Northern Kordofan is not a Candidate for a War of Liberation–Now
Northern Kordofan does not qualify for a war of liberation, now. But in light of the gravity and importance of the situation there, I would like to ink a few points to draw more attention to Northern Kordofan.
Kordofan is the strategic geographical center of Sudan. However, the JEM Commander-in-Chief (Khalil Ibrahim) did not choose to attack and occupy its capital city (El-Obeid) in order to take it for a staging ground on the road to Khartoum as al-Mahdi had done in 1885. Maybe this is one tactical mistake, among many others, leading to JEM’s failure on 10 May 2008.
The main question here is whether bringing Kordofan onboard at this time is advisable, or is necessary, for the overall JEM Scheme? Understandably, it may not be wise for JEM to add “the Kordofan burden” to its already overloaded list with too many splinter armed groups in the complex situation in Darfur.
Perhaps the most important consideration supporting this thesis is that the people of Kordofan Region (383 sq km, inhabited by an estimated 3.5 million people according to projections of the 1983 peace-time census and over 6 million now) among divided among themselves on the question of “what is to be done?”. The yoke of the governing elite in Khartoum could only be removed by concerted struggle against the center that must be Kordofan-based and led.
Northern Kordofan (239 sq km and 2.0 million inhabitants in 1983) has had separate development from Southern Kordofan (144 sq km with 1.5 million inhabitants in 1983). For two decades (1985-2004) much of Southern Kordofan, in alliance with SPLM/SPLA, fought the central government without assistance from Northern Kordofan. To the surprise of Southern Kordofan, some learned men of Islam in al-Obeid (a pro-NIF group) issued an Islamic Fatwa against the late Yousif Kuwa Mekki Jamei, the historic leader of SPLA/ Nuba-Chapter, and his supporters. That incident forged a deep rift among the sentiments of Muslims supporting SPLA in Southern Kordofan.
Through the war of liberation, the SPLA/ Nuba-Chapter earned the CPA Protocol on the Resolution of Conflict in Southern Kordofan (PRCSK). It ascertains an autonomous identity for Southern Kordofan vis-í -vis Northern Kordofan. Thus, Southern Kordofan has won minimum gains, through the PRCSK, that would make futile any attempts of return to armed violence during the six-year Interim Period prescribed by the CPA. Therefore, Southern Kordofan would not be part of any possible war of liberation that could be mounted in joint action with Northern Kordofan. However, Southern Kordofan does have its own set of complex problems regarding implementation of PRCSK, but going back to war would not be a reasonable option for setting the record straight on CPA implementation.
Northern Kordofan suffers from all the “poverty logic” and economic injustices that justify the rise of social movements against the central government, but it lacks the unity of purpose among social groups, sufficient to wage a war of liberation. This is why the armed contingents allied to JEM have been unable to attract the support of the population in el Nahud district. The nascent Kordofan Alliance for Development (KAD) is a social movement “in-the-making” that has insignificant impact, at least, so far.