Dear Secretary Pompeo,
On behalf of the desperate people of Darfur enduring an unacknowledged genocide, the Sudan Liberation Movement is heartened that the statement issued on April 27th by your spokesperson Heather Nauert, called for a cessation of violence in the Jebel Marra region of Sudan and for immediate access to both international and local humanitarian organizations to render sorely needed assistance, as the plight of untold numbers of civilians is only more severe by the day. We are grateful that the United States of America under the current Trump administration is expressing a greater, active interest and concern for the well being of the people of Darfur, in sharp contrast to the previous Obama White House, that while having pledged to end the tragedy of Darfur, in our painful experience did precious little to bring about any tangible change and offered only hollow lip service.
With all due respect, however, we take exception to the recent State Department communique, de facto,presenting a false equivalency between aggression by the Sudanese Armed Forces, paramilitaries and worst of all the former, Janjaweed militias, now rechristened the Rapid Support Forces, long waging war on their own people with a bestial ferocity, thoroughly well documented by every leading human rights watchdog organization on earth, and those whom are duty bound to resist them by force of arms, to spare a defenseless civilian population from extermination. The blood-spattered record of the RSF as the spearhead of Khartoum’s genocidal policy in Darfur, is not a matter for debate, it is an empirical fact. Upon closer scrutiny the RSF’s conduct reveals a casual penchant for atrocities and crimes largely perpetrated against unarmed men, women and children.Mass murder of civilians, the routine use of torture, rape en masse of women and girls of any age, summary executions, kidnappings and forcible disappearances, the wanton looting of villages then put to the torch, the poisoning and disabling of water wells, the destruction of food supplies and the killing of livestock, these are all hallmarks of the RSF, little more than thugs and brigands in uniform with a license to murder.
We would also point out, that contingents of the same RSF are serving as vassal troops for Riyadh as part of the Saudi led coalition in the Yemeni War, where having active genocidaires in the ranks of the coalition, must do little for moral ascendancy. In all fairness and objectivity, the soldiers of the Sudan Liberation Army, whom act only in self-defense, can in no instance be equated as equally morally and physically culpable as the RSF and the Sudanese Army, for the upsurge in violence. Attacker and defender are not interchangeable. The communique was entirely silent on the Sudanese Air Force having of lateintroduced chemical warfare in Darfur. The SLA does not have Antonovbombers nor Hind helicopter gunships, nor does it make war on civilians.
The communique also makes no mention, that the recent Sudanese military offensive in the Jebel Marra, which the SLA were able to repulse, was launched without any provocation and as ever regime forces drew first blood by focusing the brunt of their effort against civilian population centers, prompting the displacement of many tens of thousands of new internal refugees. The SLA does not engage in offensive operations, rather it protects liberated territory, as the sole guarantor of physical security for civilians and responds only when attacked or is clearly subject to imminent attack.
Moreover, repeatedly, to their great shame, peacekeeping troops from the combined African Union-United Nations UNAMID force have stood idly by and failed to intervene as civilians were slaughtered and villages razed to the ground. UNAMID is always on the scene, when the bodies are being counted and seldom takes a proactive role. We recognize that UNAMID is a poorly resourced force, severely understrength, and still burdened with a weak mandate, rather than the more appropriate peace enforcement warrant, we have consistently urged to no avail. We also are left bewildered, inlight of the recent offensive, that the UN Secretariat has cited an improved security climate as cause to further reduce UNAMID boots on the ground by forty percent, but then the UN stopped counting the butcher’s bill in 2008 at 300,000 fatalities, when the number of graves we’ve dug is now twice that grisly calculus. With no insult intended it verges on unwitting dark parody that the communique requests UNAMID be given unhindered access to the conflict zone, in of itself exposing UNAMID’s inherent weakness, just as the call for safe passage to humanitarian efforts, excludes noting Khartoum’s entrenched strategy of maintaining a deliberate humanitarian aid blockade in place as a tool of war.
The SLA is not preventing the flow of urgently needed humanitarian supplies to render assistance to a wretched civilian population plagued by hunger, disease, a dearth of potable water and a near total absence of medical supplies and medical staff, instead it begs for such relief, which it would not impede. The SLA also remains disposed to cooperate with UNAMID, were UNAMID to undertake its duties in earnest, nor does the SLA take hostile action against UNAMID and is forbidden to do so in its own code of conduct.
We understand that the language of diplomacy is measured and calculated and seldom reflects a pure candor given the objectives that underline sometimes conflicting policy directives, complex strategic concerns and guiding national interests, especially now in a juncture in history with multiple, pressing global crises, where we are but one page turning. We live in the true, imperfect world, and grasp that there is little genuine altruism to be found in the power dynamics of geopolitics. We cannot lament this overmuch as it is reality.
We know all too well, the bulk of the international community, cares little for the fate of Darfur, or South Kordofan, or Blue Nile State or East Sudan, all enduring a relentless assault by the military and hardline Islamist dictatorship led by Omar al Bashir, the only sitting president on earth indicted by the International Criminal Court for Crimes Against Humanity, Genocide and War Crimes, now enjoying increased albeit tempered rehabilitation by both the United States and the European Union, where Saudi Arabia, a key US ally, together with the Gulf Cooperation Council, Qatar in particular, is the prime sponsor and enabler of the Khartoum regime, which also benefits from strong backing from Russia and the People’s Republic of China. At the United Nations Security Council, the people of Darfur and Sudan as a whole enduring an oppressive, brutal and corrupt tyranny, are orphans without a voice and little recourse. And if one considers the composition of UNAMID, the African Union is also largely deaf to our pleas and more often than we would wish, a pliant tool for al Bashir to act with impunity. The same may be said of the Arab League.
In this vein, perhaps the greatest asset in our possession, of benefit to you, is our lucidity and our deeper grasp of the true nature of events in Sudan and the machinations of the regime in Khartoum, its intentions, its masterful duplicity and the long term harm, you are unwittingly doing to your own self interest in the larger region and continent of Africa as a whole, with clear repercussions for your own security and linkages to the strategic question of containing the threat of Salafi extremism and terrorism, where we are natural allies, though you do not yet acknowledge us as such. If you will not be moved by moral considerations to put an end to genocide, which stains all of humanity, we urge you to consider better, that we fight the same enemy.
We are victims of state terror perpetrated against us by a fundamentalist Islamist and militarist dictatorship, that despite its pledges to cease harboring, enabling, cooperating with and promoting Salafi terror groups, has in the shadows continued its partnership with the worst possible nihilist elements of Wahhabi extremism to wreak havoc across Africa and the Middle East.
Since you were formerly director of the Central Intelligence Agency, surely you will be aware that Khartoum has retained its close ties to various Islamist militias in Libya and helps to fund them and benefits from them through the vile illicit trade in human trafficking, selling our brethren in the modern-day slave trade. Khartoum has neither severed ties with elements of either the Al Qaida terrorist franchise nor DAESH, though it says otherwise.
And how would we know? They are among those that wage war upon us, in the ongoing process of dispossessing us from our ancestral lands and a policy of Arab resettlement. For this very reason, we cannot comprehend why during the Trump administration’s tenure and the previous Obama White House both, sanctions were lifted on the basis of Khartoum’s cooperation on counter-terror efforts, which we liken to assigning the fox to guarding the chicken coop.
Were you to see the SLA and the soldiers of our closest allies in the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North, as a coalition of moderate Sufi Muslims and moderate Christians as well as the many practitioners of animism and folk religions, all seeking a secular democracy, where we are all deigned apostate heretics worthy of death by the Wahhabi Mullahs in Khartoum, for our ecumenical tolerance and spiritual beliefs, as your friends, you would have 90,000 rifles in the same fight.
But the final counsel we may offer in this communique is that Washington is misreading the changing tide in larger Sudanese society, the people of Sudan collectively are tired of enduring al Bashir’s Islamic brand of fascism and the callous kleptocracy that now sees them in the street clamoring for bread in their tens of thousands voicing their dissent openly, where their exhaustion over many decades of institutional abuse and misrule is turning to rage. Neither be assured that the integrity of the Sudanese Armed Forces is inviolate, there are rumblings in the military as well, from the rank and file to even within the highest echelons of the command structure.
The past is prologue and we urge Washington expand its breadth of view on Sudan and focus more incisively on the ailing condition of the Sudanese regime, a doomed regime in state of accelerating collapse, that means regime change is inevitable and looming.The West collectively badly misread the advent of the Arab Spring, but Washington now has an opportunity to side with the national opposition and not an illegitimate dictatorship, headed on inexorable course for its Gaddafi moment, if it can better read the coming of the Sudanese Spring.
Thus, in addressing the most powerful diplomat of the most powerful nation on earth and leader of the Free World, Mr. Secretary, we hope you will forgive us for expressing ourselves without any artifice. We are weak and poor as you are mighty and strong and our only weapon to prevent our extinction, is our will to resist our annihilation alongside with our unyielding determination to forge a pluralist, free, secular, democratic Sudan and at last be free of the subjugation and horrors we have endured for far too long, so a brighter future may emerge for the generations to come. We rose up, as your own forefathers could no longer submit to the absolutism of the British Crown in 1776, having reached our own point of no return long ago. Our obligation is to the living but the ghosts of our six hundred thousand dead, also implore us to endure our struggle for justice and freedom, no matter the tears we must still shed.
Out of our respect for American democracy, which we uphold as the pinnacle of our ambitions, to build a free society to mirror your own in our own cultural context, we offer to you our friendship and beseech you to regard events in Sudan in a new light and bring your dynamism to bear to forge a mutually beneficial relationship with common goals and shared ideals of fair play and the God given right for self-determination and freedom from fear.
We cannot participate in a non-existent and purely illusory “peace process” punctuated by artillery and air bombardments, the use of chemical weapons, an unceasing scorched earth policy that sees our people slaughtered and dots our landscape with burning villages, nor will we stop hearing the screams of our people tortured in al Bashir’s dungeons, ignore all the mass graves that feed the soil of Darfur or the haunted stare of all our women and girls that have been gang raped. As with al Bashir’s stated intent to aid counter-terrorism, the vast majority of the participant factions in the so-called peace process, are paper figures, irrelevant on the ground both politically and militarily, or otherwise in other instances co-opted and subservient to Khartoum, where neither camp musters any credible support from the civilian population.
All of Sudan is clamoring for change and the SLM together with the SPLM-N is the very vanguard of this change, alongside the bulk of our brave university students, an intelligentsia unwilling to endure the quashing of free expression any longer longing to break free from the shackles of authoritarianism that imprison an entire nation, where every Sudanese that has buried a loved one murdered by the regime, and every empty stomach, will now ensure the march to freedom to fulfill the destiny of the Sudanese people. You have a chance now, excellency, to choose what path you will walk upon, if you are on the correct side of history, then you will find no truer friends than us, if you will indeed choose freedom and justice over an expedient alliance with the evil of genocide and dictatorship.
To quote from your own revolutionary Founding FatherPatrick Henry for us there is only one choice. “Give me liberty or give me death.” I humbly thank you for allowing me to write you so candidly. If we may be of service to you, please know the SLM and SLA would not hesitate to come to your aid and we are open to direct dialogue.
Abdul Wahid al Nur, Chairman Sudan Liberation Movement and Commander in Chief Sudan Liberation Army