Sudan: Obama’s Next Middle Eastern Dilemma?

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There have been sporadic clashes in Abyei since the CPA was formally accepted by both sides in 2005. The latest round saw 22 northern soldiers killed in a clash with southern troops last Thursday, which Khartoum used as the excuse to launch its weekend attack. But an indication that Sudanese President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, who is under indictment by the International Criminal Court for genocide in Darfur, intends to hold on to Abyei is that he abolished Abyei region’s administrative council immediately after the invasion.

Al-Bashir is also showing his contempt for international opinion regarding his latest aggression when his vice-president and foreign minister cancelled meetings with a visiting United Nations Security Council delegation. Sudan’s state minister also confirmed the UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS) will have to leave Sudan on July 9, the South’s independence day and the end of the transitional period. The UN had wanted to extend its mission beyond that date, because Abyei’s situation and border demarcation require special attention. A lack of UN personnel will also assist al-Bashir in manipulating the referendum on Abyei that he will probably hold after his forces have chased enough Dinka away.

There are several reasons for al-Bashir risking war with southern Sudan and defying world opinion by seizing Abyei. One is oil. Eighty percent of Sudan’s oil reserves are located in the south. Abyei is not only an oil-producing area, it also has an important oil pipeline running through it to a Red Sea port, which altogether makes it a valuable territory. And by depriving GOSS of Abyei, he probably hopes to help weaken the new country, so that it becomes a failed state which must rejoin the North or at least remain under his control.

Another reason is a new war with the South will allow al-Bashir and his governing National Congress Party (NCP) to justify a continuation of their iron-fisted rule of northern Sudan and avoid a repetition of events in Tunisia and Egypt. A new conflict will also heal or patch over any divisions in the ruling party. Some NCP members would like to see the government launch a program of political reforms, but the government has refused so far.

Obama was hoping to entice al-Bashir to live up to the CPA by offering to drop Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. This would see a lifting of sanctions against Sudan, which have been in place since Osama bin Laden resided there in the 1990s.

But in the case of al-Bashir, a leopard cannot change its spots, much like Gaddafi in Libya and the Palestinian government. He will never renounce jihad and terrorism and respect human rights despite any claims to the contrary. Bin Laden’s death gives a good insight into his government’s unsuitability for rejoining the community of nations. The speaker of the national Sudanese legislature praised the dead al-Qaeda leader as a mujahid (holy warrior), while some parliamentary members interjected with shouts of “martyr.” The speaker also called the US-led War on Terror “genocide against Muslims.”

In 2008, Obama criticised the Bush administration for supposedly making an “unseemly deal” with the Khartoum government in order to help the UN mission in Darfur and for not holding it accountable for a “failure to implement key elements” of the CPA.

“Washington must respond to the ongoing genocide and the failure to implement the CPA with consistency and strong consequences,” Obama said back then.

In regard to Abyei, the world is now waiting to see what Obama’s “strong consequences” are and how quickly and consistently he will apply them. Hopefully, America’s first black president has not ruled out using military force against a government of a country where black slaves captured in jihad are still bought and sold.

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  • amanda ashley

    Excuse me, but Sudan is in Africa, not the Middle East.

    • MixMChess

      Correct, but it is still part of the Islamic bloc.

    • ala

      sudan is conteinet can be botth middle east and african

      still we are biggest among arabs & african

      that the vital loctaion sudan which make it one of most important country in region

  • Celestine

    History teaches us there are only two ways to reach an end to muslim aggression: defeat them or be defeated by them. Remember, "Islam" translates to "submission".

  • Mel

    Amanda. Sudan, like Egypt,and Libya is both Middle East and Africa. But more importantly, it is the base of Muslim Brotherhood operations. Ever since it sponsored the NIF coup in 1989 against a democratically elected government, the Muslim Brotherhood has been the force behind Khartoum's politics, committing genocide in the Nuba Mts, the oil fields of S. Sudan, and Darfur. This will be the REAL test for Obama. Its one thing to flip the bird at a maverick like Ghadafi (whom the MB want to get rid of, and have solicited NATO's help to do its dirty work). But it will be another thing altogether if Obama is prepared to go up against the group that controls virtually all Islamic organizations in North America.

  • Cynic

    And so are Egypt, Libya and Tunisia all embroiled in the Arab controlled region with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi extremists.

  • Raymond in DC

    If there's a case for "Responsibility to Protect", there's a better case here than in Libya. Mind you, I think "R2P" is a dangerous notion, but the last thing we want is to let years of work and suffering be for nought.

    One has to wonder though if this crisis will garner even one-tenth the attention the "poor suffering Palestinians" get from the president. Maybe he'll have Hillary give a speech praising al Bashir as a "reformer".

  • StephenD

    "“Washington must respond to the ongoing genocide and the failure to implement the CPA with consistency and strong consequences,” Obama said…."I know just the thing. Maybe if we grant a waiver to Northern Sudan to use Child Soldiers they will only use them for humanitarian purposes. Oh wait! Obama ALREADY did this. He granted a waiver to the stipulation that any country that uses children as soldiers cannot receive aid from the US. How thoughtful of him. Of course, it was impossible to know this sort of military action would take place right? Southern Christian Sudan against Northern Muslim with a oil rich spot between them. Hard to have foreseen this coming. What is in this for him??

    • aspacia

      Obama will never react against Muslims.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Obama could care less about the Christians and non-Muslims of Southern
    Sudan. Millions have been slaughtered by Islamist (religion of peace) killers
    and millions more are in their sights for free mass graves, Islamist generosity
    on the move. The only answer to Islamist terror and murder is overwhelming
    force which we have but no one in power with the vision and backbone to
    use it for good against evil. The true battle is good versus evil and we are all
    in it…………………………………………………………………………………….William

  • jacob

    What is OBAMA going to do about this situation ??

    Is he going to allow something like DARFUR's genocide to go on ??

    Did the corrupt Muslim dominated UN do anything about, good only to condemn
    Israel 24/7/365 ???

    OBAMA seems to be good only for threatening ISRAEL and ordering it what he
    wants it to do, like these "Auschwitz borders"….

    Here he has an opportunity to set matter straight with these animals once and
    for all and even the rotten UN will fully back him, but..

  • Dan

    Daniel 11:43