Date: Saturday 24 November 2007
Subj: Sudan: Jihad a tradition not stopped by peace agreements
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal
This posting provides an update to the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis posting of Wednesday 3 October 2007 entitled: "Southern Sudan: On the path to war."
On Saturday 17 November 07 Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir addressed a rally organised by Sudan's Popular Defence Forces (PDF) to celebrate their 18th anniversary. The PDF, which is known for its atrocities, was created in 1989 as a government paramilitary to fight alongside the Sudan Armed Forces in the jihad against the Southerners. It has subsequently been deployed against Darfur, as it is widely accepted that the PDF and the janjaweed are often one and the same. President al-Bashir's words have sent a shock wave through South Sudan and Darfur.
The Sudan Tribune reports (17 Nov): "Addressing a mass rally this morning at the Wad-Medani Stadium (capital of Al-Jazeera State), some 200 miles south of Khartoum, celebrating the 18th anniversary of the Popular Defence Forces (PDF), President al-Bashir ordered to the PDF to open its camps and mobilize troops and get prepared for any eventuality. 'Now we order the PDF, the legitimate son of the people, to open their camps and gather the Mujahideen [holy warriors] not to wage war but it is obvious that we should be ready.'" (Link 1)
According to an Associated Press report, al-Bashir also accused Western powers of lying about their motives in backing a 26,000-strong UN and African Union forces due in Darfur in January. "'Those Americans, those British, and those Europeans are not keen about the people of Darfur, or the people of Southern Sudan or the Sudanese people,' he said. 'They are all liars and hypocrites who are only interested in the riches and resources of Sudan.'" Al-Bashir also singled out Scandinavian countries ". . . where some media had reproduced a caricature of Islam's Prophet Muhammad last year, and said Khartoum wouldn't allow them to contribute troops. 'Anyone who spoke blasphemously about the Prophet will not set a foot on Sudanese soil,' he said." (Link 2)
Al-Bashir's belligerent words drew an immediate response from Darfurian rebel leaders who said al-Bashir's directive was nothing other than a declaration of war. Agence France Presse reports (18 Nov): "A Darfur rebel faction said Sunday that a call by Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir to reopen auxiliary training camps was 'a declaration of war' and that it was putting its troops on high alert. 'The Sudan Liberation Movement-Unity decrees a state of maximum alert for its troops following the Sudanese president's declarations about opening Popular Defence Force training camps,' the SLM-Unity said in a statement. 'We take this decision as a declaration of all-out war in Sudan.'" (Link 3)
Southerners have also moved to a state of high alert. The Sudan Tribune reports (20 Nov): Pagan Amumu, ". . . the Secretary General of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), said that a state of mobilisation had begun in the south in reaction to the statements that were issued ordering the Popular Defence Forces to prepare and open camps.
"However, he stressed that war was not a favourable option for the SPLM but that it would defend itself if others began. He added that military capabilities had increased on both sides and that the SPLA's capabilities had developed a hundred times." (Link 4)
Amumu's boast (if it reflects truth) exposes the degree to which both sides have been violating the Comprehensive Peace Accord: as Al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP, formerly the National Islamic Front) rightly notes, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement prohibits the increase of military capabilities. (Link 4)
(For a copy of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement's ceasefire arrangements, see link 5.)
By Tuesday 20 November, Reuters news agency was reporting that young supporters of President al-Bashir were responding to his call. "The Youth Department Secretary of Bashir's dominant National Congress Party (NCP), Haj Majed Suwar, told state media that members had 'started assembling Mujahideen who (were) waiting eagerly to execute the president's order'.
"Suwar told the state-controlled Sudanese Media Centre the youth department was preparing to open training camps in response to the president's call. The news agency quoted Suwar as saying Jihad was a tradition that could not be stopped by signing peace agreements." (Link 6)
1) Sudan president orders paramilitary forces mobilisation, rejects Abyei report
18 November 2007 http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article24793
Sudan president "threatens war" -- former rebels
By Andrew Heavens in Khartoum,18 Nov 2007
2) Sudan President Criticizes Western Interference, Says Ready For War (AP)
18 Nov 2007 http://www.sudan.net/news/posted/15550.html
3) Darfur rebel group calls Beshir move 'declaration of war' (AFP)
18 Nov 2007 http://www.sudan.net/news/posted/15552.html
4) South Sudan army in state of mobilisation: SPLM SG
20 November 2007 http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article24826
5) Comprehensive Peace Agreement
6) Sudanese respond to militia call-up -- state media
20 Nov 2007 http://africa.reuters.com/top/news/usnBAN031531.html