Monthly Archives: July 2012

Protesters in Nyala Attacked and Killed

Radio Dabanga reports that a protest against rising commodity prices in the Southern Darfur city of Nyala was met by teargas and gun fire. Medical authorities report eight killed and fifty wounded, nine of whom are in critical condition. The killed include one child, six students, and a businessman according to the report. The students had, during the course of the protest, attacked and burned two police stations, a gas station, and the administration of education building in Nyala. Other reports insist that there were many more casualties in Nyala so the figures may change.

The news from Nyala comes on a day when reports have been received from people in Blue Nile of bombardment of civilian areas. Help Nuba received a report that the SPLM/N spokesperson Arnu Nugutulu stated that the Sudan Armed Forces carried out air strikes in several places that led to the killing and injuring of approximately 14 people. Antonovs dropped 37 bombs on the villages of Aura, Baleila, Magaf, Aneeli and Dakka resulting in the death of three people and injuring eleven others. In addition to that, there is a loss of 30 cattle.

Dr. John Garang’s Vision by Yassir Arman

Dr. John Garang’s Vision is the Only Game in Town for the Welfare of the Sudans
Tomorrow the 30th of July, as we commemorate the memory of Dr. John Garang and celebrate his life and contribution as well, he would be one of the rare Sudanese who can be honored on the divide of both countries and by many Northern and Southern Sudanese and by Muslims and Christians. He was and he is above the divide being ethnic or geographical, and he had crossed many areas on this great divide. And as we all know, Dr. Garang was his vision, the vision of the “New Sudan”, a vision that was essentially and in essence based on the commonality of the Sudanese historical and contemporary and what brings the Sudanese together in the past, present and future, the peaceful co-existence and the common wealth that respects diversity of all forms.
Today Dr. Garang is not around, but his vision never dies. In actual fact, South Sudan and North Sudan they cannot do much without his vision. They are both very diverse and the massive majority of the two countries are marginalized and only the vision of the New Sudan can deliver peace, food, democracy and stability. Both countries cannot achieve progress without true recognition of their diversities in a true democratic state that respects human rights, the rule of law and accountability, builds a caring society that would address the issues of marginalization including women’s rights and taking “towns to people, not peoples to towns”, the famous jargon of Dr. Garang. The two countries are in need of such a great vision.
Dr. Garang was a true democratic Pan Africanist who believed in the unity of Africa from Cairo to Cape Town and as charity starts at home, he was for the unity of Sudan and he made the biggest attempt to preserve that unity on a new basis against all odds. Now as we have two Sudans, the vision of Dr. Garang remains valid and needed by both countries, and it is also valid to re-unite Sudan, a unity between two independent viable countries and democratic states that share the same values. The present situation full of challenges and liabilities that can be changed into assets requires a huge work and struggle by all democratic forces in the two countries. Areas such as Blue Nile and South Kordofan can be and they should be a role model of economic and social integration between the two countries given the historical and social ties as well as the rest of the border states between the two countries.
As we commemorate and celebrate the life of Dr. Garang by those who are from Northern Sudan, for us Dr. Garang is a true son of Northern Sudan as well as of South Sudan. He is a point of link between the two countries and a great hero of our lifetime, and in my humble opinion, he was the most important Sudanese personality in the last century, and it will take both Sudans fifty to one hundred years to bring a wonderful charismatic leaders such as him, full of sense of humor and intelligence, a real human being. The good news is that his vision remains valid and never dies. In fact, it is the only game in town for both Sudans.
Yasir Arman
July 29, 2012

A Time to Unite

August 26-27 in Des Moines, Iowa

Be a part of this historic event as we unite in creating a

New and better future for the peoples of Sudan and South Sudan.

The history of the peoples of Sudan and South Sudan is filled with conflicts that have allowed certain groups in the north to dominate the majority of the peoples, oppress them and marginalize them, pitting region against region, people against people. Peace and security have been undermined. Lives, liberty, and property have all been lost.

In very recent times, South Sudan was able to gain independence from Sudan. This brought freedom to some of the oppressed peoples. Yet within South Sudan, the impact of regional conflicts along with the influence of the Khartoum regime remain strong and prevent progress; while in the north, the separation of South Sudan from Sudan has led to the dramatically increased oppression of many ethnic groups within Sudan. First, there was genocide in Darfur. Now, horrors have come to the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile, and Eastern Sudan. These atrocities must be stopped.

Each people may fight its own battles alone or many may become stronger as one. We believe that the only path to a bright future is through unity.

Therefore, we believe that it is time to unite our efforts to improve the lives of all of the peoples of Sudan and South Sudan. We are joining together to create a new representative body to help lead us forward. In order to accomplish this great task, we need you, as a leader of your community, to join us in Des Moines, Iowa on August 26 and 27, 2012 for the first gathering of the United Sudanese and South Sudanese Communities Association (USASSCA).

United Sudanese and South Sudanese Communities Association (USASSCA) aims to promote:

  1. Unity and Empowerment by:
  1. Involving all of the regional, political, and ethnic organizations and associations who are interested in working together.
  2. Serving as the central coordinating body of pro-democracy organizations in Sudan and South Sudan.
  3. Providing a coherent and united voice for pro-democracy Sudanese and South Sudanese in the diaspora.
  4. Building communication and cooperation between regional and ethnic groups as well as political and military organizations.
  5. Empowering the civil and societal organizations that form the basis of healthy nations.
  1. Engagement of Sudanese and South Sudanese community leaders around the world by:
  1. Strengthening the connection and involvement of community leaders and intellectuals in the diaspora to the development of the governmental, educational, societal, cultural and economic institutions of Sudan and South Sudan.
  2. Engaging in leadership development in all of the geographic regions of Sudan and South Sudan as well as in the diaspora.
  1. Development of Needed Programs and Institutions by:
  1. Developing strategies for and establish a stabile system of fundraising.
  2. Allocating funding according to determined priorities.
  1. Strategies to resolve the ongoing humanitarian crisis by:
  1. Creating an efficient central conduit to enable interaction between Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the Sudanese and South Sudanese peoples in the region and in the diaspora.
  2. Providing Education about Sudan and South Sudan to a variety of constituencies.
  3. Preparing and disseminating authoritative and accurate news to the media.

At a later point, USASSCA may consider forming a separate lobbying organization to:

  • Develop and implement a political strategy for working with foreign governments and international institutions.
  • Conduct Lobbying in Washington, D.C.

The gathering and events to form USASSCA will be hosted by regional and national leaders of major Sudanese and South Sudanese diaspora organizations as well as by some of the leaders from the Sudanese and South Sudanese communities within those countries. The conference will feature speeches by the major leaders and the election of officers to the first Congress of Sudanese and South Sudanese Peoples. The USASSCA gathering is being held in Des Moines in conjunction with the Help Nuba conference which will include representatives of anti-genocide advocacy and relief organizations concerned with the crises ongoing in the many regions of Sudan and South Sudan today.

Help Nuba is an organization led by representatives of the Nuba, Darfur, and South Sudanese communities along with activists and others who are concerned with the plight of those suffering in Sudan and South Sudan. Help Nuba includes representatives of the UN Association of Iowa, Catholic, Jewish, Presbyterian and Episcopal religious and community leaders, one of the 2011 Carl Wilken’s Fellows of United to End Genocide and a growing number of supporters from around the United States along with members of the Sudanese and South Sudanese communities from around the world.

The USASSCA conference is by invitation only. If you would like to be included, please contact one of the members of the steering committee at this link.

A Sickeningly Happy Smile

I don’t know about you, but I feel sick when I look at the picture of Omar Bashir’s beaming smile as he shakes hands with Salva Kiir. Bashir looks like a child who has just been told that if he shakes this man’s hand, he gets to go to Disney World. I can’t help but wonder how either man could smile at the other, much less beaming like that. Bashir is a war criminal.

Then again, looking at the situation in which both men find themselves, if they have made any progress toward an oil transfer agreement, how they can smile might actually be understandable. South Sudan’s economy is in a shambles and is only deteriorating faster as the days pass and oil does not flow. Without oil flowing, right now South Sudan is closer to becoming a failed state than prospering one. Salva Kiir is in jeopardy of becoming the leader who ran South Sudan out of business.

But Sudan is not much better off. It’s economy is in a free fall and subsidies which were essential in placating the masses so that they would not rise up against the Khartoum Regime have had to be removed. There are mass protests in the streets. Foreign governments and investors would not think about investing in Sudan or even loaning it money. In addition to the protests, rebel groups in the west, south, and east all are challenging it and the ones in the south are fighting, fairly successfully, for control over the last oil reserves the nation possesses. Opposition parties have gained enough momentum to publicly challenge the ruling party and there is for the first time in a long time, a reasonable hope for regime change.

Thus, the smile, that sickeningly happy smile.

Peace and a renewed flow of oil solve the major problems that both men face. Sudan needs it badly. South Sudan is probably in as good a negotiating position as it could hope for. Khartoum can’t afford to delay the opening of the spigot. So, a tentative agreement that allows the oil to flow.

“We’ll deal with the border region later. No one attack the other. We both need the money.” That is the obvious discussion. Mutual butt-saving.

In South Sudan, Salva Kiir will be able to fulfill promises for his suffering people and things will dramatically improve. Peace will bring massive investment and growth. The economy in the South could boom. The people will be vastly better off in the short run especially. Kiir’s butt saved.

But this will certainly put a damper on change in Sudan. The Khartoum Regime will strengthen. The inevitable collapse will not merely be delayed for a bit, but perhaps it will no longer be inevitable at all. Bashir’s butt saved.

The return of subsidies will quell demonstrations. In Darfur, the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and Eastern Sudan, there will be a newly strengthened Sudanese Armed Forces and police presence. Opposition leaders will suddenly become silent, at least the ones who do not go missing. Things could get a lot worse.

I know that it is a stretch to read to much into the smile of a consummate liar, but I just get the feeling that he’s not lying. Bashir seems genuinely happy. That makes me sick.

All Things Being Equal, There Is No Morality

It is becoming more and more the norm that newspapers and editorials present “both sides” of any and every issue. To be considered unbiased, it seems that one must invariably find fault with each side of a dispute and to present both sides as equally responsible for any problems. The logic is that one side cannot be correct or right. They only have one opinion, one view. The other side’s view must be equally valid or they would agree with the first side. This makes no sense. It is an abdication of journalistic ethics to make no effort to determine right or wrong, truth or lies. Yet it is the new standard.

Ask both sides. Print both views.

The latest in this trend of politically correct moral equivalency may be found in a recent New York Times editorial about Sudan and South Sudan. The Times Editorial Board wrote:

South Sudan, along with Sudan, created this crisis, and they have the means to fix it.

The two sides fought a civil war that killed more than two million people before a peace deal in 2005. In the past year, they barely avoided a return to all-out conflict. Violence continues in Darfur and in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, a rebel-held area where the Khartoum government is trying to bomb and starve the people into submission. Thousands have been displaced.

It is difficult to see how South Sudan created the crisis by stopping the flow of oil that was providing an endless supply of money for Sudan to use to buy weaponry from Iran with which it has been using to bomb the border region, including into South Sudanese territory, and to commit genocide first in Darfur and now in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. Was there no conflict ongoing before South Sudan stopped the flow of oil in January, much less when it went into Heglig in March and April? In fact, I think it safe to say that there were many attacks ongoing by the Sudan Armed Forces in the border region prior to South Sudan’s military response in Heglig.

Here’s an article about the Sudan Airforce bombing Jau in Unity State in South Sudan on February 14.

Here’s one about the bombing of Western Bahr-al-Ghazal state in January.

Then of course there is the bombardment of South Sudan friendly civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile which is ongoing, but began long before the flow of oil was shut off from the south or any South Sudanese troops set foot in Heglig. Satellite Sentinel’s report from January of 2012 details similar events for months prior. One could potentially make the argument that defending civilians against genocide is a good reason to conduct military operations, but the international community has made it pretty clear that the people are on their own and that South Sudan cannot offer official help. “Genocide away,” I guess. “Never again” are words for commemorations rather than policies.

But more to the point, how can one forget the bombing of Yida Refugee Camp in Unity State in South Sudan on November 10th, 2011?  The Times must believe that Sudan’s bombing of the refugee camp must have been justified in anticipation by several months of South Sudan’s future military action or else it would be difficult to argue that “South Sudan created this crisis,” even limiting the “crisis” in question to the past year alone. Moral equivalency cannot possibly allow for Sudan to be the obvious aggressor even when its leadership is wanted for genocide by the International Criminal Court!

This all said, while restoring the flow of oil through Sudan will bring money into the South Sudanese economy, it also will provide Sudan with a much needed influx of capital with which to fund its military and police activities, harming the possibility of regime change in Sudan and prolonging the ongoing crisis of oppression caused by the Khartoum Regime for decades now.

Link

Report from physician assisting in S. Sudan refugee camp

Click on the link below for the link to the report from Dr. Koslow on Iowa Public Radio.

Report from physician assisting in S. Sudan refugee camp

Dr. Koslow indicates that the transfer of additional refugees from the border into S. Sudan has been postponed due to the fighting, flooding, and other factors.

Appeasing the Opposition and the Politics of Bread

A little under two weeks ago, I wrote that with the economic crisis and ongoing protests in Sudan that:

The regime has a choice of how to weaken, but not to avoid weakening. It can try to maintain some control by ceding some power to the internal opposition, hoping to quell rioting, or it can risk a complete collapse by defending the periphery while continuing to fight in the center as well.

The regime seems now to have made a choice. I has chosen to cede some power to the internal opposition. According to an article in the Sudan Tribune, the regime is seeking “alternation of power.” I am not sure if what is implied is an alteration of the current standing of the minority parties or a true alternation of power with the National Congress Party NCP at some point not being in charge. I cannot at this point envision the latter as being a primary option at this point for the regime.

It is not insignificant that in addition to discussing changes in the distribution of power that the regime is strengthening discussion of creating an new Islamic constitution. This was discussed in March and caused discord among the opposition because the Popular Congress Party PCP is in favor of it along with the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood, but the National Consensus Forces NCF saw it for what it is, a way to splinter the opposition so that the regime can maintain power. The PCP at the time backed down when the NCF accused the regime of:

Forging an alliance with “religious fanatics” in order to prolong its rule of “tyranny”.

Al-Turabi, as leader of the PCP, has distanced himself and his party from these discussions, but clearly this is a carrot being offered by the NCP in an attempt to split the internal opposition. The question is whether or not it will be accepted.

Meanwhile, Sudan is now facing both a bread shortage and significant inflation of food prices. People are now having to stand in long lines for bread in Khartoum. The regime reversed a decision to lift subsidies on wheat which would have immediately increased the cost of wheat by over 50%, something recommended by the minister of finance in order avoid economic catastrophe.

The regime is facing calamity and has very few options left with which to stave it off. It simply cannot continue to fund the military and police to the extent it has been doing so while its people starve, but neither can it continue to subsidize the cost of food substantially.  The fact that the regime has chosen not to be fiscally responsible out of fear of strengthening the rebellion will lead to a downgrading of its credit and a diminishing ability to address financial concerns going forward. Sudan is heading for a cliff with a deteriorating ability to turn away.