Islamophobia claims another victim Partition of Sudan
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July 22, 2011
A new country joined the comity of nations on 9 July, when Republic of South Sudan was proclaimed under the Presidentship of Salva Kir. The new state has been admitted as the 193 member state of the UN. Secretary General of United Nations joined other dignitaries in Juba – the capital of the new republic to welcome the 54th African country.

Africa has been the happy hunting ground of the Christian missionaries throughout 19th century. British colonial rule in these countries helped them enormously. With independence of these countries following the second world war, the struggle transformed into political domination, particularly of Muslim states to keep them under economic dependency and political bondage of the West.

Two major Muslim countries that emerged independent from British rule in early 50s were Nigeria and Sudan. In terms of population Nigeria was the biggest country, while Sudan was the largest, area wise. Both were endowed with huge natural resources and oil. Since their independence these countries were kept unstable through a series of military coups and political assassinations which made them adrift and vulnerable. Nigeria, in 60s was engulfed in Biafra war – a Christian secessionist movement in the North led by Col. Ujukwu. In Sudan a similar movement originated in the South led by Col. John Garang in the early 80s. The civil war ravaged the impoverished countries further.

South Sudan’s secession marked the climax of this process that ended with an internationally brokered 2005 peace deal ending decades of north-south civil war.

Christian groups had been championing the southern Sudanese since the 19th century. Their efforts paid off after George W. Bush was elected president of the United States in 2000. He raised Sudan to near the top of his foreign policy agenda, and in 2005, the US government pushed the southern rebels and the central government – both war weary and locked in a military stalemate – to sign a comprehensive peace agreement that guaranteed the southerners the right to secede. The American-backed treaty set the stage for a referendum this January in which southerners voted by 98.8 percent for independence.

Sudan is the largest and the poorest country in Africa with a population of 35 million with Muslim majority in the North. Southern Sudan with a population of four million is mostly animist and Christian. The inimical forces in the west kindred the fire of secession in the South in the 80s. The civil war continued for 22 years, devastating the region, killing more than two million people and displacing twice as many. Col. John Garang led the secessionist – Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) for 20 years against Arab Muslim North. Finally a peace accord was signed in 2005 with the intervention of the Security Council, which, inter alia, provided for referendum to determine the choice of the South.

The referendum was held in January 2011 and the South Sudanese overwhelmingly voted for independence. Prior to the referendum the US Congress and western media unleashed a virulent campaign against the Sudanese president blaming him of malafide intention to frustrate the results of referendum. Sudan under Bashir had been declared a terrorist state, imposed economic sanctions and the president himself has been pronounced a war criminal by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

In 2009, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for El-Bashir for war crimes and crime against humanity for his conduct of war in Darfur. However, the real cause of animus of the West is the enforcement of Shariah as the law of the land by president who took power in 1989 and has followed a pro-China policy.

Sudan produces 500,000 barrels of oil a day. South Sudan gets 98 percent of its revenue from the crude, while 45 percent of the Khartoum budget comes from oil which makes up around 90 percent of its exports. Most oil reserves are in the Abyei region bordering the North and South. The North has pipelines and refineries; the South about 75 percent of the reserves. The sharing of the oil revenue has thus complicated the picture further and become the most contentious post referendum issue.

Peace making efforts continued unsuccessfully with the intervention of African Union. Finally UNSC intervened and vide resolution 1574 of December 2004 a Comprehensive Peace Accord was signed, that provided formation of a National Unity government with SPLA. The agreement also provided limited autonomy to South for 5 years. If National Unity government failed to meet Southern aspirations, a plebiscite was to be held in January 2011 to decide succession from Khartoum. The plebiscite as stated above was held with 98% voting in favour of independence.

The inherent instability of the peace deal and contentious issues of sharing oil revenues and settlement of border will keep Sudan unstable and crisis-ridden and thus removed as a potential factor of Muslim power in the region.

The partition of Sudan – the largest Muslim country in Africa is yet another painful chapter in the history of US machination since President Bush to remake the map of Middle East and the continuing onslaught against Muslim countries beginning with invasion of Iraq.

Sudan was the first country to recognize the succession state but how an average Sudanese felt at this unfortunate development is best reflected in a op-ed commentary by Muhammad Ali Saleh a Muslim Northern, now a naturalized American – “A few months ago, Time magazine had a cover story with the question, “Is American Islamophobic?” It mentioned that more than half of Americans had a negative attitude towards Islam and Muslims and that almost half of them said that Muslims believed in ideas contrary to basic American ideals of freedom and justice. The magazine said Islamophobia influenced domestic and foreign US Policies.

“I believe that my adopted country’s role in partitioning my native country was driven by Islamopobia. This makes me sad and angry.

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