"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt


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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

South Sudan, the Abyei Problem, and the Coming War


Caroline Glick has an excellent op-ed regarding the South Sudan referendum. I highly recommend clicking on the link and reading the whole piece.


"On Sunday, the southern Sudanese began voting on a referendum to secede from the Republic of Sudan and establish their own sovereign nation. By all accounts, they will soon secede from the Arab, Islamic country and form an independent African, Christian and animist state.

"The consequences of their actions will reverberate around the world.

"This week's referendum takes place in accordance with the US-brokered Comprehensive Peace Treaty between the Khartoum government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement signed on January 9, 2005.

[...]

"The South Sudanese referendum will not settle the issue of control over all of southern Sudan. Numerous flashpoints remain. Most importantly, the disposition of the town of Abyei remains undetermined. Abyei is where most of Sudan's oil deposits are located.

"Unlike the rest of the south, its population is a mix of Arabs and Africans and its residents are split over the issue of separation from Khartoum. If there is war after independence, Abyei will likely be its cause.

"Abyei's residents were supposed to vote on a referendum to determine the disposition of their town at the same time as the rest of the south. But fuelled by their conflicting interests, they could not agree on how to run the poll, and so it did not take place.

[...]

"But then, last Friday, pro-Khartoum militias attacked anti-Khartoum targets in Abyei. By Monday, 23 people had been killed. According to South Sudanese military spokesmen, militiamen captured in Abyei said they were ordered to attack by Khartoum.

[...]

"In its 54-year history, Sudan has suffered from civil war between the north and south for 39 years. Some 200,000 south Sudanese were kidnapped into slavery. Two million Sudanese have died in the wars. Four million have become refugees.

"But the fact is that with the West openly supporting southern Sudanese independence, a new war's consequences will not be limited to Sudan itself. Therefore it is worth considering why such a war is all but certain and what southern Sudanese independence means for the region and the world.

"There were two main reasons that Bashir agreed to sign the peace treaty with the south Sudanese in 2005. First, his forces had lost the civil war. The south was already effectively independent.

"The second reason Bashir agreed to a deal that would give eventual independence to the oil-rich south is because he feared the US.

"In 2004, led by then president George W. Bush, the US cast a giant shadow throughout the world. The US military's lightning overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime frightened US foes and encouraged US allies. The democratic wave revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Lebanon were all fuelled by the world's belief in US's willingness to use its power to defeat its foes.

"Bashir's regime is closely linked to al-Qaida, which he hosted from 1989 until 1995.

"When the US demanded that he accept the south's victory, he probably didn't believe he could refuse.

"Today, the US is not feared or respected as it was six years ago. And according to a recent article in the online Small Wars Journal by US Army Lt. Col. Thomas Talley, Bashir's current dim perception of the US makes war inevitable.

"Talley argues that without Abyei, South Sudan will be rendered an economically nonviable failed state. South Sudan, he claims is too weak to secure Abyei from Khartoum without outside assistance.

"According to Talley, the deterioration of the global perception of US power has convinced Bashir that the US will not protect Abyei for the south and so his best bet is to invade the town or at a minimum prevent the south from securing it."

This is a reality ignored by Obama, and rarely reported on by the American media. Obama's exaggerated shows of weakness, his apologizing and attempts to ingratiate himself to foreign leaders and people, have placed American allies in a very difficult position across the globe. Obama's incessant need to satisfy the Left's self-serving vanity is tantamount to betrayal for American allies and has and will continue to cost many lives.

Glick continues:

"THE FACT of the matter is that the Arabs have reason to be concerned about what is happening in Sudan. If South Sudan becomes an independent nation, it will be the first case of rollback of Arab imperialism since World War I.

"One of the central aspects of Middle Eastern politics that is overwhelmingly ignored by scholars is Arab imperialism and the role it has played in shaping the region's politics.

"Both during the post-World War I breakup of the Ottoman Empire and with the breakup of the British and French empires after World War II, British and French imperial authorities colluded with Arab imperialists to guarantee the latter's nearly uninhibited control over the Middle East.

"For the Kurds, Shi'ites, Druse, Alawites, Copts, and other non-Sunni, non-Arab, or non-Muslim populations in the region, the end of Western rule meant the end of their relative freedom.

"In the case of southern Sudan, during the half century of British rule, the south was administered separately from the Arab north.

"But when the British withdrew in 1956, in their haste to leave, they placed the south under Arab rule. Fearing disenfranchisement and oppression, the south began the first Sudanese civil war in 1955 - the year before independence.

[...]

"AGAINST THIS backdrop of Western perfidy towards the Middle East's non-Arab minorities, the West's support for South Sudanese independence is nothing short of miraculous.

"Unfortunately, the West's support for South Sudan probably owes to Western ignorance rather than a newfound Western will to defy Arab imperialists. That is, it is likely that West is doing the right thing today in Sudan because it doesn't understand the ramifications of its own policy.

"If the West doesn't understand its policy, then it is unlikely to understand the significance of a challenge to that policy by Khartoum and its allies. And if it fails to understand the significance of a challenge to its policy by Khartoum, then it is unlikely to defend its policy when it is challenged.

"Against this backdrop, it is important to recall Lt. Col. Talley's claim that Bashir will attack Abyei because he does not believe that the US will defend South Sudanese control of the border town. The shallowness of Western support for South Sudan will lead to war."

It is crucial to understand America's place in the world, and the influence it exerts upon foreign nations-- something Obama both loves to deny and works mightily to reduce. Likewise, it is important to understand the history of the regions in the world in which much flux and chaos currently takes place. Reducing the world around us to two sides (often in opposition-- West vs. East for instance) is ridiculously simplistic and leads to terribly skewed world views and easily avoidable mistakes.

As a side note, I wonder if George Clooney will notice or care when war breaks out in South Sudan? Who will he urge to come to the rescue? Surely not Obama...

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