Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy One Year Anniversary of the CPA/Referendum!

Credit: Pete Muller

To celebrate this momentous occassion that signified the end to a longstanding violent conflict with the North, the US thought the most appropriate gift was to give South Sudan a load of new weapons......

After adding South Sudan to the list of countries which the US can transfer weapons to, Barack Obama said this in his memorandom:

 “the furnishing of defense articles and defense services to the Republic of South Sudan will strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace”. (ST)

Emphasis on South Sudan now being the US' guard dog in East Africa...... congratulations?

As happy as I am on this day, I can't help but think that there are some little cynical weasels out there who are rubbing their hand together as their idea of a pre-failed state (also here and here) may have come true with today's line up of news.......

I'm probably being irrational in my beliefs, and I can't really argue against their points, but I can't help but still hold a lot of hope for South Sudan. Being there, with the spirit of the people, one can't help but think that these are merely short-term problems that will be overshadowed by the long path of success in South Sudan's future. 

South Sudan Oyeee!

Friday, January 6, 2012

No more peace conferences!!!! (the conflict in Jonglei)

Im sure (hoping) that many of you have heard about the recent violence that has been occurring in Jonglei State of South Sudan between the Murle community of Pibor county and the Lou-Nuer of the surrounding area*. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Al-Jazeera had made it the headline of their front page. Also, here is a link to an interesting recording from the BBC Worldservice, on the current conflict
It is difficult to really state when this conflict actually began but it is certain that the the level of violence has been continuously escalating as vengeance is met revenge. This recent attack is in retaliation to this attack that left 600 (Lou-Nuer) dead, which was a retaliation to this attack 250 (Murle)  dead, and so on and so forth. The number of casualties of this recent attack has been estimated at 2,182 people from the Murle community, mostly women and children......That is about 1.5% of the entire Murle population**. This is the type of numbers you see from a full military conflict or civil war. But this is not civil war. This is a conflict between two communities fighting over identity, resources (cattle) and a lot of strong emotions. For me, one of the strangest thing about this conflict is that you can't really sympathise with either sides.
Anyways, the following is a video from Al-Jazeera, I want to draw your attention to the interview with the vice president Riek Machar, and his strategy on dealing with the issue. 

******WARNING: OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE have been warned*********

Aside from the standard procedures to deal with the immediate threat, deployment of additional security forces and the creation of a buffer zone, the solution is one that I am absolutely sick and tired of hearing......Motherfucking PEACE CONFERENCE!!

For those that might not know, a peace conference is basically just an event where the politicians and community leaders from both warring parties come together, have a nice meal, hand out some t-shirts, and tell some wanker consultant about what THEY think the cause of conflict is and how THEY think the issues can be resolved. A whole bunch of pretty resolution and recommendations are written down....and then ends up in some file to never see the light of day again. This obsession of peace conferences basically stems from its successes in resolving some of the inter-community conflict, back in the day. Since those successes, whenever there is a conflict, peace conferences have become the de facto solution.....but it has been so long since they have been successful. The organisers typically exclude the people who are involved in the conflict, and when the belligerents are involved, they will say whatever sounds good at the time just for the sake of saying them.....people behave differently in the presence of different people?!.....that is just shocking! (anyone who has ever done a community focus group discussion will know what Im talking about).

Now of course I am being excessively harsh. Its not like I have any bright ideas to solve this conflict.....(not one that is ready to be implemented anyways) and these politicians are merely just implementing what they know......and what they know is basically whatever horseshit that NGOs and the UN have been feeding them.....and what do these people know? well....horseshit. Many of the peacebuilding strategies are created with guesswork based on the dubious information about the causes of the conflict that they extract from the community (through rubbish focus group discussions).
So basically, Im calling for an end to this ridiculous method of resolving conflict. Im calling for a beginning of peacebuilding strategies that are rigorously tested before implementation. Im calling for new approaches to resolving conflict that does not involve what is essentially a really expensive circle jerk***

Oh and lets also not forget those damn donors with their short term funding that forces organisations to adopt simple shallow projects that are expected to perform miracles......fuck you, you ignorant cretins.

Finally, I just have to add.....the UN would've probably been able to anticipate this attack much much earlier if they actually had people on the ground. The UN has a compound in Akobo town (the capital of the county where the Lou-Nuer come from) that I know is always empty. They just fly-in on their fancy helicopters once in a while to talk to the county commissioner, but never actually stay there.....probably due to security issues.....pussies.

*For a map of the boundaries of the various ethnic groups in SS, go here
** For the SS 2010 census, go here 
*** Not to say that there aren't organisations out there that are trying different approaches......but usually when there are, they are still not very well thought through and a widely based on gut instinct. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Why al-Dabi was chosen to head the observer mission

My personal sufi expert has finally started his own blog, Internet Penance. His most recent post is an interesting perspective on why al-Dabi was selected to lead the Arab League observer mission to Syria.

I am more inclined to believe that this the failure of this mission had less to do with a genuine desire to resolve the conflict, but a reflection of the limitations and increasing irrelevance of the Arab League model as defined by the worldview of the Old Guard. Perhaps, the Arab Parliament (a newer body connected to the League) and its call on the observer mission to give up and leave (and hence contradiction of the League’s adamant defense of the mission) is an indication that the breeze of the Arab Spring ‘khamsin‘ is about to turn up at the headquarters of the Arab League itself.