Having deliberately wrecked the chances of a negotiated settlement of the Sudanese civil war, the US has set the stage for a military assault on Sudan by its Christian-led neighbours, as the recent tour of the region by American secretary of State Madeleine Albright and US congressmen demonstrate. But since the move represents a Christian bid to break up a Muslim country and a direct threat to Egypt’s access to the Nile’s water resources, it is Cairo’s Islamic as well as State duty to declare strong public solidarity with Khartoum to ward off Uncle Sam’s dogs of war.
It was after all Cairo’s decision in June 1995 - following a foiled attempt on president Husni Mubarak’s life in Addis Ababa which was blamed on Khartoum - to overthrow the regime of president Omar al-Bashir that encouraged Ethiopia, Uganda and Eritrea to take on Khartoum, and the Clinton administration to arm and fund them as well as the Sudanese opposition militias. A spirited stand by Egypt against the victimisation of its southern neighbour and Arab league member would discourage the aggressors.
But Mubarak’s declaration of war on the Sudanese leadership and the abusive language he uses to attack it - he called Bashir and Islamic National Front leader Dr Hasan al-Turabi ‘criminal gangsters’ after the 1995 assasination attempt - has poisoned relations between the two neighbours. It may therefore be unrealistic to expect the Egyptian leaders to express strong solidarity with the Sudanese government before a thaw in frosty relations.
Fortunately, a thaw of sorts has started, with both sides not only avoiding the old vitriolic exchanges but also expressing optimism in their ability to mend relations. The aftermath of the recent Tehran summit of the Organization of Islamic Conference which has ended the isolation of Iran and Sudan in the Muslim world is also contributing to the improvement of relations between Cairo and Khartoum. Mubarak told reporters in Cairo on December 16 that his country was seeking to improve relation with Iran and Sudan, adding that the ties between the two Nile Valley neighbours ‘should be restored to their original strength and the sooner the better.’
Before that Egypt’s foreign minister Amr Musa handed Mubarak a report prepared by his staff and other Egyptian agencies dealing with relations with Khartoum, recommending that those relations be improved ‘in the light of new dangers to Sudan’s territorial integrity.’
Sudan, in its turn, has expressed strong desire to upgrade ties with Egypt. The Bashir regime, for instance, strongly condemned the massacre of tourists at Aqsar, Egypt, castigating it as an odious terrorist action, which could not be justified on grounds of religion.
The problem is that Egypt is not prepared to take the urgent action needed to put pressure on nothern Sudanese opposition leaders to disengage from the Christian conspiracy, for instance, or to condemn the US role in the plot. One reason is that the Mubarak sees Egypt as a regional superpower and that such junior partners as Sudan should follow Egyptian leaderhip. Since it is the very regional clout Cairo has been selling to the Americans to secure favours, that it is not likely to look kindly on those perceived to question it, or to take on Washington on their behalf.
Cairo, for instance, clashed with Qatar over the Doha economic Conference, which it boycotted in defiance of US pressure, not because it was anti-Israel or against America, but because tiny Qatar challenged Egypt’s bid to lead the Arab world. Qatar, after all, has no diplomatic relations with Israel while Egypt has.
But while Mubarak waits for Bashir to do the running, the US and its ‘running dogs’ (to use an old Chinese phrase) in the Horn of Africa are wasting no time in launching an invasion. Eritrea, Uganda and Ethiopia have reportedly massed troops along their border with Sudan, following their talks with Albright.
Intelligence sources have confirmed the presence of 70,000 Ugandan troops in the Gulu region of northern Uganda. The Ugandan army chief of staff command was also located there in late November. Ugandan troops are equipped with tanks, heavy artillery and rocket launchers as well as helicopters. The latter will most likely be used for transport missions deep inside Sudanese territory to outmanouevre their defences.
A similar buildup has also been observed on the Eritrean and Ethiopian borders where a number of skirmishes have taken place in recent weeks. President Bashir spoke on January 3 of an imminent attack from the west and east. Code named ‘Operation Final Assault,’ it is expected to be launched soon (At press time, it had not been launched).
The US secretary of State also prepared the diplomatic backing for the invasion by meeting Zimbabwean, Congolese and Rwandan leaders - all Christian opponents of Islamic Sudan. Calling for the overthrow of the Khartoum regime, by force if necessary, Albright also met Sudanese opposition leaders, including John Garang, in Uganda.
Surely, there is no time for Muslims to waste to take the conspiracy against Sudan to task, condemn the US and its African surrogates and publicly pledge Khartoum the solidarity it needs.
Muslimedia: January 16-31, 1998