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August 01, 2005

Shit? Meet Fan.

John Garang died yesterday in a helicopter crash. Mark Leon Goldberg has the implications:

Grinnell College alumnus, University of Iowa–educated doctor of agricultural economics, and most recently vice president of Sudan’s National Unity Government John Garang died in a helicopter crash in southern Sudan over the weekend. The timing of his death could not have been worse. In January, Garang -- the long-time leader of the Christian and Animist rebels in South Sudan -- singed a peace deal with the Islamist government in Khartoum, effectively ending a 20-year civil war. Just a month ago the peace accord entered into force and Garang was installed as vice president of Sudan.
Helicopters do crash, but when there’s a price on the head of a passenger reasonable people ought to ask whether there was any foul play at work. The most important task for the international community right now -- and especially for the United States, which has invested a great deal in the success of the peace deal -- is to determine if Garang was assassinated.

This is nasty for another reason too. John Garang had, as part of his strategy to win recognition for the South, cultivated deep and lasting ties with America's Christian Right, and thus the Republican party. And, sure enough, they supported him, and proved a real force in motivating Washington to push the two sides towards a peace accord. But influence goes both ways, and the Christian Right was now calling in chits with Garang, demanding that he work towards their objective: ending the genocide in Darfur. And he'd been taking steps in that direction, condemning it and so forth. Now that he was the country's vice-president, there was hope that he could do more.

Now, of course, there isn't.

August 1, 2005 | Permalink


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Hmmm... I agree that "there was hope that [Garang] could do more" about Darfur, but Eric Reeves made the case that this was probably no more than hope.

The international community has been eager to use the occasion of the new GNU as a means of suggesting that progress can now be made on Darfur by virtue of Garang’s role as First Vice President. Though it is clear that Garang is deeply committed to halting ethnically-targeted human destruction in Darfur, a realistic assessment of the political situation in Khartoum suggests how little has changed in the power exercised by the National Islamic Front (which has for several years understandably sought to re-name itself innocuously as the “National Congress Party”), and how little control Garang has over the forces that sustain present genocide by attrition.

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