By Steve Paterno
April 23, 2012 — The prospect for regime change in Khartoum became profound few years ago when the regime reached its peak of mass slaughtering the Sudanese people of Western Darfur region. The leading voices against the regime in Khartoum were echoed by the powerful world leaders that included the current USA President, who was then Senator Barack Obama, the US Vice President, then Senator Joe Biden, and the US Secretary of State, who was by then Senator Hillary Clinton, among other prominent world figures. In his plea, Senator Obama urged action against the “scandalous” regime in Khartoum, which fails “to live up to its commitments.” Senator Biden affirmed then that it was time to use American force to stop what he described as “the bleeding” caused by the regime in Khartoum. As for Senator Clinton, she called for enforcement of a no-fly zone so as to cripple the regime in Khartoum from carrying out its plan for genocide.
Even though the regime was not eventually toppled, several of the regime’s top influential members who include President Omar al-Bashir, were finally charged and indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), although they are yet to be apprehended and held accountable for their crimes. Among the major reason for concerns for not having to topple the regime was the consideration of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), an agreement signed between the South and the North, which was expected to be partially implemented by the NCP in Khartoum. Nonetheless, given the current circumstances, there is no any reservation of ousting from power the regime in Khartoum. Thus far, the CPA already achieved its ultimate objective of South Sudan independence. Unfortunately, like it has always been doing with its neighbors, the regime in Khartoum starts the destabilization of neighboring South Sudan. As such, the regime is currently supporting rebellion and armed violence in South Sudan. It also carries constant bombings and raids inside South Sudan. The regime goes as far as engaging in economic sabotage of South Sudan and at the moment, the government of Sudan is holding hundred of thousands of South Sudanese in the Northern Sudan as hostages under a slave like conditions, since it officially declared South Sudan an “enemy state.”
Within its borders, the regime continuous to ruthlessly slaughter its own citizens and marginalizing entire regions of the country by waging war of attrition. For examples, the war in Darfur region, which draws the world’s outrage against the regime is far from over. The people of Darfur are driven from their homes, suckled into concentration camps, and depraved of humanitarian assistance. In the Nuba Mountains, the regime renews another round of genocidal front and totally blocks humanitarian access to the region. The regime also undertakes similar practices in the Blue Nile region, the Eastern Sudan and other parts of the country. Within Sudan, press freedom is censored and the opposition voices are silenced, while political descent is suppressed with absolute brutality.
The NCP regime in Khartoum has not been successful in engaging with its neighbors either as it has just failed to relate with its own citizens. It has caused problems with almost all of its neighboring countries. For instants, Khartoum considers Uganda “hostile” and is harboring Ugandan rebels, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to be used against Ugandan people and government. The regime is already trading fire with Chad through the cross-border support of rebel groups. Through its president, Khartoum has just threatened Kenya with economic war and vowed to inflict heavy economic damage against Kenya over dispute of President Omar al-Bashir arrest warrant. As with Ethiopia, the relation with Khartoum is tenuous at best, and that can also be arguably said with respect to Sudan’s relationship among its other neighboring countries.
In the international front, the regime is equally doomed. The regime’s ability to effectively engage international community is crippled with the high profile international criminal indictments of its leadership. Currently, Khartoum is facing economic sanctions, armed embargo, and is designated as state sponsored of terrorism.
So, there is no any other time the regime in Khartoum is riped than today to be changed by all means possible as it possess all the recipes for ouster. While waiting, pending on the world decision on regime change in Khartoum, the government of South Sudan is better positioned and equipped to initiate this task and even possibly, accomplishing the job within its realm. Traditionally, Sudan is neither a chaotic Somalia, where it will discern into lawlessness in an absence of a regime, nor is Sudan an autocratic Egypt, which has no political institutions to fill up the void in an event of insurrection against the government. Sudan has a well established military, political and civil institutions, ready to jump into any opportunity of a vacuum created by regime change.
However possible this scenario is, the government of South Sudan cannot achieve this noble cause without the collaboration of the military, political, and civil entities in Northern Sudan as well as the support and blessings of international community. South Sudan needs to count on military muscle, political weigh, and civil support of the Northern Sudanese institutions, which are currently seeking to the overthrow of NCP regime. As far as the international community is concern, there is no need of worries in that regard. All the South Sudan requires to do is to initiate the process and the rest will seamlessly followed in. There are already international precedent set in dealing with such situations of a country invading another country in self defense and with the support and blessing of the international community. For example, when Ethiopia unilaterally decided to invade Somalia in the year 2006, with the claim that the country was only “forced to enter into war to protect the sovereignty of the nation,” Ethiopia ended up receiving the support and blessing of the international community to actually occupy Somalia. So, even when Ethiopia decided to withdraw from Somalia in 2007, the international community objected to the decision, instead, mandating Ethiopia to occupy Somalia. This was a similar case when several countries decided to unilaterally intervene in the Democratic Republic of Congo and they were later on authorized by the international community to occupy the country.
So, Juba must be opened for business for any activity against the regime in Khartoum and a safe haven for a coalition of Sudanese oppositions against the NCP. The time must be now, when all the right conditions are in place or else it will be forever too late as Khartoum can also manage to turn the tide in completely destabilizing South Sudan and dishing out any hope for its tyrannical reign to be challenged.
Steve Paterno is the author of The Rev. Fr. Saturnino Lohure, A Romain Catholic Priest Turned Rebel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org