Political experience worldwide has shown that unless a sustainable solution is reached to a problem, it is bound to re-ignite again and most likely in a more vigorous way. Sudan is no exception.
For instance the 1972 Addis Ababa accord that ended the first civil war in the country provided a decade-long of peace that allowed Sudan to venture into developing its huge resources and coined the phrase of Sudan the breadbasket of the Arab world that started the years of promise and euphoria.
However, and as expected, it was not smooth trip. Quickly the accord started to unravel and eventually led to re-start of the civil war yet again. This time with huge price as it lasted longer for two decades and ended with the dismembering of the country.
Unlike the South in the 1970s Darfur did not enjoy even a period of relative tranquility because no abiding, sustainable political deals with the main rebel groups was ever concluded. Thus the whole exercise was left to military operations with some victories that reduced the rebels’ abilities to almost grounding status. But as it is the case in such circumstances though currently there is no serious military challenge facing the government from the rebel groups, but the issue that led to the rebellion in the first place is still there and unless the root causes of the dispute are addressed the rebellion is bound to re-ignite again.
Like other regions in Sudan Darfur has suffered from issues related to state building exemplified in the form of severe lack of services, development projects and participation in the center of the decision making.
However, despite 14 years since the military rebellion erupted, countless peace deals and the ability of the government to score militarily, yet the state of tranquility in Darfur is precarious for the simple reason and that is the lack of a political settlement that is accepted by the main stream of people in Darfur. That should have been the base to build on, which did not happen.
Then came the government’s attempt to collect and control arms spread in Darfur as a way to reduce violence in the region and bring back the old rule of having the state the only power monopolizing arms and means of violence.
But in reality and on ground the story is different. Part of the violence of the past few years is attributed to the tribes that sided with the government in confronting the rebels and that is why tribal militia leaders like Musa Hilal are opposing to the decision of disarmament and for the simple reason that they fear that by disarming them they will be exposed to those whom they have been fighting during the peak of the mutiny.
Moreover, this time there is hardly any margin to maneuver. There is no regional power willing to spend time, efforts, resources and political capital to salvage Darfur peace as Qatar did in the past. More worrying is the changes taking place in Libya and the ascending of Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who is harboring anti Sudan sentiments. And Sudan knows first-hand how harmful Libya could be.
As the military approach alone will not solve the problem, banking on regional favorable political conditions is bound to change one way or another, is not a reliable option either.
The lack of any regional or international interest may open Darfur to settle some political scores or on the contrary prove to be for the good as it leaves the issue to be handled by Sudanese themselves.
It is remarkable that Hilal has exempted so far President Omar Al-Bashir from his criticism, which is an indication that there is a window of an opportunity needs to be grasped and look for a solution that addresses the root causes of the Darfur problem. By it is very nature such solution has to be inclusive and home grown, otherwise it risks taking a dead end route.
One does not have to go far or even to the nearby Rwanda or even that of South Sudan. Unfortunately as Sudan failed to tap its huge natural resources, it so far has failed to learn good lessons from its rich political experiences that extend over span of six decades with three parliamentary rules, three military, and two popular revolutions that took place well before the Arab Spring.
It is high time to draw up lessons learnt and work on them.
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