Sudan – Perspectives for Peace in the largest African Nation“

Flagge des Sudan

January 4th 2011, UPF Austria, Vienna

Der größte Staat Afrikas zerfällt

Vollbild anzeigenVon Klaus Huhold

Bei Beobachtern besteht kein Zweifel, dass sich die rund vier Millionen registrierten Wähler für eine Loslösung vom flächenmäßig größten Staats Afrikas entscheiden werden. "Das Regime in Khartum hat in den vergangen Jahren den Südsudanesen keine Gründe dafür geliefert, in einem Gesamtstaat zu verbleiben", analysierte der frühere sudanesische Oppositionelle Fadil Abbas bei einem Vortrag in Wien für die "Föderation für Weltfrieden".

Southern Sudan (SS):

-         On the 9th of Jan 2011, a referendum will take place in South Sudan whereby Southerners, (100 % African and almost all non-Muslim), will definitely decide to secede from Sudan. A country of 1 million square miles will split into two partitions, mainly due to a 50-year old war that has been recently augmented by the jihad ideology introduced by the current Muslim fundamentalist regime that came to power on 30 June 1989.

-         The regime was forced to sign the Nevasha Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with Dr. John Garang leader of the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) on 9/1/2005, under pressure from the three observers: USA, Italy and Norway + the IGAD group, (Kenya, Uganda, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Djibouti). It was also a bit destabilized by the opposition forces (lead by the National Democratic Front, NDF) as well as the deteriorating economic conditions, in spite of the new-found oil wealth that has been depleted through large scale armament, military industrialization and corruption...

-         The CPA included two decisive conditions that were supposed to be met within five years:

1)     The current constitution should be transformed in such a way that Sudan will metamorphose into a secular democratic state, (i.e. through the process called Democratic Transformation).

2)     Unity should be made cost-effective, rewarding and therefore appealing to the Southern voters by the referendum date, (i.e. development and construction of infrastructure should have covered a convincing space by that time.)

-         Nothing of the sort has been undertaken.

The road to secession:

-         The presidential and parliamentary elections earlier last year exacerbated discord between the North and South. The incumbent president, Bashir, and his NCP, a variant of Muslim Brotherhood, came back to power with vengeance, amid accusations of fraud. The theocratic state which is adamantly bent on Islamizing all facets of life has been strongly cushioned, and the missionary zeal of NCP has been massively boosted. As such, Non-Muslims have been and would continue to be treated as second class citizens. Not only the Southerners, but other Northern groupings and  parties, such as the Umma, National Unionists and Communists, in addition to the purely African inhabitants of Dar Fur, Nuba Mountains and the Ingassana region of southern Blue Nile, stand at loggerheads with the NCP regime.

-         The SPLM won the elections in the South. They have been in a better position ever since to realize their new strategy of creating a secular democratic state in the South, since the North would not budge from its theocratic tendencies.


The plausible scenarios:

-        Most observers agree that war will be resumed, only this time it will be between armies of two sovereign states, not the gorilla warfare that had been waged by Anya Nya lead by Joseph Lagu, 1955\1971, and by the Garang SPLM/SPLA (army) from 1983 to 2005.

-        The war that has been going on in Darfur will be intensified, with a possible alliance between the Darfur rebels and the Govt of the South. Already, a large number of Darfur rebel leaders are in Juba, the capital city of South Sudan.

-        The border between N and S zigzags and undulates along 1800 kms, inhabited essentially by nomadic tribes from North and South. As it has not been well demarcated, border wars reminiscent of the Indian Kashmir will persist endlessly, particularly in the oil rich areas of Southern Kordofan/Northern Bahr Elghazal of South Sudan.

-        The most serious bone of contention is the border region called Abyey, rich in oil reserves. The case was referred to the Int. Court of Arbitration last year, and a ruling came out, albeit it has been rejected by the Arab inhabitants of Abyei, the nomadic Arab Misseiriyya tribe. They have since been armed to the teeth by the Khartoum regime so that they may embark upon the type of ethnic cleansing that ignited the Darfur problem seven years ago. They would also constitute a buffer zone against South Sudanese forces.

-        It has been reported by well informed observers that the Khartoum Govt might feel tempted to occupy the oil wells that lie on the N/S border, under the pretext of protecting them from the civil strife between the N and S nomadic tribes of Abyei, a strife that has already been instigated by the Khartoum regime itself. This is calculated to safeguard the continuation of revenues from the oil resource upon which the North depends for 75% of its budget, and the South for 95% of its income. It will be tantamount to strangulation of the fledgling state of the South. Khartoum believes this is the only tool left for exacting concessions on Abyey and other border and impending issues.

Third party engagements:

-         The US lead the observer and IGAD countries during the Mashakos and Nivasha, Kenya, two-year negotiations that culminated in the CPA on 9/1/2005. This is conceived by American potentates as a non-paralleled achievement that did not cost the US many dollars, and certainly not a drop of blood. In fact, there is isn't even a proper American embassy in Khartoum. The non-resident ambassador, Scot Gretchen, stays more in Washington DC than in Sudan where he commutes extensively between Khartoum, Juba and Darfur towns. A Christian African state with vast oil reserves and much ethnic affinity to neighbouring Kenya and Uganda is about to emerge in the strategic heart of Africa, through which the White Nile and its tributaries flow. As such, there is nothing on the current agenda of the Obama administration regarding Sudan other than the referendum. It must be held on time, come what may; the outcome is pretty obvious anyway.

-         There had been deep rooted Israeli intervention in the South since the outbreak of hostilities in 1955. The earlier rebels, the generation before John Garang, were trained in Israel, and the Jewish state helped the Southern rebels with weapons and technical expertise. Recent reports speak of Israeli Stinger missiles, together with workshops and technicians, which are right now on their way to the South, following the recent bombardment of border villages by Northern military aircraft. The US Govt was too overwhelmed and procrastinating to respond to the demand of the S Govt regarding aerial defence systems, but the Jewish lobby groups interfered, seeing to it that Israel does not miss this opportunity of once again getting involved militarily in the South.

-         Israel had always fostered the Sudanese conflict, to demonstrate a few points:

1)     Arab Muslims do not tolerate other ethnic groups, and they are chronically antagonistic to democratic principles.

2)     If Israeli subversive activities weaken Sudan, the largest Arab country area-wise, that will automatically harm Egypt, no doubt, and jeopardize its security.

3)     The White Nile source countries, Kenya, Uganda and Southern Sudan, are more easily induced by Israel to use Nile water politics to pressurize Egypt into more cooperation with herself vis-à-vis the Middle East Problem. This situation would moreover better enable Egypt to honour the Camp David commitment by Anwar Sadat to provide Israel with Nile water, (c.f. the Memoirs of Bhutrus B. Ghali the former Egyptian foreign minister who was privy to the Camp David negotiations).


The so-called Arab World stands to lose materially and morally by the separation of the South:

1.    This is a case of missed opportunity to invest in an essentially virgin territory of fertile land (350,000 sq miles), with more than seven tributaries of the Nile and abundant rainfall. Huge reserves of oil, uranium, copper, iron ore, gold and diamonds, wild life and vast animal resources, namely cattle, characterise the South.

2.    The lingua franca and the market language in the S is Arabic, (a dialect called Juba Arabic). There used to be peaceful times, such as the ten years following the Addis Ababa Accord of 1972 signed by President Numeiri and General Joseph Lagu, leader of the first generation of Southern rebels. The Northern presence in the South goes back to the Funj Arab/Islamic Kingdom (1504-1822), which was actually a manifestation of the first alliance between the incoming Arabs and the African Nilotic tribes. Most of the post-independence infrastructure of the North was built by labour from the South. Southerners have for generations lived in all corners of the North peacefully and harmoniously, in spite of the war that was raging in the South. The north was their favourable refuge, not only in view of the rapport that usually exists between members of the two peoples whenever they meet outside the South, but also because of the job opportunities that have always been available for southerners in the North, however menial and low paying they have been.

3.    There were some Arab countries, like Kuwait in the 1970s-80s, represented by the late ambassador Abdalla Al Sirayyie that contributed infrastructure projects and investment in various parts of the South. Unfortunately, all that came to a standstill since 1983 when President Numeiri declared Sharia laws, and hostilities subsequently flared up more fiercely than ever before.

Lingering issues:

The emergence of a new state in Southern Sudan is a complex extrication exercise that entails a lot of legal, procedural and diplomatic doing and undoing. It took the Czech Republic and Slovakia nine full years to sort out such problems after the decision of Slovakia to secede. How long will it take the North and South to deal with such problems as the following, knowing that no adequate preparation has been undertaken so far?

1.      Nationality.

It is not clear whether the Southern nationals living in the North (to the tune of 3 million) are going to retain their citizenship, whether they enjoy dual nationality status, or whether they would be treated as foreigners. A jingoistic statement by a northern official widely publicized recently made it clear that Southerners would not be welcome in the north should the south opt for separation. Hence the large scale migration of southerners, lock stock and barrel, back to the south within the last weeks, ostensibly to participate in the referendum.

2.      Natural resources, especially oil.

     Needless to say 80% of Sudan’s oil is in the south. It is exported through the North. It is widely believed that the South might see to it that the oil arrangements agreed upon in Nevasha will be maintained at least for the foreseeable future; it is too expensive to construct new pipelines taking the oil to Mombasa port of Kenya. However, should war break out between the North and South, new contingencies might crop up and alternative strategies might be contemplated.

3.       Borders.

4.      Assets, liabilities and possessions, locally, continentally, regionally and internationally.

5.      Nile waters.

6.      International loans and debts.

7.      Currency.

8.      Whether the so-called four freedoms will be applicable, (ownership, movement, residency and right to work), as is the case between Sudan and Egypt.


The Sudanese political movement, north and south, has been progressing towards some sort of accommodation, from the Juba Conference of 1947, to the Round Table Conference of 1965, to the Addis Ababa Accord of 1972, to the Mirghani/Garng Agreement of 1988, to the Nevasha Agreement of 2005. The ceiling of southern political leaders and intellectuals never went beyond federation or regional autonomy within a united Sudan. The situation has somehow come to the dramatic option of secession that will undoubtedly be the outcome of the referendum.

Nothing can be done about this referendum. The US Govt has an unshakeable stake in this state of affairs and western countries look forward to the coming state in the South, perhaps, under the illusion that peace would finally come to the South and the ghosts of the past will be buried forever.

However, war is a most likely eventuality, not peace. Yet, even if war erupts, the South can declare independence unilaterally, along the lines of Kosovo. That is, given the current regime in Khartoum, the North and South can never be reconciled and unity is far-fetched.

Taking into account the turbulent circumstances in Sudan at the moment, and pondering the military activities and potentialities of armed rebellious groups in Darfur, Kordofan and some other parts of the country, anything can take place within the coming days:

1.      The dream scenario would be if a coup de tat occurs in Khartoum and the Sudan is declared a secular democratic state, (not a non-plausible alternative in a country that changed regimes through military coups more than five times since independence in 1956).  The rug would thus be withdrawn from under the feet of third party agents that are exerting their utmost non-gratuitous effort to encourage the South to secede from the North.

2.      Barring the dream scenario of a coup de tat, all peace-loving countries should only call for restraint by both parties and should call upon the Arab League, African Union and the UN to have a more distinct say in the Sudan question and to undertake a more serious pre-emptive endeavour to see to it somehow that another Somalia should not obtain in this vast multi-ethnic Arab country. Every effort should be made to avert war.

3.      Should war take place, however, which is a logical eventuality, it will be a cataclysmic nightmare, next to which Somalia will be a tiny dwarf.

Speaker: El Fadil Abbas Mohamed Ali


Born in Medani, Sudan. Holds an MA in Linguistics from the University of Leeds, UK. He was lecturing at Gezira University and the University of Juba. Because of his affiliation with the opposition movement he had to leave Sudan 25 years ago for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. After the 2005 Peace agreement he returned regularly to his home country. Currently he works for the planning department in the ministry of foreign affairs in Abu Dhabi.      Tel: 00971507800840.



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2.    Beashir, Mohamed Omar: The Southern Sudan, Background to the conflict, CHC, London, 1975.

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