Sudan: Jihad a tradition not stopped by peace agreements

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By: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal

This posting provides an update to the World Evangelical Alliance Religious
Liberty News & Analysis posting of Wednesday 3 October 2007 entitled:
"Southern Sudan: On the path to war." That posting may be accessed at
< http://www.worldevangelicals.org/news/view.htm?id=1434 >.

On Saturday 17 November Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir addressed a
rally organised by Sudan's Popular Defence Forces (PDF) to celebrate their
18th anniversary. The PDF, which is known for its atrocities, was created in
1989 as a government paramilitary to fight alongside the Sudan Armed Forces in
the jihad against the Southerners. It has subsequently been deployed against
Darfur, as it is widely accepted that the PDF and the janjaweed are often one
and the same. President al-Bashir's words have sent a shock wave through South
Sudan and Darfur.

The Sudan Tribune reports (17 Nov): "Addressing a mass rally this morning at
the Wad-Medani Stadium (capital of Al-Jazeera State), some 200 miles south of
Khartoum, celebrating the 18th anniversary of the Popular Defence Forces
(PDF), President al-Bashir ordered to the PDF to open its camps and mobilize
troops and get prepared for any eventuality. 'Now we order the PDF, the
legitimate son of the people, to open their camps and gather the Mujahideen
[holy warriors] not to wage war but it is obvious that we should be ready.'"
(Link 1)

According to an Associated Press report, al-Bashir also accused Western powers
of lying about their motives in backing a 26,000-strong UN and African Union
forces due in Darfur in January. "'Those Americans, those British, and those
Europeans are not keen about the people of Darfur, or the people of Southern
Sudan or the Sudanese people,' he said. 'They are all liars and hypocrites who
are only interested in the riches and resources of Sudan.'" Al-Bashir also
singled out Scandinavian countries ". . . where some media had reproduced a
caricature of Islam's Prophet Muhammad last year, and said Khartoum wouldn't
allow them to contribute troops. 'Anyone who spoke blasphemously about the
Prophet will not set a foot on Sudanese soil,' he said." (Link 2)

Al-Bashir's belligerent words drew an immediate response from Darfurian rebel
leaders who said al-Bashir's directive was nothing other than a declaration of
war. Agence France Presse reports (18 Nov): "A Darfur rebel faction said
Sunday that a call by Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir to reopen auxiliary
training camps was 'a declaration of war' and that it was putting its troops
on high alert. 'The Sudan Liberation Movement-Unity decrees a state of maximum
alert for its troops following the Sudanese president's declarations about
opening Popular Defence Force training camps,' the SLM-Unity said in a
statement. 'We take this decision as a declaration of all-out war in Sudan.'"
(Link 3)

Southerners have also moved to a state of high alert. The Sudan Tribune
reports (20 Nov): Pagan Amumu, ". . . the Secretary General of the Sudan
People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), said that a state of mobilisation had
begun in the south in reaction to the statements that were issued ordering the
Popular Defence Forces to prepare and open camps.

"However, he stressed that war was not a favourable option for the SPLM but
that it would defend itself if others began. He added that military
capabilities had increased on both sides and that the SPLA's capabilities had
developed a hundred times." (Link 4)

Amumu's boast (if it reflects truth) exposes the degree to which both sides
have been violating the Comprehensive Peace Accord: as Al-Dirdiri Mohamed
Ahmed of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP, formerly the National
Islamic Front) rightly notes, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement prohibits the
increase of military capabilities. (Link 4)

(For a copy of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement's ceasefire arrangements, see
link 5.)


By Tuesday 20 November, Reuters news agency was reporting that young
supporters of President al-Bashir were responding to his call. "The Youth
Department Secretary of Bashir's dominant National Congress Party (NCP), Haj
Majed Suwar, told state media that members had 'started assembling Mujahideen
who (were) waiting eagerly to execute the president's order'.

"Suwar told the state-controlled Sudanese Media Centre the youth department
was preparing to open training camps in response to the president's call. The
news agency quoted Suwar as saying Jihad was a tradition that could not be
stopped by signing peace agreements." (Link 6)

Elizabeth Kendal
[email protected]


1) Sudan president orders paramilitary forces mobilisation, rejects Abyei report
18 November 2007 http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article24793
Sudan president "threatens war" -- former rebels
By Andrew Heavens in Khartoum,18 Nov 2007

2) Sudan President Criticizes Western Interference, Says Ready For War (AP)
18 Nov 2007 http://www.sudan.net/news/posted/15550.html

3) Darfur rebel group calls Beshir move 'declaration of war' (AFP)
18 Nov 2007 http://www.sudan.net/news/posted/15552.html

4) South Sudan army in state of mobilisation: SPLM SG
20 November 2007 http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article24826

5) Comprehensive Peace Agreement

6) Sudanese respond to militia call-up -- state media
20 Nov 2007 http://africa.reuters.com/top/news/usnBAN031531.html

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