Since November 2011 the SPLA-North has been united with the opposition movements of Sudan’s other marginalized people groups in what is called the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF). Al Hilu is the Chief of the Joint Military Command of the SRF. Other leaders include former Blue Nile State Governor Malik Agar and a number of the leaders of the Darfurian rebel movements. There is also the hope for participation by the Beja Congress of eastern Sudan and the Nubians from the far north, two ancient, indigenous people groups.
Sudan’s marginalized peoples comprise 87 percent of Sudan’s population but Al Hilu explained to McConnell that the root cause of the conflict in the Nuba Mountains is that “Khartoum doesn’t want to recognize the diversity in the country.” He said that the NCP regime is “going for a monolithic type of state, based on only two parameters, that is Arabism and Islam.” Al Hilu believes in true religious freedom for all and a secular democracy based on the vision of the “New Sudan” of his late friend Dr. John Garang de Mabior. He said that Khartoum has “no place for anybody who is not a Muslim, who is not an Arab.” “Somebody like me, I am a Muslim but I am not an Arab,” he said. “They say I must accept, I must put on a jellaba and turban and dance the way Bashir is doing!”
It would seem to be the opportune time to support Sudanese that desire true democratic transformation of the country. The desperate, starving people of the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile will probably die unless Khartoum’s genocide is stopped. The military success of the SPLA-North and the coordination growing between all of Sudan’s marginalized people groups, including many Arab Sudanese in the north, has created a strong pro-democracy force in the country. The alternative is shamefully to continue to enable the regime of an ICC-indicted war criminal, responsible for the death of millions of his own people. Stating that the international community has a “problem with memory,” Al Hilu marveled that this is the same Bashir “who introduced Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda to the world.”
One week – not one year – after demonstrations started in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, President Obama urged President Hosni Mubarak to step down. There was violence and repression in the Egyptian uprising, but nothing on the level of what is taking place in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. Yet the brutality and genocide by President Omar al-Bashir have not caused Obama and the international community to demand that he step down.
The Arab uprising in Libya began February 17, 2011. By the 26th the UN Security Council had condemned Gadhafi’s crackdown on the rebels as a violation of international law. By March 17, the UN had created the kind of no-fly zone for which the Nuba people have been pleading for a year. Not long after, the U.S. was using Tomahawk cruise missiles on the Gadhafi regime. Unlike the SPLA-North that took on Khartoum by itself, the so-called Libyan freedom fighters needed the United States and other Western nations to come and fight their battles for them as if non-Muslim nations were their personal Mamluks. The double standard is breathtaking, and particularly now, when Egypt is in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), and Libya is controlled by Al Qaeda/Osama Bin Laden affiliates such as Islamist terrorist Abdulhakim Belhadj, who received training in Sudan.
If the U.S. government and the international community are not going to support the SPLA-North and the Sudan Revolutionary Front, at least they should not stand in the way of their own courageous and sacrificial fight for freedom. Al Hilu reveals to the press what Sudan advocates have observed all along, “In this conflict between the Nuba and the center [Khartoum] we are not allowed to fight freely, there is intervention always … Always there is pressure on the South, on the Nuba, on the marginalized people, the poor people … They make us go to the table to talk but there is no action.”
The Obama administration’s special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Princeton Lyman, would seem to confirm the truth of Al Hilu’s observation. In a December Alsharq Al-Awsat newspaper interview with Lyman, one hopes that there are Arabic-to-English translation problems, because what Lyman said does not make much sense when faced with the reality of the identity and agenda of the Islamist regime in Khartoum.
Asked if the U.S. is hoping that the Arab Spring will spread to Sudan, Lyman said, “Frankly, we do not want to see the ouster of the [Sudanese] regime, nor regime change. We want to see the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures.” The interviewer then asked Lyman if he considered Bashir to be a military dictator. He replied, “We are not dealing with al-Bashir directly, particularly as the International Criminal Court [ICC] has accused him of violating human rights and being responsible for war crimes and genocide in Darfur.” The interviewer pressed, “How is it possible for Washington to engage with the al-Bashir government, but not deal directly with Omar al-Bashir himself?” And Lyman said, “Our position is clear with regards to the ICC accusations [against Omar al-Bashir] but we are now concentrating on fostering stability in all parts of Sudan and South Sudan, as well as establishing friendly relations between the two after long years of conflict.”
In his column, Kristof reacts to Lyman’s declaration of the U.S. position, “Huh? This is a regime whose leader has been charged with genocide, has destabilized the region, has sponsored brutal proxy warlords like Joseph Kony, has presided over the deaths of more than 2.5 million people in southern Sudan, in Darfur and in the Nuba Mountains — and the Obama administration doesn’t want him overthrown?” Meanwhile, as innocent civilians are dying in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State, or have reached refugee camps in South Sudan or elsewhere only to succumb to battle with starvation and thirst and die there, statements such as this only embolden the NCP regime to continue bombing. They harden the regime to any thought of allowing food aid to cross the border and be provided to those who need it the most.
Some may argue that the U.S. is concerned that regime change could usher in an even worse regime. But it is hard to conceive of anything worse than Omar al-Bashir and the entire NCP regime – at least if you have been on the receiving side of global jihad. And it is the U.S. and the UN whose morally equivalent value system requires that they give as much weight to the claims of leadership of NCP throwbacks like Hassan al Turabi and his Popular Congress Party, Sadiq al-Mahdi and the Umma Party, and fellow Caliphate builders who represent only 13 percent of Sudan’s population.
Instead the U.S. government and the international community should be supporting Al Hilu and the SRF. Al Hilu, when asked how the conflict will end, stated, “We are working for regime change, for complete transformation, for writing a new constitution, a democratic constitution that recognizes diversity, that accepts the liberal values of justice, equality, individualism. We want to achieve lasting peace and justice in this country.” Perhaps thinking of the U.S. State Department, Al Hilu said, “Some may say we are not qualified to reach this but I think it is possible.” It would be the best thing for Sudan and for security the world over if he is correct.
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