Sudanese stalemate as neither North nor South can make decisive move – By Nanne op’t Ende
The tactical calculations in the conflict between North and South Sudan are staggeringly complex but they have one thing in common: neither party has the slightest consideration for the wellbeing of the population. I tend to feel that there is little use for analyses when the men in charge are so determined to wear each other out at any cost.
Alex de Waal’s conclusion that the parties are unable to compromise seems to be about the only sensible thing to say. The other issues he mentions follow from this inability to co-operate and compromise. Both parties have operated under the assumption that the other side would eventually try to get the upper hand – and rightly so: Khartoum and Juba constantly look for slight advantages on the ground, with public opinion, in the international arena.
To discuss both parties’ rationale in the conflict is pure speculation. If I were to give it a shot my analysis would run along the lines of a mutual expectation with the NCP and the SPLM that the other side will, sooner or later, crumble and lose the ability to continue its rule.
At the time of signing the CPA, the NCP might have believed it would be better to leave the South to its own devices for a while and concentrate on reinforcing its grip on the North. Knowing that the South Sudan government would depend entirely on oil revenue while the existing pipelines run through the North and estimating that an alternative (up-hill) line to Kenya would be too expensive, the NCP calculated that the SPLM would rather contribute to the North’s economy by paying high oil transport fees than risk being cut off from any revenues at all.
The NCP probably also figured that fear of revenue loss combined with the fear of losing too much credit internationally could refrain Juba from taking action when the Sudan Armed Forces would try to deal with the remaining SPLA forces in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. After all, that is an internal affair. Furthermore, the NCP might have thought that, with its obvious lack of development and human resources and all the ensuing problems of corruption, popular discontent and tribal conflict, the South might well implode within a few years.
The SPLM in its turn might have believed that being the ruling party of an independent country with large proven oil reserves would secure substantial sums in foreign investment and strengthen its position in the international arena. China in particular would no longer be so eager to defend Khartoum, while the United States, for a host of reasons, would be happy to continue its support to Juba.
Knowing that the government in Khartoum had become entirely dependent on oil revenues that were now severely reduced, the SPLM figured that the NCP would be in a tight corner economically, no matter what. Add to this the enormous and continuing cost of fighting the armed opposition in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and it would be only a matter of time before the NCP government would collapse.
In this line of reasoning it is entirely logical not to budge on transport fees and to give covert support to opposition groups across the border. If you can’t win the war, try to win the peace. Whatever the exact calculations were on either side, the peace obviously has not lasted long enough yet for one of the parties to collapse.
In the North, the Sudan Armed Forces defeated SPLA forces in Blue Nile rather decisively and managed to hold on to the large towns in South Kordofan. The rebel movements from Darfur, though still active, seem unable to make any progress in the West. The NCP government is in dire need of foreign currency but so far it shows no clear signs of losing its grip on power.
In the South the SPLM faces strong criticism over corruption, nepotism, tribalism and incompetence but the internal division of the South is nowhere near the level of 1991, when a rift in the movement nearly caused its demise. The SPLM government seems to be in firm control, even though it has a serious budgetary problem since the North provoked it into shutting down oil production.
There is little chance that the NCP and the SPLM will actually compromise on anything. This is a serious game of poker: which country will run out of chips first? I guess that beyond today’s horizon all kinds of other calculations are being made for the event of full scale war: who will let himself be provoked into continuing his advance beyond the border areas? Who can count on support from his allies? Who can sustain a prolonged military campaign when the financial resources are all but depleted? Is there any chance the international community will intervene?
I see no reason why either side would now be in a better position to defeat the other than seven years ago when they signed the CPA. They both used the oil money to build up their respective armed forces. Perhaps Juba has the better fighters, but Khartoum has the fighter jets. At the same time I think neither party is comfortable with letting time alone decide who might win the peace. So they up the ante. Sudan continues to harass South Sudan along the borders, South Sudan shuts down the wells.
Personally I think it is clear Khartoum has the greatest contempt for the people, bombing civilian areas day in day out, with al Beshir calling the SPLM “˜insects’ and Haroun telling his troops in South Kordofan to “˜hand over the place clean’ and “˜make no prisoners’. It is evil, I have no better words for their conduct. Meanwhile Juba seems to gamble recklessly with the future of millions of citizens of a new nation… what to make of that?
All I know for sure is that the population is the party that is certain to lose, and for the most part they are not even allowed to play.
Nanne op’t Ende is the author of Proud to be Nuba and long-time commentator on South Kordofan.
The issue here is not about parties giving grounds; it is about the basis of the negotiations. The wrangling between the two governments led to prolonging of the conflict and also complicating matters more, than putting it in the right track which will lead to sustainable peace between the two nations and not just agreement between the two political parties. The negotiations and the mediation strategy must base on a set of principles, the first one is addressing the underline causes of north south conflict, which started in 1955 and led to the separation of South Sudan, and that refusal to recognise the rights of south Sudanese and other marginalise groups in Sudan and led them to resort to military straggle to fight for their rights, and that is clear from the tone and the languages used by some leaders in Khartoum, I donâ€™t think they are interesting in good relation with the people of South Sudan or other marginalise areas of Sudan, just interesting in their resources with no consideration for their humanity , yes South Sudan is now an independent state but it is still sharing more than 2000 km border , with around 13 million people living in 10 borders states north south and that will last forever the issue here is the mindset of the elites in Khartoum until that change no agreement will bring lasting peace to the region. Now North Sudan managed to get rid of south Sudan and many right wings groups like Just Peace Forum believes, that is the best option and now will become Arabic and Islamic state ,but how are they going to deal with the new South within North Sudan and that is even longer than the previous South from South Darfur to Blue Nile , is the war going to go on for another 45 years and end up with another self-determination referendum, the issues here is not about Muslims and non-Muslims Darfuri are 100% Muslim and more strict Muslim than many people in some northern states , and that rule out any claim for Jihadist war( holy war) against them. The issues which led to separation of South Sudan and re-igniting the war in Darfur and later in South Kordofan and Blue Nile are the same and still exist, it is about lack of recognition of others rights, bad governance, lack of democracy and state based on citizenship rights and equality. The international community must stick to the principle of universal rights and equality enshrined in most of the international convents and conventions and not just looking for any solution, UN Security Resolution 2046 shows the frustration of the AUPS and UNSC from the lack of progress in the on-going negotiations and add to miseries millions of Sudanese north South, I think it is the right decision in the right time and must not be watered down for any reasons.
The Sudan Crisis–Whither why?
What and why the place and essential significance of Sudan?â€“–which to be certain, Sudan has attracted inordinate level of external attraction beyond the confines of its own bordersâ€“–Why? Is it the absolute brutality of its internal conflicts which generated an international moral outrage of attention demanding external interventionâ€“or possibly the discovery of oil and the potential of immense oil reserves which attracted the international energy marketsâ€”or the fear by certain actors who are becoming alarmed by the Sudanese governmentâ€™s support in allowing the country [Sudan] to be used as a base of operations in advancing Islamic revolutionary extremism to be exported abroad to create social and civil unrest while ensuring that Sudan will be a safe haven in order to ensure further incursions leading to civil and social unrest. All this in one country poorly served by the political and legislative elite.
Sudan and South Sudan is a region fractured and must be attended in terms of civic civil social cohesive assistance which must be led and directed by the Sudanese.
It is in the interest of our two peoples to be good neighbors. To cooperate, and weâ€™ve gone almost to the point of begging them. It is not out of weakness, but it is simply because we need stability within our country, and with our neighbors.