Reasons and Circumstances for Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) carryout Operation Long Arm
By Mahmoud A. Suleiman
The military operation carried out by the forces of the rebel group the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) on 10 May 2008 to onslaught the three-town capital of Sudan thought by many military analysts and experts as a quantum leap in the strategy of the movement. Furthermore, it becomes more so in the stalemate situation of lack of progress of peace process for Darfur and the apathy of the UN-AU joint mediation and the prevailed position of some quarters in the international community in support of the NCP regime.
Moreover, the facilitators and mediators showed clear alignment with the government of Sudan (GoS) side while had padded hostility against the (JEM). The rebel group Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has adopted national agenda for all Sudan –Pan-Sudan – since its inception and its announcement in the nineties of the last century – the twentieth century and therefore it added the word ‘Sudanese’ and named itself in the first place.
JEM attracted its membership from diverse Sudanese tribal background, belonging to 67 tribal groups, from Darfur, Kordofan, the Central Region and other regions of Sudan including members from the far Riverain North and as well as from the Nuba Mountains and the Southern Sudan. Therefore, this refuted the state owned media propaganda machine’s absurd portrayal of JEM as a sole Zaghawa monopolised movement. Furthermore, the individual members of the Movement before joining it belonged to ideologically to diverse political thoughts, from the far left to the far right and not all of them of an Islamist background as the NCP regime keeps saying it over and over. The Justice and Equality Movement is a nationalist movement, wide spread in all regions of Sudan and carrying an integrated project for change in Sudan, which is far from fanaticism and tribalism.
The main objectives of the JEM included meeting the aspirations of the people of the marginalized areas in Sudan. They included power sharing, wealth sharing, land, and Hawakeer issues. The handling the conflict related exacerbation in Sudan , and ensuring the rights and future of displaced persons, refugees and those migrated into the Diaspora. On top of all come security arrangements to contain the lawlessness and security chaos. The Project of the Justice and Equality Movement, if achieved, will be a guarantee that another region not to carry weapons tomorrow or the day after tomorrow demanding legitimaterights. The Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has national agenda in its political thought, believes Darfur crisis as a symptom of a nationwide endemic disease spread by the current ruling regime in Khartoum. The imposition of unilateral culture, language, faith, ethnicity and blurring and obliterating the culture and identity of others along with monopolizing power, wealth and hegemony over and domination over the joints of the state of the judiciary and the civil service and the higher ranks in the army and police and security apparatus is unacceptable.
Numerous reasons and circumstances surrounded the Sudanese Justice and equality movement’s (JEM) decision to implement that bold military operation, dubbed as the Operation Long Arm (OLA), on May 10, 2008 through a distance of 1,200 km set toinvade the Sudanese capital Khartoum. The Military operation started across the barren Sahara Desert devoid of trees and bunkers, and exposed to enemy Military Aviation prone to warplanes bombardment by the MiG- 29, Sukhoi bombers and Antonov airship and travel a faraway distance of more than a thousand kilometers. Reasons and circumstances include the following:
- Frustration and injustice that have accompanied the leaders of the movement after coming out of the Darfur peace process in Abuja in Nigeria. The Peace Agreement proved defective, and virtually signed under duress by only one faction of the Darfuri movements.
- The negative position of the regional and the international community toward the movement
- Failure of the project of the National Redemption Front (NRF) by plot of some members of the fragile coalition and neighboring countries
- Conspiracy of yesterday companions against the movement and their support of the government ; Justice and Equality Movement , like other liberation movements, suffered from attempts to divide it by the Government of National Congress Party and the governments of the neighboring countries resulted into defection of some of its senior members and joining other movements or the government ranks
- Victories of the forces of the movement against the government army in major battles such as Kariary and Um Sidir and others
- Joining of rebel groups from the region of Kordofan and especially members of some tribes of Arab origin
- The government’s determination to eliminate the movement and put an end to the insurgency as they always claim
- Improvement of the movement’s relationship with the state of Chad
- And the success of the movement was able to get varieties of weapons and munitions advanced and modern four wheel drive vehicles and other spoils of battles fought against the Sudanese Armed Forces
- The decision was binding on the movement and meet and comply with the decisions of the Fourth General Conference – Conference fateful decisions – the Justice and Equality Movement Sudan where she chants the crowd thick , which included delegates from within Sudan and from abroad, women and men and camps displacement and asylum and from the diaspora. The General Congress is constitutionally the highest authority in the Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement, a fact needs to be taken into consideration.
- The chanting of the crowd says: (all intervention force must enter Khartoum) i.e. all the power of the Forces goes into Khartoum) , in Sudanese Colloquial Arabic.!
- Options become limited to the movement. They are both surrender and acceptance of peace and return to the table of negotiations in Abuja and or either face international sanctions and confront the government army in battles.
- Accordingly, the Movement chose to go ahead and confront the government army in the battles, including the entry of Khartoum to move the war to the enemy’s home away from the Darfur region because the government has targeted civilians and kill them, and terrorizing and displacing the survivors of death to silence the opponents. Therefore, the Movement decided the implementation of the Operation Long Arm (OLA) on May 10 2008 at the day that confused accounts of the ruling regime in Khartoum and some of the influential symbols of supremacist political parties, from the trauma and the element of surprise onslaught. Furthermore, that the economic sanctions by which the international community, threatened the leader of the Justice and Equality Movement , late Dr. Khalil Ibrahim – the mercy of God be upon him- who does not have any financial fortunes feared their stagnation and will not lead the movement refrain from heading to Khartoum by utilising the available force. Thus, the gallant forces of the Movement decided to move forward without hesitation to enforce the decision of the Fourth General Congress as planned.
- And when the forces of the Justice and Equality Movement entered i Khartoum in the bold unprecedented operation, al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, leader of the National Umma Party (NUP) described them as (mercenaries) while condemning the act as barbaric. Al-Mahdi’s position tallied the mentality, which has always maintained by the minority elites within the politicians belonging to the infamous hegemonic Hamdi Triangle in their dealings with anything related to the marginalised people of Sudan from the West or South or East regions of the country called Sudan. This degree of ingratitude emanating from a person called the Imam of the Ansar is worthy of condemnation if we take into account that most of the disciples of the National Umma Party and Ansar religious sect and the constituents of the (NUP) descend from Darfur and Kordofan regions. That position restores to the memory to the year 1976 when the troops of the so-called National Front invaded the capital Khartoum. That occurred during the rule of President Jaafar Mohamed Nimeiri. The troops came across the Sahara from Libya under the leadership of Sadiq al-Mahdi and others. It happened that the vanguard of those forces made up of individuals belonging in their origins to western Sudan. That was because almost every one of the soldiers has dark skin and African features! That incident has been nicknamed the ‘Mercenary Invasion’ only for the presence of soldiers descending from western Sudan within those forces. One has to say how is today like yesterday! JEM and other Sudanese nationals try to resolve the deeply rooted problems of racism that have bedeviled this multiethnic, multicultural country for too long. The foregoing issue is at the heart of Sudan’s troubled past and present as well as into where it is heading.
- JEM felt enough is enough and time is due to let the regime get the ultimatum that its den in the national Capital is not sacrosanct or far distant from its military arm’s strike.
- JEM, at the time, showed its readiness to sit down, negotiate, and agree on the best ways for peaceful coexistence within the framework of one state in which all citizens enjoy equal rights and duties and Citizenship as the only identity for all Sudanese live with each other as compatriots.
JEM might have lost the Khartoum battle, pulled out in dignity, and managed to complete the withdrawal in the same manner it carried out the attack but it has not lost the war. JEM forces will return to Khartoum if the stalemate and lack of peace in Darfur persist. This more so in the wake of the new wave of genocide perpetrated by the recycled Janjaweed militia recently dubbed Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The international community needs to act. The people of Darfur want deeds not embellished words.
Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman is the Deputy Chairman of the General Congress for the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). He can be reached at email@example.com
Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman is also an author, columnist and a blogger. His blog is https://thussudan.wordpress.com/