- (September 2004)
The next multinational African war?
(Report from Africa).
Sudan was engulfed in a 20-year civil war between the government and the
"rebels" of the South (this was before Darfur).
Muslims represent 62% of the population, and the rest does not want to be
governed by Muslims.
Two million people died in that war, mostly non-Muslim civilians of the South.
If you put together all the people who have died in all the other wars of the
Arab world (including all the wars with Israel, the two intifadas,
the Algerian and Lebanese civil wars, the current civil war in Iraq and the
Iraq-Iran war), you still don't get two million deaths.
More people were killed in Sudan than in all of those wars combined.
Still, that massacre is not widely known.
We support a homeland for the Palestinians but somehow don't care much for
other people whose land is "occupied" by governments that they never wanted
(the Kurds of Turkey, the Saharawis of Morocco, the Balochis of Pakistan,
and so forth).
The media spent more time on Darfur (that killed "only" 200,000 people)
than on South Sudan.
The peace treaty that followed the civil war granted the south a referendum in 2010.
The Sudanese government probably hoped to solve the issue before 2010 without
a referendum, but instead the South is preparing to declare independence.
The South is mostly run by the SPLM, the old rebel army.
The North has little control over the South.
In neighboring Uganda there are physically two embassies, and most people only
know the SPLM embassy (Uganda borders on South Sudan and is a fellow Christian
To visit Khartoum (Sudan's capital) and the pyramids, one needs a visa from Sudan (northern Sudan). This is extremely complicated (i personally gave up).
To visit the South (e.g. Juba, the capital), one needs a visa from the SPLM,
which one can even get at the border. The catch is that Juba has become an
extremely expensive city (which is what normally happens when foreign aid
agencies and United Nations staff flock to town).
The other catch is that a visa to South Sudan by the SPLM has no validity
in north Sudan, and one cannot get a visa to north Sudan from south Sudan.
Everybody is afraid of what will happen in 2010.
The people of the South are clearly pro-independence.
But the government of Sudan is unlikely to accept that 1/3rd of the country secedes.
It would be a first in the Arab world, and only the second time in the Islamic world (the previous time was when Bangladesh seceded from Pakistan, and that caused 600,000 deaths).
If the government of Sudan does not accept the referendum and invades the South, there is a serious chance of a bigger war, with Uganda and Ethiopia supporting the SPLM while Libya and Eritrea support the north.
The parallels with Congo are even too obvious.
TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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