Wednesday, 29 January 2014

النادي السياسي: ساهي لاهي وسكري

اجتمع النادي السياسي بصمة خشمه عند الرئيس البشير في قاعة الصداقة، صفوف من الرؤوس معلقة بين العمم والجلاليب، بذقون وبغيرها، فخطب فيهم كما مدير المدرسة في طابور الصباح. شكر الله وصلى على خاتم الأنبياء ثم صرف لهم من النصح "الوطني" ما تيسر في ساعة الليل تلك وبعض البطون تصوصو لا بد في انتظار العشاء، ماذا سيكون الليلة يا ترى؟ استحضر أحدهم، وصوت الرئيس يعذب الميكروفونات تعذيبا، ميقات الدواء فمد يده إلى جيب الجلابية، أسكت حس السمارت فون بحركة أولى فصمت الواتساب عن الجكي جك، جكي جك، وبحركة ثانية ضغط الحبة البيضاء خارج قصديرها، تتك، ثم مدها بسرعة إلى فم مفتوح بحركة تثاؤب متحضرة وألحقها بماء "صافية" لا يغشاه عكر. "لا بأس عليك يا شيخنا"، قال السغيل البصاص من خلفه؛ رد عليه "جزاك الله خير" واستعدل في جلسته. مد ذراعا يكرش ظهر ساقه ثم سحب قدما والأخرى خارج الشبشب اللامع لتغوص في موكيت القاعة البارد، يا سلام، قاتل الله وجع الرجلين.
كان الرئيس وقتها قد وصل "أحابيل" بعد "كلالة" فانتبه صاحبنا يراجع أذنيه، هل هو الشمع يا ترى أم الشعيرات الطويلة التي طالما رفض قصها، شوشت على سمعه. نظر من حوله فرأى الرؤوس تحيط به، هذا يسنده كف أحاط منه بالحنك وذلك قائم على أطراف الأصابع، تومئ بالإيجاب الرزين والعيون تبحلق في غياب، فأومأ هو كذلك برأسه يخشى أن يفوته من المهرجان شئ. لم يستطع التركيز أكثر فدغدغة الموكيت في باطن قدمه فرضت عليه نعاسا لينا حاول الفرار من شركه بتوجيه نظره إلى حيث أصحاب الكاميرات عله يجذب بقوة النظر أحدهم فيرى "الجماعة" صورته في التلفزيون. ندم على الـتأخير الذي فرض عليه الجلوس في هذه الصفوف الخلفية، بعيدا عن برق الفلاشات. قال في سره: "كلو من المرة النكد دي، نقتها أكتر منها" ثم شكر الله على نعمة "الجماعة".
"والسلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته"، قال الرئيس وقام مبتسما، عندها هب صاحبنا من مقعده الخلفي مسرعا يجرجر الشبشب ويلعن الموكيت، فقد حانت ساعة "الجد". أسرع إلى المقدمة فصافح نافع بحرارة لم يلاحظها الأخير، ومنه جرى بيده الممدودة إلى الترابي، "شيخ حسن... السلام عليكم"، ثم استدار نحو غازي "يا دكتور.. يا دكتور"! "ده شيخ علي؟" قال بصوت عال وربت بيده على كتف الرجل المشغول عنه. أدار بصره كرة أخرى حول الجلاليب تهفهف من حوله فمر على ود الصادق ثم ود الميرغني، "يا سعادتك.."، "يا مولانا.." ثم قفل راجعا خطوة والثانية ليصطدم بظهر منصور خالد، "يا دكتور..حصل لينا الشرف والله". نادى بكري القريب منه "سعادتو.. ما باركنا ليك، كنت مسافر والله، أول ما رجعت ضربت لي مدير مكتبك، انت غيرت النمرة ولا شنو؟" أكمل دورة أخرى من السلام، جلاليب الدرجة الثانية والثالثة، ثم استعدل عمته. أخرج السمارت فون والمفتاح من الجيب العميق، ثم شد الخطوات نحو الباب بهمة رئاسية. رفع يده بالتحية وهو يعبر شباب الحراسة، "سلام عليكم يا أخوانا، ساهروا بيكم الجماعة ديل الليلة.. قلت ليكم، كورة مانشستر انتهت كم بالله؟"    


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Rift Valley Institute Field Courses 2014

The Rift Valley Institute's field courses on Sudan and South Sudan, the Horn of Africa, and the Great Lakes take place from May to July 2014. Now in their eleventh year, the courses provide a basis for understanding current political and developmental challenges in the region. They are taught by teams of leading specialists—from the region and beyond–and offer a unique opportunity to spend time with an outstanding group of specialists, away from routine distractions. RVI courses are designed for policy-makers, diplomats, investors, development workers, researchers, activists and journalists—for new arrivals in the region and those already working there who wish to deepen their knowledge. A dawn-to-dusk programme of seminars, lectures, group discussions and special events examines the key social, environmental, political and cultural features of each of the three sub-regions.

Horn of Africa Course
31 May - 6 June 2014

The 2014 Horn of Africa Course, held in Kenya from 31 May to 6 June, will cover Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Somaliland, Puntland, and northern Kenya. The course offers a multi-disciplinary examination of the crises afflicting the Horn and explores continuity and change under new political leadership at the national and sub-national level across the region. 

Sudan and South Sudan Course
14 - 20 June 2014

The Sudan and South Sudan Course will also be held in Kenya, from 14 to 20 June. New rebellions and ongoing civil war in both the Sudans have put social and economic development in jeopardy. Understanding the history of state formation and conflict in the two countries is more important than ever. The course addresses the challenge of working in this complex, fluid environment, linking analysis of current events to contextual understanding of history, politics, war, society and economy. 

Great Lakes Course
28 June - 4 July 2014

The Great Lakes Course Course, held in Burundi from 28 June to 4 July, will cover Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Director of Studies is Jason Stearns. The 2014 course will examine the ongoing violence in the Kivus in the wake of the defeat of the M23 rebel group, and the prospects of institutional reform in the DRC as the country prepares for local elections. In Burundi, it will examine the challenges facing the country in the run-up to the 2015 elections. For Rwanda, the focus will be on the tensions between political liberalization and the top-down approach to economic and social development. The course is in English and French with simultaneous translation.

To apply online—and to obtain further information on courses, staff, and locations—please visit www.riftvalley.net/key-projects/courses and download the 2014 Field Course Prospectus. Applications are considered in order of receipt. Places are limited. You can apply here.

Accounts of previous years’ courses can be found here, and testimonials from previous course participants can be read here. In the coming months the RVI will be sending out updates on the courses, including on teaching staff and locations. In order to receive these, please subscribe to the RVI mailing list. You can also follow the Institute on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The crisis in South Sudan: swapping partners

When asked by the New York Time how he imagines the current crisis in South Sudan to end Jok Madut Jok, one of the country’s leading intellectuals, answered with obvious resignation referring to President Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar: “The two men will eventually sit down, resolve their issues, laugh for the cameras, and the thousands of civilians who have died will not be accounted for.” Jok might well be right, the question is rather when, or at the price of how many lives? Indeed, the South Sudanese negotiators from the two sides started talks about talks in the Ethiopian capital with keen hugs. The dead, alas, cannot share in the tokens of good will on display in Addis Ababa’s Sheraton. 
As things stand, two interlocking factors are likely to determine the timing of the awaited respite: the balance of military power on the battlefields between the two men and the nature and extent of regional involvement in the South Sudanese theatre of war, with the second factor probably overdetermining the first. In the record of old Sudan’s wars, of which the current conflict in independent South Sudan constitutes a continuity, as much as a break, there are no victors, only the dead, and the negotiators and their ‘peace’ agreements, and of course books, some good ones with ignored lessons, and many that lay or rather renew the ideological ground for new wars. 
Under the category ideology one should also consider media coverage of events in South Sudan. Ominously, mainstream Sudanese press and Western media, apart from some sane exceptions, shared the same outlook, namely the notion of atavistic drives devouring a country constituted of tribal hordes not peoples. Reports of the insurgency in southern Sudan always ended with the line that the war was between a Muslim Arab north and a Christian and animist African south. This time around, the standard wisdom was confrontation between the Dinka and the Nuer, or a variant thereof, usually the more qualified reminder that President Kiir is a Dinka and Riek Machar a Nuer, with the note that the Dinka constitute South Sudan’s largest ethnic group. ‘Quick descent’ from a power struggle between President Kiir and his former deputy to a civil war pitting the Dinka against the Nuer is then declared but left to the trusting consumer to fathom. Assuming the above reasoning to hold, the mystery is rather how is it at all possible that the Nuer and the Dinka are not at each other’s throats all the time, battle-keen as they are supposed to be. 
If the on-going insurgency in Sudan’s South Kordofan and the Blue Nile is a tangential off-shoot of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between the Sudan government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M), unsettled business as it were, so is the current crisis in South Sudan. Liberal peace-making efforts at the time consciously divorced between the necessity of ending the war and the condition of restructuring state power to secure peace, termed rather euphemistically ‘democratic transformation’. The outcome was reproduction of the National Congress Party (NCP) autocracy in Khartoum and the implantation of its precarious double in Juba under banners of the SPLA/M turned into a ruling party, argument being that only those with the capacity to wage war deserved to dictate the terms of peace, and so they did. The contradiction, so dear to the ‘experts’, between the Arab Muslim north and the African Christian animist south was resolved by an international border of terribly poor resolution. The contradictions that sustained the war however, primary among them the capture of the state by “bourgeoisified bureaucratic elites” to use John Garang’s eerie terminology, adding the adjective militarised in the case of South Sudan to account for the legacy of the liberation struggle, as opposed to the rural mass of the population, were accepted as destiny if not actively encouraged to facilitate ‘peace’. Consider in that regard how the 2010 elections, the landmark event of ‘democratic transformation’ under the 2005 CPA, were internationally delivered to the NCP in northern Sudan and the SPLM in southern Sudan without even the grace of acknowledging their farcical nature aloud. Yasir Arman’s aborted presidential candidacy on a SPLM ticket was the dramatic entertainment offered to the indulgent, a non-event to square the ‘bi-partisan’ deal. A long-time Garangist, Yasir is yet to come to terms with the secession of South Sudan, his politics remain a hangover from the days of the big man. 
In northern Sudan, the 2010 elections proved the main catalyst for the renewed insurgency in South Kordofan, a count of votes, contested and corrupted, could on no account address a situation where a ‘national’ army was in a haste to do away with combatants still in command of an arsenal and territory. In southern Sudan, the now forgotten insurgency of George Athor who lost the bid for the gubernatorial post in Jonglei State when the SPLM endorsed the candidacy of Kuol Manyang Juuk was arguably a foretaste of how electoral politics operate when the ruling political party doubles as an army. Athor died in disputed circumstances in December 2011. Riek Machar, yesterday’s vice president and today’s rebel, claimed Athor was killed in a clash with a border patrol unit after crossing back into Equatoria following a trip to Rwanda. For enthusiasts of the Dinka-Nuer rivalry George Athor was a Padeng-Dinka. In terms of agreements, South Sudan had its own ‘protocols’ to add to the CPA, comparable to the rushed and ill-fated CPA protocols on the Three Areas, South Kordofan, the Blue Nile and Abyei, namely the 2006 Juba Declaration signed with the South Sudan Defence Forces (SSDF) led by the late Paulino Matieb. An umbrella of militia formations comparable in size to the SPLA itself, the SSDF trace their evolution back to the 1978 Anya Nya II of Upper Nile but were born out of the 1997 Khartoum Peace Agreement signed with the South Sudan Independence Army/Movement (SSIA/M) of Riek Machar, the SPLA/M-United of Lam Akol, the Equatoria Defence Force (EDF), Kerubino Kawanyn Bol’s own SPLA/M and ‘other groups’.
The SSDF were arguably the SAF’s greatest asset in the war against the SPLA/M. Oil production in Western Upper Nile (aptly renamed Unity State) would not have been possible without Paulino Matieb’s soldiers, under subcontract of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) military intelligence. If South Kordofan and the Blue Nile were the SPLA/M’s south within the north the SSDF were the Khartoum government’s mobile north within the south. The CPA stipulated the dissolution of the SSDF, a prospect that John Garang probably considered in earnest but did not survive to test. Garang died in July 2005, and his successor Salva Kiir opted for absorption of the SSDF into the SPLA, a decision that found expression in the 8 January 2006 Juba Declaration. Accordingly, the ageing Matieb was appointed deputy commander of the SPLA, but “integration”, “unity” and “reconciliation”, the key words of the declaration, were ripped out of a military dictionary not a political one. Former SSDF commanders including Peter Gadet, Gordon Kong and others, kept the revolving doors of the SPLA busy in cycles of mutiny and pardon. In that regard, Riek Machar’s return to the “bush” as prince over old company spikes an established trend, so far as to plateau in Addis Ababa’s Sheraton. 
It should come as no surprise then that President Kiir turned to his CPA partner President Bashir for counsel with the oil arteries of the twin regimes at stake. President Bashir landed in Juba on Monday accompanied by the chiefs of his military-security cabal to pronounce that no forces opposed to the Juba government will be allowed to operate out of Sudan, and Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ali Karti claimed that Juba had asked for talks on deployment of a joint force to guard South Sudan’s oil fields. Military intelligence in Khartoum obviously has more to offer to counterparts in Juba than Kampala ever can. The rebellion in South Sudan comes at a time when the SAF is engaged in its widest counter-insurgency campaign in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile since the resumption of war in 2011, and offers Khartoum the opportunity to seal the security pact it always wished for, sanction to operate behind the lines of the SPLA/M in North Sudan and its allies in the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF). The pro-government press in Khartoum prepared public opinion for the shift from ‘friendly’ to ‘brotherly’ South Sudan with reports attributed to anonymous South Sudanese military experts that forces of the SRF were fighting alongside Riek Machar’s allies in Unity State. On a more composed note, officials maintained that Machar had recanted on his pledge not to disturb oil production. Ironically, it is Khartoum that is now invited to stabilise the SPLA/M regime in Juba, the Chinese to mediate between President Kiir and his former deputy, and Lam Akol who faces Machar’s delegates as Kiir’s negotiator. The Prendergastians must be aghast. In this world, say Omdurmani grandmothers, you might even get to witness your own mother’s bridal dance, if that’s any solace.
 
Creative Commons Licence
This work by Magdi El Gizouli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.