Africa: Politics and Societies South of the Sahara

Derrida in Khartoum – Is the Disintegration of the Sudan Imminent?

Posted in African Politics, Global Africa, Sudan by ruben eberlein on June 25, 2009

konkret709My latest contribution to Konkret (7/09) deals with the intensification of the many conflicts in Africa’s biggest country. Some analysts even go so far as to predict a Somalia scenario any time soon. The warrant of arrest of the ICC for President Omar al-Bashir was supposed to raise the pressure on the Islamists, but some observers doubt that this strategy in fact succeeded. Read some English excerpts of that article here and find the original German version as pdf here.

This issue of Konkret covers, inter alia, the revelation that Karl-Heinz Kurras (the Western Berlin police officer who killed student Benno Ohnesorg in June 1967 at a demonstration against the Shah of Persia) worked for the East German Secret Police, the Staatssicherheit. Georg Seeßlen reports on an award show for the German journalistic contribution which most successfully fudges the history of ‘68’. The interview with Karl Dietrich Wolff, a prominent student leader of the late 60s, also deals with the ‘case Kurras’. Other stories report on the situation in North Korea, the elections to the European Parliament, the decline of the city of Detroit and the history of the Basque Guerrilla organisation ETA.

Here are now some excerpts of my own article entitled ‘Derrida in Khartum’. You can read the full text in German if you buy the new edition of Konkret, on sale tomorrow.

sudanpicAfter the official end of the war between the SPLM and the regime in Khartoum four years ago, the living conditions of the people in the oil-rich South did not change for the better. Many cannot return to their villages of origin and still live as internally displaced – despite the considerable incomes from the oil business. ‘The performance of the government of South Sudan is very dissatisfying’, comments Hafiz Mohammed from the London-based organisation Justice Africa vis-à-vis Konkret. ‘She failed to deal with the many problems of the people in the South. A combination of bad governance and corruption led to a total dysfunctioning of the government of the South.’ Even the own functionaries cannot be paid sometimes; there was already unrest. Other analysts, however, acknowledge certain positive developments with regards to the integration of the different militias.

The international pressure on the Islamists in power since the coup of 1989 was supposed to be raised through the issue of an arrest warrant of the International Criminal Court (ICC) against President Omar al-Bashir in March 2009. While the court did not charge him with genocide as of now, al-Bashir is accused to be indirectly responsible for attacks against civilians, pillage, murder, extermination, forcible transfers, torture and rape. The ICC refers with this warrant of arrest to the time of the war in Darfur between early 2003 and late 2005 as well as to the phase of ‘low-intensity’ conflicts until July 2008. But if the pressure was indeed enhanced – this is questionable. A long-time observer of the Sudan tells Konkret: ‘The fact that the regime did not find it necessary to look for internal alliances with its enemies – and it can be very pragmatic in that regard – shows that the situation seems under control from the view of the power holders.’

The so-called international community exercised itself in a sometimes meaty rhetoric in response to the crimes of the Sudanese government in Darfur. But it did not do anything effective in order to stop the mass killings, expulsions and rapes. In 2004, the South Sudan peace negotiations were just about to be concluded, and nobody wanted to endanger them by pointing to Darfur. The United Nations-force Unamid, in fact a troop of African states under the command of the UN, which today is seconded in Darfur, is hardly able to defend itself, let alone providing effective and long-lasting protection for the refugees. The politics of the US vis-à-vis Khartoum is coined by contradicting interests. While the State Department wants to strengthen the moderates, the CIA since years cooperates with the well-functioning Sudanese secret service in the field of anti-terror espionage. The US intelligence is said to have received ‘a lot of information about the international Islamist movement’ from the Sudanese government which led to a ‘softening of the American politics’, explains an analyst in response to Konkret’s questions.

The basic cause of the conflicts and wars in the Sudan (which are not restricted to the South and the West, but concern also the Eastern and Northern regions) is the contradiction between destitute and politically marginalised provinces on the one hand and the agglomeration of political, military and economic power around Khartoum on the other hand. Those responsible for the slaughters in the South and in Darfur are by no means barbarians or religious fanatics, writes the Africanist Gérard Prunier in Darfur. A 21st Century Genocide. One rather has to deal with a ‘computer-savvy technocratic elite’, with ‘unexpected disciples of Jacques Derrida and of the French Post-Modernists’ who ‘know that reality is less important than the discourse restructuring it’.

Photo: Irinnews. Southern Sudanese soldiers on parade in Juba (no date).

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