Category Archives: SRF

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.

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.

Help Nuba Supports The Peaceful Revolts

A Brief Statement by Help Nuba in Support of the Peaceful Revolts in Sudan

Help Nuba, an organization led by Iowan representatives of the Nuba, Darfur, and South Sudanese communities along with representatives of the UN Association of Iowa, Catholic, Jewish, Presbyterian and Episcopal religious and community leaders 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, calls on all people of conscience to support the peaceful revolts occurring in Sudan against the oppressive Khartoum Regime which has committed genocide in Darfur and seeks to do so in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile as well.

We stand with those who seek freedom, justice, peace and security in Sudan.

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.

 

Opposition Calls for Overthrow of Khartoum Regime

Growing dissatisfaction with austerity measures imposed by the administration of Omar Bashir’s government, opposition parties are calling for the overthrow the government. Students are protesting in large numbers in the streets shouting, “The people want to overthrow the regime!” The opposition parties and rebels groups in Sudan separately made similar calls yesterday. According to the Sudan Tribune:

The opposition forces say the austerity plan announced by the government did not affect the huge budgets of the army, police, security apparatus, and sovereign sector which acquire 70% of wages and salaries line or 56% of the whole 2012 budget.

This is not only the sign of a regime in severe economic difficulties, it is the sign of a regime on the verge of collapse. Governments cannot abandon care for the general needs of their population. Further, it is clear that Sudan’s ability to continue fighting, much less to improve its capabilities on the battlefield through increased military spending, are non-existent.

Ahmed Hussein Adam, the foreign relations secretary of the Darfur based rebel group known as the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said that:

What is happening in Sudan these days is the beginning of a true revolution.