The genocide in Sudan is finally over with the division of the large African country between its north and its south.
French intellectuals on American public television, private cable television networks such as CNN after prime time and human rights activists from around the world have been pleading for the end of three major African conflicts for about 2 decades: the conflict in Rwanda between the Hutu majority government and the Tutsi minority rebels during the Clinton administration, the brutal human rights abuses in the war of the Muslim north over the oil-rich Christian south in Sudan, both officially designated by the United Nations as genocide, and the civil war in Congo. The United States itself was at war on many fronts over this same period of time: the genocide in Bosnia by the Serbs of the Muslims, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Now, all wars appear to be coming to an end, including the simmering resentments of the peoples of Middle East and North Africa (MENA) against their dictators long upheld by the United States and the Soviet Union, on the heels of the killing of Osama Bin Laden who had been a rabble rouser in Africa in Sudan, Kenya and Tanzania, with similar intents along the lines of religious and social fractures in Central Asia.
Harvard professor of Political Economy at the Kennedy School of Government (KSG) Alberto Alessina had written a very insightful paper a few years ago about the shape of orthogonal borders between countries in Africa after European, and primarily, British colonialism without regard to ethnic differences. The drawing of straight lines across the giant cookie of the African continent, as I think was also the case in Iraq after Mesopotamia, was his explanation for the difficulty in resolving the tensions in the post-Colonial world. Thinking about the ghosts of colonialism, at large, is not new. Krishna Sankaran of the Department of Political Science of University of Hawai’i at written a similar paper in the early ‘90s about Indian history. The at once extant and ancient ethnic Indian borders, older than the European ethnic boundaries, however, cannot be subject to Alessina’s cookie cutting hypothesis.
I had, therefore, written an article to KSG earlier than Alessina’s paper, raising the very same issue but arguing for a new perspective on global development in 2002 that puts a premium on fostering civil society as the primary means of conflict resolution and economic development. Through this lens, the British Bengals of Tagore (West Bengal, and today’s Bangladesh or the former East Pakistan), Pakistan and India (including Kashmir) of Gandhi, the Koreas of Truman, the Vietnams of Kissinger, Nixon, Kruschev and Brezhnev and the Sudans of Obama, can be one.
Rachel Kyte of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), in this new age of social media in communications (in the early ‘90s, the web browser was a new-fangled contraption of information sharing), had circulated an article on Twitter, the day after the U.S Department of State announced the partition of Sudan, from the International Crisis Group (ICG) about policy options in Sudan, oil being at the epicenter of the resolving Sudanese problem.
Northern Sudan’s infrastructure of oil production and the south’s lack of it must not be seen by the coalition that made Sudan’s partition possible as either another post-war Iraq or the feudal and agrarian American south which was reconstructed by the industrial north beginning with the International Cotton Exposition (I.C.E) or the World’s Fair in Atlanta in the fall of 1881 for its rebuilding after the American Civil War.
If partitions, as much as they ought to be avoided, when unavoidable such as in Sudan to end genocide, should be conceived as way-stations toward more civil reunifications later. To this end, the new Sudans’ natural resource curse must first be turned into a blessing. After all, natural resources were not a curse for the United States of America from the Declaration of Independence in 1776 to the end of World War II in 1945. They were the benediction that had bubbled America to the top of the global economic ladder.
South Sudan’s oil belongs to South Sudan. North Sudan’s industrial infrastructure and its resources belong to the north. Foreign investment must come into both Sudans, the Muslim north and the Christian south for both to develop simultaneously while maintaining and to maintain the comprehensive peace enabled by the United Nations, African Union, European Union, Arab League, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development consisting of the new Sudans’ neighbors.
Tomorrow will be a new day for both, north and south Sudan.