Wednesday, June 29, 2011


From the BPS research blog:

Across four experiments Lei Chang and his team showed that pictures of attractive women or women's legs had a raft of war-relevant effects on heterosexual male participants, including: biasing their judgments to be more bellicose towards hostile countries; speeding their ability to locate an armed soldier on a computer screen; and speeding their ability to recognise and locate war-related words on a computer screen. Equivalent effects after looking at pictures of attractive men were not found for female participants.

The effects on the male participants of looking at attractive women were specific to war. For example, their ability to locate pictures of farmers, as opposed to soldiers, was not enhanced. Moreover, the war-priming effects of attractive women were greater than with other potentially provocative stimuli, such as the national flag. Finally, the men's faster performance after looking at women's legs versus flags was specific to war-related words, as opposed to merely aggressive words.

Now I wonder if level of attraction can alter the strength of effect.....

China and the US can shove each other....

As it turns out... other countries and military threats aren't actually needed to help bring an end to conflict.* Africans solving African problems.....its beautiful:

The "Framework Agreement between Government of Sudan and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (North) on Political Partnership between NCP and SPLMN, and Political and Security Arrangements in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan States" was signed yesterday and should hopefully bring an end to the violence in the region.

Now this is only a framework agreement, which means a lot of negotiating still needs to be done and that there is still a high chance of violence breaking out. Abyei has been in negotiations for like forever and still escalates to violence when things go sour at the table. Nonetheless, negotiations are definitely better than bombs.

The agreement only consists of 2 sections, political arrangements and security arrangements. Some highlights of the agreement:

2. The Parties affirm the right of the SPLMN to continue as a legal political party in Sudan.

4. The Parties shall convene the Joint Political Committee immediately. The issues of governance in Southern Kordofan shall be discussed and resolved amicably by the Joint Political Committee within thirty days.

5 c. Without prejudice to the bilateral discussion between the two Parties on issues to be addressed through the process of popular consultation, the Popular Consultation process shall be extended beyond 9 July 2011 through an agreed amendment by the National Assembly.

9. The Parties agree on the following principles, which shall be the basis for the work of the Joint Security Committee:

a. Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of the Sudan and the inviolability of its national borders.

b. Securing sustainable peace and stability and ensuring the safety and security of communities of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan.

c. SPLA members from Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile are citizens of the Republic of the Sudan and their future lies in the Republic of Sudan.

d. The Republic of Sudan will have one national army.

e. The SPLA forces from Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile shall be integrated, over a time period and with modalities to be agreed, into the Sudan Armed Forces, other security institutions, and the civil service, or DDR.

f. Any disarmament shall be done in accordance with agreed-upon plans and without resorting to force.

The full document is available here thanks to John Ashworth (Let me know if that link fails). Here is some Sudan Tribune coverage too

*Yes, I do realise that the NCP may not have signed the agreement if the US had not gone ahead with its carrots and sticks policy, but I like to dream.....also there is this too:

NCP slams U.S. “carrot-and-stick” policy

Separately, Qutbi Al-Mahdi distrusted promises by the U.S. administration to help relieve Sudan’s hefty external debts in exchange for de-escalating the situation in the country’s North-South border state of South Kordofan, where the Northern army has been fighting elements aligned with South Sudan army.

Al-Mahdi told reporters in Khartoum on Monday that the NCP does not pay any attention to U.S. promises whether on the debt issue or other issues because the government realises that the U.S. administration “spews such promises to achieve particular ends then reneges on its commitments.”

“The failure to fulfill promises and commitments is a moral issue and we know to which extent does America honors its promises,” the ruling party official said.

Al-Mahdi went on to fulminate against the U.S. policy know as the “carrot-and-stick,” saying that no free people would accept to deal with America in accordance with this “nefarious” policy.

“That’s why we in Sudan do not afford America’s promises any attention,” he added.

The U.S. Administration is currently in the process of removing Sudan’s name from its blacklist of countries sponsoring terrorism, but the administration has warned Sudan government that the process of normalisation of ties would be jeopardised if the Northern army does not withdraw from the contested region of Abyei which it seized last month.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Khartoum: "Take your carrot and shove it!"(Updated - I was wrong)

Alex Thurston on Christian Science Monitor (with some editing by me):

Yesterday President Barack Obama released a statement praising a peace
agreement in Abyei, another Sudanese border region, and condemning the
violence in Southern Kordofan.....

"...With a ceasefire in Southern Kordofan, alongside the agreement to deploy peacekeepers to Abyei, we can get the peace process back on track. But without these actions, the roadmap for better relations with the Government of Sudan cannot be carried forward, which will only deepen Sudan’s isolation in the international community....."

This statement highlights one of the biggest potential leverage points Washington has with Khartoum: the “carrot” of normalized relations. Yet as author Bec Hamilton wrote on Twitter, the perceived value of this “carrot” may be disappearing: “That’s no longer leverage since Khartoum doesn’t believe it will ever happen (and they are probably right).”
Read the rest of the post, he raises an interesting question at the end of it.

Setting aside my disdain of Khartoum's current military policy, I think that they have every right to no longer trust those American carrots. I've previously discussed the failings of enticing Khartoum with the prospects of removing it from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List. Insignificant Block also has a post covering more examples of American Carrots that lie.

The track record of the carrots is basically; the US asks Khartoum to do something and promises to normalise relation if Khartoum completed the task. Khartoum does that thing. The US doesn't normalise relations and decides to up the ante on what it wants from Khartoum. While Im totally in support of getting your carrot's worth, there really is only so far you can push it.
With US carrots becoming more and more redundant, China's role has become more significant than ever. That is why I don't think this is a fantastic idea:
"The United States should press China to rescind its invitation for Bashir to visit China and dispatch a senior administration official to develop joint diplomacy in support of a peace deal, including pressures and incentives to leverage that agreement."

Guess who? Yup.....webune .....Prendergraaaaaaaaaaast!!!!

At this point, if China is willing to do what it can to bring an end to this conflict it can't risk associating itself with the US camp.


He also reiterated that the successful experience of Sino-Sudanese relations should be attributed to mutual respect and non-intervention in each other's internal affairs.

"China does not intervene in the internal affairs of others. The success of Sino-Sudanese cooperation has encouraged African countries to search for their real and loyal partner."(China Daily)

Oh how naïve I was to think China would act otherwise.

OK...New plan. Give Prendergrast, Clooney, the Machine Gun Preacher and Ninja in Afghanistan anti-air missels to shoot down Bashir's plane on the way back.

Tomorrow: Sticks.....can that also be shoved?

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I came across this post on the Enough! Project blog:

"The condemnation expressed by U.S. government officials over the recent violence in Sudan must translate into meaningful action toward those most culpable, to force them to rethink their calculations. Call the White House at 1-800-GENOCIDE and urge Obama to impose consequences against the government of President Bashir. Follow these easy steps:
1. Dial 1-800-GENOCIDE to connect to the White House
2. State your name and which state you are from
3. Urge President Obama to impose serious consequences on Khartoum: Expand sanctions, freeze the assets of key Sudanese leaders, investigate war crimes, and increase civilian protection"
Now Im not quite sure how to react to this as I am totally flabbergasted by the concept of a citizen's direct hotline to the executive government office. If this is actually a thing, then I am quite impressed. However, a part of me feels like this is some grand joke that the White House formulated to relieve itself of the pressure put on it by civil society. Like when a girl gives a fake phone number to guy to avoid the awkwardness and potential conflict arising from a straight up rejection. Point 3 seems to suggest that you get to talk to Obama......Now I imagine that is not true, but would be pretty awsome. Just like Kagame's heavy personal usage of social networking media to communicate with his citizens (link/link).

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Poverty Marshmallows

If you don't eat him now, you will get another later. (photo credit)

The New Republic has an interesting article linking the psychology of self-control to the issue of escaping poverty (with some delightful trolls in the comments section). Most people will recognise this field in psychology by the famous Marshmallow study, where the self-control of kids are put through a test of delayed gratification. I am a huge fan of these studies and have become far more excited now that these concepts are being tied to poverty reduction.

I won't delve too deeply into this as I believe the article is able to explain the whole idea a lot more eloquently. However, I would like to share some additional links to the excellent PsyBlog, that talks about a range of studies on the topic as well as some coping mechanisms to be taken advantage of. link, Link, LINK!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Abyei Peace Agreement

Khartoum and the SPLM have finally both signed an agreement that should bring an end to violence in Abyei. Now this is not the final solution to the dispute over Abyei, rather, it will simply provide a better environment for the dispute to be resolved as both parties agree to:

  • Respect the Abyei Protocol of the CPA; and
  • Consider any other proposal from the African Union High Level Implementation Panel on Sudan (AUHIP) to resolve the disputes.

Other highlights include:


Abyei will now be governed by an executive administration and an executive council

The Administration will consist of:

- The Chief Administrator (SPLM)

- The Deputy Chief Administrator (GoS)

- Five heads of Departments (3 SPLM & 2 GoS)

The Council will, just as it was in the earlier Abyei Protocol, a 20 member council chaired by GoS. The Council will draw up Abyei’s budget and both parties will finance it.


Abyei will be demilitarized with the exception of the deployment of an armoured brigade of Ethiopian soldiers to act as the new Interim Security Force for Abyei (ISFA). They are mandated to monitor the agreement, provide security to Abyei, its citizens and its borders, build the capacity of the to be formed Abyei Police Service and facilitate humanitarian assistance.

Humanitarian Assistance

IDPs have the right to return and both parties shall facilitate the return of IDPs. Humanitarian agencies also have the right to return….


The nomadic communities continue to have freedom of movement to access pasture and water. They will however be accompanied by a special unit of the Abyei Police Service.

Fantastic..... now lets resolve South Kordofan.