SUDAN WATCH: WILL GOVERNMENT OF SUDAN BE OVERTHROWN OR ARRESTED? If not, what assurances do they have that this will not happen?

Sunday, September 12, 2004

WILL GOVERNMENT OF SUDAN BE OVERTHROWN OR ARRESTED? If not, what assurances do they have that this will not happen?

Pleased to see Dan back posting at Passion of the Present. He's been away from his studies at Cambridge University and spent part of summer in Paris. It sure is comforting to have another person in the UK interested in blogging the Sudan.

Dan, in the comments at his post on Sudan's response to Colin Powell declaring genocide in Darfur, replied to a comment from a reader and non-blogger called Wikus. Here is a snippet from Dan's comment, followed by my response and thoughts on the US declaring genocide in Darfur:

" ... My view - and, I think, that of Jim, Ingrid and the rest - is that the AU - backed by Western, and ideally Arab, money and logistical support, should lead the way. So we agree with Eric insofar as we want "African Union troops to bring law and order". If Khartoum let the AU run free in Darfur, and the rest of the world gave them the practical help they needed, we'd be a lot happier. But (despite occasional half-hearted comments from Khartoum, which are intended to deflect criticism rather than to actually deal with the problem) IT ISN'T HAPPENING. ..."

And, here is a copy of my comment in response:

Yes, I agree the AU, backed by Western (AU couldn't afford it otherwise), and ideally Arab, money and logistical support, should lead the way to bring law and order. Here is one of my main questions that I think also helps throw light on why *IT ISN'T HAPPENING*

The question has bothered for me for months now because I've still not found any clues to answers, from anywhere.

What will happen to the government of Sudan (GOS) when foreign troops set foot in Sudan: will there be an attempt to overpower Sudanese forces and overthrow the present regime in Khartoum?

And, if not -- (which I think is the case because if anything, present regime is experienced and useful in counter terrrorism - I don't think we'd touch their oil with a ten foot barge pole for a long time - it's too expensive anyway - nor do I believe the US or UK or any other Western country are out to destablise Sudan, overthrow present regime - steal things - colonise them - turn them into Christians - or have motives that are anti Islam) -- what assurances do GOS have that this will not happen?

From what I can gather, the West is interested in peace for a united Sudan and wants to help because (apart from being useful on counter terrrorism) a stable Sudan will help Africa become less of a tinderbox and will benefit everyone all round. I believe their main interest is in a secure and stable, independent, prosperous Sudan that may even eventually lead to democracy - and grow into a country that everyone can do deals and business with.

I've said this before somewhere in the comments here, it seems (to me) GOS are resisting offers to help with security and disarmament to bring law and order -- out of fear that they (GOS) will lose what control they have left and be overpowered and overthrown.

How can such assurances be given to Khartoum while accusations of genocide are being directed at them and who can give the assurances?

If the latest US draft resolution calling for an investigation in genocide is approved by the UNSC, it would mean GOS face the next few years with fear and uncertainty as to whether they will be jailed and brought to international court.

And, even if GOS were given assurances that they'd remain safely in power (as long as they proved fit to govern), they could fear retribution from Arab tribes and militia who may attempt to eliminate GOS in retaliation for names of perpetrators being handed to UN investigators or AU missions.

Seems (to me anyway) GOS is cornered and in between a rock and a hard place. They probably fear being damned if they do (allow in peacekeepers with Chapter 7 mandate) and damned if they don't (they know they can't control the violence or rein in the Arab tribal leaders, militia and bandits or close down the so-called Janjaweed camps). From what I've read, the Arab tribal leaders don't feel the need to take orders from Khartoum - they do what they will, as each of them lord it over their own areas of the Sudan and rule the villagers and nomads by fear and benevolance.

It would appear the safest bet for Khartoum would be to allow only AU observers (that they know they can have some control over) but no-one else -- ever.

So my question is, does anyone know what the international community are doing to address GOS fears, if they are unfounded?

If two gangs are fighting to the death then someone (usually police) has to intervene. But if that fails -- then mediators are brought in. Perhaps this is the role that the President of the AU is taking, but how can GOS know he is to be trusted (he has 52 other nations plus UN etc on his side - who does Khartoum have on its side that it can trust?)

Seems Khartoum need to be given assurances through a mediator they trust - that if GOS can prove itself as fit to govern, it won't be overthrown or face trial -- plus reassurances on how the situation is to be handled after the Peace Accords are signed so that Arab tribal leaders, janjaweed, bandits, outlaws or whatever don't start another war.

Personally, I cannot see how the so-called Janjaweed can be disarmed. I've read they are like the Klu Klux Klan -- they are civilians that wear a sort of uniform, and when they take if off they disappear into the background and meld into society, mingling and living amongst ordinary folk.

At any time the perpetrators of atrocities could (and may already have done so) disappear into countries bordering Sudan and sneak back in when the time is right. Seems the outlaws and bandits don't have paid jobs. They make their living by banditry, stealing and looting. I've read that their culture makes them too proud to accept any form of help or aid; their macho upbringing forces them provide for their own, even if it means stealing from others, at any cost. These fit young men ought to be brought into the fold of the New Sudan and be given opportunities to become gainfully employed - ie trained as proper police, soldiers, or help build infrastructure etc.

Sudan has so much to look forward to once the Peace Accords are signed. Massive contracts have been signed to lay new oil pipes, build roads and railways to help food and aid flow, banks are opening, New Sudan Pound is being minted, flags and license plates produced... huge tranches of development funding are waiting to be released by the international community - as soon as Peace Accords are signed - to help the united and New Sudan develop basic infrastructure and enable it to take its natural resources and goods to market.

Seems it's better the devil you know - than the devil you don't know. Surely the present regime in Khartoum needs to be made to feel less insecure and more at ease and comfortable with the Darfur peace talks and agreements on power sharing, security issues etc for the newly united Sudan. GOS must be paranoid by now -- it surprises me they've not yet cracked up under the pressure.

Having said all of that: I don't believe a case for genocide against them will go to court, for the reasons I have just given. I think it is being used as part of a carrot and stick strategy. If my hunch is anywhere near correct, then GOS may as well (if they haven't already received it) be given cast iron assurances -- as quickly as possible -- so the violence stops immediately -- and the Peace Accords can be negotiated thoroughly and properly -- and once they are signed -- for thousands of peacekeepers to be allowed in to monitor ceasefire agreements by both sides to give every chance of lasting peace.

PS As to Wikus' question re why the Darfur conflict started so close to the finalisation of the north-south peace deal -- I am still curious as to why GOS saw fit all along to exclude western Sudan from the peace deal, which is why, it would seem the rebels took up arms in protest for their voices to be heard and for Darfur not to be marginalised, neglected but properly taken into account.

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