Clashes between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and the Sudan Armed Forces are the latest flashpoints in a crisis that points to issues beyond the borders of Sudan, writes Explo N. Nani-Kofi.
On 2 September, the President of Sudan declared a state of emergency in the Blue Nile state of Sudan and dismissed the elected governor Malik Agar and replaced him with the commander-in-chief of the Sudan Armed Forces base in the Al-Damazin, the capital town. This can best be described as a military coup against the elected governor of the Blue Nile. There were clashes between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North and the Sudan Armed Forces the preceding day. This has become the latest flashpoint of the character of the crisis in Sudan since the independence of South Sudan.
The reasons for South Sudan breaking away from Sudan are strongly applicable to Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Darfur. During the wars which preceded the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan, the people of Blue Nile and South Kordofan which explains the strong presence of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in these states. It therefore raises a question of how these states are going to be kept in Sudan when a part of the country has been lost due to the same grievances which they face. The present situation will lead to an increased collaboration of the forces of South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Drafur against the Arabo-Islamic tyranny in Khartoum. The Arabo-Islamic tyranny under Al-Bashir will also respond with extremely repressive measures. Reports have it that there are still armed attacks from the government’s forces on the Nuba people in South Kordofan, tantamount to a military occupation. Bishop Andudu, the Bishop of Kadugli and Suleiman Rahhal, the Director of Nubba Survival Foundation, informed people through GFM Radio's 'Another World is Possible' radio programme out of London in recent weeks that unprovoked armed attacks on civilians affecting women and children continue to be carried by the Sudan Armed Forces.
A subject of great dispute has been the issue of Arab-led or Arabisation-led oppression in the Sahel zone of Africa from Mauritania to Sudan. Despite the fact that quite a lot is researched and written on the subject, including campaigns by internationally recognised human rights organisations, many still try to brush this issue under the carpet. The issue of indiscriminate killing and arrest of black immigrants in Libya has been highlighted by the news media recently as a major issue. At present most people present this as an anti-Gaddafi attack on black immigrants by the rebels because of Gaddafi’s support for African unity and, so the blacks have become targets just as the rebels oppose Gaddafi. This slant ignores the pogroms in Libya against Ghanaians, Nigerians, Niger nationals, Malians and Chadians in 2000. It was then reported that more 100 black Africans were killed during those attacks in September to October 2000. In fact, Ghana’s then President J.J. Rawlings went to Libya himself during the crisis and returned on a special Ghana Airways flight with 200 Ghanaians. A lot of black migrant workers fled Libya during the period. During the Conference of African Migrants in Europe in Tripoli in January 2011, some black migrant workers came to us, the delegates, and complained about Arab racism in Libya society towards them. I see the present attacks on black migrants in Libya today and the 2,000 attacks as linked and evidence of the fact that Arab racism towards blacks is as much a reality as European racism is.
Back to Sudan, it is this reality that the people of Sudan have faced since the 7th century when Islam drifted southwards from Egypt. This has resulted in the targeted oppression of the people of Blue Nile, South Kordofan, Darfur and South Sudan under the Arabo-Islamic ruling class in Khartoum. It has unfortunately, in Sudan, become an institutionalised tool of capitalist exploitation as well as divide and rule. Elsewhere, I have seen the separation of Eritrea from Ethiopia being put in the same category as the separation of South Sudan from Sudan. By putting them in the same category will hind this important fact of the Afro-Arab societal conflict. Eritrea got differentiated from Ethiopia by Italian occupation but South Sudan alongside Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan are in conflict with Khartoum because they want to remain what they have always been and resist becoming Arabised clones. The fact that this issue is not raised by many self-acclaimed progressives is rather what is worrying. It is even a very difficult question for most progressive and radical Arabs as they become very defensive instead of approaching the issue as one of social justice which should concern all. When I raised the issue in discussions during an anti-imperialist conference in Beirut, Lebanon, in January 2009, people found it difficult and the Sudan delegation of black Arabised Sudanese there promised inviting people on a fact finding mission. They even took down names of interested people but I never received any invitation and have also not heard anything of any fact finding mission yet taking place. With the recent genocidal actions on the Khartoum regime in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, who needs a fact finding mission before being aware of what is happening as a follow up to the feudal and religious expansion and occupation since the 7th century?
My deduction from this is that the problem in Blue Nile, South Kordofan, Darfur and South Sudan is not an internal Sudanese issue but an issue beyond the borders of Sudan, and that what is happening in Sudan is a manifestation of a more general problem. It is an issue of self-determination. The problem is not separate from the reports of Afro-Arab conflict along the Sahel zone, nor is it separate from the present attacks on black immigrants in Libya now and in 2000. Without this understanding we will not develop a successful strategy for the permanent resolution of the conflict, as it will be tempting to be dealing with the manifestation rather than the conflict itself. From this analysis, the first line of resistance and solidarity will be all black Africans who are not ready to be cloned into something else than what they are, so it is a Pan-African issue and task. As a social justice movement this should attract the attention and solidarity necessary to rectify the situation by all progressive and democratic minded people the world over, including progressive and democratic minded Arabs. I see this as the first necessary step towards the permanent resolution of the conflict.
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* Explo Nani-Kofi is the Co-ordinator of Kilombo Community Education Project, London, UK, and Kilombo Centre for Civil Society and African Self-Determination, Peki, Ghana, which jointly publish the Kilombo Pan-African Community Journal. For further information contact him through [email protected]. Website: www.kilombo.org.uk
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