngok tribe’s lands are south of Bahr al-Arab. But The Hague’s decision granted this area to the African tribe. Hamdan said: “Our tribe will not take part in the demarcation of the boundaries because the National Congress leaders in Khartoum rendered an injustice to the tribe twice, the first when it fought a war with them against the People’s Movement [SPLM] and the second after the National Congress got the oil wells” and he threatened to head south to join the SPLM.
He went on to say that his tribe entered into an alliance with the National Congress throughout the civil war of more than 20 years against the southerners and it became clear to it that it had wasted its sons’ blood and added: “The National Congress is now in an alliance with oil against our interests.” He pointed out that Al-Misiriyah tribe was looking for ownership of the land of Abyei “but we have been removed from it and it was handed over to the Dinka Ngok tribe.” After refusing to have his tribe take up arms again against any group, whether the central government or the south, he said: “We will act freely and according to what we want. We will not take up arms against the National Congress or the SPLM but will announce we are joining the south because our benefits are there and let the oil benefit the National Congress government.” He added: “We will not die again in defense of others and will live with our kinsmen the Dinka Ngok to whom we are historically bound. We have learned now more from Khartoum’s deceptions than at any time before.”
Other leaders in Al-Misiriyah and Dinka Ngok tribes, the two largest ones in the Abyei area, welcomed the demarcation decision and announced their compliance with it before underlining the “peaceful existence” between them. On the part of Al-Misiriyah tribe, Mukhtar Babu Ahmad, the tribe’s administrator, underlined his tribe’s compliance with the decision with reservations and said his tribesmen wished “there were no boundaries” and urged his counterparts in Dinka Ngok not to abandon the fraternity with Al-Misiriyah and told them: “If you win a land, do not lose the brothers.” He added “you are with us and earth is not important.” Al-Huraykah Izzaldin, one of the most prominent emirs of Al-Misiriyah said “the tribunal made its decision and we are complying with it” while Sultan Majok Fajwak from Dinka Ngok underlined the tribe’s desire for coexistence and said “there will no disputes with Al-Misiriyah.”