Beyond Conflict in South Sudan by Dr. Ahmed Hamoda H. Fadlalla
Beyond Conflict in South Sudan
Africa between the Old Guard and the New Leaders of the Second African Liberation ( part 1)
Dr. Ahmed Hamoda H. Fadlalla ([email protected])
The current conflict in South Sudan goes far beyond being a confrontation over power between the president Salva Kiir and his disgruntled deposed former Vice-president Riek Machar. Nor indeed is it a tribal war; since many senior officials within the dissenting group come from the president's Dinka tribe. They continue to re-iterate that the conflict is essentially political in nature. In this article we will try to shed light on the political and ideological rift that has torn apart one of Africa's strongest liberation movements (SPLA). Beyond the seeming facades of tribalism or personal ambition lies a deeper ideological rift in African leadership between the "old guard" who inherited power from the departed colonial masters, but who nonetheless continue to rule for imperial interests by proxy in black - mostly military - garb; and between a new generation of enlightened civilian leaders aspiring to lead Africa towards a second and true liberation from the shackles of exploitation, dependency and marginalization in the world economy. This new generation of African leaders wants to channel African wealth to the welfare of African peoples. But their patriotic quest for a leadership loyal to its peoples is antithetical to imperial interests. Here lies the particular conflict of interests between imperial powers pushing to safeguard their stakes in Africa at all costs, and those patriotic leaders wanting to protect national wealth from being grabbed by foreign grabbers; and be directed instead to the benefit of their peoples. This inevitable confrontation explains much of the strife that has paralyzed Africa, specifically in the endemic rivalry between corrupt leadership - mostly generals - and enlightened civilian leaders in the struggle for control over state power. The unceasing interventions of imperial interests are crucial in determining the race for leadership in African. It is no secret that imperial powers back those African leaders who they regard as "folk with whom to do business"; while undercutting those who espouse dedication to the welfare of the peoples. In short, imperial interests back corrupt leaders at the same time they remain hostile to enlightened civilian leaders loyal to their peoples. This is the context in which the current crisis in South Sudan should be understood.
The Roots of the Conflict: Old Comrades New Enemies:
Ever since the inception of the new South Sudan state in July 2011 and election of Salva Kiir as President, many of the top leaders in the cabinet who were old fellow fighters with Kiir during the SPLA protracted war against Khartoum, many of them voiced concerns about Kiir's increasing concentration of powers in his hands. This concentration of powers - they say - has turned into an autocratic rule that is eroding the functions of the state's weak institutions which need strengthening, not weakening by the president himself. Increasingly and insidiously, Kiir has taken calculated steps to weaken the positions of these leading officials in his government, to finally take the bold step to dismiss them from office in July 2013. The question that naturally comes to mind: Why has president Kiir taken such strange measures against a large number of his government ministers who were old fellow fighters in the SPLA battlefields? Why Kiir has turned his old friends into new enemies?
The Overt Story and the True Story:
The overt explanation that president Kiir provided is that his action was intended to fight corruption. Accusations of corruption are traded on both sides, though. But if that is true, then why Kiir has taken such great pains to create his own Presidential Private Guard? a well-trained and equipped force whose sole purpose is to protect Kiir's life against possible danger? As a man who has worked for long years in the SPLA intelligence, he knows that he needs to protect his back for any miscalculated or dangerous step. This means that this "dangerous step" has always been in the cooking as a measured intent to remove these men from the way. This makes the precept of "fighting corruption" unconvincing. Whether for reasons of corruption, or other reasons, Kiir has boldly removed from his way many powerful SPLA leaders now forming the dissenting party, including his former Vice-President Riek Machar, former SPLA Secretary General Pagan Amum, Taaban Deng, Rebecca Garrang widow of the founding father John Garang and many others. It begs the question how and why a leader and president consciously takes such drastic measures to weaken his own government which would logically entail undermining his own authority. Why has Kiir turned his back to his cabinet and former fellows in arms? Has he taken his decisions single-mindedly, or are there other hidden forces at play that push him to do so? Has he found more powerful allies to back him in case his authority is threatened?
Genesis of the Conflict: The Ideological Rift:
To understand the genesis of the conflict, we need to put it in the wider context of African leadership as a whole. looking into the contours of alliances which president Kiir has forged with a host of regional and international backers will give us a clue to the ideological inclination which has caused the president to drift away - if not completely depart - from the vision on which the SPLA has been founded, such that the President's stance looks like a "betrayal" in the eyes of the dissenting party. The closest ally to president Kiir, is president Moseveni of Uganda who hastily took to send massive military support to president Kiir to smother the rebellion. But fingers point to Moseveni having a bloody hand in the sudden tragic death of Dr. John Garang, the founding father of SPLA whose patriotic ideals of national unity and Pan-African liberation became a blueprint for the movement and its faithful men. Both men are military generals ruling in African states like many others in the region. This clan of African military dictators represents the "old guard" who inherited the state from the colonial masters, yet rule by proxy to preserve the interests of the departed imperial powers. Here is a list:
• Yoweri Moseveni of Uganda; 25 years in office –present
• Paul Biya of Camerron; 29 years –present
• Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola; 32 years –present
• Theodor Nguema of Equatorial Quinea; 32 years – present
• Daniel arap Moi of Kenya; 24 years
• Omar Bongo of Gabon; 42 years
• Francois Bozize of Central African Republic; 10 years.
• Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan; 24 years – present
• Idriss Deby of Chad; 23 years – present
• Paul Kagame of Rwanda; 20 years – present;
just to name a few.
Has President Salva Kiir betrayed the vision of SPLA and joined the clan of “the old guard” of military dictators insinuated and encouraged by his immediate neighours: Yoweri Moseveni, Omar Al-Bashir and others in the region?
Bashir's intelligence agents, it has been rightly said, instigated Kiir against his cabinet ministers and old friends. Kiir, unfortunately, has been ill-advised by the old guard of the military, Museveni and Al-Bashir to wage a coup against the civilian elite in his government. These two generals are Kiir's immediate neighbours and regional backers; together with others in the region form the pack of "the old guard" of African corrupt military dictators with complicit backing from international imperial interests.
It is not surprising, though interesting, to see a smooth corresponding convergence with Kiir's international backers congregating in Juba last week. The USA, UK, EU and China have all sent high-ranking envoys to try to settle the conflict. International powers are more concerned with protecting their interests in the new state (e.g. oil) than with any other thing. Indeed, the conflict ensued simultaneously at the time when a big event for international investors is taking place in Juba. This is not a passing coincidence. These are the very imperial powers working hard to broker a cease-fire between the two warring parties to safeguard their oil stakes and other interests. However, it is interesting to notice that these envoys from the UK, Western powers, China and IGAD have put an unduly immense pressure on the leader of the dissention Dr. Riek Machar to force him agree to an unconditional cease-fire. As one British observer - James Kupnaull - has noted : Machar has been under great pressure from IGAD leaders to force him to a cease-fire, including reserving the right to take "additional measures" if he did not comply within 4 days. Similarly, the US even threatens Machar. While the US strategy is to press both sides to adopt an immediate ceasefire, the Obama administration is also warning Machar that the US will look to punish him and his side if he marches on Juba and takes control of the government by force. "The United States will deny support and work to apply international pressure to any elements that use force to seize power," National Security Staff Spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said (Daily Beast, Jan, 7, 2014).
Why has Kiir been spared such great pressure? Why western envoys and regional powers did not pressurize Kiir , a military general, to convince him to submit to the leadership of an enlightened educated elite to run South Sudan? The convergence of Kiir's regional military backers with that of his international imperialist backers can be seen as cleverly orchestrated between the regional leaders of the "old guard" and their imperial masters to win Kiir to their side in the old game of the Africa loot (a new version of the old Scramble for Africa) and reinforce his position against his enlightened educated rivals who seek to liberate Africa and break away from the infernal circle of bondage and exploitation.
Many have pointed out that Kiir hates the educated elite around him, possibly due to a feeling of academic pauperism vis-a-vis the enlightened highly-educated leaders Like Riek Machar, Pagan Amum, Taaban Deng and many others of his rivals who are graduates of prestigious western universities. Imperial circles play on this negative psychological make-up of African military general's traditional hatred of educated elites in the struggle for control over state power. International powers purposely enflame this rivalry, constantly backing the military against the civilian elites. Unfortunately, the costs of the inevitable confrontations between the two warring parties - military against civilian - fuelled by the hidden hand of imperial interests are to be paid by the masses of African peoples in the form of mass killings unto genocides, pandemic poverty, mass hunger unto starvation, displacement, and an overall decline of Africa as a whole in the world economy. It is estimated that in the current conflict in South Sudan over one thousand are killed, and more than 200 thousands displaced over the past two weeks. This is a stigma on the face of the international community and many international powers who espouse claims of human rights and human dignity. For many Africans, such claims are a sham, hypocritical and false so much so as long as these very same powers continue to back military dictators and corrupt leaders to rule over African peoples.
Dr. Ahmed Hamoda H. Fadlalla
Linguist and Political Economist
Saturday, Jan. 3, 2014.
Beyond Conflict in South Sudan
Africa between the Old Guard and the New Leaders of the Second African Liberation ( part 2)
Dr. Ahmed Hamoda H. Fadlalla ([email protected])
Double standards, Two-Faced:
The good lesson is that there has always been an unholy alliance between the imperialists and corrupt African leaders, mostly generals. Why imperialist powers do not want to see enlightened educated African elites come to power? Why they back corrupt military generals against civilian elites? None of the envoys of Western powers who have been hastily dispatched to Juba and Addis Ababa comes from a country ruled by a military dictator. The United States has taken great pains to mid-wife the birth of the South Sudan from the womb of the mother country; Sudan. The US and other western powers who actively pushed for the cessation of South Sudan are well aware of the fact that South Sudan cannot be a viable state. An in-land locked country, ridden with a vast ethnic and linguistic diversity, with virtually no infrastructure is an ideal soil for chaos and inter-tribal warfare as characterize the geo-political landscape of the region. Nonetheless, these powers went ahead with South Sudan cessation from the mother country. The US constitution forbids a military general to assume the office of the US president while still in the army. The US could have played a benign role had it applied the same law and pushed for a civilian leader to lead the new South Sudan state.
Again, the US and other Western powers endorsed the results of presidential elections of North Sudan in 2010 which again brought to power Omar Al-Bashir, a military general wanted by international justice for crimes against humanity; a dictator who has been in office for nearly a quarter of a century. Western observers of the Sudan's elections, including Jimmy Carter - former US president and founder of the Carter Center - declared that the elections did not meet international standards, but "we" accept the results i.e. Bashir winning for a fifth term in office, because it is in the interests of the US and other imperial powers to have corrupt African military leaders rule over their peoples. Carter himself cannot remain in US presidency for more than two terms in office, but he can boldly declare Al-Bashir as winner of rigged elections for a fifth term in Sudan. What is the legislature's wisdom of limiting presidential chances to only two terms, a maximum of eight years? to curb corruption because absolute prolonged power leads to absolute corruption, as the received wisdom says. While officials of western imperial nations make sure that laws are observed inside their countries, they make every effort to undermine these very laws in the context of Africa; thereby giving false legitimacy to unlawful corrupt leaders rejected by their own peoples, but who nevertheless are imposed on the helpless peoples by powerful imperialist interests. The UK government is an accomplice when kept silent about some British companies supplying lethal arms to Khartoum to suppress protests in such a brutal manner. The UK is in breach of international law which forbids UN member states to supply arms to terrorist states like Sudan’s. By backing and legitimizing the rule of corrupt despotic (military) dictators and for prolonged tenure of office for up to 40 years - (as in the case of President Omar Bongo of Gabon who ruled for 42 years backed by France)- Western and other imperial powers have always been an integral part and active accomplices in the institution of endemic corruption in Africa which paralyzed the continent so far.
Testimony of Failure:
A telling testimony of such endemic corruption, backed by imperial external interests, is the decimal failure of African leaders in the test of transparency and good governance. Mo Ibrahim - the British-Sudanese tycoon - has set the Mo Ibrahim Prize worth $5 million (plus $200,000/year for life), far much more lucrative and generous than the US$1.3 million Nobel Peace Prize. Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership is to be awarded annually to the best of African leaders who leads his people according to the set standards of good governance, transparency, accountability and fairness. Since its inauguration in 2006 , only three of African leaders won the prize (namely: Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique in 2007; Festus Mogae of Botswana in 2008; and Pedro Pires of Cape Verde in 2011). None of the 54 African leaders today has been able to prove worthy of the prize for the past two years. This failure in the test of good governance alone is enough today to make many African leaders step down if they have a sense of responsibility and loyalty to their nations.
Imperial Hostility to Enlightened Educated African Elites:
On the other side of the ideological divide stands a breed of enlightened educated African leaders dedicated to the vision of the African mother land of liberty, prosperity and human dignity for all African peoples. Pan-Africanism has been the guiding spirit of the founding fathers of the first liberation struggle. These ideals are passed down to the new generation represented by Kiir's current rivals since Kiir himself has obviously deviated from the path. These include - in the Sudanese context - Dr. Riek Machar, Pagan Amum, Taaban Deng, Rebecca Garang. Known as "Garang's sons" they are the immediate heirs to the legacy of Dr. John Garang, the founding father of the SPLA movement who led the struggle against the North unto liberation. Together with their Northern counter-parts: Yassir Aarman, Malik Aaqar, Abdelaziz Al-Hilu, Nassr Elddin AlMahdi, AlTom Haju and the assassinated Dr Khalil Ibrahim of the DarFur JEM movement, these new leaders have a vision based on the old patriotic tradition of national unity and Pan-African liberation. This new breed of African leaders aspire to lead Africa along the footsteps of the departed fathers on the thorny bushy trails of African politics strewn with the blood of martyrs in the painful African liberation struggle through the annals of history.
But these new leaders are aware that their mission is not an easy excursion. They know that it is a very tough and dangerous mission. Many sinister forces lurk in the shadows to smother any attempt to pull Africa out of darkness. The forefathers of the first African liberation struggle paid an exorbitant price in defense of their legitimate cause. Some were hunted down by imperialist forces and their local agents, some imprisoned, while others brutally assassinated or killed in strange circumstances. Patrice Lumumba, the most important assassination in the 20th century, was assassinated by a US-Belgian sponsored plot on the 17th Jan 1961. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 17 years before finally liberated black South Africans from the Apartheid system. Walter Rodney, a Tanzanian scholar and author of “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”, had great chances to win the race for presidency was nipped in the bud. Dr. John Garang, died in a plane crash in strange circumstances; Dr. Khalil Ibrahim of the GEM DarFur movement was bombed by a high-precision shell in his bed; and many more, are living examples of the extent of hostility and hatred towards the good enlightened faithful sons of Africa to lead the continent to the place it deserves among the world nations. Advocates of black cause are also assassinated in the America: Ibraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Medgar Wylie Evers and others. It comes as no surprise to see how a lethal conflict in South Sudan has been enflamed between a despotic military dictator - backed by imperial interests and regional agents of the "old guard"- both intent to crush the enlightened educated elite of South Sudan and block their rightful ascendency to leadership. It remains to be seen who of the two blocks will win the race to lead Africa in the 21 century: the "old guard" or the new generation of enlightened faithful leaders dedicated to the vision of a liberated, prosperous and dignified Africa.
It is high time that the sons of Africa say "NO" to despotic military dictators who rule their peoples on the barrels of guns. But African peoples cannot by themselves accomplish this feat unaided. Tyrants entrench their tyranny through active backing from external interests to suppress any attempts that threaten their authority. It is high time for citizens in western and imperial nations to also say "NO" to the dubious practices of their governments and companies overseas which greatly harm the welfare of African peoples. Citizens in these imperial nations have a moral responsibility to stop what goes on in Africa of all signs of decline, disintegration, warfare and bloodshed, hunger and human suffering. This is simply because their governments - in trying to appease the electorate - can do all kinds of unlawful and wrong doings in other parts of the world to make them happy and so win their votes to secure electoral victory. And the process goes on in a vicious circle. Two positive steps in the right direction could be for citizens in western and rich nations to:
1. hold accountable their government officials and companies working overseas of any dubious practices that encourage corruption among African officials.
2. force their governments to lawfully ban economic and political relations with states ruled by corrupt leaders and military dictators.
Dr. Ahmed Hamoda H. Fadlalla
Linguist and Political Economist
Saturday, Jan. 3, 2014.