Sudan: Count-down to Referendum – the West campaigns for a split

If all goes as scheduled, the destiny of the largest country in Africa – Sudan, will be determined on January 9, 2011 when the people of Southern Sudan vote in a referendum to either split (secede), or to remain united as a single country.

 But it is appalling that even before the vote, western media including the BBC and CNN are already “campaigning” on behalf of western governments who at several occasions, have openly expressed their wish for the South to secede from the North – thus making the oil rich South a client for Western countries.

 In a way of passing the verdict, even before the vote is held, or better still, reporting the outcome of the referendum, BBC – the largest corporate media organization in the world has been carrying headline stories with opinion and comments which carry through the views and impressions that South Sudan is ready for a split and that a “split is almost certain”. The latest of such stories was that which was carried by the BBC on January 4, 2011 headlined: “Sudan President Bashir to visit South before Referendum”. This story talks of how South Sudan had been marginalized by a succession of governments in Khartoum – North Sudan, from the colonial times onwards. The story which comes barely five days to the referendum also cites unnamed officials from the North who “have started to say publicly what many have believed for years – the South is almost certain to split away.” The report wraps up this view by declaring that a “split is almost certain”.

Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir: a target of the West

These views are undoubtedly those of western countries whose relations have deteriorated with Sudan under Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir – because of his being obstinate to dance to the tunes of the West. A recent arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC) for Bashir received the recognition of the United States, Britain, France and many other “big” nations in the West, who of course, are members of the ICC. On several occasions, the leaders of these nations have urged other leaders to arrest Sudan’s president should he step foot on their land.

CNN on its part reported in a January 4, 2011 report that “International observers will be watching out for “potential spoilers” as southern Sudan votes on whether to break away from the rest of the east African nation next week”.  Quoting a so-called critic of the current Sudanese government, John Prendergast, CNN reported that “We have to keep our eye on those potential spoilers that will attempt to undermine the process and the aftermath of the process in order to keep Sudan united and the oil flowing from southern Sudan to northern Sudan.”  The CNN report added that Sunday’s referendum in southern Sudan could establish the world’s newest country or potentially trigger a renewed civil war in the region”. None of the reports are expounding on a possible vote for a united Sudan.

It is certain that this is a campaign to whip the people of Southern Sudan into choosing to secede instead of uniting with their brothers in the North to form a united country. Other reports talk of South Sudan emerging as Africa’s next nation, yet several other reports talk of how scared southerners are fleeing the North to the South, and of how the Sharia “stoning” law maybe reinforced in the North should the outcome of the referendum be a split. Such reports from corporate western media organizations – which work in little or no isolation with the political trends, views, foreign policies and ideologies of western governments, are evidently aimed at influencing the choice of the voters in the South – which of course – as the media put it is a split which “is almost certain”.

However, in carrying such campaigns across their borders, the Western media and governments have deliberately, selfishly, and shamelessly isolated and ignored the negative repercussions the split could have on the people of Sudan.

First, the future of northerners who are married to southerners and vice versa is still largely uncertain, and there may possibly be no available remedy to mend the fence in this case – hatred for one tribe – the divide between the people in the south and those in the north will widen. Families will be separated and social problems will increase such as social amenities and employment opportunities for Southerners living in the North and Northerners living in the South.

Sudan's oil pipes

Second, the economy of Sudan heavily relies on the oil from the South; without it, there will be very little to be done by the government in Khartoum to meet the needs of the people – but with a split, the northerners will have little to live on, and this will create social, economic and even political instability in the North.

Third, even though South Sudan is being described as the next self-sufficient African nation, it does not only take oil to prosper a nation. Goodwill, good governance and a sense for humanity are all prerequisites to achieving progress at all spheres of a nation’s life. It may be hard and perhaps early to say it at this point, but truth be told; the new government of the South – that is if the south chooses to secede – will largely be made of puppets to the Western countries who have all along be supportive for a split. These countries see the current Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir as a blockade to their dire need to freely exploit the oil resources of the country. When puppets are in power, the proceeds go to their western masters while the crumbs are left for the puppets and their people. This may just be exactly what would happen if the southerners vote for a split.

So, while there is some level of euphoria among the southerners – as the western media make-belief – and as the count-down to the referendum narrows, the people of Sudan, especially those of the South should think and think again. This is the same position of some countries including China, who have known what unity can do to a country. China has said that it will welcome the result of the referendum, but advice that unity as a choice should not all-together be ruled out. Even the United States is in a position to know that had its fifty states not remained united, what it is today – a superpower, will perhaps could have been flushed down the tunnel.

There is this adage: “united we stand, divided we fall”. Whatever problems or difficulties the Sudanese people may have been facing, the position of this author is that, it does not always takes a split to fix things. A glaring example in the world is the Soviet Union. Look at all the small states; call them nations – that sprung up following the collapse of the Soviet Union. There had been so much euphoria to be “independent”, and the West with its tools and weapons of “democracy” and “human rights” campaigns for self determination, contributed to plunging the entire Eastern Europe and Eurasia into economic, social and political mess. The euphoria to become “independent” from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) commonly referred to as the Soviet Union soon died down. Anguish took over, then regrets for having broken out of the Union, atlas, the new states and the people had to struggle with the harsh realities – that a split or break-up would not always bring an answer.

This is the time for the people of southern Sudan to think and think again. They should not be lured into making a choice they are not fully convinced of, or fully understand, simply because a handful of politicians are masterminding the whole situation from across the borders.

 It is as well clear that Sudan’s oil is at stake, and is the real reason why the West is highly ‘concerned’ about the outcome of the Sunday vote. Again, oil politics. The people of Southern Sudan: watch out, do not be deceived, else, before you know it, your oil will be in pipes flowing to the West in large quantities without any real benefits for your children.

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