Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Sudan Crisis: Who is accountable

There was much accolade and praises for both sides when the recent National Dialogue Roadmap to Peace (sound familiar? Think Occupied Palestine and Israeli military) was signed between Darfuri factions and Sudanese government. For decades, the various rebel groups (not the straw man stereotypical rebels from Hollywood films or Western media) who are and have been fighting an armed struggled against the Sudanese government over legitimate demands. Since Omar Bashir came to power in 1989, the Sudanese government that has cared little if not at all for marginalized people living across Sudan in Darfur, Blue Nile state, North Kordofan, Red Sea state home to the Beja people and Northern Nubia. It appears the government is only concerned about the well being of the Sudanese capital Khartoum that has become a metropolis and a mini Cairo if you well. The ongoing conflicts in Darfur, North Kordofan and Abyei has little to do with religion or Clash of Civilizations ie Islam vs Christian or Islam vs indigenous/local religions. It has to do with marginalization, climate change, neglectful government, a self proclaimed President for life who treats the position as their own personal kingdom (think Mubarak in Egypt before 2011 Egyptian Revolution or Ben Ali of Tunisia and countless other African leaders), lack of representation in politics, economics and society. Bashir has been pushing ethnicity in this case Arab and African Sudanese against one another even neighbours. Ethnicity and the old saying, "you're better than them" since they are our enemy or because you come from this group or "they are not like us" has been played up by the government and it's supporters. Ordinary Sudanese are tired of the wars including the people in Khartoum who have been shielded from the horrors of war since most of the fighting is done outside the capital in rural Sudan. When the third or fourth, etc Peace Agreement was called between the rebel factions and Sudanese government, most ordinary Sudanese did not hold their breaths. The ceasefire that was called before the Peace Agreement was signed was already broken hours after it had begun. The Peace process begins again. Sudanese people have long demanded peace and in agreement to a permanent ceasefure and a final end to the long lasting wars. It's the leaders of rebel groups and government who are still stubbornly hanging on to a stalemate. -Aan

The article below was written by Trayo Ahmed Ali and originally published on Sudan Tribune. Ali writes on the inner workings and peace politics of Darfuri rebel groups, peace keeping forces of AU, UN and the up and downs of the Sudanese government stop and go negotiations with various factions. In the article below he calls for simple yet practical approaches to ending the fighting. Enjoy the read.

A case sufficiently exposed, squarely tabled but evasively torpedoed with ulterior motives
 By Trayo Ahmed Ali

As Sudan National Dialogue "roadmap" (proposed by the AUHIP Panel) was signed in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on August 8 - 2016, the motion was set off for negotiations on different tracks and the parties geared up busy fixing their positions. Here, this Sudanese social media reporter (Mr. A. B. Gamal) covering the events gave his version of account on the prevailing mode and positions of the parties delegates that let the mediator, to finally postpone the talks. In it, the writer detected Sudan government behaviour, described and likened to that of a "three-time-divorced-woman" !!
- Mr. Gamal informs his readers that the "tactics" that always used by such a "thrice-divorced-woman" and the techniques she applies usually involve "tricky" rules including deception, denial, foul play, blackmailing, corrupting, crookedness, fabrication of facts, massaging of figures, character assassination and others including "yelling" and "walling". All emanate from the beneath of her cunning "yellow smiles".
Furthermore, Mr. Gamal explains that such a woman, skilfully applies "old fox techniques". She does a multiple and simultaneous negotiations with all the parties and at the same time". As her focus has always remained on how to return back to the "House of Obedience" (as defined in Sharia law) the writer says, she always gives major concessions to her original husband, tricks the "Ajaweed" (jurry in the definition of Islamic traditions), fools the "Myhalek" and deprives her "abandoned" children.
She gives a yellow smile to her "Al-muhalel" (the temporary husband used to legitimise the process of remarrying and be discarded at later stage). In between She finger points and constantly pore baseless accusations against the real victims (her abandoned children she got from different husbands - and who usually turn rebel as the result of mistreatment).
- In his write up Mr. Gamal, while, figuratively give signals on who represents the "Muhalel" and the "original husband", he clearly identifies that the NCP government represents the "thrice-divorced-woman", the movements represent the "abandoned children turned rebel", and the mediator obviously represents the good-will "Ajaweed".
As a stake-holder, participant actor and negotiator who puts "humanitarian concern" above any other consideration, I found Mr. Gamal "theory" pretty fitting analogue that exposes "Who behaved how" and "who adopted what positions" in this all important exercise.
- Indeed it was so oddly enough to see the bizarre the way it was. As the movements attempted to square the issues, the government turns around to triangulate the squares. It was clear that when the movements move a head one step forward, the government moves two steps backwards !!!
Now, let us zoom into the scene.
* Humanitarian Negotiations: The scope, the Issues and positions
- It was strictly negotiations on Cessation of Hostilities (CoH). Meaning it is an "a political" or a de-politicised issue by nature ruled by international standards. The The Movements negotiators accordingly abided themselves by to the dictates of this phase of humanitarian negotiations, singled out core issues around which the Cessation of Hostilities anchored, defined and presented as follow:
1- Humanitarian Aid "mechanisms" shall be established to only monitor and report the flow of humanitarian assistance and the protection of civilians by establishing an "Overseer" mechanism. The government (with no sensible argument) flatly rejects movement’s proposal.
2- The Movements argued that their forces (at this stage) can only be confined within their "areas" of presence or operations. The government insists on confiding movements forces into "cantonments" termed as "locations" or "sites" !!!
3- The Prisoners of War "PoW" be released as a gesture to show "good faith"was the Movements position. The government flatly rejects the idea to the point of denying the mere presence of such "PoWs".
4- Returning of international Humanitarian NGOs expelled from Darfur to fill the gap. The reason, as the movements argued was to fill the gap by assisting the UN agencies. The government opposed to the idea and argued that "Sudanese" NGOs are fit to carry out the job.Meaning the "HAG" (government humanitarian arm of the National Intelligence and Security).
5- Foreign militia be controlled. The movement argued that to create conducive environment for humanitarian operation the "Foreign" militia operating in Darfur be controlled and monitored. The government refused the proposal on the ground that the issue is part of "final" Ceasefire arrangements.
6- UNAMID to be engaged. The Movements suggested that the UNAMID (as a UNSC mandate backed mission) and has forces on the ground shall be entrusted to establish the CoH mechanisms and chair its mechanisms. The government objects and argue that the UNAMID is weak, not neutral, incapable and can not be trusted to carry out the job.
- The only issue the government suggested and insisted on it is for the movements to join the DDPD as it stands without changing comma!!! Even here the movements argued that such issue can only be discussed and agreed upon in due course (at the phase of political negotiations when it starts).
- Under these circumstances and scheme of things where the opinions are so divergent and the government kept displays nothing but "irrational" intransigence, whether such talks could have had made any meaningful progress to address the much needed humanitarian requirements or not, is a matter of stating the obvious. On it I do rest my case to the good judgement of the reader.
The writer is a leading member of the Sudan Liberation Movement - Minni Minnawi. He is also the humanitarian secretary of the rebel alliance Sudanese Revolutionary Front. He is reachable at : tmotoy60@gmail.com

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