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While Obama has been concerning himself with Israel’s “unjust” borders, a Muslim Middle Eastern country launched a military offensive on the weekend to forcibly settle a border dispute that was to be decided peacefully by referendum.
Dozens of black African Sudanese were killed when the Arab and Muslim government of northern Sudan broke the 2005 George Bush-brokered Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended a 22-year civil war between North and South Sudan and launched a well-planned invasion of the disputed Abyei border region. Dozens of tanks, hundreds of troops and government warplanes were used in the attack that saw the capture of Abyei, a town bearing the region’s name, and villages bombed from the air. Thousand of Abyei residents, who, like most southern Sudanese, are predominantly Christian or animist, fled their homes in terror.
This escalation in fighting has brought Sudan once again to the brink of civil war. The Government of South Sudan (GOSS) called the North’s seizure of the town of Abyei “illegal” and said it will respond in self-defence. UN observers present in Abyei have accused troops of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) of “burning and looting.” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he condemned the “escalation in violence” and asked both sides “to cease military operations.”
The White House immediately issued a statement condemning the Khartoum government over its use of force and called the North’s invasion “blatant violations of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement” that “threaten to undermine the mutual commitment of the CPA parties to avoid a return to war.”
“The United States calls upon the SAF to immediately cease all offensive operations in Abyei and withdraw its forces from Abyei,” the statement read. “Failure to do so could set back the process of normalising relations between the Sudan and the United States and inhibit the international community’s ability to move forward on issues to Sudan’s future.”
Last January 9, southern Sudan voted successfully to separate from the North and will become the world’s newest state in July. The vote was 98 percent in favour of secession. According to the CPA, the oil-producing Abyei region was to have its own referendum last January to let its majority African Ngoc Dinka population decide whether to join the North or the South.
The referendum never took place – and probably was never intended to. The Arab North knew the Dinka would vote for joining the African South, since they had been so brutally treated by Arab forces during the last civil war. Two million Sudanese perished, mostly African southerners, and four million were displaced after the northern Arab government launched a new conflict against its southern citizens in 1982, the second such civil war since the country got its independence from Great Britain in 1956. The southern Sudanese, however, heroically fought this attempt to force them to become Arab and Muslim, leading the North to declare jihad against them in 1989. The war in southern Sudan was a prelude to Darfur.
The most horrifying aspect of the war concerned the several hundred thousand black southern Sudanese who were captured in barbaric Arab slave raids. Under the CPA, 200,000 were allowed to return home. An escaped Dinka slave, Francis Bok, told his story in FrontPage Magazine of his ten years as the child slave of a cruel Arab master and of his amazing odyssey to freedom in America, where he is now a citizen.
Facing certain defeat in the Abyei referendum, the Khartoum government manufactured an excuse not to hold the vote last January. It wanted nomadic Arab Messiria tribesman, who seasonally cross the Abyei region seeking water and grazing lands, registered as voters, knowing, however, this would never be accepted.
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