By Brad Phillips
The last several days in Sudan have been troubling but revealing.
On Monday, a series of border clashes took place in Unity State, South Sudan, between the northern SAF forces and the southern SPLA. The media reported that each side blamed the other for the attacks, but I want you to be aware of what is really happening.
Sudan dictator, Omar al Bashir, is an indicted war criminal. He is chiefly responsible for the deaths of more than 3 million of his own people. Moreover, Bashir is a stereotypical leader of a classic African kleptocratic “thugocracy” where the people and resources are recklessly exploited to benefit the leader and his cronies.
But recent times have not been good for Bashir and his gang. Last July, Bashir’s party officially lost control of 80-85 percent of the nation’s oil reserves when South Sudan formally seceded, becoming the newest nation on earth. To secure what was left of the oil in northern Sudan, Bashir launched a vicious war of genocide and ethnic cleansing in May, 2011, in the oil-rich region of Abyei and then the Nuba Mountains in June, 2011.
A few months later, Bashir launched an attack on another dissident region in the north: the Blue Nile State.
While Bashir was busy satisfying his bloodlust, his nation’s economy began to collapse. Loss of oil revenues resulted in the national currency taking a nosedive, and people took to the streets to protest rising prices and shortages of basic necessities. The national debt then reached $36 billion, an unfathomable sum. Bashir’s party, the NCP, now has trouble keeping some of its leading members in line. Just this week, a major opposition newspaper was shut down by Bashir’s thugs.
And to make matters worse for Bashir, his army is taking a beating in the field. After launching air and ground attacks in South Sudan over the last week, Bashir’s SAF army has been routed. South Sudan’s military now occupies key border areas of the north, and the rebels in the Nuba Mountains continue to win victory after victory in Southern Kordofan.
Before the latest round of attacks on Monday, Bashir was invited to South Sudan’s Capitol of Juba to participate in talks on the disputes involving oil revenues. But with so many things working against him, Bashir knew he’d be negotiating from a position of weakness. A few days later, Bashir ordered airstrikes in South Sudan and the talks were indefinitely postponed. Convenient.
Although there is rhetoric from both sides vowing to avoid all-out war, the reality is that the war has already started. I believe Bashir needs a war with South Sudan to provide the artificial unity to keep his fragile government together. South Sudan is exercising enormous restraint. Besides, with oil wells currently shut down, the government in Juba can scarcely afford to get involved in an expensive and protracted confrontation with Khartoum.
The silver lining of these war clouds is that it illustrates to me the desperate situation for the dictator Bashir. This is a regime that is living on borrowed time. But a wounded predator is still very dangerous, and tens of thousands of lives hang in the balance in north and south Sudan.
Please pray that peace will be restored and that an area which has known almost nothing but war since 1956 will be given an opportunity to grow and develop in an environment of peace.
And please pray that God will continue to use PPF to bring physical help and spiritual hope to the victims of persecution.