Posted by Kuku on 10:05 AM

Omar Al-Bashir has taken his first trip abroad to Eritrea. It is yet to be seen if he will take the longer trip to Qatar to attend the Arab League summit in Doha. It seemed as though he would have used the recent religious ruling to stay put in the Presidential Palace on the banks of the Nile, but he wanted to send another small slap to the ICC and its supporters. It is this arrogant attitude that, I think, will eventually lead to his arrest.


Source: AP

Posted by Kuku on 2:25 AM

Check out this clip from Aljazaeera English. It chronicles the story of a Sudanese living in New York and his support of the ICC on the day the arrest warrant was announced.


At about 1:30 in the clip, you can see the clashes between the Bashir and ICC supporters. It is quite embarrassing that the supporters of al-Bashir resort to violence, as the ICC supporters seemed to be protesting peacefully, until one man, starts a scuffle. Obviously the film doesn't tell the whole story, but I thought it was very interesting.

Here it is:


Posted by Kuku on 11:37 AM

The International Criminal Court has finally issued its long awaited arrest warrant for the Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir.

Source: SudanTribune

I'll get right down to my analysis...

The first thing that I noticed was the fact that the Court only charged him on two of three accusations, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The prosecutor did not get his third request for the crime of genocide. This is very telling. Both the first two crimes can be very easily proven and linked back to Al-Bashir, however, the third accusation (of genocide) cannot be as easily proven or linked back to the President.

Could this be seen as vindication for the Sudanese government and the President as to their claim that genocide is not taking place in Darfur?

I say yes! The mere fact that the prosecutor failed to prove to the judges that Al-Bashir should be arrested for genocide means that they could not prove (from the evidence provided by the prosecutor) that if genocide did occur, the President is responsible. This will be seen as a signal by the government as the inability of the ICC to prove genocide, and automatically claim that it is not taking place. The Justice Minister of Sudan claimed that this failure is proof of the weakness of the case against the President. This is more in line with the view held by the UN, which has yet to label the conflict genocide.

Also, the 'Save Darfur' crowd in the United States cannot be happier. In fact, they are using this opportunity to raise funds, as if this arrest warrant is all due to their so-called "advocacy." This is a snapshot of their website's home page taken after the arrest warrant was issued.

Along with most Sudanese I know, I am very critical of Save Darfur (et al.). They have been the strongest proponents of intervention in Sudan, something which will undoubtably exacerbate the situation for the worse. But I'll leave that for a later time.

The reaction in Khartoum by the government was almost instantaneous. After speaking with some relatives in Sudan, the situation seems normal and as one of my cousins put it, 'business is as usual.' People were expecting there to be a coordinated attack by the Darfuri rebel group Justice and Equality Movement , similar to the one that occurred back in May 2008. People also expected for general violence to breakout, but none of the sort has happened. That being said, people are very tense on the ground and anxious for what is to come. I think people are worried most about the implications on the North-South peace agreement (CPA) and the reaction of the southern government. Here are the positions of Sudanese most prominent political parties. Also, the government has kicked out several international NGOs, among them are OXFAM, Care, and Doctors without Borders.

Here is a clip of the scenes from Khartoum today:


Also, most government employees in Khartoum (I have been told) were given Wednesday off of work and were encouraged to attend the "maseera" (rally or protest) taking place. Tomorrow, they expect to hold a 'million man march' in support of the President. This event will, per Sudanese tradition, are filled with pomp, officials screaming at the top of their lungs, music, dancing and more music.

The implications of this arrest warrant will be greatest on the President himself. According to Ocampo, the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, even if Al-Bashir travels to friendly countries, his plane could be "intercepted" and he could be flown to the Hague. This is will effectively limit the President to remaining within the borders of the country, the only place where he is safe from arrest. This is reminiscent of reports a while back of the ICC attempting to intercept the airplane carrying another Sudanese official wanted by the ICC when he attempted to fly for Hajj in Mecca.

Finally, the implications of this move by the ICC for all of Sudan will have negative effects. It will further isolate Sudan and fortify its pariah status in the international stage. The move will make it almost impossible for the President to conduct official business as a wanted head of state. The best solution would have been to allow the government to save face and come to an agreement. This decision has come at a time when the government and the JEM signed an agreement, which has now been put in doubt.


"All the perfume of Arabia will not clear the dirt" created by the arrest warrant. - Abdel-Mahmood Abdel-Haleem, Sudan's Ambassador to the United Nations.

Posted by Kuku on 8:12 PM

Well, it is only an 'agreement of understanding' -- something that will lay the groundwork for peace talks that will hopefully lead to a peace agreement between both sides. Among other things, the agreement outlines a prisoner swap between the government and the Justice and Equality Movement. These prisoners would undoubtedly include those captured after the brazen JEM attack on Omdurman by the Sudanese government. One of those detained is the brother of Khalil Ibrahim, the commander of the JEM. According to AlJazeera, the prisoners would be exchanged in several batches, leading to the peace talks that would be held at a later time.


This is a very serious and positive development. For some reason, I believe these peace talks will lead to a more robust agreement, unlike the failed and moribund Abuja talks that led to the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement. I think this will be mainly because of the location and the organizers. Holding the peace talks in Doha, Qatar, a major Arab capital, under the auspices of the Qatari government, the Arab League, African Union and the United Nations, forces the government to take the talks, and any resulting agreement, very seriously. If they renege or back away from the agreement, it will not be very convincing to claim that the mediators or the venue were not fair or unbiased. It will be much harder for them to blame the Qataris than it is for them to blame the Americans (the main architects of the DPA) for anyof the agreement's (potential) shortcomings.

Here is a two part "Inside Story" program that focuses on the Doha talks.




There has been some major progress in Doha, Qatar. The Sudanese Government, represented by Nafi Ali Nafi, held face-to-face meetings with the leadership of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), led by Khalil Ibrahim and is working on signing an 'agreement of good intentions'.

Posted by Kuku on 7:01 PM

The arrest warrant against the Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir seems to be imminent. The New York Times is reporting that the arrest warrant has been approved - but it seems the ICC is keeping it underraps as per this SudanTribune article. This could be a ploy by the ICC to keep the arrest warrant a secret, allowing them to arrest the President if he decides to go abroad and visit one of the member states of the Rome Statute, the agreement that created the court, without having publicly announced the arrest warrant. Or, they can simply still be in the process of working out the final details. Only time will tell. All the while, 'negotiations' between the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the government are taking place in Doha, Qatar. 



No one knows what (if any) tangible effects this arrest warrant will have on the peace talks and the situation in Sudan as a whole. Some, like Alex de Waal believe this could lead to a very dangerous situation

In my opinion, the effects of this indictment are going to be very serious. The reality is that the Khartoum government, led by Al-Bashir, has shown very little commitment to the peace process in Darfur and has been lagging on the implementation of the CPA. The indictment could have been postponed for a renewable one year period, under the behest of the UN Security Council. This possibility of postponing the arrest warrant (which is all but gone now) was the only incentive pushing the government to sit down with the same group that brazenly attacked Omdurman only last year. Without this incentive, the government will feel hemmed in even more and have no impetus to take serious action. 

Also, this arrest warrant has emboldened the rebels and given them more clout, especially for the ongoing negotiations in Doha. This is evident by the recent defiant warning by Khalil Ibrahim, the leader of the JEM, who claimed that if Al-Bashir does not hand himself over to the Hague-based court, the rebel group will arrest him personally and hand him over. This is obvious posturing and is very unhelpful, further isolating the hope for peace. 

If the arrest warrant goes ahead and is publicly announced, this will be a major setback for the NCP and could be the crippling blow many of the regime's enemies have been waiting for. It could set in motion a series of domino effects that could lead to the unravelling of the CPA, the further inflaming of the war in Darfur and the eventual breakup of the entire country. This is a very bleak outlook, but, it is unfortunately very plausible. 

Posted by Kuku on 12:20 PM

The United Nations is becoming more and more ineffective in Darfur, as the Sudanese government continues to undermine the peacekeeping operation there. Khartoum is proving its unwillingness to achieve peace. Obviously, the rebels share some of the blame for the recent escalation in violence, but it is Khartoum's responsibility to achieve peace, by agreeing to the demands of the JEM (et al.). 


Here is a video from the BBC of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaking at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa. 


Posted by Kuku on 10:44 PM

Apparently the plan to relocate the displaced Palestinian population near the Iraq-Syria border is finally coming to fruition. Reuters is covering the story here. I also wrote about this story a while back, read this and this.


According to Refugees international:
 Approximately 34,000 stateless Palestinians have lived in Iraq since 2003. Since the beginning of U.S. military operations in Iraq, many suffered persecution at the hands of the Iraqi government and other armed groups. More than 3,000 fled to the Syrian-Iraqi border, where they live in makeshift tents in the desert with limited access to basic services. Syria refuses to allow them to enter its territory and only a few have been resettled, mostly to Sweden and Chile.
I simply cannot understand the logic behind this decision. The Sudanese government (i.e. the ruling NCP) has decided it wants to help by providing pre-built shelters to these Palestinians. This is outrageous and seriously sickening. It is a slap in the face, to every Sudanese man, women and child! Not only is the NCP refusing to provide these same facilities to the citizens of the country, the rightful owners of the wealth and land, they are refusing to stop the active war against those same civilians in Darfur. They will do their best to condemn the recent Israeli offensive in Gaza while at the same time continue an arguably more brutal war under their own sovereign territory. Additionally, this government has made it clear that it does not want to pursue peace, justice, and the rule of law. 

Indeed, these Palestinians deserve a dignified resettlement. If Syria, the country most suitable to accept this displaced population, has refused to accept them, why should Sudan? There are tens of thousands of Sudanese citizens who have been forced to flee their homes and live in makeshift camps in and around the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. These people are denied their most basic rights, and are forced to live in the most humiliating circumstances. Basic amenities such as electricity, running water and sanitation are not provided.

Unfortunately, the NCP has been successful in squashing any opposition to their rule. If this happened in the pre-NCP Sudan, thousands of people would have taken to the streets and protested this action. I think the only group who is in a position to stop this great injustice is the SPLM. They supposedly share part of the power in the Government of National (dis)Unity. May must stop this resettlement process from occurring, at the highest levels of government. It is mainly their constituents  which have been forgotten and quarrel in these camps. They must make it clear to the NCP that they oppose this decision and work actively to stop it. 

Do not get me wrong, I have a lot of sympathy for the Palestinian people. However, Sudan is one of the last places where they should be resettled. It is obvious that the NCP does not care about the suffering of the Palestinians. They are only trying to convince their Arab "brethren" in Damascus, Jeddah and Cairo that they care. What they really need to do is to provide for the orphans of Mygoma, the millions displaced in Darfur, and the majority of Sudanese who live in squalor and poverty.

Posted by Kuku on 12:47 AM

Earlier this month was the fourth anniversary of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Alex de Waal, as always, has a brilliant piece on the CPA and its current status, vis-a-vis its implementation and future prospects.

(Source: Sudan Tribune)
 Both the parties to the agreement, the NCP and SPLM have arguably failed in several key protocols of the agreement, with most of the blame laying with the NCP. It seems more and more unlikely that the most critical part of the CPA, the national (democratic and free) elections that are to be held in 2009, will take place. These elections are critical for the survival of Sudan as it stands today. Both parties must work hard, along with international pressure, to hold these elections (with some compromise on the situation in Darfur). Without a democratic transition, the real peace dividend of the CPA, the agreement is dead. There have been speculations that the SPLM might unilaterally secede from the north, which is undoubtably one of the worst case scenarios. 

Additionally, the imminent arrest warrant for President Al-Bashir remains a very contentious issue. Like always, only time will tell.

Posted by Kuku on 12:04 PM

Anyone familiar with Sudan knows that the Bush administration has taken a soft (more diplomatic) approach towards the country. It has, in fact, played a critical role in drafting the peace agreement (CPA) and pushed the two parties to end the southern civil war. With regards to Darfur, the furthest the bygone administration had done was to label the conflict "genocide" and had done very little substantially, save on the humanitarian front.

The new administration, headed by Barack Obama, with his obvious link to Africa, has hinted it will take a different approach to Sudan and its ruling party, the National Congress (NCP).

As of right now, we have very little to go by that will tell us what the new administration's policy towards Sudan will be, but we do know what public positions of the persons Obama has appointed to his national security team profess.

The Washington Post has a great article detailing the new administration and the effects it will have on Sudan.

Vice President - Joseph Biden:
Mr. Biden was one of the most vocal senators on taking action in Darfur. He has, on several different occasions during the campaign, called for the use of force, stating that he “would use American force now” if he could. I don’t know if this was a serious policy position or just another campaign promise that would go unfulfilled.

Secretary of State - Hillary Clinton:
Mrs. Clinton is in favor of placing a no-fly-zone, enforced by NATO, which will make it impossible for the Sudanese government to fly over the entire region and bomb civilians and rebels alike. She was also a big proponent of UNAMID.

US Ambassador to the UN - Susan Rice:
Ms. Rice is also in favour of a no-fly-zone. She has also advocated for NATO air strikes against the Sudanese military and the imposition of a naval blockade on Port Sudan, the country’s only water link to the world, and the main port that allows Sudan to export its oil. This would most certainly be a crippling move against the government, and perhaps the entire population, cutting off crucial trade. I am most certain that this option is off the table, as major world powers (China et al.) would not abide by it. She has also recently spoken about the "ongoing genocide" in Darfur, hinting that the Obama administration will keep the label given by the previous administration.

Secretary of Defence – Robert Gates:
Obama has kept Gates, Bush’s current secretary of state to stay on in his current capacity. Gates has not been at all vocal about Darfur, but has said that the US would not provide helicopters to the UNAMID troops in Sudan, citing the current US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

National Security Advisor – James Jones:
Jones is only in favor of NATO playing a support role and not having any sort of heavy military presence in the region.

Only time will tell how the Obama administration will deal with Darfur and other African issues as a whole. He, being of African descent, is expected to do a lot for the Continent. I hope he takes a pragmatic approach, dealing with this issue as a Sudanese issue, a part of the greater national problem, rather than an isolated conflict. If he does not do that, then he will be doing Darfur, Sudan and Africa a great disservice.

Posted by Kuku on 7:31 PM

My name is AK and I am a Sudanese student completing my undergraduate studies in the United States. Born and raised in Khartoum, Sudan, I have decided to start this blog to contribute my thoughts on a variety of topics, mainly Sudanese and African current affairs.

I have a variety of views on a variety of topics. I look forward to sharing all those views and getting your responses and opinions in the comments section.

Best,
AK

Posted by Kuku on 7:07 PM
Labels:

This blog has moved!

The new home of this blog is: www.forsudan.net
The previous location of: fromsudan.blogspot.com will also redirect you to the new home.
I hope you enjoy the new blog.

Posted by Kuku on 11:32 AM
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Recently, the Sudanese Government held a conference called The Sudan People's Initiative, under the banner of solving the Darfur conflict -- from Sudanese by Sudanese. 


The resulting document had several recommendations, most important of which was the a unilateral ceasefire agreement declared by Al-Bashir. To the untrained eye, this might have seemed to be a miraculous development in the conflict. However, it was immediately and almost unanimously dismissed by most stakeholders, including the myriad of rebel groups roaming inside and outside of Darfur. Nevertheless, there were some who saw it as an opportunity (or "A flicker of hope" as Alex de Waal put it) for some serious progress. 

Personally, I was very torn between the two camps. I wanted this so called initiative to be a true turning point. But if the past actions of the Khartoum government can tell us anything, it is that they will dishonor any agreement they sign. From the lack of implementation of the CPA to the non-implementation of the DPA and the peace agreement in the East and the infinite number of agreements signed before the CPA, this government has proven to be completely unreliable. 

The only reason this whole initiative was actually conducted and held was because of the ICC indictment against Al-Bashir. I was in Khartoum when the actual arrest warrant was submitted to the ICC. The UN went into complete crisis mode, requiring all non-essential staff to exit the country, expecting a severe and violent backlash from the government. However, that didn't happen. The government took the tactful route and tried to engage the ICC in a diplomatic manner. They pretended to, all of a sudden, genuinely care about the issues facing Darfur and the country as a whole. This reaction was a cause for cautious optimism. 

Initially, I was personally against the first indictment against a sitting head of state. I believed that it would only result in further isolating the government and retarding the peace process. But in retrospect, it seems that this indictment was the real catalyst for tangible action by Khartoum, including this People's Initiative. They wanted (and are in continual pursuit of) a deferral of the indictment. This is seemingly an impossibility as time passes. 

 The NCP has only proven that the only thing they care about is their own existence and absolutely nothing about the country they have monopolized. So I say, if it takes an arrest warrant and the further isolation of the government for more serious action, so be it. 

Posted by Kuku on 12:29 PM

Great documentery by Aljazeera's Witness program. Please watch both parts below.


Part One -



Part 2 -

Posted by Kuku on 3:30 PM

Rebels attack Khartoum. I have alluded to this in a previous post below.


They have finally attacked Khartoum. More to come... (from the rebels)...


Posted by Kuku on 12:50 AM
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For the sake of objectivity, it is good to point out the good things (even as little of them as there may be) that has been done by this regime. Here is an interesting piece from Reuters that discusses the decision by the government of Khartoum State (NCP et al.) to offer free surgery to the poor. The article doesn't give much details about the plan.

KHARTOUM, April 16 (Reuters) - State hospitals in Sudan's capital Khartoum are to give free surgery to the poor, with the annual health budget of $230 million boosted by oil revenues to one of Africa's fastest growing economies.
Much of Sudan's population lives in sprawling slums around the capital without running water or electricity, having fled the regional conflicts that have beset Africa's biggest country for decades. Few can afford medical treatment.
"This is intended to try to help the poor," the governor of Khartoum state told Reuters, explaining the decision to offer free surgery to those without the money to pay for it. He said the health budget was 23 percent of the total state budget.

Posted by Kuku on 9:17 AM

Marhaba! The Palestinian refugees have arrived. Read this and this (an earlier post of mine).
Best quote in the world:

 "While the Sudanese presidential advisor Mustafa Osman Ismail told the press that Sudan was ready to receive and host two thousand Palestinian refugees in the area of Soba in Khartoum State. He said all services including water, electricity and transportation have been provided in the area. He stressed that the Palestinian refugees would be treated on equal footing as the Sudanese subjects in all service domains."
 
I am seriously insulted! I dare him to go and say that out in Soba itself, or Mayo or Jebel Awliya where tens of thousands of Sudanese "citizens" are living in conditions not fit for animals. This is utterly despicable and should be stopped. But I know that the Sudanese cabal will find someway of spinning this and making the people accept it. 

When did they even manage to connect the area with electricity and water? The people in the IDPs camps have been there for more than 20 years and the government doesn't even give a crap. Too bad they're just too black or kuffar for the government to give a crap (I know that seems too simple, but ask any of the people living in these camps, and that is what they'll tell you the reasons for their living standards are).

What's next? Free (higher) education and satellite dishes for all?

Posted by Kuku on 10:30 PM
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Steven Spielberg, Academy Award-winning director and 'artistic consultant' for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in China has withdrawn from the games.

In a statement, he accused China of not doing enough to pressure its ally Sudan to end the "continuing human suffering" in the troubled western Darfur region. "I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue business as usual," said Mr Spielberg.

In a statement, Mr Spielberg said: "At this point, my time and energy must be spent not on Olympic ceremonies, but on doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur." He said: "Sudan's government bears the bulk of the responsibility for these on-going crimes but the international community, and particularly China, should be doing more."

Someone is going to get mad and I think it's going to be China! I've heard speculations about this for months now, and Spielberg has been under a lot of pressure from various groups (Save Darfur, et. al.) to take this move. Obviously Beijing is going to try to play this down, but they will be furious. This will be a major blow to their "Coming out to the World" party. It is important to keep in mind that the Chinese have been waiting for this event for a while now.
Obviously, Speilberg himself is replaceable, but is this a sign of something bigger to come? Will we see entire nations, like the US (where most of these anti-Beijing Olympics groups are from) withdraw or boycott the Games? I doubt it. Back in September of last year, Bush was invited personally by Chinese President Hu during the APEC summit to attend the Games (read about it here). I doubt Bush will personally boycott them , but he will definetely use the Games as a platform to pressure China further. But will we be seeing athletes wearing armbands, t-shirts, and other things that will 'show support' for the people of Darfur? I think so!
I don't even know about this pressuring China business. I understand that they are the main supplier of arms to Khartoum, but will this pressure, from seemingly unimportant groups really make any tangible difference? The fact of the matter is that pressure, such as this, only works against democratic governments, which are susceptible to criticism and public opinion. Obviously China is not a democracy and, although the times have changed, is still not susceptible to any sort of pressure (Tiananmen Square, anyone?)

I can't wait to here the smart things Khartoum will have to say about this.

Posted by Kuku on 1:39 AM

Posted by Kuku on 11:59 AM
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Chadian rebels (allegedly, and most probably) supported by Khartoum have attacked and seized the country's capital Ndjamena. This is a disturbing development as it is important to note that most of the previous military-lead coups in Chad have been launched from Darfur, similar to this one.

This got me thinking. Why can't this happen in Sudan? Can't the rebels just drive across Kordofan and enter Khartoum, inciting some of the thousands of IDPs (read previous post) in and around Khartoum?

I am not very knowledgeable about the capabalities of the rebel groups in Darfur, but this is not impossible. The Khartoum cabal is watching what is happening to their counterparts in Ndjamena very closely (maybe because they are the masterminds behind it?) to see what the outcome will be. Deby is not very liked in Chad and has been attacked on several different occasions (in one case by some of his own family members) most notably the attack on April, 2006.

It is still unclear if the regime in Chad is able to repel this attack or will the rebels completely takeover the country. Time will tell.

"Allah-Yistoor" is all I can say right now.

Posted by Kuku on 3:33 PM

A great essay written on Alex de Waal's SSRC blog by Munzoul Assal, an anthropologist from Khartoum University, details the current situation with regards to Khartoum's urbanization.

Assal's analysis of the situation is spot on. The tens of thousands of IDPs in and around Khartoum have been almost literally ignored by the regime. Mostly southerners and Darfurians, these people literally live on the less than $1 / day everyone talks about. These large IDP camps, some of which I have visited during my work last summer with SUDO, were the most devastated areas during the rainy season.

Khartoum’s urbanization is pathological. It is the aggregation of people without their integration into a social and political system that enfranchises them and provides for democratic transformation.

The regime has been completely unwilling to provide the most basic amenities to the residents of these camps. Only when it comes time for elections, it starts to give lip service to their plight, and in some cases even allotting some people plots of land so they can remember which box to fill on the ballot. These people are so marginalized that they feel as though they have no future. It is only a matter of time before a serious violent outbreak to occur on a bigger scale, than that after Garang's death.

The failure of integration in Khartoum was brutally manifested in the events that followed the announcement of Garang’s death at the end of July 2005. While many analysts and local media commentators tried to link the rampage in Khartoum to angry southerners, it was found later that those who engaged in burning, killing and looting were not only southerners, but also marginalized people from different parts of the country.

The lack of reintegration on the part of the government will end up hurting it the most. It is imperative to find a way to provide for these people, and most importantly to give these people a reason to return to their homes all around the country. This will not happen until the focus of the government on modernizing Khartoum ends, while all the regions of Sudan (including some of the north) continue to lay in anguish.

Posted by Kuku on 8:47 AM

I was speaking with a close friend of mine back in Khartoum and he told me that the two day weekend will not be applied to any public schools. Obviously private schools (of which there are many), can set their own weekly holidays. So that settles the issue of Christian schools having to forgo their Friday-Sunday weekend. 



Blakerig, a foreigner living in Khartoum wrote about this here.

Posted by Kuku on 8:12 AM

Wonderful!! Our government is getting very cozy with our brethren in the Islamic Republic. I know we're trying to stand with them as they are being cornered by the international community as they are another pious Muslim nation trying to evade the dominance of the western infidels (or is it they are standing with us?)!! 

This is somewhat reminiscent of the 1991 fiasco with Saddam, when the then 2 year old regime wanted to find someone to stand by -- and they chose the side that would end up fighting the US under UN mandate. It is very bewildering sometimes to see the alliances being waged by the Sudanese government (or more correctly the NCP). One day they want to better their relationship with the US government (take a step in the right direction) and another they are paranoid their base will shift away and go to their Islamic brothers in the Arab world (Hamas et al.). 

These absolutely ridiculous alliances with states such as Iran should end, but for some reason, I have a feeling that our foreign policy is still being controlled solely by the NCP and is not jointly decided between the "unity government" "partners". I am somewhat disappointed in the SPLM as they have not taken a more important role in national foreign policy and focused only the relationship between the GoSS and other nations (namely the US). If they were to only actually propagate their role as national leaders maybe they can change things a bit. 

Chaves, Ahmadinejad and Al-Bashir

Also, read this one and a half old piece in the NY Times: "Voices of Discontent: Anti-U.S. Leaders Seek Allies." Too bad, unlike Chavez with his leftist agenda, the Sudanese government (I mean NCP) has very few governments out there they can align themselves with. 

Posted by Kuku on 4:42 PM

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir appointed Musa Hilal, Janjaweed leader and NCP mercenary as a special advisor. Read more...

Huh??? Advisor to the Ministry of Federal Government? What is the Ministry of Federal Government? Al-Bashir is seeking advice from who??? This must be another joke!

+

=

America

Well, advisory positions are almost always ceremonial (barring a few exceptions), and I doubt al-Bashir needs the advice of a tribal leader who's been implicated on several different occasions to mass-murder. This (in my opinion) is most likely just another ploy to piss off the international community (US and the like) by literally saying "F**K YOU." Excuse my language but this is the best phrase to use in this situation.

Al-Bashir and his party have been cornered and now he's moving towards symbolic gestures, instead of swearing he'll divorce his wife if international troops are sent to darfur, which just happened.

The sitcom continues...

UPDATE--
There might actually be a strategic reason for Al-Bashir's appoint of Hilal as special advisor. According to Alex De Waal, the Arab mutiny against the Khartoum regime might even be spreading to the highest ranks of the Janjaweed, Hilal himself.
It’s more than a minor detail that some of the fiercest fighting of the last few months has involved the government fighting against mutinous Arab militias. It’s harder to argue the case for an ongoing Arab genocidal intent when some of the biggest Janjaweed commanders — including Mohamed Hamdan Hemeti and Musa Hilal — are flirting with the rebels. (Emphasis added) The question of what really is going on with the Arabs is complicated and I will explore it elsewhere. But you will agree that demonizing the Arabs as genocidaires is a pretty dangerous approach, especially at this particular juncture.)

Posted by Kuku on 6:34 PM

A ten day old article from the Jerusalem Post caught my eye today, Palestinians Who Fled From Iraq Seeking Shelter in Sudan. I had to inquire.

Apparently:

Some 2,000 Palestinian refugees who fled from Iraq are seeking shelter in Sudan.

Several parties are trying to negotiate a solution for the Palestinian refugees who sit stranded on the border between Iraq and Syria and in camps near the border, a spokeswoman for the United Nation's refugee agency said.

Abeer Etefa, Middle East and North Africa spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told The Media Line that talks were ongoing between the UNHCR, the Sudanese government, the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League.

All questions regarding resettlement of the refugees have been finalized, apart from the accommodation problem due to a housing shortage in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, Etefa said.

--JPOST.com

Palestinian refugees look outside their home in a Gaza camp in north of Amman -- Reuters (via TribuneIndia.com)

After another quick Google News search, I stumbled along this from the Kansas City Star:
So, which country stepped up to end this suffering? Sudan, of all places.

Al-Ahram, a state-backed Egyptian newspaper, reported this week on an announcement that Sudan has agreed to accept the Palestinians who fled sectarian violence in Iraq.

The Al-Ahram story said Khartoum will scoop up 2,500 refugees in all, emptying the miserable Tanaf and Walid camps. The government also agreed to accept some other Palestinians who had made it to Damascus.

Sudan is not exactly Sweden, and anyone following the Darfur conflict knows that the Sudanese government doesn't always act in such a model humanitarian fashion. Still, the dusty tableau of Khartoum should be a welcome sight for a community that spent so many agonizing months in a place even the United Nations referred to as "no-man's land."
--Kansascity.com

Perfect!!! Our government which cannot provide for the millions of its own citizens all over the country, is trying to do WHAT??? This absurd and ludicrous move is another attempt by the ruling regime to push their Arabization (a word I hate to use) policy. How will it justify this? I really can't wait to find out. There are literally tens of thousands of Sudanese citizens which have had to violently flee their homes in Darfur, south Sudan, the East and Kordofan areas. These camps, most of which I have personally visited, such as Mayo-Mandella, Jebel Awliya and Al-Selama are homes to people who have literally nothing but the clothes on their backs and the mud brick shacks they build to pretend they have something to their own in this world.


Young Sudanese kids from Darfur in a refugee camp in Chad I believe -- WFP

Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to belittle the situation of the Palestinian refugees. They are very unfortunate, but the government of a people has the responsibility to protect its citizens first, then look after its Arab (or African) "brethren." I cannot believe this government has the audacity to even propose such a move. This is without a doubt a move by the NCP to further align itself with the Arab countries and score some (cheap) points with Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the rest of these (failed) regimes. How will it explain this to the SPLA (its partner in this so-called Government of National Unity?) and the millions of Sudanese who are homeless as I am writing this right now? This is utterly disgusting and inexcusable. But for some weird reason, I have a feeling this move will go through (if it already hasn't) and the people of Sudan will continue to suffer.


Posted by Kuku on 10:10 AM

So now, according to this NYT article, the Sudanese Defense Minister admitted that the Government's armed forces were responsible for the attack on UNAMID forces, in direct contradiction of the UN Ambassador. 


VS.

Military: 1 -- 0 Diplomacy

This doesn't bode well for the UN Rep, his credibility nor the situation on the ground. It isn't the first time this happens. 

The Defense Minister, though not denying the claim that his forces were responsible for this attack, he " shares the blame" with the UNAMID forces, because they did not "announce their route." However, his ministry was cordial enough to provide an apology. According to SUNA "The Western Sudan Military Command has provided an apology to the representative of UNAMID in the region and ... the apology was accepted, in recognition of the dual mistake committed." I am glad everything was cleared up so quickly. (PLEASE!!!)

Posted by Kuku on 8:08 PM

I was browsing the UN's website and was checking the Webcasts posted by the Security Council. They have what is call a "Media Stakeout" where representatives and UN officials are able to speak to members of the press and media. 


Here is a short clip of Sudan's Representative being question in both Arabic and English journalists today about yesterday's attack on UNAMID forces in Darfur at the UN's HQ in New York:
















The representative of Sudan is Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamed. This man is a senior Sudanese diplomat but you would not be able to tell after watching the above video. He becomes irate very quickly when he is squeezed a bit by the media, which happens often if I may add. He is very undiplomatic and seems to be excusing and denying every single claim being placed, without putting any reasonable explanation. As you can see from the above video, he dismisses the UNSC's condemnation of the attack on UNAMID Forces in Darfur (Read about it here in the NY Times), but he (correctly) is quick to point out the Security Council's lack of a statement of condemnation on a similar attack on UN forces in Lebanon. Even though the double standard is clear, he fails to put a substantive point about the situation at hand.

It is very interesting to see this man speak. He is very well versed in both Arabic and English as shown in the video. The Arab media tends to give him softball questions while the non-Arab media, usually American, gives  him a very hard time. After watching several other "media stakeouts" of other nations' representatives, it is very interesting to see how diplomacy is in action (or inaction) everyday at the United Nations. This world body is in dire need of reform. I hope to blog further about the UN at a later time. 

PS. 
If you want to see all the media stakeouts, which are usually updated daily, visit here

Posted by Kuku on 4:19 PM

I was reading Sudan Tribune this afternoon and discovered this article.

"Sudanese cabinet today has decided to adopt a two-day weekend starting from January 26.

The Council of Ministers on Sunday decided to expand the weekend holiday from the current one day (Friday) to two days (Friday and Saturday) beginning from Saturday January 26, for a period of six month for studying and assessment.

The Council of Ministers called on the Ministry of Labour to adopt the necessary arrangements to implement this decision in a manner that comply with the national and international labour laws and guarantee enhancement of the productivity."

It got me thinking. I remember several years back when this idea was widely discussed by a lot of people in Khartoum. In fact, it has been expected for a while. The actual notion of having a two day weekend seemed to be a foreign idea and many quickly dismissed it. The Egyptians, Saudis and most other Arab states had implemented the 2 day weekend. The Saudis as well as most other Gulf States added Thursday and Friday, while the Egyptian have Friday and Saturday off.

Several folks I remember discussing this topic with said that they don't want to seem to be copying the Saudis and implement a Thursday-Friday weekend. While the proponents of the Friday-Saturday, used the fact that having Saturday off would be a positive because it wouldn't disrupt the banking and financial sectors as the world's stock markets and other institutions close on Saturday as well. A (pious) friend of mine actually said that the fact that Saturday is to be added as a weekly holiday was due to the fact that many Sudanese companies had been doing business with Israel and the Jews. Made me laugh! I love how we are so paranoid about so many things, how America is out to get us and how Darfur is a Jewish conspiracy. Give me a break!!! Moving on...

This is going to be interesting in the long run. I personally believe that this is a positive move. Seeing how this is just a 'study and assessment' phase, I think we are going to very easily adopt this. Also, how will the Christian schools change their schedules? Because I know they take both Friday and Sunday off to please both Muslim and Christian students. Will they have a three day weekend? Or will this just continue with their regular schedules? Time will tell.

Posted by Kuku on 6:03 AM
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Driving from Omdurman to Khartoum Sudan



Posted by Kuku on 1:33 AM
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Here is a series of videos I took over this past summer: "Driving in Khartoum". 

At night on Shari'3 Alneel (Nile Avenue)


Posted by Kuku on 2:44 AM
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Read this!!!

AU Peacekeepers in Darfur

So is this a move in the right direction? Absolutely!

However, the "international community" i.e. the US has been focusing too much of its effort to help "resolve" this conflict on its military aspect. I see it like this, the security and humanitarian situations are the side effects of the real issues of politics, economics and the environment. The United States should however be commended on its efforts on the humanitarian front. I it is the biggest donor to the affected persons in Darfur. This conflict can only be resolved if the the international community puts equal and tangible pressure on both the government and the rebels.

Food Aid from the United States

Without regionally (or even internationally) mediated peace talks that are meant to resolve the roots of this conflict, all the efforts taken on the security and humanitarian fronts will have been wasted. It is imperative that the African Union play a pivotal role in these talks. So much is said by so many African leaders that "Africa's problems should be solved by Africans." Well, it is time for Africa and Africans to step up.

Hopefully, we will witness more positive developments on this issue.

Posted by Kuku on 2:30 AM
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So I've been in Khartoum for about three weeks now, and I forgot what the sky is supposed to look like. It is absolutely crazy, this time of year, the sky is literally a light brown/yellowish color. Sometimes, there is so much dust that one can literally stare at the sun, without feeling any discomfort, as if it were the moon. It is somewhat depressing. This, along with the 45° (c)/114° (f) average temperature is not a very good combination. You would think that the dust blocking the sun would cool things down, no luck.

(Dusty) Khartoum Sunset

A relative of mine said that "Sudan is not suitable for human life," something that was funny and is kind of true. I understand that there are places that are as hot and dusty, but Sudan is pretty bad. However, it is still Sudan to me and with all its shortcomings, it is my favorite place to be. I don't know what it is, but I think if you ask any Sudanese ex-pat, they would prefer Sudan over where they've decided to live. They might find comfort and better services in the country they live in, but there is something about one's home that can not be explained.

Beautiful Khartoum

Thankfully, most other parts of the year are less dusty (and sometimes less hot).