Friday, 19 June 2009

What is it with foreign intervention? (1)

Whenever I talk to international activists/officials involved in Sudanese affairs the question they raise almost instinctively is “what can the international community do for Sudan?”, rephrased “what is the role of the international community?”
I guess the question, repeated so much yet not satisfactorily answered, must be inherently false, and it is in the nature of false question to provoke the hottest of debates, whilst answers to it are rendered irrelevant by the sheer momentum of events. I will try in the following to briefly articulate the Sudanese responses to the question and highlight the backdrop of each.
The National Congress Party (NCP) committed polemically to a stance of national sovereignty will ultimately go down in Sudanese history as the regime that witnessed and tolerated the widest foreign intervention, military and otherwise, in Sudanese affairs, paradoxical as this may seem. Today Sudan is a carrier of a massive contingent of UN troops, much larger than the forces once required for its conquest and subjugation in the late 19th and early 20th century. Yet this presence is still not sufficient to maintain peace and order!
In political terms Sudanese peace (dis)agreements are an itinerary of foreign travel: Frankfurt, Geneva, Naivasha, Cairo, N’djamena, Abuja, Asmara, Sirte, Doha...etc. A number of great powers employ an official for full time high level engagement with the Sudan with the title “Special Envoy”: e.g. the American, the Chinese, the Russian, and the Canadian at some time. It is no secret that Khartoum goes through great pains to reconcile with its foreign “adversaries” compared to its dismal disregard to “indigenous” dissent. For that matter, meetings between the rulers of Khartoum and foreign envoys or officials define the rules of the game much more than internal political debates, unless these evolve into open warfare.
The latest demonstration of this pattern are the tripartite talks between the two partners of the Government of National Unity (GoNU), NCP and SPLM, and the US Administration, with Scott Gration, the current Special US Envoy to Sudan, as senior mediator; a political process that should have been well served within the Sudanese domain, with involvement of other political parties, something Sudanese debates refers to with the idiom of a “constitutional conference” to coordinate and refine peace agreements and foresee their implementation. An idea both partners of the GoNU continue to refuse or undermine by staging parallel tracks of political theatre, the Kenana Forum (NCP) and the Juba Conference (SPLM), however they jointly welcomed the idea of US mediation in preparation for an international conference on Sudan to convene in Washington next Tuesday.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Creative Commons Licence
This work by Magdi El Gizouli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.