South Sudan

Bashir Ponders South Sudan Annexation

adiposity geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>Just like that!

I begin to believe a quote that always lingered at the lips of my high school history teacher “history repeats itself” with the idea that the rises and falls of empires have repetitive patterns in the history of a given polity, and to any two specific events which bear a striking similarity.

According to the National Courier, Bashir was speaking during a meeting of the ruling party’s pastoralists and farmers’ secretariat when he disclosed that “enemies of Sudan are perplexed that the North has not been destroyed after they made South to break away.”

Citing US and EU officials, Bashir claimed that the international community is “regretting and apologising for the secession of South Sudan and expressed their desire for reunification of North and South Sudan on a confederal basis”.

“They are now begging Khartoum and Juba must unite,” Bashir stated, assuring South Sudanese that the North is “ready to facilitate reunification”.

“They pushed the south to secede in order to destroy the north, however when they saw what happened in the south they secretly told us they were mistaken and wished they had listened to us and now they asked us to reunite,” Bashir is further quoted by the Sudan Tribune as saying.

Bashir, according to critics, seems to be fast losing track of history.

Civil wars

Like his predecessors, Sceptics say, Bashir is also making the same mistake of underestimating the south which is predominantly Christian (non-Muslim).

Historians agree that by 17th century, ethnoreligious wars were already raging in the Sudan as a result of the Muslim central government’s pursuits to impose sharia law on non-Muslim southerners led to violence, and eventually to the civil war.

When the British governed Sudan as a colony they administered the northern and southern provinces separately.

Northern Arabs adopted Arabic while the southern elite, trained in English; after decolonisation most power was given to the northern elites based in Khartoum, causing unrest in the south, according to documented information.

These tensions would endure the years till 1955 when the First Sudanese Civil War (also known as the Anyanya Rebellion or Anyanya I, after the name of the rebels) broke out.

The bloodbaths that ended in 1972 were sparked off by lack of regional representation and autonomy of the south.

According to historians, half a million people died in the 17 years of war, divided into: initial guerrilla war, Anyanya, and South Sudan Liberation Movement.

An agreement was signed in 1972 ending the fighting but not the actual tensions.

A Second Sudanese Civil War, which lasted from 1983 to 2005, was upon the natives for the next 22 years.

Mainly originating from the south, the civil war spread to the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile claiming two million people, according to records.

Unlike the first civil war which resulted from religious tensions, the second war was about natural resources; the south has fertile lands and most importantly, oil fields.

When the south broke away from the north in July 2011, almost 70% of Sudan’s export earnings were at risk since the percentage rotates around oil revenues.

International community’s appeal or Bashir’s personal idea?

According to Mercycorps, an NGO operating in Darfur and border areas with the South, Sudan is marked now by 20 percent inflation, a shrinking economy, student protests and several simultaneous rebellions—in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State—as well as stiff American sanctions and genocide charges related to Darfur.

The independence of South Sudan in 2011 resolved years of civil war, but conflicts continue to arise between Sudan and its new neighbour.

Estimates have it that Janjaweed militias killed 300,000 to 400,000 non-Arab southerners in Darfur.

These figures, in July 2008, prompted the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno Ocampo, to slam genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes charges on Bashir.

An arrest warrant for Bashir was issued in 2009 by a Pre-Trial chamber that indicted him on five counts of crimes against humanity (murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape) as supported by NATO, the Genocide Intervention Network, and Amnesty International.

Bashir’s arrest warrant has never been terminated; only a few months back, ICC directed Congo to arrest him while attending a COMESA summit in Kinshasa.

Sure enough, western powers are begging Bashir to take back the South which he has terrorised for decades?

Khartoum’s relations with Juba

Conflicts between the south and the north continued till 2005 when a Comprehensive Peace Agreement with South Sudan was signed.

While Bashir fought in the two Sudanese civil wars, he is aware that the north can barely survive without the south.

He seized power in the spring of 1989 but would only gain popularity in 1999 after transforming Sudan into a main oil exporter.

As earlier noted, the south has most of the oilfields, especially Unity States and Upper Nile States.

Statistics say that at Independence, South Sudan took the biggest percentage of Sudan’s oil reserves.

The only thing Sudan has is pipeline infrastructure, refineries, and export terminal at Port Sudan.

An expert recently told me that if, say by accident, another pipeline is built elsewhere to carry south’s oil, north Sudan’s economy would automatically collapse or say freeze for good.

Such a possibility was seen in January 2012 when Juba shut down all of its 350,000 barrels-per-day oil exports, immediately, there was a rise in inflation, currency devaluation and a military confrontation in the north.

When President Salva Kiir shut down three oil wells in December last year following rebel activities in Bentiu, Bashir rushed to Juba and the two leaders suggested forming a Joint Oilfield Guard.

So the oil factor plays a big role in Al-Bashir’s popularity among the crowds in Khartoum, according to experts.

Accusations of supporting South Sudan rebels

Why is Bashir revealing a call to reunite with the south, especially now?

While Kiir was desperately pushing for a Joint Oilfield Guard, Bashir didn’t seem to be in a hurry yet it was feared he stood to lose more from the closure of oil wells.

It was to be realised later at the fall of Bentiu to government troops in January this year, that rebels were using weapons belonging to an unnamed neighbouring country.

Government has accused rebels thrice of getting outside help revealing, that a certain plane on three occasions supplied rebels with arms during the Bor campaign.

With the said help, Gen Peter Gadet captured Bor town in Jonglei State after defeating SPLA twice.

By that time, it was still too early to judge or confirm the helping country.

The first impulsive accusations were directed to Eritrea before their ministry of Foreign Affairs denied the allegations in a charged statement.

While SPLA had neutralised rebels in Unity, Jonglei and was only pushing them out of Upper Nile to close that chapter, rebel leader, Dr Riek Machar confidently announced that he would soon recapture all oilfields before marching onto Juba to depose Kiir.

Many could have taken it as a joke yet, Maj Gen James Koang Chuol, subsequently launched an unanticipated attack and without much ado, annihilated SPLA and recaptured Bentiu.

But the most interesting thing was yet to be discovered.

Military intelligence discovered that Sudan Armed Forces planes had dropped ammunition for the rebels on the onset of Bentiu capture.

According to SPLA intelligence, Sudan Armed Forces war planes bombed their positions as rebel launched an infantry assault.

Only a few days before similar war planes had engaged Yida, South Sudan in a massive aerial bombardment.

Other overflights had bombarded Neem, a community 26 kilometres north of Yida, and close to the disputed border area of Jau said to harbour refugees fleeing Nuba Mountains in Sudan.

The accusations would have been easier for Sudan to deny Machar confirmed the alliance saying, “I will share the oil with Khartoum fifty-fifty.”

Bottom line: is Bashir funding South Sudan rebels to depose Kiir, re-annex the south and take charge of the oil reserves?

Possible Kampala resistance

At the start of the year, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda announced that he had reconciled with Bashir.

The two had stayed antagonistic for almost two decades having developed from Sudan’s support to Joseph Kony and LRA in response to Museveni’s support for SPLM which defeated Bashir and cause the secession of South Sudan from Khartoum.

The enmity is said to have been an accusation that President Yoweri Museveni wanted to overthrow Bashir to stop Arabisation of Africa.

In case the allegation holds water, will Museveni sit back and watch Bashir bring the “Arabisation of the north” campaign close to his very nose by taking back South Sudan?

It should be remembered that following the alleged coup in Juba last year, Museveni went to South Sudan on behalf of IGAD and warned Machar to agree to peace talks or be defeated by a regional force.

Now that it is being confirmed Sudan supports the rebels who prompted Museveni to deploy Ugandan troops in the volatile state and prevent the overthrow of Kiir, then we should expect tension to emerge between Khartoum and Kampala as before.

UN urged reconciliation not Bashir’s annexation of the south

In January this year, the United Nations Security Council called upon the presidents of south and north Sudan (Salva Kiir and Omar Al-Bashir) to fully reconcile and cease all hostilities and ensure the implementation of the September 27, 2012 Cooperation Agreements.

At the 7022nd meeting of the Security Council, held on 23 August 2013, in connection with the Council’s consideration of the item entitled “Reports of the Secretary-General on the Sudan,” the Security Council pledged support for the African Union’s (AU’s) efforts to facilitate Sudan’s and South Sudan’s implementation of their bilateral agreements and compliance with the requirements of the AU Roadmap and of Resolution 2046.

The Council recalled the Communiqué adopted by the AU Peace and Security Council’s (AUPSC’s) Ministerial Meeting on July 29, the Communiqué adopted by the AU and the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) on July 22, and the mechanisms outlined by the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) Chair, President Thabo Mbeki, in his June 9 letter to President Omar al-Bashir and President Salva Kiir.

“The Security Council calls upon the Government of Sudan and SPLM-N to cease hostilities and engage in direct talks to end the conflict in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile,” was one of the resolutions.

Unless there is an official statement from United States of America (US) or European Union (EU) “begging” the north to take back South, the utterance shall remain Bashir’s “worst Easter prank”.

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