CPA: Not Comprehensive, Not Peace, Not An Agreement
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement is not comprehensive, nor peace, nor an agreement, as I have argued in detail elsewhere (1). It is a cease-fire agreement between only two parties in only one of the conflicts in Sudan, with a framework or “road map” for peace in 2011, signed under intense international pressure. While there was a period of relative calm after it was signed in 2005, the delays in implementation and the deliberate undermining of the agreement were predictable. We are now approaching the end-game and the upsurge in violence was also predictable.
The four scenarios suggested by the Clingendael Institute and posted in this debate in summary form are a useful tool for analysing the situation, but the reality will probably be a complex mixture of any and all of these.
“CPA Hurray! (No War – United Sudan)” is the least likely scenario. The NCP failed miserably to make unity attractive (if this was ever really their goal). Virtually nobody believes that southerners will voluntarily choose unity. If unity is the result of the referendum, southerners will not believe that the referendum was free and fair. This could easily lead to “The Last War Revisited? (War – United Sudan)”.
Whether there is unity, in which case a unilateral declaration of independence by the south is possible, or whether there is secession leading to “Border Wars (War – Secession)”, the war will look similar. SPLM/A will remain in control of much of the south, with secure rear bases (including air bases) and borders with friendly neighbours. Initial fighting will be over a swathe of resource-rich territory along the north-south border, including the major towns of Bentiu, Malakal and Renk. The north will wish to maintain control of the oil fields and commercial agricultural land, while the south will wish to oust them. Abyei, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile will be key battlegrounds, as large parts of their populations wish to separate themselves from the north but, with the exception of Abyei, have not been given the chance to do so by the CPA. Khartoum will rely on the LRA and other militia to create an insurgency deep in the south. The Joint Integrated Units are already fighting each other sporadically (cf Malakal), but the outbreak of open warfare in 2011 will precipitate a battle between SPLA and SAF units in Khartoum itself. Both sides will be joined by civilians and, whatever the final outcome in terms of “victory”, blood will run in the streets of the capital. Khartoum and other northern towns may also experience visits from Antonov bombers such as those which so terrorised civilians in southern Sudan during the last war.
Whatever happens, southerners have to deal with ethnic tensions amongst themselves. They can do this peacefully or violently, but one way or the other it is inevitable. But the north too has to face divisions. Darfur is only one example of the centre-periphery dynamic, with power concentrated in the hands of a very small riverain ethnic grouping, and currently also concentrated in the hands of Islamists who do not represent northern Islam in general. One reason why the north is keen to keep the south (apart from oil) is the fear of a domino effect: first the south secedes, then Darfur, then… who knows? Will there be any “north” left for the regime to govern? Hence “Be Careful What You Wish For: Somalia? (No War – Secession)”.
The report also mentions a fifth scenario, “Stagnation”, or one might say “muddling through”. The status quo continues. This is certainly not impossible, as the Sudanese are very good at muddling through, defying attempts by the international community to impose order upon them with strategic plans and clear, simplistic, quick-fix, donor-driven solutions. However the momentum towards the end-game of the CPA might be building too quickly for a return to stagnation.
The CPA is all we’ve got, and as such it must be implemented. However it’s important to recognise the hierarchy of priorities within it. The goal of this cease-fire “road map” is peace in 2011, and that peace hinges on the referendum. All the rest of the CPA is preparation for 2011, via an Interim Period which obviously needed practical arrangements (power-sharing, wealth-sharing, security arrangements). While no part of the CPA should be sacrificed lightly, potentially playing into the hands of those who wish to undermine and delay its implementation, nevertheless neither should any part be allowed to act as an excuse for delaying the referendum. The referendum trumps all. If anything, even elections, becomes a hindrance to holding the referendum on time, then the referendum must take priority.
Of course northerners will see it differently. In many ways the only benefit they get from the CPA is elections: for the opposition, the chance to vote out the Islamist military dictatorship under which they have suffered for so long; for the regime, the chance to legitimise itself. The referendum, for all of them, is a bitter pill, potentially leading to the break-up of the nation and the loss of 90% of its oil.
The people of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile might also feel that they need elections. Their only hope is a significant change of government after elections which will be sympathetic to a renegotiation of the CPA to allow them to have referenda. Sadly there is little realistic hope of this.
Clingendael rightly draws attention to the lack of serious discussion and preparation for the post-CPA period, whatever the outcome of the referendum. Southerners have not even begun to articulate the sort of society they want, nor how they will deal with real problems which secession will bring (or exacerbate). Neither side has seriously addressed the issue of relations between two newly-independent states, nor the position of southerners who choose to remain in the north (will they become citizens of the new state, or will they be viewed as alien labourers in an Islamic state without even the meagre rights which they have, in theory, now?). What will southern Sudan do with its oil – the oil may be in the south but the pipeline and refinery are in the north? How will the south settle its ethnic differences? How will the new northern Sudan deal with Darfur and other conflicts? And if unity, what will the “New Sudan” look like and how will the political dispensation change to prevent another war breaking out a few years later over the same grievances that sparked the first two southern wars?
On these issues, as on so much else, northerners and southerners have different interests. Perhaps that’s why southerners have, for so long, been demanding the right of self-determination?
(1) CPA Alert No. 1, IKV Pax Christi, 4 September 2009.
John Ashworth, IKV Pax Christi.
John misunderstands the use of “comprehensive” in the CPA. It was never intended to be comprehensive in terms of settling all the issues of Sudan, but comprehensive in the sense of settling all the issues between Khartoum and the SPLM/A. Thus the three areas were included as was the future of the SPLA forces in the East.
Alan obviously hasn’t read the document to which I refer in the footnote. While I do note that the CPA only addresses one conflict, I also point out that one of the reasons why I say it is not comprehensive is that it involved only two parties and excluded civil society.
We do not disagree. It was comprehensive in the sense that it addressed – all the differences between two parties. No need to criticise it for not doing something else. However it did not settle the issues, merely created space for the two parties to continue to address them, with hopefully the involvement of others.
Whether any agreement involving ‘civil society’ (whatever that means in the Sudan context) would have been achievable is moot. For what it is worth many of the civil society views expressed to me at the time were more extreme than those espoused by the negotiators at Machakos. So it would have been difficult.
Alan, I’m sorry if you read my analysis as criticism of the CPA process. It is not intended that way. But it is intended, with hindsight, perhaps, to analyse what the CPA is in reality as opposed to what it is often misunderstood (or hyped up) to be. And I agree with you that it did not settle the issues but created space for them to be addressed – I have used words like “framework” and “road map” to express that same sentiment.
Now that the referendum has been completed without the “Genocide Scenario” predicted (and probably wished) by N. Kristof, G. Clooney and other anti-Sudan full-time activists, we should recognise the diplomatic wisdom of Alan Goulty and his colleagues who were involved in the different stages of negotiations that culminated in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
The CPA has achieved peace and proved (through wealth and power sharing) that it is more than just a cease-fire. After 39 years of fighting (1955-1972 then 1983-05 )those who expected CPA implementation to be smooth sailing were far removed from the thorny realities of practical politics;but the cynics who expected the CPA to collapse were also proven wrong.
It is now proper to give credit to President Bashir’s government. Its political maturity enabled it to prefer peace to continued fighting, even if peace meant self-determination that might lead to the break -up of the country.
Having said that, one should also not forget that post-referendum issues are potential mine- fields; but the record of the partners (NCP and SPLM) since 05 leads one to expect further cooperation with international support.
The agreement witnessed by the two Vice Presidents (Sheikh Ali Osman Taha and Dr. Riek Machar) last December, ensured that a joint unit protects the oil fields and related infrastructure in the South. This is significant because it shows the interdependence of the two partners and their awareness of the necessity of close cooperation.
There are of course, some, especially in the South, who continue to make inflamatory speeches. They consider the CPA a stage or a temporary cease-fire along the ultimate goal of liberating the whole Sudan by occupying the North and subduinging it militarily – someday.
The CPA meant, in practical terms, the death of their New Sudan Agenda because by signing it they accepted a “Mini New Sudan” in the South.
The dream died and evaporated for the second time when they failed miserably to manage the “Mini New Sudan” and make it a high ideal and a show window.
In their frustration, they will probably continue incitement against the North in order to consolidate their internal front. They will be encouraged by some -especially in the USA- who opposed the CPA when it was signed and opposed the Darfur Peace agreement too.Luckily, these are not decision-makers (despite their loud voices).
We have every reason to celebrate the CPA as a great achievement that resulted from Sudanese, regional and international cooperation. In this respect Alan Goulty should be hailed as a great negotiator and diplomat.
Tunis, Egypt—is Sudan next?
A Tunisian who works for the moderate islamist channel ALHIWAR met me yesterday and said:Sudan is next ;but not in the same manner.Several Sudanese opposition writers and politicians have also predicted a Tunisian or Egyptian style uprising in Sudan.Let us consider the causes of unrest and see if they fit the situation in Sudan.
British and US responses to events in Egypt are wide of the mark. Two examples illustrate this. The highly respectable Guardian enumerated in an editorial(27 January) the grievances of the protesters ” … sparked by self-immolation,unemployment and high food prices “. What the editorial leaves out is equally important. it is kowtowing to the West and Israel . It was most insensitive to force the Egyptians to engage in the siege of Gaza at a time in which US and British officials denounced the Israeli attack on the Flotilla carrying aid.
The US Huffington Post provides another example.Marcus Baram wrote(29 January)that People in Egypt were disappointed in president Obama,especially in the wake of his June 09 Cairo speech.He cited very relevant US controversial policies like cutting funding for democracy and governance as well as funding for civil society and NGOs in Egypt. Like the Guardian Editorial , he left out the very significant factor in which US policy “blinked first” and backtracked when confronted by far right Israli intransigence in settlement building that contradicts the US drawn road map and commitment to a two states solution to the conflict.
To support Israel without” tough love “conditions undermines the claim that the West is serious about Human Rights.To embrace what Uri Davis called”Apartheid Israel” in his book with the same title, and force Arab allies to do the same even when the face of Israel is Lieberman/Netenyahu , is to endanger Western interest,weaken moderates in Arab /Muslim countries and doom rulers who comply to isolation and violent uprisings like what we see in Egypt and Tunisia.
By comparison, President Bashir is seen in his own country and wider afield as a national leader who is unfairly vilified and targeted by the West.Alex DeWaal,Mahmoud Mamadani and other experts have documented the direct link between the Israel lobby in the USA and organisations like Save Darfur Coalition that led a blinkered ,well funded and orchestrated campaign .The campaign ended in a farcical ICC endictment by an unaccountable unelected prosecutor whose court is not recognised by three UNSC members(The US,China and Russia).The same UNSC which authorised the ICC to investigate a state which is not party to the Rome Statute that created the court!
On the other hand, Bashir’s position on the Middle East conflict is quite reasonable and consistent .Peace with Israel is possible if Israel accepted the Arab League offer that is on the table since 2002.The recently published Palestine Papers show that Israel is not interested in a return to 1967 borders.Its strategy seems to be continued occupation ,continued land grabs until the Redindianisation of the Palestinians is complete and they are left with some “reservations” that salve the conscience of the West.
Indeed ;one can claim that Bashir’s relations with the West are an example of success for “soft power” and realistic policies.The CPA stipulated Democratic Transformation that took place and brougt about an environment of openness without parallel in neighbouring countries.There are no political prisoners in Sudan.All political parties (including the communist party)are legally active with headquarters and publications.There are tens of newspapers ,magazines, TV channels and (US funded)civil society organisations.Elections have taken place and the Southern Sudan self-determination referendum was carried out in an orderly and credible manner.Enough Project warnings and predictions were proven wrong,again.Bashir’s speech in Juba on 4 January was a lesson in statesmanship.meant to pave the way for a peaceful and friendly relationship with the expected break-away state.
Many in the west do not recognise the the significance of the 1999 split among the Islamists that resulted in Bashir ousting his previpus mentor Turabi. It was not just a “palace coup”.It signified a shift from Turabi’s international project to a new modest National project.Turabi wanted a Sudan that confronts the West ,meddles in neighbours’ affairs and aspires to lead ALL Arabs and Muslims from Khartoum.The alternative which triumphed is a Sudanese project prioritising peace in the South (later Darfur) ,development and good relations regionally and internationally.Instead of Jihad against the South,the CPA and self-determination.Instead of confrontation with the West,coopration in the war on terror and democratic transformation.
Some professional full- time enemies of peace and stability in Sudan still portray Bashir’s regime in the light of Turabi’s actions and ambitions.Promises to lift the name of Sudan from the Terror Sponsors list were not honoured.Firm promises by the international community during the Oslo 05 conference to help rebuild the South were also not honoured.
Will the Sudan undrgo a violent intifada similar to the Tunisian or Egyptian uprisings? That is highly unlikely ,for the following reasons:
1- Uprisings happen as a result of suppression.The democratic transformation brought about by the Western brokered CPA has removed this factor. The group with the ability to revolt,the SPLM/A is an ally of Bashir and his NCP.Pagan Amum ,the most provocative and anti-northern SPLM secretary general told a press conference in Khartoum last December that” having a steady government in the north and south will contribute positively to ensure security and development” He argued against change of government in the north.
2-Uprisings happen against docile leaders who ingratiate themselves to the West and put its interests above national dignity.Bashir was never groomed by the West which(as the Palestine Papers show) gives itself the right to choose leaders and depose others , even if they win elections!
3-The alternative leaders to Bashir have been tried before. They have no credibility and are too old to represent a long term choice.Sadiq alMahdi became prime Minister twice and failed twice.A decent and generous man(He invited me and our family to a reception at his residence when I returned to Khartoum )but an inadequate leader.Mohamed Ibrahim Nugud , leader of the communist party- which refused to change its name after the collapse of the USSR-is a political ghost from the past ,with negligible popular support.The Unionists are no longer a coherent party. They are held together by the Khatmiyya sect’s leader alone.Turabi is 100% didcredited because of what he did in the early 1990s when he was the de facto ruler.
4-Before declaring austerity measures; Bashir’s government consulted trade Ubions and declared a 40% rise in pay. Exemptions were made for fares in public transport.
5-Bashir leads a National Unity Government and has started negotiations to coopt more parties.
The present writer opposed Turabi’s international project;but together with many others , accepted the Western brokered CPA that stipulated democratic transformation.By so doing it saved the government in Khartoum from the conditions that would have made the country ripe for an uprising.