Southern Sudan Should Endure Bad Wishes
By Martin Garang Aher
The diplomatic warning of a Russian diplomat in Cairo, Egypt about possible Somalization of the South Sudanese region is by all means healthy. No one even the South Sudanese want to see Somalization of the region because of insatiable dissidence or other political power wranglings. It is a worry for all! A sympathiser is undoubtedly a passionate peace guard.
However, the time, place and interest in disguised during the making of the statement are dubious and seriously ill-intentioned. Honesty wasn’t the best policy at the time of the voicing of this diplomatic advice and concern.
There was no better place for a Russian diplomat to make such a bootlicking statement if not in Cairo, Egypt. Egyptian interest in Sudan extends to South Sudan where a major resource pedestal to its survival, The Nile picks up its alluvial soil for food farms in Egypt and its water drives the Aswan High Dam turbines for electric power in Egypt. The volumetric flow of the Nile, too, increases in South Sudan due to frequent seasonal rains. To Egypt, Sudan is the source of the Nile even though awareness exists that more water and minerals come down the Ethiopian highlands' Lake Tana in the Amhara Region. For South Sudanese to live a decent life, Egypt must understand the inalienable rights and significance of the river to all others that live on its banks and at its sources. Perhaps, this would be the message it sends to South Sudan.
South Sudan, from any amateur developer’s view, can never really prosper without the Nile being at the centre of developmental mêlée, whether directly or indirectly, and this seems to be the source of concerns for Egypt. For this reason, anyone who is postulating a pleasant comment of dissuasion in reference to Southern Sudan’s referendum in January 9, 2011 and who, for certain wild speculation, is consequently and discreetly courting the world to turn a blind eye to South Sudan as a possible state-to-be, is by all means a redeemable ally to Khartoum and and the ruling National Congress Party. And the Russian Mikhail Margelov fits that job perfectly well.
However, Russia should gather all the thoughts and call to mind that many nations that violently or peacefully split with their ruthless masters have been taunted as would-be failures if they pull out from a union. They were warned falsely should they opt out, they would be met with security and economic quagmires. As time and history justify, these countries have in time surpassed such prophetic stigma. Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, etc are today vivid examples that were threatened with failures and were forced not to leave the Russian Federation. Today they are thriving democracies, sometimes better than Mother Russia itself. If it is conceivable Russia should view the situation in South Sudan with the same magnifying lens as it did in Chechnya, then there is a gross marginal error involved.
It is true the Russian economic crisis is a reason for such comments from the diplomat. However, Russian economic struggles are domestic concerns that require internal reforms and outward policy of non-interference to those others who have nothing to do with matters pertinent to economics but whose focus is on the right to self-determination.
It will be understood in South Sudan that Russia needs a soft place and space to swing her idled tentacles of influence for economic gains. Russian arms manufacturing will not be allowed to hold Sudan prisoner like in Eastern Europe and the Middle East where Russian gas sale has become a geopolitical weapon. Russia’s great and marauding quest to find easy partners to prey on is noticeable in Sudan and other vulnerable African countries.
Sudan had been Russia's partner in trade for arms as well as a destination of a lame technology of terror for many years. Of course Southerners still evidently retain information on the Russian-made Presidential helicopter that killed John Garang, his guards and Ugandan crew. Russian gunships have tormented women and children for many years in Southern Sudan. Other bombers like the Antonov, a feverish high altitude bomber, became the roaring thunders in Southern skies year in and year out for decades.
Nobody tells the world what it already knows; that South Sudanese have never known state development and handouts since the inception of the Republic of Sudan. Southerners who often flee to the North in times of crisis do so because of security concerns caused by the Northern regimes, not economic downturns or a crumbling system in the South of the country.
It is presumptuously true that Sudan owes Russia a lot of money in debt for the purchase of arms during the war and training of bomber pilots. This money will not be paid when South Sudan goes away with her bounty natural endowments, which have been the sources of Sudanese undisputed ever-trickling revenue.
God forbids if the post-referendum negotiations currently underway between the Government of South Sudan and the National Congress Party on the national debt will involve tricky concessions in which South Sudanese will be bound by agreement to pay for the bombs dropped on their kids during the war!
Ultimately, it seems the best option for Russia, Egypt and NCP to maximise their economic potentials, is to keep the South within their grip as an assurance of support by continually concocting and thwarting the referendum vote.
But this reckless manoeuvring too is as dangerous as the Somalization of the South.