Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"O.K., my one prediction is that events won’t unfold precisely like that..."

That was the always alarming, Nick Kristoff, talking about his prediction of how things might play out in Sudan following the referendum. Well.....two can play at that game.

DEC. 10, 2010 Word trickles out of massacres and widespread rapes by tribal militias from the North in the boiling borderlands between North and South. Turns out, it was just a bunch of rumours spread by " Westerners with an interest in a divided and weakened Sudan".

DEC. 15 The chairman of the referendum commission (from the North) calls on the South to postpone the vote for “just one month,” pointing to insecurity and to inadequate preparations for voting. The South insists that the referendum will go on as scheduled. The North responds by simply giving the South it's desired independence and refocuses its attention on raping Darfur.

JAN. 9, 2011 The referendum is not held at the disappointment of many t-shirt flag vendors. Op-Ed columnists are left with nothing more to speak of so they too refocus their attention on raping Darfur. Chinese and Malaysian oil companies rejoice as their commitment to not pull out of the country pays off.

JAN. 18 Salva Kiir, the President of the newly independent South Sudan goes on a bike ride with Bashir. They stop under a mango tree to discuss their future alliance. They high-five each other - camera freezes as they both leap into the air and their hands meet.

JAN. 20 Reports begin to come out from the Nuba mountains of sightings of Care Bears. According to an interview with Grumpy Bear, it was in fact these diabolical bears and their bio-weapon, the "Care Bear Stare", that was behind the sudden prosperous peace between the North and South Sudan. Asked as to why Darfur is still seeing high levels of rape, Grumpy Bear answered "Well, Love-a-lot Bear was tasked to deal with that conflict. However she ended up overdoing it with her powers and became Too-much-love bear, leading to mass rape across the land"
See, Kristoff... I'm pretty good at making shit up too.

Anyways, 2 points:

Firstly; I am fully aware that there is a great potential for a resurgence of the North-South War if things don't go smoothly prior or during the referendum. I realise that the North has a lot to lose if the South does secede and are therefore willing to take action to destabilise the situation. However, that does not mean that there isn't any hope for a peaceful referendum and eventual secession. Maybe I am absolutely crazy for thinking that people can change for the better, or that the North can come to see the benefits of allowing its South to be independent (the South still needs a pipeline and refineries for its oil and like Singapore, Sudan can be the refinery guy). But I would rather be crazy than be that miserable-wanker-with-a-fetish-for-war who thinks that speculating about war all the time won't eventually incite it. Thats right, incite it. because drawing a picture of the north as being villainous is sure as hell not a very good diplomatic strategy. This isn't a 1970's cartoon where the bad guy just wants the world to descend into chaos for no real particular motive. Bashir is not Cobra Commander, but by always describing him as such one risks causing a self-fulfilling prophecy based on a form of stereotype threat, where if everyone says he is, he may just start to believe it and therefore act accordingly. Also, 5 years since the CPA (a massive agreement) was signed, a large number of the provisions have been accomplished (mind you with delays - but still accomplished) and there has only been 2 north-south clashes (even that were just between soldiers within the JIU and did not definitively reflect the intentions of either governments).
So lets not write off the chance for peace just yet, lets try and stay positive and lets act surprised when things turn for the worst.

Secondly, and this point is better put by Michael Busch and Oscar Blayton, is simply a call for all these advocacy groups, writers and 'academics' to stop suggesting that the US with its exceptional exceptionalism should take the war to Sudan - in the same packaging as Iraq. Also, I would just like to add, Kristoff's suggestion (based on an old CIA plan) to fire missiles at the refinery and pipeline in Port Sudan is just stupid. If you are doing it to help the South, I don't think destroying its main source of income is very clever. Also, good luck winning the support of China after that…..unless that was the plan? (cue dramatic horns "Dumb-Dumb-Dumb")

So if war breaks out, il be here pissing into the wind while you can laugh smugly about being right…enjoy it, because I will return as a ghost and haunt-rape you in your sleep (too much?)

Photo credit: got it from John Akec's blog


  1. ماشين في السكة نمد!

    Well argued! But I still believe that the South and the North can benefit more by being together and not apart. Note, I didn't say NCP and SPLM
    We've got a lot more to lose in case of disintegration. All depends on how you set up the scales of gains.

    Jamila El-Gizuli

  2. Thanks Jamila,

    Despite what ever benefits there may be from unity, resentment between the two sides (or at least from the south) is far too strong for there to be any real social reconciliation at this point in time. Even if there were to be regime changes of both sides, the distrust of the 'northern arabs' by the south on a social level seems to trump any political or economical benefits that might be achieved from unity. Furthermore, as Benjamin Miller points out in his state-to-nation balance theory, governing a state with as many nations as Sudan has can be very messy. I believe that separation followed by a strong political alliance along with an interdependent economic model between the two sides is probably the best option at the moment to gain the benefits you speak of whilst not risking social unrest.

  3. Irrespective of Benjamin Miller's argument, which India (although it isn't an ME state) can easily discredit, unity hold far more potential for mutual benefit. Rational states more often than not work under security dilemma. The current distrust, as you stated, will only be augmented, exponentially, in case of disintegration and many perspicacious observers will easily bet all their chips on that.
    Whatever happens, I hope no serious escalation will result from that.

    Best, always.


  4. Yeah but India has a strong enough state to prevent an escalation of violence.....or at least to keep identity conflicts under wraps. One can't deny that there is hostility amongst the various nations.

    The problem here is not so much about what might be the rational choice, but rather the perception and subsequently the aspirations of the South. Many Southerners already recognise the fact that when they secede from the north there is most likely going to be an increase in intra-south conflict. Nonetheless, right now, it seems that the goal is independence and nothing is going to get in their way. That is why despite the fact that a delay in the referendum will enable a better organised and thus, a more credible referendum, the people of South Sudan demand a January 9th referendum.

    This isn't about the rationality of states but the uncompromising desires of the people,

    Similarly, I too very much hope no serious escalation will result.