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Towards the Death of the Nascent Nation

By Stephen Par Kuol

“America will never be destroyed from outside. If we falter and lose our freedom, it will be because we destroyed ourselves alone”_ Abraham Lincoln.

April 5, 2014 (SSNA) -- Just like it happens in the institution of marriage, death can also do nations apart.  The so known as citizenry (not the geophysical unit) is the human entity we call “Nation”. Being mortal as they are, nations are born and die .South Sudan was born on July 9, 2011 and can die any time sooner or later if the founding ideals that gave it life in the first place are not meticulously nurtured and safeguarded. In another word, life span of a nation is solely dependent on competence or sobriety of the political leadership entrusted with its endowments and security.  Comrade Edward Lino in his recent article entitled: “A Look at Ourselves the Way We Know Not” made the following delicate observation to depict the ongoing crisis in the country: “So sad did we learn even nations could be lost when we encountered the wise closing their eyes not to witness endowments swishing to a direction through which they fear things might disappear”.  True, even the independent and sovereign nation can be lost.

Of late, Kiir and the company have been vocally citing the sovereignty as the sole power of state to shield tyranny but that is old school of diplomacy. Sovereignty is a possession of the people. Hence, you can not use it to kill the people and still claim that the nation is still a live. Like the humanity itself, sovereignty is vulnerable and mortal. The anal of world history is littered with several nations and empires that once lived but died and are still dead. The former Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Tibet, Catalonia and Kurdistan are in that inexhaustible list of dead nations. It is called demise of sovereignty in the language of the international law. Our African continent is full of nations in their deathbeds at the time of this writing. Somalia, South Sudan, Libya and Central African Republic are currently in critical care units, if you will. According to the recent failed state index, South Sudan is one of the four most dangerously unstable countries in the world today and the December 15, 2013 tragedy proved that valid.

Having reached the point of no return in the decay of political militarism within the liberation movement turned- ruling party,( SPLM/A), South Sudan was plunged into a comatose by its own political leadership on December 15, 2013. The rest is history. All we have come to know is that dreams and hopes of so many millions who have invested so much in the leadership of the said liberation movement were dashed to ashes when the hell broke loose leading to a genocidal death qualitatively akin to that of Rwanda. It was an organized savagery in which the so called democratically elected President resurrected the ghosts of ancient inter- tribal feuds buried for years with a vengeance that turned the nation into a society of murderers. Neighbors killed their neighbors and soldiers in the army lynched their comrades in arms. Under the jungle state of emergency declared by the President, hailing from Dr. Riek Machar’s ethnic group became a death sentence without due process . Those who share racial features and tribal marks with that ethnic group equally paid dearly. The President who kept reminding the nation of 1991 inter-communal violence directly commanded his Dootkubeny tribal militia from the presidential palace to commit genocide, military vandalism, heinous war crimes and crimes against humanity in the name of fighting a fabricated coup. That operation of shame directly commanded by the Commander in Chief, sidelined the National Security and the Army dismantling the very core foundation of our historical national liberation army(SPLA).

To many of  our  people, that was a crude treachery to our liberation heroes and heroines who died together to bring us the freedom we lost on December 15, 2013. Our martyrs under the heroic leadership of Dr. John Garang De Mabior must have been rolling in their graves to see the surviving leadership of the revolution shamelessly allowing their sacrifice of blood and treasure to go in vain. Even more agonizing is the plight of those who returned home limbless with lives shattered from physical and mental wounds of war.  I particularly feel for those who are physically confined to wheel chairs because of the struggle, war widows, war orphans and majority of our people condemned to illiteracy by the war of liberation and that failed leadership in Juba. Thus, I had to write this piece to mourn the eminent death of my nation, a nation I voted with my feet to liberate at tender age and defended with my pen at this age from overt and accelerated destruction.  With this, I sadly acknowledge that the darker forces stronger than many of us have overcome concerted efforts by millions of patriotic South Sudanese to maintain the fabric of our hard- won republic. That is what I hinted in an article entitled:  The Republic as a Responsibility stressing the vitality of collective responsibility to keep it a live and healthy which is remote and hopeless as things stand now.

Evidently, Kiir Kuethpiny Mayardit and the coterie at the helm do not want to read the writings on the wall that like all nations that died violent deaths, South Sudan can be relegated to the dustbin of world history at any time now in their bloody hands. One is well aware that talking about the death of the nation we all gave live and love is psychologically unacceptable but it must come home to all of us that death is doing us a part. Experiences and experiments else where like in Rwanda and Yugoslavia have proven that the premeditated death known as genocide inflicts deep scars on the collective psyche of the nation. Genocide breaks the socio-cultural fabric of the society in question. It is a violent social earth quick that shakes the very core and threads of nation’s existence (trust and confidence). I have always held the opinion that South Sudan is trust. Once that is broken, the nation ceases to exist and that is what genocide has done in South Sudan. Genocide breeds deep-seeded mutual mistrust, victim mentality and collective denial of the death itself. The criminal psychology of genocide is a vicious cycle of self-destruction that endures and rages to kill the nation in question at the end of the scores.

Genocide traumatized nations like South Sudan do not stand to honestly face the filth and the ugly face of genocide. They rather tend to live under perpetual denial and collective defense mechanism that does not help the cause of both the victims and offenders.  That is why even well documented crimes like Holocaust in Nazi Germany and the genocide in Armenia are still denied by some racist bigots. I have been reading some writers from the government fraternity defending the genocidal death by equating the genocide in Juba with the revenge killings that ensued afterword. True, as Comrade Morris Yoll asserted, “the death of all, whether in Juba or any other parts of south Sudan is death that must be condemned”. However, what is deliberately kept under the carpet is the cold truth that those deaths were caused by that premeditated deaths (genocide) ordered by the President of the Republic in Juba. Hence, the logic of cause and effects has it that the criminal responsibility of all those deaths still weighs heavier on the President of the Republic who planned and executed that barbaric campaign of death and mass-killing. All the other deaths were collateral damages that are difficult to control even under the simple law of physics.

We can read this article and other relevant literature on nation’s death and state failure but it will do little justice without asking the following questions:  what kills nations and what is the common cause of nations’ death?.  Well, empirical researches in this field have arrived at a scientific conclusion that all the collapsed and failed states in Africa and beyond were ruined by coconut-head despots like Kiir  Kuethpiny Mayardiit of South Sudan. The Despots first kill the state and the state failure leads to the death of the nation. Despots are nearsighted creatures who see things only through the spectacles of power games and brute force to cling to morally bankrupt political power.  The despots and their vampire sycophants don’t care even if the country collapses over them as long as their pond is secure. The despotic regime as we have seen in South Sudan will eventually self-destruct from within largely owing to internal-contradictions and divisions but it can eventually take down the nation to the grave with it at the time when no body can save its last breathe.

As analyzed afore, under Kiir, death is doing us a part. The man is good for nothing but cold blood killing and military vandalism using foreign mercenaries to set his own town like Leer, Bentiu and Malakal on fire. One South Sudanese politician who worked with Kiir since the liberation period described him as a typical village tyrant. I would rather describe him as Idi Amin of South Sudan.  In my book, mediocrity, sloth, godlessness, cowardice, using the law selectively or ignoring it, hopeless corruption and ruthless inter-tribal violence will define the new country under Kiir Mayardit. In South Sudan today, the government has morally lost the reason for its existence as it becomes a source of insecurity for the populace. General Salva Kiir has subjected the nation to a police state and red terror in Stalin’s fashion. Fear and violent death lurks on every nook and fissure of our social firmament. Development has gone with the winds. Hunger, ignorance, poverty and disease are presently ravaging the land, while the government bulks feebly before it, incapable of arresting its rampaging onslaught on its subjects. One ethnic group in the country is lumped together as coup plotters or fifth columnists and left only with the choices to die in cold blood, wage a war of survival or take refuge in UNIMISS camp where future is never certain. In this political thuggery, the president has murdered over 20,000 of his voters mobilized by none other than his Running Mate and the Deputy he plotted to murder on December 15, 2013 but still claims legitimacy by virtue of being elected in the year 2010 and mandated in the year 2011 to continue up to the year 2015.   This defies logic and common sense if common sense is ever common. That is why we are adman that Kiir Kuethpiny Mayardit must leaf us a lone if we are to avoid the eminent death of our nation. Otherwise, our destiny is one like conjoined twins. Only death will do as a part. That is why we must all work hard to avoid this collective death. As we seek peace and reconciliation, let's meet each other halfway, understand, compromise, tolerate, love, share, listen, recognize, accept, support and ultimately reconcile without Kiir. Should that fail to settle well with all of us, then what rises from the ashes is a country that few of us will recognize, like, or learn to accept submissively and that is what I call the death of the nascent  nation.

Stephen Par Kuol is a former Deputy Ambassador of the Sudan to the United Republic of Tanzania and the former State Minister of Education in the Government of Jonglei State. He is also a researcher and freelance writer on academic topics pertinent to Human Right and Post-conflict Criminal Justice Administration.

Massive Air and Ground Attacks Against Civilians in Darfur: New Reports from the Satellite Sentinel Project

By Eric Reeves

In a series of recent reports, the Satellite Sentinel Project has provided substantial, professionally analyzed satellite imagery indicating unambiguously the continuing escalation of assaults on Darfuri civilians, primarily those from ethnically African tribal groups.  Numerous reports from the ground confirm these findings (my commentary appears following these texts).  The most recent reports on Darfur and the Nuba Mountains are of particular importance:

March 28, 2014 (SSNA) -- [1] "Janjaweed Torches South Darfur IDP Camp Next to UNAMID Base," March 28, 2014 http://www.enoughproject.org/blogs/janjaweed-torches-south-darfur-idp-camp-next-unamid-base Confirming reports that first emerged from local sources and Radio Dabanga, new Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) imagery from March 26, 2014 shows more than 400 huts, tents, and temporary shelters burned by Sudanese government-backed Janjaweed forces in Khor Abeche, at a South Darfur camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) located near a peacekeeping base. DigitalGlobe Intelligence Solutions (DGIS) image analysis finds that most of the destruction affected the structures adjacent to the African Union - United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) peacekeeping compound, which itself was not damaged.

[CAPTION TO SATELLITE PHOTOGRAPH: The temporary shelters adjacent to the UNAMID camp and a portion of Khor Abeche village suffered significant fire damage, as observed on DigitalGlobe imagery dated March 26, 2014. DGIS analysis estimates over 400 huts, tents, or shelters are destroyed in the areas closest to the UNAMID camp, including groupings of residences in “family unit” configurations. No damage was found to the UNAMID compound.]

UNAMID has said it is protecting thousands of displaced civilians at several bases, including Khor Abeche, and the SSP image shows a large group of people towards the top middle area inside the UNAMID compound.

A UNAMID spokesman tells SSP that peacekeepers and IDPs at Khor Abeche were first alerted of a possible attack to the camp on March 21. The population of the camp, about 3,000 people, took refuge at the UNAMID's base. The following day, while the peacekeepers protected those within the compound, about 300 heavily armed men set fire to the nearby IDP camp.

Eyewitnesses to the attack on Khor Abeche camp say the assailants burned to death a sheikh, injured many residents, kidnapped local leaders, and looted property and livestock while also destroying water wells, homes, and a hospital.

Despite praise UNAMID has received for its efforts from the African Union, the deaths and injuries raise critical questions about the will and capacity of the peacekeeping force to deter such attacks and implement its civilian protection mandate outside its compound.

News reports indicate that Sudanese government-supported Rapid Support Forces (RSF), also called the Rapid Response Forces (RRF) led the attack on Khor Abeche. The group of 6,000 fighters is attacking civilians and torching homes throughout the area. In North Darfur’s mountainous East Jebel Marra area, some areas have been both bombed and burned as Janjaweed ground attacks and Sudan Air Force (SAF) attacks escalate.

SAF air strikes and Janjaweed attacks have exacerbated conditions for 215,000 people who are newly displaced across Darfur since the beginning of the year, including almost 68,000 who are displaced in South Darfur’s violence. Humanitarian organizations estimate that some 59,000 people are displaced from South Darfur’s Um Gunya area, in the wake of clashes between the RSF and the rebel Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi (SLM-MM) group.

Civilians throughout areas beyond South Darfur are also fleeing waves of violence, including  infighting among rebel forces, political power struggles, and intercommunal clashes in North Darfur.

Without holding the government of Sudan responsible for the atrocities committed by the Janjaweed militia, the U.S. Department of State condemned the attack in Khor Abeche and expressed concern at the escalating violence committed by Sudanese government-backed forces and rebel groups.§

***

[2]  "Bombed & Burned: Darfuri Civilians Flee East Jebel Marra En Masse," March 27, 2014

http://www.enoughproject.org/blogs/bombed-and-burned-darfuri-civilians-flee-east-jebel-marra-en-masse

[Introduction]

New Satellite Sentinel Project imagery provides independent confirmation of Sudan Air Force, or SAF, bombardments in the mountainous Jebel Marra area of North Darfur, where civilians have been bombed for years. The use of indiscriminate aerial bombardment in densely populated areas like East Jebel Marra constitutes a war crime under international law. With these images, showing at least 17 bomb craters across six villages, SSP has confirmed the government’s long-standing practice of indiscriminately dropping bombs that devastate civilians living in the area solely because it is currently controlled by rebel forces.

Ground attacks led by reconstituted Janjaweed forces are exacerbating the impact of the government’s aerial bombardment campaign. DigitalGlobe Intelligence Solutions’ (DGIS3) analysis of satellite imagery found evidence of both air strikes and ground attacks—some in the same location.

As SAF air strikes escalate, Sudanese government-backed Janjaweed militias are also burning and destroying villages in the area at a magnitude not seen since 2003. SSP imagery from March 21, 2014 shows more than 311 huts burned in six villages in East Jebel Marra.

DGIS found approximately 95 burned huts in the south-central section of Dolma, a small village approximately 63 kilometers southwest of the North Darfur capital of Al Fashir. The huts were burned between February 5 and March 21, 2014.

Some 6,000 government-backed Janjaweed fighters called the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) or Rapid Response Force (RRF) are attacking civilians and torching homes throughout the area. Adding a deadly new dimension to the violent attacks in Darfur, North Darfur’s political power struggles for control of the state are pitting armed militias against one another as inter-communal clashes also erupt.

According to eyewitness reports from March 16-20, the paramilitary RSF, a newly reconstituted Janjaweed force backed by the Sudanese government, are conducting vicious ground attacks as SAF conducts heavy airstrikes in this area.

Striking among the damage visible from the sky, approximately 126 huts were torched in Hemeda, a town located two kilometers south of Dolma and 65 kilometers southwest of Al Fashir. A comparison of imagery between February 5 and March 21 shows that most damage was concentrated in the village center.

Before moving into North Kordofan and Darfur, the RSF had led attacks for the Sudanese government on rebels in South Kordofan10 and Blue Nile states. In late February RSF attacked more than 35 towns in South Darfur, killing and raping civilians as they torched homes.11 RSF attacks across North Darfur have destroyed 16 villages west of Mellit town and 25 towns north of Kutum.§

***

[3]  Another report details satellite imagery capturing the immense destruction caused by the newly revitalized Janjaweed, now operating as the "Rapid Response Force." DigitalGlobe imagery focuses in particular on Saraf Omra, North Darfur:

March 25, 2014

http://enoughproject.org/blogs/forgotten-genocidal-war-darfur-revealed-new-satellite-photos

[excerpt]

New images from the Satellite Sentinel Project offer the first independent confirmation of the reprisal of Janjaweed attacks in Darfur this year. Sudanese government restrictions on access to the conflict zone mean that reporters and human rights groups have to rely on second- or third-hand descriptions of this fighting. These accounts, smuggled out through a network of activists and civil society groups, are still our best source of evidence. But Digital Globe satellite images dated March 17, 2014 corroborate their stories.

In the photographs we can see at least 150 homes reduced to black ash on the western side of the Darfuri town of Saraf Omra, where Janjaweed fighters are once again wreaking havoc. Our expert analysts say confidently that the patterns of destruction in Saraf Omra mean that the damage was intentional—not accidental. The damage leaps across natural firewalls, leaving an indisputable trail of destruction.§

***

Yet another report offers a view into the continuing aerial assault on the people of the Nuba Mountains—people who are force to survive without humanitarian assistance because of an aid embargo imposed by the Khartoum regime.  There have been hundreds of such attacks, beginning in June 2011; to date, no meaningful or consequential condemnation of these war crimes has emerged from any quarter of the international community other than human rights organizations.  Nuba Reports/Darfur Recording

[4]  "Bible School in Nuba Mountains Bombed for Second Time"

Satellite Sentinel Project, March 27, 2014

http://www.enoughproject.org/blogs/heiban-bible-school-nuba-mountains-bombed-second-time

[Introduction]

The Heiban Bible College, located in the Nuba Mountain region of Sudan, was bombed on March 23, 2014, for the second time in a little over a year. The Nuba Mountains, alongside the Blue Nile region, have been the staging ground for the conflict between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) rebel group and the government of Sudan for more than three years. Although no injuries or damage were reported by the Heiban Bible College, this recent attack exemplifies…a punishing campaign of starvation warfare and aerial bombardment by the government of Sudan in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States, or the "Two Areas."§

***

Commentary, Eric Reeves

Recent violence in Darfur has dramatically escalated with Khartoum's use of the "Rapid Response Force"—a reconstituted Janjaweed militia.  But despite reports suggesting that this violence is new, it is in fact continuous with violence that has been accelerating for more than two years and which has never truly ceased (if sometimes punctuated by lulls in fighting).  Attacks on displaced persons, in camps and outside them, have been a feature of Khartoum's genocidal counter-insurgency efforts from the beginning of conflict in 2003.  An example of what has been lost in a revisionist history of Darfur being written by the African Union leaders is the August 2012 attack on Kutum camp and nearby Kassab camp.  An expatriate relief worker on site at the time sent me an email declaring:

Kutum [a major town in North Darfur—ER] town has been overrun by Arab militia since last Thursday [August 3, 2012]…all of the INGOs [International Nongovernmental Humanitarian Organizations] and UN offices in the area have been thoroughly looted and their staff relocated to el-Fasher.  All of the IDPs from Kassab IDP camp have been displaced.  The markets in Kutum and in Kassab have booth been thoroughly looted. (email received August 5, 2012; also source for following two quotes)

This source went on to note that in the case of the fighting in and around Kutum, while beginning in a personal dispute between individual members of two Arab tribal groups:

The fighting, however, has not been between the two tribes but focused on looting the IDP camps and the INGOs and the markets in the town.

The implications of this violence were not reported anywhere—by the UN, UNAMID, or even Radio Dabanga.  But they loomed large at the time:

Most of the north part of North Darfur (all the way to Chad) is served from Kutum and now all [humanitarian] organizations have lost all capacity because of the looting, and I do not see the humanitarian community reinvesting in the basic infrastructure because of what has happened.  This is going to cause huge humanitarian issues in Kutum and the IDP camps there.  All the fuel at the INGOs was looted.  This fuel is for vehicles but also for the generators to run water pumps in town and outside of town.  This could turn bad, as it is the rainy seasons right now.

And in fact humanitarian conditions in Darfur have continued to deteriorate significantly throughout Darfur.  The continuous reports from Radio Dabanga about shortages in camps—food, clean water, primary medical care, and fuel for cooking—are primarily linked to such violence as was witnessed in Kutum in 2012.  There is simply no dissociating humanitarian shortcomings with ongoing violence, as well as denial of aid access by the Khartoum regime.

Nigeria's Ibrahim Gambari, the immediately preceding AU/U special representative to UNAMID, gave a rather different sense of Darfur's realities when he declared at his retirement party (September 2012): “I am gratified to note that barely 31 months on, all the objectives I set out to meet have largely been met.”  This was the month following the violence in Kutum, the total displacement of Kassab camp, continuing aerial bombardment in Jebel Marra and elsewhere, and security for humanitarians that was at that very moment deteriorating badly.  It seems unclear just what "objectives" Gambari achieved, although with some statistical sleight of hand—using UNAMID data—he was able to declare that violence was diminishing.  In fact, just the opposite was true.

Particular features of the Satellite Sentinel Project deserve highlighting:

[CAPTION TO SATELLITE PHOTOGRAPH: The temporary shelters adjacent to the UNAMID camp and a portion of Khor Abeche village suffered significant fire damage, as observed on DigitalGlobe imagery dated March 26, 2014. DGIS analysis estimates over 400 huts, tents, or shelters are destroyed in the areas closest to the UNAMID camp, including groupings of residences in “family unit” configurations. No damage was found to the UNAMID compound.]

This should alert us immediately to the gross failure of the UN/African Union "hybrid" force (UNAMID) to protect civilians, the key feature of its mandate—and it makes a further mockery of Gambari's bizarre self-celebration.  The timeline provided by UNAMID makes clear that failure in this instance only compounded itself:

A UNAMID spokesman tells [the Satellite Sentinel Project] that peacekeepers and IDPs at Khor Abeche were first alerted of a possible attack to the camp on March 21. The population of the camp, about 3,000 people, took refuge at the UNAMID's base. The following day, while the peacekeepers protected those within the compound, about 300 heavily armed men set fire to the nearby IDP camp.

Knowing an attack was imminent, why didn't UNAMID in Khor Abeche call for reinforcements from Nyala, UNAMID headquarters for South Darfur: it is approximately 60 miles away on one of the better roads in the region.  And why did the UNAMID force make no effort to protect civilians and civilian possessions that were not brought into the compound?  SSP also reports:

Eyewitnesses to the attack on Khor Abeche camp say the assailants burned to death a sheikh, injured many residents, kidnapped local leaders, and looted property and livestock while also destroying water wells, homes, and a hospital.

Radio Dabanga offers a fuller account of the same assault:

The Rapid Support Force troops looted all belongings and livestock from the displaced, as well as shops, schools, and other facilities. They destroyed all the water wells, and set the houses and buildings on fire, including a hospital managed by the World Vision organisation.

During the attack sheikh Hassan Ibrahim Digeila (70) was burned to death. Others were injured, one of the sources said. "The Janjaweed also abducted the son of the sheikh of the area, Eisa Abdallah Hileilo; the deputy omda of the Zaghawa, Hussein Abakar Mohamed; Osman Adam Ahmed, a guard working for World Vision, and Sileik Jarelnabi." (Radio Dabanga [Khor Abeche], March 23, 2014)

For UNAMID to claim to have protected civilians within their compound but to ignore and remain silent about the destruction that occurred immediately adjacent to the compound is disgraceful disingenuousness.  What was the UNAMID force size?  Did they have Armored Personnel Carriers (a significant force multiplier in such a military confrontation)?  And again, why did the officers in Khor Abeche not call for reinforcements from Nyala, where many UNAMID personnel are reported to be doing little more than lounging?  The Khor Abeche destruction was precisely the sort of incident that UNAMD was deployed to halt.

And still the violence in Khor Abeche continues, a number of days after the initial assault.  Radio Dabanga reports today (March 28, 2014):

Pro-government militias looted and set fire on a health centre and a kindergarten in Khor Abeche camp for internally displaced people in Niteaga locality, South Darfur, on Wednesday. Dr Ismail Hussein Fadul, Member of Parliament for the Khor Abeche constituency, told Radio Dabanga that the displaced people living in Khor Abeche, totalling more than 2,000, refused to receive an aid relief convoy from Niteaga. The convoy was headed by Commissioner Osman Jibril and accompanied by militias driving in cars and others riding on camels. “These very militias were accused of committing acts of murder, kidnapping, looting and arson last Saturday, together with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by Mohamed 'Hemeti' Hamdan. (Radio Dabanga [Khor Abeche], March 28, 2014)

Clearly, UNAMID is quite simply powerless to anticipate or halt the violence, or to confront the threats of violence. This is not a force that will ever be willing to confront the Janjaweed or SAF. Instead, despite its mandate, the mission moved into a fully defensive posture.  More than fifty UNAMID soldiers have been killed in the course of the Mission's six years in Darfur, and the valor of many of these men cannot be denied; and certainly some elements within UNAMID remain strongly committed.  But the overwhelming preponderance of evidence, from the Satellite Sentinel Project, Radio Dabanga, and sources on the ground makes clear that the mission is failing and that the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations doesn't know which way to move (two years ago, the head of UN peacekeeping, Hervé Ladsous, preposterously declared that improved security conditions on the ground would permit a drawdown of the force).

International failure to confront the realities of Darfur and the gross inadequacies of UNAMID has brought us to a point where only the most robust actions and the most aggressive pressuring of Khartoum has any chance to rein in the violence.

***

New Satellite Sentinel Project imagery provides independent confirmation of Sudan Air Force, or SAF, bombardments in the mountainous Jebel Marra area of North Darfur, where civilians have been bombed for years. The use of indiscriminate aerial bombardment in densely populated areas like East Jebel Marra constitutes a war crime under international law. With these images, showing at least 17 bomb craters across six villages, SSP has confirmed the government’s long-standing practice of indiscriminately dropping bombs that devastate civilians living in the area solely because it is currently controlled by rebel forces. Ground attacks led by reconstituted Janjaweed forces are exacerbating the impact of the government’s aerial bombardment campaign. DigitalGlobe Intelligence Solutions’ (DGIS3) analysis of satellite imagery found evidence of both air strikes and ground attacks—some in the same location.

The combined use of aerial military assets and ground forces against civilian villages harkens back to the very worst days of the genocide (2003 – 2005).  And while bombing attacks have been reported with a numbing regularity by Radio Dabanga, the world seems to think that because UNAMID does not report them, they are not occurring.  But in fact UNAMID is denied access to the reported bombings in Jebel Marra and elsewhere, and has long since ceased to ask, with any authority, that Khartoum's Military Intelligence grant such access.

The amount of devastation such aerial attacks can cause is also captured in SSP satellite imagery:

As SAF air strikes escalate, Sudanese government-backed Janjaweed militias are also burning and destroying villages in the area at a magnitude not seen since 2003. SSP imagery from March 21, 2014 shows more than 311 huts burned in six villages in East Jebel Marra.

And yet the attacks have continued relentlessly, remorselessly, and indiscriminately for over ten years.  I have chronicled these war crimes—in aggregate, crimes against humanity—since they began, and the data spreadsheet at www.sudanbombing.org reveals that there have been more than 700 confirmed bombing attacks on civilians in Darfur alone (the actual number is almost certainly many times this figure).  Most recently, in just the past week, Radio Dabanga reports with typical detail on yet more bombings:

Air raid kills father, two sons in Darfur's East Jebel Marra

EAST JEBEL MARRA (27 March 2014) - A man and two of his children were killed in Khazan Tunjur, East Jebel Marra, in aerial bombardments on the area today (Thursday). A relative of the deceased told Radio Dabanga... FULL STORY

Bomb craters, burned villages revealed in photos of Darfur's Jebel Marra

EAST JEBEL MARRA (27 March 2014) - New satellite imagery showed more than 300 burned huts in villages bombed by the Sudanese Air Force and attacked by government-backed militias in Darfur's East Jebel Marra last... FULL STORY

Bombardments on areas in Mellit, North Darfur, kill at least five

MELLIT (21 March 2014) - At least five people were killed and 15 others injured by bombardments on areas in Mellit locality, North Darfur, on Thursday and Friday. The Sudanese Air Force heavily bombarded... FULL STORY

Jebel Marra bombardments, attacks on Darfur towns intensify

TAWILA (20 March 2014) - Intensified aerial bombardments by the Sudanese Air Force killed and wounded a number of people in East Jebel Marra on Wednesday and Thursday. Sudan has continued and intensified... FULL STORY

And what is the position of the Obama administration in the face of these intensifying atrocity crimes?  The most recent SSP report notes:

Without holding the government of Sudan responsible for the atrocities committed by the Janjaweed militia, the U.S. Department of State condemned the attack in Khor Abeche and expressed concern at the escalating violence committed by Sudanese government-backed forces and rebel groups.

Such condemnation is vacuous, as U.S. policy on Darfur and Sudan generally is morally vacuous; it threatens no consequences, makes no announcement of measures to halt accelerating genocide, and seems content to scold the Khartoum regime only indirectly ("by Sudanese government-backed forces").  But these forces operate in the main at Khartoum's behest; and the mayhem created by the fracturing of militia groups and the competition among various paramilitary and security forces also serves Khartoum's purposes: humanitarian relief continues to contract, more and more land is appropriated from African farmers by Arab pastoralists (typically heavily armed), and the violence has fully cowed UNAMID.  If not fully orchestrated by Khartoum, the violence in Darfur is certainly countenanced by the regime.  Given the bankrupt economy over which this regime presides, it has no ability to pay militia forces and thus is content to let them fight among themselves, paying and arming only those who do its bidding.  This is the real significance of the relatively new Rapid Response Force: these are Janjaweed the regime can largely count on to mount a new campaign to kill and displace civilians the regime believes are supporting the rebellion.

Even as this brutally cynical counter-insurgency strategy is deployed by the regime, the U.S. seems to remain committed to the view of former special envoy Princeton Lyman:

"[W]e do not want to see the ouster of the [Sudanese] regime, nor regime change. We want to see the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures." (Interview with Asharq Al-AwsatDecember 2011)

Nobody seriously believes that the present Khartoum regime can oversee the democratic transformation of Sudan, nor is there a shred of evidence to suggest it has any serious inclination to do so. And given Khartoum's overwhelming responsibility for the slaughter that has continued for more than a decade in Darfur, we must urgently ask what it means for American foreign policy if such a view—offering a vital diplomatic lifeline to a genocidal regime—fulfills the campaign promise of candidate Barack Obama:

"When you see a genocide in Rwanda, Bosnia or in Darfur, that is a stain on all of us, a stain on our souls. . . . We can’t say ‘never again’ and then allow it to happen again, and as a president of the United States I don’t intend to abandon people or turn a blind eye to slaughter."  (Video recording available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEd583-fA8M#t=15)

Eric Reeves' new book-length study of greater Sudan (Compromising With Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 - 2012; www.CompromisingWithEvil.org).

Joint Administration and UN Trusteeship Insulting but not Outlandish

By Kuir ë Garang

March 28, 2014 (SSNA) -- South Sudan’s young scholars, Nhial Tiitmamer and Abraham Awolich, wrote a remarkable policy update paper for their weekly review for The Sudd Institution on March 11, 2014. In that paper, Nhial and Abraham presented arguments against two different proposals presented by ‘South Sudanese analysts’ as possible ways forward for South Sudan. The said two methods are UN Trusteeship and a Joint Administration by South Sudanese and selected international bodies. These suggestions are presented as part of restructuring, institutionalizing and anchoring of South Sudan as a nation with functional structures, institutions and policy framework.

UN Trusteeship was proposed on January 6, 2014 in ‘African Arguments’ by Hank Cohen, a former US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs[1]. The joint administration was proposed by Princeton Lyman (et al)[2], a former US envoy to South Sudan and Sudan. Lyman is now with United States Institute for Peace.

While I’m not going to recommend any of the proposed methods, I’d like to caution readers and policy writers against any rush to dismiss the proposals without their proper appraisals. Sadly, I’m not going to appraise the two methods; however, I’m going to vaguely show how such methods would be advisable for South Sudan as far as institutionalization and development ambience are concerned.

Policy advisors, like The Sudd Institute, would be better placed if they comprehensively present both sides of any policy situation in order to afford the readers an avenue to consume chiefly contextualized policy positions. The manner in which Nhial and Awolich dismissed the two suggestions they focused on, without presenting any would-be benefits of such undertakings, is a policy angle I’d not advise.

I would advise that the authors present the pros and cons first before settling for what they believe is their preferred policy advisory; in this case, the rejection of the said governance and administrative proposals.

While the authors have agreed with the proposers on some points (especially with Lyman), they’ve not dwelled appropriately on the merits of both the Trusteeship and the Joint Administration. Proper policy advisory would present the merits of the two methods comprehensively before the presentation of the arguments as to why they’d not work in South Sudan.

Protecting a failed System vs. Building a strong and functional system

There’s no question that South Sudan has adequate manpower to build strong institutions for a prosperous way forward. And with no doubt, the best way to bring change and long-term prosperity to any given country is to make sure such parameters are internally generated. Externally generated success modalities sideline the internal creativity and frustrate long-term sustainable development.

However, the problem in South Sudan is not manpower per se and I agree with the authors. It’s the political atmosphere, institutional capacity and maturity. But one has to ask oneself. Do we have a conductive atmosphere and a strong institutional soundness that can allow educated South Sudanese to effect the required change? If not, then what are the indications that this would be effected anytime soon?

The authors know very well that South Sudanese leadership has failed miserably to establish institutional capacities that make a nation functional. What are the causes of this failure over the last eight years? Why would the authors believe the leadership that has failed over the last eight years will all of the sudden build institutional capacities that would allow development of institutional professionalism? It’s Einstein who once said that doing something over and over again in the same way and expecting a different result is madness.

The authors will have to convince us that there has developed an appreciable change in Juba for development of independent and functional institutions. Otherwise, a depressing, stagnant and failed merry-go-round is a support to the intransigent elites and a support for a failed system.

Creating ‘Enabling Conditions’ for South Sudanese

UN Trusteeship and Joint Administration (if necessary) would not discount South Sudanese contribution and their place in charting a new, development-conscious and transparency-friendly South Sudan. In a word, Educated South Sudanese would still be central to all development initiatives and leadership. Whether it was in East Timor or Namibia, the citizens of those countries were never left out. What UN officials did was to act as impartial guidance and expert voices together with their indigenous counterparts. Citizens have a say regarding the methods to be established.

Even with South Africa occupying Namibia illegally after UN deemed its mandate over with the end of the League of Nations, UN, through UNTAG[3], still found it imperative to allow South Africa to administer elections with UN supervision. Martti Ahtisaari, then the UN Special Representative for Namibia, made sure all the stake holders were involved in not only the elections process but the transitional process.

What they would do, in the case of South Sudan should that be absolutely necessary, is to create the atmosphere that would allow educated and knowledgeable South Sudanese to effectively contribute to national development. The culture of favoritism, nepotism, rampant corruption and inter-tribal animosity would be checked by a neutral guiding voice given a specified period of time. This period would still be agreed upon by South Sudanese politicians and the guiding body (UN or otherwise).

As the authors note very well that “inflated political egos, ethnic politics, and lack of peaceful political culture” are “the root of the current violence.” Keeping those in mind, what are the indications that these attitudes have changed (or will change) among the ranks of South Sudanese ruling elites? What are the indications that the current leadership will create ‘enabling conditions’ for development of across-the-board institutional strength? What has the government done so far to give South Sudanese some hope that governance, accountability and rule of law will be the face of our new South Sudan?

We have to remember that the UN Trusteeship or any Joint Administration would not be the sole brains or the manpower behind the country’s development. They would only act as impartial facilitators of development and transition. The onus would still be on the citizens to take advantage of the conducive atmosphere otherwise nothing would change. So, whether or not South Sudan changes for better if placed under such administrations rests solely with South Sudanese.

‘Wounded Egos’ vs. South Sudanese Future

I rather see my people live in peace and looking forward to a prosperous nation in which they use their potential for the betterment of the country regardless of who brings it. What I’d reject is perpetual dependency on others. However, we can’t put our egos before our national interest. We are a new nation; a nation on transition. Besides, we have a ruling political party that is trying to shed the scales of militarism. These are things that need time. However, we need help to make sure such a transition is made possible within a reasonable time.

We should not be worried that the world would see us as incapable of taking care of our affairs. We are not incapable but we have obstructive conditions that are frustrating our ability to show our national capacities. In a sense, we need appreciable humility to accept conditions that’d ensure we actually show the world that we are able. 

I understand, as Rüdiger Wolfrum argues that “Such intervention from the outside faces the dilemma that by influencing or even by taking over governmental authority, either totally or partially or to establish new governmental structures for that territory in turmoil such intervention interferes with the right of self-determination of the respective population to decide on its political and economic future.” “However,” Wolfrum adds, “without assisting activities from the outside the population would not be able to exercise its right of self-determination due to the lack of representative institutions.”[4]

What’s best for our nation should take primacy over our would-be wounded egos. Part of being a decently educated population is the ability to see when something isn’t working and being able to humbly look for an enduring solution.

We need help, serious help, and it’s up to us to wisely know how to fish out the best solution for our people with the help of people who are willing to help us.

UN Trusteeship and Joint Administration would be a possible alternative because

  • The current South Sudanese administration has not created and is not capable (or unwilling) of creating a conducive atmosphere for South Sudanese with skills to contribute toward national development.
  • There’s no any impartial development champion or practical promoter of development. Development initiatives are outlined but not followed through.[5]
  • Financial issues: South Sudanese go for months without being paid and no one is held accountable. Embezzlement of public funds is acknowledged but not punished.
  • Media Institutions are tightly controlled and intimidated. Without any free press, the people lose their voice.
  • The national constitution is not adhered to by its very custodians; only cited if the leadership feels it helps them. The culture of belligerent militarism is the attitude leading the country instead of the national constitution.
  • The current administration is encouraging the development of the country as a nation of a single opinion dictated by the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). Different opinions and perspectives are either vilified or seen as views of enemies of the state. The merits of different opinions are not even considered.
  • Protection of civilians is not a government priority and this creates a culture of mistrust and tribal feuds. The strength of the nation is perceived as the government rather than the people.
  • The leadership doesn’t feel it’s accountable to South Sudanese. Decisions are made without being explained and those who suffer are the average South Sudanese. The government works for itself rather than for South Sudanese.
  • Leaders see themselves as unquestionable demi-gods. This is not good for good governance, development, and the average South Sudanese. Good leaders are supposed to be questioned.
  • Praising the president is one of the ways of landing a high-paying job. Criticizing the president jeopardizes one’s job. This atmosphere prevents truth from being told and people, who have different opinions but can benefit the country, are shut out of leadership positions.

Word of Advice

I’m not going to recommend any of the two methods because South Sudanese need to be given a second chance to prove themselves; however, I’d want us to be conscious of our shortcomings. The culture of dismissiveness is what’s killing our people.

I’d like to advise Nhial and Abraham, as people working for one of South Sudan’s respected scholarly institutions, to be wary of the dismissive attitude among South Sudanese intelligentsia and ruling elites. We are a proud populace, however, we should be very careful regarding the detriment excess pride can engender. Nations don’t fail because there are no educated people in the country. Nations fail because of the nature of the political culture in the country. Without any enabling conditions, no amount of education and creativity can help.

I would also advise the authors to avoid the developing culture in South Sudan in which ideas are dismissed without prescribing a viable alternative. If they dismiss the two methods and believe that South Sudanese can actually bring about these enabling conditions, then they also need to present an alternative administrative and political framework and how it would bring about this enabling conditions. As policy advisors, the authors should not only talk about the what? but the how?

The how should be presented step-by-step with clear time-frame, the governance mechanics, the mechanics for the avoidance of past mistakes and the central, unifying political figures to make the methods both plausible and efficacious.

Institutions become functionally strong and respectable if they are led by people who not only know how to identify problems, but also how to solve them with vivid appreciable transparency and competency. This, South Sudan lacks! Consequently, I see the two proposed administrative methods as not ‘outlandish, but as necessary insults.

Kuir ë Garang is a South Sudan poet, author, independent publisher and political analysts living in Canada. He’s the author of “South Sudan Ideologically” and “Is ‘Black’ Really Beautiful?”

NB: PDF copy of the article is available here: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4Rt3RZe4rijczhOMnZUWVJ1bms/edit?usp=sharing&pli=1


[1] Cohen, Hank, South Sudan should be placed under UN trusteeship to aid development of viable self-government.< African Arguments, January 6, 3014, http://africanarguments.org/2014/01/06/south-sudan-should-be-placed-under-un-trusteeship-to-aid-development-of-viable-self-government-by-hank-cohen/>

[2] Lyman, Princeton N. et al, Crisis and Opportunity in South Sudan, January 8, 2014, <http://www.usip.org/publications/crisis-and-opportunity-in-south-sudan>

[3]United Nations Transition Assistance Group

[4] WolfrumRüdigerInternational Administration in Post-Conflict Situations by the United Nations and Other International Actors, Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law, Volume 9, 2005, p. 649-696.

[5] A good example is the President Kiir’s 100-day promise during South Sudan independence. The president didn’t come back after 100 days to account for his promise.

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