US preparing to divide Sudan a la East Timor
SOURCE: Crescent Magazine Online
Washington DC, Crescent-online
November 9, 2010, 0900 DST
The US has offered to take Sudan off its list of terror-exporting countries—the infamous “axis of terror” list—if it agrees to a referendum that will lead to the south as well as Darfur (in the south west) separating from northern Sudan. The referendum opens the secession of southern Sudan to a vote, and conditions in the region have been stoked so much that politicians are confident most people will vote for separation.
Most of Sudan’s oil resources are located in the south. In recent years, the Darfur crisis has been added to the list. It is widely trumpeted in the media as a human rights issue, in preparation for gaining control of the country’s oil resources. As part of this campaign, the Save Darfur Coalition, headed by David Rubenstein and Ambassador Lawrence Rossin, brought George Clooney on board to popularize it more widely. The US-engineered secession of East Timor from Indonesia is a close parallel to the Darfur issue.
While the north-south divide is presented in terms of Muslim-Arab north’ versus ‘Christian-animist-south’, the same labels do not apply to Darfur where almost everyone is Muslim. Thus, the issue is presented in terms of Arabs in the north versus Africans in Darfur.
The Darfur crisis has been characterized as a civil war by playing on racial tensions to politicize the issue. In one of his news conferences on behalf of Save Darfur, George Clooney declared that Americans must involve themselves on behalf of the Christians in Darfur because they are obligated to be “their brother’s keeper.”
Americans, and indeed most people in the West, are ignorant of the fact that there are no Christians in Darfur!
The deal about referendum in Darfur was first offered in September, and the Sudanese government initially agreed. However, the latest media offensive follows Khartoum’s reluctance to allow partition of the country. Not only has the US made removal of the terrorist label contingent on the referendum, it will not go into effect till 2011 or 2012 and then further requires violence in the region to abate. Other incentives are also being offered, such as delivery of agricultural equipment, debt relief, and lifting of sanctions.
“I believe a broad agreement is within reach if they act with the sense of urgency that is necessary to seize this historic opportunity,” said Senator John Kerry, one of the prime architects of this deal, on November 7 as he left Sudan.