Monthly Archives: January 2014

Will US Clash With China in Africa?

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When will China and US face off in Africa?

By Peter Benjamin
South Sudan News

Juba — January 30 … Influential African think-tank The Fashoda Institute has published an analysis of foreign policy strategies of the United States and China in Africa. The think-tank points at the “evolution in the People’s Republic of China’s attitude toward, and commitment to, Africa.

The rôle of sub-Saharan Africa is evolving from just an economic resource for China into a Chinese strategic lever against the US-led West. The Chinese have long been investing heavily in Africa as the key long-term source for energy, ores, rare earths, and other raw materials for their industrial growth”.

The Fashoda Institute asserts that “recently, the PRC has been expanding its operations into sponsoring the creation of a secondary industrial base in Africa itself in order to better support their economic undertakings. Beijing is now also looking to Africa as a prime instrument for preventing, or at the least controlling, the flow of resources to the West. The PRC is worried because the PRC leadership perceives that the US is desperate to revive its sagging economy and disappearing industrial base while discussing an explicitly anti-Chinese pivot to East Asia”.

“The Chinese are also apprehensive that Europe is embarking on reindustrialization and thus might lessen its dependence on Chinese imports and the trans-Asian venues of transportation — the new Silk Road — and their strategic value”, notes the analysis. “It is in such a grand strategic context that Beijing is studying US-led Western activities in Africa and, not without reason, is becoming increasingly apprehensive about them. That is why Beijing is now determined to capitalize on the PRC’s preeminence in Africa in order to pressure, if not extort, the West. The margin for error under these conditions is extremely narrow”.

The Fashoda Institute warns that “America’s “humanitarian interventionism” in sub-Saharan Africa is markedly increasing tensions and exacerbating conflicts all around. The specter of current and future US- and French-led military interventions and the ensuing toppling of leaders and governments is sending both African leaders and aspirant strongmen to posture for better positions in case the US and France intervened in their states and regions. Desperate to increase their military capabilities, they make Faustian deals with any anti-Western power they can reach out to, be it China or Iran. Hence, there exists a growing possibility that US-Chinese tension will also spark a clash in explosive Africa”.

The analysis ends with a troubling prognosis: “Where the next eruption in Africa will lead is anybody’s guess.

In a recent Brookings Essay entitled “The Rhyme of History: Lessons of the Great War”, Professor Margaret MacMillan warned of the growing and disquieting similarities between the world of Summer 1914 and the world of early 2014. “It is tempting — and sobering — to compare today’s relationship between China and the US with that between Germany and England a century ago,” Professor MacMillan writes. She also points to the prevailing belief — then as now — that a full-scale war between the major powers is unthinkable after such a prolonged period of peace.

“Now, as then, the march of globalization has lulled us into a false sense of safety,” Professor MacMillan writes. “The 100th anniversary of 1914 should make us reflect anew on our vulnerability to human error, sudden catastrophes, and sheer accident.”

Obama’s “Humanitarian Interventionism” in Africa is Exacerbating Conflicts

By Joe Odaby

Juba — January 25, 2014 … The respected African think-tank The Fashoda Institute has published an analysis of the root causes of the current turmoil in the Central African Republic and South Sudan. It blames US-led Western interventionism which is focused on “feel-good, instant-gratification” in the Western media while having access to African riches as its primary objective.

Fashoda analyses the pattern of the US demands made of the local governments and leaders, naming the constant three: “Cease hostilities immediately and at all cost. This effectively rewards those who provoked and unleashed the hostilities and those who use civilians as human shields; Immediately implement Western-style democratic reforms, human rights, and swift elections. This undermines local governments, rooted in local customs and practices, and prevents them from addressing the real crises; and Establish weak governments totally dependent on Western patronage and protection for survival –both  for security and economically — and  then extort them for access to local riches”.

Fashoda notes that “these interventions continue as if the recent West-orchestrated “regime changes” in Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Syria (attempted), and even Mali worked or benefitted the public at large. Undaunted, the US and France continue to lead the West in self-destruct policies in sub-Saharan Africa because of blatant disregard of the facts and realities on the ground while pursuing feel-good, instant-gratification interventionism”.

“The coup in South Sudan would not have happened without the conviction of the Riek Machar camp that they had the support and endorsement of the US-led West”, asserts the analysis. “In Autumn 2013, the Obama White House all but encouraged Machar to rebel, warmly endorsed Machar’s rhetoric about reforms and human rights, arranged for supporting coverage in the Western liberal media, and harshly criticized Pres. Kiir’s actions and record. Private foundations, mostly very close to the Obama coterie, were urged to funnel funds to Machar. Thus, the Obama White House and the liberal foci of power in the West created the impression of support and endorsement should Machar seize power.”

“Obama’s continues to threaten President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his government with sanctions and cutting of aid in order to coerce Juba into giving Machar victory in a failed coup rejected by the vast majority of South Sudanese”, notes the think-tank.

“Significantly, the US position stands in stark contrast with both all African states and all other Western powers, all of which rejected the coup and have supported the restoration of state authority in Juba.“

The grassroots Nuer population from Bor to Bentiu refused to cooperate with the coup attempt. The main Nuer communities demonstrated by action that they preferred Kiir’s tribe-blind nation-building to Machar’s sectarian benefits. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) — including both Nuer troops and senior officers — remained loyal to the State and carried out successful operations against the rebel forces.

“The Obama Administration’s distinct — and failed — intervention on the side of a power-hungry Machar and its willingness to derail the tribe-blind nation building effort in South Sudan will not be forgotten or ignored not only by virtually all South Sudanese, nor by the bulk of sub-Saharan African leaders and peoples who dread the reawakening of the tribal-secessionist ghosts”, concludes the Fashoda Institute.

South Sudan: Cease-Fire Signed

southsudan_ceasefireSouth Sudan’s government-delegation leader Nhial Deng Nhial (left) and the rebel-delegation leader Taban Deng Gai (right) shake hands after signing a ceasefire agreement in Addis Ababa.

By South Sudan News Staff

NAIROBI, Kenya —  January 23 … The government of South Sudan was pleased to announce that rebels loyal to the country’s ousted former vice president signed a cease-fire agreement today. The cease-fire ends more than a month of fighting that displaced thousands of people.

Under the agreement, signed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, both sides in the conflict promised to lay down their weapons. But they have also said that a cessation of hostilities would be a temporary measure, short of a formal peace agreement, and that negotiations would have to continue.

The cease-fire was scheduled to begin 24 hours after the signing.

“We promise total cooperation in the monitoring and verification mechanism that we urge the special envoys to quickly set in motion,” said Nhial Deng Nhial, the head of the South Sudanese government delegation.

South Sudan: George Clooney’s Sentinel Project Exposes Machar’s Atrocities

By Joe Odaby
South Sudan News

Juba — January 22 … In Adis-Ababa, Ethiopia, negotiations between the South Sudanese Government led by President Kiir and  representatives of the rebel forces of Riek Machar continue without a breakthrough. Machar’s camp refused to negotiate the only issue of importance to the South Sudanese delegation – a cease-fire that will stop the suffering of, and casualties among, innocent civilians.

Influential think-tank The Fashoda Institute has commented that civilians are kept “hostage” to Machar’s “power hungry demands from Juba”.

Meanwhile the use of child soldiers by Riek Machar in his so called “White Army” has caused international condemnation and a stern letter from UK legislators. Satellite imagery collected by George Clooney’s Sentinel Project clearly show the massive destruction in Bor inflicted when Machar’s forces were present in Bor and that the buildings and shacks were destroyed by people and vehicles on the ground rather than government’s artillery fire (no craters and signs of fire). UN photographs taken on the ground confirm the senseless destruction by Machar’s rampaging forces.

Meanwhile, regional governments were increasingly petrified by the possibility that tribes and other sectors in their own states be inspired or assisted by Machar’s coup attempt. Most directly threatened and thus ready to act is Uganda. Ugandan involvement was a result of Kampala’s apprehension about the dire impact that certain developments in South Sudan might have on the national security and stability inside Uganda. Kampala acknowledged that Ugandan “army has marched into South Sudan” in order to “protect Uganda’s own security and economic interests.”

Other IGAD leaders keep urging the rebels in South Sudan to put down arms and engage in a dialogue with President Kiir. “Machar’s coup attempt – futile and doomed as it might have been – reminded all African leaders of the looming threats to the African political system”, notes the Fashoda Institute. “

Perhaps, a blessing in disguise of the Machar coup attempt will be a reminder to all African leaders and government of the urgent imperative to focus on tribe-blind state building and development reforms for the future”.

 

South Sudan: UK Legislators Demand Riek Machar Stops Using Child Soldiers

By Joe Odaby
South Sudan News

Juba — January 20 … Former Vice Speaker of the House of the Lords Baroness Cox, Lord Alton of Liverpool, Lord Avebury, Sir Peter BottomleyMP, Lord Chidgey, Nic Dakin MP, Jeffrey Donaldson MP, Baroness Kinnock, Lord Lea of Crondall, Stephen Mosley MP, The Earl of Sandwich and John Mann MP have sent a letter to the Times pointing out that while hostilities occur in South Sudan, “in the Republic of Sudan a systematic campaign of aerial bombardments and other atrocities continues, committed by the government in Khartoum against civilians in South Kordofan, Blue Nile state and Darfur. As the rest of the world turns its attention to South Sudan, the suffering of these people will be forgotten and aid will be diverted or denied”.

British legislators, all with extensive experience in foreign affairs and African issues in particular, note that “the current conflict has been wrongly caricatured as primarily an ethnic dispute between the two main tribal groups, the Dinka and the Nuer.

Although tribal identity has been a historic basis for conflict and continues to be a factor in recent violence, the current fighting is not simply based on ethnicity – for example, the General Chief of Staff, who remains loyal to the Dinka President of South Sudan, is a Nuer”.

Members of the UK’s House of the Lords and House of Commons have urged “the leader of the rebellion, Riek Machar, to demobilize all child soldiers who have been fighting alongside his forces, including those in the so-called White Army”.

 

The legislators have expressed their support for the current peace talks led by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to secure an immediate cessation of hostilities and urged the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron to add his strong support to the ongoing IGAD negotiations.

South Sudan Optimistic Of Reaching Ceasefire

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By South Sudan News Staff

Juba — January 15 … The head of the South Sudan governmental delegation on peace talks has expressed optimism over ongoing peace talks with rebels loyal to former South Sudan Vice President Dr. Riek Machar in the Ethiopian Capital, Addis Ababa.

Nhial Deng Nhial, the Head of the South Sudan government negotiation team arrived home from Addis Ababa on Monday for consultations with President Salva Kiir following the start of face to face talks with the rebels in its first day on Monday.

“We are hopeful,” Nhial told journalists in Juba on Tuesday shortly after meeting President Kiir.
“So there is an intense process that is going on aimed at arriving and speedily as possible to cessation of hostilities,” he said.

“Initially, there was a hiccup that threatened to scuttle the negotiation but fortunately the problem was resolved. The other side basically insisted that they cannot talk unless they see that the detainees are set free,” Nhial said.

“I want to tell you that it will not be very long until a cessation of hostilities agreement is signed,” Ateny Wek Ateny, a spokesman for President Salva Kiir, told reporters in Juba.

Three Chief mediators from Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya on behalf of the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) are brokering the talks and also arrived in Juba to meet President Kiir for consultations.

Release of detainees before the talks reaches a peak and a commitment to other issues including cessation of hostilities remained key demand of the rebels.

Though South Sudan government said the detainees, accused of masterminding a Coup on the 15 of  last month, can only be released in accordance with the laws of South Sudan.

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More than 400,000 South Sudanese civilians have been driven from their homes by the fighting, with most believed to be internally displaced in the country and nearly 80,000 fleeing to neighboring countries.

As rebels advanced, crowds of civilians fled to the river to escape the violence, rushing into barges to cross the White Nile. Amid the frenzy, officials said Tuesday, more than 200 people were killed when the ferry carrying them to safety went down.

All of the people killed, possibly as many as 300, were civilians, including children abandoning the town of Malakal, said Colonel Philip Aguer, a spokesman for the South Sudanese military. “The boat was overloaded,” he said.