South Kordofan and Nuba Mountains – Timely Humanitarian Interventionism or yet Another Passive Rwanda-Like Inaction?
By Ahmed Hassan
I sat sipping my mint-flavored black tea hurriedly on one of these small teashops on the way from Kadougli to El-Obied. I could not stand the sound of the jet fighters patrolling the skies on their unholy missions. I just needed to leave the place before things got more complicated. In front of me, on that small plastic chair, sat an element of the so called “Abu Tira” forces, a synonym for the Central Reserve Forces of the government, drinking a black coffee and boasting: “….our commanders gave us crystal clear orders: take no hostages, we do not have jails or food for any POW, just shoot to kill any of these rebels you may find on your way…”
I have never been an admirer of Dr. Nafie A. Nafie, but for the first time in my life I appreciated his courageous reaching and signing of the Partnership Agreement between the NCP and the SPLMN in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on June 28, 2011. An agreement that sets new grounds for a continued peace process and for ceasing of hostilities in South Kordofan to end the current nightmare of atrocities, and to enable the flow of relief to over 700,000 affected people.
It took no time or effort, as usual, for Omer El-Beshir to disillusion and bring us, and the whole international community, back to reality. In his speech on Friday, July 1st, in Khartoum, President Omer El-Beshir said he has ordered his northern army to keep fighting in the volatile Southern Kordofan region until they clean the state of rebels.
On his return from China, and under mounting pressure from NCP hardliners who reject the South Kordofan Agreement, Omer Beshir reiterated his reservations and rejection of the agreement -considering the SPLMN as an illegal entity until it is registered as a political party in North Sudan. This brings to a halt all the arrangements in the agreement that were geared to disarm and to de-escalate the situation in South Kordofan.
Apart from denoting a serious struggle within the NCP, the position of Omer Beshir, which was conveyed during a closed summit for the IGAD in Addis Ababa on July 5th, also confirms the choice of a military solution and action to settle the political crisis in South Kordofan specifically, and in the Sudan in general, as the best option for the central government and its ruling party.
Meanwhile, the systematic ethnic cleansing has continued, unmonitored, to the Nuba of South Kordofan. The government forces continued the indiscriminate aerial bombardment of the Nuba mountains. The civilian populations were forced to leave their homelands in the mountains and to move to the cities otherwise they are going to be considered as rebels and targeted by the government forces. In opting to move to the towns, the Nuba become an easy and direct target for the aggression of these governmental forces. The tragedy and the persecution of the Nuba is that many of them had opted not to fight, yet they are becoming a target of an indiscriminate policy of ethnic cleansing by the government, whereby they are not only a target in South Kordofan, but are also subjected to arbitrary arrests and assassinations in other parts of the country. This is especially true when they try to advocate or raise concerns over what is happening in the Nuba mountains.
It is high time for the international community to become fully aware of the dark nature of the NCP as a system and a project for governance in Sudan. It is not a secret that the whole of the system is based on the superiority complex of the Northern Sudan and the domination of specific ethnic groups over power in this country since the Independence of Sudan in 1956. Non-Northern Ethnic groups are considered as second class citizens that are there to provide cheap labor and to be kept away from the major political and economic processes, which are monopolized by the elites that kept the Sudan hostage to their limited interests since the independence. What happened to South Sudan is a case to the point, and what is going on in Darfur and South Kordofan is yet another episode in the series.
As per Samuel Totten’s article “Cold Blooded Murders in the Nuba Mountains” published in Sudan Tribune, July 3, 2011 “” “Over the past four weeks, Government of Sudan (GoS) troops and allied militia have carried out a vicious and murderous attack on the people of the Nuba Mountains in the Sudanese state of South Kordafan. This is the very same government that perpetrated genocide in Darfur and continues to carry out devastating attacks on the region. Tellingly, Sudan’s president, Omer Al-Bashir, is already wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity for the atrocities perpetrated in Darfur.
MIGs and Antonov bombers have created havoc in the Nuba Mountains; farms, tukuls, and churches have been burned to the ground; close to 100,000 people have been forced from their villages out into the wilderness and up into barren mountains; and untold numbers have been killed.”
In view of these ongoing atrocities, it is high time for the international community to take a decisive and responsible stand to save lives and livelihoods of thousands of innocent civilians who are targeted by their own government and to invoke article 7 against a clearly failed state, otherwise, we are going to witness yet another Rwanda.