December 7, 2010

Africa & US Policy: Is the US Ready if the Government of Sudan Attacks the South?

The real questions are:  Is the Government of Sudan ready?  Will it accept a southern Sudanese vote for secession?  GOS is already marshaling troops and military hardware along what will be the border between the two new countries if the vote succeeds.

There is a lot of oil in the south.  How badly does the GOS want it?  Badly enough to declare the voting fraudulent and "interfered with by 'outsiders'" thereby justifying a military push into the south and a backing out of its commitment?  I think so but hope not.

If the GOS acts aggressively against the south will the US, the African Union or the broader international community intervene?  Probably, through the UN.  China is Sudan's largest "trading" partner (oil for money and consumer goods) but would not likely involve itself if the international community acted against GOS aggression.  There would likely be cries of anti-Islamism if the GOS was confronted on its "soverign" territory, especially if the US took the lead in the counter-offensive.

I've interviewed hundreds of southern Sudanese refugee resettlement applicants in neighboring countries in the Greater Horn.  The killing, torture, terror, displacement and destruction of their families, communities and ways of life by GOS soldiers has been horrifying, and more so when told in the first person by those who have experienced it.

Over two million southern Sudanese have died at the hands of the the government in Khartoum.  For what?  Because the GOS does not want to grant the south two fundamental human rights - political self-determination and freedom of religion.  As the late John Garang told a Nairobi, Kenya TV reporter who asked him in 1997 why the south would not compromise with the north:  "Which exactly of these two things we are seeking do you suggest we compromise on?"

The international community missed its chance in Rwanda in 1994 to intervene and avert or lessen the effects of genocide.  Will it miss again if the GOS strikes against the south over the referendum?  Has the UN, US, African Union and other members of the international community already made a decision to act in the event the GOS moves against the south?  I hope so.  Making the decision to act after an attack has begun would be too late.

In the background material I looked at to answers the questions (see below) it does not appear that the US or the others have committed to stand up to the GOS if it attacks.  If they have, they are not saying so for some reason.  Seems it would be good if the international community would take a position beforehand and express it firmly but calmly.  I think it would go far toward forcing the GOS not to attack.

Department of State - Steps to the Referendum - December 3
Somali Pirates’ Catch Exposed Route of Arms to Sudan
Negotiating Sudan's North-South Future International Crisis Group Report
Sudan's Al-Bashir Warns Against "Unilateral Solutions" to North-South Disputes
South Sudan Rejects Referendum Postponement, Warns Egypt Over "Interference"
Egypt Lobbied for South Sudan Referendum to be Delayed - Leaked US Report
Obstacles Beyond the Referendum
Abyei Bracing for a "Bad Christmas"

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