Mbeki Succeeded in Persuading the Two Parties to Resume Negotiations, Interview
Hassan Alsauori, professor of political science at Nelain University and head of Sudanese Association for political science, a cultivated man and intellectual figure concerned with the issues of his country and citizens, in an interview with Sudan Vision, he highlights some of developments in the Sudanese political arena.
Q: How do you look at the future of negotiations between Khartoum and Juba? Can the mediator push the two sides to negotiations instead of military escalation?
A: Firstly, the mediator was able to persuade the two parties to resume negotiations and that a date was set for that end irrespective of preconditions from this party or that. This step is considered success for the mediator because he was also able to persuade southerners that security issues are the hope.
Q: Do you expect that negotiations will breakdown for one reason or another?
A: I don’t think there will be major obstacles’ for settlement of security files because there were previous agreements in Addis Ababa, which settled many security issues including cessation of hostilities and agreement to 10klm long demilitarized areas within the borders of each state, besides ceasefire. Therefore, I don’t see difficulties in the security file. If there was any obstacle, it would be the issue of supporting Darfur movements.
A: Because the government of the South considers supporting Darfur movements as indispensible pressure card – that is to say – to exploit the card in settling other issues with the government of Sudan such as the pending issue of Abyei.
Q: How does Sudanese –African relations look after South Sudan’s secession? Have the southerners been able to soil Sudan’s image among Africans?
A: What is happening now to Sudanese – African relations is the emergence of some countries hostile to Sudan, but that does not mean that the South State is able to distort the image of Sudan at African level. Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) during its war with the North attempted to woo the support of Africans by claiming that Arab Muslims were fighting African Christians.
Q: In your view, what do you think is required to restore African relations?
A: I think that the government of Sudan has not exerted a diplomatic and cultural effort with African nations. The government has to remove this old image, which is possible as Muslims constitute about 75% of West Africa’s population. The Sudanese diplomacy has set right what was spoiled by SPLM by redoubling efforts to engage neighboring African countries such as Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, South Africa, Angola, Malawi and Mauritius.
Q: What are the factors of this weakness?
A: The lack of setting up an integrated strategy with southern African nations. What is required is to draw up a plan suitable for individual African countries; in addition to diplomatic personnel capable of dealing with the strategy.
Q: in your opinion, why Abyei is so important? Can the dispute between Khartoum and Juba be resolved?
A: Abyei has become a time bomb in the relations between Khartoum and Juba. If the two sides did not intervene, the solution would be whether the region would be part of the North or South or setting up an independent administrative status. In my view, the realistic solution lies in agreement between the Misseiriya and Dinka Ngok. What is going on now is heading for independent administrations between the Misseiriya and Dinka Ngok. It could be an independent state or a mechanism for unity between the two countries in the distant future. If tribal clashes occurred during the4 next 25 years, North and South Sudan would unite.
Q: Does Abyei deserve such importance?
A: There are two reasons behind the importance of Abyei: media focus and the land, the direct reason; in addition to the existence of a number of SPLM leaders who hail from the very region, who are calling for secession the likes of Edward Lino, Luka Biong and Deng Alor.
Now there are no intertribal conflicts between Dinka Ngok. Northerners head southward in dry seasons and Southerners head northward in search of grazing; in addition to the history of the two tribes characterized by cooperation and non-violence. The Dinka and Misseiriya are intermingling tribes. We find that most of southern leaders hailing from the region of Abyei speak Arabic fluently due to such intertribal interrelations.
Q: What is your reading of recent incident in eastern Sudan?
A: Firstly, we find the tribe of Rashaida in eastern Sudan who exercise trade through smuggling between Sudan and Saudi Arabia. When the government of El-Engaz came to power it has tightened control on them. They were about to give up smuggling. Therefore, the Rashiada resorted to armed rebellion to join the opposition in a hate for the government not in love of Merghani. What is new is smuggling arms was not known before and was not among items being smuggled. I suspect that the trader who was killed was an arms dealer, who used to send arms into Egypt and then Palestine. They were the reason behind the intervention of Israel.
Q: What do you say about internal political situation and the role of the opposition parties in creating national political atmosphere?
A: The political opposition and parties in democratic system are backed by the people. According to such criteria, the Sudanese opposition lacks people’s support due to the opposition’s lack of credibility in issues related to supreme national issues. The conflicting objectives of SPLM have cost it people’s support. The opposition has no hands within Sudanese society. It has no existence among students, unions, Sufi sects and civil society organizations, which are major means for popular moves.
Q: Could it be said that the government is safe in the absence of opposition?
A: That does not mean that the government is secure. The regime itself has started to weaken. The same applies to the opposition. I don’t see hope for stability of Sudan unless the government and the opposition come together in one government to rule the country for a long period. The armed opposition cannot threaten the regime for there are the Free Lions, the Eastern Front, and the Beja Conference in East Sudan; besides Darfur movements. Some of these movements signed agreements with the government some have not. However, all of them cannot topple the regime by force or foreign interventions.
Q: How do you look at the future of Sudanese – American relations?
A: The problem of Sudanese-American relations is the exclusion of mutual economic, security and cultural interests, a move was neither taken by the government of Sudan nor the US but dictated by lobby groups in the US.
Cooperation between the two countries is dictated by mutual interests as well as security cooperation; in addition to regional conditions which require the two parties to make concessions to resolve differences. However, decision making in the US is not determined by the President, the secretary of state department or the CIA or the Congress but is convenient on pressure lobby groups that have turned the issue of Sudan into an internal affair. Unfortunately, the pressure groups concerned with Sudan are unanimous on being hostile to Sudan, which was aimed at separating South Sudan, overthrowing and destabilizing El-Engaz regime. Such policies are not built on any American principles but have to do with the agenda of individual pressure organizations enjoying relations with some Sudanese political forces.
Q: What is your advice to the government of Sudan in its dealing with the US Administration?
A: The government of Sudan did not get the US approach for decision making. Therefore, it used to react to US policies. It was supposed to deal with the US by adopting the same approach – that is to say moving towards organizations that could cooperate with Sudan, notably Arab Americans Organizations, the organizations of American Muslims of African origins, which Sudanese envoys have played a leading role in establishing and organizing them thanks for a number political cadres.
By Mohamed Abdallah/ Haram Hashim Ali, 06/06/2012