International Law

Sudan Threatens Religious War Against South Sudan

Sudan's Pro-Islamist President Omer Al-Bashir is orchestrating acts of violence as a means to intimidate the South Sudanese government. Given that Southern Sudanese are primarily Christian and animist, it is unsurprising that Al-Bashir is pushing Sudan's Muslims into a "holy" war against the infidels.

On Sunday, a Catholic church in Khartoum was set afire by a Muslim mob. The southerners who attend the church were heckled by the mob before the building was torched. Such heckling is not surprising when Sudan's president dehumanizes Southern Sudanese by referring to them as "poisonous insects."

To appease the Al-Bashir regime, the South Sudanese government recently decided to withdraw its military from a disputed border area. This appeasement has apparently been viewed as a sign of weakness.

Sudan's armed forces are launching raids into South Sudanese territory. Escalating the level of violence, Sudanese warplanes bombed a South Sudan oil field and market on Monday. Early Tuesday morning, warplanes dropped eight bombs on Southern Sudanese territory.

Destruction of oil fields and pipelines are a de facto economic suicide pact because both countries depend upon oil revenues for their survival.

Although religious differences are being used by Al-Bashir to encourage his country's Muslims to commit acts of violence against Christians and animists, racial and ethnic differences are also being exploited to push the countries into war.

In addition to being Islamic, Sudan is primarily Arabic. By contrast, Southern Sudanese are primarily black. The Arab League has unhelpfully joined the fray by condemning South Sudan while turning a blind eye toward the misconduct of the Al-Bashir regime.

Regardless of the motives, the Sudanese government's acts of aggression against its southern neighbor should be universally condemned by the world community. Diplomatic and economic sanctions should be applied to pressure Al-Bashir to back down, respect South Sudan's sovereignty, and the religious rights of non-Muslims.

The United States plans to introduce a Chapter 7 resolution to the U.N. Security Council with the support of the African Union. If passed, the legally binding resolution would require military from both Sudan and South Sudan to withdraw from disputed territories and force the parties back to the negotiating table.

If diplomacy should fail to protect human rights and preserve the rule of law, the international community should provide South Sudan with the military and economic aid it needs to defend itself as a nation state if Sudan continues its acts of war.

Recommended Reading

Arman holds "racist" Bashir responsible for Church attack in Sudan's capital, Sudan Tribune (Apr. 23, 2012)

Muslim mob burns Catholic church in Sudan capital, Houston Chronicle (Apr. 22, 2012)

Muslim Mob Torches Sudanese Church in Khartoum, CBN News (Apr. 23, 2012)

Sudan Muslims Torch Catholic Church in Khartoum, Arutz Sheva 7 (Apr. 23, 2012)

Sudan Bombs South Sudan, Official Says, Huffington Post (Apr. 23, 2012)

Official: Sudan planes drop 8 bombs on South Sudan, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Apr. 24, 2012)

Tensions remain high between Sudan and South Sudan, Global Post (Apr. 24, 2012)

Muslim mob torches Catholic church in Sudanese capital amid reports of fresh clashes, Washington Post (Apr. 22, 2012)

U.S. drafts U.N. council resolution on Sudan, South Sudan conflict, Reuters (Apr. 26, 2012)

Arab League condemns South Sudan 'aggression', AP via U.S. News & World Report (Apr. 26, 2012)