It is all Negative Energy: How External Mediation Becomes the Actual Problem.

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Peace making and peace building in Africa is on the edge of disaster. It is obvious where the road they(Africa's peacemakers) are on would lead, but those in charge of the task could not (or would not) see it. IGAD leaders continued to engage in the habitual attempts at ‘peace making’ efforts without recognizing and/or discerning what mistakes they had made and how they could keep from making them again. As a result the story of President Kiir’s doomed military and political position has been replaced by the story of his inevitability as the real decider in the peace process.

The Case Against External Mediation

External intervention does not usually buy peace but it does always disrupt local and national political processes and kills durable and long-term stability. The notion that external mediation and intervention would help countries in conflict is greatly mistaken. The post-Cold War interventions by Western powers and Africa’s regional organizations have been working on a theory that conflict resolution and peace building will gradually win. But that's not what we're seeing so far. There are lots of explanations for why insensitive external intervention in the form of mediation leads to anarchy and disorder. I've been referring them for years, to multiple audiences. Most of the externally generated peace agreements have done the exact opposite of what they set out to do. Sudan, Somalia and now South Sudan are perfect examples. South Sudan will continue to face violent crisis simply because the so-called ‘Peace Agreement’ –some call it quite correctly-compromise agreement-will only make it more unstable. Not to mention the awkward way IGAD handled the situation. International or regional intervention in the name of peace agreements does not only disrupt local process of peace and state building but often deepens structural problems and generates new vulnerabilities and flash points. Devoid of knowledge and expertise and short of political and diplomatic capital, IGAD’s approach has been a problem in and of itself.

Lacking innovative and constructive approach IGAD seemed to have engaged for the sake of running the process. IGAD leaders continued to engage in the habitual attempts at ‘peace making’ efforts without recognizing and/or discerning what mistakes they had made and how they could keep from making them again. Whatever proposal comes out from the regional organization is just the product of woefully-out-of-touch government leaders. Are they used to trying new things? I don’t think so. Given the multiplicity of failures so far the lack of learning is shocking. It is remarkable that politicians, their advisors, and regional and global "leaders" - cannot or don’t want to see the damage that their actions will cause, somehow blind to what is obvious, if perhaps unintended, consequences that will eventually ensue. Except to say that, Africa’s ‘peace makers’, both former and current presidents has a habit of excusing their own fairly bankrupt views of peace with the reference to the imperative nature of their own political desires.

I am unable to fully come to terms in explaining why they continue to apply the same modalities while they know they have failed time and again. And under these circumstances, I continue to scratch my head to this day and cannot understand why a single regional leader would ever propose a new approach to South Sudan. It is frustrating to see IGAD continue to do the same failed approach again and again with disastrous consequences. Peace making and peace building in Africa is on the edge of disaster: It is obvious where the road they are on would lead, but those in charge of the task, at regional and continental levels, could not (or would not) see it. They are looking only for the immediate political and diplomatic gain that was all their myopia would reveal to them.

No intent and inclination to develop understanding of the variables that contributes towards the probability of success or failure of peace agreements. That said, the mechanical aspects of the proposal and technical aspects of the final document hold up always pretty well. Not to mention the fact that the people that did the report are very much inside the regional political establishment and are themselves part of the problem. Inevitably, the whole concept of regional solutions to regional problems is disastrously failing. Major stakeholders and powerful voices in IGAD are themselves key players in the conflict. Countries like Uganda were afraid of becoming victims of peace. Strangely, the story of Museveni’s doomed intervention in South Sudan has been treated, with minor exceptions, nicely by regional leaders and the US.

Then how is it possible for IGAD to play a positive role in South Sudanese conflict. The same applies to the crisis in Burundi where the East African Community is in similar paralysis. Which raises the question: Does peacemaking efforts that Africa’s regional organizations hope to lead even exist in any meaningful sense? While the Horn of Africa has emerged as the largest ‘market’ for Peace Agreements and PA-related services such as peacekeeping, there is the well-founded perception that broad public-local ownership remains limited, and that many processes continue to be dominated by small elites and external actors. And while IGAD or the AU has extensive involvement and experience in brokering peace agreements, they have so far had restricted and narrow approach to peace agreements and limited role in implementation of their own provisions. Their institutional capacity and political backing to sustain such a role is in question. This begs the question: What is the value of Africa’s regional organizations in peace agreements?

Unable to attain anything their intervention, for what it is worth, tends to disrupt elite contest and social processes. By its nature external mediation has long had what I referred to as a “deadline problem”. This is part of a larger problematic linked to the lack of understanding linkages between Peace Building and State Building processes. There is lack of similar recognition that durable peace emerges from social and political processes of contestation around how societies are ordered, and are influenced by a variety of internal and external forces. Naturally IGADs ideas on local political dynamics are deeply ignorant and irresponsible, and would be disastrous if put into effect. Not to mention the mere fact that external interventions accelerate – or undermine –socially generative internal processes. They only delay and defer the real fight and further complicate the underlying crisis.

External intervention had changed the course of the war in South Sudan by strengthening the camp that was the cause of the bloodshed in the first place. As a result the story of President Kiir’s doomed military and political position has been replaced by the story of his inevitability as the real decider in the peace process. Then, what is the use of crafting peace agreements whose framework favours not only the emergence of negative peace but also rewards intransigence? Its negative impact on local conflicts and processes aside, regional and international intervention fails to improve the situation on the ground. They even fail to reduce the death toll. What is the use of clumsy interventions that unnecessarily alter locally induced social and political processes and as a consequences continue to claim the lives of large number of people?

The recent killings in Malakal, carried out right in the face of UN peacekeepers, who did little to stop it, raises questions about whether peace is achievable at all and what useful role the UN can play. The real question is: What is the use of an agreement which is not inclusive and that does not address the real causes that led to the conflict in the first place.http://currentanalyst.com/index.php/conflictsregional/110-is-the-doha-qpeace-processq-really-about-peace-in-darfur. This is the case in which short-term peace making interests impact negatively longer-term peace building objectives. It is all negative energy. The result is dismal. The conflict in South Sudan has long mutated into a remix and slipped into unexpected direction. Ultimately peace agreements need to be understood as basic pillars that entail a framework that can bring about the absence of armed conflict. So far global and regional interventions have shown abhorrence to details and locally generated political processes and don’t apply restraint or inclusivity. If they did, then Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan would have won peace and their peace and state building trajectory would have allowed a cause for optimism. But here we are.

Background articles by the same author:

The Doha Peace process http://currentanalyst.com/index.php/conflictsregional/110-is-the-doha-qpeace-processq-really-about-peace-in-darfur

Reviewing Peace Agreements Reviewing Peace Agreements.docx

 
 

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