Friday, December 08, 2006

How Egypt is woeing South Sudan

It was no surprise when the news came out that the Egyptian government has granted scholarships to South Sudanese to study there. It is not news for the obvious reasons.

Any common man in the streets of South Sudan knows what Egypt was after: the Nile. Egypt was so nervous about the Nile waters that it can do anything to avoid people use the water! The Egyptian involvement in South Sudan goes far back in history.

Following the Addis Ababa Agreemnt in 1972 that brought an end to the first civil war, Egypt offered hundreds of scholarship for South Sudanese. This was also in order to secure the digging of the controversial Jongule Canal. It was controversial because of the environmental impact to the ecoystem in the sudd region.

What is new this tme round? With the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in January 2005, South Sudan has for the first time the right to vote in a referundum for unity or separation. Egypt was openly opposed to the separation of South Sudan and initially opposed the article on separation during the peace negotiations. Now that it is already signed, Egypt wants to strengthen relationship with South Sudan and influence the results of the referundum.

It will take more than Egyptian meddling and Arab World interference to change the course of history. The drive to make "unity attractive" is never going to work. South Sudanese need genuine effort of reconciliation, not thinly veiled attractive packages.

It was only last December 31, that many South Sudanese refugees died in the Egyptian capital at the hands of their notorious police. It is still fresh in the minds of the people.

Our sons and daughters can go to Egypt for education, but that will never be an influence during referundum come 2011! Like a beautiful maiden, it will not be easy to win the heart of South Sudan.


Shafaki said...

It is very interesting to see a situation from the other point of view. I am Egyptian living in Egypt. Sure it is no secret for me that Egypt's welcome for South Sudanese people is due to Egypt's interest in keeping the water supply stable by keeping Sudan united. Yet let me also give you the point of view of Egyptians in the street plus my own view on the big picture.

Egyptians in the street are actually so angry seeing a flood of Sudanese coming to Cairo (regular Egyptians actually do not differentiate between Sudanese coming from the South or the North of Sudan). They are unhappy because they feel we in Egypt already have an unemployment problem, so this, in their minds, is making things worse. They do not have any idea about why Egypt is doing this and how important that is for us in terms of water (life-blood) supply.

As for my view of the big picture it goes like this. The Western world has and is still giving a lot of scholarships to the "disadvantaged". Their goal is to bring them to their side. The US has often played the divide and conquer method. It did so in Korea and in Vietnam. It always tries to get the South to its side, then divide the country. This makes it easier to digest. Small pieces are easier to deal with than larger unified and stronger entities.

The West, headed by the US, now has a great interest in doing the same with Sudan, again playing the divide and conquer game. As usual, pushing the South to separate.

Of course as an Egyptian I will be biased to the interests of my country. Yet I do admit that seeing the issue from your point of view was both interesting to me and important. I would like to know what else you can suggest for Egypt and others to do in order to make South Sudanese happy about a unity.

Black Kush said...

Thanks for droppin by. I appreciate your openness and comments.

True, the whole issue of scholarships are world over. You mentined some, but the former Soviet Union also offered thousands of scholarships to Africans to bring them on their sides against USA (not because theylike to help the disadvantaged!) Egypt is only follwoing its own interests. The Jongule canal will destroy the environment and the local economy in the Sudd. Only Egypt benefits!

I was in Cairo before and had been labeled "samara" right from the airport! I tell you we have also our share of racism at the hands of the Egyptians. I definitely understand the the local man in the streets view of things. Governments don't usually listen to the streets!

Thinking that he West is helping South Sudan separate is really being naive. What has the South Sudan gained from 50 years of independence? Successive governments with the help of the Arab World kept the South in the stone age deliberately: no schools, infrastrucure etc. USA or any other person has nothing to do with that!

It is too late to try playing the good guy! It is about time we decide our own future, and Egypt can never influence that! That is being fair.

Shafaki said...

I like to hear your point of view. I think yes we in Egypt should try and act in a better way. Spreading awareness about this in Egypt is a good idea. Thanks for your attempt to do so.

By the way, the Egyptian word "samara" is seen in Egypt as a positve thing. When we see a girl for instance from Upper Egypt, and she is pretty, we call her samara. I just wanted to give you the sense of this word in Egypt.

Black Kush said...

Egyptians are more concernd about their survival than about the people living up the Nile from its sources. I have heard of statements from government like "meddling with the waters of the Nile is a matter of life and death". Tell them there are people out there too who depend on the Nile.

So "samara" is positive? How can you explain calling a man like me Samara? Do you call your men pretty too? It is a racist and offensive word for a black person, as far as I know!

I appreciate the discussion, though. Thanks again.

hipster said...

BK, interesting topic & commentary.

Garcia said...

Black Kush I am surprised that you would call US backing of Southern Sudan naive. If you would acknowledge that Egypt backs the Northerners what is so unrealistic about the US backing the Southerners. To admit this would not show Southerners to be weak, but would be to admit the realities of geo-politics. Like the fact that the UK pushed Idi Amin to overthrow Obote so t

Garcia said...

Like the fact that the UK and Israel pushed Idi Amin to overthrow Obote because he no longer wanted to support the Southern Rebels by allowsing Israel and UK to funnel arms through Uganda. Egypt sending Southern Sudanese to school is a rational thing for them to do. Just like the U.S. arming the SPLA through Uganda and Museveni was not because the US likes the Kusitic people of Sudan but because of the NIF's prior Islamic ideology born out of the Muslim Brotherhood of Turabi (which by the way is the real threat to the west, muslim brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas and iin ALgeria, etc.

I dont think Egypt really cares about the Southerners equally as much as they do about the Northerner, who they dont even see as true Arabs and true muslims anyway (owning to their Sufi influence. I think if we analysis the reality of Southern Sudanese seccession and its impact on the Great Lakes region, we will see that its effect will have little to nothing to do with race, but unfortunately will have more to do with the brutal, sober realities of competition for scarces and valuable resources. Namely oil and water. I just hope that the leadership and the people of Southern Sudan stop quarreling with each other and start uniting pretty quickly because in 2011 a succession which would leave them with 90 percent of the oil of Sudan and give them the title of gatekeeper of the while nile would almost be certainly answered with force from Egypt and Khartoum

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