Friday, 24 July 2009

Abyei or no Abyei oil is the question

According to Asharq al Awsat a Misseriya leader, the head of a self-proclaimed mujahideen group, has announced his rejection of the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, his major argument being the loss of water and grazing land. The gentleman attacked the NCP full thrust; the ruling party in the North in his perception is only interested in oil and thus let Abyei town go to the Dinka Ngok jubilant at the gain of the oil fields further North. The interesting twist is the point he made about shifting alliances. He entertained the option of siding with the SPLM in response, since interests of the Misseriya in pastures and water dictate that they look for political leverage down South rather than in Khartoum. It is no secret that the leaders of the Misseriya community have for long being natural allies of whoever rules in Khartoum, essentially for reasons pertaining to survival in a war-zone. It is the militarisation of the Misseriya and other frontline communities and their organisation in paramilitary groups that has gained them notoriety in the war between central government and SPLA. For Khartoum they have been for decades a sharp claw in its by proxy war effort.

The calamity that befell this relatively demonised community, pictured in Sudan's political mythology as blood-thirsty warriors - a parallel can be drawn here to the Abbala of Darfur - was multiplied with the advent of oil exploration. Human rights literature on oil has done a good job documenting the consequences of the industry on the communities of Southern Sudan proper, however it is difficult to find a note that refers to the fate of these so called "Arabs". According to this leader Khartoum used them in its war and now betrays them after it got the oil wells.

Conscious of the consequences of a fall out with the Misseriya Bashir speaking to NCP supporters and among them a number of Misseriya leaders laid great stress on his goverment's solemn committment to their cause, particulary their right to pastures and water, and promised coming benefits in reward for their sacrifices, in war and in "oily" peace.

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