Hot Spot Abyei
Kriegswarnung vor der Volksabstimmung
In der Region Abyei bahnt sich ein Konflikt zwischen den beiden dominierenden
Volksgruppen an. So hat ein Vertreter des arabischen Nomadenvolkes der Misseriya der
Bevölkerungsmehrheit der ethnischen Ngok-Dinka mit dem Ausbruch von Gewalt gedroht, sollte
Abyei Südsudan zugeschlagen werden. »Falls die Dinka diese Entscheidung treffen – Abyei an den
Süden anzuschließen – wird es unverzüglich und ohne weitere Erklärung zum Krieg kommen«,
warnte Bishtina Mohammed El Salam am 3. Januar gegenüber dem arabischen Nachrichtensender
Al Dschasira. Den Dinka sollte klar sein, »dass sie von denjenigen, die sie zu einer solchen
Entscheidung ermutigten, keine Hilfe zu erwarten haben«.
Die sesshaften Dinka hatten im Bürgerkrieg von 1983 bis 2005 auf Seiten des christlich-schwarzen
Südens gestanden, dem sie sich kulturell und ethnisch zugehörig fühlen. Die Misseriya hingegen,
die das Gebiet mehrere Monate im Jahr mit ihrem Vieh durchziehen, sind dem Nordsudan zugetan.
Viele von ihnen ließen sich im längsten Krieg Afrikas als Milizen für den Norden anwerben.
Die Misseriya fürchten um den Zugang zu den Weiden, sollte Abyei Teil des Südsudans werden. Dem Friedensabkommen von 2005 zufolge sollen die Menschen in Abyei in einem separaten
Referendum entscheiden, ob sie dem Norden oder dem Süden angehören wollen. Doch strittige
Grenz- und Wohnrechtsstreitigkeiten sorgten dafür, dass der ebenfalls für den 9. Januar anberaumte
Volksentscheid verschoben werden musste. Abyei könnte wie 2008 erneut zu einem Pulverfass
werden. Damals wurden viele Städte und Dörfer in dem Gebiet durch Kämpfe zwischen den
Truppen des Nordens und Einheiten der Südsudanesischen Volksbefreiungsarmee (SPLM) nahezu
dem Erdboden gleichgemacht. Um die 100 Menschen starben, mehr als 50 000 Menschen wurden
in die Flucht getrieben.
* Aus: Neues Deutschland, 8. Januar 2011
Sudan: History of a Broken Land
Al Jazeera maps the turbulent history of a country on the verge of a momentous decision
by Jamie Doran **
As the people of southern Sudan prepare to vote in a
referendum that may see them secede from the North,
filmmaker Jamie Doran looks at the history of a troubled
It was the giant of Africa: a nation which once represented
the greatest hope for peaceful coexistence between Arab and
African, Muslim and Christian. That hope is all but gone.
The promise of Sudan was just an illusion.
It is already a fractured country and, in the longer term,
this is unlikely to be an isolated matter of north and south
breaking apart following the referendum on southern
secession. Separatist movements in regions such as Darfur
and the Nuba Mountains are watching with more than
curiosity. And it is not just Sudan: in other African and
Arab countries independence factions are eyeing developments
with a view to making their move either through the ballot
box or the gun.
In the run-up to the referendum, I traveled to Sudan to
make the film. I have been fortunate enough in my life to
have visited most of the world's countries and yet, this
would be the first time I had set foot in Africa's largest.
To say that the northern Sudanese people are enormously
friendly may be clichÃ©d, but it is also very true. Soon
after our arrival, the car we had hired in Khartoum broke
down and we quickly found ourselves surrounded by young men,
all of them trying to help discover and rectify the fault.
No-one was looking for money; it simply came naturally to
them to help out and was just one example of many we would
discover in the following weeks.
Unfortunately though, I also discovered self-delusion: in
the coffee shops, restaurants and streets, the vast majority
of people I spoke with wanted desperately to believe that it
was not too late and that, surely, the South will never
leave the union. It will.
Sudan's lost unity
In the South I found determination and certainty: that
independence is the only goal and that they will face up to
any other problems once that goal is achieved. This naivety
is an ironic repetition of events in 1956, when Sudan gained
independence from the British/Egyptian administration. Then,
as now, internal problems and disagreements were set aside
until the target was reached.
Almost five decades of conflict followed and, today, the
prospect of intra-tribal war in the South, following its own
independence, is very real ... but no-one wants to talk
about it until the referendum is over.
As always, it is the innocent people who will suffer. Well
over two million may have died in the civil wars, but I have
little doubt that the self-destruct button humanity has
pushed so often in the past will be employed once again.
So who is to blame for Sudan's predicament?
Most northern politicians and historians will tell you it is
the British. And they have a strong case. The splitting of
the country in 1922, when northerners were not allowed to
travel south (over the 10th Parallel) and southerners north
(over the 8th), ensured that Muslims were stopped from
spreading their faith southwards while the British openly
supported the influx of Christian missionaries to the South.
This created much of the division that exists today.
The two cultures were never given a proper opportunity to
interact, which is a genuine tragedy as they could have
learned so much from each other. Most certainly, I met very
many individuals from both sides of the soon-to-be border
who could have coexisted with ease. I think here of the
Tabibi brothers in Omdurman, Aban Raphael in Malakal,
villagers in the Nuba Mountains and their counterparts in
Bor; all of them good people, wishing only for peace.
But is it really just the British who are to blame? As the
youngest son of an Irish nationalist, I am not about to
defend the actions of colonialists. But a question must be
posed: why, in the 55 years since those colonialists
departed, has the Sudanese government failed to invest in
To this day, there are just 50km of paved roads in a country
the size of France. Illiteracy amongst women is almost 100
per cent; poverty is rife, healthcare virtually non-existent
and starvation a frequent blight.
Add to this the attempts by northern politicians to impose
their own interpretation of Sharia Law (the infamous
'September Laws') on southern Christians and another picture
emerges. The North imposed its dominance by force and,
inevitably, the South rebelled.
'The forgotten tribe'
As the country awaits the outcome of the referendum, I
cannot help but think that, whatever the outcome may be, we
have not seen the last of conflict. Eighty per cent of the
oil is in the South, while the pipeline runs north. There is
Darfur, potentially insoluble. And there is Abyei, situated
right on the proposed border, inhabited by the southern
Dinka Ngok tribe but used by the northern nomadic Misseriya
tribe on a seasonal basis for grazing their cattle herds.
Frequently, the Dinka have come under attack from Misseriya
militias, resulting in massacres and destruction. But the
Misseriya see themselves as the forgotten tribe, and they
have a case.
Under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which
brought civil war to an end, two referenda were agreed: one
for southern secession or unity and the other to give Abyei
the opportunity to choose to be part of the North or the
There is simply no question that the Dinka Ngok would vote
for the South but, under the terms of the CPA, the Misseriya
were not given the vote and feel massively aggrieved. They
fear that Abyei, as part of the new south, would attempt to
stop them crossing the border, denying them the grazing
rights they have enjoyed for centuries. As the Misseriya
chief, Babu Nimir, told me:
"If Dinka Ngok say that they will not permit the Misseriya
to reach the waters, I tell you, we will fight them. We will
fight them. We will fight them. And we will go through even
beyond Abyei to drink water and to take pasture."
The Abyei referendum has now been effectively abandoned,
leaving a dangerous state of limbo which could ignite at any
Sudan is already a broken land and it is difficult to
envisage any form of lasting peace in the near or even
distant future. I can only hope, on behalf of the many good
people it was my privilege to meet, that I am wrong.
** Jamie Doran is an award-winning Irish documentary
filmmaker. He spent over seven years at BBC Television
before establishing his independent television company.
Source: Al Jazeera, January 5, 2011; http://english.aljazeera.net
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