By Chadi Michael
Opinion: – Oh! That Compromised Peace Agreement peed upon by Kiir, Malong and the Jieng Council of Elders? I remember that peace and knew it wasn’t going to materialize.
Many skeptics like myself saw this disaster coming. It is like yelling out in a crowded summertime beach “shark! shark!” yet no one seems to understand what you are saying. Now that the damages are done, in terms of human lives lost, finally the Compromised Peace Agreement is wrapped and sent back to Ethiopia in a plastic bag. The SPLA-Juba has now gone back to its war tactics, by inviting foreign troops back to the country. The Ugandans are alleged to have crossed into South Sudan’s territory already (Aljazeera news, 2016).
Kiir was not just calling for a ceasefire; he was pressured to hold back from capturing Machar by the UN, USA, and the so-called International community so they can evacuate foreign diplomats trapped in that stinky hole. For Kiir, it is also a chance to re-energize and gather all his wartime mercenaries and to device a lethal plan to capture Machar after wiping out his small men, who are outnumbered and outgunned.
Kiir will definitely need some sort of credibility in the eyes of the international community. He will get this credibility by installing Taban Deng as the next First Vice President of South Sudan. Kiir and his Jieng Council of Elders have strong working relationships with Taban Deng. The rumors had it even before Riek Machar and his thirteen hundred AK47-armed men return to Juba in the last leg of their repatriation that Kiir’s cabinet and supporters approached, and nodded Mr. Deng to assume the role of vice president.
We saw this in Khartoum in 1999 when Omar Al-Bashir decided to derail the Khartoum Peace Agreement. His security personnel pushed Riek out of the country using almost similar tactics employed by the Jieng Council of Elders’ government today. In his place, they installed Elijah Hon Top, one of Riek’s commanders who returned with him to implement the agreement. If in a very short while Kiir decrees Taban as his new First Vice President, one will not be surprised or blamed Taban Deng here because peace itself is on a shaky stand and a man has to choose between saving his own skin or face public lynching.
The West and UN
The UN is not a deterrent to dictatorships around the world. Look again in your next-door neighbors, Sudan and Uganda. We have two dictators who have managed to gear their respective countries to hell and back. And the UN has all along been working with these two dictators very well. Salva Kiir has the UN’s and the west blessings to stay in power and to commit all the atrocities with full impunity. In UN and US view, Kiir still “an elected president.” And an elected president should not be overthrown by brute force, especially in Africa.
Instead, the UN and others blame the rebel leader turned First Vice President Riek Machar for all this mess. They do not pinpoint with precision how this mess came about. They do not want to put the blame right where it belongs. They instruct the rebel leader to hold fire while they join forces with Kiir to send in more foreign troops, basically, the cheap Ugandans the falling pounds is able to buy, to further escalate the war, help push Machar’s forces out of the capital, Juba or eventually capture him this time. The UN and the west have no intention to correct the wrong and are not going to tell Kiir to back off on the warpath anytime soon.
IGAD is a no-go for several African conflicts. It is the last organization I would attach myself to. Its leaders are neither visionaries nor committing to fully solving many African problems. IGAD is held hostage by nations whose governments need some sort of help from other nations in several ways. IGAD’s involvement is almost like UN. IGAD’s members are all about “state sovereignty.” What sovereignty really? What does sovereignty or elected president really mean?
Practically in a real world, when a state fails to protect its citizens from own armies or the armies of another country, that leader loses the legitimacy to call himself a leader at all and the UN can take over that country on humanitarian grounds. Or any other concerned state can intervene militarily in that particular state to protect civilian populations, demobilize the warring parties or help halt the ongoing war. This is called the “R2P” or the Responsibility to Protect. In this case, Salva Kiir ordered the massacre of more than 20,000 Nuer civilians in Juba and yet, the IGAD, UN and the Americans still call him an elected president.
In a striking comparison, the former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych had his forces opened fire on the unruly protesting crowds in public square inside the capital, Kiev a couple of years ago. The American and the European Union were so furious. They forced him to resign and later he fled to Russia, which compelled the Kremlin to invade the Crimea and eastern Ukraine. But in this case, Salva Kiir is an elected President because his victims are only Nuer, blacks and Africans.
What Machar should do?
Riek Machar is trying so hard to bring back peace to South Sudan. It is just unfortunate for him that he does not have a real peace partner. He is dealing with crooked and murderers who only put forth their personal ambitions and gains before their citizens and country. The Jieng Council of Elders and Salva Kiir are people who do not necessarily care about the suffering of the mass. They view Machar’s recent military setback in Unity and Upper Nile states as the total collapse of his rebellion. They then reason backward, “why should we accept compromised peace now” after we have managed to buy foreign forces to quell the rebellion?
As a matter of fact, they do have a point there, but it is just that the rebellion was not completely obliterated. There are some military generals within the SPLA-IO’s camp who want the war to persist because they know that Kiir did not feel the bitterness of it yet or partly because they associate the Compromised Peace Agreement with self-defeat and surrender.
On the other hand, Machar is a naive and a wishful thinker who has been known to stop short of fulfilling his political destiny because he lacks toughness and caliber that define an ideal Nuer warrior. One lauded this before that he is not a man of war. He is really a man of peace. A man that Nuer would use during peacetime, not someone they can rely on to lock head with enemies because he does not have full-fledged Nuerism. Many critics like myself do not see him as a Nuer savior or the anticipated messiah.
At this time of survival and destiny, Nuer society is in desperate need of someone to restore its glory in warfare. Someone that will help bring guns and supplies of war. Someone who will start from Bentiu by re-organizing the base, recruiting and instilling moral indoctrination into the minds and hearts of the Nuer like what General Puljang Top of SSLA and the Mathiang Anyoor, recruiter Paul Malong were able to achieve. This person will have to fight the enemy and remove it from the Nuer motherland, the Lich, Kuanylualthoan and Ayod.
After that, he has to fight the man who sits in the throne and orders the massacre of thousands of Nuer in Juba. The man who defies all odds by taking the country back to war and yet, it must be someone who takes the war to Salva’s hometown of Warrap this time, which lies less than 50 kilometers away from Riek’s salvaged county of Leer. And that man is none other than the “Executioner,” General Peter Gatdet Yaka, the Jundi Iraqi. That man will deliver a lethal dose to Kiir in a matter of few months.
Kiir will then be forced by the suffering of his own people, the Dinka to accept real peace or he will have no base to recruit more Mathiang Anyoor or the Gelweng fighters. On the other front, General Gatwech should go back to Lou Nuerland, bring in fresh recruits, train them and clear out any government troops in Jonglei once and for all, while General Gatdet pursues desperate elements of Juba troops back toward Equatorian states.
Meanwhile, General Olony and others who are still maintaining their grip in their controlled areas should move on to Malakal and deliver a blow to the heart of Kiir’s oil country. That way there is no mistake that war has returned and it will be the only language Kiir and his Jieng Council of Elders will unmistakably understand.
Opinion: What peace in South Sudan?
By Chadi Michael