Sudan: An Oil War Or Madness? The Absence Of Reason And Wisdom, And Narrow-minded Political Calculations


03 May 2012

By Osman Mirghani

The atmosphere in Khartoum these days is similar to the atmosphere in the 1990s when the war between the north and south was at its peak, and the government raised slogans of Jihad and sought to mobilize the people through broadcasting programs and passionate chants, showing images of martyrs who died on the battlefield, and preaching to "defeat the enemies and root out the insurgency". What else could people do but follow the newspapers, watch television or listen to official statements, until they became embroiled in the atmosphere of war? Again, the beaten country of Sudan is living amidst war and tension because of the failures of its politicians, rather than enjoying the peace for which it has lost a large part of its territory and population, not to mention most of its oil wealth. Sudan has returned to square one; to the atmosphere of war, and it has not reaped any fruit by doing so, rather it has destroyed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Despite this, the regime and its supporters do not want the people to ask: why is this happening? Why has peace failed? What is the benefit of a new round of war if all the previous rounds ended at the negotiating table with trade-offs?

As soon as such questions are raised, one is met with a torrent of responses that the regime is not responsible, that all the blame lies with the south and its government, and that peace has failed because there is an international conspiracy to overthrow the regime and break up Sudan. In short, this is a case of "blame the Italians" [a Sudanese colloquial phrase]; the regime is not responsible for anything. It is not responsible for the CPA, although it oversaw every detail and excitedly signed it, and forgot in the midst of its joy that the north after it had "gotten rid of the burden of the south" would be alone in ensuring border demarcation, the distribution of wealth and the dismantling of all other time-bombs before the south voted in the referendum and seceded. Nor is the regime responsible for failing to make unity an attractive option, and nor for returning to an atmosphere of hostility. The regime is not responsible for any of this, just like it is no longer responsible for education, health care or other services. It is only responsible for its senior figures and party members' monopoly over trade and the economy, whereby the Sudanese are beset and overwhelmed by stories of extravagance and corruption.

Whoever bears this responsibility must carry every burden, accepting accountability and face the repercussions for any failure or shortcomings; there is no benefit to be derived from blaming matters on others. The problem is that the National Islamic Front (NIF) regime, which took power via force and deception, and rules with oppression and domination, refuses to take responsibility for its mistakes and does not want to be accountable for the mountain of problems that weigh heavy on the shoulders of the Sudanese people. It does not want to take responsibility for squandering peace, which it claimed would sacrifice the unity of the country, disregarding the tens of thousands of young Sudanese who were sacrificed before that in a war fuelled by the regime, before it returned to sit at the negotiating table and accept the secession.

The reality is that this war, which is expanding every day, is a mindless conflict that trades on illusions. The regime is gambling on things that have not yet been achieved. It is gambling on the theory that South Sudan's secession will save it from all burdens, and will enable it to monopolize the north in order to implement its project of declaring an Islamic republic, or the "second republic" as some of its leaders have termed it. It is worth noting that it launched such slogans in the 1990s under the name of the "civilization project", but it did not achieve anything except tyranny and repression on the domestic level, and isolation on the international level. After the secession of the south, the regime is gambling that it will be able to reconcile relations with the president of Chad to crush any armed opposition in Darfur and South Kordofan, but this will fail because the regime has not thought to genuinely address the problem of governance in the north, and the roots of the problems of marginalization and injustice. Sudan's issues will not be solved by declaring an Islamic republic or an alleged civilization project, because the majority of Sudanese are both religious and tolerant by nature. Sudan's most important issues and concerns are underdevelopment and a lack of political stability caused by the spiral of coups, political jockeying and the rejection of some political forces, especially the ideological parties, of the principle of the peaceful transfer of power, combined with their lack of understanding of the Sudanese people's message, who have rebelled against military regimes and single-party dictatorships twice, decades before the Arab Spring.

The regime is also gambling that it will still receive a large proportion of the oil revenues that it relinquished to the south upon is secession, and this will be achieved through pressuring Juba to pay substantial fees for the continual flow of oil through pipelines in the north, towards the only sea port at Port Sudan. According to some of the regime's theorists, South Sudan will have no choice but to obey as it has no other alternatives to exporting oil, which is its economy's only source of income at the moment, and likewise it also depends on the north with regards to importing the majority of its goods and commodities. But this gamble will also fail because those in power in Khartoum have not recognized that these issues should have been resolved via negotiations not hostilities, and all issues of border demarcations, wealth and debt should have been agreed upon before the secession, not afterwards. Worse still, the regime has already incorporated its share from taxing southern oil revenues within the terms of its budget, whereas matters have since deteriorated on the ground, reaching the extent of the north confiscating shipments of oil followed by the south closing its oil wells and ceasing to export oil. Thus Sudan's budget accounts have collapsed as the country stands on the brink of a serious economic crisis. Therefore, some people believe that the current round of hostilities is a war for oil, and there is an element of truth in this, but this does not take into account the other outstanding issues such as border demarcation, debt, the sharing of wealth, or issues regarding other natural resources, in addition to the lack of trust between the two sides, not to mention their proxy wars.

The south has also made mistakes and it is deluded if it believes it can seize land and draw borderlines by force, because by doing so it is entering into a conflict with all the Sudanese and not just the regime. The destruction that is happening to the oil sites, both in the north and the south, affects the wealth that is needed by both countries and both sets of people, just as the ongoing economic and military war between the two hinders future relations, which could have served as a model for integration and coexistence were it not for the absence of reason and wisdom, and narrow-minded political calculations.

 

  EsinIslam.Com

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