"Khartoum's Final Reneging: The Denial of Southern Self-Determination"

Eric Reeves
August 18, 2003

For those waiting to see just what would emerge as the supreme moment
of disingenuousness and reneging by Khartoum's National Islamic Front in
the Machakos peace talks, that moment has arrived. There is now a full-
scale effort to deny the people of southern Sudan a self-determination
referendum; this is apparent not only in the government-controlled press in
Khartoum but in the various ways in which the National Islamic Front is now acting
in concert with Egypt.

As all have recognized, present peace talks have grown out of what
appeared at the time to be the breakthrough Machakos Protocol (July 20, 2002),
in which the Khartoum regime agreed to a southern self-determination
referendum six years after the conclusion of a final peace settlement. Only
because of this breakthrough agreement at Machakos, which has given name to the
peace talks sponsored by the East African consortium of IGAD, have present
peace talks created what continues to be referred to as an historic
opportunity for peace.

But of course any effort by Khartoum to renege on the self-
determination agreement achieved in the Machakos Protocol would render present peace
talks meaningless. And yet this is precisely what can be discerned in the
actions and pronouncements of Khartoum, as well as the recent heavy-handed
efforts of the Egyptian regime. This is a strategy that complements Khartoum's
continuing refusal to accept, even for discussion, the Draft Framework
for a final peace settlement---the document presented by the IGAD mediators
at Nakuru (Kenya) in early July, with very significant international
support, most notably that of the "troika" of Norway, Great Britain, and the US.

Khartoum, in addition to an immediate, vicious, and highly public
excoriation of the IGAD Draft Framework, still refuses to engage in
discussions on the basis of the document despite subsequent broad
international expressions of support for both IGAD efforts and for the
IGAD mediators, headed by General Lazaro Sumbeiywo of Kenya, who drafted the
Nakuru Document (Reuters, August 18, 2003; Agence France-Presse,
August 15 and 16, 2003; BBC Monitoring, Al-Khartoum [Khartoum], August 16, 2003).
These expressions of support have come from the European Union (August
8, 2003), the US State Department (August 7, 2003), the African Union
(Press release from the African Union [Addis Ababa, August 11, 2003]),
President Kibaki of Kenya (The Nation/Sunday [Nairobi], August 10, 2003), and the
various nations of IGAD (The East African Standard [Nairobi], August
10, 2003).

Unless met quickly and decisively with a sharp rebuke and a clearly
articulated set of serious consequences, Khartoum's various efforts
will soon collapse the peace talks. This so even if the talks have been
factitiously extended until September 20, as has been claimed by NIF
First Vice President Ali Osman Taha---perhaps the most powerful member of the
Khartoum regime and the one most adamantly opposed to a just peace
settlement (Reuters, August 17, 2003).

But simply continuing talks without any real commitment to the
diplomatic process is no more meaningful than simply convening parties at a
designated site (see analysis by this writer, August 11, 2003; available upon
request). Unless Khartoum is effectively challenged, for which the prospects seem
virtually non-existent, the regime will simply run out the diplomatic
clock. The regime and its military leadership certainly recognize that such
bad faith stalling, if fully successful, could take them to the beginning
of the next dry season (September/October); at that time there will be ample
opportunity for sustained military offensives in the oil regions and
from the strategic sites to which military equipment and soldiers have been
moved in very substantial quantities over the last ten months.

For Khartoum has, despite the culpable and shameful silence of the US
others who know the military facts full well, continuously violated the
October 15, 2002 cessation of hostilities agreement, which specifically
stipulates that the forces of the parties are "to retain current
military positions" and "cease supplying all areas with weapons and ammunition"
(Section 3). So massively and conspicuously has Khartoum violated
these terms that it would appear that after months of watching helplessly,
the SPLA has also begun to redeploy and re-arm in various parts of the
south.The storm clouds of war are everywhere darkening.

But what is the evidence that Khartoum is not only refusing to
negotiate the Draft Framework in good faith at Nanyiku, site of present
negotiations, but is actively reneging on a self-determination referendum for southern
Sudan? It is important first to recall how "self-determination" has been used
as a snare for southern politicians in the relatively recent past. When in
1992 southern leader Lam Akol met NIF envoy Ali el-Haj in Frankfurt, the
NIF then agreed to southern self-determination as a means of widening the split
between John Garang and Riek Machar that had occurred the previous
year.There was no serious intention of ever granting self-determination.
This became fully clear in 1997 when Riek Machar signed the so-
called "Khartoum Peace Agreement," which yet again promised self-determination for the
south. Of course this promise was meaningless, and Riek would return to the
SPLM/A,at least publicly declaring himself to be chastened by Khartoum's
deceit.Since the political and military realities of 1997 made it perfectly
clear that the "Khartoum Peace Agreement" would never be honored, especially
since it had been secured without meaningful international auspices, it is
difficult to take Riek's professions as face value.

This is the historical context for understanding what Khartoum agreed
to in the Machakos Protocol:

"At the end of the six (6) year Interim Period there shall be an
internationally monitored referendum, organized jointly by the
Government of
Sudan and the SPLM/A, for the people of South Sudan to: confirm the
unity of
the Sudan by voting to adopt the system of government established
under the
Peace Agreement; or to vote for secession" (Section 2.5 of the Machakos
Protocol, July 20, 2002)

The Protocol was signed on every page by Ghazi Salih el-din Attabani,
peace negotiator for the Khartoum regime. It could not be clearer, nor
could the international auspices for this agreement be more serious.
was not another "Khartoum Peace Agreement," but an agreement signed
with the
support of IGAD and the various countries---European and North
American---that had bolstered the efforts of the IGAD Peace

Khartoum is thus aware that reneging on the Machakos Protocol will be
a more
difficult task than simply ignoring Riek Machar. The regime is
well aware that John Garang and the SPLM/A are never so fully
of southern aspirations as when they cleave vigorously to the terms of
Machakos Protocol. Neither Garang nor any other representative of the
of southern Sudan could ever abandon the demand for a true,
supervised self-determination referendum. Whatever differences there
may be
over the possibility of a "new" or united Sudan---either as a
practicable or
desirable goal---there are no differences over the bedrock issue of

Here, of course, we come to the point of intersection with the Nakuru
Framework, which is notable precisely because it provides the means by
such a self-determination referendum could be guaranteed, viz. the
maintaining of a southern force and command structure (that of the
during the interim period. The people of the south have already seen
too much of the international community's weak and shallow commitment
guarantees already negotiated. Witness the collapse of the Civilian
Protection Monitoring Team as an effective investigative force, or the
failure to see the terms of the October 15, 2002 cessation of
agreement honored.

The same lack of meaningful international commitment on the ground in
is also evident in the continuing failure to deploy a meaningful
Verification and Monitoring Team, per the terms of the February 4, 2003
"Addendum" to the October 15 agreement (the "Addendum" was signed
under IGAD
and international auspices over half a year ago). Other key terms of
February 4 "Addendum" and "Joint Communiqué" have also been flouted
impunity by the National Islamic Front regime, including Khartoum's
obligation to dismantle garrisons built after October 15 along the oil
south of Bentiu.

No international guarantees are adequate to preserve the right of
self-determination, the essential condition for a just peace. On this
score, it does not matter how one assesses the SPLM/A as a political
militarily it is indispensable, in its present form, for insuring that
Khartoum does not simply sign yet another agreement and abrogate its
as soon as international attention has drifted elsewhere.
assistance will certainly be needed to effect a disengagement of
forces, and
for the initiation of any true cease-fire. But meaningful long-term
guarantees and guarantors cannot be found except within the people of
southern Sudan.

It is in this context that we should understand comments from Egyptian
Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, reported by the Associated Press (August
2003). Though it is clear from all evidence that it is Khartoum that
refuses to negotiate on the basis of the Nakuru Draft Framework
presented by
the IGAD mediators (see above), Maher has chosen to accuse SPLM/A
John Garang of obstructing the talks:

"We are contacting Garang to ask him to review his position, which are
facilitating the negotiations." (Associated Press, "Egypt Accuses
rebel leader of blocking peace talks," August 16, 2003)

As Associated Press quite accurately notes in this wire report, "Egypt
known to oppose the interim settlement---the July 2002 Machakos
[Protocol]---which provides for a referendum on self-determination for
southern Sudan in six years" (AP, August 16, 2003).

What have not been widely noted are the even more hostile and self-
remarks of Foreign Minister Maher in the Arabic-language newspaper Al-
Al-Awsat (August 17, 2003). Maher was speaking of the reports of the
impending collapse of the Machakos peace talks. SPLM spokesman Yasir
had declared on Friday (August 15) that because Khartoum continued to
to discuss the Nakuru Draft framework at Nanyiku, the talks "are
and on the verge of collapse" (Agence France-Presse, August 15,
2003). But
instead of supporting the IGAD mediators and their Draft Framework---
as had
the US, the European Union, the African Union, the IGAD countries, as
as "troika" member Norway---Egypt framed the diplomatic issue as a
need to
pressure the SPLM/A:

"What is needed now is to influence Garang, not the Government of
which has expressed its good intentions" (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, August 17,

This supreme arrogance and mendacity is fully in character with the
regime's narrowly conceived self-interest, and has inevitably gone
unchallenged by those who profess an interest in peace for Sudan.
no country has greater leverage with the Egyptians than the US, and yet
there is no evidence that the State Department or any of the US
involved in the Sudan peace process have challenged Egypt on these
unhelpful comments and threatening diplomatic signals. Despite the
than $2 billion the US annually sends to Cairo (mainly to the
there is no resolve to demand that the Egyptians stop obstructing the
peace process.

No doubt Egypt has played its various diplomatic cards well in
with the US, including with US special envoy for Sudan John Danforth
on his
recent trip to Cairo: "We are your indispensable Arab partner for a
East peace settlement that offers you rich political rewards," and "We
the Arab bulwark in a nasty region now even more resentful in the wake
your war in Iraq." Still, such blunt diplomatic threats must be
why would Egypt obstruct peace for Sudan? what does it gain?

The most cogent explanation, though there are several versions, lies
in an
understanding of Egypt's brutal calculation that a just peace for
Sudan will
set in motion forces that would end the rule of the National Islamic
and thus the possibility of extending Egyptian hegemony further south
Africa. Though not happy with certain features of the NIF, nor the
complicity of NIF figures like Nafie Ali Nafie and Ali Osman Taha in
1995 assassination attempt on Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, Cairo still
counts on Khartoum to extend the reach of Islam and Arabism southward
Sudan. Indeed, this is the only real basis on which Egyptian hegemony
be extended. To be sure Egypt has legitimate interests in the waters
of the
Nile; but these are continually overstated, especially with respect to
possible threat to the White Nile that might emerge from southern
self-determination. Nor should it be forgotten that over 75% of the
waters flowing into Egypt come from the Blue Nile, which does not pass
through any part of southern Sudan.

The ugly truth, which feckless Western democracies seem incapable of
speaking, is that a continuation of war in Sudan serves what the
leadership perceives as its compelling national interest. Though not
completely indifferent to the international desire to bring peace to
Cairo is nonetheless clearly willing to collapse the peace talks if
appears to threaten its interests, including the possibility for
some version of condominium rule (1898-1956). This is the context in
we should understand the shameless prevarication defining the remarks
Foreign Minister Maher about the source of problems in the present
diplomatic process in Nanyiku.

Sensing growing Egyptian fears that a just peace might actually be
and that such a peace will necessarily have as its foundation southern
self-determination, Khartoum has also begun to engage in a calculated
campaign of reneging on its commitment to the key term of the Machakos
Protocol. A column by Idris Hassan in Al-Ray Al-Aam (August 16, 2003)
clearly only the opening salvo (Al-Ray Al-Aam, though nominally
"independent," is especially close to the powerful security apparatus
of the
NIF). Hassan (editor of the newspaper) declares, after expending a
deal of overheated and gratuitous rhetorical energy, that:

"The SPLA now stands alone against the consensus in the political
arena by
its unjust and impossible demands that are against any desire for
peace and
unity; and if the SPLA is serious about unity, then it would not
continue to
make demands for self-determination that means separation."

Here we have the patent absurdity of a media spokesman for the NIF
that the SPLA is issuing "unjust and impossible demands" when in fact
it is
the tyrannical and profoundly unrepresentative Khartoum regime that is
demanding that the Nakuru Draft Framework be withdrawn by the Machakos
mediators. This is the only "demand" of consequence at the moment: it
from Khartoum, it was held out threateningly as a "precondition" for
resuming talks by Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail, and it is now
a "demand"
that has brought the talks at Nanyiku to the verge of collapse. The
"demand" of the SPLM/A is that the integrity of the Machakos/IGAD
process be

But with this absurd commentary Hassan has only set the stage for what
in fact, his own demand, one certainly representative of NIF thinking
tactics (which are finally indistinguishable):

"***The first step [for the SPLM/A] is to delete its demand for
self-determination from its agenda*** [emphasis added], since calling
unity means Sudan has already determined its destiny." (Idris Hassan in
Al-Ray Al-Aam; August 16, 2003)

It requires considerable effort to attend to all the speciousness that
contained in this single sentence, so let us focus only on the most
conspicuous. Whatever unity is hypothetically possible for Sudan can
be attained if the people of the south are guaranteed a self-
referendum. Unity must be chosen, it cannot be forced upon the people
the south. The unspeakable human destruction and suffering of the
last half
century grows out of precisely this effort by Khartoum to impose
"unity"---the unity of Islam and Arabism. This is the "destiny" that
Hassan presumes is already "determined." But it is "determined" only
in the
self-absorbed cultural and racial arrogance that motivates the National
Islamic Front; it is "determined" only if Islamic fascism prevails.
when we speak of such "destiny" we are not speaking of justice or
peace; we
are speaking only of the triumph of evil. For the people of southern
the only peace promised by such a "destiny" is the peace of the grave.

There can be no "deleting" of the right of the people of southern
Sudan to
self-determination. No just peace can be built on such "deletion," nor
furthered by any country endorsing such a demand. Either the terms of
Machakos Protocol remain fully in force, or there is no peace process.

With the evidence of present diplomatic commentary and maneuvering, it
readily apparent that we are fully into the end-game of Machakos. In
probability, the talks will collapse soon and war of unprecedented
destructiveness will ensue. Sensing that it need only obscure the
diplomatic climate and stall a short while longer, Khartoum is
that it will emerge from the collapse of the Machakos process only
tarred with its unrelenting disingenuousness, its bad faith, its
and its violation of every single agreement negotiated under the
auspices of

Now that Egypt is squarely on Khartoum's side in attempting to deflect
blame from being properly assigned, the stakes are much greater for the
international community, and yet and there seems to be no willingness
to accept the challenge of telling the truth to both Cairo and Khartoum.
Sadly, this is just as true for international journalism and the
foreign reporting of supposedly authoritative US newspapers like the New York
Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street
Journal, as well as the national weekly "news" magazines. Shamefully, none has
done anything of significance in apprising American readers of the impending

War will come again, and its vast and fearsome consequences will
quickly be evident to all. Perhaps then we will have a facile summary article or
two from the international press. For its part, the Bush administration,
in the face of such inexcusable failure, will undoubtedly hide behind some
fatuous comments from special envoy John Danforth to the effect that "neither
side really wanted peace." That this is patently not true, that the US
helped to squander this historic opportunity through ineptitude and lack of
commitment, will be of little consequence---at least so the political
calculations will go. The State Department may belatedly and
meaninglessly declare at the end of October that Khartoum is "not engaged in good
faith peace negotiations," but by then the killing fields will once again be
streaming with the blood of southern Sudanese. Nor is there reason to
hope for more from the Europeans or the African nations.

Sudan will again drift into the invisible and savagely cruel cauldron
engineered starvation, the bombing of civilian and humanitarian sites,
scorched-earth clearances in the oil fields, and the relentless,
deliberate destruction and displacement of the non-Arabized, non-Islamicized
populations of the south. In short, genocide will resume.

This is not an occult hypothesis, nor some distant prospect. It is
what all evidence points to as the impending reality. Genocide is set to
resume in southern Sudan and---knowing full well this to be true---the world is
without the resolve to stop it.