Saturday, January 8, 2011

Land of the Blacks, Part 2

In Part 1, we began establishing some background to the situation in Sudan.

Here, we go more into depth, as I begin with some Congressional testimony given in the context of assessing the need for and effectiveness of a divestment strategy against the regime in Khartoum.

Sudan's President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir

In testimony before the House Committee on Financial Services (Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur), Ambassador Richard S. Williamson described his background:

During the past 30 years I have held a variety of diplomatic positions including three Ambassadorial posts, served as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, and most recently as President George W. Bush’s Special Envoy to Sudan. I am now in the private sector where, among other things, I am a Non‐Resident Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institute and I am a Senior Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. I also have written extensively about the sad situation in Sudan.

I put this excerpt in to establish Ambassador Williamson's credibility regarding the situation in Sudan (see also Roberta Buffett Visiting Professor of International Studies Ambassador Richard S. Williamson (2009/2010)), about which he had this to say during his testimony:

Since signing the CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement, also known as the Naivasha Agreement], the Government of Sudan in Khartoum has continued to marginalize the South, denying full political participation and perpetuating economic and other forms of discrimination.

The North also has failed to live up to many of its other CPA commitments. It did not disarm and demobilize the Arab militias it used as proxy warriors against the South. It did not create the fully integrated North/South army and police units. It did not hold national and local elections on time or in a free and fair manner. It has not provided transparent accounting of oil revenue. It did not live up to commitments to accept agreed‐upon procedures to demarcate contested border areas: first by Abyei Boundaries Commission created by the CPA and then by the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague. And the North has provided arms to Arab tribes and incited violence that last year claimed more than 1,000 more South Sudanese lives. The list goes on.

Furthermore, the North has failed repeatedly to meet deadlines to arbitrate issues related to the referendum such as citizenship, freedom of movement, and treaties. It was slow to form the referendum commission and failed to set up the machinery to hold the referendum on time. Many observers believe current talks on these issues are part of a well‐established pattern by Northern leaders of setting up elaborate and complicated forums for discussing, deliberating, and eventually denying commitments they never intended to honor in the first place. Meanwhile, their leverage grows.

As Francis Deng, former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Sudan, has written in his new book, SUDAN AT THE BRINK: SELF‐DETERMINATION AND NATIONAL UNITY, "It is easy to see that the North, which has dominated the unity framework as conventionally understood, would want to sustain that framework, with all it offers in terms of control over power, wealth, services, development opportunities, and the definition of the country as Arab and Islamic."


The CPA offered a six year window for the North to make unity attractive. It has failed to do so. No observer familiar with the situation believes the Southerners will not vote for independence. But major concerns remain unaddressed such as oil revenue and a final resolution of Abyei' status. The long history of broken promises, marginalization, and violence as acceptable instruments of power has led both the North and South to prepare for renewed war. Tensions are high and rising. The prospect of a peaceful, credible referendum is precarious.

The portion I skipped described some of the incredible violence that has occurred in the ongoing north/south conflict in Sudan. I use the expression "ongoing... conflict" because, though a "peace" agreement is being somewhat implemented, it does not actually end the dispute, it merely changes the nature of the conflict.

Later, Ambassador Williamson has this to say:


It is important to recognize that Darfur is integrally intertwined with the ongoing Sudan North/South difficulties. The root cause of conflict in both areas is a pattern, practice and precedent of marginalizing the peripheries by the powerful Arab Muslims at the center. In Darfur, the vast majority of the people are not Arab and they are not Muslim.

Throughout the period of colonial subjection during the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century and then the British Empire up to 1956, the northern Arabs of Sudan along the Nile River were favored and all those outside this central area were marginalized. It was a way to control this geographically large and enormously diverse country. Just as the South was marginalized, so was Darfur disadvantaged economically and politically. This gave rise to a modest revolt in 2003. However, rather than a proportional response targeted at the rebels, Khartoum opened the gates of hell.

Similar to the manner in which they had prosecuted their wars against Southern Sudan, in Darfur the Government of Sudan armed Arab militias. Then in coordinated attacks against the non‐Arab African civilians of Darfur they bombarded villages from the sky with airplanes and attack helicopters, often dumping 55 gallon drums of burning oil on innocent people below. Then Sudan Armed Forces riding on flatbed trucks would race through the village firing their guns in every direction. They would be followed by waves of Janjaweed, the so‐called devils on horseback and camel, who would swoop into the village burning crops, stealing livestock, destroying homes, poisoning wells, killing boys and men, and beating and gang raping small girls and women. As both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama have said, this has been genocide. More recently, the International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for President al‐Bashir for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide for the atrocities committed in Darfur.

Ambassador Williamson's explanation of how power is held by Arab Muslims who target non-Arab non-Muslims is interesting, especially in light of the description of the hostilities. It is clear the regime in Khartoum is a state sponsor of terrorism, here directing the terror against its own people. Its military forces coordinate their attacks against "rebels" with the terrorists, known as Janjaweed.

The term "janjaweed" itself refers to bandits who, as alluded to in the excerpt above, ride on horseback and camel. The Khartoum government, however, uses different terms, including "mujahideen". From a footnote on page 2 of Darfur Documents Confirm Government Policy of Militia Support:

3 The term "Janjaweed" has become the source of increasing controversy, with different actors using the term in very different ways. Literally, the term is reported to be an amalgamation of three Arabic words for ghost, gun, and horse that historically referred to criminals, bandits or outlaws. In the wake of the conflict in Darfur, many "African" victims of attacks have used the term to refer to the government-backed militias attacking their villages, many of whom are drawn from nomadic groups of Arab ethnic origin. Victims have also used other terms, such as "fursan" and "peshmarga" to describe these government-backed militias. The Sudanese government and members of the government-backed militias themselves reject the name "janjaweed" and appear to use the term "janjaweed" to refer to criminals and outlaws, see "Sudan Arabs Reject Marauding 'Janjaweed' Image," Reuters, July 12, 2004. Other terms used by the Sudanese government include the terms "outlaws" and "Tora Bora," to refer to the rebels, and the terms "knights," "mujaheeden" or "horsemen" which appear to refer to members of its own militias.

To me, what comes through is an evident attempt to secure Sudan - possibly within a diminished area that does not include all of what is now considered Sudan - as an Arabic-speaking Islamic nation, with sharia as its law. The government's past support for Islamic terrorists, including Osama bin Laden, as well as the current support for "mujahideen" militiamen to battle infidel minorities, fits this pattern.

The goal would then be to honor no part of the CPA, except the part that requires the plebiscite on secession for the southern part of Sudan. Furthermore, by alienating the southerners through various means, including supporting violence against them and prohibiting their fair and full participation in other aspects of government (such as allowing southerners to be in the security forces), that would ensure they vote for secession. The obvious idea is to drive them out, and have a smaller, but highly Arabized and Islamized, Sudan.

Here is another excerpt from Ambassador Williamson's testimony:

I fear that if full scale conflict reignites between the North and the South any possibility of progress toward peace in Darfur will be lost. And even if progress is made on that front, Khartoum may be even less accommodating to the desire of the people of Darfur for an end to their marginalization, their persecution, and their requirement for empowerment and some degree of autonomy. As one senior Government of Sudan official said to me in a private meeting, "If we give up the South, then Darfur will want the same thing. Where will the dismemberment end? Eventually there will be no Sudan left."

The flavor of Ambassador Williamson's testimony is that the Khartoum regime does not want to be left in charge of a "rump Sudan" as I might describe it (akin to what happened when several parts of Yugoslavia seceded and left a "rump Yugoslavia" under Serb control in the 1990's), but my take is quite different.

From Bashir says Sudan to become Sharia-compliant and Islamic country if South secedes, dated December 19, 2010:

Khartoum--In a last-ditch attempt to assure his base, President Bashir has promised that he will make Sudan an Islamic nation that will be governed by sharia law, according to a televised speech on he gave on Sunday.

"We'll change the Constitution," he said. "Shariah and Islam will be the main source for the Constitution, Islam the official religion and Arabic the official language."

In recent days, Mr. Bashir has been heard and seen spewing such statements because his party has shown signs of resigning to the inevitability of independence for Southern Sudan.


To those in the South , Bashir's vision for the north is not surprising because the north has always been under Islamic law.

The only change came in 2005, when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement incorporated respect for religious and ethnic diversity.

But that agreement's interim period is nearing its end and for Bashir, he has to give assurances.

"If South Sudan secedes, we will change the Constitution, and at that time there will be no time to speak of diversity of culture and ethnicity," Mr. Bashir said.

Interestingly, the plot of course thickens. Never take Islamic extremism and terrorism at face value. The foot soldiers - suicide bombers and so on - are motivated by Islamic values such as hatred of infidels and a desire to rape 72 virgins in heaven, but the guys at the top have a different agenda, one very recognizable to our own officials in Washington. From President Bashir 'embezzled' $9 billions of oil money, dated December 17, 2010:

WASHINGTON -- In a stunning revelation, US diplomatic cables leaked to Wikileaks -- the whistleblowing website that has been the source of news since Saturday, whose founder (Julian Assange) was arrested over unrelated charges, but was released on bail -- are showing Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir stacked away as much as 9 billion dollars of the oil sector.

The cable in question reads as follows:


Classified By: Ambassador Alejandro D. Wolff, for reasons 1.4 b/d

1. (C) International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told Ambassadors Rice and Wolff on March 20 that Sudanese President Bashir needed to be isolated. Ocampo suggested if Bashir's stash of money were disclosed (he put the figure at possibly $9 billion), it would change Sudanese public opinion from him being a "crusader" to that of a thief. Ocampo reported Lloyd's Bank in London might be holding or knowledgeable of the whereabouts of his money. Ocampo suggested simply exposing that Bashir had illegal accounts would be enough to turn the Sudanese against him, "as with Pinochet."

2. (C) Ocampo said Bashir invents conflict to create a better negotiating position, and thought Bashir was using the expulsion of the NGOs to divert attention away from his arrest warrant. Ocampo suggested the U.S. and the international community also needed to push for Bashir's arrest to isolate him. Ocampo likened Bashir's situation to "a bleeding shark being surrounded by other sharks," with no loyalty, only greed, motivating those competing for power. By promoting the possibility of Bashir's arrest, Bashir would be further marginalized within Sudan's ruling elite, Ocampo thought.

3. (C) Ocampo suggested it would be beneficial to reassure China that its access to oil would not be jeopardized. If China believed Bashir was becoming a destabilizing influence, Ocampo said China might be more open to his removal as long as his replacement would guarantee support for China's economic interests.


Returning now to President Bashir 'embezzled' $9 billions of oil money:

However, the allegations are being met with stiff opposition from figures within Bashir's goverment, like in this instance where Khalid al-Mubarak has since fired away at Mr. Ocampo's motives.

"To claim that the president can control the treasury and take money to put into his own accounts is ludicrous - it is a laughable claim by the ICC prosecutor," Khalid al-Mubarak, an attache at the Sudanese embassy in London, told the Guardian. "Ocampo is a maverick, and this is just part of his political agenda. He has failed miserably in all his cases and has refused to investigate Iraq or Gaza - he needs success and he has targeted Bashir to increase his own importance. Attempts to smear not only Bashir but Sudan as a whole are well known, and are clearly linked with anti-Arab sentiments and Islamophobia."

In the past conerns of gross discrepancies about oil revenues have been raised by the South after independent auditing groups sounded alarm about oil money figures and how they did not add up.

It has been suggested in some quarters that the whole Wikileaks Cablegate thing is a set-up. The idea is that some elements in the US government want to ensure maximum coverage of key points, so they leak the information. In that case, Cablegate is about far, far more than Sudan; but, Sudan may have been considered in deciding which documents to leak.

Leaking US government concerns that President Bashir is diverting oil revenues to his own accounts would sure add an air of credibility to allegations against him, and the leak late in 2010 could easily be the nail in the coffin of a united Sudan - there would be minimal time for any response, so the south secedes for this reason, as well as for many others.

This theory would suggest that perhaps President Bashir did indeed want the south to not secede, and may be in trouble if it did, and that someone wants to get his regime in that trouble. Taking that idea another step, perhaps Khartoum is not behind the excesses that have been blamed on the militias that Bashir's government supports.

To me, the next logical question to address is Cui bono?

You know, if I'm reading this map correctly, the boundary between north and south goes right through the main area of oil concessions, with most of the wells on the south side.

If President Bashir is using oil revenues to fund a government oppression of minorities in the south, and then stealing the money into the bargain, the southerners have every reason to be upset.

But, I can't help wondering who would be calling the shots on the oil if the south secedes.

More to follow.

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