Category Archives: Abyei

Referendum for Abyei Possible in October 2013

According to an article in the Sudan Tribune, the African Union (AU) is proposing that a referendum take place in October of 2013 in which the people of Abyei will decide to link themselves to South Sudan or to Sudan. The proposal includes provisions for the Misseriya and Ngok Dinka who cross the borders between the nations. The AU suggests a “soft border” which would allow relatively free travel across the national boundaries regardless of the outcome of the referendum.

The proposal includes a provision in which 20% of oil revenues produced in Abyei will be shared with South Kordofan. This makes sense solely with the anticipation that Abyei will become part of South Sudan causing a further loss of oil revenue for Sudan. This all said, it is unlikely that any agreement on Abyei can be achieved until the situation with rebel groups along the border is settled because the agreement on Abyei seems to be dependent upon an ability to allow a soft border to exist.

Sudan withdrawing forces from Abyei

Sudan has agreed to withdraw the Sudan Armed Forces troops from Abyei. This is a good step toward settling the issues of the border territories.

Sudan Accepts UNSC Resolution

Sudan has accepted “with reservations” the UNSC resolution seeking an end to hostilities between Sudan and South Sudan. The resolution also requires Sudan to negotiate with the SPLM-North in South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions. The Sudanese parliament rejected the use of the term “disputed” to refer to those territories and others which South Sudan also claims.

Sudan’s Foreign Minister, Ali Karti, seemed to take issue with Omar Bashir’s rhetoric of late, proposing that Bashir’s confrontational language makes South Sudan “appear” to be the victim. The Foreign Minister noted that:

The talk that they [SPLM leaders] are a group that only understands the stick was interpreted to be referring to the poem of [Abu El-Tayib] El-Mutanabi that says “you shall not buy a slave without a stick” and the term insect was likened to the use of the term cockroaches by the Hutu against the Tutsi during the Rwandan massacres.

The Sudan Tribune adds that:

Karti cautioned that Africa was still reeling from “an inferiority complex” that makes its leaders prone to interpreting any statement within certain contexts even if it was well-intentioned.

I am trying to figure out how these terms could be “well-intentioned” coming from a man wanted by the ICC for genocide in Darfur while hearing them in the context of attempted genocide in the Nuba Mountains. Seems to me that it is fairly clear that Bashir’s rhetoric is appropriate for his aim and that the world needs to see Bashir for what he is, a wanted war criminal seeking unashamedly to commit more war crimes.

South Sudan has Left Abyei. Will Sudan Follow?

South Sudan has complied with the UN Security Council resolution and withdrawn its troops from the disputed territory of Abyei. Will Sudan follow suit? AU chief, Jean Ping, called on the government of the Sudan to:

Reciprocate and withdraw its forces from Abyei, in line with its acceptance of the Roadmap and the timetable contained therein. With the effective deployment of UNISFA, there is no longer need for any other force to remain in Abyei.

Why Not Mention Genocide

I remain highly bothered by the complete absence of any mention by the United States at the UN Security Council, much less by the UNSC itself, of the ethnic cleansing and genocide being practiced by the government of Sudan against the people of the Nuba Mountains. I am appalled that instead the term chosen to refer to those fighting for their very lives against people who are trying to starve them and their families to death or force them to flee the country is “rebels.” The Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising were rebels. The people bombed into hiding in caves in the Nuba Mountains are indeed rebelling. They wish to stop the government that is trying to murder them from accomplishing the feat. Such a rebellion! What gall they possess to think life deserving of rebellion!!!

Here is a United Nations resolution that totally ignores the genocidal nature of the regime, ignores the awful nature of its actions in recent times, and ignores the long history of the conflict, instead acting as if it began with South Sudan taking over Heglig from an purely innocent Sudan. Instead, it acts as if Sudan has every right to starve hundreds of thousands of people to death and to bomb them if they resist. No aid must be allowed to come to the rebels, the UN insists. No aid. This makes a mockery of the commitment “Never Again.” For an organization that itself has a day devoted to genocide, it is an absurdity.

This cannot be just about the war not long ended possibly resuming. It cannot, because resuming the war to save thousands of lives–that alone–would be reason to begin it anew and to begin it with the blessing of the UN which by all that is right and good should send troops to make sure that food aid is delivered to the starving masses. Certainly, the United States should have spoken out to mention the horrors occurring from its bully pulpit as chair of the Security Council. Yet, it did not. Why not mention the genocide in Sudan?

Here are President Obama’s words offered last Monday at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. They stand in stark contrast to those offered by US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice’s words at the UN Security Council which did not mention South Kordofan or Blue Nile or mention genocide at all. I think that in this context President Obama’s words at the USHMM offered exactly one week before need no commentary. It will suffice for each to be followed by a simple question to be asked of the United States in its handling of the Sudan conflict at the United Nations, “Why Not Mention Genocide?”

We must tell our children about how this evil was allowed to happen — because so many people succumbed to their darkest instincts, and because so many others stood silent.

Why not mention genocide?

We must tell our children.  But more than that, we must teach them.  Because remembrance without resolve is a hollow gesture.  Awareness without action changes nothing.  In this sense, “never again” is a challenge to us all — to pause and to look within.

Why not mention genocide?

The killings in Cambodia, the killings in Rwanda, the killings in Bosnia, the killings in Darfur — they shock our conscience, but they are the awful extreme of a spectrum of ignorance and intolerance that we see every day; the bigotry that says another person is less than my equal, less than human.  These are the seeds of hate that we cannot let take root in our heart.

Why not mention genocide?

And finally, “never again” is a challenge to nations.  It’s a bitter truth — too often, the world has failed to prevent the killing of innocents on a massive scale.  And we are haunted by the atrocities that we did not stop and the lives we did not save.

Why not mention genocide?

When the referendum in South Sudan was in doubt, it threatened to reignite a conflict that had killed millions.  But with determined diplomacy, including by some people in this room, South Sudan became the world’s newest nation.  And our diplomacy continues, because in Darfur, in Abyei, in Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile, the killing of innocents must come to an end.  The Presidents of Sudan and South Sudan must have the courage to negotiate — because the people of Sudan and South Sudan deserve peace.  That is work that we have done, and it has saved lives.

Why not mention genocide?

In short, we need to be doing everything we can to prevent and respond to these kinds of atrocities — because national sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your people.  

Why not mention genocide?

I will give my own answer, “Because it would require good people to act. We know that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” Help Nuba!

US says the UNSC May Sanction Both Sides

The U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice was happy with the vote:

With this vote, the Council has clearly imposed tight deadlines for concrete action, in line with the African Union decision. This Council, especially those members with particular influence, including my own, must continue to press both parties to implement the African Union Roadmap by ending hostilities, ceasing cross-border attacks and movements, halting aerial bombardments, withdrawing all their forces from the border areas including Abyei, activating the necessary border security mechanisms, and ending support to rebel groups working against the other state.

It is also essential that both parties return at once to the negotiating table under the auspices of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel to reach agreement on critical outstanding issues. We support the plans of the African Union to travel to Khartoum and Juba in the coming days to begin the process. This is ultimately the only way that further conflict can be avoided.

If the parties fail to take these steps promptly, this Council is united in its determination to hold both sides accountable. We stand ready to impose Chapter VII sanctions on either or both parties, as necessary.

The clear and unmistakable impression given by this statement is that the United States will offer no support whatsoever to those people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile who are fighting for their lives against a genocidal regime that wishes to kill them precisely because fighting for their lives constitutes a rebellion against the government of Sudan’s wish for them to leave or die. Is it possible for a rational human being not to wish for regime change under such a circumstance, nor to fight for it to happen?

South Sudan Agrees to the Terms of the UNSC Resolution

South Sudan’s Minister of Cabinet Affairs Deng Alor Kuol said that South Sudan would follow the terms of the resolution. He stated:

It is my privilege to reaffirm to you that, in compliance with the decisions of the African Union Peace and Security Council, the UN Security Council’s Presidential Statement, and in the spirit of our commitment to peace, my government ordered the withdrawal of our police force from Abyei Area on 28 April 2012. We expect the international community to exert efforts to ensure the immediate and complete withdrawal of Sudan Armed Forces from Abyei Area.

As acknowledged formally by the African Union, my government is already committed to the cessation of hostilities and the resumption of negotiations under the auspices of the African Union High Implementation Panel. We welcome the decision of the African Union Peace and Security Council, and the commitment of the UN Security Council to the enhancement of the AUHIP led negotiations process through the active participation of the UN, the Chairman of IGAD and other international partners.

We appeal to the United Nations and its member states to urgently mobilize humanitarian assistance for the population affected by Sudan’s continuous aerial bombardment and ground incursions in northern states of South Sudan.