Category Archives: SPLM-N

They Cry “Peace!” But There is No Peace.

Over the past couple of weeks, several developments have occurred, all of which are troubling. There is great fanfare in some parts of the world for the peace agreement between Sudan and South Sudan signed on September 27th. The Obama Administration welcomed the agreement, issuing a statement in which it declared:

The Sudanese and South Sudanese people who have suffered greatly through decades of conflict deserve the benefits of a lasting peace – a peace that can only be achieved through continued dialogue and negotiation, sustained implementation of the agreements reached to date, and steadfast work to resolve remaining issues…

The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan have chosen to take another important step on the path away from conflict toward a future in which their citizens can live in dignity, security, and prosperity.

I find myself incredulous. This is a Sudan led by a man wanted by the International Criminal Court for committing genocide. In what possible reality can citizens of a nation led by such a man “live in dignity, security, and prosperity???” The Obama Administration is hoping for a time brough about by a peace agreement that is far too far off in the future for citizens of Sudan who are battling for their very survival in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Darfur and Beja.

Recently, Abdul Azziz Hilu, Malik Agar, and Yassir Arman, the leaders of the Sudan Revolutionary Forces SRF and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, were in Washington DC. To some extent, they were in the United States seeking help, most importantly humanitarian aid for the peoples of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, but to a greater extent, they were here in America seeking to promote the idea that democracy is possible in Sudan and that working to squash those advocating for it is not a good thing.

American policy, along with that of the UN and AU, right now could be described as “Peace between the Sudans, but not for all of the people of Sudan.” Dignity for Bashir, but not for the Nuba, not for Darfuris, not for the people of Blue Nile. Security for the National Congress Party, but not for people living in the refugee camps in Darfur or villages in South Kordofan, both of which were attacked by government forces or government backed forces within the past week.

I had the opportunity to speak with Commander Abdul Azziz Hilu, the leader of the Sudan Revolutionary Forces, this week. He phoned in to speak with some of our Help Nuba leaders to thank us for our efforts in speaking out against the genocidal regime in Khartoum and our efforts to bring the pro-Democracy people of Sudan together. He also told me that he had spoken with many leaders in Washington from all walks of life, diplomats, elected officials, along with intelligence and security officials and said that he did not feel like anyone really listened.

I believe that no little part of the problem is that the American diplomatic establishment believes that the pro-Democracy forces, the people from Darfur, Nuba, Blue Nile and Beja are incapable of working together with people from North and Central Sudan to create a nation in which the people truly are free. Instead there seems to be a belief  that the rebel movements who shout “Democracy and Freedom!” from bombed out villages are incapable of handling it, that the Darfuris, Nuba, and the others cannot cooperate off of the battle field.

Over the past few months, working with a wonderful group of people as part of Help Nuba and then in the creation of the United Sudanese And South Sudanese Communities Association USASSCA, I know that people from all across Sudan can work together, that the vast majority of the people want to see liberal values and freedoms put in place. The Sudanese in America cannot be that different from those in Sudan and they want to see Democracy as the basis of their government and want religious freedoms and rights for minorities and women. Why are we not working with those who want Democracy and share our values??? Let us give them a chance!

Instead, we demand that oil flow through Port Sudan that will support the oppressive regime of the dictator and we demand that support for the pro-Democracy movement in Sudan, the “Rebels”, cease, all  in the vain hope that appeasement of the dictator will stay his murderous hand, that a man who has orchestrated the slaughter of millions of innocents and is in the process of starving millions more will honor a peace agreement.

Explain this: We have imposed sanctions upon Sudan because of the genocide, but have demanded that South Sudan transport oil through Sudan providing Sudan will billions upon billions of Dollars worth of income which the regime will use to support oppression and murder. Sanctions? What sanctions?

I noted in an article published on this site in April that Samantha Power, a leading advisor to President Obama, described all too closely exactly what was going on then and what is going on today. I need to share the words of warning which I shared in April and which seem to be coming true.

The Center on Law and Globalization in discussing Samantha Power’s argument about “Why the United States has Failed to Stop Genocide” notes that:

Once the killing starts, Americans tend to believe that if the civilians who are in danger just keep their heads down they will be left alone. After all, a “rational” regime would only be a threat to groups that threaten the government. Why waste time, effort and resources killing innocent people who pose no threat?

In other words, if the rebels stop fighting, the regime will stop attacking the civilians. Of course, in Sudan we have evidence that the Sudanese government deliberately targets civilians. The article goes on to cite the Armenian Genocide. This paragraph is frighteningly similar to what is happening in South Kordofan and the genocide against the Nuba people:

Henry Morgenthau Sr., U.S. ambassador to Turkey at the time, provided detailed and gruesome accounts of Turk atrocities against the Armenians to the U.S. government. However, the official line from Mehmed Talaat, Turkey’s interior minister, was that Turkish forces were merely responding to the threats of Armenian groups against the Turkish government. Civilians were not the targets.

They cry “Peace!” But there is no peace. There will be no peace. There can be no peace until the oppression ceases. By promoting the financial well-being of Sudan and acting to discourage and impede pro-Democracy forces there, we may be saving lives on the battlefield in the short term only to sentence another generation to oppression and even genocide. It must stop. Sudan’s murderous oppression of the Nuba, the people of Blue Nile, and the people of Darfur is not a response to the rebellion.

The rebellion exists because of the oppression and the genocide. It is an attempt to combat both.

Those who are students of history know well that appeasing murderous dictators never works. “Never again!” means not repeating the mistakes of the past, ones which the world seems all too eager to repeat.

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

Seeking Peaceful Resistance amid Violent Oppression

As the number of refugees flowing into South Sudan continues to increase along with the severity of the famine and drinking water crises in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, protests in Sudan against the Khartoum Regime continue. The government is using tear gas, rubber bullets, and even live ammunition to disperse protests. They are also evidently beating protesters and preventing people from accessing health care. A Standing Committee of Sudanese Physicians press release from June 29 stated that:

We witnessed the police force and large numbers of regime thugs take control of Omdurman ‘s hospital A&E entrance to prevent those injured from gaining access to the admission desk to receive treatment.

Yassir Arman, Secretary General of the SPLM-N, said in a press release from July 5th that:

As of now, more than 1,500 activists are in jail. Some of them are subject to torture including some leaders from the SPLM-N.

Meanwhile, the Khartoum Regime may indeed be allowing some aid into South Kordofan, but only into areas controlled by the regime and only if distributed by organizations supported by the regime. In other words, humanitarian aid is not at all being allowed to reach those most in need, those being attacked by the regime.

The resistance to the regime continues. In Khartoum, the opposition parties have gone to the extent of creating a “Democratic Alternative Charter” that calls for the end of the rule of the regime, but seem to be doing so primarily, if not solely, based upon economic issues and, in particular, the ending of gas subsidies. The parties do not seem to be interested in sharing power with those not in Khartoum.

This brings up more from Yassir Arman’s press release. He stated that:

The SPLM-N and the SRF will continue to support the non-violent and peaceful paths of the uprising. The uprising will continue, and the SRF, in our last meeting, resolved the following: 1) to support and to seriously be involved in the peaceful uprising; 2) to set a mechanism that will enable effective participation of the SRF supporters; 3) to look for a comprehensive alternative with other political forces. Ending the war is a priority that cannot be done without the SRF.

The Economic Crisis in Sudan and Revolution

This week, Sudan offered to admit humanitarian aid into South Kordofan and Blue Nile under certain (unacceptable) conditions, including only allowing organizations approved by the regime to distribute the aid. The conditions for the admittance of aid offered by the Sudanese are clearly both a delaying tactic and a barely veiled attempt to weaken the position of the SPLM-North and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) which have been able not only to hold off the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) but to soundly defeat them on the field of battle.

The Khartoum Regime is facing a slew of crises that are building upon one another.

First, the independence of South Sudan took with it the vast majority of the oil resources.

Second, the battle of Heglig resulted in two major losses for Sudan, even after South Sudan returned control of Heglig to Sudan. The flow of oil out of Heglig from Sudanese sources was greatly reduced due to damage to the installation there and the flow of oil through the pipeline from South Sudan was completely shut off, virtually eliminating the two primary sources of income for Sudan. This has led directly to an even bigger problem.

Third, the resulting economic crisis is forcing changes that do significant damage to the ability of the Khartoum regime to maintain power.

  • It can no longer provide subsidies for gasoline and food that keep the populace happy. It has already eliminated the gasoline subsidy and may be forced to lessen or eliminate food subsidies as well as a result of pressure on the prices due to hyper inflation. It is one thing to offer $2 worth of bread for $1 and something entirely other to offer $10 worth of bread for $1. As the real price increases, the subsidy becomes untenable.
  • It can no longer borrow large sums of money even from China because the fear of hyper inflation is so great that nations are concerned that the loans would not be repaid at all or would be paid back at pennies on the dollar. Without oil flowing through the pipeline, Sudan can’t borrow money.
  • It can no longer support the bureaucracy necessary to maintain a police state. The cost of maintaining a fighting force substantial enough to hold off rebel groups on multiple fronts, maintain a deterring presence on the South Sudanese border in disputed territories, and maintain control in the streets in the center of the country is immense. As the need for police support in the interior of the nation increases, the Khartoum Regime will have no choice but to abandon the periphery or offer significant compromises to the internal opposition groups.

The implications of this choice are profound. 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 choice would appear obvious except for one problem.

No matter who will run the country in the near future, there will be overriding economic problems. Let us imagine for a moment that the regime would collapse and the SRF would take over the entire country after a major fight. The nation, emerging from this conflict, would have extremely limited financial resources and millions of people facing food insecurity. The oil industry would take time to build up. The new government would need to devote substantial resources to maintaining security and much of the Arab wealth would flee the country in fear of the new regime. Sudan could become a failed state in rapid fashion with a resulting humanitarian crisis dwarfing the current problems facing the nation.

While there is hope for positive change in Sudan and the revolts occurring right now are a good sign that it might happen. Things could easily take a turn for the worse. This is a regime that has committed genocide already. To imagine that it could not use extreme violence against protesters would be delusional.

The best case scenario at this point would be for the Khartoum regime to willingly go into exile while a regime that includes the SRF, if not one led by the SRF, would work with willing parties in Khartoum to create a peaceful transition of power that allows for immediate and  massive international investment in Sudan and in the border region of South Sudan, enabling the rapid growth of oil related income for the two nations.

Let us hope for a peaceful transition of power that leads to rapid economic growth. Anything else may not be enough for hundreds of thousands of people in Sudan and South Sudan who are already struggling to survive.

Sudan Says that It Accepts Humanitarian Access

Sudan today said that it will accept humanitarian access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile as long as there are observers from the African Union and Arab League to monitor it. The deal requires the immediate cessation of hostilities. Clearly this is the primary aspect of the agreement. The fact is that the regime cannot continue to fight a losing battle against the Sudan Revolutionary Front in South Kordofan while also facing severe economic troubles and protests in the streets.

It may well be necessary for there to be a ceasefire in the south so as to allow humanitarian access to save the tens of thousands of people whose lives are in jeopardy, but it is also clear that Sudan could not in the near term return to full scale combat readiness. The Sudanese government will need to shift finances from military to domestic spending and once that shift takes place, the SAF will be worse off against the SRF than it is today. This is great news if it actually happens, that Sudan lets in humanitarian aid, but even if it does not, the very fact that it is considering doing so is an indication that the resolve and ability of the regime to maintain its previous policies is significantly weakened.

Weekend of Nuba Leadership in Des Moines

On Saturday, the SPLM North held its first ever national conference in the United States here in Des Moines, Iowa. The conference was attended by SPLM-N leaders from across the United States as well as by leaders of the Blue Nile, Darfur, Beja and South Sudanese communities. Then on Sunday morning, the leaders came to Temple B’nai Jeshurun, where Help Nuba hosted them for breakfast.