Thursday, September 08, 2011

The State of South Sudan and NATO

The State of South Sudan and NATO

Intentions on Trial

The magazine, Global Public Square, and the Times of London have recently published statements by US former envoy to Sudan, Andrew Natsios, in which he called on US government and European governments to create a long strategic alliance with the State of South Sudan.

In addition, Natsios called on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to include South Sudan in the NATO's security system through entering into a security guarantee agreement with it whereby South Sudan would be included in the NATO's mandate and hence any aggression on South Sudan would be considered an aggression on all NATO system.

However, many observers consider attempts by some powers to intimidate some regional parties by making them believe that the Government of north Sudan has evil plans against its neighbors aim at creating regional tensions, a situation that justifies Western intervention.

These fears of north Sudan intentions had increased in the months that preceded the conduction of the referendum on self-determination of South Sudan with western circles claiming that the Sudanese government was adamant to abort the referendum process to prevent the South from attaining its independence and announcing its state.

Such plans and intimidations were clearly manifested in the reports of nongovernmental organizations that closely monitors the situation in Sudan, in the reports that have been regularly prepared by the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and in strategic studies centers reports; we should not forget the international conference on Sudan that was held last September at UN headquarters in New York.

All these fora have focused on fears that north and south Sudan would slip into war and violence assuming that the Government of north Sudan may not be pleased with the secession of South Sudan and the difficulties it would face following the loss of 75 percent of the country's oil.

However, all such expectations have proved to be baseless since they have been founded on wrong information and assumptions: the referendum process had gone on smoothly and without any problems, with 98 percent of Southern Sudanese voting for secession.

Following the announcement of the new Southern state on July 9, the same circles have begun again to warn against the risk of the eruption of war between the two neighboring states because of the many pending issues and differences between them, particularly Abyei region.

When the Sudanese Armed Forces found itself forced to control Abyei region in reply to SPLA's repeated violations and aggression, these hostile circles have started again to warn against the danger of the eruption of war and found the legitimate move of Sudanese Armed Forces to defend itself an evidence of Khartoum's bad intentions.

These same circles use the difficulties being faced in arriving at a final solution to the Abyei questions as a pretext for intimidation and planting differences between the two states in the north and the south in additional to regional parties.

Strategic Burden

Whether Natsios meant that South Sudan should be allowed to join NATO or that his statement was mere invitation for a protection agreement within a strategic perspective, any of the options would form a strategic burden for the alliance. As we know, NATO has been facing lately unending crises that have imposed on the alliance unprecedented challenges and hence have forced it to reconsider its options and capabilities continuously.

The State of South Sudan, no matter how much Natsios' doting in its unlimited wealth, would not be better than other Greater Lakes countries whose natural resources, mineral and precious metals wealth have turned from a blessing to a curse, with these countries slipping into unending civil wars.

With the passage of time, these wars turned into regional ones and into war-by proxy when certain countries and what is commonly known as Resources Stealing Networks, interfered in these conflicts as active elements.

On this, we quote Natsios who said, "International companies are racing for developing the huge south Sudan resources: rich soil, plenty irrigation water, vast and open fertile lands, plenty mineral resources, including valuable but depleting metals , such as gold, copper , diamond and coltan in addition to 75 percent of both north and south Sudan oil reserves.

According to experience, the inflow of capital and international companies are considered an element of corruption of the political class in many countries, particularly those newly born and fragile ones that are being ruled by former rebels who are not used to running a government.

Indeed, media reports published last July tell us that Norwegian Peoples Aid Society (NPAS), a non-profit Norwegian society, has revealed that some foreign governments, individuals, and companies have concluded deals with influential figures at Government of the State of South Sudan (GoSS) under which GoSS agreed to lease to them the most fertile lands in South Sudan for subsequent investment in the form of agricultural projects and bio-fuel production plants and the growing of vast areas of forests on an area estimated at 2.6 m hectares

In commenting on these reports, NPAS said that the figures are "shocking since the areas of some of these projects are tremendous and that "in addition, South Sudan is considered as one of the high-risk counties in terms of security".

Ironically, a new report released by Maplecroft, an international firm that is concerned with risks analysis has said under its terrorism risk index analysis has said the South Sudan, though it is the newest country in the world, occupies No 5 position in the list of the top countries that are most prone to terrorist attack.

The report added that although South Sudan is the newest country in the world, yet the job of maintaining security of the state has been entrusted to one of the biggest peace-keeping mission. The report attributed such situation to the rise in the number of terrorist attacks victim, noting that the average number of victims in each terrorist attack is 6.59.

Further, according to UN reports, some 2,368 persons were killed in 330 incidents of violence at 9 out of 10 provinces in the State of South Sudan according to statistics for the period from January up to June of the current year only.

Considering a state confronting such volume of security threats, it would be very difficult for Europeans to accept it within their security umbrella. We must not forget that the Europeans had refused in the past to intervene for the protection or support of Georgia when the Russian army entered Ossetia in 2008 and that the war between the two countries took place close to European borders, a fact that prevented the NATO from intervening since its intervention would have had serious consequences on the welfare of European peoples.

Likewise, the intervention of the NATO in the State of South Sudan quagmire might shed more doubts on the deterring capabilities of the NATO, particularly if the nascent state in South Sudan should involve itself in regional wars or local conflicts.

A slip of the tongue?

So, can we say that Andrew Natsios's thoughts about expanding the NATO protection umbrella to include South Sudan State a slip of the tongue or rather they are satanic thoughts in the making?

Many observers believe that Natsios's statements might not find listening ears, particularly amongst Europeans. That such statements are coming from the US is good reason for Europeans to disregard them, since Europeans are still suspicious about US's Imperialistic tendencies and the dangers involved for them.

The Europeans are more wary of the intimidation doctrine and crisis-making policies being adopted by the Americans in all parts of the world.

Moreover, the debt crisis that has cast its dark shadows on the US economy and that the debt crisis from which some European countries, such as Greece, Spain and Iceland are suffering and before that the global financial crisis that hit the West in 2008 with some European countries' economies still battling to recover from it – all these factors makes US's costly military expansion unacceptable whatever the justifications might be.

Largess of good doers!

In order to garnish the idea of establishing a strategic alliance between the west and the State of South Sudan, Natsios is calling for the changing of the stereotype image of the relations between the two parties.

"During most the twentieth century epochs, the South Sudan has been seen almost unanimously by western partners as a helpless victim that needs international protection – which the west did- as a result of the brutality and aggressive policies of successive government in Khartoum", he said once. He added with confirmation that the alliance he is calling for would be welcome by the South and will send clear signals to any government in Khartoum that it could face retribution from the US and Europe if it attacked the south. He added that such alliance would be an element of deterrence.

Observers, however, believe Natsios scheme would be welcome by the new leaders of South Sudan for many reasons, including a strong desire for revenge form their historical enemy in the north as an entity and a society.

In addition, Southern leaders have been accustomed during the rebellion years to heavily depend on the West's donations.

Recently, commenting on these developments, Dr. Abdel Wahhab Al Affandi quoted an international official as saying that "the world might witness the birth of the first state that is being run by NGO's".

Meanwhile, Natsios suggests that the alliance and the NATO's security umbrella he is calling for would remove the pressure being put forth by young Southern military men who are demanding the new republic to wage an attack on the north to remove the government in Khartoum.

According to Natsios, such attitudes demonstrate the aggressive tendencies in south Sudan which should be stopped rather than encouraging them. Indeed, in a 2007 lecture following his resignation as US envoy for Sudan, Natsios had said some southern military leaders had disclosed to him that they intended to launch a military attack against the government of Khartoum.

However, it would be difficult for the west to convince the south to change from victim to partner since it has become used to a situation from which it makes a lot of profits.
According to Natsios, the new Republic of South Sudan needs long-term strategic allies for the common interests of both and not supporters to defend it on the ground that it is a victim.

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