Southern Kordofan: Ethnic cleansing under our watch

Category: Writing aboard the Kenya Airways: A story on coming to Rwanda for the first time
Published on Thursday, 16 June 2011 06:47
Written by Parek Maduot, The New Sudan Vision (NSV), newsudanvision.com
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(Washington, DC) - The current fighting in Southern Kordofan is playing out exactly as designed by the brutal strategists of the National Congress Party in Khartoum, and unless the discourse around it and the reaction to horrors we are hearing are reversed, they will achieve almost all their devious strategic aims at minimal cost. The international community has fecklessly resorted to the use of vague exhortations for cessation of hostilities in the Nuba Mountains without explicitly condemning what are incontrovertible acts of ethnic cleansing by the regime against innocent civilians.

The US and other leading guarantors of the CPA find themselves mediating another manufactured crisis by Khartoum according to dubious terms that ignore the fact that it wantonly violated the CPA, and is engaged in brutal killing and displacement of tens of thousands in the border regions. Taking advantage of the sensible restraint shown by the SPLM when Abyei was invaded, and sensing that the focus on reaching July 9th in one piece has become an albatross on the neck of its peace partner and the international community, the NCP calculated that pushing the envelope might win it a few more prizes in these remaining weeks.

It could try to redraw the balance of power in the longest border point with South Sudan along Southern Kordofan by crushing the SPLA elements from that region under the pretext of asserting national sovereignty over Northern territories, while confident that the usual dilly-dallying by mediators and the slow pace of UN security council action will afford it enough time to decimate the SPLA, eliminate as many of the active cadres of the SPLM, and alter the demographic character of Nuba areas by instigating and accelerating resettlement by Arab tribes. Achieving this will certainly give it an upper hand suppressing the nascent political opposition represented by the SPLM in the North; grant it an advantage negotiating post-independence issues with South Sudan, and as a bonus, find another excuse to blackmail the international community over allowing the independence of the South to proceed unhindered.

Their plans have proceeded almost seamlessly, and even the recent summit in Addis Ababa must have been anticipated by them as another inflection point to buy more time for their campaign of re-asserting military advantage along the border. It was a monumental error by the UN Security Council to postpone weighing in forcefully during their meeting on Friday June 10th, under the pretext of giving Khartoum and Juba an opportunity to resolve their differences with President Mbeki’s mediation later that weekend in Addis Ababa. It bought Khartoum more time to slaughter more civilians and bombard more villages, emboldened hardliners within the regime who are fueling the march to war in Abyei and Kordofan, wasted an opportunity to forcefully condemn the emerging genocidal nature of the fighting in the Nuba Mountains, and most ominously, proved that the international community has not learnt the lessons from Rwanda and Darfur.

Additionally, treating the ongoing fighting within the narrow North-South dichotomy serves Khartoum’s objectives by undermining the legitimate demands of the Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile for a new dispensation across multiple fronts with the center in Khartoum. While resolving Abyei is squarely within the purview of the SPLM and the Government of Southern Sudan, it is also important that negotiations over the fate and future of the other two regions are addressed within the framework of their independent character so that Khartoum does not attempt to use them as trading bait for concessions from the South and favors from the international community.

As we have seen after the summit, Khartoum has barely acknowledged, and is in fact denying, the reported pledge to withdraw from Abyei before July 9th, has managed to stonewall the mediators and the SPLM over several days on the mandate and shape of the proposed Ethiopian peacekeepers, continued to pursue its military operations unabated in Southern Kordofan, and has succeeded in staving off any actions from the Security Council beyond calls for an end to fighting. The summit in Addis Ababa could have borne better results if the mediators were armed with new Security Council Resolutions on Abyei and Southern Kordofan that went beyond mere condemnations and pleas for restraint by the Sudanese government.

These devious schemes are succeeding because we have regional and international bodies that are addicted to a severe case of mindless evenhandedness. Treating an aggressive marauding force like the Sudanese army as a legitimate force in this age of “the responsibility to protect” boggles the mind, and proves the incredible myopia that allows mayhem in Kordofan even while trumpeting the good works being done to protect civilians in Libya. In fact, the atrocities in Kordofan, and previously in Darfur, are worse than what Ghadafi has inflicted on Benghazi because of the ethnic and racial targeting that underlay the actions of Omer ElBashir and his army in these areas.

It has now been over two weeks since the fighting started in Kadugli, and while the gallant fighters of the SPLA in the Nuba Mountains continue to resist and even take the fight to the Sudan Army, there is a grave need for action to save the remaining souls in the Nuba Mountains. This regime is bent on destroying the bulk of them, pacifying the rest under its strict regime of religious assimilation and racial subjugation, and laying the ground for a longer campaign of destabilization against South Sudan. The UN Security Council should for once lift its head out of the clouds, recognize this for the ethnic cleansing campaign it is, forcefully demand an immediate halt to attacks by the Sudanese army on civilians, and impose a no-fly zone over the region and along the border with South Sudan.

The Council should also pledge to immediately investigate alleged war crimes by the Sudanese Armed Forces in Abyei and Southern Kordofan with a view to referring them to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for potential indictments.

While it is true that a political settlement of all these issues still must be reached, it is important to impress upon the NCP that killing and displacing scores of civilians will not win it favors on the negotiating table, but will in fact hasten its collapse and bring its leaders to justice by any means.

*Parek Maduot is graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park. He’s also regular contributor to The New Sudan Vision. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.