Monday, December 13, 2010

Sudan's Chance for Peace

With our collective obsession of Wikileaks and North Korea, the upcoming vote for succession in southern Sudan next month almost slipped right past us. The US has relied on special envoys throughout the 27 year conflict in the hopes that the international community can achieve collective cooperation to resolve this brutal civil war. What the efforts of diplomacy achieved was the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005 between the predominantly Muslim north and Christian/Animist south which was intended to lay the groundwork for the referendum vote to take place on January 9, 2011, and to hopefully re-shift efforts towards addressing the Darfur issue. Since the CPA was signed though, very little peace has existed.

Initially, progress seemed to be on track but the ceasefire was broken in 2006 as several rebel groups rejected the compromise already in place. The peace agreement did not quell the violence and in the five years since the CPA was signed, Sudanese entities have remained in constant conflict leaving no one, including peacekeepers and civilians, immune to the violence.

In addition to peace agreement violations, UN documents recently revealed that 18 different types of ammunition were used by government forces in Darfur against peacekeepers and rebel groups. 12 were made in China after 2009, five years after the UN arms embargo was put into place to restrict foreign weaponry from finding its way into Darfur.

The autonomous southern government is guilty of violations as well as Wikileaks and Somali pirates have teamed up recently to uncover the secret arms deal between Ukraine and southern Sudan. Department of State cables showed that the Bush Administration knew about Ukrainian arms shipments through Kenya that included T-72 tanks and rocket launchers but urged all parties involved to keep it quiet. While wary of allowing an arms race to occur in Sudan, the US did not prohibit the transaction since northern Sudan was doing the same thing. They also urged Ukraine to take stronger security measures after one of its freighters carrying 37 T-72 tanks was captured by Somali pirates. After further consideration of these transactions by the Obama Administration, threats of sanctions against Kenya and Ukraine came out to put an end to it. To justify the threat, Obama stated that while Sudan is still united, he cannot support any arms infiltration as it is still on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. To make this even stranger, the administration has offered to possibly remove Sudan from that list as long as Bashir allows the referendum to take place peacefully.

Diplomatic negotiators have been able to overlook these violations in the name of peace instead of allowing either side to back out of the peace accord. The problem is that these violations contribute to the pessimism surrounding the hopes for the violence to end once the referendum takes place. With international attention on the region at the moment, things will likely remain calm. But Khartoum continues offensive operations to this day and has gained concessions from the US simply by agreeing to do what it has already agreed to do. President Bashir’s defiance in the face of his arrest warrant has only strengthened the notion that his actions can go unpunished as President Obama did not include compliance with the ICC as a part of Sudan’s removal from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list.

So what did the CPA accomplish and will Khartoum allow the south to exist in peace? If the events that took place after the CPA was signed are any indication, there is little reason to believe peace will last.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Until recently I never realized Sudan had so many internal differences and issues. I don't know exactly how to feel towards this subject, because although I'm totally for the people's liberation, freedom and dignity, I understand this is not exactly the matter, now is it...? It's all a matter of power and money and generations will still suffer the consequences of the disputes; men, women and children will still be lost for hunger, fundamentalism, slavery, violence... God knows what else. It's like the Palestinians during the negotiations with Israel feared - that they'd have their liberation to live under a dictatorship. But of course... We can't forget how different things would have been if the decolonization had been done properly by us, the Europeans, instead of having been done according to our own political and economic interests.

Luís Almeida (Portugal)