Opinion. Last edited on June 24, 2014 at 11:14pm,
June 21, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — At last and at least, the two warring factions succumbed to IGAD and their partners’ unilateral decision to deploy the “Deterrent Forces” in the country. The first batch arrived in South Sudan on June 19th, 2014.
While Salva Kiir initially opposed the idea believing that the TROIKA(USA, UK and Norway) would use the IGAD forces to impose decisions on him, Machar opposed the deployment, more or less, for the same reason. The leaders mostly focused on the short-term impacts. This time, however, they were caught up counting their loses and gains from federalism as they envision the chances of forming an interim government as mandated in the document they signed in Addis Ababa. Neither Machar nor Kiir has shown strength to polish the unilateral decision that has embedded numerous negative long-term impacts.
Machar and the freedom fighters, who have been battling the foreign occupation in the country, were lured into accepting the idea on the pretext that the “deterrent force” will now not deter the two warring factions, not even the “rebels” from continuing their match to the oilfields or Juba. A promise that won’t last!
The gratifying terms that tricked Dr. Machar, who has rationally criticized the decision in the past, were to “protect civilians”, “protect” the Monitoring and Verification Teams(MVT) and to “separate” the warring factions. These terms are, perhaps, too naked to explain why the combined UN Peacekeepers, Ugandan troops and South Sudan government battalions failed to protect ONE UNMISS camp on 17th April in Bor town, Jonglei State. The enemy of the unarmed, women and innocent children killed as much as they pleased before they disappeared to resume their dallying duties. Contrarily, to serve the “nation” once again as the national army!
Despite that over 400 “protected” IDPs were hit by the tribically charged bullets, none among the South Sudanese and the Ugandan governments troops was hurt in an indiscriminate shooting that lasted more than 30 minutes. To add salt to the fresh injury, the Ugandan army, UPDF, claims credits for “repulsing” the assailants, when in fact the assailants were never repulsed by any one. Most, if not all, just felt guilty not only for having killed enough women but the infants, who knew nothing about the tribal politics that has torn the nation apart.
Sadly, only two peacekeepers sustained bullets, and instead the embarrassed United Nations agents manipulated the report, and quickly divert attentions to Bentiu, an incident that was almost forgotten. This should serve as a litmus test on what the peacekeepers can achieve, in term of protection.
It would be cost effective to have only two peacekeepers, keeping the gates than having hundreds peacekeepers that hardly protect civilians yet earn thousands of dollars in return. The two two-death cases of peacekeepers in Bor and Akobo might never have been coincidental but a reflection of the entire mission.
“Standing” between the warring factions in an attempt to separate angry forces would not only be “stupid” as the IGAD Executive Secretary Mahboub Maalim would argue but unfortunate as Machar would say.
If the peacekeepers couldn’t stand between two groups in which only one side was armed, then shielding bullets and grenades from both sides, in the worst case, between the white army and the Gelweng, would be unreasonable. The best way to separate the battle hardened South Sudanese from fighting one another is through peace mediation in Addis Ababa. The executive secretary and the Ethiopian Prime Minister should have known better that it would be more “stupid” to separate warring factions than winning the battle on the battlegrounds. Many battles, including the world wars and the battles of Adawa, have been won. Perhaps, the Ethiopian soil could speak better than the current leaders. Military solution, although costly, is possible!
On the other hand, the protection of IGAD peace monitors is a genuine argument; however, given that the monitors have been in the country, especially in the most contested fronts like Malakal for the last two months without IGAD protections and none has been reportedly killed, deploying troops now to protect un-threatened peace monitors would not only be a waste of resources but may also strike unnecessary repercussions. If need be, the forces could be deployed when the security of IGAD staff dictates so.
Whether the government in Juba is legitimate or not, elected or appointed, they must work with the factions in Addis Ababa to avert this Unite-nation of South Sudan. IGAD and AU are imperial tools that must be keenly monitored, at any cost, to protect national resources and sovereignty of the country. Any silence at this point would give the Security Councils and IGAD a green light to unilaterally pass these types of decisions to benefit their political egos but not the suffering populations that would be, in the best case, fed on foreign donations.
The deployment of the regional troops must be subjected to terms and conditions, or else the following fundamental issues will recur:
1). Withdrawal: Given that the decision was unilaterally passed by the United Nations Security Council, South Sudan and IGAD will have no control over these troops, now and in the future. As witnessed in South Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and other countries, UN peacekeepers take centuries to withdraw. It is, therefore, paramount that the IGAD troops, if not the UN Peacekeepers, be kept out of South Sudan soil. If this can’t be assured, then there has to be clear guidelines on their withdrawal!
2). Prolong instability: Although there is a wild misconception that the foreign troops restore stability, it is yet to be witnessed in many countries where the peacekeepers have been deployed. The best examples at our backyards are Abyei and Darfur. How much stability was restored in these regions?
It has becomes a tradition that once the peacekeepers are deployed, the “saviors” go to beds and forget the suffering of these nations, believing that the problem has been solved. Often, the next chapter focuses mostly on donations and foreign aids to keep the mission in the expense of the suffering populations. This prolongs the conflicts.
This may explain why peace has never return to countries like Somalia, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC), Syria, Central Africa Republic(CAR), among many others. Preferably, South Sudan should rather spend another 50 years in civil war than condoning these wasteful international or regional interventions!
3). Exploitation: Although the developing nations still believe in “free” foreign aids, the aids are not the solution. Furthermore, they are not free but much expensive than they would actually cost in a free market. The burden that comes with these foreign troops target the resources of the host countries. By the time South Sudan is “stabilized” by the foreign missions, their resources would be depleted.
Rumors in circulation believe that China is one of the big monsters behind these foreign mission to “protect civilians.” The saying goes that China has secured a deal with the United Nations to protect its economic interest in South Sudan. As soon as this mission becomes profiting enough, funding of the IGAD troops, among others, would be sold in the bond market. Save yourself energy, don’t Google the last sentence!
In other words, any nation would be able to secure invisible shares in South Sudan oil, gold, agriculture, diamond and other resources. This would relief IGAD countries of paying huge salaries and managing battalions of their armies. The opportunity will provide the IGAD countries with a prospering market at home, and abroad. So, why would IGAD countries voluntarily withdraw their troops? Why would the UN Security Council even has time to discuss that when more conflicts would be hatching in the developing countries?
4) Security: Although the situation in South Sudan is dire, the media, verification and monitoring teams have not been threatened or harassed like the United Nations Mission in South Sudan(UNMISS). They are secure and respected, and if any was unfortunately killed or harassed by any chance, such should never necessitate deployment of foreign troops. The UNMISS, despite harassed in present of their forces in places like Juba and Bor, have learned to solve their problems without involving military. Thus, deploying foreign troops to “protect” staffs is not necessary.
The author, Deng Elijah, Vancouver, British Columbia, can be reached at dengsimon2000 at yahoo dot com or through nyamilepedia and its outlets.