Thursday, 16 June 2011

Bashir’s choices

Mrs Clinton and Mr Nafie

According to the spokesperson of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), Philip Aguer, troops from the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) attempted to cross Bahr al-Arab/River Kiir into what the Khartoum government considers to be South Sudan proper, namely the territory south of the 1956 border. Apparently, the SAF contingent was repulsed and returned to Abyei town. The SAF has also been busy bombing targets in Kadugli and Kauda in South Kordofan, the first is the capital of the state and the second is the most important stronghold of the now officially declared rebel South Kordofan SPLA.
While the African Union (AU) congratulated itself and others on the presumed agreement between Presidents Bashir and Kiir to declare Abyei a demilitarised zone and install an Ethiopian peacekeeping force between the SPLA and the SAF in the area the delegations of both Presidents returned to their domestic headquarters, Khartoum and Juba, to announce that no actual settlement, temporary as it may be, had been reached. Khartoum turned its battle rhetoric a note higher; the Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha went as far as agitating for jihad in an address to a function of the NCP-loyal women’s union, a term that even President Bashir has avoided using in his frequent moments of inflammation. Taha was also possibly guarding his own back, since he sang the praise of President Bashir to the high sky.
Notably, Taha has lately been largely set aside when matters of the CPA get security serious. He did not get to meet the visiting delegation of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), and he did not make it to the rhapsody in Addis Ababa in the company of Mrs Clinton. In both instances he was replaced by a gleaming Nafie Ali Nafie, the President’s favourite as things stand. Both men however, President Bashir and his aide, Nafie, don’t seem to be in full mastery of the SAF currently freaking out over the event of partition. Rather than assume a figured out masterplan by the Khartoum leadership to manoeuvre itself out of the final station of the CPA, the declaration of the secession of South Sudan on 9 July, a widely accepted interpretation of the recent ominous developments, havoc within the higher ranks of the NCP-SAF condominium seems to be a more considerable factor.
In Addis Ababa President Bashir and his confidante, Nafie, were accompanied by the top officers of the SAF including the commander of the military intelligence branch. If anybody can strike a deal it is exactly these chaps. The fact that a deal was rumoured and then openly denied by the SAF spokesperson in Khartoum, even challenged on the ground by the SAF in Abyei, could possibly translate into a fracturing of the higher command and not necessarily into a thought through plot. The negotiations of calibre may well be in-house right now, i.e. an all cards out game between the allies of the Khartoum powerhouse. President Bashir I presume is probably troubled by the prospect of a war he cannot afford or a peace he cannot guarantee, in both cases with the frustrated SAF wary of the coming transition while some whisper a coup, a coup! Nafie, why hast thou forsaken me? 

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