Obama’s Dilemma: Sudan and Syria

By MOLEFI KETE ASANTE | 7/11/2013, 12:27 p.m. | Updated on 7/11/2013, 12:27 p.m.
President Barack Obama’s government has pursued a bizarre foreign policy regarding the liberation of people in ruthless regimes. In fact, ...

President Barack Obama’s government has pursued a bizarre foreign policy regarding the liberation of people in ruthless regimes. In fact, the policy in regards to Africa appears outright wrongheaded in many respects. For example, the issues of Syria and Sudan are totally unequal in all respects and yet, the United States treats one, the Syria issue, with far more urgency than the issue of Sudan. One could almost say that the Obama administration has failed to see the extent of the death and destruction in Sudan, and at the same time, that it has shown an eagerness to engage the Syrian government.

The issue in Sudan is clearly one of racial and ethnic genocide: the killing of Black people by the Arab-controlled government of Sudan. The issue in Syria is less clear, but no one has called it a war of genocide; it is by all estimates a sectarian war between religious factions. This is not the case in Sudan.

In Sudan, the Arab government in Khartoum attacks all Black people whether they are Muslim, Christian or traditionalists, so long as those Black people do not accept Arab culture; this is why the wars in Sudan must be considered bloody genocidal battles against the African people.

On April 25, I spoke at the United Nations to the General Assembly on the issue of “Peaceful Resolution to the Political Crises in Africa.” As a part of an eight-person panel with 20 minutes to speak to the assembly of nations, I outlined several severe problems on the continent. I called the names of the nations in distress in order to bring clarity beyond the platitudes that are often given on the floor of the General Assembly.

This is what I said: “The Khartoum government is beset by wars on all sides, it seems. The Nubians are protesting. The Beja are angry. The people of the Blue Nile are resisting. The South Kordofan people are distressed. The Darfurians are dislocated, degraded and determined to be free. In order to address this situation, Khartoum will have to create a more democratic response to diversity.

“This will mean that the so-called Arab minority will effectively lose political power. This is not a bad solution; it is the only viable and peaceful solution to the aspirations of the vast masses of the country. Imposition works only for a short time until the people organize and rebel. Khartoum, like Pretoria in the days of Apartheid, must look no farther than its own house to see why everyone is rebelling against the central authority.”

My comments caused Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Karti to leave his seat and bring his U.N. delegation to confront. He later criticized me from the floor of the General Assembly for violating the protocols of the United Nations for speaking directly about a real crisis in a member state. Of course, my response to Karti was blistering and to the point. Any nation that attacks people because of race or religion must be held accountable in the community of nations.