Sudan War: Part 1
By: Amira Abdalla
Sudan is the largest country in Africa, encompassing one million square miles and about forty million people. Also, Sudan is one of the most diversified countries geographically, culturally, economically and politically. The civil war between the Northern Sudan and the Southern Sudan broke-out in 1955, because of the discrimination and mistreatment of the north central government towards the Southern people of Sudan. In 1972 the government of Sudan and the rebels ( Anannya Movement) had reached an agreement. This agreement was violated by the government of Sudan in 1980's when they announced the so-called September law (Islamic Sharia law) and declared a Holy war (Jihad) against the Christians and non-Muslims in the South, Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile. As a result, another war started in 1983 led by Sudan people’s Liberation Army/ Movement (SPLA/SPLM). During the war more than two million people were killed and over four million were displaced. Luckily, the war was ended by signing the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) between the government of Sudan and Sudan people’s liberation movement in January 9th, 2005. The agreement gave the people of Southern Sudan the right for practicing the self-determination throughout a referendum that should be implemented by January 9th, 2011 for choosing either to be a part of the recent Sudan or to establish their own country. (So, I do believe that the war has more negative aspects than the positives ones).
Some positive aspects of the war achieved by reaching an agreement between the north and south Sudan on the wealth and power sharing, security arrangement, the transitional constitutions and the right of self-determination for the southern Sudanese by the end of the transitional period in January, 9th 2011. Despite the mentioned positive aspects, the war has more negative aspects, more than two million people were killed and more than four million people were forced to flee their homeland for internal and abroad displacement, facing all the consequences of been away from their land, culturally, economically, politically and so forth. In addition to the lack of trust and confidence between the south and the north which might lead to two un-peaceful countries, if the southern vote for separation in 2011. Although, the world is reaching right now the stage of the globalization by dealing with huge groups, unions and international cooperation for maintaining the human rights and downsizing the geographic distance throughout the mass media and the communication revolution; but the war in Sudan reflect the failure of the Sudanese politicians for working wisely to get benefit of their diversity in order to strengthening their country, instead of using it as weapon to destroy and divide the country.
According to the background of Sudan culture and ethnicity, is the Sudan primarily Arab or African? Due to unresolved issues of equality, Sudan national identity becomes complicated. Since the United Kingdom and Egypt ruled Sudan in 1899, South Sudan was separated from the North; and it was remained a closed area for a long time. So, the communications between the south and the north was not established, or it did not take place. Therefore, the cultures, the languages and the religions of these regions did not have a chance to melt together and dissolve between the different cultures. As Lesch, Ann Mosely said: “Language and religion, for example, unify people but also separate them from others with whom they cannot communicate or share beliefs and rituals” (1).
On the other side, some people believe that the separation of the South from the North was the best thing that was done for the people of the South, because they kept their identities and not lose it during the Arabism and Islamization of the Sudan; and because of their land rich with valuable resources, it was kept safe, away from the Northern.
Despite that, building a boundary between two different groups creates a big hole between the two cultures which leads to misunderstandings and not appreciating to the culture of one another, as it mentioned in The Sudan: Contested national Identities, “The creation of boundaries between the self and the other is an important aspect of building and reinforcing an ethnic identity. Fredrick Barth argued that, ethnic groups seek to emphasize their selfhood in relation to the stranger, the foreigner” (1), “Those who reside in the south generally adhere to Christianity or traditional African beliefs, whereas the ethnic minorities in the north are largely Muslim. Their marginalization has intensified as political, economic, and cultural power has remained concentrated in the hand of the Muslim Arab core and as the central government has intensified its drive to spread Islam and Arabic” (Lesch 2). In his book, Lesch, Ann Mosely analyzed the ethnic and the religious issues in Sudan; and the national identity of Sudan was determined and enforced by political and powerful groups of Islamic-Arab citizens.
As it mentioned before, due to the availability of good resources of water, land and oil in the South, and poor dry desert in the North, the central government planned to control the resources of the South, They started targeting the African root people, first by spreading the Islamic and Arabic and when they failed to succeed, they started displacing them, (Ryle 1). So, the people of the South hold the gun to defend themselves after the severe displacement, genocide and unresolved issues of equalities that was implied by the central government. “In the course of the War, Arab tribal militias in Darfur and Kordofan, the westernmost provinces of the North, have been armed and encouraged by the government to attack and loot mainly Dinka settlements in bordering parts of the South. In the course of these raids young men are killed and women, children and livestock are abducted and taken back to the North. Children are compelled to work as agricultural laborers or as livestock herders. Abducted women and girls are subject to rape and forced into sexual relationships with their abductors, (such crimes are subjected to international jurisdiction)” (Ryle 17).
Sudan economy depends on the agriculture and oil; but the civil war affects them; the villages and the farms were burned; and the people forced to change their life style, from producer to consumers, depending on the relief assistance. Also, the traditions and the values of the displaced people were affected, (Suliman 4). Politically, the totalitarian central governments announced the state of emergency in the war affected areas, which prevented the people from practicing their wrights democratically. But, after fifty five years of civil war, the peace agreement was signed excluding Darfur, where the people were still launching with the government Arial bombs, (Background Notes). So, many people still dying and a lot of children are suffering from malnutrition, diseases and lack of educations.
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between the government of Sudan (GOS) and the Sudan people’s liberation movement (SPLM) in 2005, had ended one of the longest war in Africa. Although the peace agreement stopped the war and its negatives consequence; but it might divide the country into two parts. Thus, the side effects of the war mainly negative.
Lesch, Ann Mosely. The Sudan: Contested national Identities. Indiana University Press.
Bloomington, Indiana. 1998.
Ryle, John. “ The Burden of History an Overview”. Crime of War project. April 2004.
www.crimeofwar.org/sudan-mag/sudan-overview. Web. 2 April 2010.
Suliman, Mohamed. “Civil War in Sudan: The impact of Ecological Degradation”.
University of Pennsylvania-African studies Center. 18 Dec 1994.
www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/cvlw_enu_sdn.html. Web. 2 April 2010.
US.Department of State. “Bachground Note: Sudan”. 26 Feb 2010. www.state.gove>.
Web. 2 April 2010.