[Marxism] Cry, the Beloved Country: Interview with Sudanese Communist Party
cbrown at michiganlegal.org
Tue Dec 21 08:56:03 MST 2004
Cry, the Beloved Country: Interview with Sudanese Communist Party
By Pamela Saffer <http://www.politicalaffairs.net/article/author/view/249>
Does Anybody Give a Damn?
Editor's Note: This interview of Fatthi El-Fadl of the Sudanese Communist
Party was conducted by Pamela Saffer for Political Affairs during the
International Conference of Communist and Workers Parties in Athens, Greece
in early October 2004.
PA: Can you give background on the crisis in the Sudan?
FE: In general the Sudan is a problematic country. Gradually, since the year
2000, there were serious attempts to stop the civil war in the south and to
tackle the problems in the different parts of the Sudan under the auspices
of the United States and its friends. The Sudanese People's Liberation Army
(SPLA) and the Sudan government have been conducting talks for quite some
time in Nairobi, Kenya to settle the issues related to the civil war in the
Sudan. And at the beginning of 2004 they signed what they called the
Naivasha Accords, which stopped the civil war and we think created the basis
for a possible democratic development in the country.
The main issue in the Sudan is the uneven development between the center and
the different regions of the Sudan, especially since the overthrow of the
democratically elected government in 1989 and the imposition of the
dictatorial regime by the National Islamic Front whereby they tried to
enforce a model of development contrary to the interests and aspirations of
the people of the Sudan. One example is their acceptance without any
objections of the structural adjustments of the International Monetary Fund.
You would be surprised that the Sudan government is being commended as a
model government on the recommendation by the IMF despite all of their
utterances of anti-Americanism and anti-capitalism. It is the most
capitalist government that ever passed in the Sudan. Practically, they have
privatized all of the public sector in the Sudan. We don't have any public
sector anywhere in the country.
However, because of the internal problems and marginalization of the
regions, Darfur region in particular because it is farther from the center,
they were more devastated by the policies of the government. In addition to
that there were natural calamities of both drought and famine, which created
difficulties for the inhabitants there without any help from the government.
So the lack of democracy, the imposition of dictatorial rule, plus natural
calamities have created an unbearable situation for the people of Darfur.
PA: Could you describe some aspects of that situation?
FE: In Darfur, we have two types of tribes living in that area. One is a
nomadic group, which has cattle raising as their profession and moves from
south to north Darfur depending on the season looking for grazing land for
their cattle. The other group is made up of settlers and farmers and lives
mainly in the central and southern parts of Darfur. For centuries these
tribes have been living in harmony. Whenever the nomadic tribes needed land
they were hosted by the settlers.
But in recent years with the imposition of the dictatorial measures of the
government, groups found in the nomadic Arab tribes more support for and
acceptance of their rule than the settlers. The nomadic tribes became more
aggressive enjoying the support of the government.
The second element is the drought. This made the need of the nomadic tribes
more acute. At the same time made the cultivated land more valuable and more
wanted by the settlers. So a clash of interests started. And the government
sided with the Arab tribes, for two reasons: one, because of being Arab,
which is racist at its root, and two, because the African tribes were
generally opposing the rule of the National Islamic Front. So when the
clashes started, it started like a normal clash on land, but soon it was
politicized by the government, which raised the issue of jihad by Arabs
against the Africans.
This continued for sometime and the heads of the tribes tried to solve the
problems in a peaceful manner by providing land to the nomadic tribes. When
the government felt there was a possibility of peace, especially with the
opposition forces, in the area, they started importing Arab tribes from
neighboring countries, especially Chad, Burkina Faso and Mali. This
accelerated the military confrontation between the two groups, and
foreigners are now playing a major part with these bandits, which are called
the Janjaweed. And this is how a normal clash of two groups over land
developed into a kind of ethnic cleansing and even genocide in the area.
PA: What do you see as the atmosphere in which a resolution can be made?
FE: The first step to stopping the conflict is to reach an agreement between
the two fighting forces, especially the government and the National
Liberation Movement of Darfur and to force the government of the Sudan to
disarm the bandits, because these are the actual forms which are used by the
government in the conflict in Darfur. The second step would be to try to
organize a conference for the different tribes of Darfur to discuss the
issues of development in the country under international supervision or in
Here it is important to mention the role that can be played by the African
Union. The African Union has already sent troops to the Sudan, while
demanding more troops to be sent to the Sudan. We are glad to know that the
Sudanese government has agreed to the increasing number of African Union
troops. Over here we very much would like to see the African troops shoulder
more responsibilities, not only to observe the cease-fire, but to be more
involved in the protection of the refugee camps. Because what the government
is doing right now is including the Janjaweed into the security forces and
putting this security forces inside the refugee camps. That is, so to speak,
they're putting the wolf with the sheep. So atrocities are still continuing
in the camps. That's why we feel that the African Union should play a major
role in that.
The third very important issue is to give the people of the Darfur the right
to their autonomy. I think these three steps will help pacify the situation.
The other issue is the issue of development in the area. This should be
discussed within the context of the whole development of the Sudan and
that's why the National Liberation Movement in Darfur is now coming faster
and faster. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) of the country, which is
involved in the negotiations about the future of the Sudan, demanding the
annulment of all emergency laws, the introduction of a new Constitution, to
legalize the existence of parties, mass organizations, the right to
organize, the right to move - in a nutshell, to curtail the excessive powers
of the National Islamic Front and to create a new alternative, a new
PA: Can you explain the characteristics of the National Liberation Movement,
the NDA and the Sudanese government and the role they play?
FE: The NDA is an umbrella group of all the opposition parties fighting
against the rule of the National Islamic Front. It is composed of the
Communists, the Umma Party, Democratic Unionist Party, the Sudanese People's
Liberation Army, and all the mass democratic organizations. It more or less
represents the people of the Sudan.
The National Liberation Movement of Darfur is a front group in the
resistance of the Darfurian people. The different individuals from the
different tribes from Darfur who raise arms are the members of the National
Liberation Movement of Darfur. This front two months ago [August 2004]
became a member of the National Democratic Alliance fighting against the
The Government of the Sudan is composed mainly of the Muslim Brotherhood and
their party, which is the National Islamic Front.
PA: What is the government's role?
FE: The government was trying to impose what they call an Islamic way of
development. They had what they called their own project for the Sudan,
which negates the existence of anybody else. Accordingly, Sudan was subject
in the past 14 years to unbelievable suppression of its people. A lot of
people lost their lives in the civil war or as a result of it through
displacement, suppression and mass killings.
The US government would like to see a regime that says yes to everything the
Americans want. No democratic regime anywhere in the world would agree to
that, especially if it is Sudanese.
The Sudan government is also an obedient student of the IMF. Apparently it
has all of the patterns of being anti-American, but in practice, Sudan is
open to international capital and the country's resources are being sucked
by multinational corporations. So it is no different from any capitalist
Like the American government, Sudan was helping Bin Laden. Actually Bin
Laden was living in the Sudan for some time. The paradox is that the
government handed Carlos the Jackal over to France. They were trying to hand
over Bin Laden to the Americans during the Clinton administration, and the
Americans refused. The Sudanese government wanted to hand him over to the
Saudi Arabians, and they refused. So he was free to go back to Afghanistan.
So what I'm trying to say is that the Sudanese government is a servant and a
practitioner of capitalism. At the same time, the Sudanese interests
coincide with the American interests in that they don't want radical change
in the Sudan. That means they don't want a democratic Sudan. Sudan as you
know is surrounded by eight African countries. It is the largest country in
Africa. Its influence, in the event that it had a democratic regime, would
be unbelievable. It would change the whole geopolitical situation in Africa
and that of the Arab world. That's why I doubt very much that the US with
all of its so-called principles and democracy and human rights would like to
see the disappearance of the National Islamic Front regime in the Sudan.
PA: How does the Sudanese Communist Party see the role of the US government
in the Sudan?
FE: The US government would like to see a regime that says yes to everything
the Americans want. No democratic regime anywhere in the world would agree
to that, especially if it is Sudanese. The second thing, fortunately or
unfortunately, we have the catch of having oil in the country. That's why a
lot of foreign powers that were never interested in Sudan suddenly became
interested in the development of the country.
As you know, Sudan previously had two military regimes. We managed to
peacefully topple the two military regimes without foreign intervention. But
this is the first time that other forces have claimed that they have to
restore democracy to the Sudan. In actual terms, it is creating difficulties
for us to restore democracy. Without the intervention of the US government
in the Sudan, the issue would have been settled a long time ago.
The Americans, on the one hand, tried to insist to the government and the
SPLA that the dialogue should be limited to the two parties and not to allow
the NDA to be involved in the negotiations. And they succeeded in doing so.
This resulted in the partial agreement between two parties, which to a great
extent gave the Muslim Brotherhood regime another six years to be a part of
the government of the Sudan. Otherwise, without the American intervention,
I'm dead sure the number of years of the present regime would not be more
than one year.
So in a way, the US administration is interested in establishing a friendly
regime rather than a real democratic country. This is the same approach they
have towards other Arab countries, be it Saudi Arabia, the Gulf, even Iraq.
The main interest of the US is not a democratic Iraq, but an Iraqi regime
that is subordinated to the interests of the US. It is much better to have a
regime that has little respect for human rights than it is to have an
independent democratic country.
Allawi for example is a very known CIA agent; he is very well known as MI-6.
He is very well know as a former Ba'athist. He is a very well known person
who was involved in killing a lot of Communists. That is why today Allawi is
the Prime Minister of Iraq. Most people in Iraq, including the Iraqi
Communist Party, are struggling for a secular democratic country. This is
something that is neither proposed by Allawi nor by the Islamic resistance.
The same thing applies to a number of other countries including Egypt, the
Sudan and to other Arab countries as well. The alternative that the people
want does not fall within the American project.
PA: Can you explain SCP's position on intervention?
FE: As a principle we oppose any interference or intervention into the
internal affairs of any sovereign state. Under no circumstance and under no
pretext do we accept intervention into the affairs of sovereign states, and
we uphold all of the principles of the United Nations charter. This is
applicable to the Sudan as well as any other nation. However, the situation
in the Sudan developed in a way whereby there is a real threat of US or NATO
intervention making use of the tragedy in Darfur. We think that African
Union intervention would help at least to avoid the major catastrophe in the
Sudan of the presence of the Americans or any NATO forces. At least it is
possible within the African Union to have a discussion and to have a partner
that would listen to the plight of the Sudanese people. The opposition
forces in the Sudan can at least have a say and have a listening partner in
the African Union. That's why we are more for the presence of African Union
forces in the Sudan.
PA: What is the significance of the situation in Darfur for neighboring
EF: The main characteristic is that we managed through the Naivasha
agreement to halt the civil war in the south. Now we are seeing the
beginning of another civil war. It is becoming more dangerous. It can spill
out to neighboring countries especially Chad. Since the majority of the
tribes in that part of Africa move in and out and live jointly in the Sudan
and Chad, the possibility is, especially now with the government's attempts
to import tribes from other countries, the civil war can also be transferred
into Western Africa. This is a real danger.
The second thing that is important to stress here is that the government of
the Sudan stated that it was willing to negotiate only with people who raise
up arms. This is maybe one of the reasons that the people in Darfur resorted
to armed struggle. It is likely to encourage other minorities in other parts
of Sudan to raise up arms. We are beginning to see a period of armed
struggle as the means of solving the problems of the Sudan despite the
possibility that the country will be engulfed in civil war.
So the situation is quite dangerous and pregnant with a lot of problems. Of
course on the other side, there is the possibility of peaceful development
and this depends on whether the opposition forces and the Communist Party
can play a role in achieving democracy within the foreseeable future.
PA: Are there ways you are looking for solidarity both internationally and
from the Communist Party USA? How should we support your struggle?
FE: We would appreciate solidarity through really exposing the problems of
the Sudan and in particular the problem in Darfur. I mean there is a real
tragedy, there is ethnic cleansing and genocide taking place in the Sudan
and it is important to stop that. But, it is also equally important to not
ignore the real roots of the problem because it can repeat itself in the
future. Today what the Americans and the UN are proposing is a solution for
the present crisis. It is not a solution for the problem.
What we are looking for, apart from really helping directly trying to solve
the humanitarian problem, is to try to have a radical solution that sees the
restoration of democratic rights and liberties to all the country, the right
for the regions to develop on their own, the right to local autonomy and the
right to appoint their own governments. These are the basic things that will
solve the problem. The government is trying to confuse the situation by
pointing to immediate problems, the bandits and the refugees and so on.
Apart from that is why this thing started in the first place. This is the
type of solidarity we need: to raise the real issue that the government is
responsible for the policies it is following in creating and deepening these
crises in the different parts of Sudan.
We'd very much appreciate presenting a different picture from the one
presented by the US administration which focuses on the surface problems of
the Sudan and which thinks more of the interests of the United States than
the interests of the people affected. Because, for example, and this is
ridiculous, the United States says there is genocide in the Sudan but is
proposing sanctions, not intervention. Not general sanctions against the
government or the leading figures of the government. It is sanctions against
the Sudan government in the particular area of oil. These sanctions would be
against the People's Republic of China. The Chinese companies control the
oil production in the south. So if you impose sanctions on the Sudan, you
impose sanctions on the particular companies there. It is very clear why
China opposes sanctions on the Sudan. And here you find us like a puppet
between two giants.
If we explain the situation in the Sudan in a proper manner, people
understand that it is neither the interests of the US nor the interests of
China that should prevail, but the interests of the Sudanese people.
More information about the Marxism