South Sudan President Salva Kiir with Susan Rice, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. The state of Sudan is threatened with partition after the South held a referendum on its future in January 2011., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Storm Clouds Over South Sudan
By Thomas C. Mountain
As the people of South Sudan celebrate their independence ominous storm clouds are gathering over their heads. Despite all the hypocritical applause from the UN and governments in the West, South Sudan today stands on the brink of disaster.
To understand why one must start with knowing the stance of the late John Garang, father of the southern Sudanese resistance and founder of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) and its political wing, the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM), which today is the de facto government of newly independent South Sudan.
John Garang was a vociferous OPPONENT of independence for southern Sudan. That's right, the father of South Sudan’s independence was adamantly opposed to just that, the dismemberment of the nation of Sudan.
When, after the historic peace deal signed between Garang and Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir in 2005, John Garang made his first public appearance in Khartoum he was greeted by the largest gathering in Sudanese history, over 1,000,000 people. In his speech, John Garang repeated his call for the unity of Sudan, insisting that a united, nationalist and independent Sudan, governed by a coalition government that would enforce equal rights and justice for all the Sudanese people was the only way forward.
With such a large support base in the north and near unanimous support in the south, John Garang was well on his way to winning the Presidency of Sudan. The idea of a strong, united, nationalist and independent Sudan, the largest and potentially richest country in Africa, working with China to develop the country’s economy was to much for the USA to contemplate and the decision was made to assassinate John Garang. With Ugandan President Musuveni’s support, a “helicopter crash” was arranged and the people of not only Sudan but of all of Africa lost one of their greatest leaders.
Today South Sudan is one of the most impoverished, underdeveloped countries in the world. The entire country has less than 50 miles of paved roads and the population is wracked by drought, famine and disease. Ethnic violence is escalating throughout the country and there seems little that the new, feeble government can do to stop it. Corruption is endemic, with the shared oil revenues from the North a major target of theft. It is charged that the Minister of Finance stole over 300 million dollars in 2009 alone. This while obtaining clean drinking water and sufficient food remains a daily struggle for most of the people in the country.
Western countries, particularly the USA, are lining up to rape and pillage the natural and human resources of South Sudan, all under the guise of the USA’s “crisis management” policy. As in neighboring Congo, the plan is to create instability and chaos in South Sudan, the better to loot and plunder the countryside, making off with the enormous potential riches of one of the worlds last unexploited regions. With this plan now being enforced with the new “independence” the future is indeed bleak for the people of South Sudan.
To understand how this has come to be one must know the real history of the Sudanese peace process, something completely absent in the western media.
Sudan was the victim of a decades long civil war between the north and south. During this conflict is is estimated that up to 2 million people died and many millions more displaced from their homelands. Eastern and western Sudan/Dafur were also victims of marginalization and were eventually forced to take up the armed struggle to resolve this problem.
The historic turning point in the Sudanese peace process took place in 2003 when the Eastern Sudanese resistance, based in Eritrea and with the support of the Eritrean military, launched an offensive into eastern Sudan and quickly cut the critical lifeline between the capital of Khartoum and Port Sudan on the Red Sea. All efforts by the Sudanese military to reopen the Port Sudan highway failed and within a matter of weeks, faced with economic and political collapse, the Bashir government was finally forced to the negotiation table to begin the long delayed peace process. Reality is that, once again, it was the blood of Eritrean martyrs that watered the soil of Sudanese peace and brought hope to the land.
The saying that “all roads to peace in the Horn of Africa run through Asmara” proved true and the first, independent peace deal was reached between the Bashir government and the John Garang lead SPLM in Eritrea. Born and nurtured under Eritrean leadership, this deal proved to much for the USA to accept and the west under the leadership of the Bush administration forced a new round of negotiations in Kenya, and this time a clause requiring a referendum on independence for southern Sudan was forced into the peace package.
With his arm being seriously twisted by the USA, John Garang accepted this provision. Yet when addressing all the Sudanese people for the first time from the stage in Khartoum following the peace deal, John Garang made his desires for the continued unity of Sudan crystal clear and his fate was cast, death at the hands of the west's number two enforcer in east Africa, President Musuveni of Uganda.
It now is apparent that with the death of John Garang the future of southern Sudan was sealed, and today the west, lead by the USA stands poised to begin implementing their campaign of conflict and chaos in newly independent South Sudan.
Maybe, just maybe, the new government of South Sudan, under the leadership of John Garangs number two man Gen. Salva Kir, will be able to avoid the fate of so much of the rest of Africa and not fall victim to the “crisis management” policy of the USA. With the role model, support and guidance of Eritrea, with whom it maintains its long and close ties, newly independent South Sudan may avoid this fate.
The storm clouds gathering over South Sudan may yet dissipate, though all signs point to a major calamity in the making. South Sudan appears to be on its way to being another if not the next failed state in Africa. Only time will tell.
Thomas C. Mountain
Thomas C. Mountain is the only independent western journalist in the Horn of Africa, living and reporting from Eritrea since 2006