|Khartoum - Sudan, Ameln Valley - Morocco, Cairo - Egypt, Öresten - Sweden|
Out of the three far-away countries I've lived, Sudan is probably the most extreme of them all. Whilst I had my good share of drama and political corruption, kidnapping, a police who "captured" my passport and persecution (links to previous blog posts) - but the fact is that I could easily have been there right now, if small and seemingly unsignificant events and decisions hadn't taken me elsewhere. Today the largest country in Africa is about to split in two: the north (Sudan) and the south (South Sudan). To my big surprise, many seems to think that this should be the solution to all the problems that have haunted the Sudanese people for centuries. People think that wars will be solved, disputes will be settled and poverty and health problems will magically disappear. Surely you can hope that the long lasting conflicts between the north and south tribes will settle, but as always, things are not that simple. Even if that would happen, Darfur will still be caught in the middle, without any solution close at hand. Thousands will continue to die from starvation and diseases, caught in tribal conflicts (and governmental funded slaughters) and displaced when their villages are being burned. Many will end up in miserable refugee camps, either in Sudan or Chad. Most will have no hope of a safe future.
A couple of days ago, CNN reported that a major military offensive might be on its way in Southern Kordofan (a north Sudanese state). The report is based on field reports and satellite images and that has captured what looks like at least 89 military vehicles in the city of Kadugli, the state capital, which is being controlled by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). The vehicles included heavy ammunition transport trucks, light vehicles and possible towed artillery pieces. In May, Southern Sudanese forces attacked a UN Mission in Sudan convoy in Abyei. 22 soldiers died and Sudanese troops took control of the city, forcing Southern Sudanese forces out. According to the chief of Southern Sudan's mission to the United Nations, Abiyei belongs to both the north and the south until the people in the city decide otherwise. Now representatives os Sudan and South Sudan have signed an agreement of the immediate withdrawal of Sudanese troups from Abiyei, but the fightings in South Kordofan continue to threaten and claim lifes. My husband is somewhat safe in the capital, Khartoum, but my worries will not ease until I have him within an arms length again.
I spent a few months in Morocco and although I was safely placed in the more safe and touristy places, the ghost of the Moroccan-Western Sahara conflict loomed all over the country and haunted the people. The massive popular movements that have surged through the Arab world in the past few months reached Morocco in February and King Mohammed VI's (in power since 1999) response was a promise of "comprehensive constitutional reform", but protests that have claimed lifes have continued. Yesterday some 10.000 protesters gathered in Casablanca against the king's proposed constitutional changes. Meanwhile unemployment and poverty continues to be a huge problem and one of the major reasons for the unrest.
Most recently I had both the unluck and privilege to witness the popular Egyptian revolution first hand. While teargas and gunshots flew outside my window in central Cairo the Egyptian people gathered in their hundered of thousands in Tahrir Square and across the country to demand that president Hosni Mubarak (who had been in power for over 30 years) step down. After 18 days and hundereds of people dead the people got what they demanded and the military took over. Revisit my blog posts from January to February for personal reports, videos and photos. Today Mubarak is charged with the deaths of the protesters and is in custody in a military hospital in Sharm al-Sheikh after having heart problems. Now his lawyer says that he's also suffering from stomach cancer. The expected presidential election is to be held in December and the parlamentary election is proposed to take place in September which has caused some concerns as new public opinion survey predicts that the islamistic Muslim Brotherhood will by then have gained influence over the consitution.
Meanwhile, in safe Sweden, the politics are swaying to the right, slowly but steadily. The taxes have been cut and apparently the economy is growing, the budget is balanced and unemployment is declining. Even so, long term sick-listed people are loosing their sickness benefits and declined economical benefits from the social services they are forced into work despite of cancer, heavy depressions or no ability to move their bodies. And now midsummer is approaching with dancing around the pole, sunset after 10 PM, herring and other wierd traditions and rituals. As much as I appreciate all the odd experiences in faraway countries, I think I'll spend a few years in my country. I may think its dull or even boring at times, but at least I'll be safely away from violent uprisings, teargas, kidnapping and shootings. The only thing missing is to share the safety with my beloved husband.