When you begin with an incorrect premise in speaking about the conflict in South Sudan, there are problems ahead. It is impossible in this post to address every misconception, misattribution, and false narrative in the Heritage Foundation’s “South Sudan: Time for the U.S. to Hold the Combatants Accountable” report on South Sudan.
This article will merely address the “Key Takeaways” of the report, because if those takeaways are implemented, they would create an atmosphere in which the armed combatants fighting against the legitimate government of nation would be empowered. The body of the report will be addressed separately. As such, there are no hyperlinks in this article, other than to the Heritage Foundation website, just as there were no hyperlinks in this section of the Heritage Foundation report.
Beginning with the title of report: “South Sudan: Time for the U.S. to Hold the Combatants Accountable.” It is indeed time for the U.S. and every other civilized nation to hold the armed rebel combatants accountable. Unfortunately, it is not that to which the Heritage Foundation report refers. The premise that “both sides” are equal “combatants” is incorrect and reflects both moral equivalence and a dependence on the false narrative about South Sudan that has been perpetuated since the attempted coup by former Vice President (at the time of the attempted coup, a private citizen with no government position) Riek Machar.
Yes, the U.S. should hold the armed rebel combatants accountable in South Sudan. The combatants are the violent, anti-government armed combatants that have terrorized South Sudan for three years and have attempted to bring down the democratically-elected government of Salva Kiir, aided by the Islamic Republic of Sudan and other international actors.
Heritage Foundation Key Takeaways:
“The primary warring factions broke each of the numerous agreements brokered with strong U.S. support.”
By the primary warring factions, the report is referring to the armed combatant rebels of the SPLA-In Opposition and other rebel groups, as well as the legitimate armed forces of South Sudan, the actual SPLA. A false narrative (now globally accepted) refers to the legitimate army as the SPLA-In Government (while the armed rebel combatants are referred to as the SPLA-In Opposition), but the SPLA government troops are the only actual legitimate armed forces. (I will henceforth refer to the legitimate armed forces as the “South Sudan Army.”)
- The army of the nation is not a “warring faction.” It is doing what a sovereign nation is supposed to do, defending the nation and its government against all enemies, foreign and domestic. While the armed combatants in this case are domestic, they are supported by such foreign entities as the Islamic Republic of Sudan, the United Nations (we have evidence of UN collaboration with the armed combatants connected to Riek Machar, as well as collaboration and support for Machar’s White Army in December 2013 and early 2014), and, regretfully, the United States government during the Obama Administration. Support and enablement were given to Riek Machar in spite of the well-known facts concerning his bloody, treasonous past, deserting the SPLA of John Garang and joining the Khartoum regime, massacring thousands of people in Bor in the 1990’s, and being responsible for the death of more South Sudanese than the jihadists of Khartoum.
- In addition, these agreements never should have been brokered. The US’ and other Western powers’ enabling of Machar in December 2013, meddling—hiding him, rather than either allowing the South Sudan government to go after him and incarcerate him,* or even assisting President Kiir in doing that, is in large part to blame for the ongoing devastation, deaths, famine, displaced persons, and financial collapse of South Sudan. To treat the government of South Sudan as a sovereign nation and allow them to stop Machar would have nipped the war in the bud.
- *I know Kiir would not have killed Machar in cold blood. Kiir does not kill people in cold blood. In fact, Kiir’s flaw is that he has been too forgiving, offered too much amnesty, not held people accountable for their actions.
Even in July 2016 when Machar brought a gun into J1, the Presidential compound, intending to kill Kiir and once again stage a coup, Kiir protected Machar with his own body. Former U.S. Special Ops personnel saw the evidence on the walls around the compound that an ambush took place on unprepared South Sudan Army soldiers. One former Spec Ops witness reports that “Riek Machar’s “IO” combatants were mounted on vehicles, firing down towards soldiers along the walls.” This is just one example of the reality that has been ignored by the U.S. government concerning what happened in July 2016.
I don’t know what personal experience the writer of Heritage’s report has had with either Salva Kiir or Riek Machar, but I have known President Kiir for over 14 years. I also first met Riek Machar when he was welcomed back into the SPLA of John Garang after betraying it and committing mass murder. I also know how Khartoum works.
“More negotiations are doomed to fail in the current context and will enable the South Sudanese leadership, which is committed to violence.”
- Yes, more negotiations are doomed to failure, because there never should have been negotiations in the first place. (Isn’t the rule ‘don’t negotiate with terrorists’?)
- They are also doomed to failure because the armed combatants of all the rebel groups are just like the jihadists that fund them from Khartoum: they violate every agreement. The difference is that whereas Khartoum is quite bold about their egregious human rights violations (knowing that no one seems to care enough to intervene for the marginalized people groups against which it is perpetrating genocide – Heritage, why don’t you write a report on the jihadist Khartoum regime now happily hosting the Islamic State in Sudan? Or are you in favor of lifting sanctions on that genocidal government, too?), the rebel armed combatants follow the Alinsky rule of accusing their enemy of doing that which they are doing. Even when it is quite evident that ONE side is committing the atrocities, the nauseating phrase “atrocities are committed by both sides” is thrown in with cavalier gratuitousness.
- It is not only slander, but extremely irresponsible to cast the actual, legitimate leadership of South Sudan (there is no other, the others are not leaders of the country, I reiterate, they are armed combatants) as being “committed to violence.” Anyone who is on the ground, talking daily with the President of South Sudan, the Chief of the South Sudan Army, and associated leaders would quickly see that these are not only men that are committed to the security and defense of their nation, but are committed to peace. President Kiir’s priority at this time is the National Dialogue to bring reconciliation and unity in the country from the grassroots level on upwards. The repercussions of using such language could be quite harmful to South Sudan.
“The U.S. should cut diplomatic ties with the government of South Sudan and anyone else responsible for the violence against civilians and Americans.”
- By no means should the U.S. cut diplomatic ties with the government of South Sudan. In fact, the U.S. should RAMP UP engagement with the South Sudan government. The Government of South Sudan and the legitimate South Sudan Army have NO policies to commit violence against civilians or against Americans. Any soldier in the South Sudan Army that has actually committed such violence has acted independently and is being held accountable by the government. In addition, armed rebel combatants have been responsible for much of the violence that has been attributed to the South Sudan Army — either deliberately by the media, the United Nations, or others, or because the uniforms are similar (sometimes the exact same uniform) and identification is not clear, or even because witnesses living in regions controlled by the armed rebel combatants are afraid to identify the true culprits.
- The U.S. should be assisting Juba in achieving financial and social stability again. First and foremost the U.S. should help Juba to bring to justice all those that have been responsible for violence against civilians and Americans, as they are attempting to do. The U.S. should also aid Juba in investigating those former officials (now known as “Former Detainees”) who were responsible for embezzling billions of dollars, in flushing out the armed combatants that are still controlling and wreaking havoc in various regions of the nation, and in providing security and stability that will allow the baby nation to flourish.
- In addition, the Government of South Sudan has made it infinitely clear to those whom they trust, that they desire to be America’s best ally in Africa, “the Israel of Africa.” Because of their long experience in waging a clear-eyed, indefatigable war against jihad from Khartoum, the South Sudanese government and the South Sudan Army could offer great assistance and information to benefit U.S. national and global security. Far more effective and honest intelligence than what we are deluded into thinking we are receiving from Khartoum. They have indicated that if they believe they can trust the U.S. they welcome U.S. military, intelligence, and private business investors, as well as non-profit agencies committed to the welfare of all South Sudanese. Documentation provided by the South Sudan government proves that they made this offer to the U.S. at various points during the previous administration, as well as asking the previous administration for help, and were rebuffed.
MY KEY TAKEAWAY:
The Heritage Foundation should not compound the tragedy that has taken place in South Sudan that was caused by the power-hungry former Vice President and all of those that have taken advantage of the instability that he created to try to get as much for themselves as possible.
Particularly now, when there are signs that the armed combatants are being defeated, a serious and effective National Dialogue is taking place, and the nation is on the verge of beginning again, it is time to support and encourage a government that actually modeled itself after the United States of America in its quest for democracy and freedom from tyranny.