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Democratization and Sudan: An Obama policy of disingenuousness

By Eric Reeves

March 17, 2015 (SSNA) -- Recent comments in Khartoum by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Steven Feldstein warrant serious scrutiny in light of the elections in Sudan scheduled for a month from now. Most significantly, “[Feldstein] reiterated U.S. support for an inclusive and comprehensive National Dialogue to resolve Sudan’s conflicts” (State Department media note, 28 February 2015). This preposterous optimism about the nature and prospects of true national political dialogue in Sudan under the current regime is of a piece with Obama administration policies and statements over the past six years, and signals in advance of the elections that the “victory” that will be represented by President Omar al-Bashir’s “re-election” will be accepted, thereby providing the “legitimacy” that members of the regime see as the real goal of this electoral charade—boycotted by a growing number of important political constituencies and simply unable to be conducted in many parts of the country wracked by violence.

It would be a long chronicle indeed that managed to record even briefly the various moments of disingenuousness and outright mendacity on the part of the Obama administration in speaking about Sudan and articulating what passes for a “Sudan policy.” Whether it is the refusal to acknowledge realities in Darfur and the need for meaningful civilian protection; the duplicitous means by which Abyei was abandoned (notably, President al-Bashir recently declared officially that Abyei is part of Sudan); the expedient failure to acknowledge the implications of Khartoum’s military actions in South Kordofan in summer 2011; or the absurd claim by former special envoy Princeton Lyman that the current National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime (NCP) is capable of overseeing democratization in Sudan—at countless points the Obama administration has failed to take issues in Sudan seriously or speak of them honestly. The secession of South Sudan marked the end of engagement with the real issues in Sudan; and the continuing lust for counter-terrorism intelligence has ensured that Sudan policy has moved further out of the State Department and into the multifarious U.S. intelligence community.

Examples abound

Obama’s first special envoy, Air Force Major General Scott Gration, declared soon after taking the position that only “remnants of genocide” remained in Darfur. A literally incoherent statement as it stood at the time, Gration’s evident claim has been thoroughly belied by the continuing ethnically-targeted human destruction, suffering, and engineered deprivation that never ceased and have dramatically accelerated for the past three years, reaching a current crescendo that has put more than half the population of Darfur at risk—more than three and a half million people. What the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs calls the “GAM load” for Sudan as a whole is 2 million, i.e., 2 million people are at risk because of “Global Acute Malnutrition” (GAM).

It must also be noted that almost 3 million people are either internally displaced within Darfur or refugees in eastern Chad, the latter figure approaching 400,000. Approximately 2 million Darfuris have been newly displaced since special envoy Scott Gration made his now infamous remark about only there being “remnants of genocide” in Darfur (many hundreds of thousands more Sudanese civilians have been displaced in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States since 2011). The disastrously conceived UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is collapsing and significant elements have been already been withdrawn by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations—not always publicly. The Mission’s UN Security Council authorization, which expires this June, will not be renewed—certainly not in any meaningful form in the face of veto threats from Russia and China; for its part, Khartoum has in recent months adamantly insisted that UNAMID be withdrawn. Humanitarian organizations that have withstood all that the Khartoum regime has inflicted upon them are at the end of their tether. Certainly the end of UNAMID, and thus any international protection force, will compel withdrawal by those that have not already suspended operations or been expelled by the regime.

The targets of militia attacks by Khartoum’s redeployment of Janjaweed elements as the Rapid Response Forces (RSF) continue to remain overwhelmingly populations from the non-Arab/African tribal groups in Darfur, as do attacks on civilians—including rape—by the regular Sudan Armed Forces (SAF).

Following the March 2009 expulsion of thirteen international humanitarian relief organizations and the closing of three important Sudanese national relief organizations, total humanitarian capacity in Darfur was reduced by approximately 50 percent, according to one extremely well-placed UN official (confidential e-mail received March 20, 2009). Moreover, institutional memory, administrative organization, and camp leadership provided by these organizations were devastated. It was impossible to replace the capacity that existed prior to March 2009, and in fact the international relief presence has actually been further reduced by subsequent expulsions, denial of access in many areas of Darfur, and Khartoum’s relentless war of attrition against humanitarian organizations.

The Obama administration response at the time of the expulsions was a mixture of helplessness, expediency, and disingenuousness—what has become a familiar pattern. President Obama declared a week after the expulsions that such actions were “not acceptable” (March 10, 2009). But he and representatives of his administration subsequently took to a vague language of accommodation:

“We have to figure out a mechanism to get those [expelled international humanitarian organizations] back in place [in Darfur], to reverse that decision, or to find some mechanism whereby we avert an enormous humanitarian crisis, [Obama said].” (Reuters [Washington, DC] 30 March 2009)

Such a “mechanism” was of course nowhere in sight, weeks after Obama’s initial declaration—and it was left to special envoy Gration to declare a month into the crisis, “We have to come up with a solution [to the humanitarian crisis] on the ground in the next few weeks” (Agence France-Presse [Khartoum], 4 April 2009). But in the absence of a “solution” or a “mechanism,” (then) Senator John Kerry, chair of the Senate foreign relations committee and an Obama administration surrogate on Sudan, offered an obscenely disingenuous claim of triumph: “‘We have agreement [with Khartoum] that in the next weeks we will be back to 100 percent [humanitarian] capacity,’ said [Senator John] Kerry” (Reuters [el-Fasher], 17 April 2009). Kerry knew full well that Khartoum’s promise was utterly worthless, but by citing it he tuned down international pressure on the regime to respond to actions that dramatically increased the risk faced by millions of Darfuris. Tremendous human suffering and destruction followed from this disingenuousness, and the diffusing of pressure on Khartoum over humanitarian presence and access.

Gration’s successor as special envoy, Princeton Lyman, refused for months in summer 2011 to characterize the atrocity crimes in South Kordofan and the Nuba Mountains in remotely appropriate fashion. He denied the existence of mass graves in and around Kadugli following the large-scale and systematic targeting of Nuba civilians in June 2011, despite compelling satellite photographic evidence and reports from the ground by UN human rights officials. In a June 28, 2011 interview with the NewsHour (PBS) he scoffed at claims that what was occurring in the Nuba Mountains amounted to a reprise of the genocide of the 1990s:

“Nuba Mountain people are fighting back and I don’t think the North is capable of dislodging large numbers of people on an ethnic basis.... That’s the reality on the ground. Second, I’m not sure that’s the objective of the government....”

The current reality on the ground is that many hundreds of thousands of Nuba have been displaced over the past three and a half years—and more than 220,000 have fled from the Nuba and Blue Nile to South Sudan. Hundreds of thousands of other civilians live at acute risk of military assault from the air and on the ground. The agricultural economy of the region has been devastated. And as to Lyman’s declaring, “I’m not sure that’s the objective of the government [ethnic cleansing and destruction of the Nuba people],” President al-Bashir provided a forceful rebuke of such expedient skepticism just days later:

“[President and Field Marshal Omar al-Bashir] directed the armed forces to continue their military operations in South Kordofan until a cleansing of the region is over,” SUNA [Sudan News Agency] quoted Bashir as telling worshippers during Friday prayers.” (Reuters [Khartoum] 1 July 2011)

Lyman had downplayed the significance of Khartoum’s preparation for the military annexation of Abyei (May 20 – 22, 2011)—and following the event did little to suggest the U.S. was particularly concerned. This had an immediate impact on Khartoum’s thinking and was instrumental in unleashing the military campaign that began in South Kordofan two weeks later (5 June 2011).

One might have thought that Lyman learned something of the character of the regime during his tenure as special envoy; instead, he declared in a 3 December 2011 interview with the distinguished English-language Arab news outlet Asharq Al-Awsat:

[Asharq Al-Awsat] “The US administration has welcomed the Arab Spring which has overthrown a number of dictatorships in the Middle East and led to free and fair elections being held. Are you calling for the Arab Spring to encompass Sudan, as well?”

[Lyman] “This is not part of our agenda in Sudan. Frankly, we 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.”

The sheer preposterousness of such a notion—that the Khartoum regime could “carry out reform via constitutional democratic measures”—is what provides the context for Feldstein’s visit to Khartoum and his comments on departing: “[Feldstein] reiterated U.S. support for an inclusive and comprehensive National Dialogue to resolve Sudan’s conflicts.” For Feldstein’s “National Dialogue” read Lyman’s “the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures.”

Khartoum’s “National Dialogue”: A deadly political farce

Feldstein’s “reiteration” is not merely preposterous but sends to Khartoum a clear signal: the U.S. will welcome any effort, however specious, to present the April 2015 presidential election as somehow an advance in the democratic process. This is what lay behind the regime’s announcing a wholly factitious “National Dialogue,” which senior regime officials have themselves repeatedly described as a political ploy, designed to give credibility to the foregone conclusion of President Omar al-Bashir’s “victory” in the election. I offer in Appendix A many examples of such comments, which come from the now fully authenticated leaked minutes of the meeting on August 31, 2014 of the regime’s most senior security and military officials, as well as the minutes for a similar meeting on July 1, 2014, also substantially authenticated by native Arabic-speaking/writing Sudanese familiar with the practices of the regime. There have been other significant leaks as well, making clear that there is a serious internal breach in the regime’s security and giving added credibility to the authenticity of these particular sets of minutes.

And yet as widely as the proposed “National Dialogue” has been rejected by the most important political constituencies in Sudan, and despite the many actors who have vowed not to participate in what is transparently a rigged electoral process, the U.S.—with far too much international company—is content to pretend that the regime’s efforts are genuine, and that the “National Dialogue” is meant to include, in meaningful fashion, other political voices.

[I attach below (Appendix B) the lengthy comments of 31 August 2015 by senior regime political official Ibrahim Ghandour on the preparations the NCP had already made in fixing the April 2015—and this was half a year ago.]

The disingenuous suggestion by Feldstein that Khartoum’s version of a “National Dialogue” has any real meaning works precisely to disenfranchise those within Sudan who truly want such dialogue. (Feldstein is evidently the most senior official Khartoum would allow, following the set-up visit by Ghandour to Washington last month; current U.S. special envoy for Sudan Donald Booth cannot obtain a visa to Khartoum.) As well as expressing support for the regime’s “National Dialogue,” Feldstein invoked in obligatory and entirely meaningless fashion the idea of “human rights” in Sudan:

"Deputy Assistant Secretary Feldstein said the United States will continue to emphasize key democracy and human rights priorities in Sudan."

And yet there is absolutely nothing suggesting that past Obama administration “emphasis” on “human rights” or “democracy” has borne any fruit; but of course using the words provides at least a fig-leaf of cover for an administration that is looking for a cost-free way to manage the Sudan relationship.

Words without consequence

The substitution of words for meaningful changes in policies toward Khartoum has been evident since the beginning of the Obama administration. Indeed, this was the only task for which special envoy Gration was qualified. But the substitution continues. When U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, in an unusually forcefully worded statement (12 June 2014), “condemned in the strongest possible terms” the deliberate and intensifying bombing of schools, hospitals, and “ordinary people” (Agence France-Presse [UN/New York], 13 June 2014), Khartoum had a ready response: four days after Power’s tough talk, the regime bombed the Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in South Kordofan:

During an aerial attack on a Sudanese village, Sudan’s air force bombed and partially destroyed a hospital run by the international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in the war-torn South Kordofan region on Monday, depriving civilians of critical medical care, the organization said today. As bombs struck the village of Farandalla [more commonly spelled Frandala] on 16 June, two hit the MSF hospital. (MSF Press Release, 17 June 2014)

There was no U.S. response of consequence to this outrageous war crime, one that makes a mockery of Deputy Assistant Secretary Feldstein’s sanctimonious words in Khartoum about “human rights.” Indeed, in the final State Department read-out from the visit, Feldstein disingenuously spoke of the Obama administration’s

"concern about targeted attacks against civilians in Darfur and the Two Areas [South Kordofan and Blue Nile], including aerial bombardments of civilian targets, and attacks on aid workers. He called upon the Government of Sudan to fully investigate and hold perpetrators of these acts accountable.”

Absurdity reaches new heights with such expression of “concern”: Feldstein and everyone else knows that there is only one air force in Sudan, and that orders for the attacks come from the most senior members of the regime’s Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). Are we really to believe that the “Government of Sudan” will “fully investigate and hold perpetrators of these acts accountable”? That the regime’s senior military officials will “investigate” their own actions and “hold themselves accountable”? The pretense that any of the aerial attacks on civilians and humanitarians throughout Sudan are not at the behest of the “Government of Sudan” is simply despicable.

Such pretense and the lack of any meaningful response to the attack on MSF in Frandala—on the part of the U.S. and other international actors—is the primary reason Khartoum felt free to bomb the hospital again, this time with a Russian-made Sukhoi-24 advanced air-to-ground military jet aircraft.

This attack occurred less than two months ago—and only a little more than a month prior to Feldstein’s talk of “human rights” and “democracy” in Sudan. MSF reported (22 January 2015):

A hospital operated by the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was directly targeted in an aerial bombing in Sudan on January 20, forcing the suspension of medical activities, MSF announced today [22 January 2015]. The hospital, located in the Nuba Mountains village of Frandala in the South Kordofan region of Sudan, was bombed by the Sudanese Air Force (SAF). Repeated and targeted bombings in the region prevent the safe operation of medical activities, depriving the local population of lifesaving care...

“With more than 100 patients present, we were very lucky not to have more casualties because people simply had no time to seek protection. Everyone is shocked and frightened of further attacks.”

We should not be surprised by such attacks: for more than twenty years they have been a regular feature of the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime’s conduct of war. Moreover, we have the benefit of the behind-closed-doors views expressed by Defense Minister (and former Interior Minister) Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein, indicted by the International Criminal Court for massive “crimes against humanity” in Darfur. Minutes from the 1 July 2014 meeting of senior regime officials, including not only Hussein but President al-Bashir, are startlingly frank—about both “human rights” and “democracy”:

[Hussein]: “We won’t stop the war on Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Our National Dialogue initiative is just a maneuver to provide us with political cover for a continuation of the war against the rebellion.

We have instructed the Air Force to bomb any place, whether it is a school, hospital, or a nongovernmental humanitarian organization operating in rebel-controlled areas without permission from the government. Such presence is offensive and should be destroyed.”

Such views—of which the Obama administration is well aware—call into question the appropriateness of lifting any economic sanctions against this regime, which remains committed to war, committed to a wide range of atrocity crimes, and committed to using the notion of a “National Dialogue” not to promote democracy but to subvert it. And yet this is precisely what occurred on 17 February 2015. Sudan Tribune reported (17 February 2015) that the U.S. Treasury Department had lifted sanctions on “exports of personal communications hardware and software including smart phones and laptops.”

In justifying this action, current Sudan special envoy Donald Booth declared that, “These changes are consistent with our commitment to promote freedom of expression through access to communications tools." This is of course nonsense and Khartoum would never allow the import of anything that might “promote freedom of expression.” Importing up-to-date American computers on the other hand is certainly on the regime’s wish list, and with its total control of Internet access in Sudan, the regime hardly fears that it will be loosing the forces of free speech. During the popular uprising in September 2013, Internet access was shut down entirely at the height of the crisis, and the same will be true for any using “smart phones” in the event of a similar uprising.

Bizarrely, noting the seizure of fourteen Sudanese newspaper editions earlier in the week, Booth claimed that such repressive actions “offer a prime example of the need to enable people to have access to communication tools.” On the contrary, Khartoum will be no more tolerant of telecommunications and social media than it is of newspapers—and it has learned a great deal from the experience of its “Arab Spring” neighbors. As the minutes from the August 31, 2014 meeting of senior officials make abundantly clear, Khartoum’s intercept capabilities have grown prodigiously in recent years, giving them access even to highly secured foreign intelligence data. Controlling domestic Internet and mobile phone use will not be a problem, as many in Khartoum can attest—and as can I, having recently seen my computer in the U.S. hacked and my Sudan websites compromised for any who were on my frequently visited Facebook page (now de-activated) devoted to Sudan issues.

“Democracy” in Sudan: Expedient self-delusion

It is far past time that we ask some hard questions of the Obama administration, which has gotten a “pass” from most news media on its Sudan policy. What possible meaning can “human rights” or “democracy” have in the context of the regime’s severe political repression, its increasing crackdown on the news media, its total monopoly on broadcast programs, its exceedingly well-funded propaganda machine for both domestic and international consumption—and a willingness to deny legitimacy to all who would indeed wish to participate in a true national dialogue but are consistently rebuffed? Major coalitions have developed over the past several years: the Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF), uniting the rebel forces of Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile; the large National Consensus Forces, which while not supporting armed insurrection has made common cause with the SRF in its ambition to bring about regime change; and most recently the signatories to the Berlin Declaration, an even more expansive group of political actors. The response to this Declaration by the regime was entirely predictable and delivered by President al-Bashir. Sudan Tribune reports (14 March 2015):

The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir has described the Berlin Declaration signed by the political and armed opposition groups as a “failure” considering it “as if it had not taken place.” During the last week of February, the "Sudan Call" forces, including the National Consensus Forces (NCF), the rebel umbrella Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF), National Umma Party (NUP) and civil society groups announced readiness to participate in a meeting with the Sudanese government to discuss requirements and procedures of the national dialogue.

This came just two weeks after Feldstein’s reiteration of “U.S. support for an inclusive and comprehensive National Dialogue to resolve Sudan’s conflicts.”

Do Feldstein and the Obama administration think that merely uttering the words “democracy” and “human rights” makes the slightest difference to the regime’s ruthless survivalists? Do they think that should there be renewed popular demonstrations of the sort we saw in September 2013 the regime would hesitate to issue renewed “shoot to kill” orders to security forces? Such orders, authoritatively confirmed by Amnesty International, resulted in the deaths of more than 400 people in Khartoum, Omdurman, and other cities throughout Sudan.

But the recent peremptory rejection by President al-Bashir of the Berlin Declaration, coming just two weeks after Feldstein’s trip to promote “democracy” in Sudan, forces a question that the Obama administration has so far refused to answer directly: is the U.S. willing to accept a “National Dialogue” defined by the machinations and duplicity of the regime? Or does it support a truly national dialogue, between multiple important political constituencies? I queried the State Department official designated in the 28 February 2015 State Department press release in Khartoum, but was offered only a belated response, noting that my queries had been forwarded to Deputy Assistant Secretary Feldstein and Special Envoy Booth. Given the history of my past queries of the State Department, I am not optimistic about a meaningful response.

But we will have an answer in less than a month: the grotesque spectacle of an “election” that guarantees five more years of power to the NCP, and in the words of several senior regime officials, “five more years of legitimacy,” will make a mockery of the phrase “National Dialogue.” It will be clear that Defense Minister Hussein’s view prevails within the regime: “Our National Dialogue initiative is just a maneuver to provide us with political cover for a continuation of the war....”

Will the Obama administration accept these realities and all they imply for millions of Sudanese? Will it accept, if with a dutiful grudgingness, the “re-election” of Omar al-Bashir as génocidaire-in-chief? Let us assume that the answer hinges on whether the Sudan file is now at the State Department or within the intelligence community; the election will clarify this question as well.

Appendix A: Examples of statements about the uses of the “National Dialogue” by senior officials of the Khartoum regime (from both the 1 July 2014 minutes and the 31 August 2014 minutes):

1 July 2014:

  • Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein:

“Our National Dialogue initiative is just a maneuver to provide us with political cover for a continuation of the war....”

  • General Engineer Imadal-Din Adawy, Chief of Joint Operations:

The National Dialogue will serve to provide us with political cover. We will continue with this effort because it will serve us in our war against the rebellion in the coming dry season.

  • President Omar al-Bashir:

[The National Dialogue] is also intended to provide political cover for the present Constitution and the Decisive Summer Campaign [against the SPLA-North].

We don’t negotiate outside the country, and if such negotiations occur, we have used them as a means to take us to the elections in April 2015.

We will not accept a halting of the war; the solution is military victory. That will be obtained in the Decisive Summer Campaign. You are now instructed to crush the armed movements in all three fronts (Nuba Mountains, Darfur, and Blue Nile).The war against the rebellion must continue.

I am glad from what I have heard that we agree on the following: —

[1] Preparation for the Decisive Summer Campaign is to continue.

[2] Elections to be held on time April 2015.


[8] There will be no holding of any constitutional conference or formation of a transitional government.

31 August 2014:

  • General Hashim Osman Al-Hussein, Director General of Police:

Let us go ahead and prepare a force to protect the elections. Secondly, if negotiations are necessary let them take place after the elections. Also, the internal national dialogue can continue after we hold the elections. We will continue recruiting and splitting the field commanders, and winning them to our side since we have all the information about the rebels.

  • General Mohammed Atta, Director General of National Intelligence and Security Services:

We said the National Dialogue must be held inside the country, elections must take place on schedule, the decisive summer campaign must continue. We should step-up the recruitment to increase the RSF.


  • Ibrahim Ghandur, Deputy Chairman of the NCP

We want a slow dialogue in order to allow for maneuvering. If we see that we are benefiting from it we can accelerate it, but if it is not in our favor, it can go slowly and the elections can take place in time. Our aim is to go to the election enjoying legitimacy accorded by the National Dialogue process. [See fuller comments in Appendix B]

  • General Bakri Hassan Salih, First Vice President:

The negotiations, the National Dialogue, the Paris Declaration and all their statements are needed to take us to the elections.

Try to manage this crisis until we see the result of the National Dialogue, the elections, and wipe out the rebellion to end the war. We don’t want any foreign solutions again. Any agreement should be achieved inside Sudan.


Appendix B: Ibrahim Ghandour, Deputy Chairman of the NCP, discussing electoral machinations and payoffs, from the minutes of the August 2014 meeting of senior military and security officials in Khartoum:

“First our preparations for the elections are going according to plan. Our party conferences are being held all over the country and the convention will take place on time, except that, we are going to delay naming our candidate for the presidency until the last moments so as to take the political arena by surprise. We want our security agencies to inform us ahead of time about the opinion of all political parties, loyal or detractors concerning the elections so we influence things at an early stage.

“We have already arranged with the Public Congress Party (PCP), and we are paying them individual and party compensations for their loss, in addition to funds to be used to induce opposing PCP members. The total amount is three (3) billion to be paid in three installments. The first amount is to be paid at the beginning of the National Dialogue. The second amount is to be handed at the nomination for the elections. The third, and last, is to be paid during the election campaign. We made this agreement that way in order to guarantee the participation of all the PCP in the election process.

“We agreed to it because Turabi’s support for us has another dimension. It guarantees the consent and support of all the Islamic movements who are members of the International Islamic Movement, and in case there is any security threat, he can join us in the jihad against our common enemy. We will be able to bring all the Islamists together by that agreement on the basis of a program that holds mutual benefit to all. It is not necessary to come under one organization, the most important thing is the common objective against the secular forces or currents and the conspiracies targeting the Islamists all over the Arab land.

“Regarding Al-Marghani group, (DUP) half of the party is with us, but we still need to concentrate on Hasan Hilal, Ahmed Saad and Omer Al-Shariif (currently ministers). We stand behind them, give them information on how they are targeted within their party. Also half of Ghazi Salah al-Din’s party is ours.

“We want our security agencies to maintain and keep the opposition elements so there will be a criticizing voice among us. This will help us convince the international community that ours is a mature and genuine democracy. Our relation with the EU is good and all the attempts of the SRF to enjoy recognition by the EU has failed. They only meet parliaments and not the governments who hold the decisions. We want a slow dialogue in order to allow for maneuvering. If we see that we are benefiting from it we can accelerate it, but if it is not in our favor, it can go slowly and the elections can take place in time. Our aim is to go to the election enjoying legitimacy accorded by the National Dialogue process...”

“That same night I went with Mustafa to see Al- Ziber Ahmed the S/G of the Islamic Movement and found Dr. Kamal Obeid and Dr. El- Fateh Ezz el-Din. As soon as he saw us he asked us if we were coming regarding “Sadiq and the Rebels’ declaration” and he said that after consultations they rejected it part and parcel. They considered it a conspiracy directed against us. He told us that you must criminalize anyone who attended or participated in this [Paris] Declaration, the media must be directed to campaign against it and intimidate people from joining this declaration. This declaration was supervised by foreign circles that are endeavoring to destroy Islam and the Muslims and it is tainted by the SPLM vision.

“So we asked Mbeki and Mohammed [Ibn Chambas, former UNAMID chief—ER] to bring together the rebels for consultation about the National Dialogue and both are in agreement with us.

Eric Reeves is the Author of Compromising With Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007-2012

Conversations with Daniel Wuor Joak about “the rise and fall of SPLM/SPLA leadership” (Part 1)

By Margaret Akulia, Canada

March 18, 2015 (SSNA) -- “Ah Nimeiry, we want division. Ah Nimeiry, we want division. Ah Nimeiry, we want division” chanted a group of Southern Sudanese in the early 1980s in Creole Arabic, also known as Juba Arabic. They wanted Kokora which translates from the Bari languages of Bari, Pojulu, Kakwa, Nyangbara, Mundari, Kuku, Nyepu, Ligo, etcetera into division. The rumbustious crowd wanted to make certain that Gaafar Nimeiry ( ) the incumbent president of Sudan at the time understood that Kokora was the only system acceptable to a people who continued to feel marginalized and exceedingly betrayed by Nimeiry’s flagrant violation of the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement of 1972 ( ) that ended the First Sudanese Civil War ( ).

The crowd did not mince its words to Nimeiry at the time as it bellowed “Kokora, Kokora, Kokora” in unanimity while the introduction of Sharia (Islamic Law) for the whole of Sudan including the predominantly Christian Southern Sudan loomed in the horizon! At the time the crowd was shouting “Kokora, Kokora, Kokora”, Nimeiry had embraced the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and allied himself with the transnational Islamist organization ( He had elected to impose Islamic law on all the people of Sudan including Christian and Animist Southerners, in premeditated violation of the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement of 1972!

As a young adult at the time, Daniel Wuor Joak remembers events related to the vocalization of Kokora very well. He also recalls many occurrences during the protracted war that followed the raucous rallying cry of the catchword Kokora because that war was waged immediately by the SPLM/SPLA he joined after a brief stint with the Anya Nya movement ( that continued to fight the government of Sudan from 1975 under the auspices of Anya Nya II, despite the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement of 1972.

Born in oil rich Upper Nile State, the location of some of the most alarming crimes against humanity that are detailed in the chilling report by a group of Eminent Africans led by His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria (, Wuor traces the history of all the wars waged to liberate Southern Sudanese and discloses events related to the Second Sudanese Civil War ( that purportedly ushered in the independence of South Sudan in a well-timed exposé titled “The rise and fall of SPLM/SPLA Leadership”. He provides unsettling accounts of schisms that will stun readers because they mimic the December 2013 breakup of the SPLM/SPLA into SPLM/SPLA in government and SPLM/SPLA in opposition which begs the question why did EVERYONE have their heads in the sand like the Proverbial Ostrich? Why did it have to take the mass murder of innocent Nuer children, women and men for heads to be joggled from under the proverbial sand when addressing the root causes of the massacre would have prevented such a reprehensible mayhem?

To say that the much-touted SPLM/SPLA is not what it is made out to be and the Nuer genocide of December 2013 was in the offing way before it occurred is an understatement. Hope, despondency, disapproval, betrayal, loss of face and etcetera are some of the diametrically opposed emotions the SPLM/SPLA now conjures up in a long list of individuals and interest groups ( that include ones that reawaken another Kokora popularly dubbed “The Scramble for Africa” ( 

Needless to say, that notorious Kokora which split tribes inanely and forced groups of people who loathe each other to live together, has come full circle as it now plays itself out in the most dreadful way in South Sudan. The only contemporary difference is the South Sudan Diaspora that grows in Western countries including the Troika! If it is properly utilized, this Diaspora can bring to the South Sudan Peace Table extraordinary skills, knowledge and standpoints that will moot any Dysfunctional solutions insinuated in declarations such as “African solutions for African problems.” It is a group that is highly skilled in navigating African and Western systems in tandem and facing off against individuals and groups that compromise the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ( in the name of “African Solutions!” Simply put, navigating the dangerous waters the SPLM/SPLA schism has created for South Sudan could benefit incalculably from the South Sudan Diaspora and it requires strategies that take nothing for granted! 

By now, EVERYONE with the exception of the staunch supporters that are still exhibiting the emotive responses explicated by Elhag Paul in his article titled ‘Who will help South Sudan find peace’ ( recognizes that the SPLM/SPLA has betrayed the people of South Sudan the same way Nimeiry did when he knowingly reneged on the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement of 1972. Elhag Paul has written extensively about the malfunction of the much ballyhooed SPLM/SPLA ( and hewed away at its commissions and omissions as one would a gigantic African Baobab tree. He deserves a trophy for determination, persistence and a thick skin but it will take horrifying exposés like Daniel Wuor Joak’s “The rise and fall of SPLM/SPLA Leadership” to force ALL the heads out of the proverbial sand. It will take disturbing accounts like the ones provided by Wuor in “The rise and fall of SPLM/SPLA Leadership” to agitate a very extensive but compulsory self reflection! The exposé conveys some of the root causes of the South Sudan carnage transparently. That is why Wuor deserves praise for opening up issues that must be dealt with truthfully before the people of South Sudan can begin to heal, reconcile and create a country devoid of the lawlessness that has characterized “The First Republic of South Sudan!”

“Upon a request from Colonel Garang, the Ethiopian security organs attempted to arrest Akuot Atem, Samuel Gai Tut, William Chuol Deng, Moses Malek Chol, Gabriel Gany Juoch, Bol Kiir Diew, Gatjiek Wei and many others at Itang Refugee Camp” Wuor divulges information about an astronomic schism and troubled relationship between some of the original cast of South Sudan's “liberators” before continuing.

“In order to avoid the arrest, in early August 1983, Akuot and Gai Tut with their supporters escaped and went back to Sudan. They did not want to confront either the Ethiopian security personnel or Colonel Garang's supporters. When the Ethiopian security failed to arrest Akuot and Gai Tut, Colonel Garang asked them again to attack the Anya-Nya II Headquarters at Bilpam.”

“In the middle of October 1983, Ethiopian troops and Colonel Garang’s supporters led by Lieutenant Colonel William Nyuon Bany mounted a joint attack against Anya-Nya II. Several Anya-Nya II soldiers were killed in action at Bilpam - about 40 kilometers from Itang Refugee Camp. Commander Duac Taytay, a senior commander of Anya-Nya II, was gunned down and captured alive by Colonel Garang’s supporters. He was later executed by firing squad” read a little known chilling detail that sheds light on the SPLM/SPLA modus operandus that has plunged South Sudan into an unprecedented bloodbath!

“This is how the differences among the Southern Sudanese emerged. The Anya-Nya II lost Bilpam to Colonel Garang's loyalists and decided to go back to Sudan where they joined Akuot and Gai Tut's group. After the Anya-Nya II left Ethiopia, Colonel Garang and his group began accusing one of their supporters, 2nd Lieutenant Joseph Kiir Tang of collaborating with Anya-Nya II. His only crime was that when he left Bor for Ethiopia together with other mutinied soldiers, he was the one in charge of administration. On arriving in Ethiopia the mutinied soldiers from Bor, Pibor and Pochalla had handed over all their military hardware to Anya-Nya II Headquarters at Bilpam because they were not allowed to take them into the refugee camp at Itang. Soon afterwards, as mentioned earlier, Colonel Garang’s supporters mounted an attack on Bilpam, the Anya-Nya II headquarters but failed to obtain the military hardware stored there” read another shocking chronicle from the exposé “The rise and fall of SPLM/SPLA Leadership.”

The extracts shared in this article are only the tip of the iceberg from Wuor's exposé. However, the following sections sent quivers down my spine because you can juxtapose them in the bloodbath that has brought South Sudan to the threshold of total collapse. They are especially more troubling because the SPLM/SPLA purportedly reconciled with Anya Nya II without acknowledging the executions of “previous enemies” and addressing the root causes of the bloody schisms!

“Finally, they executed Joseph Kiir Tang by firing squad, despite the fact that he was not acting in isolation. He was carrying out his duty in consultation with his superior officers including Kerubino Kuanyin, William Nyuon and Colonel John Garang himself”.

“From its inception, ideologically speaking, the SPLM adopted basically a Soviet-style model of dictatorial leadership similar in structure to that of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam. Colonel Garang and his associates were running the movement in an authoritarian way, which victimized and suppressed anyone suspected as an opponent within the movement” reads a section that replicates what Machar’s SPLM/SPLA in opposition has been vocalizing since the split in December 2013 of the SPLM/SPLA into SPLM/SPLA in government and SPLM/SPLA in opposition.  

“Meanwhile, the suspicion between the Nuer and Dinka was mounting in the refugee camps of Itang, Pinyodu and Dimma where the Nuer civilians were always prime targets of gross human rights abuses. Rape and sexual harassment, torturing and cold blood killing were common. In Bonga Training Centre, many new recruits were murdered in cold blood and the officers in charge of the camp did nothing about these murders other than ask the fresh recruits to bury them without identifying the victims”.

“SPLA soldiers in the refugee camps seized thousands of young boys aged ten to fifteen from the Nuer tribe without the approval of their parents. Others were captured in the Gajaak area and from other parts of Nuerland during the fighting and were handed over to the Ethiopian government on the pretext that they were Ethiopian citizens. Over five thousand of them were forcibly conscripted into the Ethiopia National Army and sent to Northern Ethiopia to fight against the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) and the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Forces (EPRDF). Most of these boys were either killed in action or died of war related diseases”.

“Following the fall of Mengistu’s regime, about 177 of them managed their way to Addis Ababa and were immediately handed over to the UNHCR office in Addis Ababa in order to transport them to Gambella enroute to their areas of origin in Southern Sudan. The UNHCR had to refuse them on the grounds that they were Ethiopian soldiers because most of them wore ragged military clothes. The majority of them were bare-footed and they could only speak the Nuer language- their mother tongue. One of the survivors was Kor Tut Lam whom I left in Nyangore village in 1984 when he was only 7 years old.”

“While the SPLA was scoring victories in the battlefield, its leader Colonel John Garang and his henchmen started hunting for suspected opponents within the movement. Several high-ranking officers or prominent politicians, who had joined the movement voluntarily in order to liberate their oppressed people, were unjustly detained for over 5 years without trial. All those detainees were kept in isolated incommunicado camps in the Boma Hills, Eastern and Western Equatoria regions. These detention centres were not accessible to SPLA soldiers or to common people. Some of the detainees died in prison due to starvation and torture. Their guards, on orders from their superior officers, used to murder them”.

“Over 40,000 SPLA strong combatants were just roaming Southern Sudan bushes for about 2 years doing nothing. The reason for their redundancy was that their leader Colonel John Garang did not want them to attack Juba or any other principal city in the South. His master plan was to liquidate all his opponents before capturing Juba, the future capital of Southern Sudan. About 16,000 minors, mostly young boys aged between 5 and 15, were collected by the SPLA leadership from their parents on the pretext that these children would be sent to different parts of the world for study. The majority of them were from the Dinka and Nuer nationalities. About 600 of them were sent to Cuba for education and military training. The rest remained in the bushes of Southern Sudan and were later used as child soldiers”.

“Those minors who were taken to Cuba had gone to various institutions and completed their studies. They were later taken to Canada for resettlement. The SPLA forces that were wandering in the bushes also played their nasty roles by terrorizing the local population in different parts of Southern Sudan. Between 1987 and 1991, these forces massacred the Mundari, Murle, and Taposa minority ethnic groups in the thousands and also looted their cattle and destroyed their homes. Such human rights abuses were only stopped following the 1991 SPLA split” Wuor concluded after alluding to the 1991 split respecting his commander in chief Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon ( It is a break up whose root causes must be addressed in order to separate fact from fiction and to prevent the monster that mimicked that split in December 2013 from rearing its ugly head again in the future! Wuor’s commander in chief appears to allude to that necessity as well ( ).

“Before the fall of Mengistu’s regime in Ethiopia, discontent within the SPLA leadership grew tremendously, following the detention of several SPLA senior commanders, some of whom had already languished in SPLA incommunicado centres for over five years. Many of the detained SPLA senior officers differed with Dr. Garang on how to prosecute the war for the independence of Southern Sudan. The entire Southern Sudanese people have always regarded themselves as victims of political and social injustices being committed on them by different Islamic and Arabised regimes in Sudan. On the other hand Colonel Garang was adamant to maintain SPLA objectives and principles of fighting for a “United Secular New Sudan”. This kind of disagreement within the leadership of the SPLM/SPLA eventually brought further splits within the movement” offered Wuor in a section of “The rise and fall of SPLM/SPLA Leadership.” It is a section that has a conspicuous similarity with the violent disagreement between Kiir and Machar that led to the callous extermination of innocent children, women and men from Wuor’s Nuer tribe in December 2013!

Through “The rise and fall of SPLM/SPLA Leadership” Daniel Wuor Joak contemporizes the events of the protracted war that followed the raucous shouts of “Kokora Kokora Kokora” in the early 1980s with the schism between Salvatore Kiir Mayardit and Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon that has made South Sudan go wrong. He will also contemporize those events with the scathing report commissioned by the African Union on the SPLM/SPLA's cannibalization of itself in a preposterous but inevitable war ( to facilitate a proper understanding of issues that must be dealt with correctly for healing to begin. An exposé on the SPLM/SPLA is a fêted addition to narratives and solutions that must be factored into this healing before charting a sustainable way forward for South Sudan.

“The British are there because of the Americans and the Norwegians. If it was up to them, they would leave us alone to sort ourselves out” Wuor declared during one of our conversations about “The rise and fall of SPLM/SPLA Leadership”.

He was referring to the Troika countries (Norway, UK and USA) implicated in the scathing report by the group of Eminent Africans but may be better placed than IGAD to resolve the South Sudan carnage, in conjunction with the African Union as commissioners of the scalding report. Wuor was also alluding to the tumultuous colonial relationship between his Nuer tribe, the Dinka tribe and the British who may be the only members of the three Troika countries that are clued in on the necessity of a divergent approach to the South Sudan bloodbath. Allegedly responsible for nurturing a genocidal SPLM/SPLA fiend to life and therefore liable by intimation, the Troika countries dispatched envoys to the IGAD mediated Peace Talks between Kiir and Machar and their cohorts and the three countries are reported to have footed the colossal bill for the Dysfunctional IGAD facilitated Peace Process that collapsed on March 6, 2015 as predicted by the South Sudan Diaspora and other activists around the globe!

The cries of “Kokora, Kokora, Kokora” reverberate to this day because most of the issues that incited them in the early 1980s were swept under the carpet during a protracted war that many people now consider as a vociferous deception of the people of South Sudan and the world by the originators of the SPLM/SPLA! That is the reason why there will be no lasting solution to the South Sudan bloodbath without understanding and resolving those issues. Kokora, which translates into division in the Bari languages of Bari, Pojulu, Kakwa, Nyangbara, Mundari, Kuku, Nyepu, Ligo, etcetera is the same apportionment that ground the IGAD mediated Addis Ababa Peace Talks to an embarrassing stop on March 6, 2015, notwithstanding the fact that IGAD flubbed the peace process.

The solution for the carnage in South Sudan lies in the May 9, 2014 agreement facilitated by United States Secretary of State John Kerry, signed by Salvatore Kiir Mayardit and Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon and guaranteed by Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Chairman of the IGAD Assembly ( If that agreement was implemented as intended, the South Sudan bloodbath would have been resolved immediately ( .

If IGAD had asserted its position by demanding the participation of widely defined and properly constituted stakeholders instead of the slapdash approach that Kiir was allowed to dictate to select and send only “stakeholders” that are “friendly” to his lawless regime, the IGAD facilitated Peace Talks would have averted the carnage in South Sudan without delay. That is why it is time to listen to the actual stakeholders of South Sudan because they bring to the table lived experiences, impeccable wisdom and insider knowledge that will usher in sustainable peace.

Now that the Olusegun Obasanjo directed cat that was muted to enable amplification of IGAD’s pressure for Machar to sign a Peace Agreement that would prolong Kiir’s genocidal government before a ludicrous deadline is out of the bag via a draft report, let the actual solution for the South Sudan carnage begin. However, it must be a solution of the people of South Sudan, for the people of South Sudan and by the people of South Sudan (

Equatorians must be included in this solution in a substantial way because anything less can and will lead to the breakup of South Sudan legally using a little known legitimate detail and document arising from the aftermath of the Kokora of the Berlin Conference of 1884-85 ( ) which can be invoked at a moment’s notice by natives of the historical Ladu Enclave and Sir Samuel Baker’s Equatoria (! Suffice it to say that the original Kokora bellowed in the early 1980s has been misappropriated. It has to do with empowering and winning rights for all the people of South Sudan through division but not the division that characterized the Kokora IGAD encouraged! 

Audiences are invited to follow the exposé “The rise and fall of SPLM/SPLA Leadership” by Daniel Wuor Joak which derives its title from the original leadership of the SPLM/SPLA who included nine founding members namely, Akuot Atem de Mayen, Samuel Gai Tut, Col. John Garang De-Mabior, Major Kerubino Kuanyin Bol, Major William Nyuon Bany, Captain Kiir Mayardit, Joseph Oduho, Martin Majier Gai and William Chuol Deng. It will be worthy of note to see how the script for Wuor’s “The rise and fall of SPLM/SPLA Leadership” ends as the beam of light now turns on Salvatore Kiir Mayardit, an SPLM/SPLA Leader who rubbed shoulders with the original cast of SPLM/SPLA Leadership characters, especially the Founder Colonel John Garang. Anyone who has skimmed through the draft of the scathing report commissioned by the African Union ( will discern that the fingers point squarely on Kiir and his ‘Mathiang Anyoor’ or whatever they are called. It will also be gripping to see how the extensive list of interest groups that have rallied behind the lawless and genocidal government of Salvatore Kiir Mayardit redeem themselves from their intentional or inadvertent but gigantic oversights.

Margaret Akulia is co-author of the sequel Idi Amin: Hero or Villain? His son Jaffar Amin and other people speak. She brings to the South Sudan dialogue a multidisciplinary professional background including but not limited to “grassroots activism”. Additional information and registration for webinars at

An Open Letter to patriot South Sudanese and Salva Kiir

By Zechariah James Machar

March 19, 2015 (SSNA) -- Dear Patriot citizens and nationals of South Sudan, I dedicated this letter in order to educate the people who were less-informed about South Sudan’s conflict and how we shamefully disgraced ourselves when we chose to be led by the deceiver Salva Kiir. In this Open letter, I will demonstrate why Salva Kiir does not deserve to continue being the country’s president. The self-claim president Salva kiir Mayardit gave a deceitful speech on Saturday, March 14/2015 at a political function at which he briefed members of his government on the outcome of the last round of talk in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. On his speech he said;

I did not kill anybody to become president

It is widely believed that in every society there must be a leader who is mandated to take care of the community concerns. Salva Kiir being the representative of South Sudan means he must accept responsibility for every action occurred in the country. A leader is a person who takes the leads in blame situation rather than credit.

Mr. President you don’t have to be physically involved in the killing of Nuer or the shooting of Wau demonstrators to be a murderer. It is about sitting and watching your men discriminately killing the citizens they supposed to protect. In 2012 you willingly instructed General Paul Malong Awan to recruit militias known by the name “Gelweng” from greater Bhar El Ghazal states. This particular militia group was the leading actors of Juba’s Nuer Massacre which began on the 15th of December 2013.

Before Nuer Genocide was the event in which your men fire live bullets at a demonstration held by Wau’s residents in December 2012; the reason for the killing was because Wau locals protested your proposal to relocate Wau town to Bagari.

Nor did I impose myself

Mr. President you had been forcing yourself on South Sudanese since 2004 when you were jail by Dr. John Garang. It was Dr. Machar who convinced the movement chairperson to drop his accusation for peace’s sake; it was him who persuaded Dr. John Garang that you did not intent to defect by conducting a series of consultation that resulted in Rumbek conference. Recalling back May 9th 2014 agreement, you! Mr. President officially broadcasted an unforgettable statement solidly saying; “I’m the president of South Sudan and I must always remain in that position as the president; the leader of that country.” Click on this link to see the video: 

Mr. President how can you rectify a wide spread statement that is witnessed by a millions of people? It is simple you just helped the World to accurately interpret your desire to remain in power. It has been a common habit of African’s leaders to leave the Presidential Palace to coffin but unfortunately we apologize that South Sudan will never be rule by a dictator.

People Voted for me to become their president

How could Sudan’s vice president claim presidency of an independent state of South Sudan? When was the independency of South Sudan? And when was the latest election held in South Sudan?

I would have answered all of these questions but I will leave my friend Mr. Riang Yer Zuor Nyak to lecture you the details on how Salva Kiir attacked on his own Legitimacy claim.

Link for Riang’s Article:

But as a tip, Salva kiir occupied the presidency by chance and he wrote his resignation letter to the people of South Sudan in the night of December 15th/2013.

I am not power hungry and not interested in power acquired through killing and destruction.

Mr. President, it was because of your love of power that you frequently postponed to convene a meeting of the Sudan’s people liberation movement (SPLM) party’s highest executive organ, the Political Bureau in fear of losing the candidacy of the party in the country’s 2015 general election. Mr. President the civil population noticed that the former SPLM secretary general Pagan Amum and his deputy Anne Itto had spent time trying to persuade you to accept the call for SPLM Political Bureau meeting. Mr. President if you are not after power why did you draw redlines to any proposal that interrogate your position as the president of South Sudan in June 2014. Mr. President if you are not for killing and destruction, why you did invited Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF), JEM, and SPLM-N to exterminate your people and demolish your own country?

Many People among you know that

Mr. President, after going through your previous speeches, I personally found it strenuous to accept the fact that you are sincere in every speech you give whether it was in the past, present or future. Mr. President, it is obvious that there was no veracity on your latest briefing to the members of your government when you blamelessly said; “I did not kill anybody to become the president nor did I impose myself. People voted for me to become their president. I am not power hungry and not interested in power acquired through killing and destruction. Many people among you know that.”

Link to confirm:

Dear compatriot South Sudanese, as you can see how deceitful Salva kiir is what is going to be your TAKEAWAY MESSAGE to your community and friends? Are you going to ignore this Open letter because of your tribal domination? Or you are going to help spreading this message to aware the world about Salva Kiir’s behavior in South Sudan. It’s up to you to decide. Sometime people die rectifying national issues when other dies on the fact that they are isolated from community due to their person searching (Selfishness).

South Sudan is for all and All for South Sudan!

Long live South Sudan.!
Long live citizens and nationals of South Sudan.! 

Zechariah James Machar is a political activist and the SPLM Youth League Chapter Secretary General in Egypt you can reach him through This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . The view expressed in this Open letter does not reflect my political position as the Chapter Secretary of SPLM-YL in Egypt but my personal view.

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