Alice in Wonderland is a story familiar to most of us. Wonderland can be described as an upside-down world. Nothing seems to work the way it should. I sometimes believe that I am staring into Wonderland when I consider what is happening in Sudan.
Here is what we know: Sudan is ruled by a radical Islamic regime that has looted the country for personal gain, bankrupted the treasury, and systematically and brutally promoted a campaign of genocide and persecution against its own citizens since 1989.
The regime of Omar al Bashir is presently the bloodiest on earth. We hear a lot about bad dictatorships like those of Syria, Libya, Iran, North Korea, etc., but they are amateurs when compared to the NCP regime in Khartoum– formerly known as the National Islamic Front.
We have gone over the body count before, and it continues to increase in the present war in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile State. Our regular readers know the horrors being perpetrated against women and children, and the campaign of terror from the skies that has made normal life impossible and put places like the Nuba Mountains on the edge of famine. The world has seen this kind of evil before. All too often, in fact. This reality is not Wonderland.
The Wonderland aspect of this crisis is not the behavior of the killers in Khartoum. The Wonder is in how the international community has responded to the killers and the crisis. The US government and International Community (IC) has responded to all the death, all the torture, all the rape, all the indiscriminate bombings, all the cruelty, all the displacement, and all the persecution by continuing to endorse the very government committing these acts. Sure, there are some international sanctions still in place against Khartoum. Sure, there has been diplomatic wrist-slapping when Bashir’s behavior is simply too atrocious to be ignored. But the bottom line is that the US and International Community want Omar al Bashir in power.
It is primarily the support from the US and IC that has kept Bashir in power. The NCP government represents a tiny minority of the country. There are dozens of political parties and factions that support regime change in Sudan. Bashir has never been weaker. He has enemies all around him. Most of his friends are outside of Sudan. Bashir has successfully convinced the US and IC that any alternative to his administration would plunge the nation into chaos and Sudan would become another Somalia.
Is he right? Sudan is a big country composed of hundreds of tribes, sub-tribes and language groups. Its geographical lines were largely determined by colonial powers more than 100 years ago. This has fueled a lot of problems. One central government tasked to lead all this diversity has created a bar-room brawl situation where the last man standing embraces a “winner-take-all” view of governance. Bashir’s argument to the watching world is “better to let me reign as the political godfather and annihilate my opposition than risk the country breaking up into smaller groups of ungovernable warlords.” And the US and IC has bought this argument– and has essentially become its most powerful advocate.
My response to the “it could be worse” argument is stunned silence, because all I can see in my mind are 3 million corpses, thousands of children missing limbs, untold thousands of women raped, and a completely failed state being propped up by an International Community which fears something “worse.”
Crying in the Wilderness
For nearly two years, the besieged people of the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan State have begged the IC to impose a “No Fly Zone” over their territory to stop the daily bombings from Bashir’s Air Force. These bombings have made most cultivation impossible and created hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced people. It has caused more than 500,000 people to teeter on the edge of famine for more than a year.
The people of the Nuba Mountains have also asked the IC to pressure Bashir into allowing full access to NGOs into the war zone to address the growing humanitarian crisis. None of these requests have been fulfilled. And this has forced the SPLM-N forces in the Nuba to act independently for the welfare of its citizens.
And they are winning.
Recently, the SPLM-N launched several successful defensive strikes on territory controlled by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). Panic immediately spread through Bashir’s government, and the PR wing began to churn out denunciations of the rebels and an appeal to the IC to condemn the attacks and even put sanctions on the areas controlled by the SPLM-N.
And– this is where Wonderland really manifests itself– the US and IC are buying it. In fact, at the time of this writing, the US Government has invited Bashir’s right hand man, Nafie Ali Nafie to lead a delegation to Washington for talks on the crisis. Nafie Ali Nafie is to Bashir what Heinrich Himmler was to Hitler. Yet, the red carpet is to be rolled out for him by the US government.
At the same time, the US has denounced the defensive action of the SPLM-N forces– even though it is US coddling of Bashir that has ultimately forced the SPLM-N to action before their people are further ground down by famine and privation.
This is Wonderland. The US government’s posture towards the Sudan crisis is to ultimately side with the perpetrators of genocide and ethnic cleansing– while at the same time professing moral outrage against regimes in Syria, Libya, Iran, etc., which are amateurs compared to Sudan’s Bashir.
Is this America? It doesn’t look like the country of my birth. So, what is the answer? PPF’s motto comes to mind: Start Where You Are. Use What You Have. Do What You Can. We have a petition to President Obama on SavetheNuba.com that you can sign asking him to support a no-fly-zone to allow unrestricted humanitarian access to help the people of the Nuba Mountains.
You can also donate towards PPF relief projects in the Nuba Mountains. We have delivered and distributed medicine and other refugee assistance, and repaired broken boreholes to provide safe water to people suffering inside the war zone. Your financial gifts make this possible.
Finally, pray. Pray for the persecuted. Pray for the persecutors. And pray God will open the eyes of the US Government and IC to get on the right side of history and refuse to give legitimacy and tacit support to the enemies of peace.