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Issues of the Day The continuing bloodletting in Sudan

 Between headlines concerning Dominique Strauss-Kahn's "liberation" and the brave attempts by Greece to bite the austerity bullet and avoid bankruptcy, ceaseless reports concerning the carnage in the Sudan continue to arrive. With southern Sudan slated to become independent on July 9th, the debauchery in the province that borders it, Darfur, and in the Nuba mountains continues. Perpetrating the  frenzy of killing is the Sudanese military deployed by the regime based in Khartoum, a government that has ruled Africa's largest state, as big as the United States is east of the Mississippi River, since the mid-1980s.

Divided between a predominantly Arab population in the north and Christian and other African tribes in the south, Sudan has been a cauldron of violence ever since it was born.

Sudan was fashioned by Britain in the late nineteenth century in an order to secure the Nile as a strategic waterway and to further economic and other imperial interests of the Crown. The Nile provided access to the cotton grown in the agriculturally-rich soils of the vast territory, an indispensible source of raw material for England's textile industry. When petroleum was discovered in the south, the move to consolidate the Sudanese state, a polity imposed on a highly heterogeneous population with no common history or cohesion, was accelerated. Even prior to independence,  the "Long War," seventeen years (1955-1972) in duration, began pitting the secession-minded forces of the South against the northern center.  

In 1969, a military junta led by General Jafar el-Nemeri took control of  the country.  In 1972 an agreement was negotiated between Khartoum and the Southern Sudan Liberation Movement. The arrangement eventually fell apart and the second Sudanese civil war began in 1983.  

In 1989, Omar el-Bashir came to power in a bloodless coup. Bashir, an Islamist extremist, has ruled the country for the last twenty-two years. Since 2009, an international arrest warrant has been issued for Bashir, who is accused of crimes against humanity for the slaughter that has taken place in Darfur. Under his rule, international terrorist have received haven and support.

Sudan, despite its material wealth, is rampant with poverty and hunger. The regional and ethnic pressures to devolve the centralized state respond to fundamental social, economic and ecological realities on the ground that no amount of politico-institutional force from the center can subdue. The Sudanese state is failed and is in all likelihood unsalvageable. The international community must continue to  provide humanitarian relief while searching for  ways to reshape the country into functional entities that reflect realities on the ground and express the aspirations of the people living there – in the Nuba Mountains,  in Darfur and elsewhere, as in southern Sudan.

Refugees in Israel

It is heartbreaking to see Sudanese refugees infiltrating across the Egyptian border into Israel. The Netanyahu government, despite expressions of outrage from many quarters of the society, has no coherent migration policy that balances humanitarian concerns with Israel's ability to absorb an influx of destitute people.

In the past, I donated funds to the African Refugee Development Center which helps Sudanese and other African refugees in Israel.  I encourage others to do their part and to help deliver a message to the government that Israel's conscience requires satisfaction on the matter: We are, after all a nation of refugees and their descendants

© Yosef Gotlieb, . All rights reserved