Sudan peace deal signals regional re-alignment

The new peace deal in Sudan, ending a 22-year civil war in which two million people lost their lives, took effect July 9, when Col. John Garang of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) was sworn in as Sudan’s first vice president in Khartoum, the capital. After six years of power-sharing between Garang’s SPLA and President Omar el-Bashir’s National Congress Party, there will be a referendum to decide Sudan’s future, with the southern stronghold of the SPLA potentially having the option to secede.

The Tehran Times in a July 13 commentary implied the deal was a capitulation to the US: “[W]ill the formation of a national unity government save Sudan from dismemberment? Undoubtedly, the pressure of the United States and some other countries and Western governments’ measures to break up the country will be intensified, because their main objective is to gain access to the oil reserves of southern Sudan by forming a puppet government in the region.”

The Tehran Times pointed out that the talks between Khartoum and the SPLA were brokered by and held in Uganda, Sudan’s traditional regional enemy and a perceived US client state. In a sign of a new regional alignment, Sudan and Uganda have now agreed to cooperate against the Lord’s Resistance Army, a particularly brutal Uganda rebel group which was heretofore backed by Khartoum. (News 24, South Africa, July 12) And Uganda is sending a small detatchment of troops to join the African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur. (Xinhua, July 12)

Garang, to his credit, has wasted no time in meeting with the Alan Goulty, the UN’s special envoy on Darfur, and believes the new government may have more credibility to bring peace to the region. (Sudan Tribune, July 13) The toll in Darfur now stands at 2 million displaced and 180,000 dead (including from war-related hunger and disease), but the UN Security Council has delayed implementing even the limited sanctions it has now agreed to in principle—not on Sudan’s government, but on individuals found to be responsible for abuses in Darfur. China, Russia and Algeria abstained from the vote on even these limited sanctions. (Reuters, July 5) General sanctions against Sudan were repeatedly blocked last year by Russia, China and France.

For more on the Lord’s Resistance Army, see WW4 REPORT #90

See our last post on Sudan and on Uganda.