Dialogue or Destruction? Organising for Peace as the War in Sudan Escalates
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Sudan’s civil war, already one of the deadliest conflicts since World War II, has entered its most destructive phase to date. Oil revenues have allowed the government to purchase increasingly lethal weapons, more effectively pursue population-clearing operations, and expand the use of its greatest comparative advantage, air power. The rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) has greater manpower to deploy on multiple fronts, has also acquired more sophisticated arms, and is engaging government forces in more intense conventional battles.
Given the state of its currently exploitable oil reserves and anticipated developments on international markets, the government must open new fields to production if it is at least to maintain current revenues. This requires pushing further south into the insurgents’ stronghold. The major dry season offensive the government launched deeper into the oil fields and on two other fronts in January 2002 gained little territory and began to peter out as the rains started in late May. Though the SPLA withstood this assault, the test is now whether it can mount an effective counter offensive. If it cannot, the prospect is that its capacity to defend against the government’s next dry season campaign, which will undoubtedly be backed by more and better weapons, will begin to erode.
Parallel to the combat escalation, what may be the decisive phase of the long running peace initiative pursued by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is beginning. Its chairman, Kenya’s outgoing President Moi, wants to make a major push during the last half-year of his term. The U.S., UK and Norway have become observers in the process, working closely with the Kenyan Special Envoy, Lieutenant-General Lazarus Sumbeiywo.
Many issues divide the Sudanese parties, not the least of which are religion and the distribution of power. But self-determination for the South stands above the others for its potential to be the ultimate spoiler of the peace process. The commitment of those in the South – the core of the national insurgency – to achieving a referendum that offers them a choice of independence continues to grow. It is matched only by the government’s opposition to any referendum that would include an option for the breakup of the country as an option.
With battle lines and negotiating positions so clearly drawn, the efforts to energise the IGAD peace process have so far been useful, but not sufficient. The window of opportunity for peace in Sudan is beginning to close. A much more robust effort must be undertaken both by the IGAD states and, in their support, by the international community if peace is to be made. In the first instance, this requires quick construction of a considerably more detailed peace strategy, including the organisation and deployment of serious leverage. Absent this, the Sudanese people will be condemned to increasing death and destruction, and a wide swathe of Africa will remain subject to the destabilising consequences.
TO THE GOVERNMENTS OF THE IGAD COUNTRIES:
Restructure more inclusively the negotiations that opened in Nairobi the week of 17 June 2002 in order to maximise buy-in by all elements of Sudanese society and support by all regional players. In particular:
Associate more fully with the inner circle of negotiation (Appendix C) – the warring parties (Khartoum government and SPLA) and the IGAD Special Envoy representing Kenyan President Moi and the other members of the IGAD Sudan Sub-Committee: Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Uganda – the latter three countries, each of whom should appoint high ranking point persons with whom the Special Envoy should coordinate particularly closely to develop ideas and exercise leverage on the parties at important junctures.
Work on a day-to-day basis with the troika of observers in the second of the negotiations’ concentric circles (the U.S., the UK, and Norway), who should organise leverage and international strategy and act with the Special Envoy as catalysts.
While most actual negotiation will occur in the above two circles, draw into a third circle of external leverage other countries important for applying pressures and offering incentives at key points of the process, especially Egypt; develop special mechanisms to ensure their maximum participation, for example, a daily restricted briefing and consultation, so that they can provide input to the Special Envoy and observers on substance and tactics and otherwise be well prepared to assist as needed.
Establish a fourth circle for Sudanese consultation, to include the major political parties and groupings (e.g., National Democratic Alliance, Umma Party, etc.) and civil society organisations; provide regular briefings and opportunity for them to offer their input.
Draw the main Track II initiatives (Max Planck Institute, African Renaissance Institute, World Bank Nile Basin Initiative) into a fifth circle of briefing and consultation so that their parallel efforts at developing compromise ideas can be better integrated into the IGAD process.
TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES:
Work closely with Egypt, including directly with President Mubarak, in order to gain the vital support for the process of Sudan’s most important neighbour, and lead efforts to organise multilateral leverage in support of the process.
TO THE GOVERNMENTS OF THE UNITED STATES, UNITED KINGDOM AND NORWAY:
Signal political commitment by devoting high-level political resources to the process, in particular by supplementing the day-to-day work of the troika observers at crucial junctures through joint and coordinated diplomatic interventions of senior policy makers.
Nairobi/Brussels, 27 June 2002