Category Archives: SPLM

Why Help Nuba? – A Short Video

Interview with Abdul Aziz Hilu

The Global Post has an excellent interview with General Abdul Aziz Hilu, chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North), commander of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-North) and Chief of the Joint Military Command of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF).

How will this end?

We are working for regime change, for complete transformation, for writing a new constitution, a democratic constitution that recognizes diversity, that accepts the liberal values of justice, equality, individualism. We want to achieve lasting peace and justice in this country.

Some may say we are not qualified to reach this but I think it is possible.

Responding to Khartoum with Unity

In my most recent posting for Help Nuba, I noted that the grave prediction by the World Bank concerning the state of the South Sudanese economic situation without oil revenues likely has had an effect on efforts to prioritize ending fighting between Sudan and South Sudan over addressing the dire circumstances in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
The SPLA-North and South Sudan
In fact, the effort to end the fighting between the two nations has significantly worsened the military situation for the SPLA-North in South Kordofan because the absence of a threat from South Sudan would allow Sudan to focus its military attention on the SPLA-North. Thus, the UNSC and African Union resolution aimed at ending the fighting between Sudan and South Sudan is almost certain to worsen the situation of the people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
In the meantime, however, Sudan must avoid making life so difficult for the South Sudanese that they choose to resume a full scale war. South Sudan, finding itself in a desperate financial situation, may decide to join fully with the SPLA-N against the Khartoum regime, restarting the war. It is even possible that if things get bad enough for the people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile that their friends in South Sudan may choose to enter the conflict in support of them.
An additional issue, one for which I have seen no commentary yet, is that South Sudan must be concerned at some level about losing the SPLA-North as a buffer on its northern front. While there have been cross border attacks, Sudan cannot fully commit to efforts against South Sudan because it must defend against opposing forces within its territory. It must focus inwardly as well as outwardly. South Sudan then has a significant incentive not to let the SPLA-North be defeated.
Fighting for Survival vs. Fighting for Money
So while having the upper hand, Sudan should be somewhat concerned. Yes, it has substantially more financial resources to commit to war, but it will also have to spend those resources at a much higher rate to prosecute a war, even a defensive one. The difference in the motivation of the soldiers is paramount. The Sudanese soldiers would be fighting for money to support their families. Sudan is going to have to pay its soldiers substantially to motivate them. When winning a conflict and obtaining spoils, soldiers have historically performed well. When finding themselves defending and regularly losing ground, gaining no spoils, soldiers tend toward lack-luster performance or even desertion. The South Sudanese, SPLA, JEM and others would be fighting for their survival. People fighting for money, such as most of the Sudanese forces, will run if things get bad.
The Oil Pipeline
Meanwhile, because ultimately such a conflict could not end without taking control of the oil pipeline, once this level of war starts, the South Sudanese and allies would have no option but to fight all the way to Khartoum. Unless the United States were to intervene to prevent Sudan from using its air advantage, this war would see an enormous casualty figure among people in the south with widespread famine being a real possibility.
Air Superiority
Some have suggested bombing Sudanese air strips in order to prevent the bombing of civilians in the Nuba Mountains. Without its air superiority, Sudan can’t win against the rebels or South Sudan, so taking out Sudan’s air bases not only would prevent bombing in Nuba, it would result in the collapse of the regime. Sudan should fear the possibility of angering the United States to the point that it acts against Sudan’s air superiority, even if it does nothing else.
Conclusions
While noting that South Sudan has few good options right now but to try to achieve and agreement with Sudan and to get the oil flowing again so as to avert economic collapse next year, Sudan cannot act as if it has no worries.
Those opposed to genocide in the Nuba Mountains and who care about the ultimate fate of the people in South Sudan, are faced with the need to do three things:
1. Get food into Nuba.
  • The deadline for this is before anything else could really be done, so it is by far the top priority.
  • People will begin starving in large numbers soon.
2. Work on promoting unity among the South Sudanese, Nuba, Blue Nile and Darfurian communities in the diaspora as well as in the region.
  • If this doesn’t happen, the SPLA-N has little chance in the long run to win against Sudan and
  • South Sudan will become increasingly hostage to the whim of the rulers in Sudan with a decreasing ability to combat it.
3. Promote the reasonable idea that the US cannot allow indiscriminate bombing of civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
  • Any military action by the US would only become an option if Sudan uses its air forces to kill large numbers of civilians and
  • If South Sudan decides to officially join the fight because the consequences of US intervention in Nuba are dire for both Sudan and South Sudan.
  • The US cannot act against Sudan without consideration of retaliation by Sudan against South Sudan and
  • The World Bank report shows precisely that simply shutting off the oil indefinitely could do tremendous damage to South Sudan.

The Answer – South Sudan’s Economy will Collapse without Oil Revenues

As if the problems for those threatened in the southern states of Sudan were not bad enough already, South Sudan may well be forced to comply with demands made by Khartoum in order to survive. The Sudan Tribune published an article about the fact that the World Bank is warning the government in Juba that its economy will collapse if the situation between the countries is not remedied.

The crisis began with Juba’s decision to shut down its oil production in a dispute with Khartoum over the fees Sudan was charging. Since that time fighting has broken out and Khartoum has pledged never to allow South Sudan’s oil to flow through its pipeline. 98% percent of South Sudan’s revenues came from sales of that oil. The World Bank was briefed on March 1st by Marcelo Giugale,the World Bank’s Director of Economic Policy and Poverty Reduction Programs for Africa, who noted that even if non-oil revenues in South Sudan triple this year, it will not be good enough to avert a crisis by the middle of 2013.

So here, alas, must be the reason why the UNSC and United States have been pushing Juba to meet the demands of Khartoum.

According to the article, Guigale told representatives of the major donor groups including the United States, United Kingdom, European Union (EU), Norway and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) among others that:

“[T]he World Bank has never seen a situation as dramatic as the one faced by South Sudan.”

The article notes that Guigale went on to say that:

The decision (to halt oil production) was shocking and that officials present had not internalized nor understood the consequences of the decision.

There is a near certainty of the collapse of South Sudanese currency if things do not change rapidly:

As a result of “sharp” drop in influx of hard currency and once citizens in South Sudan realize that value of their local currency is slipping “there will be a run for the dollars and families with dollars will almost certainly shift them outside the country.” Giugale pointed out that because most South Sudanese are not fully financial literate the run on the point has not yet happened. “Once it starts, the currency will almost certainly collapse,” Giugale says.

South Sudan’s foreign cash reserves could possibly last a little over a year or even up to a year and a half with significant austerity measures put in place. During this time poverty will rise dramatically and expenditures on things such as healthcare and education will fall significantly, impacting daily life. Large scale famine and disease would be a real possibility. The World Bank would shift its aid to South Sudan from economic development to humanitarian aid, crippling the economic growth of the nation.

There are two alternatives to this that I can see. South Sudan tried one and may well have been trying the other.

The first option is to build an alternative pipeline that does not run through Sudan. Salva Kiir met with Chinese leaders to propose this. China rejected it as an option, not simply because of the political cost in its relationship with Sudan and other Arab nations or because of the significant expense involved, but because it could take years, not months, to create. Additionally, the report from the World Bank of which China was well familiar could lead China to believe that the government of South Sudan could collapse before any pipeline could be completed, thus potentially rendering useless any investment in it. Salva Kiir returned from China with loan guarantees, quite possibly ones contingent upon improved relations with Khartoum and a renewed flow of oil.

The second option may have been to take Heglig from Sudan in an attempt to force Khartoum to accept significantly less for oil flowing through the pipeline. I cannot say with any certainty that this was the purpose behind taking control of Heglig because there are other potential reasons, however, the thought may have been that:

Ultimately Khartoum gets a share of all the oil flowing through the pipeline, so it really doesn’t matter one way or another whether or not it owns the wells along the way. If we (South Sudan) control all of the oil flowing in, Khartoum will have to deal with us or they will suffer.

Sudan would have suffered for certain, but Sudan can easily hold out far longer than South Sudan. This plan might work if Juba had several years worth of reserves and a broader economy not almost entirely dependent upon oil revenues, but it never could have worked swiftly.

This all may then explain why the international organizations and the United States reacted so strongly against South Sudan concerning Heglig. They likely believe that Juba’s sole option in averting an existential crisis is to mend relations with Khartoum and that millions of lives are at stake if that does not happen.

A third option is not being discussed and probably will not be, namely a US or UN led effort at regime change in Sudan. There are too many factors to list right now, but suffice it to say that the bottom line is that a large scale invasion would create a dramatically increased humanitarian crisis without solving any part of the existing one in the near term.

The significance of this understanding for those concerned about the suffering in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur as well is that there is no pressure that may be exerted upon Khartoum by Juba that will be of help. Worse, intervention, even strong sanctions, by the UN, US, AU or any other body against Sudan would likely jeopardize its willingness to allow transit of oil and military intervention could, likely would, result both in a dramatically worsened humanitarian situation and in the pipeline being shut down for an extended period of time almost certainly leading to the economic collapse of South Sudan predicted by the World Bank.

Thus, South Sudan has no choice but to work with Sudan in order to get the oil flowing once again. It can spend a few months determining which concessions are best for it to make, but it has little or no choice but to make some significant ones.

This is a very bleak picture. The survival of the people in the Nuba Mountains who are being persecuted by the Khartoum government will then depend upon non-governmental organizations raising funds and sending in large quantities of humanitarian aid without the help of major international agencies and certainly without any help from the government of South Sudan. It is up to us to Help Nuba!

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!

Daniel Kody speaks about the SPLM – North

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?

What is Wrong with the UNSC Plan

It appears that Russia is willing to support the resolution proposed by the United States in UN Security Council that calls upon both Sudan and South Sudan to cease hostilities. The resolution has no specific penalties for failure to comply though it is assumed that penalties will include sanctions imposed by the African Union and potentially enforced by the UN. According to the article in the Sudan Tribune:

UNSC’s intervention was requested by the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) which issued a communiqué last week saying that Khartoum and Juba must reach a deal on post-independence issues within three months including oil, border demarcation, citizenship and Abyei.

This would be great. It just has no chance of happening. Is there any possible chance that Sudan would agree that Heglig should be called Panthou and be a part of South Sudan? Any chance? Might South Sudan be forced to admit the reverse? Possibly, but unlikely. More important are the AU plan’s immediate goals:

  1. Immediately cease hostilities – within 24 hours
  2. Unconditionally withdraw troops from disputed areas
  3. Cease harboring or supporting rebel groups fighting against the other nation
  4. Cease issuing hostile propaganda and making inflammatory statements to the media

I can see the first and the last of these occurring to some extent while each side negotiates with the UNSC and AU.

The second and third, however, are going to be much more difficult. Sudan would need to withdraw from many areas including Heglig which it just reoccupied and which is vital to its economy. Is Sudan likely to withdraw from Heglig? No. It is actually more likely that Heglig will be considered an undisputed part of Sudan by much of the international community and therefore no penalty will be forthcoming.

As for ceasing to harbor or support rebel groups, it will be impossible to confirm compliance. If these groups continue to act on their own, the appropriate governments will be accused of supporting them regardless of whether or not they actually offer material or any other type of support. In addition, remember that the rebel groups in the south of Sudan are fighting for freedom against a genocidal government. The UN as an organization is supposed to support democracy. Yes, I know that this is farcical at this point, but to have an official policy that mandates that people combating genocide are not to be supported is at best wrong and at worst cruel and inhumane.

A further problem, and not a minor one at all, is that the AU proposal does not address the famine issues, the ethnic cleansing issues, or the genocide issues. It pretends that “citizenship” includes those. It does not. Only an official sanction of ethnic cleansing by the United Nations could justify calling the citizenship of all Christians in Sudan into question.

Frighteningly, the United States at the helm of UNSC has put forth a proposal that does not directly address the crisis for the population of the southern states of Sudan. The proposal only sees state actors, abandoning the suffering people in the south to the whim of Sudan as a sovereign state. This, in my mind, is an appalling abdication of the role of America in the world and the supposed role of the United Nations. Do not get me wrong. I have no conception that the UN has ever been effective at preventing ethnic cleansing and genocide or that the United States should be expected, based upon past history, to help. I have written about this very topic on this website recently. I merely hope that the United States would change the historical pattern that allows genocidal regimes to act without impediment for years on end while the world cries in horror.

In the meantime, while the UN works on bringing Sudan and South Sudan to the negotiating table, Sudan will starve and slaughter tens of thousands of people in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. We need action against Sudan, not talk about action. We need to Help Nuba!

State of Emergency in the South of Sudan

Today, Omar Bashir declared a state of emergency in the southern part of Sudan. After numerous attacks by the Sudanese against South Sudanese forces over the past few weeks, this seems like an absurdity. Of course, there is a state of emergency in South Kordofan. The issue, however, is that the state of emergency has been caused by the Sudanese government, not just called that by it. Sudan is actively trying to starve the people in the region and those trying to counter the efforts to commit genocide in the region are deemed “rebels” thus “justifying” in some people’s minds the use of military force in the region, almost all of which is aimed at civilians. The region faces a famine deliberately caused by the government of Sudan which is not even willing to abide by the African Union proposal for a cessation of hostilities, a proposal which would all but ensure Sudan of the ability to continue its program of ethnic cleansing and genocide in the south. Hostilities would have to cease before Sudan would even need to consider shipping in humanitarian aid and when the rainy season arrives in force, it could simply delay such shipments for weeks or months, accomplishing its genocidal aim.

While the UN Security Council is going to be far more reasonable than the African Union at addressing the upcoming catastrophic famine and the military aims of the brutal Sudanese regime, the famine will only be prevented or even significantly lessened, if the UNSC decides to deliver humanitarian aid by any means necessary and not only through Khartoum or with the permission of Khartoum. Sudan rejects the proposal to bring the situation to the UNSC at all, preferring instead to have the ineffective African Union handle it alone. Meanwhile, South Sudan rejects the leadership of the African Union in trying to mediate the conflict, knowing full well that the African Union is biased in favor of Sudan. Beyond using its own army, Sudan is employing the Janjaweed and other brutal irregular forces to terrorize populations in Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Abyei and even in South Sudan.

This article by Maury Clark puts it quite well:

Khartoum’s claim that both the Janjaweed in eastern Sudan and their equivalent in the RSS are not directly controlled by Khartoum is specious, but effective. Unless a direct tie to Khartoum can be proven, Bashir can arguably claim that he has no influence on their actions and their crimes against humanity.   HORSEHOOEY!

It is time to stop discussing the impending mass-scale tragedy and start to work on stopping it. The AU will be no help and the UNSC will not be a help unless it decides to act directly to save the civilians in Darfur and South Kordofan. We cannot rely on the African Union, much less upon the Government of Sudan, to help save the lives of the people in the Nuba Mountains. Let us get the food there! Help Nuba!

US worsens Sudan situation in UNSC

I wish I could have titled this blog posting, “United States uses its chairmanship of the UN Security Council to act to prevent genocide.” Unfortunately, I cannot. I’m stuck dealing with how to explain the United States’ support for the African Union proposal which

  • Defends Sudan,
  • A government that is well known to have committed genocide on a large scale in Darfur and
  • Is equally well known for its attempts to do so in South Kordofan and Blue Nile right now,
  • A government that is actively trying to starve tens of thousands of its own people in the Nuba Mountains, and is a proposal which
  • Demands that all aid going to the groups fighting those trying to commit the genocide must cease, and
  • Threatens sanctions against our friends, the South Sudanese people,
  • Unless they comply with the wishes of our enemy, the government of Sudan.

The United States has done just that introducing a resolution in the UN Security Council to this effect.

In addition, the UNSC under the direction of the United States is seeking to reduce the Darfur hybrid force as a result of “the improved security situation there.” Instead, UN undersecretary-general Herve Ladsous said, according to the Sudan Tribune article, that

Half of the infantry companies will be redeployed in East and South Darfur states which have seen an increase of attacks carried out by rebel groups who cross from South Sudan.

They are planning on using the African Union troops to combat those fighting the genocidal regime in defense of Sudan’s sovereignty.

The Sudanese ambassador to the United Nations, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman indicated that he was happy about the downsizing of the UNAMID forces. A glowing endorsement from the representative of the genocidal regime is hardly reassuring that this is a good decision. Additionally, as Eric Reeves recently pointed out, reports of the improved situation in Darfur appear to be grossly exaggerated. US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice indicates that the reduction in UNAMID forces is not a downsizing, but a “right-sizing”, trying to get the appropriate forces in the right places. Somehow, fighting ones friends instead of fighting ones enemy does not seem like putting the forces in the “right places.”

That the United States would use its opportunity as President of the UN Security Council to take action against the Sudanese Revolutionary Front, the several rebel groups friendly to the United States who are united in trying to combat the genocidal anti-American regime in Khartoum, and to threaten South Sudan, another friend of the United States, if it tries to help the rebels is mind boggling.

Why is the United States aiding Sudan in its fight against the rebels and the South Sudanese who are our friends? Why are we not advocating for them? We do not help people who are facing genocide.

President Obama’s own Senior Foreign Policy Advisor, Samantha Power, in speaking about Bosnia, herself noted that:

No U.S. president has ever made genocide prevention a priority, and no U.S. president has ever suffered politically for his indifference to its occurrence. It is thus no coincidence that genocide rages on.

More to the point, however, she noted something that eerily resembles the Obama Administration’s own position on the rebels in the southern part of Sudan. 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.

Friends, it is time that we Help Nuba!