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New proposed flags for the new awaited Federal Republic of South Sudan

By Lul Gatkuoth Gatluak

September 30, 2014 (SSNA) -- As South Sudan peace talk is rag­ing, many are wait­ing to see what change will be unveiled to fix the cur­rent higgledy-piggledy. With­out doubt, the major­ity of South Sudanese are yearn­ing for fed­er­al­ism to be the form of gov­er­nance in South Sudan. Fed­eral sys­tem unlike the mere decen­tral­iza­tion is a con­sti­tu­tional arrange­ment in which the sov­er­eignty of the nation is divided between the national and the State gov­ern­ments which pro­vide stronger degree of auton­omy to var­i­ous lev­els of the gov­ern­ment. It includes fis­cal, admin­is­tra­tive and polit­i­cal aspects of gov­er­nance. Fed­er­al­ism is the best sys­tem of gov­er­nance which we dearly needed. Cur­rent decen­tral­iza­tion sys­tem is only focus­ing on polit­i­cal auton­omy ignor­ing the admin­is­tra­tive and fis­cal aspects.

The major­ity of South Sudanese are see­ing the desir­able change to be brought by Dr. Riek Machar than any­one else. Due to the fact that, on July 16, 2014, SPLM in oppo­si­tion under the lead­er­ship of Dr. Riek Machar pro­posed that, South Sudan will be fur­ther divided into 21 States, which may include Abyei in the future if bor­der demar­ca­tion between Sudan and South Sudan is completed.

Under that pro­posal, Riek has rec­om­mended that for­mer three regions which Sudan divided into ten States in 1997, must be fur­ther divided under fed­eral struc­tured sys­tem. Upper Nile region that had already been divided to three States com­pris­ing of the Upper Nile, Jon­glei and Unity, must be fur­ther bro­ken into eight (8) States. The new look would com­pro­mise Akobo, Bor, Fan­gak, Fashoda, North­ern Upper Nile, Pibor, Unity and Sobat.

The Bahr El Ghazal Region which already con­sists of four (4) States , Lakes, War­raps, North­ern and West­ern Bahr El Ghaz­als, will be fur­ther divided into seven States. The pro­posed break­away states would com­prise Aweil, Gogr­ial, Raga, Rum­bek, Tonj, Wau and Yirol.

Finally, the Equa­to­ria region that has also already been divided into three States con­sist­ing of Cen­tral, East­ern and West­ern Equa­to­rias will be divided into six (6) new states com­pris­ing of Juba, Kapo­eta, Maridi, Torit, Yam­bio and Yei.

As the pro­posal remain sit­ting on the table wait­ing to be rat­i­fied, this author has also come up with a pro­posal that South Sudan national flag will be changed.

This doesn’t mean that there is any­thing wrong with our national flag rather it is a thought which I believe would add more sense should we have more states than what we cur­rently got.

In 2004, one brought the same sug­ges­tion to the atten­tion of Dr. Riek whether South Sudan National Flag can be redesigned. While con­vers­ing with him, Dr. Riek gave me a brief expla­na­tion of how cur­rent South Sudan flag came about.

Accord­ing to him “in early 1980s, the lead­er­ship of the SPLM/A set down and dis­cussed how the flag will look like. The late chair­man, Dr. John Garang, sug­gested that the flag must bear a star and the star will be placed in the cen­ter of the flag. Dr. Riek told the chair­man we will face many ques­tions from the world nations who would be curi­ous to know why we put the star in the middle.

Flag of South Sudan

Cur­rent Flag of of South Sudan (click next on the above map and refer to photo number 2).

After the end of their dis­cus­sion, Dr.Riek was tasked to go along with the design of the new flag. First, Dr. Riek said he called Barn­aba Mariel Ben­jamin in Eng­land and requested to be sent pic­tures of the world flags which Mar­ial did. After Dr. Riek received world flags, he and the team picked Kenya flag to relate our flag with. This is the rea­son why South Sudan flag is sim­i­lar to the flag of Kenya except the addi­tion of the blue tri­an­gle and the golden star at the hoist. The above is the image of our flag. The descrip­tion of our cur­rent flag, although might already know is as fol­lowed. The black color on the top is rep­re­sent­ing the peo­ple, the white color is rep­re­sent­ing peace, the red is pre­sent­ing the blood we shed for free­dom, the green is the land, blue is the water of the Nile and finally; the golden star is sym­bol­iz­ing the unity of the States of South Sudan.

As pre­vi­ously indi­cated, I have pro­posed three dif­fer­ent flags to debate upon and pick the one that gives more mean­ing to our awaited fed­eral repub­lic of South Sudan. Like the orig­i­nal flag was design bear­ing sim­i­lar­ity of Kenya national flag, I design these flags using the Greece and the United States flags as sample.

proposed flag of new federal republic of South Sudan

Pro­posed Flags of the new emerg­ing Fed­eral Repub­lic of South Sudan (click next on the above map and refer to photo number 3).

Based on this image, three big­ger stripes on the back­ground, the Black, Red and the Green stood for our three orig­i­nal regions; Equa­to­ria, Bahr El Ghazal and the Upper Nile.

Each region is divided with many white stripes to indi­cate how many States has been pro­posed from that par­tic­u­lar region. For instance, the black stripe on the top, rep­re­sent­ing Equa­to­ria. Dr. Riek’s recent pro­posal stated that Equa­to­ria will con­sist of six States.

The red big­ger stripe is rep­re­sent­ing Bahr El Ghazal and the pro­posal indi­cates that Bahr El Ghazal region will con­sist of seven States. Last but not least is a big­ger green stripe rep­re­sent­ing the Upper Nile and Dr. Riek indi­cates that the cur­rent Upper Nile region will be divided into eight States. At the end of the green big­ger stripe, there is a black stripe which sym­bol­izes the state of Abyei.

Then there are 22 stars in the cen­ter of the blue tri­an­gle which stood for South Sudan’s pro­posed 22 states includ­ing Abyei. Of course, col­ors still car­ry­ing their orig­i­nal mean­ings. Black for the peo­ple, white stripes are for peace, red for the blood we shed, green for the land, blue for Nile water and golden star for our unity. If the above design does not carry enough mean­ing to our union national flag, then I made another design below.

Another proposed flag of new federal republic of South Sudan

Another pro­posed flag of new fed­eral repub­lic of South Sudan (click next on the above map and refer to photo number 4).

In this design, there are 11 stripes which are rep­re­sent­ing our cur­rent ten States plus Abyei. Then there are 22 golden Stars rep­re­sent­ing 21 pro­posed States plus the state of Abyei if stall unsolved issue turn on our favor. Yet, col­ors are car­ry­ing the same mean­ing as pre­vi­ously described

The final design below also falls under the same cat­e­gory as the sec­ond one. Stripes are intended to rep­re­sent 22 States includ­ing Abyei and Stars are rep­re­sent­ing 21 pro­posed States. As roughly described, these three ban­ners are just a pro­posal, they can be thrown away or something.

Another proposed flag of new federal republic of South Sudan

Another pro­posed flag of new fed­eral repub­lic of South Sudan (click next on the above map and refer to photo number 5).

mean­ing­ful can be designed base on the idea given. I felt our cur­rent national flag is only car­ry­ing our image as peo­ple, the peace we may have among us or with our neigh­bors, the blood we shed dur­ing our strug­gle, the land, water and the unity which is rep­re­sent­ing by the Star. I felt like our three orig­i­nal regions, the cur­rent ten States of South Sudan and the newly pro­posed 21 States should be included in our national flag symbol.

National flags are sym­bols which rep­re­sent the value of the nation. Although they are essen­tially just a piece of col­ored cloth, yet, they are car­ry­ing a very pow­er­ful sym­bolic mean­ing. I would give you an exam­ple to take two papers out of your excer­sis book, in one page, write down your car, and on the sec­ond paper, write down your father and mother names then stomp on one of the two papers. I bet you would eas­ily stomp on the one you wrote your car on. Why is it? I believe your answer would be because the paper that bear your dad and mom names rep­re­sent­ing their values.

At the same token, national flags are car­ry­ing the nation value. Flags are patri­otic national sym­bols, but at the same time indi­vid­u­als feel more proud when they know their value, iden­tity, beliefs and her­itages which all are attached to that piece of cloth. I urge the lead­er­ship of our demo­c­ra­tic move­ment to look into this pro­posal and add into it nec­es­sary changes that they would like to add. There is no doubt in my mind that South Sudan will be pro­nounced Fed­eral Repub­lic of South Sudan after we get out from this higgledy-piggledy.

The author could be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

IGAD’s Unsustainable African Solution to the African Problem in South Sudan

By Riang Yer Zuor Nyak*

September 28, 2014 (SSNA) -- Africa, as Africans know it, is full of problems which generally include social, economic and political. In this chaotic environment, violations of fundamental human rights are common. Most of these human rights violations tend to be committed by governments or powerful individuals who have close associations with some sort of armed sources of power. Local law enforcement agents find themselves under the control and command of such violators. For this reason and others, bringing these types of perpetrators to justice is always next to impossible.

It is in this context that International Criminal Court (ICC) sometimes comes in to play so as to fill the gap. Some of the situations where grave human rights violations have been made on the continent include that of Liberia/Sierra Leon, Ivory Coast, DRC, Kenya, Uganda and etc. These cases were taken to ICC at one time or others after Africa had failed to deal with them. In other words, it is Africa’s inability to properly solve her own problems that makes the rest of the world, especially the West, interfere with Africa when universally prohibited grave human rights abuses take place.

Recent events involving the ICC show that African leaders are not happy with the Court, referring to its activities as re-colonization of the continent or unjust targeting of the African leaders. The irony is that in most cases, it is the African states that forwarded most of those cases to the ICC. Nevertheless, the African leaders feel embarrassed, threatened and exposed. They see a need to fight back so as to stop the ICC from coming after the remaining or future human rights violators. But they cannot do it alone. Therefore, they want to appeal to the ordinary Africans using the word “colonization” so that they can get support from the Africans in their opposition to the activities of that international court that has become a real threat to them. Their powers to maim the continent and her people at will have come under a real scrutiny of a court that they can never intimidate as it is located a sea away from the African Continent.

From the look of things, African leaders have not really been unjustly targeted as they claim. Rwanda happened in Africa; Liberian sponsored violence in Sierra Leon happened in Africa; Darfur happened in Africa; Northern Ugandan violence against civilians happened in Africa; post election violence in Kenya happened in Africa; DRC child recruitment into the rebel army happened in Africa; post election violence in Ivory Coast happened in Africa. The list is long. In any of the mentioned situations, no single African national court was able to deal with each of the situations. It follows that none of the African solutions was available. This was why the ICC came in so that justice could be provided for the victims.

In December 2013, Salva Kiir savagely killed tens of thousands of ethnic Nuer in Juba in just days, targeting them on the basis of their tribal origin. Up to now, no African leader makes any condemnation. They are just talking about whether or not there was a coup when they should be talking about whether or not there was or is genocide being committed. That there was no coup is now laid to rest as evidence point to the lack thereof; that genocide has been committed is clear. Yet African leaders still talk as if things are not yet clear.

Logically speaking, talking about what might have been the cause should have come second after a criminal was first stopped from his genocidal activities. But if Salva Kiir was not one of the so-called African leaders, a great deal of noises would have been made. Here, one can conclude that being a president in Africa has really become a card to destroy African lives at will. The club provides them with an immunity that one cannot find anywhere in the African written law books. These are criminals unlike their counterparts outside the continent. Therefore, the claim that African leaders were or are being targeted is out of question in each situation above. Each was and is a situation where a monster above local laws gets taken outside of his locality in search for justice for his victims. In simple words, a non-African solution sometimes becomes a necessity.

Then, why do African leaders make noises that they have African solutions for African problems when it is clear that they could not find their own proper solutions for the above-mentioned grave situations? The answer is simple. The African dictators do not have the confidence to rule Africa without hurting the Africans. They do not have what it takes to peacefully and voluntarily charm Africans into following them. They simply resort to violence to maintain their positions. To them, ruling with an iron fist is a strength of leadership for which one should be praised. When one is peaceful and democratic, one is labeled as a weak leader.

But these supposedly strong leaders feel threatened by the Court in The Hague. Each of them can see himself doing the same or similar thing in the future, or has already done what an African leader has been or is being taken to ICC for having done. Or some of them have already been indicted and that they do not want to cooperate with the Court and are out mobilizing colleagues or members of the club to come to their defenses in the diplomatic arena. So, when it comes to resolving a problem in which one of them is implicated, they would prefer an African forum which they can easily manipulate one way or another.

To the African leaders, especially some IGAD leaders, South Sudanese civil war is an African problem that requires an African solution since Salva Kiir is the accused author of the Juba massacres. They are not prepared for a situation where Kiir would end up somewhere outside of Africa answering questions regarding the massacres. They see their position on this as an exercise of independence on the part of Africa. The problem is that the process for the search for an African solution to this particular African problem is not funded by the IGAD. Non-African bodies funding this process can definitely influence the outcome. Then where is independence that IGAD is trying to assert? This lack of independence and the IGAD leaders’ need to protect one of their own can make a very dangerous combination. This danger was clearly demonstrated in the last IGAD Heads of State Summit in Addis Ababa in August 2014 when the Heads of State, including Salva Kiir, issued a document whose contents amounted to nothing less than a common declaration of war on the SPLM/SPLA.

The Summit drafted a protocol as a framework for the resolution of the problem. It provided for a transitional government to be formed in Juba. The document was not a result of any negotiation between the warring parties as the government delegation had boycotted the last round of negotiations which were to last till August 28, 2014. In absence of the government delegation, the IGAD Mediators asked the SPLM/SPLA to continue negotiating with other stakeholders. This was positively responded to, and the negotiations continued up to the time when the Summit was convened. Surprisingly, none of the negotiated positions were reflected in that IGAD Framework. Therefore, the document was not a South Sudanese document, and both Dr. Riek Machar and Salva Kiir rejected it—citing the need for the two parties to negotiate so as to make some concessional discussions before arriving at a final decision. At that point, the document was left to the IGAD Heads of State who said that it was “…our document and we will sign it as ours…” without the warring parties being part of the signing.

Something needs to be clarified for the benefit of those who were not present at the Summit. The document is widely discussed in the public media as having been accepted by the government, that it has been signed by Salva Kiir and that only the SPLM/SPLA declined to sign. That can never be any further from the truth. The truth is that both the SPLM/SPLA and the Government declined to sign as parties to the conflict. Yes, Salva Kiir—though tricked into signing by Gen. Sumbeywo of Kenya—signed the document by appending his signature on the signature page of the document without knowing what he was signing on to. Dr. Riek Machar was the second to be approached in this kind of trick and refused to sign a blank sheet of paper, saying that he was not ready to sign a “blank cheque”. He wanted to see, first, the document that he was being asked to sign. This was after both had rejected the document in the presence of many foreign observers. So, this Kiir’s signature was later used, not as a party to the war, but as one of the members of the IGAD Heads of State.

It is believed that some people are not aware of this distinction and the trick used on Kiir. But some quarters, such as the government in Juba and its agents, are actively working to cover up the story of the trick and mislead the public that Salva Kiir’s signature on that document represents the position of a party to the conflict so as to make it look as if it is only the SPLM/SPLA that has refused to sign. Others, such as IGAD and other international bodies, are intentionally and passively allowing the misleading statements to go uncorrected so as to achieve certain unfair goals. They can try as much as they want, but truth will always remain that the warring parties have refused to sign the IGAD Protocol and requested to be allowed to negotiate. Having no other choice, IGAD granted 45 days for the Parties to mutually negotiate and conclude their own deal.

The IGAD document is difficult to categorize. One does not understand whether the document was a product of a frustration with people and groups working behind the scene, or a result of a true and genuine IGAD’s understanding of the South Sudanese situation. Of course, one should not underrate the resolutions of the recent African Union (AU) Summit in June in Equatorial Guinea where the AU resolved to protect sitting African Heads of State from prosecution for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. In either way, IGAD has shown a very serious lack of credibility as a regional body in dealing with regional issues.

By any standard, South Sudanese civil war is more serious and dangerous than the 2007 Kenyan post-election violence, which led to the formation of the Kenya’s Grand Coalition Government in 2008. Yet, that Grand Coalition Government was better than that which the IGAD leaders want to see established in South Sudan in terms of power-sharing. It is difficult to understand the thought processes leading to such a position.

The Protocol provides for a transitional national unity government to be headed by “The head of state and government, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces…” which “…shall be the elected, incumbent president.” According to the document, an office for a Prime Minister shall be established for coordination of the implementation of interim processes. This Prime Minister shall be nominated by the SPLM/SPLA and has to be “…credible, professional and competent person…” who shall also be “…acceptable…” to Kiir. In addition, the Prime Minister shall work “harmoniously” with the president and would never stand for any election for a public office at the end of the transitional period.

First, the document confirms Kiir as the head of the Transitional Government of National Unity without leaving it to the parties to negotiate. The justification seems to be that he was elected in April 2010. If this is the case, then the IGAD is wrong. Kiir was elected under a constitution and an election law which became irrelevant on the morning of July 10, 2011. He owes his current position as the President of South Sudan to the current Transitional Constitution which gives him up to July 2015. This makes him a President by constitution—not by election. It was the reason why he was able to remove the vice-president who had been his running mate during the 2010 elections. It was also why he succeeded in removing elected governors in Lakes and Unity states, respectively. Otherwise, he would not have succeeded in the exercises. Therefore, IGAD’s justification for him to lead the expected transitional government on the basis that he is an elected president does not pass the test. As a constitutional president, Kiir has ceased to be legitimate from the very same day that he embarked on the unconstitutional act of maintaining power through violence and committing the ultimate crime of genocide. He can no longer protect the constitution as he has made coups against himself by intentionally violating that constitution many times; he cannot be trusted again to protect the lives of the people of South Sudan as he has presided over numerous killings of the South Sudanese communities, the last one being the massacres of the Nuer in Juba in December 2013.

Even if he were to be an elected president, Kiir would not have been elected to bring the current situation. His unconstitutional acts of unleashing violence on his political rivals and genocide which led to the current situation would have de-legitimized his status as an elected president. Therefore, IGAD leaders just need to come out publically to the South Sudanese that once one becomes a president in Africa, one must always remain as such, however one behaves. That would be more understandable given our experiences as Africans who have only known dictatorships since decolonization.

Second, IGAD’s document was intentionally produced so as to indirectly prevent Dr. Riek Machar from participating in the transitional government. They badly want Kiir to lead the transitional government without opposition for bad reasons. But they know that Dr. Riek Machar would never again allow Kiir to rule the country the way he has been ruling it since 2005. To them, the best thing to do to ensure that Kiir does not get any opposition during the transition is to keep Dr. Riek out of that government.

Words such as “credible”, “professional” and “competent” as adjectives describing the Prime Minister were intentionally used so that the SPLM/SPLA could legally be bound to look only for a technocrat, non-politician other than Dr. Riek who is known as one of the well-known politicians in South Sudan when making its nomination. The word “acceptable” to the president was placed there to give Kiir a legal ground to reject Dr. Riek if the SPLM/SPLA later insists on nominating him for the post. Here comes the possibility of a stalemate. To water it down, a clause is inserted that the Prime Minister would not vie for any office after the transitional period. Again, that clause was placed there as an incentive for Dr. Riek to want to wait outside the transitional government so that he could later run for an office toward the end of the transitional period.

There is a question that keeps lingering on when looking at the IGAD’s attempt to erect such a massive wall around Kiir’s position and powers during the transitional period. Why is IGAD trying very hard to see that Kiir absolutely leads and controls the government during the transitional period? The provision that the Prime Minister shall work “harmoniously” with the president is the third legal hurdle for the SPLM/SPLA to deal with. In case the SPLM/SPLA succeeds with the nomination of Dr. Riek and Kiir fails to reject the same, he can later have a legal ground to remove the Prime Minister as not working “harmoniously” with him. This IGAD’s idea that Kiir should not be opposed in his decisions and activities during the transition is without a proper justification. This idea of Kiir running the government single-handedly during the transition makes one think that IGAD wants Kiir to use the period to repair his tattered self politically, militarily and diplomatically for any eventualities at the end of the period. This IGAD’s position should be taken together with Kiir’s statement on the 9th of May 2014 when he stated that he “…must always remain the leader…” of South Sudan. He is, definitely, being prepared for a longer political life after the transitional period. In light of this, IGAD could be seen as conspiring with Kiir against the people of South Sudan.

Third, the document is discussed on the media as a power-sharing one. The IGAD leaders have made it very clear that all the executive powers remain with the president. The president is the commander-in-chief of all the armed forces; he is the head of state; and he is the head of government to be assisted by his deputy in all of his functions. The office of the Prime Minister is created only to give the SPLM/SPLA a space to occupy with functions of coordination of the implementation. Yet, IGAD and its supporters call this a power-sharing arrangement. If this is power-sharing, then I do not know what is not. One would think that a proper power-sharing arrangement would equally divide executive powers between the two power centers: the Prime Minister and the President. But, this IGAD document has not done that.

The bottom line is that, for whatever reason, IGAD has failed in its search for an African solution to the current African problem in South Sudan. By coming out with the document of the last Summit, IGAD was only resorting to forcing the warring parties to come together in a badly conceived transitional government, which, in my opinion, would be another way of telling South Sudanese to stop fighting for now, go back to Juba and re-start fighting.

What IGAD should have done was to let the parties talk. Instead of being rushed into forming a transitional government under Kiir’s leadership, the parties should have been given time to identify and address the root causes of the war, agree on who is to account for the atrocities committed in Juba in December, agree on critical reforms to be made, agree on the security arrangements, agree on the form and structures of the transitional government that would carry out the reforms, and then agree on the leadership as the last step toward signing a peace deal. But IGAD unjustifiably jumped the gun and resorted to a process where they started with the leadership and then the government, leaving the rest unresolved. It was an attempt to simply force South Sudanese to go back to Juba under Kiir’s leadership without first addressing the root causes of the war—not even thinking of any reforms. That was very lazy, insulting to the people of South Sudan and disrespectful of those whom Kiir savagely exterminated in Juba. It can only add fuel to a burning fire.

In Somalia, an internationally recognized Federal government sits in Mogadishu. That government and its leadership are, at least, cleaner than the one sitting in Juba and its leadership. Yet, the African Union, including some of the members of IGAD, is struggling to keep that government in Mogadishu. They are unable to force Somalis to come together under that government and leadership. This difficulty exists partly because the root causes of the Somalia’s problem, leading to the collapse of the central government in 1991, might not have been properly identified and addressed. After years of struggling with the situation, they still keep thinking that the problem is a lack of a central government in Mogadishu that can only be solved by putting one in place. It is a real failure.

This same IGAD is now trying to force the people of South Sudan to come together in a badly conceived transitional government under Salva Kiir who has committed genocide against a section of the South Sudanese society without first addressing the root causes of the December violence. IGAD should understand that our problem is not a lack of a transitional government; in fact, the current government in Juba is a transitional government; it should understand that the problem that caused the war was not that Kiir was not a president; he had been the president before the war, and he has been the president ever since the war broke out. Yet, we are in a big problem. Therefore, IGAD should stop thinking that having a transitional government led by Kiir is the magic African solution to the current war in South Sudan. This is a solution that can never be sustained. If this is the only solution that IGAD can think of, then it must, instead, come out clearly and openly to admit that it has failed so that a different forum can pick up the task.

The way things look seems to suggest that IGAD has failed and decided, as an exit strategy, to impose Kiir on the people of South Sudan as a temporary solution to the problem. What comes after that imposition does not concern it. It is completely conceived and done in the best interest of IGAD, not in the interest of the people of South Sudan. This is absurd. What makes IGAD leaders think that they should oppose non-African solutions to African problems, but impose a non-South Sudanese solution to a South Sudanese problem? It is like trying to drive the people of South Sudan to the sky above by leading them into an abyss dug perpendicularly deep into the ground hoping and believing that, somehow, the abyss would eventually lead to the blue sky above the ground. This is a blind-mindedness that can only be induced by dictatorial tendencies which characterize leadership in most of Africa.

In any case, an intellect is, definitely, being insulted here. It is only a question of whose intellect it is that is being insulted: South Sudanese in particular, or African in general?

While in the process of finding a solution to the current civil war in South Sudan, IGAD must know, in case it does not know yet, that Kiir has committed genocide, and he must be dealt with as a criminal—not as what it refers to as an “elected, incumbent president”. A proper and sustainable African solution should be that which keeps the criminal behind bars, and away from participating in the transitional government.

*The author is a South Sudanese. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Aerial Attacks on Civilian Agriculture and Food Supplies: 'Starving' the Nuba" (Part Two of "Looking Directly into the Heart of Darkness)

By Eric Reeves

September 27, 2014 (SSNA) -- On 24 September 2014 I presented and offered preliminary analysis of a document I had received on 22 September 2014, from a source within Sudan whom I trust implicitly. It was an explosive document, containing the "Minutes of the Military and Security Committee Meeting held in the National Defense College [Khartoum]"; the meeting referred to took place on August 31, 2014; the date of the minutes for the document is September 1, 2014 (Sunday).

What makes the document so extraordinary is the participation of the regime's most senior military and security officials, expressing themselves freely, and in the process disclosing numerous highly consequential policy decisions, internal and external. I discussed at some length issues of authenticity, and concluded the evidence was simply overwhelming that this was an authentic document, recording the words of men of immense power speaking without restraint about their goals, their fears, their policies. Subsequently I have received a good deal of additional evidence of the authenticity of the document, with no meaningful or substantial challenge offered to my assertion of that authenticity.

The words I am reporting are indeed the words of the men who control power, especially military and security power in Sudan, and have overseen 25 years of savage, self-enriching tyranny. The 30 pages of minutes are dense with revelations—some small, some large, some not so much revelations as shocking confirmation of what has been evident but never publicly confirmed by the National Congress Party/National Islamic Front regime.

In attendance were fourteen of the very most powerful men in the increasingly militarized regime (only two were not senior military officers). These included First Lt. General and Vice President Bakri Hassan Saleh, who will become the most powerful man within the regime if President (and Field Marshal) Omar al-Bashir dies from his health problems, or is medically unable to run again for president in the elections of 2015.

The destruction of agricultural production and food supplies in South Kordofan and Blue Nile

In the present brief analysis I will concentrate on the military tactics of the Sudan Armed Forces in South Kordofan, focusing particularly on the effort to destroy agricultural production in this region and thus starve people into submission (a similar campaign is underway in rebel-controlled areas of Blue Nile State to the east). That this is the military goal is made quite clear at several points in the minutes. Indeed, "starve" is a word explicitly used to describe the goal of this ongoing campaign, now of more than three years:

"This year the Sudan People’s Army (SPLA-N) managed to cultivate large areas in South Kordofan State. We must not allow them to harvest these crops. We should prevent them. Good harvest means supplies to the war effort. We must starve them, so that, commanders and civilians desert them and we recruit the deserters to use them in the war to defeat the rebels," Lt. General Siddiig Aamir, Director of M.I. [Military Intelligence] and Security (page 10).

This savage, ruthless assessment neglects to point out that the vast majority of agricultural production is a civilian undertaking, and that it will be civilians—primarily children, women, and the elderly—who will suffer most from this destruction of food supplies.

Declaring that negotiations with the rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile are a "waste of time," a senior general, Chief of Joint Operations, indicates that the military option is the only one to be considered:

"We should attack them before the harvest and bombard their food stores and block them completely," Lt. General Imadadiin Adaw, Chief of Joint Operations (page 14).

Other moments and comments in the minutes comport fully with this assessment.

[For my comments on use of the English translation of the Arabic original, see ¶ 5 of my previous analysis, 24 September 2014; see also several additional pages of the Arabic original here in .JPG format; previous pages of the text may be found here)]

Let us be very clear about what is being said here: the goal of aerial bombing attacks is to destroy the ability of people in rebel-controlled areas of the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile to harvest a bountiful sorghum crop, a harvest that should continue into December. There is of course no conceivable way in which only the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army-North (SPLM/A-N) can be denied the food harvested; the widespread destruction will work to deny all the people of the Nuba Mountains food.

The Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNet) has given us a dramatically clear picture of what will follow from Khartoum's assault on food in the Nuba: Chart 1 of "FEWSNet Projected food security outcomes, July to September 2014" indicates that most of the people in of the Nuba Mountains (as well as people in other parts of South Kordofan) fall within "food insecurity" Category 4, "Emergency"; this is one step short of the final Category (5): "Catastrophe/Famine." While the FEWSNet predictions suggest that the sorghum crop, if harvested, could bring most people down to Category 3 ("Crisis"), it is precisely this crop that has been targeted. The effect will be to push people into Category 5 in large numbers.

Watching Catastrophe Unfold

A great many have already perished, although we can't know how many: Khartoum refuses all humanitarian access to rebel-held areas, including assessment missions. There have been, nonetheless, many surreptitious hit-and-run assessments, but not the kind of sustained assessments of the full range of humanitarian indicators that should be measured. In early 2012, the feckless African Union belatedly submitted a proposal for humanitarian access. The SPLM-N leadership immediately accepted the conditions proposed by the AU mediators; Khartoum refused. And although the regime has at various times made disingenuous noises about allowing humanitarian access, the pressure from the African Union has entirely dissipated and Khartoum is predictably and resolutely obdurate in continuing the humanitarian embargo. This denial of relief aid to acutely distressed civilians is reminiscent of the humanitarian embargo that accompanied the genocidal military campaign of the 1990s, a campaign designed to exterminate the Nuba people. It also meets the international legal standard for "crimes against humanity." The campaign of the 1990s came perilously close to success.

And now again, there is a complete humanitarian embargo on a large part of South Kordofan State and a relentless aerial campaign to destroy agricultural production and food availability. This campaign has forced hundreds of thousands to flee and brought many hundreds of thousand more to the brink of starvation—Khartoum's resumed ambition. Many tens of thousands have fled to Unity State in South Sudan, most to the Yida refugee camp that has, in turn, been bombed by Khartoum's aircraft. Ground attacks also focused on villages with no military presence, on food supplies, and the destruction of homes, markets, churches, mosques, and all that might assist in agricultural production. Hospitals have been repeatedly, deliberately targeted—by advanced military jet aircraft with full knowledge of their targets.

The most common weapon in this campaign is the Antonov "bomber," a Russian-built cargo plane retrofitted to permit the highly imprecise dropping of shrapnel-loaded barrel bombs on civilian targets, including villages and fields. The effect has been to bring people to such a state of fear that they cannot work their lands, but rather flee villages for caves and ravines (see photographs here). At this critical moment in the agricultural cycle, Khartoum's campaign of aerial destruction and terror has been ordered to re-commence, precisely because there has been a relatively successful sorghum crop (sorghum is the food staple of most people in both South Kordofan and Blue Nile states).

Crimes Against Humanity

This campaign of deliberately denying food to civilians for more than three years violates international human rights and humanitarian law on numerous counts. Moreover, the international community has known full well that these crimes are occurring, but refuses to confront the Khartoum regime over its campaign of ethnically-targeted civilian destruction. The world has been provided with numerous first-hand accounts over the past three years—by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Enough Project, as well as many intrepid journalists (a short bibliography appears below, followed by excerpts from several reports). But no action has been taken, no threats have been made, even as the repeated, systematic attacks on civilian food supplies, in aggregate, clearly constitute crimes against humanity as specified in the Rome Statute that serves as the basis for the International Criminal Court.

[ See pp. 19 – 20 of "'They Bombed Everything that Moved': Aerial Military Attacks on Civilians and Humanitarians in Sudan, 1999 – 2013" | |http://www.sudanbombing.org/reports/Full_Sudan_Bombing_Report.pdf

And

"On the Obstruction of Humanitarian Aid," African Studies Review, Volume 54, Number 3 (December 2011) pp. 165 - 74 | http://sudanreeves.org/2014/01/03/on-the-obstruction-of-humanitarian-aidafrican-studies-review-volume-54-number-3-december-2011/ ]

But attention has drifted from the Nuba and Blue Nile, as it had previously drifted from ongoing genocide in Darfur. Unless Khartoum's (now publicly) avowed commitment to "starve" the people of the Nuba is met with swift and forceful international condemnation and pressure, we may be sure that people, in great numbers, will in fact die. 

What we have known about the assault on the people of South Kordofan: A brief bibliography

Further reports, including key excerpts:

  • The Enough Project, "Rapid Food Security And Nutrition Assessment: South Kordofan," 18 October 2012

[Excerpt]

Experts in health assessments in humanitarian crises at The John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health vetted the assessment and found its research and methodology to be sound and its findings to be credible. The assessment was comprised of Mid-Upper Arm Circumference, or MUAC, screenings that were conducted on children 6-59 months old and standard food security questionnaires that were administered to heads of households.

The assessment is significant because it is the first international, third-party, on-the-ground assessment of food security and nutrition in South Kordofan since June 2011, when the government of Sudan banned all international humanitarian aid organizations from operating in the state. No similar assessment has been carried out in Blue Nile state; however, the condition of refugees from Blue Nile indicates that the food security situation in that state may be comparable to that in South Kordofan today.

The findings verify suspicions held by the international community for more than a year: that the government of Sudan’s violent campaign against civilian populations in South Kordofan state and its intentional denial of international humanitarian aid to areas controlled by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, have resulted in severe malnutrition and dire food security outlooks.

  • UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, "South Sudan: Aid organizations prepare for new refugee influx from Sudan," 3 October, 2012:

[excerpt]

Humanitarian organizations have reported that up to 40,000 refugees affected by conflict and food shortages in Sudan could arrive in South Sudan by the end of the year, after the heavy rains and flooding subside.

Since the conflict broke out in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile regions in 2011, over 170,000 refugees have fled to South Sudan’s Unity and Upper Nile States in search of safety. At the height of the crisis in May 2012, up to 32,000 people crossed into the Upper Nile’s Maban County within just a few days. Many arrived malnourished and exhausted, having walked for weeks without food or clean water. Heavy rainfall and flooding in August led to a decrease in the number of refugees crossing into South Sudan, as most border areas became impassable. But aid workers expect the influx of refugees to increase when the rains subside in November.

“The crisis is certainly not over. We anticipate that up to 350,000 Sudanese will be hosted in South Sudan by the end of 2013,” said OCHA’s Operations Director, John Ging, who visited refugee camps in South Sudan last month.

  • The Sudan Consortium: African and International Civil Society Action for Sudan, Human Rights Update (June 2014), "Three-year anniversary of outbreak of conflict sees highest number of attacks directed against the civilian population of Southern Kordofan.

[excerpt]

The Government of Sudan’s (GoS) military offensive against opposition forces of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in Southern Kordofan reached a new level of intensity during June, provoking increased concern over the fate of civilians in those areas.

Between 1 and 22 June [2014], monitors on the ground recorded a total of 1,062 bombs and 1,229 artillery/rocket shells landing on or near civilian settlements in Southern Kordofan during the course of 82 separate attacks. This represents the highest number of attacks directed against the civilian population in Southern Kordofan since the conflict began in 2011.

Additionally, on 16 June, Sudanese government aircraft bombed a hospital run by the international organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). This follows a similar attack on the Mother of Mercy Hospital in South Kordofan at the beginning of May, an attack which was widely condemned by the international community. These repeated attacks on clearly marked medical facilities indicate that, at the very least, the Sudanese government is failing to take all feasible precautions to ensure that its attacks do not violate the protected status of these facilities under international humanitarian law. A more straightforward interpretation of the observed facts on the ground is that the hospitals are being deliberately targeted.

  • Arry Organization, "Three Years of War in Nuba Mountains: Another failure of the International Community," June 5, 2014:

[excerpt]

After three years of war in Nuba Mountains, the indiscriminate bombardment and the massive human rights violation continue to escalate. During the last five weeks, the Janjaweed (Rapid Respond Forces as the government calls them), were deployed in large numbers to several areas in Nuba Mountains. The government media reported on April 26, 2014, that the Janjaweed militias were legal troops, affiliated with the National Security forces; and their mission in Nuba Mountains was to end the insurgency in the region during this summer.

Few days after the militia arrived in Southern Kordofan, they engaged in fighting in Daloka with the SPLM/N and lost one of their important leaders. In response to the Janjaweed defeat, the Sudanese government bombed Kauda for three days in a row with over 54 bombs from May 27 to May 30, 2014. The indiscriminate bombardment destroyed civilian houses, orphans school and humanitarian NGO offices. More importantly, the civilians in Kauda reported many unexploded bombs, which endanger the lives of children and farmers in the area.

According to news reports and local resources, the Sudanese intelligence forces in Kadugli, executed 30 local merchants on May 28, 2014. The merchants were arrested in different periods in the last few months; as they were accused of smuggling food supplies to the SLM/N controlled areas. According to the resources; another 24 were executed the same day in Khor Alfan near the military base in Kadugli. The second groups identity was not confirmed, but some of them might be civilians accused of supporting the SPLM/N.

The reports from inside Southern Kordofan continue to be more difficult to get out, because of the increased security restriction on movement and the communication censorship. The humanitarian situation in the region continues to deteriorate, but no solutions appear in the horizon.

  • Eric Reeves, "An interview with Dr. Tom Catena concerning the Nuba Mountains, and a humanitarian update on the region," 9 March 2013

[preface]

The sorghum harvest this year—the staple crop of the region—was very poor, according to Dr. Catena. People in large numbers are on the verge of joining more than 200,000 refugees who have already fled to South Sudan and Ethiopia. Many spot nutritional surveys reveal Global Acute Malnutrition above the emergency threshold; the most recent of these found a 30 percent Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rate among children under five; this is double the international threshold for a humanitarian emergency. Moreover, a frightening percentage of children under five are experiencing Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), a condition typically fatal without therapeutic intervention.

Let us be perfectly clear: all this is intentional.

It is a campaign of annihilation in response to military rebellion by the indigenous Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North (SPLM/A-N). The SPLA-N has repeatedly mauled Khartoum’s regular and militia forces, especially in the Nuba, and the response has been a systematic aerial campaign to destroy agricultural production. It is on the verge of success, as people are simply too fearful to plant, tend, or harvest most of their larger fields. At the same time, Khartoum maintains a complete humanitarian embargo on regions under rebel control (the great majority of territory in the Nuba).

The weapon of choice is the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) Antonov “bomber.” Of course the Antonov is not a military bomber, but rather a retrofitted Russian cargo plane from which crude but deadly barrel bombs are simply rolled out the cargo bay, spreading a hail of shrapnel in all directions on impact. The have no militarily purposeful precision, but they are extraordinarily efficient in creating civilian terror. Early on in the conflict, Khartoum also deployed Sukhoi-25 military jet aircraft, also based at el-Obeid, but Dr. Catena told me that the SAF has settled into a pattern of sufficient regularity with Antonovs to keep fear so high that people are unable to farm.

Khartoum is presently concluding a deal with Ukraine to purchase five more Antonovs.

The conspicuous precedent here is the genocidal campaign against the Nuba in the 1990s, which very nearly succeeded in destroying them. Current efforts are neither surprising not out of character for this regime. And yet former U.S. special envoy for Sudan Princeton Lyman, in a moment of outrageously ignorant presumption, declared in late June 2011 that,

“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…. Second, I’m not sure that’s the objective of the government.” (June 28, 2011).

[Presumably, in light of the evidence now at hand, Ambassador Lyman no longer cleaves to his factitious skepticism about Khartoum's "objective"—ER, September 27, 2014]

[full interview with Dr. Catena, the only surgeon working in the Nuba Mountains, at | http://sudanreeves.org/2013/03/09/an-interview-with-dr-tom-catena-concerning-the-nuba-mountains-and-a-humanitarian-update-on-the-region/

  • Sudan Tribune, "NISS to deploy more rapid support militias to suppress South Kordofan rebels," April 26, 2014 (KHARTOUM)

The Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) has announced that it is deploying additional Rapid Support Forces (RSF) troops to South Kordofan in order to end rebellion in the state. The RSF militia, which is widely known as the Janjaweed militias, were originally mobilised by the Sudanese government to quell the insurgency that broke out in Sudan’s western region of Darfur in 2003.

The militia was activated and restructured again in August last year under the command of NISS to fight rebel groups in Darfur region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states following joint attacks by Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebels in North and South Kordofan in April 2013…. The move comes within a framework of a plan to intensify military operations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states following statements made by senior military commanders that this summer would witness the end of rebellion in both areas.

  • Radio Dabanga, "Intensified attacks on South Kordofan villages displace more than 100,000," 14 May 2014

The security situation in the Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan, deteriorated since mid April, when government forces began their attacks on areas in Rashad and Habila localities. As of 12 May, the estimated number of newly displaced in South Kordofan is close to 116,000. Several areas west of Rashad town were bombed by the Sudanese Air Force from 13 to 18 April. The area of Abri in neighbouring Habila locality was bombed on 28 April, the Nuba-based Human Rights and Development Organisation (Hudo) reported in its April report. The Sudan Armed Forces, backed by the paramilitary Popular Defence Forces, and the Rapid Support Forces also attacked the areas on the ground.

The aerial and ground attacks on the villages west of Rashad town, Um Darawa, Tendimin, El Beyeera, El Mangala, Serein, Elsaraf, Woroula, Douma, El Mansour, El Moglum and Keleiro, have resulted in a wave of displacement towards Rashad town, where more than 7,000 newly displaced have occupied schools and mosques. Other families fled to Abu Gebeiha and Abbasiya, and as far as Um Rawaba and El Obeid in North Kordofan. Elders and pregnant women, who failed to walk a distance of 15 km to Rashad, sought refuge in the mountains. The newly displaced are, apart from food and shelter, in dire need of drinking water, as many water resources have been destroyed.

In the areas controlled by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), the Sudanese Air Force has intensified its aerial bombardments in April, in particular the area around Kauda. The bombings also affected the Nuba who were living in refugee camps in the South Sudanese Upper Nile State and Unity State, and fled from the fighting there, and returned to the southern areas of South Kordofan. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that per 12 May, the estimated number of newly displaced in South Kordofan, as a result of the intensified fighting in April and May, is close to 116,000.

  • REPORT from UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 11 April 2014

[There is only one air force in the various conflicts in Sudan—that of the Sudan Armed Forces; although UNHCR cannot bring itself to state this indisputable fact, but instead refers to "unidentified aircraft," this shows that Khartoum is willing to attack Nuba refugees in South Sudan, as they did in a November 2011 attack: two bombs hit the camp; one, which fortunately did not detonate, hit the perimeter of the school in the camp—ER]

UNHCR is deeply concerned about the safety of refugees and aid workers in Yida, South Sudan, after unidentified aircraft circled over the settlement several times on 9 April [2014]. The sighting raised fears that the refugee settlement may soon come under direct or indirect military attack. The incident came just two days after the aerial bombardment of Neem, a community 26 kilometres north of Yida and close to the disputed border area of Jau. Local authorities reported that on 7 April a suspected military aircraft dropped more than five bombs over Neem….

Yida, a spontaneous settlement sheltering 70,000 Sudanese refugees, has come under aerial attack before. In November 2011, two bombs fell within the camp, including one close to a school for refugee children. Yida is located in the north of Unity State, close to the highly militarized Jau corridor.

Eric Reeves' book-length study of greater Sudan (Compromising With Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 - 2012; www.CompromisingWithEvil.org; review commentary at: http://wp.me/p45rOG-15S)

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