Sudan’s ongoing military campaign in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states is a reality but not one you can see. One you guess from satellite imagery, one you read from witnesses’ stories. Now we have something more, a report by Nicholas D. Kristof, a columnist for The New York Times and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. Kristof has just reported from Yida, South Sudan.
Some interesting points from his article, full version here.
“Bombings, ground attacks and sexual violence — part of Sudan’s scorched-earth counterinsurgency strategy — have driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in South Kordofan”
“While the Sudanese government is trying to suppress an armed rebellion in the Nuba Mountains, it is civilians who bear the brunt of the suffering”
“The Sudanese government bombed this refugee camp in November, and, just a week ago, it bombed the nearby town of Jau, in South Sudan”
“Unless outside countries enforce humanitarian access into the Nuba Mountains, we can expect more famished children like her.”
“The Sudanese armed forces try to keep aid workers and journalists out, so the story of suffering has not received much international attention”
Nick Kristof mentions the fact that unless outside countries enforce humanitarian access into the Nuba Mountains, children will starve to death. A situation nobody can accept. But there is a big ‘but’.
I discussed this topic with people from the Sudanese diaspora, doctors in West Africa, journalists, and committed citizens with very good knowledge of the issues in Sudan. Some of them are questioning the military options (such as a no-fly-zone, limited air strikes on the Sudan Armed Forces assets, a cross border emergency relief operation…), just like Daniel Solomon did on Twitter @danatgu a few days ago. Him and I replied to each other’s tweets and I have to admit for many people I know (and several organizations), they oppose these approaches because the deployment of a large military force to secure a humanitarian corridor in the middle of a conflict zone could endanger civilians even more, Solomon argued. They also think that an increased diplomacy outreach to regional, international actors that have leverage with the Sudanese (AU, AL) should still be privileged.
After Russia and China vetoed a UN resolution aimed at stopping the ongoing violence in Syria, I posted an article: ‘Syria: Against mass killings, but business comes first. Always.’ In this article I mention the one posted on Enough Project website by John Prendergast to which I responded: ‘The power of carrot and stick: reductio ad absurdum?‘ My point with these articles is to underline how it is important to show transparency on what countries do on a classical diplomatic approach and what others don’t or work against. We definitely should expose more Russia and China’s interests and agenda in the media and stop the guilty ostrich policy (For Syria, Reliant on Russia for Weapons and Food, Old Bonds Run Deep By David M. Herszenhorn).
The same for Sudan. Why can’t we reach an agreement to take action and protect the endangered population in Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile? Which countries are against an intervention? And why? This kind of transparency would allow more people to better understand the work done on the diplomatic side, and it would also be educative because it would then explain the general public why maybe there might be no other choice left than to support military options. It will also stop all speculations about which countries are working for their own unspeakable interests and other conspiracy theories. I know diplomacy needs compromises sometimes and silent talks but on the other side, too many people don’t care exactly because nothing is told and explained about the diplomacy approach.
But meanwhile we are discussing that matter, people are dying. Again and again. Last month I read South Sudan’s Doomsday Machine by Alex de Waal. He is an adviser of the former South African President and head of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel on Sudan (AUHIP), Thabo Mbeki. He wrote: ‘Based on its principle that Sudan and South Sudan should be two viable states, at peace and mutually supportive, the African Union panel has proposed an agreement. This will keep the oil flowing, stop the unilateral diversion of southern oil by the north, and provide enough funds to cushion the economic crisis in the north. China — the main buyer of Sudanese oil — the United States and the United Nations have endorsed the African Union’s plan.’ He added: ‘This is the last chance, not only for the two to snatch a deal on oil, but also to stop an escalation into a wider north-south war’. That was a month ago.
The ‘good’ news is that China has endorsed the African Union’s plan and that Sudan Wins Five-Year Delay to Repay China Debt. The bad news is that as of today, nothing has change so far. I just found an article published on ReliefWeb 15 years ago (!), on March 1997, titled: SUDAN: Disaster ‘In The Making’ In Sudanese Nuba Mountains. I’m not what you can call an ‘interventionist’, I’m on the diplomatic side. But just like for Syria, something has to be done, and quickly. Even it has to ‘endanger’ our economic and geopolitical interests I already mentioned in so many of my previous articles posted on this blog.