By Jacob J Akol
OPINION – For South Sudan, the lesson to learn from the fate of Sahrawi Arab Republic and the failed French-Australian submarine deal is the fluidity of international relations and alliances.
Let’s start with the case of Western Sahara and Sudan: As Spain pulled out of that north-western African country, an international consortium of leading Western democracies and capitalism, led by Spain, conspired to hand it over to a then more “friendly” liberal Kingdom of Morocco than to let it come under the influence of a then more Socialist oriented Algeria.
On the other hand, Sudan had become a pain in the backside of Washington and allias, as it harboured Islamist terrorists; therefore was ripe for split-up, with the cause of the long-suffering people of southern Sudan as strong moral justification. The millions of dollars poured into the long negotiations of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) by the Troika (US, UK, Norway) and allies, was a well-planned policy worth the expense to punish Khartoum.
The Interim Period for the CPA saw the same commitment, by the Troika and allies, in finance and human resources to prepare South Sudan for a successful Referendum and secession. It suited South Sudanese well at the time when Sudan People Liberation Movement and Army (SPLM/A) under John Garang, an American Educated PhD holder, had decamped from defeated Communist oriented Ethiopia to Capitalist Kenya, a member of the British Commonwealth.
Another lesson to take from the fate of Saharawi is the choice of friends at any given time. Rebels or small nations must be careful which friends to keep close or leave alone when necessary. Currently, Sudan is playing this diplomatic game very well, edging South Sudan out of favour of those Garang and Kiir teamed up with to split up the Sudan to the benefit of South Sudanese.
But, don’t be surprised if they team up now to back up the Sudan to permanently claim Abyei and other so-called “disputed areas” as legitimate parts of the Sudan! They did so for Panthou, the so-called Hiqlig, which Khartoum annexed to the North as recently as 2004, just before the signing of the CPA.
Forgive the thought, but it is a man-eat-man world! Witness how US and UK have just pulled the rug from under their supposed ally, France, over Australian diesel-powered powered submarine deal, on pretext that Australia was now ready to have its submarines powered by nuclear technology! Australia could not resist such an offer from US and UK to acquire such an exclusive technology which, by the way, France could have ably provided.
France is as capable, just as the US and UK, to avail Australia with nuclear technology and earn the billions of dollars in contract; but, given the way Paris has reacted so angrily, it seems they were not given the chance to change the contract from diesel to nuclear power.
Let’s face it: The British Monarch still remains Head of State for Australia, which is a prominent member of the British Commonwealth. And UK and US have this undefined “special relations” which is exclusive of the rest of Europe. Is it the dominance of the English Language and culture in USA or what?
France has now become a distant ally when it comes to confronting China’s expansion over East China Sea and South Pacific Ocean. For the US, Australia is, on the other hand, a trusted extension of that “special relationship” with UK. No wonder France fills so wounded! They must be regretting supporting independence of the US from UK so many years ago! How alliances shift.
The author is a concerned citizen of South Sudan.
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