Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dissolution and Rebuilding

Those of us who have been involved with Sudan related issues for a decade or longer feel some anxiety about the decision by President Salva Kiir of South Sudan to dissolve the government and restructure it, removing numerous key leaders. However, we also know well, it was obvious in fact, that the government as it had been constituted was incapable of functioning as South Sudan needed it to function. Whether this was because there was infighting among leaders or because people had been appointed to positions based upon what they did during the long war rather than based upon their ability to direct the ministries to which they had been appointed, we do not know. We do know that the people of South Sudan have seen corruption proliferate and conflict spread while the needs of the average citizen in many parts of the country have gone largely unmet.

We also know that while things could improve quickly under the right circumstances, it is all too easy for them to deteriorate as well. At this moment, there is a significantly increased military presence in the streets of Juba and there are heightened fears of conflict between the Dinka and the Nuer, the two largest tribes, with the former Vice President Machar a Nuer. There are also many voices praising Kiir’s decision, hoping for new faces in the government with reduced corruption. Machar himself is calling for calm while criticizing the Kiir’s decisions.

For the health of South Sudan moving forward, a true multiparty political system that encourages healthy policy debate is absolutely essential. The fact is that right now, the SPLM is so dominant that free debate is difficult to achieve and tends to occur within the party itself where dissenters are criticized or even ostracized, something not helpful to the advancement of the nation on the whole. In other countries, Kiir, Machar, and Pagan Amum might well lead two or three different political parties, offering criticism of one another while promoting different solutions to the problems faced by the nation. Perhaps, this is the direction in which the nation is headed, something that would be beneficial in the long run.

Our fervent hope is that the rebuilt government will be more effective at creating prosperity and renewing hope for the people of South Sudan. Only time will tell if our hope will come to pass.

South Sudan working with Japan on New Oil Pipeline

According to an article in the Sudan Tribune, Japan and specifically the Toyota Corporation will work with South Sudan to construct and oil pipeline through Kenya. If the project comes to fruition, it would radically alter the dynamic in play now. Sudan faces sanctions and numerous other limits to its income. Transit fees collected from South Sudan for oil shipped through its pipeline to Port Sudan constitute a major source of income that among other things allows the government to pay its security forces and purchase weaponry.

The simple fact is that the more that oil flows through Port Sudan, the more blood will flow in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur.

Fighting, as Sudan does, is expensive and the oil revenue is essential to maintaining the fight. Of course, building the new pipeline will take years, not weeks or months, and the suffering in the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile, and Darfur will continue.

Meanwhile, the more that Sudan works with Iran with Iran providing the Khartoum Regime both income and weaponry, the more that other nations will be willing to work with the rebel groups and to support South Sudan in its disputes with the north. With every attempt to subdue the Sudanese Revolutionary Forces that fails and results in both the death of soldiers fighting only for a paycheck and in the capture of additional military assets to be used by the SRF against the state, the situation worsens for Sudan. With every child who dies of starvation in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, the more well motivated and committed rebel troops there will be fighting against the Khartoum Regime. The strategic situation for Sudan is not a good one now and if the oil pipeline is actually developed through Kenya, it may prove to be the coup de grace against the Khartoum Regime.

All of this is yet far off, however. There is much work to do now to save innocents lives threatened by the hands of the genocidaires in Sudan.

When the Nazis Met with the State Department in Washington

The Washington Post has confirmed with the US State Department that:

The Obama administration is preparing to welcome a senior Sudanese delegation to the United States for some rare highest-level diplomacy between the countries.

State Department spokeswoman Hilary Renner says Sudanese presidential adviser Nafie Ali Nafie and other officials have accepted an invitation to Washington for a “candid discussion on the conflicts and humanitarian crises within Sudan.”

Sudanese Presidential Advisor Nafie Ali Nafie is also the former Chief of the National Intelligence and Security Services NISS and continues to be a leading figure, if not the leading figure, in control of the military and intelligence apparatus in Sudan.
The appropriate comparison is with Heinrich Himmler, the Director of the SS in the Nazi regime. Would the United States have “invited” Himmler to meet at the State Department during the Holocaust to talk about “the humanitarian crises” within Germany, after he played a leading role in the genocide? The question is absurd and thus must this action be so viewed. This kind of meeting is an honor undeserving of anyone who participated in genocide. In fact, so inconceivable is the callousness demonstrated by this invitation that it almost certainly cannot be a simple matter of a candid discussion about the humanitarian crisis created and sustained in no small part through the actions of Nafie Ali Nafie. Human Rights Watch’s report on Sudan from 2012 is replete with references to the NISS with which Nafie continues to be heavily involved.
It is unfortunately reasonable in my opinion that this visit has little to do with the humanitarian crises or peace with South Sudan and more to do with terrorism against the US and its allies (Al Qaeda), fighting in Syria, Iran activity in the region and events in the Central African Republic CAR (where the Islamist Seleka rebels recently took over with help from Chad, Eretria, Sudan and the Lord’s Resistance Army, turning the CAR in a terrorist haven).
The State Dept. could be trying to get Sudan to be less cooperative with radical elements or even to help the US and France deal with militants in the region, especially the situation in the CAR. In the past, there has been cooperation between the CIA and the NISS. This cooperation occurred through much of the 2000s according to an article in the Sudan Tribune. Note that while US intelligence agencies were working with Sudanese intelligence agencies, a genocide was ongoing in Darfur.
Nafie’s NISS may well have much information about the militant groups of concern to the United States today. Of that, there can be little doubt. Evil men tend to cooperate. Nafie and the NISS may well know these militant groups well.
Meanwhile, the situation in the region at this point is frightening and of great concern to the US, Europe, Russia and others:
  • The Seleka rebel (Islamist) takeover of CAR,
  • Mali rebels relaxing in Darfur and ongoing conflict in Mali against the French,
  • The potential of thousands of militants fleeing Syria for other opportunities to fight if the situation there gets out of hand,
  • Weak new Islamist regimes (Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, CAR) across the north of Africa,
  • Unrest in Jonglei province of South Sudan,
  • Ongoing rebel action against the Sudanese government in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile,
  • Ongoing Sudanese Armed Forces activities against the rebels and against civilians in rebel held areas,
  • Major financial crises in both Sudan and South Sudan,
and add to these:
  • The recent International Monetary Fund IMF pressure brought to bear on both Sudan and South Sudan to pay off the massive debt owed, and
  • Ongoing peace talks between Sudan and South Sudan,
  • Talks which center around achieving both prosperity and peace through the transfer of oil through a single largely indefensible pipeline that any number of groups would have an interest to put out of operation.
The situation is a powder keg.
So it is in this context that the State Department reached out to honor Heinrich Himmler, excuse me, Nafie Ali Nafie, with “discussions.”
One would think, however, that should this meeting be absolutely necessary for American security, it could take place at another location and without the honor granted by being hosted at the US State Department. For that reason alone, this invitation should be reconsidered. It is simply wrong to honor a genocidaire and even worse to honor him while blood is being spilled from his hands.

Wonderful Interview with Carl Wilkens

A wonderful interview with a real hero. Carl Wilkens helped to save the lives of hundreds of children in Rwanda during the genocide that took place there and now travels the world helping to educate against genocide. During this interview he was inspirational. Listen, learn, and be inspired to act!

This video is excellent for use by students and teachers as it contains no graphic footage or descriptions but nonetheless does a superb job of explaining what genocide is like as well as dealing with “the other” in our communities and our lives. I hope that activists, students, and teachers will find it helpful.

Carl Wilkens will be joining us in Des Moines on April 20. He is speaking at the Temple 5101 Grand Ave that night at 7:30 pm.

Join us to hear Carl Wilkens

Carl Wilkens will join Rabbi Kaufman and Mark Finkelstein live on Understanding the World tomorrow morning, April 11, 2013. The show airs beginning at 8:30 am Central and runs until 9:30 am. You may listen in live or join in the chat room on the internet at www.12Talk2.com or see the recording on Youtube at www.youtube.com/12talk2net .

Carl Wilkens will be speaking in Des Moines at Temple B’nai Jeshurun on April 20 at 7:30 pm admission is free of charge.

Wilkens Speaking 2_400x400

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Bridget Conley-Zilkic – Project Director
“The 1994 genocide in Rwanda illustrated the absolute worst in humanity — not only in how it was perpetrated, but also in how the people of Rwanda were abandoned by the world. Against this horrible history, the brave and honorable decision of Carl Wilkens to stay and help stands out as a glimmer of hope for everyone, then and now.” B. Conley-Zilkic

About Carl Wilkens-

As a humanitarian aid worker, Carl Wilkens moved his young family to Rwanda in the spring of 1990. When the genocide was launched in April 1994, Carl refused to leave, even when urged to do so by close friends, his church and the United States government. Thousands of expatriates evacuated and the United Nations pulled out most of its troops. Carl was the only American to remain in the country. Venturing out each day into streets crackling with mortars and gunfire, he worked his way through roadblocks of angry, bloodstained soldiers and civilians armed with machetes and assault rifles in order to bring food, water and medicine to groups of orphans trapped around the city. His actions saved the lives of hundreds.

Carl returned to the United States in 1996. After being featured in the 2004 PBS Frontline documentary, “Ghosts of Rwanda”, about the Rwanda genocide, he began to receive letters, phone calls and offers from teachers around the country to come and share his experiences with students.

In January 2008, with no end in sight to the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan, Carl decided quit his job and dedicate himself full time to accepting these invitations.  He and his wife Teresa have since formed an educational nonprofit, World Outside My Shoes, to facilitate this important work.

Iran, Al Qaeda, and Why Sudan Matters to American Security

When I talk to most people about events in Sudan, the response is all too often simply, “Those poor people.” Those who are able to do something about the situation in Sudan spend their time working on fixing symptoms. The response to “Those poor people” is most often consideration of sending them humanitarian aid, knowing full well that they will need more of it later.  What happens when “Those poor people” are being abused and oppressed by people who not only wish to do harm to the United States and its interests, but have the ability do so? What happens when the oppressor can threaten severe harm to our allies and to our way of life? The response becomes “I’m interested.”

Starting in 1992 and ending in 1996, Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden were based in Sudan. They had been invited by Hassan al Turabi, the Islamist leader, in the aftermath of a coup led by Omar al Bashir. Al Qaeda established training camps and grew in strength. The world knows the results of the failure to stop Al Qaeda then. Sudan’s troubles came to America’s cities. Moreover, when we left Sudan alone, Bashir oversaw the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocents during the next decade, “those poor people,” first in Darfur and then in the Nuba Mountains.

Pleas of “never again” fall on deaf ears. Yes, we send humanitarian aid where and when we can, but as Samantha Power, in speaking about Bosnia, noted:

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.

Today, Iran supports the Sudanese government financially in exchange for the ability to operate from Sudanese soil and to manufacture weaponry there so as to ease transport to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Syria and Hizballah. Great efforts are now being made to halt weapons smuggling through the Sinai into Gaza, but weapons are freely flowing elsewhere, destabilizing the region.

Iran is seeking to station medium and long range missiles in Sudan that could be used to strike Israel. These weapons could just as easily be fired to the east towards Saudi Arabia instead of towards Israel in the north. They could also be fired by Al Qaeda affiliated militant groups instead of Iranian troops. Either way, this could be a game changer, not only for Israel but for the region.

Policy makers are so focused on the threat by Iran in the Persian Gulf that they ignore the fact that the Gulf of Aden and the entire area to the south of the Suez Canal could just as easily, if not more easily, be shut down by attacks from Sudan. How many ships attacked while attempting to cross through the Suez Canal would lead to a reduction or halt of shipping? What would happen to oil prices if the Suez Canal were shut down? How would that affect the US economy? Anyone listening now?

Meanwhile rebels from Mali have been fleeing to Darfur for refuge.

We are not paying enough attention to the threats posed by the situation in Sudan including Iranian involvement and a long history of welcoming militants who hate America including Al Qaeda. The terror incubator remains open for business and business is unfortunately booming.

Screening of Across the Frontlines at Drake University Today

Join us as we screen the movie, Across the Frontlines, and have a panel discussion including members of the Sudanese community.

Today, February 16th 3 pm at Drake University, Cartwright Hall, room 213. http://www.drake.edu/visit/map/ Cartwright Hall is the Drake Law School, #10 on the map.

Thank you. The Help Nuba Coalition, Drake Law School International Law Society, Des Moines Chapter of the Iowa United Nations Association, and United Sudanese and South Sudanese Communities. For additional information, contact helpnuba@gmail.com www.helpnuba.net