Home | Comment & Analysis    Monday 9 September 2019

Has Thomas Cirilo realize the importance of the enemy of my enemy is my friend?

By Clement Maring Samuel

When I read a tripartite agreement signed by Gen. Thomas Cirilo; Gen. Pagan Amum Okiech; and Gen. Paul Malong Awan who represented their parties of SSNDA; R-SPLM, and SSUF in the Netherlands on August 30th 2019, it was a surprise to see Gen. Thomas Cirilo Swaka succumbing to the philosophy of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. At last, he has realized that joining hands with a political foe is a strength. NAS has swallowed its bitter pills of describing some Equatorians who join hands with Gen. Paul Malong weirdly. When the FDS were arrested in Juba and kept in detention for a couple of weeks, it was Dr Riak Machar who heralded for their release, but after they were released, they abandoned him and treated him as a warmonger disregarding the effort he did for them. Their decision has led to prolongation of the war. Had they joined hands together with Dr Riak Machar; the war would have ended a long time ago. They haven’t use the philosophy of the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

When Dr Riak Machar was detained in South Africa, the SPLM-IO became a standstill Movement. In this period, on 27th March 2018, SSUF conceives eleven members from Bahr el Ghazal, Equatoria and Upper Nile to form a revolutionary Movement. These eleven members constitute the founding body of SSUF/A. On 28th March 2018, SSUF gave birth to a new Movement called “South Sudan united Front and Army (SSUF/A)” in Nairobi, Kenya. After its formation, the members chose Gen. Paul Malong Awan from greater Bahr el Ghazal as Chairman and commander in Chief. SSUF/A was committed to removing the regime in Juba militarily and the task requests joint efforts from all opposition forces which took arms against the Juba regime. Gen. Paul Malong tried heavily to ally with Gen. Pagan Amum Okiech; Gen. Oyai Deng Ajak; and Gen Thomas Cirilo including the non-armed groups headed by Gabriel Changson Chang. There was Intellectual resistance from SSOA members who described Gen. Malong as an uneducated leader to ally with. Besides, they were afraid of being targeted by TROIKA on the issue of sanction of Gen Paul Malong. The long-awaited Generals made SSUF/A a standstill Mill which delayed the Military and political structures. This contributed to the founding members of SSUF leaving the Movement like Ambassador Telar, Lino Ajang, Clement Maring, Ambassador Lumumba, Elly Magok, Ambassador Ayok, and Simon Wieu, later followed by Ustaz Lewis Anei.

The SSOA groups headed by Gabriel Changson Chang have chosen a non-violent approach to address the conflict in South Sudan and they were not ready to join hands with Gen Paul Malong, a person viewed like an owl in the company of birds. SSOA was overtaken by the peace overtone in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In SSOA consortium, only Gabriel Changson Chang had the collaborative view to include SSUF into peace talks, but the rest of SSOA members vehemently rejected the inclusion of SSUF into peace talks. Ninety-nine per cent of former SSOA members vehemently rejected SSUF’s participation in peace talks and Bakosoro boys were not happy with the activities of Mathiang Anyor Forces in Western Equatoria. Thomas Cirilo’s NAS wanted Gen. Paul Malong to fight in Bahr el Ghazal and leave Equatoria for NAS; he wanted SSUF and NAS to cooperate on logistic aspects and they should converge in Juba. This position is procrastinating because the seat of the power is not in Bahr el Ghazal but Juba. Gen. Thomas Cirilo thinks he can remove the regime in Juba alone. SSUF then resisted the regime alone after been denied to participate in peace talks by IGAD, TROIKA and SSOA.

It was only Gabriel Changson Chang who cooperated with SSUF members who were sent to Addis Ababa to participate in the peace talks. SSUF committee was not allowed to participate in the peace talks; SSUF members only attended the governance and security workshop which was organized by IGAD before the actual days of the peace talks. With the cooperation of Hon. Gabriel Changson Chang, one member of SSUF Hon. Elly Magok fully attended the peace talks to the end. Gabriel Changson Chang was the only leader among SSOA who held an inclusive view to bring sustainable peace in the country, but the rest of the leaders were only greedily contented with their positions in Juba.

Malong as a person made many mistakes by implementing the Jieng Council of Elders agenda when he was the General Chief of Staff under President Kiir in Juba which made many people reject his Movement as the savage memories of the Mathiang Anyor militia in Equatoria and Upper Nile Regions were fresh in their minds. The South Sudanese held Gen. Paul Malong as the catalyst for maiming people in South Sudan and for maintaining President Salva Kiir Mayardit in power, but again the opposing leaders didn’t realize the importance of allying with an enemy to remove a common enemy. They did not conceive the ancient proverb which says: “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. The proverb suggests that two opposing parties even if they are enemies of themselves can work together against their common enemy.

In World War II, this concept was used by the Americans, British and Russians who teamed up against Hitler. The idea of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” functions in various guises as foreign policy by Allied powers during the Second World War. In Europe, the tension was common between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. Despite their inherent differences, they recognized a need to work together to meet the threat of Nazi aggression under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. Both US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill were wary of the Soviet Union under the leadership of Joseph Stalin. However, both developed policies with an understanding that Soviet cooperation was necessary for the Allied war effort to succeed.

A similar alliance could have been forged between SPLM-IO, FDs, SSOA and SSUF against the regime in Juba, but they nurtured their differences to tear them apart which strengthened the grip of the regime in Juba to defeat them all. Gen. Paul Malong after been removed from power automatically became an enemy of the regime. Smart Revolutionaries could have to use the philosophy of an enemy of my enemy is my friend to ally with him regardless of their differences they harbour to remove the regime in Juba. The crimes of Gen. Paul Malong could be address when peace is at hand in the country, but greedy leaders could not comprehend this sense. When peace is at hand, all criminals will be exposed including those who are hiding behind the curtain.

When the author joined hands with Gen. Paul Malong in 2018 to fight the regime in Juba, it was based on the notion that the enemy of my enemy is my friend which Gen. Thomas has now realized, there was nothing common apart from this view, but some members of NAS conjoined with Hakim Dario of PDM vilified the Equatorians in SSUF as followers of Dinka, enemies of Equatoria, traitors, betrayers, Satans, Devils, opportunists, bought, sellouts, partners in crime. Now that Gen Thomas Cirilo who represented SSDA has joined hands with Gen. Paul Malong, Are they followers of Dinka and enemies of Equatoria? Are they traitors and betrayers of Equatorians? Are they Satans and devils? Are they opportunists? Are they bought by Malong? Are they sellouts and partners in crime? Isn’t that politics? Have they forgotten that politics is a game? What is the gameness of politics? Do they play the game with angels or with Devils? Well, what do we say then in this rejoining? “A dog returns to its vomit” and “A washed pig returns to the mud”. Henceforth, after this nuptial with Gen. Paul Malong, let the big mouth hypocrites shut up describing people with variant views unfairly. The realization of coming together is strength. Therefore, since the tripartite alliance aims for peace, it is welcome. Al salaam Aleichum!

The author is a former SSUF/A senior member, Former Deputy Governor, Former Minister of Education, Former Commissioner. He lives in Kampala, can be reached on warun1maring@gmail.com