Saturday, June 11, 2011

Land of the Blacks, Part 5

I haven't written a great deal lately because I've been so busy reading!

As I do research, I find new links, and have updated my sidebar, especially regarding Africa and in particular Sudan.

Anyway, in Part 4, we were looking at the situation in Abyei.

Abyei is a district in the state of Southern Kordofan; however, as South Sudan splits from Sudan, Southern Kordofan will remain a part of Sudan, without the opportunity to vote on the matter, and Abyei was supposed to vote which country it would be a part of, (North) Sudan or South Sudan. As we saw in Part 4, Khartoum's plan is to ethnically cleanse Abyei while delaying the vote; that way, when the vote is finally held, the only people left in Abyei will want to be part of Khartoum's Sudan.

But the situation in Southern Kordofan is interesting, too.

In 2009, Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir appointed as governor of Southern Kordofan a man named Ahmad Muhammad Harun.

Sudan's President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir

Harun has an interesting past.

In fact, on April 27, 2007, the International Criminal Court issued a Warrant for his arrest.

Excerpts follow:

CONSIDERING that there are reasonable grounds to believe t hat the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Militia/Janjaweed, acting together as part of the counterinsurgency campaign, carried out several attacks on the towns of Kodoom, Bindisi, Mukjar, Arawala and surrounding areas over an extensive period of time running at least between 2003 and 2004, while these towns were devoid of any rebel activities and while the civilian population was not taking any active part in the hostilities;

CONSIDERING that there are reasonable grounds to believe that during these attacks, the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Milita/Janjaweed committed several criminal acts against civilians primarily from the Fur, Zaghawa and Masalit populations, between August 2003 and March 2004, namely murders of civilians, rapes and outrages upon the personal dignity of women and girls, attacks intentionally directed against the above-mentioned civilian populations and destruction of property belonging to the above-mentioned populations and pillaging of towns;


CONSIDERING that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the attacks perpetrated by the Sudanese Armed Forces and/or the Militia/Janjaweed were of a systematic or widespread nature and were directed against civilians primarily from the Fur, Zaghawa and Masalit populations pursuant to or in furtherance of a State or organisational policy consisting in attacking the civilian population;

CONSIDERING that there are reasonable grounds to believe that, during these attacks, persecution, murders, forcible transfers, imprisonment or severe deprivation of liberty, acts of torture, rapes and other inhumane acts and upon civilians primarily from the Fur, Zaghawa and Masalit populations were committed by the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Militia/Janjaweed;


CONSIDERING that there are reasonable grounds to believe that, from in or about April 2003 until in or about September 2005, Ahmad Harun served as Minister of State for the Interior of the Government of Sudan; that, as such, he was in charge of the management of the "Darfur Security desk" thereby coordinating the different bodies of the Government involved in the counter-insurgency, including the Police, the Armed Forces, the National Security and Intelligence Service and the Militia/Janjaweed;

CONSIDERING that there are reasonable grounds to believe that, due to his position at the Darfur Security desk and through his overall coordination and personal participation in key activities of the Security Committees, namely the recruiting, arming and funding of the Militia/Janjaweed in Darfur, Ahmad Harun intentionally contributed to the commission of the above-mentioned crimes, knowing that his contribution would further the common plan carried out by the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Militia/Janjaweed, which consisted of attacking the civilian populations in Darfur;

CONSIDERING that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Ahmad Harun, by virtue of his above-mentioned position, had knowledge of the crimes committed against the civilian population and of the methods used by the Militia/Janjaweed; and that in his public speeches Ahmad Harun not only demonstrated that he knew that the Militia/Janjaweed were attacking civilians and pillaging towns and villages, but also personally encouraged the commission of such illegal acts;

... you get the idea.

The sixteen-page arrest warrant for Harun goes on to number fifty-one (51) counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity of which Harun is accused. These include murder, rape, torture, forcible relocation, pillaging of private property...

... you get the idea.

Of course, instead of handing him over to the ICC, Bashir (who also has an ICC warrant out for his arrest) placed him in charge of Southern Kordofan - about a year and a half before the referendum on whether the south would secede, and knowing that Southern Kordofan would be right on the border of both the southern part of Sudan, and Abyei.

Southern Kordofan is centered around the Nuba mountains, and there have been problems with anti-regime elements in the area.

Now, why would Bashir take this guy Harun - who orchestrated what is widely called a genocide in Darfur, recruiting the Janjaweed, ensuring they were organized, equipped and supported, and coordinating their activities with the Sudanese Armed Forces - and place him in charge of another state where there were long-standing problems and more expected to follow?

Might it be that Bashir knew what kind of work Harun did, that Bashir approved of that work, and that Bashir wanted more of that work done in Southern Kordofan?

We consider testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee entitled SUDAN AT THE CROSSROADS, January 18, 2011, Pages 50-51 (54-55 of 66 as you download the pdf). First speaking is Ambassador Williamson, previously quoted in this series, then Mr. Omer Ismail, advisor, The Enough Project:

[Ambassador WILLIAMSON.] But, as you know, if it is Human Rights First, if it is the small arms commission of the U.N., the documentation of Chinese small arms has been irrefutable. And we can assume—there have been credible reports of the flow of those arms down into regions near the border, directed by Khartoum. It is a matter of great concern.

I think, as Congressman Payne said, we were together in Abyei when the smoke was still coming up where the charred bed remains, where there were no homes as far as you can see. And then in the Gok, where 50,000 people were living under torn sheets during the rainy season when you couldn’t walk without mud up to your ankles.

The tragedy of Abyei goes on. It goes on because of the oil. The vote was good, but the tough issues lie ahead.

Mr. ISMAIL. May I add, there is information that is coming from Abyei that the weapons are there and the violence can spark at any moment. You might have heard of this project that The Enough Project, with Harvard University and others, have launched. And these are the eyes in the sky that are going to show us what is happening in Abyei, so stay tuned.

And, also, the small arms are there, and other open sources that are saying 55,000 of the 105,000 standing army of Sudan are in or around the area of Abyei. If that is not a spark that is going to start something, I don’t know what it is. So we have to be vigilant, we have to work hard to avoid that clash from happening.

So, the experts testified before Congress in January that Khartoum's deployments of troops along what is soon to be its southern border, near Abyei, was a "spark" and that hard work would be required to avoid a bigger problem.

Details on the deployments can be found in Armed Entities in South Kordofan, updated on June 4, 2011, by the Sudan Human Security Baseline Assessment:

Sudan Armed Forces (SAF)

The number of SAF troops in South Kordofan is highly contested. As a result of an adjustment of forces in 2009, there are officially just two SAF divisions in the state: the 14th Division in Kadugli (formerly the site of the 5th Division, now in el Obeid, the capital of North Kordofan state), and the 15th Division in Muglad, in former Western Kordofan (which merged into South Kordofan in 2005). In addition, there are four brigades present in the state: the 53rd Brigade in Abu Jebeha, the 54th Brigade in Dilling, the 55th Brigade in Babanua, and the 56th Brigade in Heglig. In total, there are officially approximately 20,000 troops in South Kordofan.

SPLA officials claim that all four brigades have the strength of divisions and report a fifth 'independent' brigade in Liri, for a total of nearly 55,000 troops in the state — more than is needed to control the state, SPLM officials say, and more than there were at the height of the war in South Kordofan in the early 1990s.2

One of the guiding principles in the debate on security arrangements during Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) negotiations was that the downsizing of all forces to acceptable peacetime levels should begin at the start of the interim period. In line with this, the SPLM believes that SAF must reduce its presence in South Kordofan to pre-war levels—one battalion of approximately 800 men.3 The Sudanese government refutes this argument, citing a clause in the CPA that allows it to deploy forces in the North 'as it sees fit'.

And, sure enough, from UN: Civilians Targeted as Violence Worsens in Southern Kordofan, dated June 10, 2011 (link in the original is reproduced here):

The U.N. human rights office today reported that "extremely worrying" attacks on civilians and indiscriminant shelling are taking place in Southern Kordofan. Civilian deaths and injuries in the towns of Talodi and Um Durein have been confirmed while house-to-house searches near Kadugli, and attacks on both displaced people seeking refuge and civilians returning home for provisions have been reported. The U.N. also reported that "fighting forces" have erected roadblocks that are preventing medical and humanitarian access and called on all parties to the conflict to allow safe passage to civilians.

Bashir is planning a fight, and has been planning it for two years. Had the referendum in the south not gone for independence, a different contingency plan would be getting implemented now. But, in light of what has happened, Bashir is going to make a grab for the oil. He wants to secure Abyei, ensure solid possession of Southern Kordofan, and may be considering a proxy fight in what will, in less than a month, be South Sudan. He can do this, because he is getting support from the Middle East - countries whom he helps by trafficking their weapons through Sudan, smuggling them through Egypt, and up to Hamas in the Gaza Strip - as well as weapons from China, to whom he sells oil, and who has a vested interest in a reasonable degree of stability along the pipeline which is the only way for Sudan's oil to make it to the Red Sea and on to the Orient.

And who is allowing these two guys, Bashir and Harun, both with ICC warrants out for their arrest for their role in war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, to set the stage for their next war? Who is allowing them to set the stage for this next round of genocide in Africa?

From testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee entitled SUDAN AT THE CROSSROADS, January 18, 2011, Page 2 (6 of 66 as you download the pdf):

Unfortunately, the hardest work is yet to come. First, the results must be certified and accepted. Though Khartoum has pledged to accept the outcome, it has a long history of reneging on its commitments. The stakes are high, and both sides have spent the past 6 years preparing for war.

Second, outstanding issues relating to the implementation of the CPA must be resolved prior to conclusion of the transition period in July 2011, including the demarcation of the border; citizenship and nationality; wealth sharing and resource management, including for oil and water; division of assets and debt; currency; and security arrangements.

Third, the future status of the oil-rich Abyei region must be resolved fairly and in a transparent manner. Abyei is a lit match in a pool of gasoline, and continued failure to resolve its status all but guarantees war.

Likewise, the popular consultations in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile must proceed in a manner that legitimately addresses longstanding grievances. These areas are awash with weapons, and tensions are high. A single security incident could set the entire region ablaze.

Finally, we must not trade peace in Darfur for independence in the South. Regrettably, it appears the administration may have forgotten key lessons from the past. Prior U.S. efforts to reward the Sudanese regime for signing peace agreements and acceding to the deployment of peacekeepers while the regime simultaneously supported genocide in Darfur, blocked humanitarian access, and stalled implementation of the CPA were broadly condemned.

In the words of then-Senator Barack Obama in April 2008, and I quote,

"I am deeply concerned by reports that the Bush administration is negotiating a normalization of relations with the Government of Sudan. This reckless and cynical initiative would reward a regime in Khartoum that has a record of failing to live up to its commitments."

Yet the Obama administration is following the same misguided concessions-driven path.

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