Home | Comment & Analysis    Saturday 17 November 2012

Obama Second Term: Implications for Sudan and Sudan Relations

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By Luka Biong Deng

In September 2012, I wrote a piece on the implications of the US elections to the relations between Sudan and South Sudan. Now Obama has been elected for the second term of four years in the White House with more freedom and space to make a difference and to leave a legacy at home and in the world. While the US elections are for Americans, the outcome of these elections affects directly or indirectly the rest of the world. The victory of Obama for the second term has generally been received with much optimism all over the world with each country assessing the implications of such development. Certainly, Obama will focus on addressing domestic economic challenges and putting the US economy on the recovery track but he will focus as well on foreign issues.

Generally the US elections are very illuminating and educative with democracy being practiced by the most powerful democratic nation. How much I am so happy about the outcome of the US elections and the victory of Obama, I was so impressed by the process and articulation of the two competing visions on the role and size of government. While the Republican Party sees individualism as a drive for lifting yourself up, the Democrat Party sees America as one family that can lift itself up through collective efforts. The difference between the two visions was well articulated by Obama in his victory speech when he stated that “…while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family, and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people,…..What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on Earth, the belief that our destiny is shared”

These competing visions are so relevant to the rest of the world, particularly in the context of financial crisis that exposed the fragility of the free-market economy and individualism as the only drive for prosperity. This makes the vision of Democratic Party of seeing state as a family so appealing to most countries, particularly to the new nation of South Sudan. The essence of African family is the social bonds and solidarity that sustain the African societies overtime. Some countries such as Rwanda have used their traditions and values as the basis for economic governance. The people of South Sudan have enormous bonding social capital upon which the building of the new nation, creation of wealth and its distribution can be based.

While the domestic challenges will dominate the second term of Obama, there will be more focus on foreign policy as global stability and peace are so detrimental to the US national security. One of the quotes from the 2012 US Presidential elections stated that “Dear America, the rest of the world says: Choose Obama”. Indeed the rest of the world was unambiguously happier that the people of the US reelected Obama for the second term in the White House. In fact Obama has captured not only the America’s imagination but also the world’s imagination through his unwavering hope to capture the future as reflected in his popular slogan “yes, we can” in the face of financial crisis and global pessimism in 2008. This is well articulated in his high minded victory speech when he said “I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists….that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting”.

Definitely the victory of Obama for the regime in Khartoum is less painful than that of Governor Romney. While Romney focused less on the affairs of the rest of the world during his election campaign, he was keen to use tougher approach in dealing with some of the reckless and tyrant Islamic states such as Iran and Sudan. In fact one would have wished that the Arab Spring to start in Iran and Sudan which are governed by a brand of political Islam that destabilizes the world and produces terrorism, radicalism, hatred and intolerance. While America as the most diverse nation on the Earth is getting stronger and more prosperous by embracing diversity as a virtue, these countries that adopted political Islam such as Sudan see diversity as a curse.

With the victory of Obama, Khartoum is more worried as the business may not be as usual. In the second term, Obama may become tougher on the issues that he avoided in the first term, particularly in relation to Iran and Sudan. Obama is likely to adopt similar approach that Romney would have adopted towards Iran and Sudan. The timely decision by Obama to renew sanctions against Sudan is a clear message to the regime in Khartoum to expect more if it continues with its engagement in terrorist activities. If Obama chooses Susan Rice rather than John Kerry to head State Department, then the message to the regime in Khartoum would be even clearer.

The regime in Khartoum will soon enter into confrontation with international community over the final status of Abyei, disputed and claimed border areas, humanitarian access to Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile as well as in the implementation of the nine agreements recently signed with South Sudan. On the final status of Abyei and the disputed and claimed border areas, the AU will soon endorse the proposals from the AU Panel as final and binding. The regime in Khartoum is likely to reject these proposals. Equally, the regime in Khartoum seems to link the full implementation of the nine agreements with security arrangements, particularly its emphasis on disengagement between SPLM-North and South Sudan. Also the deliberate policy of Khartoum to deny humanitarian access and to starve to death the people of the two states will increase anger of the international community. While the demand by Khartoum for disengagement is not provided for in the nine agreements, the South and international community will soon be angered if Khartoum continues to insist on disengagement as a prerequisite for the implementation of the nine agreements. Recently, Khartoum made it clear to the South that its oil will not flow through its territory unless the issues of security are resolved.

The recent destruction of arms factory in Khartoum has clearly exposed the intrinsic link between terrorist organizations such as Hamas and the regime in Khartoum. Equally, the Iranian warships that docked in Sudan after the destruction of arms factory has not only angered the Arab world but exposed dangerous relations between the two regimes in Khartoum and Tehran. These links between the regime in Khartoum and terrorist organizations and Iran will make Obama to revisit the US intelligence cooperation with Khartoum. It is most likely that the new administration of Obama may review its policy of the unknown devil is worse than the known one.

On the other hand the victory of Obama for the second term was not celebrated in South in the same way as in 2008 when Obama created history as the first African American ever to be elected to the White House. Maybe the people of South Sudan were expecting more from Obama not only because his ancestors hailed from the South but also as a new nation that needs more support in building their new state from scratch. The people of the South expect Obama to do more in his second term and to leave behind a legacy as one of the architects who contributed to making South Sudan a success story. Although one expects the new administration of Obama to give special attention to the South, the growing concerns about human rights situation in the South may taint this special relation between Juba and Washington. The long struggle of the people of South Sudan for justice, dignity and rights can not only be honoured by improving the human rights records but by becoming exemplary in respecting these rights for which we fought and lost many lives.

One expects the new administration of Obama will work towards encouraging good relations between Sudan and South Sudan by encouraging the parties to fully implement the nine agreements and to accept the AU proposals for resolving the final status of Abyei and claimed and disputed border areas. The failure of each party to implement these agreements or reject these proposals may push the new administration of Obama to be tougher. Besides these pending issues, the Obama administration will be keen on the issues related to constitutional review, democratic transformation and status of human rights in the two countries as the basis for building sustainable good relations.

Luka Biong Deng is the South Sudanese Co-Chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee and a senior member of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). This article was originally published by the New Nation Newspaper.



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  • 17 November 2012 17:59, by sudani ana

    Luka
    When you have finished telling president Obama what to do during his second term in office, tell me one thing; what’s your problem with Sudan demanding SS disengages from SPLM/N first before oil flow? Why should SS compromise the security of Sudan by harbouring and providing financial and logistical support to rebels, and at the same time expect Sudan to allow SS oil to flow through its land?

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    • 17 November 2012 19:05, by James Maker Akok

      Sudani Anna,
      Most of us wee South Sudanese people are not interesting for connecting Oil pipeline to North Sudan. We are interesting for connecting oil pipeline to Kenya. So we don’t mind if North Sudan saying no oil pipeline to North Sudan. Our planning is getting our border line map through International Arbitration Court as I have a Original Map border line with me now. Contact me if you to se

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      • 17 November 2012 19:07, by James Maker Akok

        jamesmakerakok@gmail.com

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        • 17 November 2012 19:24, by James Maker Akok

          I mean, contact me if you want to see a Map I have.
          jamesmakerakok@gmail.com

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  • 18 November 2012 00:28, by Ito

    Dr. Luka
    for how long are you Dinka Ngok people want to continue baking like defeated dogs. Just mobilized yourselves and fight for your right. There is no short cut or short walk to true freedom said the late hero and our father Dr. John Garang. Garang said in 1987, let us talk and fight at the same time.
    Thanks.

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    • 20 November 2012 01:17, by panom lualbil

      ITO?
      I got you regardless of your poor writings and b4 LUKA BIONG: How long are you [NUER’SLAVES] going to stop being fucked and used against Dinka? Do you want DINKA NGOK to fight Sudan by themselves? You need to watch your fucking mouth against Dinka, duh. This country was liberated by SPLA, when nuer were enslaved by BASHIR.

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  • 18 November 2012 01:00, by Mr Equal

    Mr mr Luk Biong:
    You seem talking about won of Obama. And you forget that last time you were compaiging a bout band of SPLM-DC in South Sudan. Are you really for socialism or captalism? No doubt in my mind that Iam glad when you were left out from South Sudan. Because selfishnes well not get us any were. What you call yourself now northeren or Southern?

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    • 18 November 2012 01:14, by Mr Equal

      Event you want to come to South,your are just gust.do not assum that you will be an orginal southren. Iam not sopport any party but every one has his an opion. Do you know how many people were killed in Apper Nile or in South Sudan as general because your words? messirsia people have been there and always be there in Abiy.

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      • 20 November 2012 18:00, by panom lualbil

        HEY, MR EQUAL PUSSY, you need translator becos you’re killing English on this Forum, duh. Afterall, MR LUKA BIONG is a Man of dignity amongst Dinka Ngok unless you’re Dinka’s hater. Though without SPLA, you would be still used by jalabs like you’re now in rebellions against us.

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  • 18 November 2012 06:20, by katnyokarieu

    luka Biong u resently semi to be opposing Obama second term. And ur article always containe Abyei issue. Mindn,t u obama will mind less about Abyei.and if u go for trusth, Abyei is Northern sudan According to 1/1/1956.
    Only use ur looted south sudan money to fund liberation war of Abyei like Nuba mt&Blue nile,Pieng be the cammander of the arm in Abyei,u will achieve ur goals instead of wasting tim

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  • 18 November 2012 06:28, by katnyokarieu

    praising Obama ,usA.Eu and salva kiir kuethpiny Nyol Lual. Won,t help to solve the status of Abyei. U know American mind about thier security ,economic, that mean if they see will benefit nothing in Abyei ,they will pay deaf ear your noise,barking u always make in sudantribune if get assess to ur analyse.

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    • 18 November 2012 12:15, by Takpiny

      Luka
      Obama is an American president we cannot expected him to do much, also America has already help the SS in many ways, although the big setback in our country is a corruption, without it, there will be steady progress.
      If Obama knows how to fix corruption and tribalism in SS, it is the only help people of SS need from him; anything else is going to be a waste of time and resources.

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  • 19 November 2012 11:02, by australian

    Luka: what are you smoking, man? I hardly know where to start. But if you admire a man who is obsessed with advancing the cause of Islam and sharia law JUST BECAUSE HE IS BLACK I can only wonder: do you admire al-Turabi, or Joseph Kony? They are black too! So they MUST be good people!!
    Obama cares NOTHING for South Sudan and never will.

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  • 26 November 2012 21:52, by nostalgia for 1 sudan

    MR. Luka Biong is aprominent south sudanese politician and intellectual but he is a hostage to his childhood bitter memories about his social background as dinka boy suffering from superiority imposed on him by his other class mates in Sudanese schools..his hatred to Arabs makes his wishes- based analysis lose its credibility.He always urges the international community ,particularly US to be ext

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  • 26 November 2012 22:02, by nostalgia for 1 sudan

    cont.
    remely tough with Sudan and this is not a manner of big state man..coming to Abye, according to the CPA it belongs to the north(borders of 1-1-56)..International arbitration court did not give it to the south ..It will remain northern territory and dar Misseria..Mr. LUKA BIONG DENG MAJOK TRY TO LICK YOUR ELBOW:)

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