A Journey of a Thousand Steps

The Challenges of State and Nation Building in South Sudan

by Marie-Joëlle Zahar
published in MER259

On July 9, 2011, South Sudan will officially become independent. When southern Sudanese voted in the January 9 referendum on independence, they sought to affirm their African identity and shed the Arab identity that they felt had been imposed upon them by successive regimes in Khartoum. They also signaled their desire to be masters of their own destiny, displaying their lack of trust in the north’s ability to meet their demands for fair sharing of wealth and power. But Africa’s newest state will continue to share characteristics with the “old” Sudan that, if they are not addressed, bode ill for its prospects of a peaceful, democratic future.

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What's New in the New Sudan?

by Dan Connell
published in MER212

The hum of approaching aircraft sends residents of this dusty rebel outpost scurrying for cover. The over-flights may be the United Nations planes from Operation Lifeline Sudan carrying famine relief -- or Sudanese Air Force Antonov-27s searching for signs of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), whose army, the SPLA, controls most of the southern third of this strife-torn country. Battle-weary civilians take no chances. Random -- and mostly ineffective -- air raids have increased throughout the contested south since a “humanitarian cease-fire” broke down last summer. The government has sought to pressure the SPLM to accept a wider truce rather than extending the previous one only in the famine-wracked Bahr el Ghazal region.

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The Political Roots of Famine in Southern Sudan

by Jeff Drumtra
published in MER208

Given that a large contingent of foreign aid workers and UN representatives has been on the scene in Sudan for a decade, why did no one foresee the current famine in southern Sudan, which is affecting more than a million people?

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Sudan's Referendum Amidst Revolution

by Edward Thomas
published in MER258

On February 7, 2011, the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission presented President Omar al-Bashir and First Vice President Salva Kiir with the results of the January 2011 vote on southern self-determination. It was a formality: During the three-week voting tabulation process, both presidents had publicly accepted the credibility of the vote and the overwhelming majority for southern secession, which turned out to be 98.83 percent. There was some apprehension that Husni Mubarak, then still president of Egypt, might resign on the same day. But Mubarak managed to hang on for another week, securing for Sudan second billing on Al Jazeera’s evening news when, 55 years after independence, it decided to split into two countries.

Migration, Modernity and Islam in Rural Sudan

by Victoria Bernal
published in MER211

For the villagers of Wad al-Abbas in northern Sudan, transnational migration has generated new understandings of what it means to be a Muslim. From the mid-1970s through the 1980s, Wad al-Abbas’s incorporation into the global economy was mediated primarily by Saudi Arabia. The Saudi kingdom exerted influence on Sudan at the national level by pressuring then-President Numeiri to institute shari‘a law in 1983 and funding opposition groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. At the same time, Saudi Arabia attracted ordinary Sudanese from all walks of life as labor migrants. Villagers from Wad al-Abbas found work in Saudi Arabia as truck drivers, electricians, factory workers and sales clerks.

Scenarios of Southern Sudanese Secession

by Chris Toensing , Amanda Ufheil-Somers
published in MER256

In January 2011, if they are allowed to, the people of the southern provinces of Sudan will almost certainly vote to declare the independence of South Sudan from the north. The referendum is to be the culmination of an armistice in the longest-running civil conflict in Africa, between the Sudanese government seated in Khartoum and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) of the south. Said to have killed some 2 million people, and displaced 4 million more, the north-south war has largely been in abeyance since the conclusion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed by the parties in Naivasha, Kenya on January 9, 2005.

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Darfur: Worst Humanitarian Crisis

by Maren Milligan | published August 24, 2004

“The worst humanitarian crisis in the world today”—so relief agencies and news reports refer to the catastrophe still unfolding in the westernmost Sudanese province of Darfur. With the United Nations estimating that 50,000 people have been killed and 1 million displaced, the description is apt.

But the dead and uprooted Darfuris are not victims of a natural disaster or even a localized civil conflict. Rather, the Darfur tragedy is symptomatic of a larger syndrome afflicting several regions of Sudan.

Elections Are Key to Darfur Crisis

by Khalid Mustafa Medani | published March 7, 2009

It has been quite a week. For the first time, the international community indicted a sitting president of a sovereign state. Omar al-Bashir of Sudan stands accused by the International Criminal Court in The Hague of “crimes against humanity and war crimes” committed in the course of the Khartoum regime’s brutal suppression of the revolt in the country’s far western province of Darfur. Having indicted two other figures associated with the regime in 2007, ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo began building a case against the man at the top, and on Wednesday, the court issued a warrant for Bashir’s arrest.

The Hazy Path Forward in Sudan

by Sarah Washburne | published March 24, 2009

On the day after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, the wanted man addressed a pre-planned rally of thousands in front of the presidential palace in Khartoum. Bashir was defiant, denouncing the warrant as “neo-colonialism,” and praising his supporters in Martyrs’ Square as “grandsons of the mujahideen,” a reference to the participants in the Mahdiyya uprising against Anglo-Egyptian rule in 1885. The atmosphere was almost one of jubilation; one might have mistaken the crowds for soccer fans celebrating a win.

Wanted: Omar al-Bashir -- and Peace in Sudan

by Khalid Mustafa Medani | published March 5, 2009

For the first time, the international community has indicted a sitting president of a sovereign state. Omar al-Bashir of Sudan stands accused by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague of “crimes against humanity and war crimes” committed in the course of the Khartoum regime’s brutal suppression of the revolt in the country’s far western province of Darfur. Having indicted two other figures associated with the regime in 2007, ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo began building a case against the man at the top, and on March 4, the court issued a warrant for Bashir’s arrest.