20 April 2012

"South Sudan does not want war"

More from John Ashworth on the current hostilities.
I beg to add to what my friend Richard Downie says, quoted in article 4, below: the US "really need to be laying down the law to the government in Juba now... The U.S. has to be pulling out all the stops and get the South to withdraw from Heglig". This would be fine if the US had also been "laying down the law" and "pulling out all the stops" to get the government in Khartoum to withdraw from its illegal military occupation of Abyei, or its short-lived illegal military occupations of Jau, or its military attacks on its own citizens in the Nuba Mountrains and Blue Nile, or its bombing of refugee camps and other civilian locations well inside South Sudan, all of which happened long before the current round of fighting. This one-sided approach by the international community, which has basically condoned (at best ignored, at worst colluded with, as in the case of Abyei) Khartoum's actions over the last months and years but then comes down heavily on South Sudan when, after months of restraint, it is finally provoked into a very limited military response, will not bring lasting peace to the region. 
Articles 2 and 3, below, sum up part of the problem. President al Bashir has been treating South Sudan as if it is a recalcitrant province (which he can "discipline" and teach a "lesson") rather than an independent sovereign state. It has not really sunk in to the mentality in Sudan that they no longer control South Sudan. They (and the international community) seem to be somewhat surprised that South Sudan actually negotiates in pursuit of its own perceived interests. They are also shocked that, following months if not years of military restraint, South Sudan has finally asserted its sovereignty with a limited military response which has been remarkably successful. They may also not realise how popular this assertion of sovereignty is with the population. Nobody welcomes the economic austerity which will result from cutting off the flow of oil, and nobody wants a return to war, but nevertheless the population appears to be firmly behind their government in these measures which they consider a necessary response to Khartoum's attitudes and actions.

1 comment:

Jacob Lagu said...

Totally agree. South Sudan has been incredibly patient in the face of persistent pressure from a belligerent NCP. This restraint was perceived time and time again as weakness, resulting in ever increasing displays of bravado and brinkmanship from the Generals who now seem to call the shots in Bashir's government. Persistent provocation was the source of the Heglig offensive. The failure of the international community to significantly challenge the NCP's belligerence informed the Southern Sudanese conviction that they could only rely on their own initiative to arrest what was becoming a vicious cycle of broken promises, cynical evasion and blatant land grabs by the NCP. I, along with the vast majority of Southern Sudanese, though wary of the consequences of war, cheered our brave boys in uniform as they confronted the school ground bully in our name. Victoria Certa Est!

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