” This so called IGAD peace proposal is useless, we can’t accept it even if US forces us to do so. I better be a rebel …you should know that those who are in Al-Qaida, Taliban, ISIL, Boko Haram, Al Shabab…they are human beings like us, therefore we should follow their footsteps than signing that fake peace “. Chief of general Staff of Army, Gen. Paul Malong Awan.By Dr Lako Jada Kwajok,
August 5, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — These were the words of our army Chief of Staff ” General ” Paul Malong while addressing government supporters and loyalists on the occasion of Martyrs Day in Juba. Initially I did not believe that those words were actually said by the army chief and it took me some time to ascertain whether his words were misconstrued or taken out of context. But to my disappointment it turned out that those words were the offsprings of his mind. In such a situation, you would expect the minister of Foreign Affairs or the spokesperson either for the president or for the ministry of Foreign Affairs to come out and do some explaining. Basically it will be a damage control excercise mostly saying what was published in the media was not true and does not reflect government policy. None of these happened which makes me believe it wasn’t a gaffe or a rhetoric to boost moral from the army chief, he actually meant what he said and his colleagues share that view.
With the new world order where the world is unipolar rather than bipolar as it used to be in the past and the global war against terrorism, every country especially those in the third world, is wary not to be seen as complacent in regard to fighting terrorism. Many will go to extreme lengths to distance themselves from any activities deemed to be terrorist acts or any links to terrorist organisations. this is done in order to avoid the wrath of the super powers and the international community as a whole. Even countries like Iran which is the number one sponsor of global terrorism, persistently denies any links to El-Qaeda but justifies its support for Hezbollah of Lebanon as support for people fighting against Israeli occupation.
Given the above account, it’s quite shocking and incomprehensible for the army chief of staff to voluntarily declare that they would follow the footsteps of the likes of Al-Qaeda, ISIL, Al-shabab and Boko Haram. The implications of what the so called general said are quite staggering. Regionally and to the southeast of the country is Kenya, a country that has a long history with terrorist attacks and still reeling from them. It started with the US Embassy bombings in Nairobi in 1998 then bombings in Mombasa 2002, Westgate shopping mall 2013, Nairobi bus bombings 2014, Gikomba 2014, Lamu attack 2014 and finally the Garrisa university college attack on 02/04/2015. Uganda had its share of being the target for terrorist attacks. Many of us still remember the simultaneous bombings in Kabalagala neighbourhood and at the Kyadondo rugby club while the victims were watching the 2010 FIFA world cup final. These two countries are our close allies on the african continent and have given us significant support during the liberation war. Even in this ongoing conflict, Salva Kiir had to run to president Museveni of Uganda for help to save his neck. So What will be the position of these two countries should our government implement what Malong has said ? Do you think they would sit idle while these terrorists and their allies are roaming about in South Sudan ?!
I wonder whether the army chief knows or understands that there is a concerted and well-coordinated effort to fight and defeat the perpetrators of terrorism. The coalition in this effort includes super powers, regional powers and the rest of the peace loving countries. A variety of resources are there for use comprising of clandestine military operations, military drone attacks and using cruise missiles. The Al shifa factory cruise missile attack in Khartoum Bahri on 20/08/1998 is a reminder of what could be in store for Malong and his fake generals. In addition to that an economic war is being waged on those countries and organisations that participate in or sponsor terrorist activities. this comes in different forms ranging from freezing assets, travel ban, loan and money transfer prohibition to actual economic embargo. You can see how a regional power like Iran faced economic collapse under the weight of sanctions and oil embargo.
In a landlocked country like South Sudan where cooperation with the regional and international community remains essential and much desired, what could possibly be the endgame if such an irresponsible policy is pursued by the regime in Juba?! South Sudan will quickly be placed on the list of states that sponsor terrorism. Militarily, the super powers do not need to do much as there is absolutely no match between the super powers and the SPLA and Malong’s words are actually empty threats. They can simply pressurise Museveni to pull the plug off and the regime rapidly collapses. The other alternatives are : using the US special forces in the region to collect the top leaders or take them out, or to supply arms to the opposition to finish the job. My main concern is that a lot of suffering will befall our citizens because being on that terror list brings about unwelcomed consequences for the layperson.
I will explain here one aspect of the consequences that will affect the lives of the normal citizens of the republic of South Sudan. My personal experience is the example I am referring to. I have had problems late in the 90’s when I travelled to Nairobi via Addis Ababa. I was treated differently than any passenger on the plane at both airports. I was kept waiting for hours and the reason given to me was that they needed more time to do security checks on my profile. In the case of Switzerland, I was refused the entry visa on the basis that they will not be able to complete all the security checks prior to my journey. All those difficulties were due to the fact that Sudan was and still on the list of the states that sponsor terrorism and I did carry a Sudanese passport then. The consequences could even be far worse by limiting the chances for students to go abroad for higher studies, affecting access to specialised health care for those who can afford and preventing entrepreneurs from expanding their business. Should there be a terrorist attack and the culprits were at large and you happened to be in that vicinity for whatever reason, you will be apprehended and perhaps much worse for suspicion of being involved because of your nationality.
Did the army chief think about the repercussions of what he said on his country and his fellow citizens ?! Does he really care ?! Most importantly, does he know the Islamists declared position towards us and their overall global agenda ?!
It’s not secret that these people do not like us. They have likened our independence to loss of Islamic rule in Andalucia. The blind sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman,the leader of Al-Gamma’a Al-Islamiyya in Egypt, was in Khartoum for a while but ended up serving life imprisonment in the US following his implication in the first world trade centre ( WTC) bombing in New York in 1993.
He and his followers like sheikh Yousif Al Garadawi called us infidels and our land in their view is an Islamic land. Osama Bin Laden was also in Khartoum and made contributions in terms of finance and logistics to the war waged on us by the Khartoum regime. Khaled Meshaal, the HAMAS leader, rubbished the declaration of Independence of the Republic of South soudan. And finally Iran which has been an ally to Bashir’s regime since it took power in 1989. I believe Iran has contributed to the killing of thousands of South Sudanese by supplying arms to the Islamist regime in Khartoum. So does our army chief of staff really know anything about these Islamist groups ?! It looks like he is about to shoot himself in the foot ! There is absolutely no acceptable reason for those utterances that could be detrimental to our country future.
The so called General, Malaak Ayuen, who was the army broadcaster and commentator on SSTV, was sacked by Kiir with direct influence from Malong. The reason was that he treaded into politics, a thing not included in his job description. I am not by any means defending Malaak Ayuen. He has been a total disgrace by trying to create historical facts which were untrue using lies and falsehood. It’s though good riddance as he was one of the reasons that many South Sudanese stopped watching SSTV. Malong has clearly overstepped his authority as an army chief of staff as his job is a military job and not a political one. His predecessor, General James Hoth Mai, was very careful and avoided giving any political statements and used to insist that army people should leave politics to the politicians. What caused Malaak Ayuen removal was trivial as compared to Malong’s speech. The question is, would Salva Kiir dare removing Malong from office?! So far there is no indication that this will happen in the foreseeable future.
We may not be fair in putting all the blame on Malong simply because he can only do what he is capable of doing. What is happening is what you would expect from someone carrying a C.V similar to what Malong has. So much of the blame goes to whoever put him in that position. The irony is that the person who gave Malong that position is also unfit to hold his own position. As you can see I have used the title General between brackets all through for a reason. A significant number of the SPLA generals have never been in a classroom all their lives let alone attending military academies or colleges. They underwent an extraordinary transformation in their lives. Just consider the scenario of a person who has been throwing spears, carrying a heavy stick, barely dressed or not at all and participating in cattle rustling. Then a massive change happened and he became a general with bright ornaments on his coat, millions of US dollars of embezzled money in his bank accounts and many wives perhaps concubines is the right word.It is too easy for such a person to fall prey to grandiose delusions and a false sense of invincibility. The way Paul Malong conducts himself makes that kind of situation very likely. Though he is physically in Juba at his post, he continues to bully his home state officials and the state M.P’s. South Sudan will be better-served if Paul Malong is sent back to attend to his 50 plus wives and his army of kids.
The author, Dr Lako Jada Kwajok, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for further comments.