Title: Do Majdi Eljouzli and Arif Esawi support the continuity of war crimes and crimes against humanity؟
Author: عمار عوض
Date: 01-08-2016, 03:12 PM
02:12 PM Jan, 08 2016
عمار عوض -
Based on the article “The Intrepid Negotiators”
By Amaar Awad
I have carefully read the article entitled ‘The Intrepid Negotiators’, written by Majdi Eljouzoli and Arif Elsawi, which was published in Alyoum-Altali, a Sudanese newspaper. Several aspects of the article aroused my interest. Not least, because the writers are close friends whom I respect. Also, because of my current professional engagement as a journalist, specializing in international concerns, I am drawn to humanitarian issues, which tend to intersect with it. And finally as the issues raised relate to my country, it is natural that the article takes a prior call on my attention.
My greatest concern with the article, however, that it seems to foster the idea of sacrificing civilians humanitarian need on the altar of securing a speedy political settlement. In doing so it plumbed for one side’s viewpoint, the government’s side. Besides that the article seems to implicitly call for casting aside any regard for international humanitarian law.
In the debate about the article in social media forums, Arif Elsawi was clearer in his claim that the Sudanese government, as a sovereign state, cannot agree to safe humanitarian relief delivery corridors for civilians affected by the conflict in Nuba Mountains and blue Nile regions from neighboring countries. But precedent refutes this argument, as the same government, insisting now on exercising sovereignty, acceded to open safe corridors in the Nuba Mountains from neighboring countries before as stipulated by the Nuba Mountains Cease-fire Agreement. An agreement formalizing a humanitarian ceasefire accord signed by senior regime official Amb. Mutrif Sidiq and Cdr. Abdel-Aziz Alhilu, SPLA/M-Nuba, in Bürgenstock, Switzerland, 2002.
The second argument drawn from the article, finds the authors recounting some arguments by the government of Sudan viewpoint that the humanitarian aid will be used to supply SPLA/N forces, which could only lead the continuation of the war.
From the writers’ viewpoint, the delivery of humanitarian aids would indirectly result in lengthening conflict, similar to the experience of the first civil war between North and South, when Operation Lifeline supplied across-the-line relief to affected civilians at he time. This remains the prime ruse repeatedly offered by the government at the negotiating table and to international mediators.
With the above contentions the writers counter the SPLA/N call to using multiple corridors from inside and outside Sudan. In this they hold that the Sudan government is in a strong military position and no one could force it to yield to that demand. They contend that an unfavourable balance of military power at the time between government and SPLM/A compelled Elsadig Elmahdi’s government during third democratic period to accept Operation Lifeline.
However, let us set aside for a while Operation Lifeline, and examine dependability of the logic of the balance of forces adopted by the writers as a determinant in the matter of humanitarian aids. The case to examine that best confounds this approach used by Sudan government (and also by Majdi and Arif) is the conflict in Darfur in the west of Sudan. There the government refuses the delivery of humanitarian aid by the UN and other agencies to Darfur except from its own territories and through its seaport and airports. And, what is the result of this situation؟
The government has come to use humanitarian relief as weapon against the displaced people inside the camp where many oppose its policies. Suspending the delivery of provisions of food and medicines at will, and at other times purchasing the acquiescence of the UNIMIAD officials to turn a blind eye to government violations. Recently the Sudanese Vice-President, Hasabo Mohamed Abdalrahman, stated an oft-repeated threat that the government plan to close all displacement camps in Darfur. No doubt, this actions are dictated by the
‘logic of force and military balance theory’ adopted by the writers.
But the worst actions and probably was the expulsion of the UN top official Jan Pronk, not just from Darfur but from the Sudan as a whole. This was followed by the expulsion of, Ali Zaatari, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan in 2015, which forced the UN to end his posting submitting to Khartoum’s will.
The most egregious acts of subversion of so-called ‘internal humanitarian provision’ is the authorities periodic arbitrary banning and suspended the activities of 13 international organizations working in Darfur in the humanitarian fields in the last few years, which has resulted in food shortfall and a health crisis in Darfur’s camps.
So the question remains, is this the kind of ‘internal humanitarian corridors’ the two writers call for in the face of such evidence of violations؟ Suppose for the sake of argument, the SPLM/N and the civilians under its care in the territories it controls accept delivering of humanitarian relief from inside Sudan, what will happen then in view of the Darfur experience outlined above. No doubt, the government will seek to control the UN mission, and expel officials who refuse to bend to the government will, and to expel relief foreign humanitarian organizations that value their independence- if it ever allowed their entrance into the country in the first place. Is this really what my friend Arif is proposing nowadays؟ I wonder what happened to my friend ‘Arif’, whom I knew very well and last met six years ago, and can quite comprehend the new changes that led to support this position.
It is important here to reiterate the SPLA/M-N position that we gleaned from it from it negotiating team regarding the humanitarian relief and its delivery, which have been completely ignored by the writers in their article ‘The Intrepid Negotiators’. In fact the article fails to bring forth any balancing argument by the SPLA/M-N negotiators, which seriously impugn the neutrality of the writers.
The SPLA/N negotiators main argument is that the Darfuri experience in the field of humanitarian relief illustrates the attendant risks of Sudan government proposal to restrict the delivery of relief from Sudanese territories only. Instead the SPLA/M-N negotiators proposed multi-corridors operation, including internal corridors from Elobied and Eldmazin cities, and external corridors from the Republic of South Sudan and Ethiopia. In which case, the Sudanese authorities would not be able to control the entire relief operations- to expel foreign organizations or UN officials and suspended their operations whenever it wished to.
Again it is useful to recall that the humanitarian ceasefire agreement in Nuba Mountains signed by same government in 2002 allowed the delivery of relief using external corridors from Kenya. So what has really changed since then in relation to the issue of national sovereignty؟ Although, this agreement was the beginning of the road for the long negotiations that led to the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Niavasha in 2005. This demolishes the writers argument that humanitarian relief agreement will lengthen war and delay the peace.
The SPLA/M-N and their ‘intrepid negotiators’ did not limit the delivery of relief just through neighboring countries but accepted additional internal corridors. So what is the writers’ alternative؟ They seem to offer none, other than the continuation of the status quo- the bombing, killing and starvation of civilians until they accept a peace at the point of the gun, imposed by the ‘logic of the balance of forces’ locally and internationally.
Instead of proposing a new idea or a practical plan for a relief operation the writers chose to take as their aim the poetic output of Yasir Arman, the SPLA/M-N Chief Negotiator. A puzzling turn in the context of a discussion of an issue of wide public concern. A proof, if one is needed, of the writers’ reprehensible cynicism or that could resist missing the opportunity to play to the gallery of Arman’s detractors.
The actual daily air raids, arbitrary bombardment and the starvation of civilians seems not to prick the writers conscience, who have introduce their article by drawing attention to sufferings of civilians victims in the Two-Areas. Yet intriguingly, they don’t find a word of condemnation for what’s, by any measure, a prima facie war crime. To my dear friends, I say, the risks of a prolong conflict are not increased by an effective relief operation, but on the contrary, it is the silence and indifference with which these crimes are met. It is difficult to come to term with such a radical change of positions from the writers, especially when considering the moral equivalence they set up between a government that deploys its air force against civilians, and an opponent that possesses none.
I remain utterly surprised at the extent of the writers’ change of sympathies, when considering their critical position towards the memorandum signed by more that a hundred international organizations and prominent personalities. Perversely, they consider the memorandum an act bourgeois sob, and accused the signers of taking side with the people of the two areas and their representative in the current negotiation. Although among the signers is a former US presidential envoy Andrew Natsios, who is a former director of USAID; and notable jurists, academics and parliamentarians who are known for their integrity and honesty the world over. Here too, the writers seem to openly totally align themselves to government position on the memorandum.
There are, broadly speaking, four criteria approved by international conventions and the United Nations, that must be met by any humanitarian operation. They are: humanitarian purpose, impartiality, integrity and independence and these conditions cannot be met if the relief operation is delivered from Sudan territories.
International humanitarian law stipulates that any party impeding the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians for any reasons is committing a crime against humanity. So could the writers call not to permit delivery of humanitarian relief to the people of the Two-Areas, on the ground that this would prolong the war can be considered as aiding and abetting the committing of crimes against humanity in the light of precedents set during the Balkan war, when ICC held that preventing the delivery of humanitarian relief as crime against humanity equivalent to forced displacement and persecution, because it hugely aggravates a humanitarian crisis
Finally, what is the opinion of the writers regarding the forced displacement of the population of the Inqasana people from their fertile areas near El-Damazin؟ Do they also consider it a crime on a par with the Chief Negotiator’s ‘bad poetry’؟ In any case, the writers rhetorical effort to frame regime crimes and violations as exempt from accountability and moral censure will not pass those Sudanese who are seized by shame and rage due to the actions of the government against the people of Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and Darfur.
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