The government of (north) Sudan is waging terrible war in South Kordofan. Rebels there aspire to independence like their neighbors in South Sudan, the world’s newest country. Khartoum doesn’t intend to make the same mistake twice.
The NYT‘s Nicholas Kristof returned from South Kordofan this weekend. His report paints a dire and tragic picture.
“They said that they want to finish off the black people; they said they want to kill them all,” recalled Elizabeth Kafi, a 22-year-old Nuban who said she was kidnapped in December by Sudanese uniformed soldiers. She and others say that the mostly Arab Sudanese soldiers scorn Nubans partly for their darker skin, partly because some are Christian, but mostly because many Nubans back an armed uprising against decades of Sudanese misrule. In 23 days of captivity, she said she saw the soldiers use guns to execute several Nuban men, including her grandfather and brother-in-law. She described watching soldiers gang rape and then cut the throat of a young Nuban woman, and also stab to death the woman’s 3-year-old son.
The occasional racism of north Africa’s Arabs against their dark-skinned African brethren is not confined to Sudan. It’s happening in Libya, in the aftermath of the civil war, with similarly tragic results, and it’s happening in Mali, where veterans of the Libya war are continuing an old fight.
Ahmed Haroun, wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity in Darfur, is now governor of South Kordofan. His strategy is to starve the enemy into submission, rebels or civilians, and to prevent aid groups from reaching refugees while bombing towns with aircraft and unleashing “soldiers” to rape, pillage, and kill.
There are very few calls for a international intervention in Sudan—no movement for a Libya-style coalition to protect civilians and no UN Security Council resolutions authorizing mediation. Here in Sudan, the “duty to protect” once again proves its limited application.