Distinguished historian of Sudan Douglas Johnson has pointed out key requirements for peace in Abyei, and the diplomatic errors that must be corrected. Recent violence in Abyei threatens to spark renewed North/South war in Sudan. This January 2011 assessment by Johnson is directed squarely at the policies of President Obama’s Special Envoy for Sudan, Major General (ret.) Scott Gration. Johnson argues that essential to success in the Abyei peace negotiations is:
“A recognition by the U.S. government that the recent [diplomatic] interventions of their mediators have made a resolution [of the Abyei crisis] less, rather than more likely, and a reversal of their [the U.S.’s] current attempt to mediate through the imposition of a further territorial compromise.”
“the imposition of further territorial compromise.” Johnson is rightly claiming that the U.S. must cease its expedient pushing of the Southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) to “compromise” even further on the boundaries of the territory known as Abyei. Significant SPLM compromises are already embodied in the Abyei Protocol (2004) of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (2005), as well as the July 2009 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (The Hague). U.S. pressure on the SPLM has been deeply counter-productive, working to convince the Khartoum regime that it has more to gain through diplomatic intransigence and a true refusal to compromise.
(Douglas Johnson, “The Road Back from Abyei: Any resolution of the Abyei dispute must address the root causes,” January 14, 2011, at http://www.riftvalley.net/resources/file/The%20Road%20Back%20from%20Abyei%20by%20Douglas%20H.%20Johnson.pdf )
(See also Eric Reeves, “Celebrate Independence for South Sudan! But Remain Vigilant on Abyei,” South Sudan News Agency, January 13, 2011, at http://www.sudanreeves.org/News.html )
(A full-length analysis of these urgent issues will be posted on March 7 at www.sudanreeves.org )