Suleiman Jammous on the situation in Sudan
»War between USA and China will break out in South Sudan«
Written by Boštjan Videmšek
Suleiman Jammous, the humanitarian coordinator within the JEM resistance group (Justice and Equality Movement), has revisited Slovenia after one year. While staying with his good friend and soul mate Tomo Križnar, he will be received by the Foreign Minister Samuel Žbogar, Minister of Culture Majda Širca and member of the European Parliament Ivo Vajgl. Jammous's visit is an opportunity for the Slovenian Foreign Politics (among others) to make amends in its ethical dossier after opportunistically ignoring the Tibetan leader Dalai Lama.
This is essential in the times when the West is quickly acknowledging the final results of the Sudanese presidential election, won by the “eternal” oligarch Omar al Bashir - by committing vote fraud and generally disabling his political adversaries. Jammous says that by acknowledgement of Sudanese poll results, the International Community legitimizes genocide in Darfur. The heaviest price of such politics will again be paid by the people of Darfur. “The West decided to act more delicately in terms of Darfur. The Americans and the British feel this may be the only chance for Bashir to acknowledge the final results of the referendum to establish an independent country of North Sudan, which will take place on January 11th next year. The West wishes that South Sudan become an independent country in order to control their rich oil reserves and, at the same time, to resist the dominant Chinese influence in the region. In the near future, a war between the United States and China will break out in South Sudan. However, the heaviest casualties of this global strategic battle would be us, the people of Darfur, since our tragic story was swept under the rug during the last year. This was done by the administration of the US president Barack Obama, from whom Darfur expected a great deal,” Suleiman Jammous says.
The eyes of this wise man, the Nelson Mandela of Sudan, were even sadder than at our last encounter. Then, the slender and lucid man was full of hope that the dispersed resistance groups of Darfur will succeed in creating one union under one 'banner' - the banner of the fight against the military dictatorship of the war criminal Omar al Bashir. “I do not have much hope left. The people of Darfur have suffered a great deal while waiting for the International Community to take action. After long years of suffering the quiet genocide, 60 percent of the people of Darfur ended up in refugee camps in Sudan and Chad. The government forces have killed more than 400,000 people. Just a few hours ago, I have received a call that at night the government airplanes have bombed a well in the village Gidji Gidji and killed eight people. This is the new tactics - bombing water resources.” As Križnar put it: Darfur is war for water. And the first genocide of the 21st century.
“Water is becoming scarce. The wells are drying out. And so are the river sources. It is getting worse. This is also due to weather changes, the consequence of global warming, which has greatly influenced the current political situation and state of security in Darfur. And it will only get worse,” says the free-spirited intellectual of Darfur who spent many years in prison as an adversary of a totalitarian regime.
Suleiman Jammous was born in North Darfur. He finished his studies at the Khartoum Polytechnic University, Paper Technology. He has been politically active since his college years. He was a businessman for some time; he worked and lived in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. After returning to Sudan, he and his adherents issued the Black Book in 2000. This is an accurate description of the Arabization of Sudan and marginalization of indigenous African tribes all over the country. Bashir's regime, that has been watching Jammous before, arrested him four times during the time period 2000 - 2003. When released from prison, Jammous joined the newly established SLA (Sudan Liberation Army). This organization together with some other resistance groups of Darfur began the first well-organized resistance against the Khartoum's politics of genocide.
Jammous never fought with arms nor did he wear a military uniform. His fight is the concern for hundred thousands of persecuted, raped, injured and offended people of Darfur who are casualties of genocide, climate changes and impotence of the International Community. The sophisticated man also helped the international humanitarian organizations and several journalists who were being banned access to the bleeding Darfur by the Sudanese government.
Jammous and his men always did everything in their power to help the humanitarian workers and journalist travel safely through parts of Darfur.
We all know that the Sudanese presidential election was a farce led by dictator Omar al Bashir. However, the International Community seems to be all too eager to acknowledge the final results ...
The world should be aware of one thing: the poll boxes, into which the Sudanese voters put their ballots, were not the same boxes as those from which the ballots were taken in order to be counted. The election was rigged - the regime printed many ballots, filled them out, put them in other boxes and counted them. This did not happen everywhere but it was certainly common practice. There is not much more to say about this “election” - it was a conspiracy. A fraud.
This was expected but the West was happy to spread Bashir's story of the 'fair and free election', this methodology of rape of traditional social and political systems which have a boomerang effect.
That is true. The West acknowledged the final results of the election and president Bashir - and this legitimizes genocide and war crimes in Darfur. Why? Because it was necessary to legitimize this election from the outside in order to conduct the referendum to determine the status of South Sudan on January 11th next year. The West wants the referendum to be a success and South Sudan to become an independent country. This wish is especially strong in the United States that wants to divide the country. Currently their goal is to 'quiet down' the conflict in Darfur since in their opinion the attention needs to be focused on South Sudan. At least until the referendum - only then they may start thinking about solving our problem ... Meanwhile Sudan may be divided in four weak countries and may not exist as a country anymore; anything is possible. The former US president Jimmy Carter said before the election that it may not be carried out 'according to standard', but the International Community would have to acknowledge the outcome nevertheless. This says it all. The Americans are satisfied to call it - election. To them only the expression counts, not the content.
What mood were the people in during the election? What is the word on the street and among your co-workers?
Everybody I know and have contact with is talking about a fraud. They knew in advance what would happen to their ballots but they cast their votes nevertheless, if only possible. But their votes were stolen by the regime. An acquaintance of mine and his five sons went to the polling station. They cast their votes, however, during the count their five ballots have been misplaced, and one of them was declared invalid.
This is the 'democracy' that the International Community acknowledges due to its interest.
What is going to happen in the next months in terms of Khartoum - South Sudan relation? How will president Bashir accept the will of the people of South Sudan to live in an independent country?
All Omar al Bashir wants is to stay in charge. This is his politics. I think he may accept the eventual outcome - an independent country.
What about the oil which is abundant in the south of the country? And the influence of China that controls the majority of business in Sudan and basically established 'a parallel country' and thus supports Bashir - financially and with the power of veto over UN sanctions? What will happen to state concessions?
Again: Bashir will do everything in his power to maintain his and his clique's top position. That is why he signed all the peace treaties and carried out the election. He is aware of the fact that he will remain in charge all the same - or because of that. The International Community tolerated his decisions.
In my opinion, the independence of South Sudan will cause war between the United States and China. In the south, the Americans will not be able to get rid of the 'China factor'. When the war breaks out, Bashir will cooperate with both sides. As he has done until now. He will not care who wins in this war. As long as he continues to rule.
You are determined that the independence of South Sudan is basically a cue for global war.
This war has already begun, no doubt about that. It will not only take place in South Sudan. This will be a separated American-Chinese war, taking place at different fronts.
There is a similar situation in Afghanistan where the West defends against the East in panic fear and with no success.
This also goes for Iraq and Iran etc. Even for Yemen and Somalia.
Millions of inhabitants of Darfur have paid a heavy price because of the conflict in South Sudan where two million people have been killed. And now, as the 'south war' enters the second round, the tragedy will surely repeat itself. Why is it that Darfur is always the casualty of the Khartoum - Juba relations?
The price that Darfur will pay due to the Khartoum - Juba relations will only get higher. Rapidly.
This is one of the reasons that the majority of the people of Darfur, including the intellectuals, are abandoning hope. Only a fistful is still capable of giving an initiative. We are paralysed both mentally and physically. The majority do not know how to react. They can trust no one - neither Bashir nor the United States nor China. Not even themselves. The resistance groups are dispersed. The fields are ruined, livestock killed, wells ruined. There are many rapes. The government powers' attacks never seize. Humanitarian assistance is on the decline, however, the needs are on the increase. Many people do not have roofs over their heads. It is going to get worse - gradually all the people of Darfur will end up in refugee camps or dead. The governmental plan will be brought to an end with success.
I try to unite those who still have hope. We are in dire need of a common political goal, a common agenda. Because of our future, our survival, we have to express our 'viewpoint about Darfur' and be determined as far as our demands are concerned. We must not fall under the foreign influence - the foreigners are here only because of natural resources. No one else should decide instead of us. However, for the time being this is sadly an illusion.
Meanwhile the quiet genocide continues in Darfur. It is quiet because we hear very little about it.
The history of internal contradictions in Darfur is as long-lasting as the Darfur conflict itself. Why have the resistance groups not managed to unite? Why have some resistance 'heroes' stepped over to the side of the government so easily? Why is it that every common initiative fails?
You have a point but I still see light at the end of the tunnel ...
Absolutely - there is a train coming ahead
(Laugh) We need time, a lot of it. Our society is totally shattered. The same goes for the traditional way of life, values and family relations.
No, I have not lost hope yet. But at the same time, I am definitely not optimistic.
You were in Doha where the JEM (Justice and Equality movement), currently the biggest resistance group lead by Ibrahim Halil, signed a peace treaty with president Bashir a few weeks ago.
Nothing really happened in Doha. The most important role was again played by the Americans and their special envoy to Sudan, major general Scott Gration. In order to appear more competent, he brought along someone from the United Nations. As I have told you before, the Americans want to sweep the Darfur problem under the rug. Like dust. Because of their interest in the referendum, Darfur has to vanish from the headlines. That is why the dispersion of the resistance movement suits them. Because it makes us weak and because we cannot seriously resist Khartoum.
The Americans simply locked us in a freezer. Indefinitely. Because of the election and referendum the peace process is also frozen.
When I heard the news that the peace treaty has been signed I remembered the failed - and forced - peace treaty from the Abuja in Nigeria in 2006 that caused Darfur a lot of harm.
The situation is more or less the same, however, instead of by Minni Minnawi (former leader of one of the SLA fractions that signed an agreement with the government in 2006, and Jammous's nephew) the JEM is now led by Ibrahim Halil. Khartoum benefits from the conflicts among the resistance groups because it wants war among the people of Darfur.
We will not sign anything that will not benefit the inhabitants of Darfur, and we will remain determined as far as our demands are concerned.
Is it not ironic that the former American president George W. Bush was more 'active' in terms of Darfur than Barack Obama who often said that the United States should take measures. The New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristoff has accused Barack Obama between the lines of dancing the waltz with Bashir.
We had hoped to receive help from Obama. He had brought us hope. As a senator he once said he did not believe in satan but he did believe in evil - and evil rules in Darfur and therefore needs to be stopped.
Then he became president. Our morale jumped sky-high. We were sure he was a man with a vision. We believed him, especially after paying a visit to the refugees in Chad. Nowadays he does not speak of Darfur anymore. He left everything to his special envoy who has a personal agenda. He wants to promote himself with the referendum in the South. That is why we lost hope that Obama would help. We are disappointed and angry. We do not believe the Americans anymore - they have always let us down.
What if a war breaks out again in the south? It seems things are not far from a regional conflict. It is boiling in Kenya, the stability of Uganda is a lie. Eritrea, Somalia etc.
This is a possibility. A very likely one! The war would first quickly spread over the whole Sudan. There would be a civil war in the south, later it would spread to the outside. There are many different interests. Chaos. I am afraid Sudan would divide into at least three or four countries.
It is all stimulated from the inside because of our natural resources, the conflict between the United States and China.
What do you make of the sudden friendship between two old enemies - president of Chad Idriss Deby and leader of Sudan Omar al Bashir? Does this turn of events have the notorious referendum in the background, too?
This is only a part of sweeping dust under the rug and creating adequate conditions for the referendum. The Americans exerted pressure on Khartoum as well as on N'Jamena. And so it happened - the friendship.
But as far as we, the resistance, are concerned - the agreement between the two presidents did not have much influence. We have been fighting against the government in Khartoum since 2002 and will continue to do so. Until now the government of Chad has been on our side due to its interests. We were able to move freely across the country, there are hundred thousands of refugees of Darfur in Chad, and the authorities actually helped us. At the moment we cannot move freely, officially we are not welcome, however, there are still roads that lead to Sudan. These are ethnic connections. They are especially strong among the Zagawa ethnic group members on both sides of the border. For us the border never really existed.
The Chadian side is currently quite stable - which is definitely not the case on the Sudanese side of Darfur where we withdrew to. There are conflicts on an everyday basis. Governmental airplanes attack water resources and kill civilians. Unpunished.
In Darfur there are around 20,000 members of the United Nations and the African Union mission, however, they do not do anything for the people of Darfur. The International Community is throwing money out the window. A single small camera has done more good than all the peace makers together because the murderers and the violators are in fear of being caught on camera (Jammous shows one of the cameras brought to Darfur in the winter by Tomo Križnar and Klemen Mihelič, entrepreneur and founder of a new non-governmental organization Hope). Thank you, Tomo and Klemen. Thank you, Slovenia.