A Year of Bombs and Silence

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).


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Since November 2011 the SPLA-North has been united with the opposition movements of Sudan’s other marginalized people groups in what is called the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF). Al Hilu is the Chief of the Joint Military Command of the SRF. Other leaders include former Blue Nile State Governor Malik Agar and a number of the leaders of the Darfurian rebel movements. There is also the hope for participation by the Beja Congress of eastern Sudan and the Nubians from the far north, two ancient, indigenous people groups.

Sudan’s marginalized peoples comprise 87 percent of Sudan’s population but Al Hilu explained to McConnell that the root cause of the conflict in the Nuba Mountains is that “Khartoum doesn’t want to recognize the diversity in the country.” He said that the NCP regime is “going for a monolithic type of state, based on only two parameters, that is Arabism and Islam.” Al Hilu believes in true religious freedom for all and a secular democracy based on the vision of the “New Sudan” of his late friend Dr. John Garang de Mabior. He said that Khartoum has “no place for anybody who is not a Muslim, who is not an Arab.” “Somebody like me, I am a Muslim but I am not an Arab,” he said. “They say I must accept, I must put on a jellaba and turban and dance the way Bashir is doing!”

It would seem to be the opportune time to support Sudanese that desire true democratic transformation of the country. The desperate, starving people of the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile will probably die unless Khartoum’s genocide is stopped. The military success of the SPLA-North and the coordination growing between all of Sudan’s marginalized people groups, including many Arab Sudanese in the north, has created a strong pro-democracy force in the country. The alternative is shamefully to continue to enable the regime of an ICC-indicted war criminal, responsible for the death of millions of his own people. Stating that the international community has a “problem with memory,” Al Hilu marveled that this is the same Bashir “who introduced Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda to the world.”

One week – not one year – after demonstrations started in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, President Obama urged President Hosni Mubarak to step down. There was violence and repression in the Egyptian uprising, but nothing on the level of what is taking place in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. Yet the brutality and genocide by President Omar al-Bashir have not caused Obama and the international community to demand that he step down.

The Arab uprising in Libya began February 17, 2011. By the 26th the UN Security Council had condemned Gadhafi’s crackdown on the rebels as a violation of international law. By March 17, the UN had created the kind of no-fly zone for which the Nuba people have been pleading for a year. Not long after, the U.S. was using Tomahawk cruise missiles on the Gadhafi regime. Unlike the SPLA-North that took on Khartoum by itself, the so-called Libyan freedom fighters needed the United States and other Western nations to come and fight their battles for them as if non-Muslim nations were their personal Mamluks. The double standard is breathtaking, and particularly now, when Egypt is in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), and Libya is controlled by Al Qaeda/Osama Bin Laden affiliates such as Islamist terrorist Abdulhakim Belhadj, who received training in Sudan.

If the U.S. government and the international community are not going to support the SPLA-North and the Sudan Revolutionary Front, at least they should not stand in the way of their own courageous and sacrificial fight for freedom. Al Hilu reveals to the press what Sudan advocates have observed all along, “In this conflict between the Nuba and the center [Khartoum] we are not allowed to fight freely, there is intervention always … Always there is pressure on the South, on the Nuba, on the marginalized people, the poor people … They make us go to the table to talk but there is no action.”

The Obama administration’s special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Princeton Lyman, would seem to confirm the truth of Al Hilu’s observation. In a December Alsharq Al-Awsat newspaper interview with Lyman, one hopes that there are Arabic-to-English translation problems, because what Lyman said does not make much sense when faced with the reality of the identity and agenda of the Islamist regime in Khartoum.

Asked if the U.S. is hoping that the Arab Spring will spread to Sudan, Lyman said, “Frankly, we do not want to see the ouster of the [Sudanese] regime, nor regime change. We want to see the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures.” The interviewer then asked Lyman if he considered Bashir to be a military dictator. He replied, “We are not dealing with al-Bashir directly, particularly as the International Criminal Court [ICC] has accused him of violating human rights and being responsible for war crimes and genocide in Darfur.” The interviewer pressed, “How is it possible for Washington to engage with the al-Bashir government, but not deal directly with Omar al-Bashir himself?” And Lyman said, “Our position is clear with regards to the ICC accusations [against Omar al-Bashir] but we are now concentrating on fostering stability in all parts of Sudan and South Sudan, as well as establishing friendly relations between the two after long years of conflict.”

In his column, Kristof reacts to Lyman’s declaration of the U.S. position, “Huh? This is a regime whose leader has been charged with genocide, has destabilized the region, has sponsored brutal proxy warlords like Joseph Kony, has presided over the deaths of more than 2.5 million people in southern Sudan, in Darfur and in the Nuba Mountains — and the Obama administration doesn’t want him overthrown?” Meanwhile, as innocent civilians are dying in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State, or have reached refugee camps in South Sudan or elsewhere only to succumb to battle with starvation and thirst and die there, statements such as this only embolden the NCP regime to continue bombing. They harden the regime to any thought of allowing food aid to cross the border and be provided to those who need it the most.

Some may argue that the U.S. is concerned that regime change could usher in an even worse regime. But it is hard to conceive of anything worse than Omar al-Bashir and the entire NCP regime – at least if you have been on the receiving side of global jihad. And it is the U.S. and the UN whose morally equivalent value system requires that they give as much weight to the claims of leadership of NCP throwbacks like Hassan al Turabi and his Popular Congress Party, Sadiq al-Mahdi and the Umma Party, and fellow Caliphate builders who represent only 13 percent of Sudan’s population.

Instead the U.S. government and the international community should be supporting Al Hilu and the SRF. Al Hilu, when asked how the conflict will end, stated, “We are working for regime change, for complete transformation, for writing a new constitution, a democratic constitution that recognizes diversity, that accepts the liberal values of justice, equality, individualism. We want to achieve lasting peace and justice in this country.” Perhaps thinking of the U.S. State Department, Al Hilu said, “Some may say we are not qualified to reach this but I think it is possible.” It would be the best thing for Sudan and for security the world over if he is correct.

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  • StephenD

    "And in the face of this genocide, the Obama Administration has been silent in every significant sense…."

    You are so wrong with this. The President, even before there was a South Sudan, took action. He granted a waiver to Sudan to continue to receive US Tax Dollars in aid even if they use children as soldiers.

    Think on this for a moment. Do you think these kids volunteer? What happens to the girls in these villages where the boys are kidnapped into the Army? The regime getting our tax dollars rightly sees this as a quasi- approval of what it is doing. After all, if we were against it we would condition our aid thusly; But not Obama. Nosiree. HE took decisive action…just not the right sort of action you'd expect from a humane government. EXACTLY the type of action you’d expect from a closet Islamist which will help shore up North Sudan (Islamist) against its enemy, South Sudan (predominantly Christian).

  • Bud McFarlan

    " The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him."
    Niccolo Machiavelli

    Perhaps the Rev. Jeremiah Wright will be sent to negotiate a treaty between the two sides….or perhaps Debbie Wasserman…or perhaps Valerie Jarrett.

  • http://www.theird.org Faith McDonnell

    @Stephen – If you are talking about child soldiers, you should really focus on the hideously brutal Joseph Kony and the LRA. There was ALWAYS a South Sudan, it was just not officially a country yet. And are you speaking of the North (Khartoum) having child soldiers, or the SPLA? There were many unusual circumstances with the SPLA during the north/south war, and the world community, the moral equivalence crowd exaggerated the issue of child soldiers in the SPLA while denying the hundreds of thousands that Khartoum’s Baggara had taken as slaves from South Sudan and the Nuba Mountains. And we have had sanctions against Sudan (Khartoum) for years – that is why people who say the U.S. wants Sudan’s oil and others resources were either lying or clueless. Those of us who were advocates for South Sudan pushed and pushed to get a waiver JUST for South Sudan (SPLA controlled regions) so that they might be able to at least start having some development, industry, etc.

    • StephenD

      Specifically, Obama has granted waivers for the continuation of US aid to Chad, Yemen, Congo, and Sudan. Regardless of the "reasoning" used, there can be no justification for EVER granting such a waiver. Under what circumstances could you see advocating using children as soldiers. In the last stand for survival you hand a child a weapon perhaps but you don't march him out against an enemy. There is no excuse for these waivers. This is…evil.

  • Mel

    Another great article Faith. Thanks for your tireless pursuit of freedom and justice for Sudan's suffering people. Unfortunately there is little hope that anything is going to change for the better vis a vis Sudan if we are relying on the Obama administration. Obama is psychologically incapable of doing anything that would offend the Muslim Brotherhood or its Saudi funders; even to the point where he knowingly and deliberately stands by, allowing genocide, ethnic cleansing, and slavery to take place with impunity. How this contrasts with all his pre-election rhetoric! If Bush today were to repost his post 9-11 ultimatum "you are either with us, or you are with the terrorists", Obama would stand — as his support for the terrorist Sudan regime clearly demonstrates — clearly "with the terrorists".

    • faithiej

      Thanks, Mel. Sadly, you're so right. I hope my Sudanese American friends who voted for Obama have learned the truth!

  • Lawrence

    Anywhere Muslims are killing Christians Obama never is concerned. When it is the other way round he and Mrs Clinton will fire from all cylinders. The cases at hand: Northern Nigeria and the South Kordofan. What have Christians done to Obama? Why does he hate them so much?

    • Linda Rivera

      A Muslim's allegiance is not to the country they reside in. It is to totalitarian, colonizing, expansionist Islam. The Koran war book commands Muslims to conquer all nations.

      Obama: "My Muslim Faith" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKGdkqfBICw

  • Linda Rivera

    Article: Al Hilu marveled that this is the same Bashir “who introduced Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda to the world.”

    Al Hilu is apparently not aware that American leaders consistently take the side of the most radical Muslim terrorists in country after country. In fact America, created Al-Qaeda.

    Hillary Clinton : We created Al-Qaeda http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dqn0bm4E9yw

    Hillary Clinton Admits US and Al-Qaeda On Same Side in Syria http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmNRcDexVcY

    Christians in Syria are living in daily fear. The terrified Christians are being specifically targeted for attacks and killings by the U.S. backed opposition in Syria.

    It comes as no surprise that the Obama/Clinton/Holder George Soros administration will not speak a word or so much as lift a finger to help the innocents of the Nuba Mountains and other places, who are in such desperate need of our assistance. Please God, surround them with your holy angels! Help and protect them!

    • HighPressure

      Didn't Hillary's Husband support the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) who was trained by Bin Laden to wipe out the Christian Minority and tried to bomb Serbia back to the Stone Age. Didn't Clinton create false stories about 100s of thousands being genocidally wiped out by Serbia when the oposite was true. About 6000 were killed and 40% were Christian when they were only 15% of the population. So Hillary is right. We did support Al Qaeda… well atleast Madeline Halfbright and Bill Clinton did.

  • Linda Rivera

    The founder of Islam, Mohammad, married a six year old child when he was in his fifties. Mohammad was a HUGE slave trader. Mohammad murdered/beheaded several hundred Jewish men because of the Jews enormous love for, and allegiance to our Wonderful Creator. The loyal Jews refused to follow another god and the new religion of Mohammad. The Jews' wives and children were seized for slaves.

    Mohammad is regarded as the PERFECT man and role model for devout Muslims who follow their religion. And that is the problem. There is no love, no mercy, no compassion for innocent humanity in Islam.

    It is impossible for representatives from Muslim countries at the UN to protect the human rights of non-Muslims. The UN should be abolished. Americans and other non-Muslims should not be forced to finance the RABIDLY ANTI-HUMAN RIGHTS Muslim/Leftist dominated UN.

  • Linda Rivera

    Hundreds of thousands of Black Sudanese Christian children and women have been taken for slaves by Sudan's Arab Muslims.

    Jihad Slavery in Sudan, with Dr Charles Jacobs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NP4Fcx7AE_o

    May every slave be free one day!

    • HighPressure

      Yes, the slave trade is alive and well in the Muslim world.

  • Linda Rivera

    "Al Hilu believes in true religious freedom for all and a secular democracy based on the vision of the “New Sudan” of his late friend Dr. John Garang de Mabior. He said that Khartoum has “no place for anybody who is not a Muslim, who is not an Arab.” “Somebody like me, I am a Muslim"

    Al Hilu is a hero!