Sudan: Flashpoint & Faultline In Near East

In the ancient world Sudan was considered part of Egyptian civilization because of its year round consistent climate and geography concerning the split of the Nile River.  The bread basket of the Near East was always Egypt; its northern hemisphere an alluvial plain of rich volcanic soil replenished twice a year along with red algae (Oscillatoria rubescen) feeding most of the fauna/flora that dominated the ecosystem that is the Nile.

The Dynastic Pharaoh’s of Egypt ruled from its Southern hemisphere until very late in Egyptian history, where for both cultic and political reasons (both were always joined in the ancient world) the Priests of Amun Ra felt threatened from the advancing agenda originating from the north.  The creation of the “Book of the Dead” and the arrival of the Pyramids was consolation for native Egyptian northerners who always felt dominated from their southern brothers.  The history and geographical significance of southern Egyptian civilization blends neatly before the arrival of nationalism in the late 18th century A.D., any regional significance of Sudan was extraordinarily late.  Although Sudan was the first African region to gain independence from British colonial rule, such independence was not sustained and Ghana became the first post colonial African State.

When Downing Street decided to give up colonial power Britain decided on a separate southern state, a bi-furocated Sudan, but never maintain its political grasp in the southern region against the expansionist tendencies of an Islamist north.  Britain dithered and finally permitted the north to form a unitary state.

The British never permitted themselves to realize the consequences of such political cowardice, whether it be Persia, Pakistan, Palestine, Northern Ireland or Kenya.  Whigs on Downing could never conceive of political alternatives to quitting the scene.  When the Christian south rebelled against the imposition of northern Islamic Sharia Law an ensuing civil war erupted to claim the lives of four million Sudanese.  So much for British exceptionalism!

In 2004, war erupted in Sudan’s western region of Darfur resulting in a humanitarian crisis leaving one million dead and three million displaced.  Throughout this drama, militant ideologues like Osama bin Ladin were shaped and the form of contemporary militant Islam was strengthening.  Most originating from post colonial rule that favored strong militant rulers.

Sudans contemporary strong man is Omar al-Sashir, his brutal regime and genocidal Arab militia called the ‘janjaweed’ decimates village, rapes women, poison wells and enslaves blacks.

No other contemporary author other than Richard Cockett has chronicled modern life of Sudan with such honest brutality.  While serving for five years as African editor for the Economist he writes engagingly about the implosion that is Sudan.

Who is to blame?

“Meddling western politicians, over simplifying activists, spineless African leaders, shamefully silent Muslim rulers, land greedy Arab tribes, myopic Sudanese strongmen.”  Cockett writes that “after Sudanese independence from British colonial rule, the Sudanese tried to maintain a British model of governance, namely unitary system that centralized power and decision making.  The government of Khartoum (Sudan’s capital) was often too weak to rule the countries vast territory, which fell to the machinations of its neighbors (Egypt, Libya and Ethiopia.)”  Eventually, more distant and powerful African countries became involved in Sudanese affairs, increasing anarchy.  But for Cockett, the biggest culprits remain Sudan’s squabbling political class and the Chinese who exploit Sudanese oil.  Both have “pursued narrow sectarian interests and political advantage, oblivious to the crisis facing the country and the need for sound political governance.”

Whom does Cockett look to for political solutions?

It is his firm belief that any African solutions to Sudan must follow the Nigerian federalized model.  What’s wrong with such analysis?  IT IGNORES THE REALISM THAT SUDAN’S PRIMARY PROBLEM IS ARAB APARTHEID.

The anatomy of misery that is today’s Sudan will not be resolved until Islam has a Reformation!

About William Holland

Systematic Theologian/International Relations
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