Smash and Rebuild

BERLIN/FLENSBURG/JUBA (Own report) - Berlin's foreign policy front organizations are supporting Darfur rebel militias and expanding their aid to the secessionist government in South Sudan. The "European Center for Minority Issues" (ECMI), which is co-financed by the German government, has announced that two weeks ago it had organized a meeting of major Darfur militia leaders at its headquarters in Flensburg (Schleswig-Holstein) to prepare a joint strategy. The rebel militias that were represented in Flensburg had thwarted an agreement with the Sudanese central government by boycotting the round of negotiations held last weekend in Libya. The activities of the state owned German Association for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) are an accompaniment to the secessionist movement in Sudan. The GTZ is helping the secessionist government in South Sudan to "build a state". A peace agreement between this secessionist government and Khartoum is doomed to failure. The Sudanese rebels are launching attacks against the West's most important competitor: A few days ago, Darfur militias attacked Chinese oil fields in Sudan.

Ethnically Laced

The "European Center for Minority Issues" (ECMI) confirmed, that major Darfur militia leaders had met at its ECMI headquarters in mid-October. The ECMI, financed by the German federal government, the regional government of Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish government, is particularly concerned with "conflict-management" in "ethnic-political hotspots".[1] While Denmark considers the ECMI to be an institutional mediator for its German speaking minority in southern Denmark, the German government is using ECMI as a global spearhead of its ethnically laced foreign policy.

Violent Secession

In the past, ECMI Council member Professor Dr. Rainer Hofmann had reflected upon the ethnicist dimensions of German ethnic policy. Minorities "who are to be considered a separate people, and therefore having the right to self-determination," the jurist wrote, could claim "the right of secession". In the case of "forced assimilation" it would be "politically inevitable and, under terms of international law, legally admissible that the peoples concerned would seek to assure their own independent identity and therefore also their survival through exercising - if necessary through violent means - their right to self-determination in establishing their own states or forcefully redrawing borders."[2]

Regional Identity

Among the tactics used by violence prone secessionists is to present themselves as equal negotiating partners for the central governments they are fighting against, to feign a sovereign status. ECMI is supporting this tactic through providing rebel groups a forum, claiming that this political valorization "is serving the cause of peace". Under this pretext, a joint strategy of the Darfur rebels was discussed in Flensburg. In the style of ethnic concepts of chauvinist groups, ECMI writes, that these rebel groups should develop a "regional identity".[3] This "identity" should "enable the Darfur rebels' representatives to exhibit a unified [political] front".

A Message

The secessionists are far from being a unified front. They are divided into numerous tendencies. In Flensburg the ECMI was helping leaders of the Islamic "Justice and Equality Movement" (JEM) and a group of the multiply fractured "Sudan Liberation Movement/Army" (SLM/A) using "a team of senior legal and policy advisors drawn from leading universities and expert institutions".[4] Shortly after this meeting, both militia groups boycotted peace negotiations with the central government in Khartoum. Instead, members of the JEM militia launched an attack in a resource-rich region, where Chinese companies are extracting oil, kidnapping two foreign workers. This attack is to send "a message, directed particularly at Chinese firms", the "biggest investors in the Sudanese oil industry," which are cooperating with the central government, the rebels declared in a statement.[5]

Secession Referendum

While the "European Center for Minority Issues" is counseling the Darfur militias in Flensburg, the state owned German Association for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) is supporting the autonomy government of South Sudan. At the beginning of August 2005, following dozens of years of civil war, Khartoum granted extensive rights of autonomy to the South - including the right to organize a referendum on the question of secession for 2011. Already in 2004, the GTZ began rebuilding roads that had largely been destroyed in South Sudan, receiving significant financial aid from Washington. At the same time, a German enterprise was pressing ahead its railroad project to connect South Sudan with ports in Kenya, allowing the evacuation of valuable resources (oil, gold) from the secessionist region, while avoiding central government controls. "This is the lifeline of our independence," according to a designated member of the autonomy government, at the time, in Juba.[6]

Management of Water Resources

The future of the railroad project is uncertain because of the temporary setback of the German firm. But the GTZ, under the auspices of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, is continuing its support for the autonomy government. The "development aid" that Berlin discontinued because of the reigning civil war conditions, has, in the meantime, been restarted - exclusively for South Sudan seeking secession. In 2006, the GTZ implemented its first measures for an improved drinking water supply in the separatist controlled region, followed by plans to establish a water administration and water system for South Sudan.

Establishment of a State

GTZ measures have been reaching a new level in 2007: The German organization inaugurated a "Governance Program South Sudan". The lead executing agency is the South Sudan secessionist government's Office of the President, the project is to run for ten years (February 2007 - January 2017), continuing therefore six years after the referendum on secession. According to the GTZ, "the project combines advisory services on policy, administration and organizational development and operates concurrently at three levels: district, state and Government of South Sudan (GoSS)."[7] And it should also "strengthen (...) the cooperation between governmental and non-governmental actors." All levels are included - except its linkage to Sudan's central government in Khartoum.


Two and a half years ago, South Sudanese ministers, who, under the terms of the 2005 peace agreement, participate in the central government, ceased their cooperation. Tensions are rising and observers do not exclude new escalations in the war. The oil rich Abyei district, in the center of the country, is also at the center of attention. This region was already in dispute between Khartoum and Juba during the civil war. A local referendum scheduled for 2011 will decide if it will be allocated to the North or the South. The oil field, attacked by the JEM militia a few days ago, is in that region. If the Darfur rebels can take more control of that region, new escalations in combat, even with the South Sudanese secessionists, cannot be excluded. Both enjoy Berlin's sympathy and active support.

[1], [2] Rainer Hofmann: Minderheitenschutz in Europa. Völker- und staatsrechtliche Lage im Überblick, Berlin 1995, zitiert nach: Walter von Goldendach, Hans-Rüdiger Minow: Von Krieg zu Krieg. Die deutsche Außenpolitik und die ethnische Parzellierung Europas, München 1999. See also Hintergrundbericht: Das Europäische Zentrum für Minderheitenfragen
[3] Press Release; Darfur: "Volksgruppen"-Unterstützung in Flensburg;
[4] Press Release;
[5] Ölfeld im Sudan überfallen; Basler Zeitung 25.10.2007
[6] see also Die Bahn zur Unabhängigkeit and Nucleus of a Germ
[7] Projektkurzbeschreibung;