Sudan’s Path to Lasting Peace: Analyzing the Crisis from Juba’s Perspective and Exploring its Mediation Potential
With over 500 indigenous African ethnicities, Sudan boasts a rich tapestry of diversity. However, beneath this surface lies a nation at a critical juncture, grappling with a crisis deeply rooted in its conflicted identity. This report offers an analytical examination of Sudan’s plight, shedding light on the path to achieving lasting peace.
Sudan’s history has been marred by protracted wars, particularly affecting marginalized groups residing in the periphery. Paradoxically, the origins of this violence can be traced back to Khartoum, the very heart of the nation. The fundamental issue lies in an imbalanced power structure that perpetuates privilege and exclusion. Certain ethnic groups have historically held disproportionate influence, resulting in a profound rift between the privileged and the marginalized, thus fueling cascading conflicts.
The consequences of this power imbalance were glaringly evident in the devastating war that ravaged South Sudan. Regrettably, the power structure in Khartoum failed to address the root causes, instead resorting to a partition that culminated in South Sudan’s secession. Yet, this myopic approach merely exacerbated the conflicts, which have now spread to the North. To suppress ethno-regional discord, the government deployed paramilitary forces, unwittingly empowering these factions to turn against their former paymasters and champion the cause of marginalized ethnic communities.
The specter of Sudan’s balkanization looms ominously, reminiscent of the conflicts that scarred the Balkans. To avert this fracturing, a genuine commitment to addressing the fundamental issues is of paramount importance. However, international actors, driven by narrow interests, have faced challenges in effectively facilitating a resolution. A candid assessment of the current state of affairs is thus imperative for Sudan, the region, and the global community.
In this critical context, South Sudan emerges as a credible mediator, often overshadowed despite its deep understanding of Sudan’s complexities. The Juba Peace Agreement, brokered by South Sudan, serves as a testament to its potential. Unfortunately, the international community, including Washington, has not fully acknowledged the pivotal role played by South Sudan in brokering peace deals between Sudan.
The Jeddah Peace Process, a global initiative brokered by the US-Saudi alliance, exemplifies the international attention directed toward Sudan’s ongoing conflict. However, it also underscores a fundamental lack of understanding of Sudan’s core issues, which could potentially undermine its success. The exclusion of immediate neighbors like South Sudan, coupled with international interests, has hindered progress. Despite numerous proclamations for humanitarian cessation of hostilities, none have been respected or implemented.
Even regional blocs such as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have faced obstacles due to their limited understanding of Sudan’s fundamental problems. Moreover, their dependence on foreign resources compromises their independence, engagement, and relevance in Sudan’s reconstruction. The unique position and potential of South Sudan have been sorely overlooked.
The vision of a “New Sudan,” crafted by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), emphasizes inclusivity and bridges the divide between the center and the periphery. This vision is crucial for Sudan’s democratic reconstruction. Despite prompt intervention by the Government of South Sudan following the ousting of President Omer Hassan El-Bashir in 2019, Western allies favored the African Union’s involvement, indirectly contributing to the October 2021 coup through a lack of clear power-sharing safeguards.
The Juba peace initiative, spearheaded by South Sudan, sought to foster dialogue between the Transitional Government of Sudan and the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), a conglomerate of various armed and unarmed movements. This innovative political process culminated in the Juba Peace Agreement, which addressed the root causes of Sudan’s ongoing discord and provided a comprehensive blueprint for democratic reconstruction across all conflict regions.
However, the journey towards stability faced a significant setback on October 25, 2021, when a military coup toppled the nascent civilian government, resulting in the reappointment of a civilian Prime Minister with diminished powers under the watchful eye of the military junta. Despite this setback, the junta itself recognized the significance of the Juba peace agreement, which went beyond mere power-sharing arrangements and established a robust framework for post-conflict democratic reconstruction.
Prior to the eruption of war, efforts to restore civilian rule encountered challenges. Western allies, unintentionally fostering divisions, exhibited a preference for certain Western-leaning parties within Sudan’s civilian coalition. This imbalance was a consequence of a peace process led by inexperienced mediators who failed to grasp the intricacies of Sudanese politics.
Nevertheless, the unwavering commitment of South Sudan to resolving Sudan’s conflict is underscored by the success of the Juba Peace Agreement. This success highlights the strategic position and untapped potential of South Sudan in addressing Sudan’s fundamental problems.
The tale of Sudan is one that reflects both struggle and hope. It calls for a comprehensive recognition and honest assessment of the underlying issues that have brought the nation to its current state. This report provides an analytical narrative that serves as a guide along the path towards a peaceful resolution, one that tackles Sudan’s fundamental problems decisively and permanently.
Mayiik Ayii Deng, a distinguished figure with extensive experience as the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in South Sudan, as well as the former Minister of Presidential Affairs, offers invaluable insights into Sudan’s complex crisis. His perspective, shaped by a deep contextual understanding and a shared history with Sudan, emphasizes the urgent need for genuine commitment, inclusive mediation, and a nuanced understanding of Sudan’s intricate dynamics.
As Sudan confronts this defining moment, it becomes incumbent upon the international community, regional actors, and Sudanese stakeholders to heed Deng’s call. Only through collective resolve, inclusive engagement, and a thorough comprehension of Sudan’s complexities can the nation aspire to transcend its troubled past and forge a future built upon lasting peace, reconciliation, and shared prosperity. The time for action is now, and the international community must rally behind Sudan’s quest for a brighter future.