Sudan is divided: Muslims north, Christians south – Civil war
Sudan is slipping rapidly toward civil war. Who cares? First, we read that Obama took his eye from Sudan and now conditions are deteriorating. Sudan’s President has been indicted for war crimes yet we still back him because he is negotiating. If the South wants to secede, why not let it happen? Even if we have a particular opinion in the matter, does the USA have the resource capacity to do anything about it?
Back at home, we say we don’t have the resources to enforce immigration laws. Social Security and healthcare are in jeopardy because we are short on resources. What makes the USA think that we have business in Sudan?
There are many places like Sudan where people are in desperate need. Can we be everywhere? Why should we not focus on Mexico and the Western hemisphere, for instance?
Leadership is needed to state what we are and are not going to do.
“President Obama and his advisers are also mulling over incentives to persuade Sudan's leadership to cooperate with the referendum, officials say.
Former officials and activist groups worry that the flurry of action may be too little, too late. They say the Obama administration's efforts over the past year have been hobbled by infighting and a lack of high-level attention.
"President Obama's approach to Sudan may well lead to his being the one who 'lost' Sudan and the opportunities for peace" in the 2005 accord, said Roger Winter, who helped negotiate the deal that ended Sudan's 21-year civil war. He added, however, that the recently intensified diplomatic effort offers some hope.
The peace agreement provided for religious and political autonomy for the Christian and animist south until the referendum. Polls indicate that the mostly black south will vote to secede from the largely Arab Muslim north, its antagonist in the civil war.”
No reason is more important than the millions of unnecessary deaths in the past and the opportunity to prevent the suffering and death of innocent people in the future. Over a half-century of violence, civil war and genocide, millions have been killed or died of disease and hunger resulting from the consequential destruction of infrastructure and displacement of huge numbers of people. When does it end? Maybe we should restate the question as “Why Sudan now?” Three reasons are immediately apparent:
A critical mass of Sudanese are ready to engage in peace building;
Sudan has strategic importance in the Horn of Africa; and,
A stable, peaceful Sudan is important to world security.
A critical mass of Sudanese are ready to engage in peace building. Sustainable peace cannot be built in regions with a long history of intractable conflict until a critical mass of individuals at multiple levels of society (grass roots to upper echelons of leadership) desire to move away from destructive interactions toward more constructive responses to conflict. After a half-century of violent regional, ethnic and tribal conflict, many people of Sudan are crying out for conflict transformation.
Imagine a country with three generations born into civil war. As the chairperson of the South Sudan Human Rights Commission put it, in a conversation on October 19, 2009 with our founder, Randall Butler, “I was born into this conflict in 1956. I have become a grandmother in this conflict. It is time for it to be over.” Over time Sudan’s dominant culture has become one of violence as the only known, proven method for accomplishing change and achieving objectives. Leaders in Sudan now recognize that conflict transformation skills must be learned and traditional peacemaking methods recovered.
During Butler’s ten days in Sudan, in addition to speaking to 125+ persons attending lectures and a press conference, he met and talked to 75 different people from all regions of Sudan and listened to their perspectives on the problems there and requests for help. They were government officials, political party leaders, journalists, social activists, and religious leaders (both Muslim and Christian). Over and over again he heard a common theme: it is time for Sudan to move from a culture of war to a culture of peace.
Sudan has strategic importance in the Horn of Africa. Sudan, the largest country in Africa in terms of land mass, is bordered by 9 different countries. “The effects of Sudan's almost constant ethnic and rebel militia fighting since the mid-20th century have penetrated all of the neighboring states.” (CIA World Fact Book) The strategic importance of Sudan is recognized by the United States State Department. In a speech on June 14, 2010, Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, named Sudan as one of the Administration’s top priorities in Africa. He went on to say, “Conflict destabilizes states and borders, stifles economic growth and investment, and robs young Africans of the opportunity for an education and a better life. Conflicts can set back nations for a generation.””