London, Asharq Al-Awsat- In an interview with Asharq al-Awsat, Malik Agar,
The head of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front [SRF] and the SPLM in North
Sudan [SPLMN], said that the Addis Ababa Agreement his movement signed with
the Sudanese Government last June has become out-dated. "We did not leave
the negotiating table. It is the other side that left it," he said. "But the
realities have changed and the framework agreement has become out-dated." He
said that the formation of the SRF alliance has imposed a new reality, and
that Sudan's future rests on creating clear mechanisms for power-sharing and
resources and for the relationship between the center and the periphery.
The text of the interview follows:
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Where is the conflict between you and the Sudanese
[Agar] There have been military stages in the war in the Provinces of South
Kurdufan and the Blue Nile. The first stage was the attack by the [Khartoum
ruling] National Congress Party [NCP] on the positions of the SPLM in the
areas of South Kurdufan, the Nuba Mountains, and the Blue Nile. Because the
Government had the preparations in place for this, it accomplished some
military achievements in evicting the SPLM from the capitals of the two
Provinces, Kadugli and Al-Damazin. We call this stage the first military
phase which ended with the beginning of the present year. At the start of
the current year the SPLM regained its breath, took the initiative and
retaliated twice as hard. We have made an advance in South Kurdufan and are
now heading toward the city of Kadugli. The areas of Al-Uhaymar and Al-Buram
are now under our control.
In the Blue Nile there are areas the SPLM seized in the region of Baqis,
about 21 kilometers from Al-Damazin. Thus the military initiative is now in
the hands of the SPLM while the Sudanese Army is in a state of collapse. It
is no longer as it used to be at the start of the war, even though we are
fighting a Government that possesses capabilities that cannot be compared to
our capabilities in the guerrilla warfare we are fighting. We are waging two
kinds of war, a guerrilla war and another, traditional war. We are advancing
in some areas and defending some other areas. As for the political
situation, it is complicated but under control. The SPLM operates on three
different political fronts. It has a presence in the areas the Government
controls, where our members face great risks and complicated political and
security conditions. Operations in the liberated areas are different from
those in the areas under Government control. We also have the activities by
the SPLM in foreign States. We have unified the SPLM efforts on all these
axes and are making good progress by reformulating the SPLM organizational
structures. A leadership bureau comprising 19 members is being formed.
Twelve of the members have been nominated and we shall complete this
process. We also formed the SPLM's General Secretariat as well as work
committees in various locations.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How are the humanitarian conditions in the areas of
[Agar] The humanitarian situation is extremely critical because the war has
created two kinds of humanitarian conditions. There are the citizens who
fled the war and the continuous bombardment by the governmental Antonov
aircraft and sought refuge in the neighbouring countries of Ethiopia and
South Sudan. International organizations are providing relief for them.
There are also those who decided to stay in their areas. Their numbers rise
and fall in accordance with the security conditions because the bombardment
has not stopped. They need relief. We have appealed to a number of regional
and international organizations to help. Efforts produced fruit in the form
of a statement by the UN Security Council stressing the need for
intervention to deliver relief to these areas. There are the efforts of the
African Union and the Arab League through the dispatch of observers, with
the UN to implement the relief program in the areas controlled by the
Government and in the SPLM areas.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Khartoum says it has succeeded in laying siege to you in
small pockets in South Kurdufan and the Blue Nile and that only small
pockets exist in Darfur. Al-Bashir has also vowed to pray in Kauda, as he
prayed before in Al-Karmak. What is your response?
[Agar] This is not true. The SPLMN is about 15 kilometres from Kadugli, the
capital of South Kurdufan; in Diling on the road to Al-Ubayyid city in North
Kurdufan; in Al-Abbasiyyah on the road to the city of Kosti in central
Sudan, and in the Blue Nile on the road to the provincial capital of
Al-Damazin. The Government has lost control over many areas in this war
which it is waging in the traditional way. This is why there is no siege on
us. What Khartoum says is merely for propaganda consumption for those who
follow the governmental media and might believe its lies. Khartoum is used
to this. In Kadugli, the Government said the SPLM was eradicated, but the
citizens hear shooting from inside Kadugli. The regime said the same thing
about the Blue Nile; that the SPLM was finished and "we prayed in
Al-Karmak". Yet the citizens hear firing inside Al-Damazin city. Thus what
the regime says in the media and what is happening in reality are two
different things. As for what Al-Bashir has kept saying about his wish to
pray in Kauda (considered the SPLM stronghold in South Kurdufan), he is free
to pray anywhere. We are not present in Kauda alone. Al-Bashir's praying in
Kuada or any other place does not solve the Sudanese problem because this
needs more than somebody performing prayers at a certain place. Praying in
Kauda or elsewhere is not the issue. The issue in Sudan is about rights and
duties. There is a small group that monopolizes power and imposes its
visualization on the others while the overwhelming majority is deprived of
this. The problem is about how to bring about a system of government that
satisfies everybody through reasonable mechanisms for sharing power and
resources on which all the Sudanese concur, and through drafting a
Constitution all the Sudanese agree to in order to live in a State of
citizenship, not a State of ethnic and religious distinctions.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Is it true that the newly independent South Sudan State is
behind this war, supports it militarily and politically, and provides haven
to the SRF leaders?
[Agar] Firstly, the problem of Sudan is bigger and older than the South
Sudan State which emerged from the Sudan State and became an independent,
sovereign State because of Sudan's problems. The new State is six months
old, but the war in the Blue Nile and South Kurdufan has been going on for
the past 21 to 24 years. It is not possible for a six-month-old State to
influence a State that has remained in a state of war for 21 years. Yes,
there was a truce in the transitional period (2005 to 2011) as a result of
the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, but the causes of the war were not
remedied. This is why we believe that accusations against the Southern State
are invalid because it is a new State. It is true that at one time we were a
single movement and fought for the same causes. But the situation has
changed because the Southern people chose to have an independent State. It
has nothing to do with the war or the SPLM in Northern Sudan. We only share
common history and the fact that we hatched from the same egg. [Asharq
Al-Awsat] Khartoum also says that the United States offers you support,
especially since it insists on opening safe corridors for humanitarian
relief. What is your reply?
[Agar] The United States has its interests but it has no interest in
supporting the SPLM. It has principles and values related to human rights
and crimes against humanity. They are against all those who commit such
crimes and this is why they take a stand against the perpetrators. It has
become clear to them that Al-Bashir commits war crimes such as bombing
citizens by aircraft and displacing them internally. The Sudanese Army is
also in the habit of burning villages and killing innocent people. No one
who has a human conscience can remain silent on such crimes. The United
States has spoken about humanitarian considerations and said that this war
has caused humanitarian problems. The United States has not spoken about
supporting the SPLM but about opening safe corridors to deliver humanitarian
relief to the citizens. This is the duty of governments. Even the Sudan
Government itself must deliver this relief regardless of whether or not
there are battles. But the regime makes no distinction between humanitarian
considerations and war. If a big power like the United States was supporting
us, Khartoum would not have been able to stand in our face until now.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Where then do you get weapons and support if there are no
regional elements supporting you?
[Agar] Firstly, the equipment in the two provinces was that of the SPLA,
specifically the Ninth Division in South Kurdufan and the Tenth Division in
the Blue Nile. The two divisions have participated in the war for 21 years.
They accumulated much military experience as well as weapons during this
period. We have 6,000 combatants in these forces that were redeployed in
various areas under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, in addition to the
forces remaining from the SPLM. As for getting weapons, the SPLA says for
instance in every battle that it had seized vehicles and weapons, most
recently in the Jawa Battle in which the SPLA seized 132 canon-equipped
vehicles, 13 tanks, and 13 heavy artillery pieces. The question which arises
upon seizing these weapons is whether to put them in warehouses or use them?
If they are used, this means our supplies of weapons come from the Sudanese
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Besides toppling the regime, what is your long-term
[Agar] Yes, but the question is: What after toppling the regime? After
forming ourselves we started with the military aspects. Now the SRF has been
organized as a national resistance front, or it can be said that it has
become an open club for all the Sudanese political forces and all those who
believe that their ideas are close to the SRF program. It is proposing
itself as a substitute for the ruling regime in Sudan in order to establish
a State of citizenship. The SRF is now in continuous meetings to develop its
political and economic program for dealing with the situation after toppling
the regime. This is a comprehensive program that is intended to replace the
program of the present regime in Sudan.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] The SRF alliance includes only the movements from Darfur
in addition to the SPLM. Is what is going on a conflict between forces of
what is known as the margin against the north and the center, or is it
against the central government alone?
[Agar] Firstly, the opposite is true. The SRF is formed of four movements,
namely the Justice Equality Movement, the two Sudan Liberation Movements led
by Mani Arkoi Minawi and Abdul-Wahid Muhammad Nur, and the SPLM. These
movements are combatant and it goes without saying that they unify their
efforts. But as I said, the SRF door is open for all the political forces,
civil society organizations, and all who believe that the change of the
regime is a necessity to save what remains of the Sudan.
Then, even though the SRF started with four movements, it has now been
joined by some prominent figures from Al-Umma Party led by Nasrudding
Al-Hadi al-Mahdi, as well as Al-Tum Hago from the Democratic Unionist Party.
They are now part of the SRF and believe in its approach for toppling the
regime. The Beja Conference has also joined the Front. The circle is
continuously expanding and will expand until it forms a broad Sudanese
front. We believe that the leaders who signed with the SRF did so as parties
and not as groups or individuals. The proof is that we have not heard any
statements against their joining or against some members joining. We
consider them to have joined, not to be divided among themselves.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] The NCP says that the Darfur movements in the SRF have no
bases or presence in the province. What is the truth of reports about
differences between you?
[Agar] Of course this is talk for media consumption. If these movements held
no weight, then why did the regime negotiate with them in Doha? We know that
these movements hold political and military weight and have the ability to
offer solutions to the problems that prompted them to fight. This is
something necessary for the security stability in the Sudan. You can shake
the security of the State by three persons but need all the Sudanese to
preserve the security of the country. Therefore those who make such
statements are war proponents and not peace advocates. This is because if
there remains a single person who carries arms, his problem should be solved
to guarantee peace. These movements and political organizations have
programs. They emerged in different geographic locations. Therefore it is
very natural that there should be differences. But what unites them is the
problem of Sudan. Therefore I see no differences in reality. There could be
differences in points of view, which is something healthy. When alliances
are formed among sides, there must be concessions from all the parties for
agreement on a program with a least common denominator. We have agreed on
how Sudan should be ruled and on the program for toppling the regime,
therefore there are no differences between us.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you have supporters on the inside, in the north, the
center and the east? Do you seek to start a war in East Sudan?
[Agar] Firstly, we are diverse movements and we have supporters from among
the youths, the students, women and various segments. Therefore we can say
that the majority of the Sudanese support the SRF. Igniting war in eastern
Sudan goes without saying because it has not ended in the first place. Of
course, there are those who see the opposite, but the reasons for the war
are still there, and there will be problems as well in the north and center
of Sudan. If the problem of how to rule Sudan is not solved, then war can
flare up in any place in Sudan including Khartoum.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Since the SPLM in North Sudan signed the framework accord
with the ruling NCP in Addis Ababa--which President Omar al-Bashir
subsequently annulled--we have not heard of negotiations between you? What
is the reason?
[Agar] The reason is mentioned in the question. It is that Omar al-Bashir
annulled the framework accord and disrupted the negotiating forum. That
forum tried several times to revive the negotiations. We used to tell them
we are there at the table and have not left it. The question should be
directed to those who left the negotiations and who should be asked to
return to it. However the framework accord has been superseded by the
current events on numerous points.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How do you see the future of the Sudan?
[Agar] Sudan's future lies in one thing, namely that its problems should be
solved and that the wars should be brought to an end. For this to happen, we
need serious and convincing efforts by all the belligerent parties to solve
Sudan's problem. This is because if the paradox of how Sudan should be ruled
is not solved, there will be no stability. Clear mechanisms must be found
for sharing power and resources and the relationship between the center and
the fringes. There must also be new security arrangements for all of Sudan.
Then there should be a Constitution upon which all the Sudanese agree. If
this does not happen, then Sudan's future will be bleak and this will
reproduce the separation of South Sudan in numerous parts of North Sudan.
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Received on Wed Apr 11 2012 - 16:29:28 EDT