By increasing business with Sudan, the UK would be rewarding a country whose head of state is still wanted for war crimes
The new UK government has made it clear that an important priority of its foreign policy will be to promote British trade and investment abroad. But recent remarks in Sudan by the Africa minister, Henry Bellingham, raise concerns that, by blindly pursuing commercial interests, the UK runs the risk of undermining international efforts to protect human rights and promote justice for serious abuses.
Trade is not only generally good for Britain. It can also benefit the UK's trading partners, because in the right circumstances trade stimulates wealth and economic development, which in turn can support another objective of UK foreign policy ?€“ poverty reduction. But trade with countries that are run by abusive and corrupt governments does not necessarily benefit the people of those countries. By consolidating the wealth and centralising the power of repressive leaders, trade can perpetuate and entrench the abuse and impunity that impede democratisation and development.
Sudan is a good example. Over the past 15 years, research by Human Rights Watch and others has shown how exploitation of Sudan's oil resources has fomented armed conflict and serious human rights abuses. In the late 1990s, an international outcry against abuses tied to the development of oil resources led to the withdrawal of Talisman Energy from a lucrative oil project in Sudan, and to the United States further extending a broad range of sanctions on Sudan.
Since then the ruling National Congress party has consolidated its domination of most industrial and commercial interests. Some of its development and industrial projects, such as the dam construction projects that led to forced displacements in northern Sudan, have clear human rights implications. There is little to indicate that Sudan's oil bonanza has been used for the benefit of Sudan's people.
Furthermore, the government has committed horrendous abuses against civilians in the course of its military operations against rebels in Darfur. In 2005 the United Nations security council ?€“ of which the UK is a permanent member ?€“ referred Sudan to the international criminal court (ICC) with the aim of achieving justice for the crimes committed in Darfur. But five years later the Sudanese government continues to thumb its nose at the court, which has issued an arrest warrant against the Sudanese president, a current governor in Sudan and a militia leader for atrocities committed in Darfur.
In 2007, the Bush administration broadened its sanctions against Sudan, and those sanctions remain in place. In contrast, during his visit to Sudan in July, Bellingham suggested that the UK was now looking to balance human rights concerns with a desire to increase business with Sudan.
"We feel the government of Sudan should co-operate with the court on the existing arrest warrants," Bellingham said. "But on the other hand we don't have an argument with the Sudanese people and it would quite perverse and wrong for us to not encourage trade because trade equals wealth."
Of course the UK should not seek to punish the Sudanese people simply because President Omar al-Bashir and others are wanted by the ICC. But is it right or sensible, even in the current straitened economic circumstances, for the UK to make a deliberate push to advance business ties with a country whose head of state is wanted for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide? Given the economic and political realities in Sudan, such an effort is more likely to line the pockets of leaders implicated in rights violations than to benefit ordinary people in Sudan.
The UK government needs to think carefully about the message it is sending to the Sudanese government. Bashir and his cronies will take a lot of comfort from the fact that the UK, hitherto one of the staunchest supporters of the ICC, is now calling for increased commercial ties with Sudan. Khartoum will be especially gratified because the UN security council has also failed to respond to a decision by ICC judges last May that Sudan is in clear violation of its obligation to co-operate with the court.
Britain should explain what kind of business it wants to pursue in Sudan and what kind of guarantees it has in place to ensure that increased trade there will not benefit war criminals. The UK should also spell out its plans to increase pressure on Sudan to co-operate with the ICC. Unless the UK can be clear on these points, it will be hard to avoid the conclusion that by pushing for greater trading ties with Sudan, the UK is tolerating, perhaps even rewarding, those who are evading justice for heinous crimes.
If the UK is seeking to boost its trading ties with Sudan, which country is next on its list? Zimbabwe? Burma? North Korea? Iran? They are looking for trade and investment, too.
Security forces' tactics only prove the weakness of governments and show the people's will has still not been suppressed
The Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) is carrying out "a brutal campaign of arbitrary detentions, torture and mental and physical intimidation against opponents and critics of the government", Amnesty International said in a report last month.
For anyone who imagines that the amn (security forces) ?€“ who were a ubiquitous part of life in Khartoum in the years after the 1989 military coup ?€“ have been scaled down now that the government has established itself more firmly, this report, with its harrowing details of kidnappings and incarcerations in "ghost houses", comes as a stark reminder that the campaign of intimidation continues.
The NISS, the report says:
"Retains the core functions it had in the first few years following the 1989 coup. More than 20 years later, the NISS still dominates many areas of life in Sudan and benefits from extensive powers of arrest and detention under the national security acts of 1999 and 2010."
Its activity peaks during times of political instability or turbulence. Arbitrary arrests are often more a litmus test of the government's sense of insecurity at the time, as opposed to a sign that there has been any increased activity (even of a non-political nature). In June, doctors in Khartoum were attacked during a peaceful gathering to protest over pay and work conditions. Public order laws are invoked to encompass everything from what is deemed to be socially inappropriate (see Lubna Hussein's trousers and recent arrests of fashion-show organisers) to what is perceived to be a security threat.
Extra-military bodies of this kind also abound in other Arab countries in different guises. Their legal standing is always ambiguous, since they are not necessarily a part of the local or national police force, nor the military, but a hybrid that has fewer restrictions and more impunity. The amn, or mukhabarat (intelligence), cover everything from public order to national security.
Like Napoleon's dogs in Animal Farm, the glorified thugs that form the lower ranks patrol neighbourhoods and arbitrarily persecute and impound sometimes on a whim, and other times with strict instructions from above. Their mandate is so generous, their remit so unregulated that incidents of abuse are common, with members acting out their own personal agenda.
Not only ambiguous in nature, they are abundant in number, with only slightly varying job descriptions. The state is so bloated, and there are so many different types of security concerns, that these bodies develop to handle them on an ad hoc basis and then flourish. It's a scattergun approach. Anything from the publication of a book of poems to student union elections can be seen as a threat to the government.
They range from the official formal outfits such as the powerful and omnipresent mukhabarat in Egypt and Jordan, to the more makeshift organisations such as the mutawwa (the "volunteers" of the religious police in Saudi Arabia) who haul errant members of the public into trucks for misdemeanours as minor as flamboyant haircuts.
In Egypt, in a resourceful example of security outsourcing, local men masquerading as concerned citizens in inner city neighbourhoods are recruited to snoop, spy and sometimes aggressively quash agitators.
It is no wonder then that confusion reigns. In Yemen last month, a journalist was abducted in the street by armed men and the police began an investigation. Amid speculation that he had been kidnapped by a local tribe with al-Qaida connections, it emerged that he had, in fact, been snatched by the government's political security organisation, who had not bothered to inform the police.
Due to the huge gulf between government and citizens, these security services play a vital role in maintaining the status quo. Indeed, during the few times of political transition in the Arab world (usually due to the death of a monarch or president), where there has been a fleeting vacuum of power, they have stepped in to ensure that the fabric of governance is not rent asunder.
Their role in the meantime is not only to suppress rebellion, but to pre-empt it, by identifying and stifling any intellectual or social activity that, on appearance, may be benign but in a climate of totalitarian control might be the spark that lights the flame of change. By default, anything could open the floodgates: the tiniest crack in the security stronghold might compromise the whole structure as the magnitude of repressed tensions and grievances comes crashing down.
If anything, the omnipresence of security forces in the Arab world does not prove the might of governments, but their weakness. Far from being a depressing phenomenon, it is an indication that the will of the people, even after all these years of targeted crackdowns, is still not suppressed. As long as an uneasy "security" is imposed from above, the agents of fear cannot afford to rest easy.
- - -(Nyala - smc) - SOUTH Darfur government directed the Engineering Department in the State to start the preliminary survey in Bilail area and the southern areas of Nyala selected to be the alternative IDPs camp instead of Kalma camp.
South Darfur Deputy Governor, Dr. Abdul Karim told (smc) that Kalma IDPs camp will be transferred to the new site in agreement with UNAMID, UN, NGOs and the IDPS themselves.
He said that Kalma IDPs camp became one of the security threats, expressing their intension to construct two big camps with 25 ?€“ 30 thousands IDPS capacity provided with all basic services adding the area of each residence will be 150 ?€“ 200 square meters.
He pointed out that the machineries of the work were directed to the new sites to start implementation, adding that all the NGOs working in the humanitarian activities in the State visited the new sites and expressed satisfaction with.
He said that the government shouldered all the construction expenses, affirming the IDPs movement to the new sites will not start unless the construction work is completed.
It is to be noted that Kalma IDPs camp witnessed in the recent days violations from armed groups which brought arms to the camp a matter that agitated chaos inside the camp.
- - -Security situation update
THE situation in Kalma Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in South Darfur remains tense. Intensified patrols by UNAMID forces have led to a significant decrease in cases of gunfire overnight. UNAMID Deputy Joint Special Representative Mohamed Yonis, Force Commander Patrick Nyamvumba and Acting Police Commissioner Adeyemi Ogunjemilusi today travelled to Nyala to confer with state authorities concerning recent developments.
The majority of Kalma?€™s sectors have reported improvements in security, with IDPs returning to their homes and resuming normal activities.
UNAMID, Government dig security trench around Nyala
Responding to the increase in incidence of kidnappings and carjackings in Nyala, South Darfur, targeting the international community in particular, UNAMID and the local government have agreed to work together to construct a security trench which will span the town?€™s perimeter.
UNAMID?€™s Chinese Engineering Company began work on Sunday on the Mission?€™s half of the trench. The measure is designed to reduce the high incidence of criminality by regulating travel to and from the town. While limiting entry and exit through small roads, the town will remain fully accessible through major roads and highways.
The trench, measuring 2 meters deep and 2 meters wide, will span approximately 40 kilometers long and is expected to be completed within 4 to 5 weeks. Local authorities will provide 24 hour protection for UNAMID equipment and personnel until the project?€™s completion.
UNAMID military forces conducted 87 patrols including routine, short-range, long-range, night and humanitarian escort patrols covering 69 villages and IDP camps.
UNAMID police advisors conducted 164 patrols in villages and IDP camps.
- - -IN southern Sudan, the blueprints are unveiled for regional cities shaped as animals and fruits.
At a cost of $10bn (£6.4bn) Juba will be designed in the shape of a rhinoceros. Wau will become a giraffe. Yambio will be shaped like a pineapple.
Juba is the capital of the region ?€“ plans are to make if the capital of the new state of South Sudan. Guess where the office of the regional president will be situated. At the back? Somewhere down between the legs? No, it?€™s where the rhinoceros?€™s eye should be.
Over in Wau, the sewage treatment plant is appropriately placed under the giraffe?€™s tail.
All good stuff. But cities have a habit to sprawl and the rhino might well develop a tumour or just spread until it resembles Lagos, which from space resembles a dog squatting on a huge toilet?€?
The plans were unveiled by the Undersecretary for Housing and Physical Planning, Daniel Wani. The plan is earmarked to cost over £10bn. Southern Sudan?€™s total annual budget this year is less than $2 billion.
He says:The thing soon starts to look like a PR stunt to draw interest to a region bereft of funds and ravaged by a civil war that ended in 2005?€??€œJuba, as an example, is a slum city. So our plan is to create a nuclear city outside Juba,?€ he said. ?€œWe have been given land 15 kilometers west of Juba by the state, and we met the community, they are excited to give us this land. We call it Rhino City. And equally also we have been given land in the other nine capitals.?€
AUGUST 16, 2010
AUGUST 16, 2010
AUGUST 14, 2010
- - -Sudan plans to build a nuclear reactor for peaceful purposes by 2020, the SUNA state news agency reported Sunday.
Sudan has noted economic and political ties with Iran, which has been facing increasing sanctions and international pressure over its nuclear program.
Like Iran, Sudan is under US sanctions, and has been since 1997.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is planning to travel to Sudan on August 23 to discuss importing a nuclear reactor for ?€œresearch purposes.?€
SUNA said Sudan began plans to develop a nuclear program early this year.
Although Sudan has built dams along the Blue and White Nile Rivers, large parts of the country do not have regular electricity, Reuters reported.
Muhammad Ahmed Hassan el-Tayeb, director-general of the Sudanese Atomic Energy Agency, was quoted as saying ?€œThe Ministry of Electricity and Dams has already started preparing for the project to produce power from nuclear energy in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and is expected to build the first nuclear power plant in the year 2020.?€
ABYEI'S REFERENDUM LAW DOES NOT GUARANTEE VOTING RIGHTS TO ARAB MISSERIYA?
(KHARTOUM) - Members of an Arab nomadic tribe are settling in a contested region straddling north and south Sudan, hoping to vote in referendum next year that will define its status, a Sudanese official said on Sunday.
Members of the Misseriya tribe, who are accused by southerners of being close to the Khartoum government, are said to be moving into parts of Abyei, the chief administrator of the region Deng Arop Kuol told reporters in the Sudanese capital.
"The issue that is concerning the people of Abyei and troubling them very much is the issue of settlement that is taking place within the boundaries of Abyei," Kuol said.
"It is the Misseriya who are settling in those areas. The target is to settle in 20 locations in the area north of Abyei and they already started to settle in those areas now," he said.
"We are getting information that they intend to settle 25,000 families in those areas and the number of people will go up to 75,000 in those areas. We believe it is something organised," Kuol added.
As south Sudan holds its referendum on independence in January, residents of the oil-rich Abyei region will simultaneously vote on whether they want to belong to north or south Sudan.
Abyei's referendum law gives the right of vote to members of the southern Dinka Ngok tribe and it is up to the referendum commission to decide which "other Sudanese" are considered residents of the region and can therefore vote.
The law has angered the Arab Misseriya -- a nomadic tribe that migrates each year to the Abyei region looking for pastures for their cattle -- because it does not guarantee them voting rights.
The referendum commission for Abyei has not yet been formed, because representatives of north and south Sudan have failed to agree on who will head it -- leaving the question of Misseriya eligibility still open.
"The Misseriya... are in no way meant to vote in the Abyei referendum because they are not residents. They are meant to be nomads," said Kuol.
Deadly clashes in May 2008 in Abyei had raised fears of a return to civil war between north and south Sudan. Both parties decided to take the matter of the sensitive border to arbitration in The Hague.
Last year, the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague refined the borders of Abyei, leaving the Heglig oil fileds out of the Abyei region, the heartland of the Dinka Ngok.
Both north and south authorities had accepted the ruling, which was criticised by the Misseriya.
The Hague decision was not "fair" and "definitive" and has not enabled both parties to resolve their differences, said Salah Cos, adviser to President Omar al-Bashir for security matters, in a statement over the weekend.
Sudan produces 500,000 barrels of oil per day and has reserves estimated at six billion barrels.
Most of it lies on the border between north and south.
NCP SAYS MISSERIYA NOMADS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO VOTE, SPLM SAYS NO?Northern Sudan has been accused of settling Arab nomadic tribes in oil-rich Abeyi region where votes are required to influence whether or not the oil-rich Abyei would belong to North or South Sudan, ahead of a January 2011 referendum.
The chief administrator of the disputed oil-rich Abyei region, Deng Arop Kuol told reporters in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, that members of the Khartoum-backed Arab Misseriya tribe were moving into parts of Abyei, in order to vote in next year?€™s referendum that will define the status of the oil-rich region.
?€œThe issue that is concerning the people of Abyei and troubling them very much is the issue of settlement that is taking place within the boundaries of Abyei. It is the Misseriya who are settling in those areas. The target is to settle in 20 locations in the area north of Abyei and they already started to settle in those areas now," Kuol was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.
The oil-rich Abyei region overlaps between North and South Sudan. And the January referendum on independence in South Sudan would require residents of the oil-rich Abyei region to simultaneously vote on whether they want to belong to north or south Sudan.
"We are getting information that they intend to settle 25,000 families in those areas and the number of people will go up to 75,000 in those areas. We believe it is something organized," Kuol said.
According to reports, Abyei?€™s referendum law, however, does not guarantee voting rights to the Arab Misseriya ?€” a nomadic tribe that migrates each year to the Abyei region looking for pastures for their cattle.
Even though the settling Arab Misseriya tribe are not allowed to vote according to the referendum law, South Sudan authorities remain suspicious of their influx to Abyei, a region responsible for most of Sudan?€™s 500,000 barrels of oil production per day.
With an estimated six billion barrels of oil in the region, the economies of either North Sudan or an independent South Sudan would be affected by the outcome of votes in Abyei come January 2011. "The Misseriya... are in no way meant to vote in the Abyei referendum because they are not residents. They are meant to be nomads," Kuol adds.
Last year, the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague refined the borders of Abyei, leaving the Heglig oil fileds out of the Abyei region, and both the North and South authorities had accepted the ruling.
Deadly clashes in May 2008 in Abyei had raised fears of a return to civil war between North and South Sudan. And while both authorities decided to take the matter of the sensitive border to arbitration in The Hague, a forthcoming referendum for secession is threatening the fragile peace that has existed over the oil-rich region.
With the issue of Arab Misseriya?€™s voting eligibility still unresolved, and the referendum commission for Abyei not yet established, because Sudan?€™s Northern and Southern authorities have failed to agree on who should head it, questions of a peaceful and smooth separation of Sudan remains unanswered.
Click into above report to view video: Al Jazeera's Tarek Bazely explains the complexity of the Abyei issue.The ruling party in Sudan has sought to play down concerns about potential violence after talks between officials from the north and the south stalled over a referendum in the disputed oil-producing Abyei region.
A senior member of the National Congress Party (NCP) told Al Jazeera on Monday that there was no reason that the collapsed talks should escalate into a new conflict.
"I think the Abyei problem will be solved and I don't think there is any war to be expected," Rabie Abdul Atti said.
As South Sudan holds a referendum on a possible return to independence in January, Abyei will simultaneously vote on whether the region should belong to the north or the south.
But the NCP and Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), which governs the south, cannot agree on who will be eligible to vote.
"The issue of the Abyei referendum has come to a standstill," Deng Arop, a SPLM representative who heads Abyei's administration, told reporters on Sunday.
"This has the potential to ... cause a regional and international conflict."
More than two decades of bitter war between north and south Sudan left an estimated two million people dead. A peace deal signed in 2005 created a federal unity government that shared power between the north's ruling party and the former southern rebels.
Abyei's referendum law gives the right of vote to members of the southern Dinka Ngok tribe and it is up to the referendum commission to decide which "other Sudanese" are considered residents of the region and therefore eligible to vote.
The ruling NCP says the Misseriya, a big pro-unity nomadic tribe which grazes its cattle in the south during the dry season, should also vote.
The SPLM says the tribe as a bloc should not be allowed to vote, but that individuals with long-term residence in the region should be able to do so.
"The Misseriya ... are in no way meant to vote in the Abyei referendum because they are not residents. They are meant to be nomads," Arop said.
He said Misseriya had begun to settle 75,000 people in the north of Abyei to change the demographic of the region and influence the vote.
Arop estimated there were about 100,000 original Abyei residents excluding the Missiriya.
He called on the NCP to stop the settlements.
"If the government is not supporting this then it should take action to stop it," he said.
Abyei has been a contentious issue between the SPLM and the NCP both before and after the 2005 peace deal.
Deadly clashes between the Sudanese army and the SPLM in Abyei in May 2008 raised fears of a return to war between north and south Sudan. Both parties decided to take the matter of the sensitive border to arbitration in The Hague.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration refined the borders, leaving the Heglig oil fields in the north, out of the Abyei region.
Both north and south authorities have accepted the ruling, but it was criticised by the Misseriya tribe.
Douglas Johnson. a former former member of the Abyei Boundaries Commission, told Al Jazeera that the threat of renewed violence in Abyei is "very serious".
"There have been clashes on the border, there have been clashes within Abyei, and this latest report of movement in large scale of Misseriya into northern areas of is very worrying," he said.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies
Click on Abyei label here below, and keep on scrolling, to read reports in the archives of Sudan Watch.