"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

2.20.2012

kristof in sudan

Where in the world is Nick Kristof? Late last week, he posted a series of secretive tweets alluding to his trip to an unsafe destination:


On Saturday, Kristof revealed that he's been reporting from Sudan's Nuba Mountains, a point confirmed by his Sunday, February 19 column:
"The Sudanese armed forces try to keep aid workers and journalists out, so the story of suffering has not received much international attention. I’m going to try to slip into the Nuba Mountains and report back. Stay tuned. "
According to a tweet from earlier today (Monday, February 20), Kristof made it to the Nuba Mountains, where he interviewed SPLM soldiers.

Setting aside the fact that the Nuba Mountains story has actually gotten quite a bit of attention over the past six months or so, it's obviously a tragic situation that needs to be reported. However, there are a few problems with Kristof's approach here:
  1. There's an obvious bias in the story. While I'm not one to defend the murderous Bashir regime, the Sudanese government does have a legitimate concern that aid coming into the region along that route will fall into the hands of the rebels rather than the people it is meant to help. Kristof needs to be more clearly focused on the fact that just because Khartoum is bad does not mean that everything that the rebels and their South Sudanese compatriots do is perfect. (As Louisa Lombard aptly notes, South Sudan is guilty of discrimination against minority ethnic groups as well). The point here is not that humanitarian aid is not urgently needed to help the Nuba; it obviously is. Rather, the point is that the kind of journalism that takes sides does not help in the goal of getting Khartoum to allow aid through or to give them assurances that the rebels won't take control of that aid for their own purposes. Biased reporting reinforces Khartoum's belief that agencies like Samaritan's Purse (which Kristof names in his story) are politicized, biased, and out to destroy their rule, which makes it harder for all aid agencies and the UN to help.
  2. Other reporters now can't get access. Kristof is on a short reporting trip to the region, but there is a strong cadre of experienced reporters in Sudan who have covered the region for a long time and will be there for years after Kristof is gone. Because Kristof has announced to the world that he's sneaking around in the Nuba Mountains, their jobs are now more difficult. Already, several journalists have had to cancel planned trips to South Kordofan due to concerns about the safety of Westerners. Many journalists working in the region are under the impression that a manhunt for Kristof is happening, a perception reinforced by an apparent uptick in bombings along the road from the Nuba Mountains to the nearest refugee camp in South Sudan over the last couple of days. There's no way to prove that this rise in violence is linked to Kristof's announcement, of course, and I don't think there's solid evidence to support that claim, although we do know that there have been a lot more ambushes of buses along the route and rocket attacks by the SAF over the weekend. More importantly, though, is that people are behaving as though it were true. Why does this matter? Because if reporters who are in this for the long haul can't get in, the story won't be told as it unfolds. There is no question that the attention brought by Kristof will make it more difficult for reporters to get legitimate access to the area. If the famine many are predicting does break out in South Kordofan in the months to come, those same reporters won't be able to tell the story without risking their lives to do so. That will be tragic for those who will need that reporting to draw attention to their plight.
  3. NGO's are on edge. Most of Kristof's trips to places like the Nuba Mountains are done in conjunction with an international NGO that wants to get publicity for its efforts. The NGO provides logistical assistance and, in return, the reporter mentions the NGO's good work in his or her column. The NGO gets good press, the reporter gets the story, and everyone is generally happy. The problem now is that because of Kristof's shenanigans, NGO's in the region are very reluctant to help reporters get the story. Moreover, as it's pretty clear from Kristof's column that Samaritan's Purse is likely helping him, that puts aid workers - especially those working for SP - on the ground in danger, especially if the SAF really is out trying to find Kristof. Rather than being perceived by those on the ground as a neutral humanitarian agency, Samaritan's Purse is now seen as an ally of South Sudan. That's an incredibly dangerous situation for those who are trying to carry out neutral humanitarian work.
  4. There's no Sudanese agency. As is his modus operandi, all the Sudanese quoted by Kristof in the story are victims: a rape survivor, people who've been shot at, refugees. This reinforces stereotypes of Sudanese passivity and a lack of agency. It's not surprising; Africans are almost always victims in Kristof's reporting, but it's an utterly incomplete picture of what's actually going on.
It's easy to criticize Nick Kristof for his longstanding pattern of irresponsible and thoughtless reporting from dangerous locations, but I do think there are some challenging questions for journalists and academics here. How do you balance getting the story with not putting others in danger? Should you announce to the world that you're in a dangerous place in the name of awareness? How do you protect those who help you get the story, as well as the people they're trying to serve?

In my view, Kristof could have told this very important story after his return from the region, thus avoiding creating some of the dangers into which he has now inadvertently placed others. He also could have discussed in more detail why Khartoum is afraid to allow aid in, and what could be done to convince the Sudanese government to take another approach.

What do you think?

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Correction: The worst-case scenarios for South Kordofan are not a famine, they are for a Level 4 (Emergency) Food Insecurity Situation. My apologies for the error.

Labels:

19 Comments:

Blogger AndyB said...

Have been thinking about this post for awhile, trying to figure out what wasn't sitting right. I think its this. There's one theory that says what SK and BN needs is more attention. That we need to raise awareness about the situation there. When I have talked to individuals from these areas in Khartoum, some have argued that we need to get more information from these areas out to the world. But if one holds to this view, we can't be surprised that when we do publicize what is happening, it sparks a reaction. We hide behind phrases like "raise awareness" and "bring attention to" forgetting that the goal of such strategies is to influence the behavior of powerful, often brutal state actors. Kristof could have perhaps done things differently in a way that would have affected this reaction, but in my view only on the margins. Eventually, if your goal is publicize and shame, you are going to spark a reaction whether its Kristof or one of the long-time reporters.

A second theory says the best way to support the people of SK and BN is quiet negotiation with the regime in order to maximize the chance of much needed aid getting to those who need it. This is also a legitimate position, by need it, I mean, need it to not die. But this is in no way a "neutral" position. When you work under this theory, you have chosen to play by the regime's rules.

There are many, many legitimate critiques you can make of Kristof's journalism, but those critiques don't change the fact that the choice between these two ways of operating, at least in Sudan, is pretty stark. I honestly don't know which has the better chance of creating positive change in Sudan at the moment, but I do know we have to be honest about the tradeoffs.

Monday, February 20, 2012 4:57:00 PM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

Thanks for your thoughtfulness on this, Andy. I think you make a really great point, but I also think that there's an open way of writing about it that doesn't involve announcing that you're sneaking into an area, thus putting others at risk. I should have been more clear about that in the post.

As we both know, most of the aid agencies operating in the area have strongly pushed for the quieter approach, as they're afraid of getting kicked out in a Darfur-style scenario. That raises a question of just what we mean by "neutrality." I'm conceiving of it in the humanitarian sense rather than the political, but of course there's a huge debate to be had there. Thanks for raising the questions.

Monday, February 20, 2012 8:31:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 7:12:00 AM

 
Anonymous fedrip said...

Honestly, this time I don't put my blame over Kristof's piece. He's a (famous) journalist, yet he choose to do a dangerous mission instead of reporting from New York. He's putting all his efforts (in Kristof's style) to unveil what's happening to Nuba People who risk to be forgotten by North, South and the the whole international comunity. Under these conditions I believe it is correct to cite at least one organization among those (there are very few in that area) who are involved in helping projects.
In any case all of the people who are moving around Nuba Mountains are in extremely dangerous conditions regardless of Kristof's pieces. You cannot expect to work safely in Sudan as a humanitarian operator now and if you look at this from a different perspective it maybe could be useful to draw attention on Sudan politics before the ignition of a new war not after. (I mean more attention than the last six months)
Regarding the impartiality issue I believe that while we must firmly recognize both North and South responsibilities, putting the two contendents on the same level could be a deep mistake.
So even if I do not like Kristof's way to report from Africa, this time I prefer to wait new stories from Sudan before criticizing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 7:03:00 PM

 
Anonymous Kizzie said...

Dear Texas in Africa,

Thanks for publishing this piece. Sudanese youth have read and debated his piece and US activism in general for a while now and we are more encouraged to reply to his writings now.

In Kristof's Sudan, there are no Sudanese individuals or organizations involved in helping victims in South Kordofan and he always communicates to the world that the government (hailing from Northern Sudan) represents North Sudan (described as the Arab North) and every individual hailing from the Arab North is evil, racist and supports the government

Thursday, February 23, 2012 2:23:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In case anyone is interested on where this stands, check it out: http://www.radiomiraya.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7975:sudan-protests-the-entry-of-2-usa-nationals-into-its-its-territories-without-visa&catid=89&Itemid=295 - I assume we can all guess who "Nicholas Christopher" is....

Tuesday, March 06, 2012 5:19:00 AM

 
Blogger Ibrahim said...

Nick Kristof’s reporting about the conflict in South Kordofan, Laura???
Here’s what I – and I bet your bottom $, the silent, non-English-speaking, non-internet using Sudanese masses – think about his missives about the conflict; clue: it’s totally different to the caring, if woefully under-informed, take on the conflict in the Nub Mtns of So-Ko held by an American chatterati immersed in the ‘virtual Sudan’ (distinct from ‘real Sudan).
So typical of all of his Sudan reporting, Nick K has left out all and any situational/political contextualisation to the So-Ko conflict in Sudan: instead, he’s just turned it into a ‘Bambi-style’, dumbed-down humanitarian issue that’s easily digestible during breakfast and Sunday brunch by American NYT readers.
Peeps: NOTHING is ever that simple; e.g. see United States Govt blockage of aid to civilians in Al-Shabab areas of Somalia) or its de facto acquiescence of Israel’s obscenely long blockade on Gaza.
Nick K’s aim of leaving out ANY political context and so keep the American public in the dark of its causes is simple, however:
Portray the war in So-Ko as just another typical example of leftfield brutish behaviour by a racist and Arab supremacist Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), bearing down yet again on a completely innocent and whiter-than-white non-Arab group – this time the Nuba.
Another clue:
It isn’t.
That would be as absurd as saying successive USG have declared war on or hate the African American community ‘cos their young men are disproportionately jailed.

I Adam
Sudan

Wednesday, March 07, 2012 4:03:00 AM

 
Blogger Ibrahim said...

Nick Kristof’s reporting about the conflict in South Kordofan, Laura???
Here’s what I – and I bet your bottom $, the silent, non-English-speaking, non-internet using Sudanese masses – think about his missives about the conflict; clue: it’s totally different to the caring, if woefully under-informed, take on the conflict in the Nub Mtns of So-Ko held by an American chatterati immersed in the ‘virtual Sudan’ (distinct from ‘real Sudan).
So typical of all of his Sudan reporting, Nick K has left out all and any situational/political contextualisation to the So-Ko conflict in Sudan: instead, he’s just turned it into a ‘Bambi-style’, dumbed-down humanitarian issue that’s easily digestible during breakfast and Sunday brunch by American NYT readers.
Peeps: NOTHING is ever that simple; e.g. see United States Govt blockage of aid to civilians in Al-Shabab areas of Somalia) or its de facto acquiescence of Israel’s obscenely long blockade on Gaza.
Nick K’s aim of leaving out ANY political context and so keep the American public in the dark of its causes is simple, however:
Portray the war in So-Ko as just another typical example of leftfield brutish behaviour by a racist and Arab supremacist Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), bearing down yet again on a completely innocent and whiter-than-white non-Arab group – this time the Nuba.
Another clue:
It isn’t.
That would be as absurd as saying successive USG have declared war on or hate the African American community ‘cos their young men are disproportionately jailed.

I Adam
Sudan

Wednesday, March 07, 2012 4:04:00 AM

 
Blogger Ibrahim said...

Here’s the situational contextualisation to the Nuba Mountains conflict that Nick K didn’t mention in any of his columns.

Not once.

Let’s look – or to paraphrase ‘andyb’,” publicise” - what happened to spark the war; namely how the leader of the rebels in So-Ko, Abdul-Aziz Al-Hilu, a veteran Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA) commander-turned deputy governor of So-Ko-turned-rebel again, acted and judge for yourselves, TiA followers:

(‘andyb’- wailing and gnashing of teeth doesn’t substitute for context).

So-Ko held elections in May 2011 – a full thirteen months after the rest of Sudan had voted.

Why so late??

Al-Hilu and his ‘Hiluites’ in the SPLM had demanded a re-casting of the 2009 census in South Kordofan, claiming the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) had rigged it (but didn’t offer up any convincing proof).

Without a consensus on the census, the elections and, in turn, the popular consultation process for So-Ko enshrined in the CPA (and the main political casualty of the fighting as it had been earmarked to help determine So-Ko’s relationship with the central gov), could not be rolled out.
So, the NCP had little choice, other than to assent to Al-Hilu’s demand for a new census in spite of the considerable financial expense that it would entail.

Indeed, US taxpayers (quelle une surprise) footed a lot of that bill for the new census, as noted by USAID’s Rajakumari Jandhyala in her testimony to the House of Representatives on 6th June, 2011:

“In Southern Kordofan, USAID provided comprehensive support for the state elections last month and processes leading up to the elections, including the 2010 Southern Kordofan census, electoral administration, voter education, political party participation, and election observation by international [e.g. the Carter Center – the world’s most respected poll watcher] and domestic observers.”

American taxpayer-funded voter education missed out Al-Hilu, however:
“I win or I attack!” was the key election motto of his camp.

Nice. (Continued in next comment)

Wednesday, March 07, 2012 4:09:00 AM

 
Blogger Ibrahim said...

I Adam Comment Continued:

Faced with imminent defeat by the NCP in both the state legislative and gubernatorial elections, Al-Hilu announced, diva-like, that he and the SPLM were pulling out immediately of the polls (now at the counting stage), claiming, quelle une surprise again, they had been rigged, too (but again offering no concrete evidence that would even have a serious material impact on the outturn).

The Carter Center proceeded to issue its unequivocal verdict on the polls:
“Credible”.
Al-Hilu then proceeded to thumb his nose at NCP incumbent and poll victor S K Governor, Ahmed Haroun, who, magnanimously, offered the conciliatory gesture of forming a broad-based government and, in turn, entrench the popular consultation process, with Al-Hilu and the rest of the SPLM in S K; an arrangement that had worked so well in the run up the polls.
Al-Hilu also pooh-poohed the Carter Center’s plea for ALL candidates to eschew violence as a means of challenging the outturn and, instead, take a legal route for raising claims of foul play; in other words, the destructive culture of victimhood in Sudan, cultivated so assiduously by Nick Kristof and others in the American media and chatterati, climbed another notch.

Again.

Continued in next IAdam comment

Wednesday, March 07, 2012 4:12:00 AM

 
Blogger Ibrahim said...

I Adam Comment continued:

Hiluites subsequently raided a police station near Kadugli, the state capital, seized its weapons and began a wild shooting spree in the state capital of Kadugli (including an assassination attempt on Governor Haroun’s convoy and the murder of a prominent local NCP official in cold blood).
It spread quickly to Kauda, a nearby SPLM stronghold, and to small hamlets in the Nuba Mountains, creating further mayhem for ordinary civilians and humanitarians alike, before Al-Hilu and the Hiluites dispersed to the villages high up around the Mountains and the Kauda Valley, where they remained holed-up still.

Continued in next IAdam Comment.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012 4:15:00 AM

 
Blogger Ibrahim said...

IAdam Comment continued:

Concurrently, SAF had demanded in May 2011 the disarmament of all historically pro-southern Sudan forces in So-Ko (and Blue Nile state) before southern independence on 9th July 2011: elements of the SPLA in S K responded by opening fire on disarmers from SAF.
The demand to disarm or demobilise, however, wasn’t SAF rough-housing of the SPLA. It’s actually a REQUIREMENT of the CPA (both SAF and the SPLA withdrawing to the 1/1/1956 border between Sudan and South Sudan) that Western stakeholders and internationals in Sudan like ‘andyb’ had fretted about in wondering (pessimistically, but wrongly as it turned out) whether the NCP would uphold as the independence of South Sudan neared.
Moreover, the Assessment and Evaluation Commission (AEC), a watchdog body staffed by international stakeholders of the CPA, confirmed that the SPLA (repackaged since the conflict started and since So-Sud’s independence as SPLA-North) had continued dragging its feet in redeploying to the 1/1/56 Sudan-South Sudan border, while SAF had completed it.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012 4:18:00 AM

 
Blogger Ibrahim said...

IAdam Comment continued:

Crucially, Nick K also fails to note that the violence in So-Ko and its sad impact on ordinary civilians there are ‘rump’ Sudan’s residue from the (‘Juba’ SPLM) intended consequences of the independence of South Sudan:
SPLA forces in Nuba Mtns (and Blue Nile state) were left as a body without a head following the ‘betrayal’ by their overlords in South Sudan of the late Dr. Garang’s belief in a unified Sudan in favour of a hasty dash for independence of South Sudan. (‘Betrayal’ ‘cos their sacrifices on the field made the very occurrence of the So-Sud referendum possible).
That’s what rankles most with them. It left the SPLA in So-Ko state rudderless and fearful of their future in ‘rump’ Sudan going forward; after all what government would allow a de facto (i.e. since South Sudan’s independence) foreign militia) to stay armed and roam on its territory freely???
Certainly not the Sudanese government. And certainly not the USA’s either.
Put starkly, backstopping of SPLA forces in So-Ko and Blue Nile by the Government of South Sudan (called out publicly and repeatedly by the United States Government, and even extending as far as providing troops from So-Sud) is:
(i) little more than attempt by Juba to assuage that powerful sense of ‘referendum betrayal’ among elements (not all – see below as to why that’s wrong) of the Nuba (and Ingessana of the Blue Nile state); and

(ii) the corollary of political posturing in extremis by GOSS; an attempt, if you like, to up the ante to the max in the ongoing post-South Sudan independence negotiations on oil, borders, citizenship etc with the NCP.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012 4:20:00 AM

 
Blogger Ibrahim said...

I Adam Comment continued:

So, there you have it in my preceding comments, Texas in Africa blog readers:
The elephant in the room.
The de-Bambi-isation and political contextualisation for the Sudanese government’s war in So-Ko (and Blue Nile state) that Nick Kristof and his ilk in the American media, academia, and policy circles ALWAYS, ALWAYS drop when it comes to ‘analysing’ and ‘commenting’ on all things Sudan.
No “'cos I’m black that’s why they are after me”.
No “systematic ethnic cleansing.”
That’s all just pap and urban myths by Hiluite domestic and US activists and their acolytes amongst the Nuba disapora to muddy the waters and to try draw ‘big brother’ (i.e the US military) into the conflict; in other words, Hilu gets what he couldn’t achieve through the ballot box nor on the ground military.
But, then again, as Nick Kristof’s reports have demonstrated, when has actual knowledge of the real situation and nuance be required for commenting on all things Sudan in the print and electronic media in the USA???
No, all you need is hubris, bombast as the main ingredients of the usual ‘mobbing’ of the Sudanese government in the ‘virtual arena’; i.e., in other words, ordinary Sudanese – despite living here right in the mix – must be very, very dumb not to see the Sudanese government for what it is (“murderous” – same could be said about many govs, Laura, no – including the USA’s – see Iraq, Afghanistan, etc??), and this needs to be pointed out to them by non-Sudanese folk – even though most have never stepped foot in the country and live thousands of miles away.
To “publicize and shame” is easy, Laura and ‘andyb’.
Doesn’t mean that’s the right target or solves the issues at hand, though.
Hubris by Nick K and others, as said.

I Adam Sudan
Continued in next comment

Wednesday, March 07, 2012 4:25:00 AM

 
Blogger Ibrahim said...

I Adam Comment - continued:

Let me turn to some of the “thoughtfulness” of ‘andyb’; he actually perpetuates many of the many of the myths taken as indisputable facts by ‘internationals’ here in Sudan and aforementioned inhabitants of ‘virtual Sudan’.
“When I have talked to individuals from these areas [South Kordofan and Blue Nile States] in Khartoum”.
“The [Nuba] people of SK”.
Therein lies the rub twice, 'andyb' and Laura that you’ve both overlooked. And it’s a key deficiency, too of Nick Kristof’s reports about the conflict in the Nuba Mountains – even though it’s repeated verbatim by all American journalists, academicians, policymakers etc.
And it’s this:
The Sudanese government IS NOT at war with “the people of SK”.
It's odd how, e.g., when the US gov flushes out violent Islamist extremists from the Af-Pak border, nobody accuses ‘Washington’ of going after Pashtuns; so where’s the difference with ‘Khartoum’ in So-Ko or B N states?
Simple.
There isn’t one.
That’s the plain vanilla truth – in spite of the wholly predictable effort by the American chatterati, epitomised by Nick Kristof, to try to whitewash it and re-package the war in S K as a race one (the only prism the USA can judge Sudan events by as it suits its own historical narrative). Indeed, if it was (in US parlance, a “Black thang” in S K), then riddle me this TiA readers - and it’s a key point overlooked unwittingly by ‘andyb’ when “talked to individuals from these areas [South Kordofan and Blue Nile States] in Khartoum”.
It’s this:
why have the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of displaced Nuba gone northwards to the cities of El Obeid (No-Kord) and Khartoum, the capital, both citadels of the “murderous regime” in Sudan – and something that Nick Kristof would ever ‘fess up to, or more likely doesn’t know ???
Why is that KEY truth kept of the debate in virtual Sudan about the conflict in S K??
Simple.
‘Cos it would destroy at a stroke the fraudulent narrative of the Nuba people, tonnes of whom serve in the Sudan Armed Forces, as being totally at war with ‘Khartoum’; i.e. expose that this is a ‘political’ dispute, i.e. SPLM supporters unilateral choosing and resorting to violence against the state, and not an ethnic one, i.e. against the Nuba, per se.
I mean, Texas in Africa readers, have you EVER heard of a war where so-called ‘victims’ flee for safety to the heartland of their so-called ‘oppressors’; e.g. Kosovans seeking refuge in Beograd; Armenians arriving en masse in Baku???
Nope.
Precisely.
Neither have I.
Key takeaway:
“the people [of S K and B N]” is a gross and often deliberately misused misrepresentation of the conflicts in those two states.
I Adam Sudan
Continued in following comment

Wednesday, March 07, 2012 4:29:00 AM

 
Blogger Ibrahim said...

I Adam Comment continued:

“A second theory says the best way to support the people of SK and BN is quiet negotiation with the regime in order to maximize the chance of much needed aid getting to those who need it and BN... But... When you work under this theory, you have chosen to play by the regime's rules.”
That’s a mind-bogglingly amazing statement ‘Andyb’ – and it’s totally misguided, too, and emblematic of the ‘Them, ‘Khartoum’, against Us’ mindset that’s de rigueur amongst virtually all internationals in Khartoum and elsewhere in Sudan (and throughout all of South Sudan).
My response??
Time for a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) ‘101’ for ‘Andyb’, methinks:
Like most ordinary Sudanese, I don’t want to see another single drop of blood of my countrymen and women spilt by war and wasted. So, ‘Andyb’ rather than seeing “quiet negotiations” as playing “by the regime’s rules”, please instead do remember that the fundamental premise of the CPA (and the basis for sustainable peace, development and security for ALL Sudanese going forward) was/is the rejection of violence in favour of airing perceived grievances and, in turn, resolving them through the political process and accompanying institutions of the state.
That’s, unless, we all want Sudan to become like Palestine, where the views of regional and international actors have a bigger sway on how to resolve Palestinian grievances than, for example, the elected legislature of the Palestinian Authority, or, alternatively, with those Palestinian grievances against Israel being settled with the gun as a route of the only choice of local actors a la Al Hilu???
To stop that (war and its corollary – humanitarian crises) from happening by stealth, however, the maxim of Von Clausewitz, war as a continuation of politics by other means, must be exorcised from Sudan’s landscape in its entirety.
The time must surely end when American journalists like Nick Kristof, NGOs, activists, and indeed many members of the US public re-shape the narrative, rally round and mollycoddle reflexively SPLA-North or any other group that picks up a stone and throws it at President Al-Bashir and the rest of the NCP. (Take note: Nick Kristof didn’t once call for an immediate ceasefire in S K state – as any TRUE humanitarian would – hardly a misstep that’s “on the margins”, ‘andyb’.)

No ifs.
No buts.
In fact, no qualifiers at all, America.
No more – qualified - support for violence in Sudan.
Period.
Yes, period!
If ordinary Americans and other westerners can, for example, accept that it’s wrong for Palestinians to resort to violence to challenge the Israeli status quo (hands up, TiA followers, anybody support Hamas??? Exactly), then why should it be so difficult to extend that reasoning to Sudan???
Sudan cannot and will not become the world’s sole country where violent challenges to the state’s authority are acceptable or even commendable – as Nick Kristof and the “gutsy” Ryan Boyette seem to think so; crikey, just look at the adverse humanitarian and displacement impact on, and ask, ordinary Sudanese civilians caught up in the violence in S K.
They certainly don’t think it is.
Indeed, local (non-state) armed actors throughout Sudan like SPLA-North have long recognised that legitimising internationally the launch of armed challenges against Khartoum requires, in tandem, the support of an always sympathetic ‘big brother’ standing by on call (read the USA or ‘blue helmets’) ready to, at the very least, blackball reflexively any action by ‘Khartoum’ to respond to such armed threats to its authority – as any state is entitled, nay required, for the safety of its citizens to do.
‘Andyb’: “rules” are good.
Anarchy doesn’t rule OK in Sudan - or anywhere else.
I Adam, Sudan
Continued in following comment...

Wednesday, March 07, 2012 4:32:00 AM

 
Blogger Ibrahim said...

I Adam, Sudan, Comment continued:

‘andyb’ “quiet negotiation with the regime in order to maximize the chance of much needed aid getting to those who need it” doesn’t mean that “When you [UN agencies and international aid organisations] work under this theory, you have chosen to play by the regime's rules.”
They’re not “the [Sudanese] regime’s rules”, ‘andyb’.
They’re actually the principles that ALL INGOs and UN agencies should hold themselves to (but don’t even try) when it comes to their operations in Sudan – and indeed in any other country.
The name of the rules, ‘‘andyb’’???
They’re called [the principles of] ‘Do No Harm’ – drawn up by international aid agencies themselves; I’ve provided a hyperlink to them, a quick cheat-sheet, below in case you’re blissfully unaware of them, ‘andyb’:
www.methodfinder.net/download.php?methodID=57&owner=frcs
Don’t they embody the key concerns that the Sudanese government has always harped on about in the massive international aid interventions of yesteryear - see UN Operation Lifeline [southern Sudan] in the north-south civil war during the 1990s-2003, and in Darfur – but only for ‘Khartoum’ to be dismissed as unreasonably paranoid by ‘internationals’ here in Sudan and elsewhere???
Yes they do.
Wouldn’t relations between the Sudanese government and INGOs and, at times, UN agencies, be less fraught if overseas aid workers kept the principles of ‘Do No Harm’ left, right, and centre of their operations in Sudan, and kept them in their top pocket and referred back to them constantly.
Yes again.
Precisely.
Key takeaway:
‘andyb’ – there’s a government in Sudan, in case you haven’t noticed.
INGOs and UN agencies HAVE to negotiate with it to get aid into S K or anywhere else in Sudan – rather than telling it to “Step aside! Cavalry charge on the way!!” as you seem to advocate; Sudan is a sovereign country after all – and issues of humanitarian access get negotiated the world over.
Please don’t imply or pretend that they don’t, ‘andyb’, and that the Sudanese government is just being a stickler in not just getting out of the way and letting the aid cavalry steam into S K freely.
And on the subject of pretence, isn’t the issue of giving UN and other international aid agencies unfettered and free access to all areas of South Kordofan, as demanded most loudly and stridently by US UN Ambassador Susan Rice, a proverbial red herring???
As you may both be aware,’andyb’ and Laura, the Sudanese government has already granted access to UN agencies like OCHA and WFP to access and conduct humanitarian ‘needs assessments’ in the state capital of So-Ko, Kadugli, and other areas of the state that are free of SPLA-N activity; so here’s my key point:
Let’s even put aside for a moment that predictions of a looming “Level 4 (Emergency) Food Insecurity Situation” in [rebel] parts of So-Ko state are not even grounded in firm metrics, but headcounts of affected victims and other dubious data supplied by the rebels themselves, would the ‘security teams’ of the UN agencies even allow their operational colleagues to access all areas of So-Ko where SPLA-North are still active, e.g. the Kauda Valley???
Do remember the all too recent kidnapping of Chinese workers by the SPLA-North in the hinterlands of So-Ko.
In that light, I strongly doubt that they (UN agency security teams) would; it would be a dereliction of their [security] duties if they did so.
I Adam, Sudan
Continued in following comment...

Wednesday, March 07, 2012 4:34:00 AM

 
Blogger Ibrahim said...

I Adam, Sudan, Comment continued:

Staying and concluding on the subject of pretence, Laura, I think it’s clear as a sunny summer’s day in Texas here:
Samaritan's Purse is not only seen as an ally of South Sudan. It is an ally of South Sudan. Nor has it EVER been perceived or acted as by those on the ground [in ‘Khartoum’] as a neutral humanitarian agency.
Suds are not dummies.
Take the Yida camp that Nick K and Ann Curry (plus VA Congressman Frank Wolf) visited and based their narrative on as a case in point. The fact that Yida has been erected by Purse so close to the conflict zone – in clear contravention of international humanitarian good practice - says it all.
It had been put there, no doubt, under the counsel and aegis of the well-intentioned, but clearly misguided and hopelessly out of his depth former Purse employee, Ryan Boyette – the (compulsory) mighty, whitey all-American hero in Nick Kristof’s filings for about the So-Ko conflict for the NYT.
Yes, Yida does house Nuba women and children; however, the majority of them are spouses, offspring, and other relatives of Al Hilu’s men, who have foolishly put them into the danger zone deliberately, and who continue to use the camp for rest and relaxation – a revolving door if you will - before returning to the Nuba mountains to continue their pointless war against the Sudanese govt.
Yida’s status as a political resistance camp is underlined by the sloganeering (in English to boot) in one of the videos accompanying Nick Kristof’s filings calling for UN and US intervention in So-Ko – hardly the actions of scared, war-weary refugees fleeing conflict – and the fact that the vast majority of Yida’s inhabitants have refused the UNHCR’s request to move to a safer location deeper into Unity State, South Sudan, and at safer distance from the conflict zone.
Their reason for the refusal to leave Yida camp for somewhere safer – and to where other international and UN aid orgs, not just Purse, could then provide assistance???
To stay close to their homesteads in Nuba Mtns so as to tend to their crops, which somewhat undermines the simplistic ‘Bambi-style’ narrative of Nick Kristof of civilians fleeing mortal danger and constantly being on the run from the SAF.
Put starkly, Yida is clearly militarised, with men lurking with guns and rifles (they're too media savvy to be seen in any international media pic) – as anybody who has been there will attest.
It was/and largely still remains a military camp – long before it took on the veneer of a refugee encampment.

I Adam, Sudan

Final Comment to follow...

Wednesday, March 07, 2012 4:37:00 AM

 
Blogger Ibrahim said...

I Adam, Sudan, Comment continued (final one)...

I know that my comment has been very, very long, Laura, other TiA fans.

But topical Sudan issues can’t forever be debated over the heads of ordinary Sudanese by non-Sudanese on the ‘virtual’ community, and misrepresentations, outright falsehoods, and gross oversimplifications taken as fact and then ‘layered’ and fossilised.

That’s how the ‘Hollywoodisation’ of the Darfur conflict came into being (complete with ‘Save Darfur’ things and the like), with very real consequences in postponing the emergence of a durable and comprehensive political solution and lasting peace to that region.

There are always two sides to a story, TiA readers, Laura, and ‘andyb’.

ALWAYS.

I, and many other ordinary Sudanese, are determined to see that the conflict in South Kordofan doesn’t go the same way as Darfur did amongst the American chatterati and ordinary folk in that country.

This debate seems as good as place as any to contribute to and ensure that, the Hollywoodisation of Darfur, 2.0., doesn’t happen this time in South Kordofan State, hence my detailed reply.

Yours,

I Adam,

Sudan

Wednesday, March 07, 2012 4:40:00 AM

 

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