Articles and Analysies
U.S Should Upgrade the SPLA if it is willing to Help Southern Sudan *By James Okuk Solomon
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Nov 4, 2007 - 9:09:57 AM

U.S Should Upgrade the SPLA if it is willing to Help Southern Sudan


*By James Okuk Solomon



Last week and amidst the continuing partnership crisis between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and National Congress Party (NCP), the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of Treasury issued a new rule revising the areas of Sudan covered by its sanctions. In that executive order it said to have recognized the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) as an entity separate from Government of Sudan (GoS). That announcement was in reference to the November 1997 U.S. sanctions imposed on all transactions relating to Sudan ’s petroleum or petrochemical industries, and also in reference to the May 2007 U.S. sanctions on the Thirty One (31) Sudanese companies. The sanctions banned those companies from doing business in the US financial system, and if at all they qualified for exemptions, they have to first get a written permission from the authorized Department.  


However, the Bush’s Administration has refused recently to endorse the Congress move to divest the U.S businesses and investment in the Sudan for a reason that it will anger U.S. economic allies who have strong relationship with the GoS. The justification given by the U.S. President for the sanctions was that the “Government of Sudan continues to implement policies and actions that violate human rights, in particular with respect to the conflict in Darfur, and that the government of Sudan plays a pervasive role in Sudan’s petroleum and petrochemical industries, thus constituting a threat to U.S. national security and foreign policy.” What analyses can we make out of this?


1) If GoSS has been recognized by the U.S as a separate entity from the GoS (or Government of National Unity as it is called now) then the CPA is at jeopardy, not only from the sabotage by the NCP but also from the derailing by the U.S. who had played a pressuring and mediating role for its signing. CPA recognizes Sudan as one entity prior to the results of the referendum for self-determination by the people of Southern in 2001, and with the residents of Abyei Area (Ngok Dinka, Misseriya and others) given a simultaneous referendum to determine whether to join the South or remain in the North (though the results of Abyei residents’ choice will not effect the choice of the Southerners). It is known that the CPA and the Sudan Interim Constitution defines the GoSS as a level of Sudan Government (with some autonomous powers). It defines it as a link between the Ten (10) States of Southern Sudan with the centre (Khartoum) or the Government of National Unity (GoNU) – legislature, executive and judiciary – and also with the outside world in matters of regional cooperation (but not sovereignty and other national powers mention in Schedule A in Part V of the CPA on page 39 - 40). I do not know why U.S. is failing to recognize the transformation process which has taken place in the CPA era even if it is minor in their judgement. It seems the U.S. is still looking at the GoNU as the same as the previous GoS, perhaps, because Mr. Al-Bashir is still the president and NCP still holding the key positions of the government.


2) The U.S. government looks at the GoNU policies on oil and petrochemical business only as a threat to U.S. security and Foreign Policy for the reasons they know best. This suggests that when the U.S is trying to assist the SPLM and the GoSS, it is not really intending to help Southerners, but only to mitigate the mentioned threats for the selfish sake of the American People. This means the U.S is only using Southerners and SPLM for achieving the aims of the U.S government, first and foremost. If this is the case, why should Southerners and SPLM continue to seek resting on the shoulders of U.S. government when they are only reduced to that undignified usage? Will SPLM in that manner get matured to take care of itself self-reliantly and prepare or plan to take control of Southern Sudan in future if the Southerners voted for separation and independence? Is the U.S. doing this humiliation because of the beggary situation the GoSS and SPLM have been pushed into because of the enormous demands for reconstruction and construction for the land and people of Southern Sudan, which is now impossible without availing the donors pledges?


3) The reality known on the ground now is that Southern Sudan is not involved in big businesses that are transacted within the U.S. system of financial and assets management. Therefore, the U.S rule on excluding Southern Sudan from sanctions is just a political public relation campaign more than a technical reality. Does it make any value if you sanctioned or lifted a sanction for someone or some region who has nothing to be sanctioned for? The U.S. government decision of exempting Southern Sudan from sanctions is just valueless as SPLM Interim Political Bureau decision of suspending the representation of its ministerial and advisory cadres in GoNU. Up to now that decision has not led to the collapse of Khartoum and exit of President Al-Bashir from power. Even without the top SPLM leaders in GoNU institution now, the government business is continuing as normal without a significant gap, except the missing of the individual contribution of some of the SPLM hard workers. That unwise decision has only revealed the weaknesses of SPLM and the strength of the NCP in controlling the Sudan so far even after the CPA era. Had the SPLM suspended its representation in the GoSS (including its president), Khartoum and the whole Sudan would have trembled because the strength of the SPLM is in Southern Sudan . Without SPLM control of Southern Sudan , that region will turn into anarchy with severe consequences on Khartoum and the NCP whose lucrative lifeline comes from the oil fields in the mid of the miserable Southerners on the Southern land. In this regard, I see the SPLM political strike as wrongly placed and temporarily unplanned; as it did not add a significant value (beyond power bickering within the SPLM) to the hope of the CPA implementation. Therefore, during the visit of the President of the GoSS and the SPLM Chairman, H.E. Mr. Salva Kiir to U.S. , I expect Mr. Bush to tell him to send his suspended cadres back to the GoNU and find a better way of dealing with the NCP in the politics of CPA partnership.  


4) If really U.S. is sincere to assist Southern Sudan , it should commit itself to helping the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA); the only hope for the CPA protection for the remaining four years of the agreed interim period for the unity of the Sudan . The U.S. government should not hesitate to come to the aid of SPLA by improving its standard into a modern national army closer to the U.S. army. The U.S. Department of Defence should not hesitate to send some of the U.S. military experts to build the capacity of SPLA files and ranks in Southern Sudan , especially in the military administration of finance, equipments and arms (including jet fighters). Otherwise, southerners will start to look at the U.S. as a double dealer who only cares for its selfish interests and who want the Sudan to continue conflicting and warring with itself from every corner.



The author is a Sudanese and a PhD student in the University of Nairobi in the field of Political Philosophy. He can be reached at: [email protected]


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