The Islamist Proxy War in South Sudan


Sunday, June 5, the National Congress Party (aka the National Islamic Front) regime began waging war in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. But even as the northern government stronghold of Khartoum brazenly is attacking the Nuba Mountains (Kordofan to the Arabs) as well as other north/south border areas, such as the oil rich region of Abyei, it also continues to violate the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that it signed with the SPLM (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement) by attacking South Sudan.

In attacking the South, Khartoum is not as brazen. Thinking that, in spite of the world’s track record of indifference, someone might actually hold it accountable for such an obvious CPA violation, Khartoum is using proxy militias to do its dirty work in the South. Attacks by these proxy militias are intended to destabilize the South, which is set to become Africa’s 54th nation less than a month from now on July 9, 2011.

One such proxy group creating havoc and misery in South Sudan’s Western Equatoria State is the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA is a Northern Ugandan rebel group led by the now-middle-aged madman Joseph Kony. For over twenty-five years it has been abducting children, and so brutalizing them that they become mindless killing machines. It has used these children to kill hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children in Northern Uganda, Southern Sudan, and more recently, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. By 2006, the LRA had abducted over 50,000 children to make child soldiers and sex slaves.

The Sudan Human Security Baseline Assessment project warns “there remains no firm evidence of Sudanese government support for the group.” Maybe no “firm” evidence, but there is little doubt that it is Khartoum using the LRA to try to create a “failed state” in South Sudan. Escaped child soldiers and other LRA abductees frequently have reported seeing Sudan Armed Forces trucks during their time in captivity. The trucks were delivering food, weapons, and uniforms to LRA commanders. And in recent days, the LRA has teamed up with the Janjaweed, the killers in Darfur, receiving training and weapons at Islamic camps that have been set up there. For although some (usually secular elites, hostile to Christianity) refer to Kony as a “Christian,” his current belief system is a combination of the demonic and Islam. A New York Times reporter, C.J. Chivers, told of the various “spirits” that take possession of Kony.

Make Way Partners, a ministry to orphans and former child soldiers, last week reported that the LRA had attacked a village near their home for children on the South Sudan/Uganda border on Wednesday, June 1. Although they could not yet confirm hard numbers after receiving the news in a June 3 phone call, they knew that many had been wounded, some had been killed, and others had been captured. And they knew the details of horrific acts that have been repeated in villages all over East Africa since Kony began taking children in 1986, to ensure himself an ever-replenished army of boys and girls, some as young as five or six years old.

According to a Make Way Partners report, in this most recent of numerous LRA attacks, the rebels gathered all the children together and started killing people right in front of their eyes. They forced the children to kill their own parents. After the slaughter, the boys had to carry large metal barrels, and the girls had to fetch water to fill the barrels. They built fires around the barrels, and while the water was heating up, the children were forced to hack up their parents and fellow children’s bodies and throw their dismembered parts in the boiling water. After some time, the children were then made to eat the flesh. In this way the LRA commanders knew that the children were so traumatized that they would do anything. They would not try to run away because there was nowhere and no one left to which to run.

One South Sudanese official from Western Equatoria confirms that Khartoum is using the LRA to destabilize South Sudan. He says that they are targeting Western Equatoria State, which borders Uganda, because it is so fertile, and has the potential to be the breadbasket for the region. If it is destabilized, it will affect the food supply of the country, as well as lessening the possibilities of profitable commercial agriculture. Khartoum’s proxy militia is also targeting it because it is a strong Christian community.

In addition, ongoing LRA attacks would have a terrible impact on the people of Western Equatoria who have always been extremely self-sufficient. Even now people are abandoning their homes and attempting to find shelter in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. This was what happened to the Acholi people in Northern Uganda, fleeing from LRA attacks. Almost 90% of the entire population of Acholi ended up deserting their farms, living in miserable IDP camps where they were still not adequately protected from LRA attacks.

The Equatorians do not want to be dependent on NGOs and the U.N. for their existence. At present they are trying to provide their own security with “arrow boys,” young men armed with nothing but homemade bows and arrows who protect against the well-armed LRA. They want the government to supply them with real arms, but there is little chance of that taking place if only for the reason that the Government of South Sudan is well aware that it is under scrutiny by the global community, and it is always held to a higher standard than the Islamists in Khartoum.

What is really needed to help the people of Western Equatoria State as Khartoum wages its proxy war against them via the LRA is the full implementation of U.S. law found in the “Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act” of 2010. In this legislation, which was heartily supported on both sides of the aisle, Congress required the U.S. government to develop a regional strategy supporting multilateral efforts to stop the LRA. The president was to report on the creation of that strategy within six months of the act’s passage.

In November 2010, the Obama administration presented its strategy. The four major objectives were: protect civilians, apprehend Kony and senior commanders, promote the defection and disarmament of LRA fighters (remember these were abducted children), and increase humanitarian access to the region. But according to the young activists of The Resolve, an advocacy organization working to end Kony’s reign of terror in East Africa and help rebuild the affected communities, the administration’s performance has been poor. Resolve recently published a report card, giving President Obama a B, two Cs, and two Ds for the implementation of the strategy.

In days in which the Republicans are striving to bring fiscal sanity to the United States and to cut the budget, this act may seem doomed. But many of the most fiscally conservative members of Congress are supporters, understanding that in addition to any moral imperative to act, our own security and the security of East Africa are intertwined more than most people think. Ending Khartoum’s proxy war on South Sudan would cost far less than our continual bombing of Libya, or our largess to President Mubarak’s successors in Egypt, or our unending jizya to the Palestinian Authority. And in this case, we actually would know that in helping the people of South Sudan we were helping true friends and allies in the fight for secular democracy and religious freedom.

Faith J. H. McDonnell directs The Institute on Religion and Democracy’s Religious Liberty Program and Church Alliance for a New Sudan, and is the author of Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children (Chosen Books, 2007).

 

  • ibrahim

    This is an example of bad journalism.The author attributes all problems in the region to the government in the North. Many facts known to every one in Sudan are twisted and presented in such low standard and lack of fairness.

  • nola

    nice article. there was an agreement signed in 2005; it's called the comprehensive PEACE agreement. that said, when you shake hands with the devil, you get burned. of course, Bashir is colluding with Kony; they're both evil.

    may God protect all the innocent people of Sudan, both North and South.

  • JFS

    Sorry Ibrahim, but you could not be further from the truth. The government in the north has inherited a tradition of many centuries of Islamic war against Christians. You are either ignorant (forgivable), or choose to believe a lie.
    http://www.frontline.org.za/articles SouthernSudanReferendum.htm /

  • JFS

    Reposted due to dead link (Sorry!)

    Sorry Ibrahim, but you could not be further from the truth. The government in the north has inherited a tradition of many centuries of Islamic war against Christians. You are either ignorant (forgivable), or choose to believe a lie.
    http://www.frontline.org.za/articlesSouthernSudan… /

  • AntiSharia

    The people in the south should have known better. There is no "peace" with Islam. Sharia law only allows for a temporary cease fire with kafirs, not a permanent peace. All the Khartoum government was doing was catching its breath before it could launch a new war bent on exterminating the people of the south.

    No one can live in peace with Muslims as neighbors.

    • http://www.theird.org Faith

      The people in the South had no choice. The U.S. was only offering to help them make "peace" with Khartoum, not to support regime change. We pressured them to give up more and more in order to appease the vile murderers in Khartoum. We always approached the situation as a humanitarian issue, in which you could reason with two rational sides that both wanted a winning situation. Khartoum is not rational, and it does not play win-win, only win-lose.

  • Vicki

    Good article. Thank you for sharing. It seems like there is no peace..It is good for people to be made aware and to pray for God to have mercy on all there. The abduction of children can be nothing less than just plan evil.

  • Linda Rivera

    It is a crime against humanity that Americans are forced to finance Palestinian Authority/PLO/Hamas terrorist organizations. In the Palestinian Authority, savage terrorist killers of Jewish innocents are greatly glorified as huge heroes.

    America gives massive amounts of money to Muslim Middle Eastern countries when it is up to the fabulously oil-wealthy Middle Eastern countries to give the money. Money and resources must be provided to eliminate the satanic LRA. No child on earth should have to suffer what these innocent children suffer. G-D help them!

    The entire world has a responsibility to stop devil worshipper, Joseph Kony.

  • LindaRivera

    It is a crime against humanity that Americans are forced to finance Palestinian Authority/PLO/Hamas terrorist organizations. In the Palestinian Authority, savage terrorist killers of Jewish innocents are greatly glorified as huge heroes.

    America gives massive amounts of money to Muslim Middle Eastern countries when it is up to the fabulously oil-wealthy Middle Eastern countries to give the money. Money and resources must be provided to eliminate the satanic LRA. No child on earth should have to suffer what these innocent children suffer. G-D help them!

    The entire world has a responsibility to stop devil worshipper, Joseph Kony.

  • dawning

    Konys "current belief system is a combination of the demonic and Islam." ….Redundant.

    • http://www.theird.org Faith

      True, dawning, but the world makes a distinction, and Kony's style of demonism is much more interesting than Islam. Numerous spirits that speak through him, including an Italian Army Officer from the late 1800's.

  • steven l

    Only morons did not expect the North to attack the South.

  • LindaRivera

    The South Sudanese are reduced to using the useless defense of bows and arrows against savage LRA? The nations have a moral responsibility to heavily arm the South Sudanese to defend from such cruel, barbaric enemies. To not arm the South Sudanese is to seek their defeat at the hands of evil monsters. The nations cannot call themselves civilized if they allow this to happen.

  • Nya Khawaja

    I live in South Sudan and, while I think that the behaviour of the northern government is reprehensible – particularly at the moment with regard to Abyei and South Kordofan – I have to agree with Ibrahim that this article is an example of poor journalism.

    EVERY South Sudanese politician or official blames the north for ALL of the ills of the South, anyone living in the South knows this is this standard rhetoric. So quoting one unnamed "Western Equatoria official" can hardly be claimed to be definitive evidence of your argument. Furthermore, in the entire article there is a failure to mention the SPLM/A, the ruling party and army of South Sudan who have been entirely inept aand inactive in attempting to bring down the LRA. A task which would require coordination with the army of Ugand (UPDF). Don't forget, the LRA is not actually very large nor well equipped.

    The US has offered a great deal of money and resources to help the UPDF and the SPLA capture the LRA and yet they have failed. Why? Well, as long as the LRA is not caught, the money keeps coming in. And, in South Sudanese terms, the LRA's activities impact only a tiny portion of the country, in the form of sporadic raids. Allowing them to continue their activity and blaming it on the evil North achieves more for them in international sympathy. A strategy which the author of this article has fallen for hook line and sinker.

    Once again, I'm not saying that the North behaves in an honourable, acceptable or legal way towards the South. And I'm not saying that the crimes of the LRA are not heinous. But I am saying that a journalist should not be so naive and simplistic. There is more to this story than "evil Muslims" versus "good Christians". Propagating such myths does nothing to help resolve the genuine problems that plague Sudan.

  • Mel

    Nya Khawaja…..there is no comparison between what we could call "negligence" or political aspirations of the UPDF and SPLA and what the government of Khartoum — with its LRA allies are doing. There is no moral equivalence! Its like saying that because some of the Jews in Nazi Germany were corrupt bankers they were equally guilty of the holocaust. IF the SPLA is to take any blame, it is because they believed the LRA commander when he said he was truly interested in peace talks, and allowed him to relocate his forces from Uganda to South Sudan as a pre-condition for the talks. But naivite is not the same as cruelty and evil. And what you say about the UPDF not being serious about capturing the lRA leaders may bear some truth. But you have missed the main point that Faith is emphasizing….that is that without Khartoum's genocidal and evil machinations, the LRA would not be forcing children to kill their siblings and parents and eat them.

  • http://www.theird.org Faith

    Thanks, Mel. I get a little exhausted trying to defend the defenders all the time when they are attacked instead of the persecutors.That's exactly the point – without Khartoum there would be not LRA for which the SPLA and UPDF could mess up on, at least not a strong one.

    Nya Khawaja, yes, I am a khawaja, but I get my information from my Sudanese and Ugandan friends, and from doing research on the LRA for my book GIRL SOLDIER; A STORY OF HOPE FOR NORTHERN UGANDA'S CHILDREN, as well as doing advocacy for ALL of Sudan's marginalized people groups, Christian and Muslim alike, since 1994.

  • LindaRivera

    It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to know that some Muslims pretend to be Jews or pretend to be Christians! It is all part of Islamic war strategy.

    Nya Khawaja: "There is more to this story than "evil Muslims" versus "good Christians". Propagating such myths…"

    The extreme cruelty, mass murders, barbaric atrocities, rapes, kidnappings and taking of slaves by the Arab Muslims of Khartoum and the LRA — ARE NOT MYTHS.

    Faith, thank you so much for caring for victims! And thank you Mel, for your comment!

    We wait for the wonderful future our Merciful, Glorious and Wonderful G-D promised in the Bible where the evil ones will never again hurt another human being!

  • Nya Khawaja

    Again, I am in no way a supporter of the Khartoum government, but it is naive and bizarre to blame the actions of the LRA on the North Sudanese. There is one small factor that neither the author nor the Muslim-haters on here have mentioned, that is that the LRA is a group that claims to have CHRISTIAN beliefs.

    Now, whether those are the same as your own Christian beliefs is another matter but that is what they, the LRA themselves, claim. Think about it, "LORD'S Resistance Army". So yes, a simple "evil Muslim" versus "good Christian" argument is particularly redundant if you want to talk about the LRA.

    The Khartoum government has undoubtedly provided support to the LRA at some point, but to claim that the LRA would be unable to continue their activities without the support of Khartoum is ludicrous.

    Faith, as for your assertion that your evidence is well founded because it comes from the Sudanese themselves, I also have South Sudanese friends, I love them dearly, but they would blame Khartoum for the clouds in the sky. As a researcher and writer myself I use critical thinking and hard facts to triangulate information rather than simply relying on people's opinions.

  • Nya Khawaja

    Mel, I nearly forgot to address your nonsensical comparison of the SPLA to Jewish bankers. It's always useful to invoke the Holocaust to crank up the levels of emotion in your argument, but I'm afraid yours is an entirely pointless analogy. Since when were Jewish bankers responsible for the safety and security of their people?!

    The SPLA on the other hand, is the army of South Sudan, therefore it has a duty to protect the people of South Sudan. Since SPLA fails to pursue the LRA then, yes, I absolutely do accuse it of a dereliction of duty.

    As for your claim that the SPLA allowed Kony to relocate his forces to South Sudan. That is utter nonsense! The LRA peace talks TOOK PLACE in South Sudan. I happened to be at them. That is not the same as the LRA "relocating" its forces to South Sudan. The talks were between the LRA and Uganda and were mediated by the South Sudanese. Please do some proper resarch before spouting your ill informed nonsense.

  • Brittany

    Nya, is there anyway we could chat? I've always been very interested in the LRA and their movements, but feel I always read the same thing over and over.

  • http://www.theird.org Faith

    "Nya Khawaja" said to the Khawaja that it is "naive and bizarre to blame the actions of the LRA on the North Sudanese." No one is blaming the "North Sudanese." I am certainly not attributing the activity of the LRA in South Sudan to the Nubians, or to any other North Sudanese — other than the elitist racist clique in Khartoum that run the place. And yes, Kony claims to have Christian beliefs, among others, but there is nothing of Christ in anything he does. Many who are hostile of Christianity have taken great pleasure in trying to show Kony as a "Christian."

  • http://www.theird.org Faith

    You seem to be deliberately misundersanding Mel's comment that the SPLA allowed the LRA to relocate in South Sudan "as a precondition to the peace talks." Of course everyone knows that the talks to place in South Sudan. Mel did not say anything to infer that he was not aware of that. I'll go one further for you and say that not only was it Riak Machar that got the whole LRA/Uganda talks going and making South Sudan the mediator, but his ties to the situation go back a long, long way, long before my friend Dr. John received him back into the fold after the People to People peace talks.

    Finally, the point of the article was that Khartoum uses proxy militias, and in the case of Western Equatoria State, one of the most devastating proxies it uses is the LRA.

  • LindaRivera

    To Nya Khawaja:

    "Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA is a Northern Ugandan rebel group led by the now-middle-aged madman Joseph Kony."

    Joseph Kony and all of the leaders (the group) of the LRA are devil worshippers. Utterly EVIL Kony calls himself and his evil group, "Christian" in order to MOCK Jesus Christ whom he hates intensely. Kony is opposed to G-D, the Bible, Jesus Christ, Christianity and the entire teaching of kindness and MERCY taught in the Bible. Kony and his group worship the devil.

    G-D's requirement for ALL humanity is KINDNESS:

    Bible, Micah 6:8 And what does the L-RD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your G-D.

    Jesus Christ taught from the Jewish Scriptures in the synagogues and in the famous Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem:

    Jesus said in the Bible, Matthew 7:12 Treat people the same way you want them to treat you for this is the Law and the Prophets.

  • Nya Khawaja

    It amuses and worries me that you don't see the very basic flaw in your argument.

    When somebody (the LRA) does something evil and says it is in the name of Christianity you claim they are not representative of Christianity.

    Fair enough, I will accept this point.

    However, when somebody (the Khartoum regime) does something evil in the name of Islam you say they ARE representative of Muslims.

    Hypocritical much? You can't have it both ways.

    There are good people and bad people who call themselves Christians, just as there are good people and bad people who call themselves Muslims.

    I reiterate my original point which is that to attempt to simplify the situation of Sudan into "good" versus "evil" is very naive and does nothing to help resolve the many complex problems that exist here.

  • LindaRivera

    To Nya Khawaja

    The actions of a person REVEAL which god they worship. The god of death or the G-D of Life – the Creator whose forgiveness is astonishing, whose love is amazing and whose kindness and mercy is beyond words to express.

  • Nya Khawaja

    Linda, I am glad we agree on something. It is the ACTIONS of a person that are important.

    To emphasise my point about the complexity of the situation, and in response to your call that "The nations have a moral responsibility to heavily arm the South Sudanese" I urge you to read the following article published a few days ago:" US millions fund world’s newest army, South Sudan’s, despite worries of abuses"
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle-east/a