Egypt is Too Selfish and Wicked towards South Sudan.
By: Justin Ambago Ramba, MD.
As a south Sudanese myself, it is only natural for me to react passionately when I hear of things that promote my people’s cause for Independence and freedom. However some of these beautiful moments have often been upset by unprovoked negative actions by a few who are historically responsible for the misery that we have to go through. And frankly speaking the Egyptian government has of late taken upon itself this evil and selfish role of championing counter campaigns with the sole intension to keep south Sudan and its people under the yoke of the Arab Islamic colonialism & imperialism.
There is nobody in south Sudan who can claim not to see how Egypt has systematically sought to undermine our hard won Right to Self Determination. It seeks its own national interest - which led it first to invade and colonise the Sudan in the first place. Now it continues to play its political cards with that same colonial mentality, and to underestimate its colonial attitude would be to miss the most central point that offers the key to the understanding of the politics of the Nile Valley and all those old Nile water treaties.
Now as south Sudan confidently walks towards its independence, the future relationships with Egypt must be based on our past and present. History should not be discarded for the sake of some shallow, half baked diplomacy. Our neighbours and friends must be valued on the roles they played in relationship to our struggle for independence. Those who favoured the enemy and went on to put hurdles on our way with the intension of denying us victory should no doubt be regarded accordingly. It is not much to tell those who contributed to the sufferings of our people that we disapprove of them. They must be made to regret their actions and apologise.
As for Egypt, it is obvious that they have over-done it. They are on record for opposing our people’s right to self determination. Secondly they had tried very hard to undermine our struggle for independence by associating it with hostility to the interests of Egypt in Africa, which is nothing but – the Nile Water. Stories have been fabricated over the ages to negatively portray south Sudan’s quest for independence.
In the early sixties and seventies, before Egypt signed peace truce with Israel, the northern Sudanese with the help of Egypt and the other Arab League counties had organised and maintained hostile campaigns against south Sudan nationalists, linking them to the Jewish state of Israel. This of course only rallies opinions within the zealot minds of the Arab and Islamic communities.
Today although Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Mauritania and many other Arab states enjoy diplomatic relationships with the state of Israel, many Arab politicians and scholars are still suspicious of whether an independent South Sudan would not do the same, as if only they [the Arabs] have the right to befriend Israel and not the others.
It is no wonder that it took the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit a very long time before he finally gave in to the idea that secession of south Sudan have become all too evitable, in spite of the fact other people had reached that same conclusion ages ago. obviously consoling himself, Aboul Gheit then went on to portray a picture to show how his country [Egypt] did more to maintain the unity of the Sudan than the Sudanese themselves, when he finally declared in an interview broadcasted on the Egyptian state TV that:
"Since the signing of the CPA there have not been real or serious efforts from either side to remain together.”
However from his above statement, Mr. Aboul Gheit and the entire Egyptian nation should have understood better how practically the Sudanese leaders were in no any way prepared to remain in unity as demonstrated by their inability to formulate policies that could promote plurality and inclusiveness in place of the rampant religious and racial prejudices. Whatever Aboul Gheit’s Egypt was doing, it was to protect its narrow interests along the Nile – something not shared by the Sudanese, northerners or southerners.
On the other hand we are not ignorant of the historical fact that it was Egypt which decided the map of the current day Sudan. The view was to simply lump up the two extremely contrasting parts into a unit that could be easily ruled under the Egyptian throne, thus securing Egypt’s control on the sources of the Nile as well as the lucrative markets for slaves and ivory. In light of the latest media revelations, it is now an open secret that Egypt did play a negative role by engaging in a detrimental diplomacy initially meant to obliterate South Sudan’s hard won Right to Self Determination and possibly derail the referendum process altogether - the Polisario scenario. This has been so even before the recent WikiLeaks’ exposures.
Hitherto the Egyptians seem to think that the Sudanese and in particular the southerners should be made to do what pleases Egypt. This is completely ridiculous and a clear example of sheer arrogance, selfishness and utter madness. And for those who do not know yet, they must understand that the people of south Sudan didn’t fight the five decades war just to end up as toys in the hand of Egypt or any other arrogant regional imperialist for that matter.
An Egyptian official has been quoted saying that the creation of what he called “a non-viable state” could threaten Egypt’s access to the Nile at a time when several countries are negotiating how to share the river’s water. He was obviously trying to hide his country’s greed and injustices towards the other countries of the Nile valley.
But beneath all these restlessness, Egypt can be seen playing the racial card and it hopes by keeping south Sudan united with the Arab north, which eventually translates to being under the control of the Arab League, the two supposed to be Arab states can face up to any challenges put forward by the other sub Saharan riparian states.
According to the Kenyan Daily “The Sunday Nation”, Egypt is clearly afraid of the new nation in Southern Sudan as it would more likely side with the upstream countries of the Nile basin like Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, when it comes to positions on the share of the Nile water.
But although Egypt has in the past threatened to go to war with any country tampering with the Nile, the upstream countries continue to air their discontent with the colonial era treaty which they believe unfairly gives Egypt most of the Nile water.
However it is good that the Egyptian foreign minister has lastly come out openly to accept that a break-up of Sudan looks inevitable. But given that Egypt has messed up it cards by the fact that it planned to obliterate the one thing so dear to hearts of the south Sudanese – their independence and freedom- a lot has to happen before they finally restore any trust in Egypt. It should also be clear to Egypt that the new state will have its priorities and obligations towards its people who have waited too long to lead a decent life.
Now that everything has now come to the surface, it may equally be better for Egypt to know that an independent south Sudan state will never consider any level of membership in the Arab League. The natural move would be for this new state to join its neighbours and kinsmen in the East African community. Relationship with Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Burundi, D.R. Congo, Tanzania and the rest of the sub Saharan Africa no doubt comes at the top of its priorities.
Egypt has in the past threatened to go to war with any country that tampers with the Nile. However the realities on the ground suggest that it [Egypt] is already engaged in a diplomatic war with almost all the upstream countries. The message is that, those who are still waiting to see the war fought by Egyptian soldiers in military uniforms, invading their territories have definitely missed the point. It is time that the riparian countries currently in loggerheads with Egypt over the Nile water to check their backyards for problems that might be traced to Cairo’s latest diplomatic sabotages.
The author: Justin Ambago Ramba. Secretary General - United South Sudan Party [USSP]. He can be reached at: [email protected]