The Doha Negotiations: The Mediation, The Rebels, And the American Paradox..
By: Ahmed Abbaker (*)
An Image has been vigorously shaping in my mind since I have read an article in the time before, nearly twenty years ago. IT was entitled (The Paradox of the American Community). The article aims to draw attention to a very complex situation that needs to be analyzed. That is the situation and the composition of the American community. A community of great diversity and great disharmony, where the white dislikes the black, and the latter does not feel comfortable to the first, Nor the Latino (the Hispanic) likes the Caucasian, or vice versa become a true .. Nevertheless, All Americans are madly falling in love with the USA!! What must be the reason?
Then here comes the answer:
The secret is the fact that every American is aware that without America the caring mother, the strong America, the Americans then are a mere nation in the remote end of the world, hardly could one hear of them among the peoples of the worlds. All are shrunken from each other, but they love America. It is the shelter for them and it is the only defender. Otherwise the other corners of the world are ready to marginalize and neglect them again. Exactly like what they did with them before. They, the Americans used to be either merely a group of exiled criminals, or a group of obsessed adventurers, of whom the world may get relaxed during their absence, or as a group of forgotten indigenous people, as well as the new comers: the enslaved blacks. This is how America used to be.
So, they understood it: either to make a strong America and protect it or otherwise they will be forgotten again. This is a contradiction in itself, when the community promotes resilience and cohesion despite dissatisfaction or even hatred. And that is the hidden secret that makes the Americans rally around their country, willingly or unwillingly.
That image of the American community illustrated in the last section will continue to pop up many times in this article.
It demonstrates first in Doha of Qatar between the Darfurian rebels in more than one angle and at two levels, the macro and the micro levels. In the overall macro scene: each faction or movement entrenches in its place, Inter-confidence is very low. But it is also true that they are chanting voices on one subject. And they wish if they can confederate and unite so as not to be forgotten or not to give a room for the brutal regime to continue oppressing them. But rather to be the spotlight and the centre of power between the political forces of Sudan as is the case of the United Status’s nation among the peoples of the world!! Why not? Do you need to buy a dream?
But did they manage to get united despite the differences?
The answer is: yes and no. How is that? I will tell…
In the beginning the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) headed by Dr. Khalil was on the lead but lacking the vision. How was that? We will see
Then another new movement named Liberalization and Justice Movement (LJM) followed, her engagement was in Tripoli, and then a partial reunification wedding in Doha, is indulged by both the mediation and the government. It feels so proud of her self, to the extent that they excel at the false glory and refuse to even to co- ordinate with the rest of the movements. What was reason? I will write.
Between the two groups there is a third group calling itself the (Road Map). They stuck with their Road map without going. They are hated by the mediation upon the government’s instructions which puts a huge pressure on them to join the Liberation and justice Movement. But neither that pressure succeeded in attaching them to the LJM or the group is reunified by their own and got rid of the pressure. Why? .. We will write.
Let us now go on details. I say:
Justice and Equality Movement: A stray wild which is being whipped, as the saying goes in Sudan:
The Justice and Equality Movement have got it wrong. Yes, it is the strongest among the other sibling movements, in military wise, but those others may surpass it in some respects or tools, such as the tool of popularity. The Popularity is also a weapon. It would have become better if the justice and equality movement had reached out to the rest and asked them to line up together, saying to them "Come I've got excess weapons but you (the other movements) are the most diversified and bigger in number. So yes what a convergence”. But instead, JEM liked the others to line up behind and not beside it. And when it woke up from the nonsense approach, and tried to be modest, Persisted in the minds of the sibling movements the story of “Mahmoud and the Tiger”, but that may not be forever.
“Mahmoud and the Tiger” is a Sudanese story emphasises that if you keep deceiving people every time by out crying for their help pretending that you are being attacked by a tiger, and you laugh at them when they turn up to save you, then one day a real tiger will strike but no one will show up to rescue, as they might think this is a repetition of the old false story.
The LJM of Dr Sissie, and the paradox of the American community:
The international community was reeling. They are aware that the other movements are genuine force which can not be neglected, while those movements are unable to get unified. The dilemma was the lack of a leader. That has been the case up until came the shadow of the Dr. Tigani Sissie (I was the first to suggest him to the rebels in the brainstorming stage). Some parties so quickly seized this idea without a proper amount of thinking, or setting convenient measures for the process, and thus they began marketing the man. Then Libyan steps in on the line and saw Dr. Sissie as the appropriate man for the job.
The international community follows. Subsequently the mediator was also there to adopt Tijani. That was the story of the birth of the Liberation and Justice Movement headed by Tijani Cisie. Afterwards some of the rebels who are unable to find a leader were crammed into the new movement whether by carrots or sticks. I must say that some of them joined on genuine desire and conviction.
Even so, I see the presence of the LJM of Dr Sissie to be hugely significant and a positive step, as it contains a great deal of movements/factions, both the active ones in the arena and the inactive, both the real ones and the imaginary ones that only appear on Web sites. It has managed to reduce the number of movements, after this caesarean operation to produce the LJM in Doha, from more than twelve movements to only six. Cleaning the arena of inactive movements through containing them is really a good thing. At least no more statements will be released by invisible movements to flood the websites. So, the LJM has accomplished half of the mission, and the role remained on the Road Map Group to unite so that the movements in the arena will become only three.
The proliferation of the movements in that way was absolutely shameful, especially as some of them, as I mentioned, were ineffective and with limited presence. The only effect they have was to distort the revolution by reinforcing the belief held in the minds of the observers that the revolution is in a great mess and uncontrollable.
The second positive point in the experience of the unification of those groups under Dr. Sisie is that this movement will be able to live at least. Non of those who have joined it can defect again (despite Internal contentions) or the only fate awaiting the defectors is oblivion again, Particularly after the mediator and the international community have known every movement’s weight and their ability to hold on and stay alone. Remember the story of the segments of the American community, where, if a segment were stripped of the American’s robe then it would not be of any significance after the removal of the robe. The only solution for the groups or members of the LJM, if they felt any dissatisfaction, is to scream from the inside, and to look for supporters for his/her position from within the entity. No way for more splits, stay where you are, forcibly or voluntarily. No one will recognize you independently again.
Those were the positive aspects of the LJM. Now what are the bad sides?
The process of producing the new revolutionary bride (LJM) was a bit a practice outside the framework of institutional act, which alienated some rebels. Although some cosmetic surgical operation was carried out, but was not enough to repair the damages inflicted to the illegal bride. For instance, the doubts about some elements that scurried quickly to find for themselves places in the arms of Dr. Sisie has become such as harmful algae that makes the water undrinkable.
Then the alienation of some of the rebel movements from the LJM has increased since it was approached by the Government of Omer Al-bashir. For some reason, even the Sudanese government has its mouth watering for the vessel of Dr. Tijani!! , What would be in this pot? Maybe that the government has observed that Tijani is too civilian, and consequently predicted that he has no any inclination to the military actions ...I just say may be. And may be the government has seen in many of those around Dr. Sissie as such helpless men who are waiting for a peace deal to be signed which will allowed them to return to their families. Therefore, they are less demanding. If so, then, Dr. Cisie and his aides must realize that they have fallen into the trap, and should not take this government favour for granted.
It is better for them to build their army as a tool to apply pressure on the government to make it honour any deal they may sign. There is a free lesson in the experiment of the Ex rebel movement of Minni Minnawi. How I wished if Dr. Sisie has shown some interest to the military wing of his movement. He could have used his presence in Libya in the past months for a long time without work and visited across the desert his forces in the field. It is well known that his military forces are composed of dispersed groups which have not met with each other until now, and have not seen its new leader to this moment. It was an opportunity for him and his troops, to get to know each other, make out of new formations and build some confidence among them selves.
This could have been more effective than reliance on the government's confidence in them?
And best of all, to stop this negotiation, which set them alone in the pincers of the government. I can see them happily dancing on the drum rhythms of the government. But soon they will wake up from this to find themselves in the grip of the government. O you comrades: that pride, strength and hedging for the worse, all are achievable only when you ally with others: Justice and Equality Movement and a Road Map Group before negotiation. But If you insisted on what you are doing now, you would soon realize the danger of your situation. Once again why don’t you ask Minni Minawi? Certainty he has a good answer for you guys.
There are some good people with Dr Sisie. They should pay attention to these pitfalls and not to let the bad-minded ones to dominate and mess about.
These remarks are not fake accusations. The fact that the government is favouring Tijani Seisi is clear even in the behaviour of the most recent crew of the unification mediators composed of dignitaries of the civil society, affiliated to the government.
Sine they turned up in Doha, They have been strongly blaming those who refused to join Dr. Siesi? It is considered remarkable!! They did not blame them on their failure to unite as a third bloc. But they were angry on hearing of their insistence to form their own body independent of Dr. Sisie.!!! Why are the government and its supporters so delighted to the LJM? If the enemy dances for you, you should watch your situation; there is something abnormal in your order. We say this, my comrades in the Liberation and Justice Movement, for your sake and for the public interest. I may be wrong or right. But the alert in all cases is welcomed by sane people even if the danger is less than what is suspected to be.
The Road map Group: A Thorn of a Whale …but!!!
Then there is the third revolutionary power, the so-called (The Road Map Group, which includes 4 movements). In Sudan people say about something that is hard to deal with: the thorn of a whale that would neither be swallowed nor it is safe to be left to stay in the throat.
The pressure that was exercised on the leaders of this group to get them to pledge allegiance to the presidency of Dr Sesie did not seem to have worked. The Road Map Group did not digest the idea of a leader from outside the revolutionary system to be brought to them. That makes them to become tough on the necessary conditions to be met first, and they became more sceptical. No one can blame them for this. Trust is an issue that can not be purchased or subjected to gambling. It is also not logical to decide that the person who holes up behind the suspicion and mistrust of someone is wrong.
But again the failure by the Road Map Group to unite among themselves, away from Dr. Sisie and his group, is almost equal to the level of the disgraceful behaviour of the mediator and the opportunistic practices of some of the LJM members.
One may say: What is the guilt of the mediator in the story of the movements’ unification?
The mediation and the government, whichever is the opponent and whichever is the mediator?
In the story of the wedding of JLM, The mediation was insistent of becoming the inciter and authenticator of the invalid notorious marriage (forced marriage). It did not leave the rebels who refused to join the LJM (or the groom who refuses the bride) for themselves, It did not either show any understanding to their stance, but in contrast it announced that Tijani and his movement is the only recognized movement, and that they are welcomed to be alongside the Justice and Equality Movement at the negotiation table, and the whip then is ready for those who disobey. The mediation should have understood the psychological motivations of the rebels and not imposed on them a leader by force. The confidence factor is very important to the rebels. They have revolted against their own government, let alone the mediation.
Sudan government has abandoned, amid its enthusiasm for the LJM of Dr. Sisie, even its earlier desires. Previously, the government said repeatedly that it wishes if the movements can reach a common position on the negotiating delegation and platform so that it can deal with them together through this mechanism. But today says it can only negotiate through Tijani Sisie. Remember that the government had signed with Minni Minnawi in Abuja, but when it started to implement some points of the agreement, it mobilized whoever wants something from that agreement has to establish a movement and sign a declaration of commitment to Abuja Deal, until the number of movements that met the government’s Abuja Call reached five movements. Today, the very same government says it can not be dealing with multi movements. What a gimmick?
Ironically, The Mediation also confirmed this, as it hinted more than once that the government does not want to negotiate with any one else from the Road Map Group except under Dr Susie’s umbrella.
The Mediator and the LJM of Dr Sesie, What is the shared interest in their common refusal stance?
Personally, when I realized in Doha, the difficulty of unifying the movements in one entity, or just two, I offered to the mediation the idea of a joint negotiating delegation, and proposed a common authorized governing body for the negotiating delegation to be called “the Board of Directors for the peace process” or the “Board of Trustees of the peace process”, whatever they like, consists of five persons from each group. The Board could even be expanded if a peace deal is reached to include the Abuja group in order to make the integration between the Abuja agreement and any new peace deal much easier.
Here is a brief on some the features of that proposal:
1 - Negotiators Panel: is composed of 60 members (20 from the LJM, 20 represent the JEM, and 20 from the Road map Group ) to be headed by one chief negotiator and two deputies.
2 - Board of Trustees: to act as a governing body for the negotiators and will obverse the implementation of the peace agreement, if reached. This one consists of 15 members (5 from the JEM, 5 from LJM, and 5 from the Road Map Group), and to be Headed by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees and two deputies.
3- If Mr Abdulwahid Noor decided to join the peace process, he could nominate 5 persons to become members in the Board of Trustees including himself while he would be one of the deputies to chairman of the board. He could also nominate twenty others to join the joint negotiating team.
But the mediation was not enthusiastic about the idea that I still see it as a very practical one.
Later on, it became clear that it was the will of the government that prevented the mediator from adopting this idea. The government’s desire always turns to become the desire of the mediation. They are one soul in two bodies. The host country was the most inclined towards independence and impartiality, but the mediator Bassolé does not have any thing else than to say that this is what the government wants.
The strangest thing in this is that Dr. Sissie rejected the idea of the joint delegation in the hope that the other movements who are facing pressure will be left with no choice but to adhere to his movements, so he would better swallow them than to coordinate with them. Exactly, as Dr. Khalil did before. What a hilarious thought?
And most surprisingly, is that the idea is rejected by some elements of the LJM that used to belong in the past to the Road Map Group. They did not want their new movement to coordinate with their old colleagues while they were supporting the same direction before joining the LJM. Opportunism alone and not any thing else is behind such behaviour of those elements (the algae).
(7) And now, what is next?
I believe that it is still possible to have one negotiation track. Only one track, not three or even two.
Why does not Dr Sisie take the initiative and extend his hand, without any mediator, to his brother, Dr. Khalil? They were in Doha before but they never met. Then once again both of them were in Libya at the same time for a reasonable length of time, but they never met as well. Why?
Dr. Sisie speaks positively about the inevitability for coordination with the JEM and the others. But his real desire prevents and paralyses him so he is unable of holding out a hand to Khalil.
Dr Khalil, in his turn, can not find even a positive word to say on his brother Dr Sisie. Can Dr Khalil stretch his hand to his brother Dr Sissie? Why do they talk to each other through a mediator?
Who is ready to beat the other in this regard and be the first to move positively? Where is the role of the rest of the leaders of these two organizations in bringing the views closer? Who wants to be honoured by history on the fact that he was able to see beyond the horizon without being crippled by the fanaticism to the organization? Or are they just satisfied with their jobs and are trying to please their bosses in the hope of getting more from them? Do they enjoy watching the disunity games?
I say this because I've tried to bridge the gap in views between some leading figures of the two movements “JEM & LJM” but did not find enough enthusiasm for convergence of the parties.
For the other movements (The Road Map Group), the challenge is still lying ahead. They will be judged by history if they allowed fragmentation to continue leading them to failure. Even if we accepted that a lack of confidence may prevented them from unity among themselves, They must know that sometimes accepting adventure and dealing in accordance with a minimum level of trust is better than keeping the state of fragmentation which gives the opponent (the government) the opportunity to manipulate and apply the equation of divide and rule between the rebels. If this group has managed to unite, then the number of the movements will be reduced up to three giant movements only in Doha, just as we have said before: Justice and Equality Movement, the liberation and justice Movement, and the Road Map Group.
Nevertheless. The case of this group will remain to pose as a witness on the conduct of the mediation in terms of its ambiguous, confusing and foggy blur intentions, as well as the quality of its relationship with the government of Sudan. It could have been, and there is always, more than one way to manage the peace process. Uniting in a one entity prior to the negotiation is indeed always the best, but it is not the only approach. The failure to achieve the organizational unity is not the end of the world. If the organizational unity were not successful, then unity on the negotiating team and platform can also serve the purpose. To achieve an organizational unity, you need trust to prevail between the factions, which is sometimes difficult. In fact, that was what made us hardly swallow the justification of the rebels been reluctant on the unification issue.
But the unity on negotiation, according to the formula that I proposed, is a collective action and a broader partnership which does not require the presence of intra-confidence. Like any company, even enemies can hold its shares and become members on its board of directors. What brings them together is their belief in the company’s mission and partnership. Typically, as the story of the American Society tells.
Thus, only through such an approach can the dispersed revolutionary factions be brought together on one board. A sole team and one track. Not two. Not three.
But!!!!!!!!!!!! Who can convince the mediation? Or who can convince the government that runs the mediation? How hypocritical is this mediation which is refusing to manage a process of three movements negotiating together, side by side in one track, and insists that the three movements have to make themselves two as a kind of improving the quality of work, then rejecting the idea of letting the three to become one. If it is logical to say that two tracks are better than three, then, definitely one track is better than two. Why does the mediator reject the one negotiation track? What is that deep secret behind this?
The objectives that are pursued by the government are very clear. Divide and conquer. When the government refuses the negotiation unity of the rebels and insists on the organizational unity, though it knows its difficulty, then favours one group over another, it is absolutely a clear malicious call for fragmentation
I hope that the rebels understand it.
· Ahmed Abbaker
A United Kingdom- based Darfurian Activist