Sunday, May 25, 2008

Dr Khalil Ibrahim: Seek Peaceful Means and Not Aimless Wars

This analysis discusses the attack launched by Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) on Khartoum. It will be asking more questions on – than giving answers to – the motive behind Dr Khalil Ibrahim's what appeared to have been a suicidal rather than a well-conceived and planned attack on Khartoum.

The rebel JEM launched a devastating attack on Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman on May 10th, 2008, at around 1500 hours local time. This attack, which had casualties on both sides with JEM having more casualties and losing almost all the equipment, heavy and light weapons they used for the attack, was repulsed after two-three hours later. JEM, according to the authorities in Khartoum, moved into Omdurman with more than two hundred vehicles, most of them Land Cruisers mounted with ballistic missile launchers, anti-aircraft guns and 106 launchers or artillery.

The JEM leader, Dr Khalil Ibrahim, spoke to BBC on a line that appeared to have been a mobile line on May 11th, 2008. He said that he was in full control of Omdurman, and that it was a matter of hours Khartoum would also be under his forces' control. Dr Khalil Ibrahim also said that his movement had nothing with the Sudanese army and people but was aiming at unseating President Al Bashir and seizing power from the National Congress Party (NCP). This was far from the truth because JEM forces entered the Sudanese army's engineering corps, clashed with soldiers on duty and so there were army and civilian casualties reported.

What would one understand from JEM's decision to launch the attack it did on Omdurman? Well, from Dr Khalil Ibrahim's own statement, he said he wants to end the rule of NCP and President Al Bashir to be more specific. But is it possible for one ethnic group to take on Khartoum, which is supposed to be defended by all the nationalities and ethnic groups in the Sudan? How could Dr Khalil Ibrahim convince anyone that he was not coming to Khartoum to cause mayhem and/or havoc and not to take over power?

It is not long ago that Dr Khalil Ibrahim insinuated to the press that he and his JEM were to fight for the secession of Darfur from the rest of the Sudan. How could someone like Khalil Ibrahim, who wants to separate Darfur from the entire country, leave the most important target, Darfur, which he intends to separate, and launch an attack on Omdurman, hundreds of miles away, instead? Could it be that some powers close to Dr Khalil Ibrahim and his JEM did convince him to abandon his ambition to separate Darfur? Could it then be that the very powers that convinced him did supply him with all the vehicles and weapons he used to attack Omdurman? What could be the motive of the powers that supplied JEM with vehicles and weapons?

The questions above are very difficult to answer indeed. They can only be answered by Dr Khalil Ibrahim himself and speculated upon by journalists like this author. However, what seems to be clear is that Dr Khalil Ibrahim has been talked out of his intention to separate Darfur from the rest of Sudan. Thus, his attack on Omdurman is a complete reassurance of the conviction followed by the heavy support seen from the arms and vehicles he acquired from somewhere to launch the attack he did on Omdurman. The motive behind the support of Dr Khalil Ibrahim by the powers that supported him and his JEM is the seizure of power in Khartoum to possibly effect regime change and satisfy their curiosity as well as interest in the Sudan.

However, the powers behind Dr Khalil Ibrahim did bet on a wrong horse. Otherwise, the attack was suicidal because no soldier – experienced or not – would ever plan to attack a government headquarters of any country without considering the important aspects of the operation, which are:
Appreciation of the enemy's military situation (the number of the force it is attacking, its strength and armaments);
Identifying clear targets;
Use of one ethnicity and the repercussions that would ensue in the event that the attack fails;
Defending the vehicles and weapons as movement's assets during the actual battle; and
Securing an escape route to save the assets and men, should things prove tough and hence a need to withdraw.

None of the aspects above appeared to have been employed by JEM's top military echelon at the head of Dr Khalil Ibrahim. Yet Dr Khalil Ibrahim cries foul and chooses item (3) above to use it against the government when he was supposed to take it into consideration in the first place. Dr Khalil Ibrahim is now calling on Human Rights Organisations to look into what he calls mass arrests, tortures and killings of his nationality and/or ethnic community in Khartoum. Who is Dr Khalil Ibrahim trying to blame for the arrests, tortures and killings of his nationality and/or ethnic community? Is it the government of President Al Bashir or himself and his inability to forecast repercussions of his action? President Al Bashir and his government have responsibilities over the Sudanese people. The attack on Omdurman was a military campaign Dr Khalil Ibrahim started. The killing of both soldiers from the army, police and other security organs, including civilians whom Dr Khalil Ibrahim said he had nothing against, had to be stopped by none other than the government itself.

The government authorities in Khartoum said that Dr Khalil Ibrahim was implementing foreign agenda. Could this be difficult to believe? No, it should be very possible to believe because the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) was unable to acquire – in its first five years of the struggle – the number of vehicles and weapons Dr Khalil Ibrahim acquired in less than five years. This does not need an evening lesson. Dr Khalil Ibrahim has big powers behind him and they are definitely the ones who funded his JEM and it is only they, and not Dr Khalil Ibrahim, who know the agenda for trying to seize power in Khartoum.

Whatever Dr Khalil Ibrahim and the powers that are supporting him want by trying to seize power in Khartoum, they need to know that the Sudanese people have given their allegiance to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The attack on Omdurman, irrespective of whether or not it was aimed at seizing power, it was and will always be viewed as an attack on the CPA. Most Sudanese know that the signing of the CPA exacerbated Dr Khalil Ibrahim's and other Darfur rebels' exit out of Sudan to prepare for war against the CPA. The war in Darfur is more or less a protest against the CPA which is seen to be giving South Sudan more economic and political power base and a referendum to decide its future with North Sudan, which included Dr Khalil Ibrahim and other Darfur rebels before they started war in Darfur.

It should be noted, however, that any attack on Khartoum and the Government of National Unity (GoNU) by Darfur rebels would clearly be seen as aimed at dismantling the CPA partnership. This is more so because when the CPA negotiations started between the SPLM/A and the Inqaz government in Kenya, Dr Khalil Ibrahim was amongst those mobilizing Sudanese Muslims to go to South Sudan, Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile to fight for Jihad or holy war. How people from Darfur pledged their support to the SPLM/A when it started in 1983? The people of Darfur then believed that the war in the South was not theirs. If Dr Khalil Ibrahim and his other rebel colleagues today believe that they have a cause to fight, they should be very careful about drawing all the Sudanese into fighting a war that is not theirs.

The people of Darfur have signed the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), which Dr Khalil Ibrahim and others have rejected. Like many agreements, the DPA could be having some shortcomings. But the GoNU has clearly indicated its willingness to accept amendments to the DPA if this is the concern of Dr Khalil Ibrahim and other Darfur rebels.

Fighting or intimidation does not resolve any conflict these days. The CPA partners are a testimony to this. Dr Khalil Ibrahim and many other educated people from Darfur supporting or belonging to the rebel organisations in Darfur should come to their senses and either agree with the DPA and end the fighting or amend the DPA if they disagree with it and come home. The people of Darfur have had their suffering exacerbated by the insistence to prolong the war. For how long do Darfurians have to suffer for peace to come? This suffering can come to an end but only and only if those who claim to lead the people in Darfur like Dr Khalil Ibrahim come to their senses by seeking peaceful means and not aimless wars.

May God Almighty rest the souls of all those who died in the recent attack launched by JEM on Omdurman in Peace.

No comments: