Monday, 4 October 2010

Great expectations!

In the New York Times Nicholas Kristof, obscenely bemusing himself with the fate of a country he hardly understands anything about, well, beyond catchphrases and an obsessive self-proclaimed mission to save it from itself, prophesied a dated Hollywood apocalypse as the fate awaiting Sudan over the next 100 days or so. The coming genocide in Southern Sudan, according to Kristof, is all but inevitable considering the feeble US pre-emption of Khartoum’s expected renegade on the referendum, the ultimate dispensation of the CPA. Kristof invites to the scene Arab militias supported by Khartoum to foil the referendum and prevent secession of the South, thus pushing Juba to declare unilateral independence and precipitating yet another Sudanese genocide.
If anything the CPA has provided Sudan’s major adversaries, NCP and SPLM, with a platform for talking. Despite accusations and counter-accusations and the gloomy atmosphere of internecine politicking the two partners have remained on talking terms without any considerable breach of the CPA ceasefire over the 6 years of the transitional period. The will to talk is of course not by necessity a will to peace, but for all good reasons it transpires of the unwillingness to fight. In the midst of the fury over secession and its consequences the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), contrary to my expectations, has remained remarkably reserved. High pitched war shrieks came not from the ranks of the army or its auxiliary structures but from the frustrated civilian leadership of the NCP. Even Mr. Bashir, quick to catch a flare over perceived ‘plots’ against the ‘nation’ has remained till now declaredly by his promise to deliver the referendum and recognise its outcome.
What Kristof does not recognise is that the current SPLM-NCP scuffle is not so much about the principle of secession, something both blocs seem to have approved, loudly in the case of the SPLM, and more or less tacitly in the case of the NCP, but on the exact terms of that secession, bluntly the calculation and division of spoils. Considering the baggage of war and the appeal of a sovereign South Sudan the mainstream of the SPLM has faced no major qualms in switching from the ‘New Sudan’ agenda to the cause of secession, argument being unity has not proved attractive. In effect the SPLM allies in the Nuba Mountains and the Southern Blue Nile, left out in the arrangement of the New Sudans, are now advised to re-group with the remnant Northern Sector of the SPLM, more or less in the dry. The NCP on the other hand faces greater challenges in popularising ‘secession’ in North Sudan. The latest public outbursts of NCP officials are to be read as attempts at marketing secession without openly approving it. With al-Intibaha back in print the NCP’s line I suppose is to declare South Sudan’s secession a virtue, whereby a homogenous North Sudan emerges purged of its Southern flock. The new gamble of the NCP is redemption before its almost satisfied Western patrons concomitant with preserve of its Islamist fetish to a domestic constituency, by all means weary of war.
That leaves us with Abyei, fashioned in recent reporting as Sudan’s Kashmir, which remains a bone of contention in the division of spoils, point being however ‘division’!

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