Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Gérard Prunier, "Sudan in a fix," openDemocracy, June 25, 2008.

Sudan and more recently, Darfur, were once obsessions of the Canadian news media. Now they are relegated to the backpages, but nothing has improved. -jlt]

The likelihood of peace in Darfur is close to zero; the likelihood of an SPLM electoral victory that would lead to national peace in 2009 is very low; and the likelihood of the CPA being fully and fairly implemented is not much better. That leaves the Sudanese in the position of either accepting the indefinite continuation of the present regime with all its faults, or of returning to war at some point between 2009 and 2012. Neither is an attractive choice.

The complex interplay of interconnected conflicts in Sudan and its neighbourhood retains the capacity to surprise. A case in point is the moment on 10 May 2008 when the war in the country's western province of Darfur suddenly arrived in the capital, with an attack on Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman by one of the leading Darfuri rebel movements, the Justice & Equality Movement (JEM) led by Khalil Ibrahim.

The attack

This assault has been variously interpreted: as a thoughtless, reckless adventure whose results were likely to be catastrophic; as an attempt to spark a revolution through commando-style violence, a sort of jihadist variant of Che Guevara's foco strategy; and as a proxy effort by Chad's president Idriss Déby to overthrow the Khartoum regime, in retaliation for a similar Sudan-sponsored foray against Ndjamena on 1 February 2008.

The attack

In reality the enterprise combined some elements of all these things - and yet was as a whole none of them. It was indeed a madly adventurous commando-like operation with Chadian support; but it was also an attempt to exploit the deep tensions inside the Khartoum regime through the promised revolt of a number of army units in support of Khalil's (thus not-so-mad) dash across the terrain of central Sudan towards his target.

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