Saturday, October 20, 2007

I'm only going to say this once...

I'm tired of the news coming out of Sudan these days. It's all shock and amazement at the current goings-on. ("What? The North and the South don't get along?!" or "What? There's fighting in Darfur?!" or "Weren't there peace deals? Wasn't everything peachy?!")

No! Things haven't been peachy since the ink was drying on either of the so-called peace agreements with the South (CPA) or in Darfur (DPA). And, so I am going to give you a short treatise on what the future of Sudan will hold in coming years. Ready?

There is no peace agreement in Darfur. The peace agreement with the south is all but dead. It never really was all that alive and it was always more of a cease-fire than a 'comprehensive peace agreement' anyway. Both the North and the South have used the period of the CPA to fortify their positions rather than actually work toward a future peace. The north has done this by bringing in Chinese weapons and soldiers by the boatload and the south has done this by bringing in and solidifying their position in the region, in Darfur and with international 'donors'. Everyone in Sudan is armed to the teeth and itching for a fight.

However, in this coming fight the North will lose. Here's why: North Sudan cannot afford to wage a war on three fronts which, if it returns to war with the South it will have to do. They will be forced to continue fighting in Darfur, on the Chadian border, and they will be fighting the South. The only way it could hope to win would be to bring China in to do their fighting for them. But, to assume that China will side with the North is to overestimate the relationship between the government in Khartoum and China. China is interested in the oil which, at the moment is provided by the North but the oil fields are almost entirely located in the South. If the Southern government does a deal with the Chinese to guarantee the security of Chinese oil interests I doubt that China will care who is buttering which side of their toast.

The Southern Sudanese Army have been long engaged in talks, and a recruiting drive, in Darfur. They are pulling in, literally, tens of thousands of Darfurians into their army with the common theme, 'we hate the regime in Khartoum.' In a fight where the South and Darfur are fighting the North, without the support of the Chinese, the North is doomed. Chad will take advantage of a weakened regime in Sudan that is unable to support the Chadian Opposition, as it currently does, and attempt to annihilate them. The South/Darfur collusion will be a marriage of convenience and once the government in the north has been vanquished - probably through a coup deposing the current regime and plunging the North into political chaos - it will end. And, given that there's not much commonality (or love lost) between Darfur and the South, they will turn on each other. Chaos and turmoil will ensue in the form of uncontrollable warfare.

Granted, this is not a pretty picture. It is a tragedy of enormous proportions. The human losses and humanitarian situation will be unthinkable. But if the north doesn't recognize the volatility of the situation they are facing and the South and Darfur don't count the human costs in their quest for power then this is what Sudan will devolve into for the next ten years, at least.

1 comment:

Stefan Geens said...

Too right. And let's not forget that China can't fight a proxy war in Sudan with the 2008 Olympics comng up. We'd all be out of there in an instant.

The only thing I am not as optimistic about as you is the chances of Bashar losing grip on power.