(This article was originally posted on the Faith & Chelsen Patheos Blog on December 29, 2017, and is reprinted here with permission.)
On Monday, December 18, 2017, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley stood up to the UN Security Council as few representatives have ever done. Hers was the lone dissenting vote as the 14 other UNSC member states voted in favor of a resolution introduced by Egypt condemning the US for deciding to move its embassy to Jerusalem. The resolution even attempted to prohibit the US from this action.
Haley’s arm shot up at the call for “against” with neither hesitation nor timidity. Her vote was a veto against what she then referred to as a “blatant attempt to steal US sovereignty” and “an insult that won’t soon be forgotten.”
Neither did Ambassador Haley back down on Thursday, December 21, when the UN General Assembly voted on a draft resolution calling on the US to withdraw its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. One hundred twenty-eight countries voted in favor of the resolution. Haley excoriated those nations and the US has since reduced its funding to the UN by $285 million.
But Ambassador Haley should be attentive to the parallels between the world community/UN/media’s scurrilous treatment of Israel and their similar treatment of the world’s youngest nation, the Republic of South Sudan.
Because of her clear-eyed assessment of what is being done to Israel and who is doing it, the Ambassador should be more circumspect in embracing the accepted narrative about South Sudan’s leadership. That narrative casts legitimate, freely-elected leaders and armed rebel combatant terrorists as morally equivalent “parties” in what they call a “conflict” (rather than an insurrection against a sovereign government). The narrative also falsely accuses the South Sudan government of genocide.
Fortunately, under the Administration of President Trump and the watchful eye and courageous voice of Ambassador Haley, the UN no longer gets away unscathed with its continual demonization of the State of Israel or its attempts to bully the US. Unfortunately, those demonizing and bullying South Sudan are getting away with it.
The demonizers of South Sudan include those hoping to reap all the profits from South Sudan’s natural resources. They include organizations that profit from the flight of South Sudanese citizens to refugee camps, and nations that would “punish” the black, African people of South Sudan for rejecting Islamic sharia and not accepting a life as abid (slaves) to the Arab north jihadists.
And currently, the demonizers even include the U.S. government – mostly because neither this Administration nor Congress has the band width to keep up with the permutations in South Sudan. Few members of Congress have staff with South Sudan experience that stretches back beyond Darfur and the North/South peace agreement (CPA) signing. And new State Department appointees rely on Obama Administration-era staff members for their expertise on the region.
The current South Sudan narrative began with the December 2013 coup attempt by former Vice President Riek Machar. The idea of an attempted coup has been much disputed (especially by Machar himself!), but attempted coup it was, nonetheless. (It actually began in the US, Thanksgiving weekend 2013, with Machar’s supporters raising money for arms so that the former Vice President could take over the government.) Adding to the weeds in which you must wander to understand South Sudan there is the fact that Machar had been sacked in July 2013 for trying to undermine the government of President Salva Kiir in oil field discussions with Khartoum, and for massive financial corruption.
In August 2015, the Government of South Sudan was pressured from outside (UN, Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), African Union, US, etc.) into a “peace agreement” with the armed rebel combatants. This peace agreement required the Government of South Sudan to make huge concessions (kind of like those that Israel has made for decades to try to achieve peace). The peace agreement required that Machar be returned to Juba as Vice President again, ignoring the massacres he and his White Army had been perpetrating, including massive slaughter in Bor, Jonglei State, January 2014, of the same sort that he perpetrated in 1991
Machar was sworn in April 2016, seemingly rewarded for mass murder across South Sudan by the international community. Thanks to the false narrative and the farcical peace process, the armed rebel combatants have not only been emboldened, they have multiplied. And the world has consistently failed to make distinctions between a legitimate sovereign government attempting to defend its sovereignty and armed rebel combatant groups attempting to take over the country.
The clamoring, well-paid voices lobbying for South Sudan’s armed rebel combatant terrorists (SPLA-IO, the Former Detainees (FD), G-10, etc.) and the voices influenced by the Khartoum regime are the ones whose stories reach American policymakers’ ears. South Sudan is not committing genocide, but it may be committing suicide – by not more vigorously defending itself against both blatant and subtle lies woven into the false narrative that threatens to crush it.
But even if South Sudan’s government does not have well-paid lobbyists to reveal the truth, there’s a way for Ambassador Haley to tell truth from lies. If she hears an outrageous story about the Government of South Sudan or its Armed Forces (the only real SPLA in South Sudan), Haley should ask herself, “Would Israel behave that way?”
One such story was told to Haley by a South Sudanese refugee woman in Gambella, Ethiopia. That distressing tale haunted Haley and set the tone for her moral indignation on her South Sudan trip. The woman told Haley that the soldiers (inference: South Sudan official army) not only killed and burned her baby, but forced her to eat it.
Most people do not want to wander into the weeds (or in South Sudan, the sim sim bushes) on verifying such issues. So they take at face value a story told (by anti-government South Sudanese) to a “reputable journalist” and then repeated over and over. But here are just a few objections to this story:
It is morally repugnant to all of the people of South Sudan to eat human flesh. The White Army of Riek Machar slaughtered thousands of Dinka in Bor in 1991. They threw Dinka children into the Nile and into fire. But even they did not force anyone to eat human flesh.
The South Sudan Army’s agenda is to defend the nation against armed rebel combatants, not attack and/or torture and kill innocent civilians, and most certainly not infants and children.
Even if South Sudanese were not morally opposed to such a horrific action, the South Sudan Army would not take the time, while they were chasing armed rebel combatant terrorists, to stop and burn babies and watch to make sure women ate them.
If some crazed, evil, rogue soldier did indeed take this action, it would not be reflective of the actions and/or mindset of the South Sudan Army
This story is eerily reminiscent of reports from Iraqi Christian and Yazidi women about ISIS (Islamic State). It is absolutely plausible with ISIS and fits into their overall pattern of terror and jihad. But South Sudan has no such agenda. Machar’s rebel SPLA-IO public relations’ arm may have thought it was a good tactic to use though, seeing how much the world was repulsed by the reports of ISIS doing this.
Haley is well-versed in Palestinian propaganda used to demonize Israel. When she first heard the story of the woman who was forced to eat her baby, a little bell should have rung in her head that said, “Muhammad Al-Dura.”
Muhammad Al-Dura was a young Palestinian boy who became a poster child for Israeli brutality and the Palestinian struggle. He was claimed to have been shot and killed by the IDF during the second intifada, September 2000, as he cowered in terror behind his father.
The IDF did not deny that Al-Dura had been shot in the crossfire, believing it to be true. But when an investigation took place it revealed that not only did the IDF not hit the boy, but that the video of the incident, filmed by France2 TV, was in all probability, staged. True or not, the young Palestinian’s “murder” by the IDF has become legendary, as, it appears, will the story of forced cannibalism of a South Sudanese mother by her own country’s military forces.
Haley’s defense of both the US decision to move to Jerusalem and of Israel itself is based on the sudden insertion into US Middle East policy of common sense and justice (unlike the UN’s policy). It is based on wanting real peace for both sides. It is based on the reality that Israel is the only true, secular democracy with religious freedom for all and America’s best and strongest ally in the region. And it is based on the knowledge that the Islamist agenda is to flat out destroy Israel (“from the (Mediterranean) sea to the (Jordan) river”).
Rather than catering to the cast of characters waging war against their government in South Sudan, Ambassador Haley should apply some of the same common sense and justice to that situation. The current attempts to revitalize the peace process forced upon South Sudan by the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) are misdirected at best and malicious at worst. The fingerprints of the Islamic Khartoum regime are all over the revitalization effort, and no matter what warm feelings the US now has towards Khartoum, that Islamist nation is intent upon bringing down South Sudan.
When Ambassador Haley excoriated the UNSC she declared that “few member states would welcome security council pronouncements about their sovereign decisions.” She should understand that South Sudan does not welcome such pronouncements either, although it has been cooperative with the UN/world community enforcement of a peace agreement based on a false narrative.
In her remarks prior to the UNSC vote Haley referred back to UNSC Resolution 2334, December 2016, condemning the building of Israeli settlements. The US, under the Obama Administration, abstained from the vote. Haley said that if such a vote were taking place today the US would vote against this resolution which “placed blame squarely on Israeli settlements for conflict” and “gave a pass to Palestinian leaders.” Further, she said, it encouraged Palestinian leaders to avoid negotiations and refused to acknowledge the legacy of failed negotiations and prejudged issues.
Ambassador Haley should realize that similarly, in South Sudan, support for the revitalized “peace process” has given anti-government forces momentum and encouraged them to dishonor the sovereignty of their own government. Such a process is based on false moral equivalence combined with an attitude of imperialist bigotry against a black African nation.