Tag Archives: humanitarian

South Sudan: Congo-Nile Canal Will Save Egypt, Avert War, Make Juba Hub of Africa

By Joe Odaby

Juba, South Sudan — November 27, 2013 (SSN)The leading South Sudanese think-tank, The Fashoda Institute of Strategic and Regional Studies, has published a strategic analysis of why and how the Egyptian Government is reviving a three-decade-old old idea — one going back to the Anwar as-Sadat Administration — to resolve the country’s acute water crisis.

Egypt is reconsidering the idea of a canal diverting waters from the Congo River into the White Nile near Juba, South Sudan, and thus markedly increasing the quantities of water which would eventually reach Lake Nasser behind the Aswan Dam. According to the Egyptian calculations, the quantities of water required to revolutionize the state of the Nile water reaching Egypt would be a minuscule amount of the Congo’s flow.

Ultimately, the country which would be most affected by the Congo-Nile Canal project — if it could ever be implemented — would be the Republic of South Sudan.

Fashoda Institute states that Egypt’s Nile water crisis has been markedly aggravated, politically, in recent years as Ethiopia continues building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile, which many Egyptians have claimed would reduce the flow of Blue Nile waters to Egypt: “The Ethiopian Government has said that all studies point to the reality that the impact on water flow would be minimal. The former Egyptian Government of Mohammed Morsi, however, used the charge against Ethiopia as a political distraction from the turmoil in the months leading to Morsi’s removal”.

Think-tank asserts that from Egypt’s standpoint, Ethiopia’s concurrent Nile policy goes beyond potentially affecting the quantities of Nile water available for Egypt. In 2010, Ethiopia launched the Nile Basin States Initiative and challenged Egypt’s long-held posture as the dominant authority over the use and distribution of the Nile waters. Presently, the Nile Basin Upstream States have a decisive say over the use of water in their territories. This is a national trauma for Egypt; both the Government and the people.

Initially, Cairo started preparing for a major confrontation and even war with Ethiopia over the GERD project. Both the Hosni Mubarak and Morsi administrations pursued the crisis and war options very seriously despite the domestic upheavals since 2010. Still, Cairo could not alter the profound change in the correlation of forces along the Nile. The outcome of the initial phase of the Egyptian-Ethiopian crisis demonstrated to all, in the words of French-Tunisian geographer Habib Ayeb, that “Egypt no longer owns the Nile”.

“The Congo-Nile Canal designs are being undusted as perhaps the only viable solution to Egypt’s impending plight”, writes the Fashoda Institute. “By conservative calculations, the Canal could provide Egypt with 95-billion cubic meters of water annually, almost doubling the current share of 55.5-billion cubic meters. While such a diversion of water would be dramatic for Egypt, it would represent a minuscule quantity for the Congo River because about 1,000-billion cubic meters of Congo waters pour into the Atlantic Ocean every year.”

Most intriguing is the study, conducted by Professor Gamal al-Kalyouby of the American University of Cairo, completed in September 2013. Although Professor Kalyouby insists that his study is a pure academic endeavor, senior Egyptian defense officials suggest otherwise. Indeed, the Government’s Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority conducted the comprehensive geological, geographic, and hydrological studies which provided the data used by Professor Kalyouby in his study. Formally, however, senior officials, including Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Muhammad Abdel Matlab, distance Cairo from the project on the basis of a myriad of legal and financial reasons. But numerous experts concur that these excuses are quite irrelevant if not factually wrong.

According to Professor Kalyouby’s study, the best solution for delivering water from the Congo River to the Nile River is a 600km canal which would feed into the White Nile to the south of Juba, South Sudan. The water would then converge into the Nile Basin to northern Sudan and then to Lake Nasser, behind the Aswan High Dam. The Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority’s data focuses on the 600km route because there is an altitude differential of only 200 meters between the Congo and the White Nile. The technical challenge of lifting the huge quantities of water could be implemented via four consecutive water-pumping stations. Moreover, the downstream flow of the added White Nile water could be harnessed to generate 300-trillion watts of electricity per hour: the equivalent of the entire lighting needs of Africa.

The Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority’s data also points out that the road and rail infrastructure which would have to be built to facilitate and support the Congo-Nile Canal would effectively fill the gap which currently exists between the transportation infrastructure of northern Africa and that of southern Africa. Consequently, there would emerge a unified road and railway network connecting the entire Africa from Alexandria to Cape Town.

The Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority estimates that the 600km long Congo-Nile Canal could be completed within 24 months, at a price of 8-billion Egyptian Pounds: roughly $1.16-billion. This estimate includes the digging of the canal, building the four pumping stations, and all transportation and support infrastructure for the project. If correct, this cost estimate is minuscule compared, for example, to the Chinese price-tag of $25.5-billion for the Lamu mega-port complex in Kenya.

Little wonder that Cairo is quietly testing the water in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Egyptian businessman Ibrahim al-Fayoumi is known to be tacitly pursuing initial steps under the cover of his extensive infrastructure and mining projects in the DRC. Fayoumi is one of the most prominent investors in the country and also has the reputation of being extremely close to the defense and intelligence establishment in Cairo. Congolese senior officials confirmed Fayoumi’s assertion that official Kinshasa was most interested in the Congo-Nile Canal idea, given the anticipated flow of cash, as well as in return for international recognition and legitimization.

The Congolese officials added that both President Joseph Kabila and Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo “support in principle the [Congo-Nile Canal] initiative”.

While Egypt and the DRC would be the prime beneficiaries of the Congo-Nile Canal project, South Sudan would be the country most affected because of the dramatic increase in the quantities of water carried by the White Nile. South Sudan has the unique Sudd wetlands eco-system which a dramatic increase in the flow of the White Nile would destroy. Therefore, South Sudan would need, at the very least, to complete and expand the Jonglei Canal in order to avoid major damage to the Sudd wetlands. The digging of the 360km long Jonglei Canal started in 1981 but was brought to a halt in 1984 by the escalating liberation war. By that time, 240km of the canal’s total of 360km had already been excavated. Presently, the thick vegetation and land erosion reclaimed much of the completed canal work. As well, South Sudan would require the construction of extensive power and transportation infrastructure in order to sustain the building of the Jonglei Canal.

Significantly, time is uniquely suitable from a security point of view.

In early October 2013, David Yau Yau, the main rebel leader in Jonglei State, responded positively to President Salva Kiir Mayardit’srecent initiative to invigorate and press for national reconciliation. For the first time, Yau Yau expressed interest in talks with official Juba and did not rule out cessation of hostilities. Yau Yau’s revolt was the primary source of the debilitating violence in Jonglei State which made any major projects impossible.

“Juba is active in the various Nile Basin organizations and groups”, points out the Juba-based think-tank. “In May 2010, Addis Ababa initiated the formation of the Nile River Basin Commission of the, then, five states of the Nile sources. The states signed the New Nile Cooperative Framework Agreement reorganizing water-management and construction projects. The treaty formed a commission to approve or reject all large-scale hydraulic projects, dams, canals, and anything else which would have an impact on the course, volume, or quality of the Nile’s waters. South Sudan was admitted as the member on July 5, 2012. On June 19, 2013, South Sudan took over the rotating leadership for 2013-14. The NILE-COM agenda for the year includes providing strategic guidance for improved efficiency and effectiveness, as well as formulate long-term work plans and complete a number of strategy and policy documents”.

South Sudan also assumed membership in the traditional Nile Basin Initiative which is comprised of all the nations along the Nile River from the Equator to the shores of the Mediterranean. On August 16, 2013, South Sudan’s Council of Ministers unanimously passed a resolution endorsing Juba’s bid to join the Nile Basin Initiative. This was the first act of the new Cabinet appointed by Pres. Salva Kiir on July 31, 2013. The Cabinet discussed and approved the framework document regarding the Nile Basin Initiative. The mere focusing on the Nile Basin Initiative in the first meeting of the new Government is a manifestation of the great importance of Nile Basin policy for Kiir’s Juba.

“Ultimately, geography plays the winning hand for Juba”, concludes the Fashoda Institute.

South Sudan could become Africa’s continental hub, a juncture of the emerging trans-African west-east route between Cameroon on the Gulf of Guinea and Kenya on the Indian Ocean which is expected to emerge in the wake of the new energy and minerals export routes, and between the possible trans-African north-south route between Egypt on the Mediterranean and South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope which would emerge should the Congo-Nile Canal become a reality.

Thus, as the current leader of the NILE-COM, President Kiir’s Juba has a unique opportunity to play an historic role in moving Africa’s water, energy, and transportation basin to the future era.

South Sudan: Abyei Region Votes To Leave Islamist North, Join Christian South

By Dr. Richard Williams

Juba, South Sudan — October 29, 2013 (SSN) … The official results will be announced on October 31, but the observers claim that about 65,000 eligible voters, residents in the remote and disputed Abyei region on border between Sudan and South Sudan, voted almost unanimously on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in a non-binding referendum in favor of secession from Sudan and joining South Sudan.

The vote came despite fears it could trigger violence.

The ownership of Abyei was left undecided when the predominantly Christian South Sudan declared independence from the predominantly Muslim Sudan in 2011 after decades of a bloody independence war, and an official referendum on the  status of the disputed Abyei has been stalled by arguments over who can vote, prompting the local referendum initiative.

The chairman of the referendum commission told Reuters that he expected a unanimous vote in favor of joining South Sudan – a decision sure to antagonize heavily armed, pro-Sudan Misseriya nomads who do not reside in the region but customarily drive their livestock through the region.

The Arab nomads are backed by the Islamist government of Khartoum led by President Omar al-Bashir indicted by the ICC for crimes against humanity, in particular the genocide in Darfur.

“Our impression is the turnout is high. On Sunday, the first polling day, the main station recorded that 75 per cent had already cast their vote,” the commission chairman, Monyluak Kuol, told Reuters.

The result, expected on October 31, is not legally binding and both Sudan and South Sudan have said they will not recognize it, but the vote is important for the majority in Abyei who identify ethnically, culturally and religiously with the South.

Dinka Ngok people from South Sudan and even from as far away as Australia have returned to take part in the vote.

The United Nations has a 4,000-strong, mainly Ethiopian peacekeeping force deployed to monitor tensions between the nomads and residents in the region, which has substantial oil reserves and has seen several clashes between Sudanese and South Sudanese troops.

In Abyei town, many buildings are still without roofs and many families live in a makeshift tent city, a legacy of the past fighting.

Abyei’s senior Roman Catholic priest Father Carlos Kaw said the local people had been traumatized by repeated attacks by Sudanese-backed militias and felt the world had forgotten them. “Abyei is fed up with waiting,” he told Reuters.


South Sudan Organizes Investment Conference in December

By Joe Odaby

Juba — October 4, 2013 …The Government of South Sudan in collaboration with development partners is organizing a two-day investment conference scheduled for December 4-5 this year.

The conference seeks to promote South Sudan as a viable investment and business destination in the region by bring together senior government officials, key agencies and industry leaders to aid essential development and investment initiatives, The Deputy Minister for Finance Mary Jervas Yak said on Thursday while briefing the press in Juba.
To be officially opened by the President of the Republic, HE Salva Kiir Mayardit, the conference is expected to address regional and international potential investors, local investors, representatives of multinational corporations, Bankers, representatives of non governmental organization, donor organizations government officials among others.
This investment conference in South Sudan will provide a platform for investors to explore business or investment opportunities particularly on the five high impact sectors namely Agriculture, Infrastructure, Tourism and Hospitality, Petroleum and Mining” Hon. Yak said.
There is already a steering committee composed of government officials, private sector and development partners chaired by the Ministry of Finance, Commerce, Investment and Economic Planning as well as a committee of the same membership chaired by the South Sudan Investment Authority to spearhead the preparations.
The abundant natural resources, current business opportunities, the conducive investment climate in the country, Business climate transformation, stories of successful investments and South Sudan’s participation in the regional economic integration and growth will be the main messages to convey in the December conference.
Concurrent with the conference, the finance deputy minister said, there will an exhibition to showcase successful investment projects in the country. Both local and international investors  take part in the exhibition. There will also be vibrant social and cultural programs to help promote South Sudanese rich culture, said Hon. Yak.
This conference is part of a larger RSS and development partners initiative stemming from the April 16, 2013 Washington DC South Sudan investment Forum.




South Sudan: New Report On Regional Perspectives

By Joe Odaby

Juba, South Sudan — September 12, 2013 … The leading South Sudanese think-tank, The Fashoda Institute of Strategic and Regional Studies, has published the strategic analysis of the regional perspectives of Central Africa. Its conclusion: South Sudan, Central African Republic and Cameroon are set to become an energy alternative to the Gulf of Guinea.

The Fashoda’s experts point out that given the instability of Nigeria and limited energy resources of other Gulf of Guinea states – Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo – finding a long-term substitute or back-up for Nigeria is the main challenge for the global energy markets. Moreover, in seeking long-term solutions, the preference of the West (including Russia) is to continue relying on, and even expanding, the transportation infrastructure from the Gulf of Guinea.

Tankers that can no longer load in Nigeria can be diverted to load elsewhere in the area – most likely Cameroon’s seaports.

From a geological point of view – the untapped reserves of the Republic of South Sudan and the Central African Republic are the most promising alternate energy resources. “Production will be expensive initially because the virtual absence of infrastructure in both countries will necessitate major investments in electricity supplies, railroads, pipelines and simple roads”, argues the Fashoda Institute. “However, in view of the magnitude of the estimated reserves and the long-term potential of both countries – the early cost of infrastructure is not considered prohibitive or alarming.

In recent months, experts in both Western Europe and Russia have focused on the band/strip comprised of the Republic of South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Cameroon as both a viable region for accelerated development in the near future and the core of a wider regional alliance”.

“The real challenge is the long-term political stability and predictability of governments and leaders”, stress the analysis. “The West (including Russia) is determined to ascertain the willingness, readiness and ability of local governments to commit to long-term cooperation. The commitment of both Juba and Bangui to democracy, rule of law and forthcoming elections give hope because democratic states tend to abide by official institutional commitments. Initial contacts and discussions, especially with South Sudanese officials, were promising. Senior officials from both countries showed interest in the various ideas the West has for regional development”.

The Fashoda Institute’s report has criticized South Sudan and CAR because “high-level decision making remains slow in both Juba and Bangui”. However, it pointed out that “after the alarm caused by the Nigeria crisis – there emerges a new sense of urgency in the West and a desire, if not determination, to quickly confirm policies and lock long-term cooperation”.

The strategic analysis has also noted that “there are hopeful signs that both Juba and Bangui are ready to expedite the process. The successful visit to Khartoum by President Salva Kiir and the completion of the agreement on sustained oil exports via the Port Sudan pipeline should ameliorate the immense financial burden on South Sudan and should finally enable official Juba to focus on long-term development. The swearing in of President Michel Djotodia in Bangui as a civilian leader signifies the beginning of the transformation of governance and the slow progress toward long-term development (not unexpected given the dire state of the Central African Republic).”

Encouragingly for the Central African region, the report says that “Western leaders and senior officials remain encouraged since both President Kiir and Pres. Djotodia expressed interest in principle in the regional development programs. However, official Juba and Bangui are yet to undertake concrete steps. This procrastination continues much to the chagrin of the key interested and committed foci of power in official Berlin, Moscow, London, Brussels and other capitals. Because of the Nigeria crisis, the expectations of Western leaders and senior officials that both Juba and Bangui will finally commit and start implementation will only keep growing”.

The analysis sums up the challenges and perspectives of the region: “The Republic of South Sudan and the Central African Republic are sovereign states. Both President Kiir and President Djotodia are honorable and patriotic leaders doing their very best for their respective countries. The West desperately needs the energy and mineral (including diamond) reserves and resources in both countries. Cameroon’s sea ports are the key to safe shipping to the West around West Africa and into the northern Atlantic.

These characteristics make the three countries an ideal location for long-term development and strategic cooperation that might further evolve and expand to the entire region. In as much as Western senior officials and experts still consider the band/strip comprised of the Republic of South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Cameroon to be both a viable region for accelerated development in the near future and the core of a wider regional alliance – these Western senior officials and experts are yearning for a glimpse of comprehension of the new sense of urgency from official Juba, Bangui and Yaounde. It is now incumbent upon the leaders and governments in Juba, Bangui and Yaounde to demonstrate that they are cognizant of the new sense of urgency in the West, and that they are ready to help the West help them turn around the heart of Africa”.



South Sudan Breaks Oil Embargo Imposed By Muslim North

By Joe Odaby

Juba — September 5, 2013 (SSN). The visit by South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir to Sudan’s capitol Khartoum on September 3-4, 2013, might prove a turning point in both bilateral and regional terms. In the climax of the Summit, Presidents Kiir and Omar al-Bashir signed oil export agreement guaranteeing the South Sudanese oil exports will continue “without any impediments” across “flexible but secure borders” between the two countries.

The agreement removes the immediate threat of economic strangulation and uncertainty by repeated Sudanese threats to close down the oil exports of South Sudan via the pipeline to Port Sudan.

Kiir and Bashir also agreed to “remove all obstacles” in bilateral relations and fully implement all existing cooperation agreements. In this context, the two presidents tilted toward the Juba interpretation of these mutual agreements – namely, the separation between economic issues and each of the various security issues from border delineation to the fate of Abye (where the referendum scheduled for October is unlikely to be implemented on time). Khartoum remained reticent, though.

“We are now taking new steps,” Bashir told Kiir. “We respect all the agreements … and are committed to implementing them as one package.” Kiir was more optimistic about the impact of the Summit. Khartoum and Juba must “close the old chapters and open a new page,” he said. “These two countries cannot always remain on a war footing. If they do that, they cannot offer services to their citizens.” Kiir considered the Khartoum Summit to be the springboard for a new era in bilateral relations. “I do not want these agreements to be on the books [only]; we will work to implement them fully and we are here for that,” Kiir noted.

This breakthrough did not happen in a vacuum. In early August, soon after the establishment of the new government, President Kiir instructed the government to come up with a breakout in the deadlocked relationship between South Sudan and Sudan. Within days, Foreign Minister Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin announced the formulation of new Sudan policy in effort to address the immediate economic challenges and defuse mounting threats along their mutual border and elsewhere.

After rocky start and several delays in the planned Kiir-Bashir Summit, Juba succeeded to convince Khartoum of its sincerity and the Summit took place. Indeed, President Kiir arrived in Khartoum a mere 72 hours ahead of the expiration of the deadline set by Khartoum to halt the flow of South Sudanese oil via the pipeline to Port Sudan.

Beyond the dramatic oil export agreement, the Summit contributes to the overall building of trust and reducing tension between the two neighboring countries.

Ultimately, however, the greatest achievement of President Kiir in the Khartoum Summit is buying time and securing funds for consolidating the true independence of South Sudan from strategic and economic points of view. The arrested development of the first two years – the direct result of the country’s stifling by blocking of oil exports – can now end and the true potential of South Sudan be realized.

Juba will soon have the resources to properly address the growing geo-strategic and geo-economic importance of South Sudan in both economic and regional strategic spheres. Juba can free land locked South Sudan from dependence on one venue of export, as well as develop a system of regional alliances and joint infrastructure construction programs (particularly westward as favored by the EU and Russia).

Juba can also accomplish a long-overdue defense build-up to address the lingering domestic crises (particularly Jonglei), the growing regional instability (such as still unresolved Nile waters crisis), and the unprecedented build-up by the Sudanese Armed Forces (especially the Air Force).

With Juba’s new political vitality and acumen clearly demonstrated in the conduct during the Khartoum Summit – Western political leaders and senior experts are eagerly awaiting the follow-up moves at the geo-strategic and geo-economic levels.

South Sudan Common Humanitarian Fund Allocates 33 Million Dollars For Refugees

By Joe Odaby

 Juba — August 23, 2013 (SSN) … The South Sudan Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) has allocated US$33 million for life-saving assistance until the end of the year to people displaced by violence, returnees, refugees and vulnerable host communities. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said.

The money, according to a UNOCHA press statement will be channeled to providing clean water and sanitation, education, livelihoods support, healthcare, household items, nutrition, mine clearance and protection for the citizens of South Sudan..

“The money will help people in South Sudan who have been worst affected by violence, disease and displacement. Our goal is to make sure aid gets to those who need it most and as quickly as possible,” said Toby Lanzer, the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan.

The CHF is a tool that provides funding for the most urgent priorities for humanitarian action, and ensures that funds are available for rapid response to emergencies. The fund is managed by the Humanitarian Coordinator, with support from an advisory board of donors and UN and NGO representatives.

To date this year, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom have all provided generously to the fund, Lanzer said. With the new allocation of $33 million, the CHF will have channeled around $90 million to NGOs and UN agencies in 2013.

Aid agencies are now reporting that some sixty thousand (60,000) returnees displaced from Abyei region by the May 2011 Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) invasion have already returned home ahead of the much anticipated referendum exercise scheduled for October this year.

An Abyei return tracking report for June and July this year showed that about 16,000 people have been verified as having returned to Abyei since June 2012. While the verification process did not capture returns in and around Agok in the south of the Abyei area, food partners monthly registration records reportedly suggest that another between 5,000 and 8,000 people have returned and settled in Agok, an areas known to many as Annet.

“Overall, partners estimate that up to 60,000 of the over 100,000 people displaced from Abyei in May 2011 have returned” the United Nation’s weekly bulletin reported. According to the verification report, there are around 3,500 people living in Abyei town.

Aid organizations are said to be responding to the needs of those who have returned to their homes, including by providing communities with seeds, tools and non-food items to “strengthen their resilience”.

Although a number of schools in Abyei town have been rehabilitated, school enrollment, education partners say is much lower than anticipated.

Since 2003, over 2.3 million Darfuris have fled their homes, including nearly 300,000 as refugees in Chad. Thousands of children born in these camps have never known another home.

And the cycle of violence continues. In the first four months of 2013, over five times as many people had been displaced than in all of 2012. In one week alone in April 2013, some 50,000 Darfuris fled into southeastern Chad following fresh ethnic conflict. The refugees reported entire villages being burned and razed with many villagers killed.

In South Kordofan and Blue Nile, indiscriminate aerial bombardments are Sudan’s devastating signature tactic. Bombs destroy residential areas, schools and markets, health clinics and farm fields.

Civilians have no warning of these attacks and flee for protection to caves in nearby mountains or to the bush. Children go without school, and villages are emptied of their people. The air strikes, combined with scorched-earth attacks and deliberate obstruction of humanitarian aid, have led to chronic hunger and conditions conducive to famine.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has stated the human rights violations by Sudan rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Sudan’s campaigns of armed conflict and deliberate denial of humanitarian aid combined with the prevention of South Sudanese oil exports continue to devastate entire communities and regions.



South Korea Donates $5 Million To South Sudan To Fight Child Mortality

By Joe Odaby

Juba, South Sudan — August 15, 2013 (SSN) – The Korean Foundation for International Health Care (KFIHC) has earmarked five million ($5 million USD), United States Dollars an equivalent of SSP20,000,000 for the fight against Tuberculosis (TB) and infant mortality rate in South Sudan.
The Under Secretary in the South Sudan Ministry of Health Dr. Makor Koryom, revealed this yesterday while signing a memorandum of understanding with the South Korean organization.

Dr. Koryom said the three-year project aims at reducing “the already high infant mortality rates” as well as curbing the spread of Tuberculosis in the country.
The funding project, he said will help the South Sudan government to improve the health sector, while on the order hand he said it will open a door of cooperation between the government of the people of South Korea and the Republic of South Sudan.


Dr. Makor and Mr. Sire change copies of the signed MOU
[Photo: William Jufur]

Meanwhile Mr. David Sire, the Secretary General of KFIHC lauded the government, particularly the National Ministry of Health for its readiness to partner with his organization in improving the health sector in South Sudan.
He assured of his country’s commitment in working with the government of South Sudan to bring what he described as “positive changes” in the health care system in the young country.
Furthermore, he promised his organization’s commitment to continue funding more projects in the coming years.

Al-Bashir Denies Vaccinations To 150,000 Children in Sudan

Girls wait for medical aid in Bram village in the Nuba Mountains

By SSN Staff

Juba — June 25, 2013 … Republic of Sudan headed by President Omar al-Bashir, who was indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity, has again rejected a proposition made by the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N). The plea was for a humanitarian cessation of hostilities to carry out a vaccination campaign.

SPLM-N Secretary General Yasir Arman, who leads its negotiating team, demanded again on Sunday to hold talks with the Sudanese government on how to organise a Polio vaccination campaign targeting 150,000 children under five years old in rebel held areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

According to the report by the Sudan Tribune, Arman proposed a temporary humanitarian cessation of hostilities and to bring the vaccine and the material needed to carry out this operation directly from regional countries, Ethiopia and Kenya. The rebel group also requests that SPLM – humanitarian personnel should be involved instead of Sudanese staff.

He said that the families in the rebel controlled areas do not trust a vaccine brought from Khartoum which attempts to murder their children through the continued bombing.

Khartoum’s government spokesperson said they are resolved to not repeat the Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) in the rebel areas.

The operation was established in April 1989, months before Bashir coup d’état, as a result of an agreement signed by the government, UN aid agencies and SPLM rebels to reach civilians regardless of their location or political affiliation in South Sudan.

Sudan said the aid agencies instead of reaching civilians in the devastated famine areas delivered food to the SPLA fighters.

On May 27, Bashir accused South Sudan of helping the rebels in the southern parts of Sudan and explicitly threatened to stop the flow of oil from South Sudan to Red Sea ports. “We warn the government in the South that if they provide any assistance to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) or to the rebels in Darfur, we will completely close the pipeline,” Bashir declared. “We will know if they stop the assistance, and we will know if they assist them.”

Experts of The Fashoda Institute (South Sudan’s Institute of Strategic and Regional Studies) believe that Khartoum’s new policy aims to markedly escalate tension, and even lead to wider war. The Islamist Government which came to power in Khartoum through a coup two decades ago made Sudan a hub of Jihadist terrorism serving as a link between the Sunni Al-Qaida and the Shiite Iran. Its decade-long genocidal war against Sudanese Christians and animalists resulted in the Darfur genocide and ICC indictment against Sudan’s President al-Bashir for crimes against humanity.

South Sudan’s independence gained in 2011 was perceived by the Islamist Government of Khartoum as a set-back in Jihad which has to be avenged.

Indeed, addressing the Khartoum rally on June 8, Bashir emphasized that stopping the flow of oil was only the beginning and that a military confrontation with South Sudan was soon to follow.

Waving his trademark baton and dancing on stage, Bashir addressed the now agitated and jubilant youth in the crowd and those watching the televised speech. Bashir urged the youths to join the Army and the paramilitary Popular Defense Forces.

Baroness Cox, Former Deputy Speaker of the British House of the Lords thinks that “it is only the resistance by Southern Sudan that is preventing the Islamization of the rest of Africa, down to Cape Town”.

American experts on African politics also believe that the real reason for Bashir’s sudden bellicosity has little to do with South Sudan’s alleged support for the rebellion in the southern parts of Sudan. The real reason is opposition’s credible threat to topple Bashir and his regime within 100 days because of the rapidly deteriorating socio-economic situation in the country. Earlier on June 8, Sudan’s opposition alliance, which is comprised of over 20 opposition parties, announced a plan for the peaceful overthrow of the Bashir regime. “I expect the regime will fall before the 100 days finish,” said alliance head Farouk Abu Issa.

The alliance’s plans include public forums and mass rallies aimed to mobilize the country’s destitute youth for peaceful protests until they are able to topple the Bashir government. The opposition alliance already prepared “an initiative for democratic change” that includes modalities for a transitional administration, and is “going to send this initiative to the president.” The opposition alliance intends to ask the state security services for permission to hold their first mass rally at Khartoum University. “If we don’t get it, then there is another step we can take but we will not announce it now,” Abu Issa told a press conference.

Bashir’s Khartoum cannot afford to ignore the opposition’s threats to agitate and mobilize the youth. Sudan is suffering from months of inflation exceeding 40%. Meanwhile, the overall unemployment rate is rapidly growing to well over 25%, with youth unemployment in the cities exceeding 60%. To date, there has been no outlet for the frustration and despair of Sudan’s urban youth. Nor was there any hope for a way out of their destitute. Now, Bashir fears, the opposition alliance might be offering these youth a venue for venting their frustrations and a hope for employment and betterment of life in the aftermath of a peaceful regime change.

Bashir’s Khartoum has no plan for economic change or recovery. Hence, Bashir desperately needs a foreign distraction for the masses, as well as excuse to dispatch the poor and discontent youth far away from Khartoum. The most expedient solution is for Bashir to send them to fight and die for the Jihad against South Sudan.