A Tale of Two Secessions in the Sahara

by George R. Trumbull IV
published in MER264

The March 2001 destruction of the Buddhas of Bamyan, Afghanistan, introduced a new loanword into the Euro-American political vocabulary. The Taliban’s new explosion into world consciousness catalyzed, until September of that year, more hand wringing than substantive investigation of their social origins, political meaning and global import. Similarly, the July 2012 desecration of saintly burial markers in Timbuktu, Mali, tombs that were among the greatest monuments of Islamic Africa, has largely failed to register as more than cultural vandalism. These crimes against the cultural heritage of the Islamic world may presage far graver damage to the people of the Sahara.

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Understanding the Prospects and Challenges for Another Popular Intifada in Sudan

by Khalid Mustafa Medani | published June 27, 2012

While the attention of the Western and Arab media has focused on the historic victory of the Muslim Brotherhood’s presidential candidate in Egypt, street protests of a scale not witnessed for two decades continued into their second week in Khartoum and other major Sudanese cities. Anti-government protests, initially led by students from the University of Khartoum, have inspired similar nationwide demonstrations in al-Obeid, Kosti, al-Gadaref, Port Sudan, Wad Medani and Atbara.

War Returns to the Two Sudans

by Amanda Ufheil-Somers | published May 9, 2012

After weeks of escalating border violence and heated rhetoric, war has returned to the Sudans. The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) formally ended 40 years of civil war between north and south Sudan, and paved the way for the creation of the Republic of South Sudan, Africa’s newest independent state. But the CPA was comprehensive in name only: It left details of border demarcation, economic cooperation and political reform unspecified and without mechanisms for enforcement. During the six years of shared government between north and south mandated by the CPA, little progress was made toward settling these issues; instead of encouraging cooperation, the arrangement functioned further to bifurcate political power in the hands of the agreement’s official partners, the National Congress Party (NCP) in the north and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the south. The SPLM came to dominate a sovereign government following southerners’ vote to secede from the Khartoum-centered state in January 2011. Post-secession negotiations hosted in Addis Ababa have only inched along while both governments -- as well as their various allied militias -- have tried to use force to alter the facts on the ground.

The Sudan Split

How US Policy Became Predicated on Secession

by Mimi Kirk
published in MER262

On July 9, 2011, tens of thousands of South Sudanese gathered in the capital city of Juba at the mausoleum of rebel leader John Garang to celebrate the creation of their new state. Six months earlier, these jubilant crowds had voted in a referendum for independence from northern Sudan; more than 98 percent cast their ballots in favor of secession.

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The Famine This Time

by Gayle Smith
published in MER166

Gayle Smith coordinates the Africa program at the Washington-based Development Group for Alternative Policies. In the past ten years she has worked extensively in the Horn of Africa on relief and development issues. Her most recent trip to Ethiopia and Sudan was in June 1990. She spoke with Joe Stork in Washington.

Compared to the famine of 1984-1985, what is the scope of the problem in the Horn today?

In terms of numbers, the famine is somewhat less severe than it was five years ago. There are an estimated 5 million in need as opposed to 7-9 million in 1984-1985. Just over 1 million of these people are in Eritrea; another 2.2 million live in Tigray. The rest live elsewhere in the north of Ethiopia, areas now also affected by the war.

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Absolute Distress

Structural Causes of Hunger in Sudan

by Mark Duffield
published in MER166

Most discussion of the food crisis in Africa is a model in which subsistence economies remain essentially intact and food insecurity is a transitory phenomenon, the result of external factors such as drought or war which temporarily upset the normal balance between sufficiency and dearth. My experience suggests that in Sudan subsistence economies have all but disappeared. Food insecurity no longer defines one or another period but is a constant condition of the market economy that has come to dominate the country.

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An Interview with Francis Deng

by Khalid Mustafa Medani
published in MER172

Francis Deng is a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies program at the Brookings Institution in Washington and a visiting lecturer at Yale Law School. He served as Sudan’s ambassador to Canada from 1980-1983, to the United States from 1974-1976 and to Scandanavian countries from 1972-1974. He was minister of state for foreign affairs from 1976-1980. Khalid Medani interviewed him in Washington in late June 1991.

How would you assess the impact of the Bashir regime on Sudanese society?

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Where Famine Is Functional

Actual Adjustment and the Politics of Relief in Sudan

by Mark Duffield
published in MER172

Images of African famine once again scan Western television screens, prompting a renewed search for causes and solutions. In this worried atmosphere it is easy to overlook that international relief operations have now become a widespread and accepted response to this unfolding crisis. While Sudan and Ethiopia spring to mind, such interventions have also occurred in Uganda, Mozambique, Angola and Liberia.

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The National Islamic Front and the Politics of Education

by Ali Abdalla Abbas
published in MER172

In a country like Sudan, those with access to education become the object of intense competition on the part of political parties of all stripes, especially those with no traditional base of support. Secondary schools and especially universities become the hunting ground -- and sometimes the killing ground -- for groups whose success on campus represents a shortcut to political hegemony in the country. Whatever the nature of their rhetoric about “the people,” these parties rely on elites, recalling the crucial role that the Graduates Congress played in Sudan’s struggle for independence. Sections of the elite were again instrumental in toppling military regimes in October 1964 and April 1985. [1]

"The Regime Has Simply Barricaded Itself in Khartoum"

An Interview with Bona Malwal

by Joe Stork
published in MER172

Bona Malwal was elected to the Sudanese parliament in 1968. He was minister for culture and information from 1972 to 1978 and minister of finance and economic planning for the south from 1980 to 1981. His English-language newspaper, the Sudan Times, was banned when the current regime seized power in June 1989. He now lives in Britain and publishes the Sudan Democratic Gazette. Joe Stork and Gayle Smith interviewed him in Washington in June 1991.

Will the developments in Ethiopia and Eritrea make it more or less difficult to move things forward in Sudan?

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