Articles and Analysies
The Question of African Identity, Arabism and Islam phobia in the Sudan By: Justin D. Wannis
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May 26, 2008 - 6:45:24 PM

The Question of African Identity, Arabism and Islam phobia in the Sudan


By: Justin D. Wannis


- The attack on Abyei was a direct revenge by Khartoum for its security failure in Omdurman on May 10th 2008 .


The SPLM’s recent convention was more than just a party convention as it brought former freedom fighters all over the country to Juba . One could see old faces of those of Joseph Lago of the Anya nya, Musa of the Beja or eastern front, from Blue Nile and the Darfur function of SLM of Arco Minawi who himself was present. Together with the SPLM delegates from northern Sudan , it made the colours of New Sudan as stated by James Wani Igga in his 90 minutes speech in which he described as the colours of salads in a plate. It was a very big achievement not only for the SPLM as a party but the people of Southern Sudan . That was a momentum of rewriting the Sudan history. SPLM and the people of southern Sudan have changed the Sudan for ever as late Dr. Garang used to say.


In this article, am not going to concentrate too much on the convention but one thing that  I saw during the opening ceremony of the convention   was the body language of Sudan’s senior assistance President Mr. Arco Minawi. I observed that after listening to James Wani when he was mentioning and naming how many agreements that have been dishonoured by the northerners as per the book of Mawlana Abel Alier and many more including Riek – Lam agreement, Minawi might have felt that his agreement might also be dishonoured or he was in a state of morning as they always say – blood is thicker than water. The assistance president was looking disturbed and could not even control his speech and mentioned direct to Osman Taha , Sudan vice president to honour the CPA and other agreements saying the solutions are in their hands. He also said the doors must be kept open for negotiations for those who are still fighting. It was same day that Bashir announced he was not going to talk to JEM.


Do we as Africans in the Sudan have common goal not just a day to day interests but a long term political strategy either as Muslims, Christians and traditionalist Africans as the northerners or Arabs do? If not, it is time to think about it. Northerners are forming what I see as Arab alliance against Africans. This is no longer a jihad against non Muslims but a jihad against non Arabs.


When the Justice and Equality Movement of Dr. Ibrahim Khalil managed to enter the Sudanese city of Omdurman on May 10th, opinions in southern Sudan were divided. Some believed that the JEM did the right thing by bringing the war to the doorsteps of the so called AWLAD AL BALED, some say the JEM is an Islamic movement that cannot do any good to the south and that it will be the same like the NCP while some simply believe that the South should not care about the people of Darfur as they used to kill us in the South. Some also say they don’t know the political agenda and program of Ibrahim Khalil and his JEM and that it is better to deal with a visible devil than dealing with the one which is not visible. For James Wani Igga, it could have resulted to a zero starting point for the SPLM. One never know, may be may be not. In its statement, JEM strongly stated that they will respect the CPA whatsoever happen. One cannot rule out what could have happened as a politicians word when in opposition is never honoured when in power.


Couple of days later the southern town of Abyei was in flames while the SPLM/A leaders were busy in Juba conducting their convention. The state media in Khartoum refused to show any single picture of the burnt town on the national television. Some international TV stations like CNN showed footages obtained from SSTV (South Sudan TV).  Al Jazeera is the only one which kept on reporting what actually took place in Abyei. An eye-witness who was present in Abyei during the attack stated to CNN that what he saw was horrible to describe as the NCP was using aerial bombardment to drive away people from the town in order to replace them with Arab tribesmen from the neighbouring Misirya. Some elements within the NCP accused some SPLM members from Abyei of being behind the crisis. Among the names mentioned in their televised accusation was Deng Alor, Dr. Francis Deng, Edward Lino and another they only described as SPLA chief of security. Such accusation of course is another way to create division within the SPLM as the NCP has failed to see that SPLM is divided. From the SPLM side, they accused the NCP for the crisis while Pagan said, I quote; if we wanted to go back to war, we could have gone back long time ago because it is the NCP who is not implementing the CPA, unquote.


The message that was conveyed by Mr. Musa of the Eastern Front at the opening of the convention in Juba was very clear though I did not finish listening to his speech – the people in the East and South are one. That was his message. Without the south (SPLA/M) the east would not enjoy what it is enjoying today in that part of the country.


The attack on Omdurman paved the way for Sadiq El Mahdi to replace his brother in-low Hassan El Turabi who was once Bashir’s political right-hand man. Late this week, there was breaking news on Sudan TV stating that Sadiq El Mahdi and Bahsir (Umma Party and NCP) were to sign what they called agreement of “tajama al waton” or national alliance in English - because the country is in danger they said. The same Sadiq El Mahdi invaded the Sudan capital in the 70s with backing from Libya and former President Faafar Numeiry made reconciliation agreement with him. The Bashir – El Mahdi move is a clear sign that Arabs can form alliance and forget about their differences when they see their common interest is in danger – the power base and Arab identity. The alliance they have signed is only for the jalaba or awlad al baled. What do we understand from this move as African Sudanese? Bringing Sadiq el Mahdi again into the political scene of the country by someone who toppled him is itself a question mark. He is already playing a political role just few days after the agreement with Bashir by offering to mediate between NCP and SPLM over the issue of Abyei and has his own proposal.


I understand the fear of southerners for CPA. But one thing we should know is that with or without CPA, it is not healthy at all  for the south to deal with a strong united northern Sudan . If the JEM had managed to dismantle the power base of NCP, it would have never been negative for the South because it could take the northern Sudan many years to reorganise its power base and by the time they’re reorganising themselves, the south would be in a different stage. We should not forget also that 75% of the Sudan Army is of African origin. The attempt by the JEM was not purely done without inside support. Bashir never admitted that Yei was under the control of SPLA until the time of CPA – it is the same for Wad Saydna. Bashir has not even said a ingle word about what really took place in that military base as JEM claimed they destroyed jet fighters on the ground. Bashir is in North Korea and probably Japan to beg for more arms.

Abyei – South Sudan ’s unfinished war

What was really the reason that made the SPLM not to negotiate the Abyei issue to the finish while they knew it was going to be a timing bomb in the South?   Did the SPLM really sign the CPA at the right time? What could have happen if we had waited with the signing of the CPA in January 2005? Why is the South so scared of Islam that they cannot forge a workable alliance with their African brothers in Western Sudan simply because they are scared of their (western Sudan ) Islamic affiliation? Abyei is part of the South and we are part of Abyei and if it is to kill the CPA to save Abyei we should be prepared for that. Our people who were living in the north for the last 25 years have just been transported back to Abyei and now they are being killed by Bashir’s antenov. For me I see it as a clear declaration of war. NOT WITHOUT ABYEI.

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