Home | Comment & Analysis    Friday 24 October 2003

National Concerns for Macro-Political Affairs


By Mahgoub El-Tigani, Sudan Tribune

October 23, 2003 — President Bush and his distinguished Secretary of State Colin Powell have undoubtedly made "a good job" triggering, developing, closely following, and "rushing up" promising peace negotiations between the Sudan Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). Apparently, however, the top American enthusiasm is not as well exerted for the sake of the NDA nationally-oriented goals. This leaves open a narrow margin for the Sudanese democracy in the current state of affairs to pursue national agenda within internationally "ascribed" areas of power striving.

As far as American politics are concerned, the American interest is meant, in the first place, to secure the United States far-sighted national security goals against the remotest possibility of terrorist attacks after the September 11th terrorizing events, as well as manipulating the grounds for a concrete implementation of the previously instigated Carter’s peace approach jointly with the Clinton’s calculated plan to boost the economic and the other vital geopolitical strategies of the US in the Continent of Africa and the Middle East.

The Republican do-it-now style versus the Democrats think-it-twice picked up the opportunity of favorable application of the White House approved plan in light of the September 11th aftermath that prepared the West, in general, and America, in particular, to harsh-action terrorism elimination where or whenever terrorist-linked groups or locations are adequately known. Based on this fact, Sudanese public opinion is strongly required to voice loudly where its own interests lie within or outside the framework of the superpower’s clear-cut wants and hidden desires.

The security geopolitical zoning is quite evident: Sudan, where "Ben-Laden lived as a special first-class recruiting and investing leader of Muslim Jihad" is now a daily reference in all American media/security reports. Yemen, a long-time sisterly state of Sudan, which is also Ben Laden’s country of origin, is marked orange; and the other most important states to American policy makers and peoples, i.e., Israel, the Gulf States, Egypt, and the other neighboring nations are all raised way above the regular attention of the State Department.

The appeals for active, efficient, and result-yielding international intervention for peace and humanitarian affairs had been earlier instigated and pursued by human rights and democracy activists or groups, including the US-based Endowment for Democracy and Human Rights Watch equally with Amnesty International, the Arab lawyers Union, Southern Sudan communities and church leaders, and the Sudan Human Rights Organization - all in close collaboration with the Human Rights Commission and the other UN treaty-bodies. The administration’s top priority agenda of making peace in Sudan, notwithstanding, was initiated, developed, and implemented along American security concerns and political interests from the very start.

Most important, the Black Congressional Caucus and Evangelist lobby groups escalated the pressure on the US Government to protect the Christian African Sudanese from systematic genocide by state policy. The Caucus is the biggest legislative body of the African American people of the US. It has been increasingly concerned for the abhorrent persecution, enslavement, and humiliation of the African southerners of Sudan by the Muslim Arab regime of the National Islamic Front (NIF). The Evangelists are religious groups strongly passionate about the Christians’ suppression by the north-based central governance of Sudan.

The White House determination to eliminate terrorism, the Caucus intention to stop racial persecution, and the Evangelist zeal to salvage Christianity will continue to mould the US policy direction towards this African nation for years to come. Being a religiously-oriented effort, the movement of Christian leaders to salvage the African Southern Sudanese from the Salvation Government’s dehumanizing policy is not accommodative to the Sudanese national democratic agreements and non-partisan planning to solve the Sudan’s Crisis - a prerequisite clearly identified by the United States Peace Envoy Senator Danforth. American Evangelists, however, have practically contributed to speed up the US policy to put an end to the Sudan’s civil war crisis.

Sudan is now placed in the center of the superpower’s national security affairs where America Comes First is the market domain and is the voting reward. To create the necessary public support of this domineering policy, two American modalities were intensively used: the direct involvement of selected partners in the peace process, and the powerful media machine. The peace efforts of European allies, notably Great Britain, Italy, and Norway, were directly incorporated with the IGAD. The media slowly shaped information on the emerging peace process in terms of a two-partner game guided by a decisive sponsor, the US President, assisted by the IGAD and the European Friends mediation.

Unlike the IGAD that, being purely African, shares deep concerns with the Sudanese democratic forces of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the SPLM versus the fundamentalist rule of the Sudan, many strategist politicians in the US and Europe believe that African macro-politics is not different from the World Bank/IMF "metrical reports or analytical research findings" on the African macroeconomics that the Bank often portrayed as "poorly productive, factional, ritualistic," hence "unrealistic" with "feverish" national or regional drives similar to the former OAU ideals!

The mode of the plan was essentially based on an expectation of cash crop value system versus the previously symbolic, rather non-yielding initiatives and negotiations in a number of African states. All African nationalist emphasis on collective action was then firmly avoided for the do-it-now "high-yielding" anticipated results by the sponsoring administration through the application of the main agenda of a workable peace process with the agenda carefully circumscribed and selectively designed to be signed.

The American legislative and highest executives translated the message in the Peace Act and the other accompanying measures, which the American national security specialist John Prendergast predictably suggested in a lengthy report on the Sudan’s Crisis, as "jointly stick-and-carrot methodology." This explains the failure of both the SPLM and the NDA sisterly alliance to find a place for both partners in the same table of negotiation vis-à-vis the June military coup authoritative negotiators.

The Calvinist-rooted American policy favors direct dealing with power-centers (repressive governments in other words) to negotiate with armed foes that would be encouraged by experienced mediators to act as interest-groups actively pursuing inward-focused goals more than disputable national agenda (for example strictly regular democracy versus a relaxed form of democracy). This short-range, de facto, negotiating stratagem would make it easy for the sponsor to influence the process without much effort to satisfy the play-multitude of the diverse African setting. Accordingly, the interests of the negotiating counterparts must of course coincide nicely with the superpower’s agenda.

Similar to the American policy dealings with third world countries, however, two essential elements were unnecessarily underrated although, as real providers for the best enduring results they should be allowed to interact with the enforced cash crop mechanism through adequate encouragement, as actually occurred, for example, in the democratic transition of South Africa and Mali: 1) identifying the top national concerns of the country in question; and 2) insuring full participation of all national groups in the desirable deal, otherwise serious national agenda of the country in question would be genuinely reduced.

This theoretical sketch of the US foreign policy towards an African nation might be at risk of simplification. However, the case of the Sudanese peace process is quite telling: the US peace expertise was pretty determined to emphasize the efficiency of direct bilateral negotiations, ironically in a country composed of complex multiplicity in every possible criteria, ethnicity, religion, politics, economics, ideology, etc. - a fact that the US State Department’s human rights division consistently emphasized!

The experts were equally determined to do-it-our-way with "a little bit" ritualistic regard to the NIF harshly persecuted, brutalized, and continuously harassed Sudanese national opposition groups or their democratic agenda in spite of the opposition’s lengthy "informal" meetings and many occasional talks in Washington, Cairo, and Asmara for a decade or so with American officials.

The "under-rated" national constituencies in the ongoing peace negotiations are sufficiently represented by the NDA, the largest political umbrella that includes the North-South political groups, including the SPLM which correctly continues to appeal for the NDA participation throughout the negotiations process. The SPLM leadership has been closely engaged in patient, direct talks with the administration since years ago. The NDA, however, is not yet publicly recognized or formally dealt with by the US Government as the legitimate opposition body of the Sudan.

The 2-negotiators’ show is tightly selected, well-guarded, and closely monitored by the sponsoring powers. Considering the fact that the whole peace process is inevitably concerned with problems organically shared by the whole country and its peoples, being the largest nation in African space, it is awkward the largest representative of the Sudanese political body is made to "sit watching," expecting invitations to participate when only two Sudanese players are invited to talk in the peace saloon.

Despite this loophole in the negotiations’ structural formulation, the auspicious statements of Mr. Powell following his meeting with the negotiating partners in Kenya are hailed by the peace loving peoples who are yearning for the permanent and just peace of Sudan as well the regular democracy that would indiscriminately guarantee the full enjoyment of human rights and public freedoms equally for the South and the North.

The shortcomings of macro-politics would have to be redressed with elaborated micro-politics, namely the finalization of state bureaucracy, the establishment of legal structures, and the nominations of office incumbency. Here is where maximum Sudanese representation would be more than a cash crop to give blessing to governance arrangements before they could be successfully implemented. Needless to say that leaving behind the NDA for ritualistic roles would hardly insure stability for the South or the North in the long-run simply because the NIF fundamentalist rulers would stretch out the notorious Caliphate sticks (that would survive post-treaty status quo) with the US carrots to batter the northern side lined opposition.

Clearly then, the political sidelining of the NDA in the ongoing peace negotiations by the sponsoring powers that have been giving "icy looks" to the democratic opposition of the country while exchanging courteous encouragement to the culprit regime is dangerously negative: it indicates negligence of the Sudanese national sentiments; it reduces the momentum of peace regardless of possible agreement signing; and it subjugates the future of regular democracy to the worst human rights ruling violator.

A few observers noticed the NDA sidelining is possibly related to the NDA majority Muslim population (excluding the ruling terrorists) that both Caucus and Evangelists might be unfairly considering as part of the "anti-African Arab zealots." Responding to this assumption, it is true the negotiating Muslim Brotherhood government that has done every act of terrorism - and still is - against the Arab, non-Arab, Muslim, or non-Muslim People of Sudan is a north-dominated group. Question is: what about the largely northern Muslim opposition of the same homeland that is never mentioned and is downplayed by the Caucus, the Evangelists, and the administration?

The truth of the matter is that the NDA is composed of the largest population of the African Sudanese people who share with the African southerner the multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multi-political composition of the country. The NDA membership is made of the Beja Congress, the DarFur Federals, the USAP culturally and ethnically non-Arab southerner alliance, the communist party, trade unions and civil society associations, and the DUP/Umma large democratic Muslim electorate of Sudan. More than any anti-democratic regime, these groups are the best national safe-guard for any long-term North-South peace agreement at any given point of time.

It is understandable the Honorable Kenyan Moderator and the IGAD and Troika Friends of Sudan share with the Sudanese, in commendable general terms, the search for a North-South peace agreement as national agenda. What is missing is a clear commitment by the sponsor/mediators to incorporate into negotiation documents the well-calculated and agreed upon NDA agreements to install a clear anti-terrorist democratic transitional government, abrogate all anti-democratic laws and practices of the negotiating Sudan Government, and place in order an independent judiciary to bring to life the rule of law and the respect of international human rights norms through principled implementation of democratic constitutionality.

From an American standpoint, there is political anticipation the negotiations would end up with a peace agreement to the satisfaction of the American strategic voters, specifically the Evangelist/Caucus pressing groups with which the administration legislature and executive are totally agreed. From their part, many democratic Sudanese are partially comfortable with the Caucus/Evangelist shaking of the stagnant peace process to favor selected geographical priorities. What is emphasized, instead, is a national appeal to the Black Congressional Caucus and the Evangelist lobby groups to openly acknowledge the country’s realities and aspirations via the NDA agreements and plan of action in the upcoming transition government.

The Sudanese have certainly welcomed the Bush-Powell peace efforts. In particular, the democratic Sudanese are sincerely appreciative of the IGAD principles (the Machekos Protocol considerably emulated) for the establishment of a democracy-based permanent and just peace for which both NDA partners have equally suffered great sacrifices in the North with those of the South. The principled alliance of the SPLM and the NDA is surely a historic national record that is not comparable in any sense to the NIF fractions partisan politics.

With due account to the Sudanese genuine expectations, however, the SPLM cannot act for the NDA in practical terms even though it is a founding member of the NDA Leadership Council. Facing the sponsors/mediators insistence on the cash-crop stick-carrot macro-politics, the involvement of the Sudanese largest constituency in direct participation (not any ritualistic role) in the peace negotiations might not materialize through the persistent appeals of the SPLM. Nor should it be condescendingly met by the dictatorial regime of the Sudan that is still terrorizing the Sudanese more than it did to any other nation on earth, including the USA.

The full recognition of the NDA should be formally received from the IGAD, the Troika, and publicly realized by the United States Government the superpower sponsor of the peace process ? Only then the anticipated celebration of a Sudanese Peace Agreement in the White House would be fully approved and blessed by the Nation of Sudan.

*Member of Sudanese Writers’ Union (in exile) and the president of Sudan Human Rights Organization Cairo-Branch

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