Title: Beyond Conflict in South Sudan by Dr. Ahmed Hamoda H. Fadlalla
Author: Ahmed Hamoda H. Fadlalla
Date: 09-29-2014, 01:22 PM
Dr. Ahmed Hamoda H. Fadlalla
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 mailto:([email protected]([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)