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Charting a Way Forward in Sudan’s Unfinished Transition
Charting a Way Forward in Sudan’s Unfinished Transition
Peacekeeping troops from China, deployed by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), patrol outside the premises of the UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Juba, South Sudan, on 4 October 2016. AFP/Albert Gonzalez Farran
Report 288 / Africa

中国在南苏丹的外交政策尝试

中国长期以来抵制对他国事务的干预,但正在南苏丹前所未有地尝试和平缔造者的角色。中国带来了独特的影响力,但也受制于经验与专业知识的不足及地面人员的短缺。这一尝试可能预示着中国的全球角色将更为主动,不过其对冲突的干预仍会因自我利益保护和风险规避而趋于谨慎。

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随着中国的足迹在全球不断延伸,其长期以来采取的不干涉他国内政的外交原则也在不断演变。随着其海外投资和业务联系不断变广加深,中国公民、经济利益和国际声誉所面临的威胁也日益加剧,中国因此不得不直面其传统的“不插手”外交立场的固有局限性。中国做出的逐步调整将深刻定义其在国际舞台的角色。其最引人注目的外交尝试在非洲大陆,而南苏丹是焦点。中国的行动一方面以保护中国公民和国家经济利益为目标,另一方面推动停战、促进人道主义救援。南苏丹因此成为中国采取更主动的国际角色的一个试点。

在此之前,中国曾尝试加深介入苏丹事务,但主要迫于国际舆论的压力。中国长期支持苏丹,因此苏丹政府对达尔富尔叛乱的血腥镇压为中国招致强烈的国际批评,甚至引发了抵制2008年北京奥运会的呼吁。中国因此利用对苏丹政府的影响和在联合国安理会的地位,协助确保苏丹接受联合国于2008年在达尔富尔部署维和部队。2012年,利比亚爆发内战,中国政府成功转移当地公民,此举一方面在国内激发了强烈的民族自豪感,另一方面也提高了中国人和投资者对政府的国际影响力的期望。在这两次事件中,中国拉伸了其传统外交原则的界限,表明当其利益受到威胁时,中国越来越愿意采取主动行动。

当2013年末南苏丹爆发内战时,主张对不干涉内政政策作出更灵活解释的这一派中国决策者们看到了机会,可以尝试用新方法来保护中国的国家利益。在这一过程中起作用的有以下几个因素:国有企业——中国石油天然气总公司在海外有巨额投资,这决定了它的角色既是经济伙伴也是政治参与者;同时,中国与战争调停者和西方大国等其他各方的利益不谋而合,大家共同寻求冲突的结束。通过与西方各国以及负责协调南苏丹和平进程的非洲之角区域性组织——东非政府间发展组织 (Inter-Governmental Authority on Development---IGAD,伊加特)联手合作,中国的决策者相信,自己能够在维护声誉的同时,做出建设性的干预举措。

中国在南苏丹迈出了超越其传统外交政策的重要一步:即便大体上遵守不干涉他国内政的原则,中国仍旧可以利用其影响力,使交战各方回到谈判桌上,弥合西方大国和南苏丹领导人之间的分歧。中国参与在埃塞俄比亚举行的和平会谈进程,在苏丹召开参战派系之间的谨慎会谈,策划联合国安理会的行动,向联合国南苏丹维和行动(UNMISS)派遣维和部队,并加入了2015年8月和平协议的监督机构。

总之,中国仍旧可能反对干涉他国内政,但该外交政策的定义变得更富有弹性空间。中国继续划清界限,拒绝对他国内政事务进行干预;反对政权更迭或单方面军事干预;认为表达尊重,而不是施加压力或惩罚,才是促进合作、改善治理的良方。因为自己是制裁的受害者,也饱受公开批评,所以中国更倾向于通过谨慎的说服工作来解决问题。但当内部冲突跨越国界,威胁到地区安全和稳定,或是造成了大规模的人道主义危机,同时在得到区域和地方当局以及联合国许可时,中国的直接干预行动就变得合理化了。在这些情况下,中国更倾向于支持政治对话,而不是将结果直接强加给谈判各方,除非中国公民或海外投资的安全受到了威胁。

我们很好理解为什么中国在外交政策的转变上采取试探性的步伐。中国知道自己在国际和平与安全努力的领域刚刚崭露头角,特别是通过多边机构展开外交努力方面尚属新手,因而格外注意避免过界行为。中国积极地学习自身的过往经验,同时还借鉴其他潜在和平缔造者的成功和失误。中国外交队伍的人员和培训尚不完备,但中国巨大的经济和政治实力意味着,无论是在南苏丹或其他地方,一旦中国介入,无可避免地会带来传统调解努力无法达到的影响力。

尽管合作方式迥异,但迄今为止在南苏丹的合作使中国、西方国家、其非洲合作伙伴以及南苏丹人民都受益匪浅。各方应该继续贯彻这种合作。现在是南苏丹和平进程的关键时刻,也是中国尝试崭露新角色的重要关口。两者兼顾,互利共赢,至关重要。

北京/内罗毕/朱巴/布鲁塞尔, 2017年7月10日

A military officer is carried by the crowd as demonstrators chant slogans, after the Defence Ministry said that President Bashir had been detained and that a military council would run the country for a two-year transitional period, Sudan 11 April 2019. REUTERS/Stringer
Statement / Africa

Charting a Way Forward in Sudan’s Unfinished Transition

Omar al-Bashir is out as president of Sudan, but protesters suspect that the military-led transition is a game of musical chairs. A new curfew raises the spectre of bloodshed. International actors should press vigorously for civilian leadership of a process that must promise further-reaching change.

Late at night on 10 April, after defying the most sustained protest movement in Sudan’s modern history for months, Omar al-Bashir finally lost his hold on power. In an early afternoon announcement on state television the next day, Lieutenant General Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, Sudan’s defence minister and vice president, confirmed the rumours that had been swirling in Khartoum: the security forces had ousted the president and, he said, placed him in detention. Bashir, who took power in 1989 and was one of Africa’s longest-ruling strongmen, would rule no longer.

Reaction to this news has been mixed. Initially rapturous at the fall of an authoritarian figure whose tenure was stained by major human rights abuses, economic decline and entrenched corruption, protesters soon expressed disappointment at the terms of the handover the defence minister laid out. Ibn Auf announced that a military council would take charge of the country for two years. He also dissolved the government, suspended the constitution and ordered a three-month state of emergency. Many protesters had demanded a civilian-led transitional authority; in their eyes, the regime seemed to be trying to preserve itself under the guise of a coup.

It is thus apparent that the transition remains incomplete. The protesters’ ranks in Khartoum have continued to swell, with campaigners demanding more substantive change. Protester anger was captured in a new slogan declaring that “the revolution has just started”. Where before they chanted the “regime must fall”, thousands of protesters who marched on the streets in sweltering heat after the army announcement declared in a new chant that “the regime has not yet fallen”.

The danger of fighting among disparate armed groups in the event of a chaotic breakdown is high.

The protest movement that began on 19 December has already notched an impressive achievement in compelling Bashir’s ouster. The peaceful campaign has drawn participants from nearly every stratum of society. Women have been prominent throughout. The urban middle classes have joined with farmers and herders to stage near-daily protests not just in the capital but also in smaller cities and rural villages. Traders, students and a cross-section of professionals, notably doctors, have all backed the campaign. Ruling-party supporters, including in the regime’s traditional strongholds, joined opposition activists in the marches. At the four-day, 24-hour sit-in outside the military headquarters that tipped the scales against Bashir, Sudan’s tapestry of religious and ethnic diversity was on vivid display, with members of Sufi orders mingling with Christians and singing together late into the night. Thousands of protesters have paid a high price, including imprisonment, torture and death, for their participation.

A number of factors explain the protesters’ impressive staying power and the authorities’ eventual decision to respond – up to a point – to the calls for change. First, discontent is widespread over the country’s economic crisis, which entails runaway inflation, crippling shortages of essentials including fuel and a currency crunch. All but the wealthiest Sudanese have felt the pinch. The government’s ill-judged attempt to increase the price of staples such as bread sparked the initial street actions that soon became a popular uprising. Secondly, many young Sudanese view their elderly leaders as representing a self-dealing, kleptocratic order focused on its own survival and unresponsive to their needs and aspirations. Thirdly, the security forces have themselves fractured, with mid- and lower-ranking soldiers joining with the protesters, making clear that the regime’s base has spindly legs. Ibn Auf reportedly delayed the announcement of a transitional military council for hours because many younger military officers were demanding a full handover to civilian hands. Bashir’s senior security sector allies had to intervene. Reportedly, the intervention was eventually announced after Ibn Auf, intelligence chief Salah Abdallah Gosh and head of the Rapid Support Forces militia Mohamed “Hemeti” Hamdan Daglo stitched together a backroom agreement to push Bashir aside.

Protesters are right to be sceptical of the ruling elite’s intentions. Ibn Auf, who will head the transitional military council, hardly represents a break with the past. He is one of Bashir’s most trusted confidantes, having been in his circle since 1989. He is allegedly complicit in some of the worst abuses in Darfur, where the regime’s scorched-earth campaign against rebels beginning in 2003 left between 200,000 and 300,000 people dead and 2.7 million displaced. The U.S. State Department placed Ibn Auf, who was head of military intelligence at the time, on a sanctions list in 2007. Some in the protest movement accordingly perceive the announced change as a game of musical chairs. As one protester told reporters in Khartoum, in a refrain that has repeatedly been voiced among the crowds: “They just replaced one thief with another”. Nor is it lost on many Sudanese that Bashir’s camp has played this game before. In 1989, when Bashir took power in a bloodless coup, he claimed to have detained one of his closest advisers, the National Islamic Front leader Hassan Turabi, in what was later revealed as an effort to disguise the putsch’s Islamist nature.

As Crisis Group has stressed since the protests broke out, many risks attend a political transition in a critical country in one of Africa’s more conflict-scarred neighbourhoods. To preserve his grip on power, Bashir kept the security forces fragmented. The danger of fighting among disparate armed groups in the event of a chaotic breakdown is high. Already, there are credible reports of clashes between elements of the army, who are more sympathetic to the protesters, and the loyalist National Intelligence Security Services. To smooth the transition, several steps will be required:

  • A first priority is to prevent further violence. Since December, security forces have repeatedly fired on protesters, killing dozens. In announcing Bashir’s ouster, Ibn Auf declared a 10pm to 4am curfew. In effect, he was ordering the thousands of protesters outside the military headquarters to go home. Sudanese authorities must not attempt to disperse the demonstrators by force. Such a move would be not only bloody but counterproductive. A lesson from the last four months is that repression – including Bashir’s 22 February order banning public gatherings and opening the door for mass roundups of protesters – has done little to change the course of the protest movement. Authorities should avoid violence and instead seek to reach an accommodation with protest leaders on the way forward.
  • More broadly, Sudan’s generals should rethink their outlined plan to rule by extra-constitutional fiat for two years. An African Union declaration adopted in 2000 expressly forbids military coups as unconstitutional changes of government. Unless the security forces quickly hand over power to a civilian-led transitional authority, the AU should suspend Sudan’s membership and follow up with sanctions. The leadership of the country’s security organs should see a clear self-interest in avoiding such ostracism by giving the reins to civilians. If they do not, protests will continue, raising the spectre of an ugly confrontation that could plunge the country into the deeper turmoil they say they are intent on averting.
  • Demonstrators should form an umbrella group and put its leaders forward to negotiate with the military council. Up to this point, protesters have been understandably unwilling to reveal their leaders’ identities given the security forces’ brutal record; they arrested and reportedly tortured the Sudanese Professionals Association leaders who issued public statements in January. With the transition having picked up pace, they should now change tack.
  • Ensuing talks should lead to a transitional authority along the lines Crisis Group has advocated since 2012: civilian leadership that includes members of the opposition, the ruling party and civil society; a defined period of constitutional reforms; and, at the end, free and fair elections. Without such a transition, Sudan should not receive the assistance from international financial institutions that it desperately needs to emerge from its economic doldrums.

International actors, viewed by protest leaders as having been lamentably quiet as campaigners braved police bullets, torture and arrests, need to weigh in more vocally and forcefully to achieve these goals and do everything possible to ensure protest leaders that do identify themselves come to no harm. The U.S. and EU, which both maintain ties with elements of the administration in Khartoum, should clearly warn against a violent crackdown and signal that individual commanders will face sanctions should they allow it. They should make clear that economic and other forms of cooperation with Sudan depend on genuine transfer of power to a civilian leadership. In a statement hours before the coup was announced, the U.S., UK and Norwegian governments called for an “inclusive dialogue” and asked Sudanese authorities to respond to protesters’ demands in a serious and credible way. They and others, including the EU, should follow that public message with behind-the-scenes diplomacy with the generals now in charge in Khartoum. Their message should be that greater repression will carry the price of continued isolation and will prevent Sudan from addressing the long-term economic and political crises underpinning the unrest. Sudan’s other partners, notably Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, likewise should encourage the military leadership to avoid a crackdown that would provoke further unrest and instability.

Sudan’s partners ought to move quickly to persuade military authorities in Khartoum to heed the Sudanese people’s call and allow for a credible, inclusive, broad-based transition.

Sudan sits at a strategic corner of Africa, surrounded by neighbours facing internal difficulties of their own. Not least of these is South Sudan, for whose peace agreement Sudan remains an important guarantor. Other adjacent states – Egypt, Libya, Chad, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia and Eritrea – will also watch developments anxiously. Should Sudan descend into chaos, the turmoil could spill across borders. Sudan’s partners ought to move quickly to persuade military authorities in Khartoum to heed the Sudanese people’s call and allow for a credible, inclusive, broad-based transition to steer Sudan to greater stability after Bashir’s long, chequered and bloody tenure.