When the final drop
is wrested from the hell-scorched
bowels of an earth clinging
to what it has, and which
we mortal, animate souls
should have never approached
the sinking sensation of
frenzied in what there is now, and rarely
what there will be then
will rise from their stupor
and see that despite
we cannot eat sand
and sun-blasted stone
In the international community, a cadre has long hoped that the Syrian conflict would reach a stalemate. The parties would then be open to a negotiated settlement, and large-scale violence would cease.
There has been no slowing down. Syria’s army, the Free Syrian Army, the fundamentalists, the Kurds, and all the other groups trying to survive are not out of will and fight.
Assad’s regime continues to get heavy weapons from Russia, while the Islamic State is now making huge sums from the oil fields it has captured. As long as the various factions have the money and arms to sustain a struggle, the idea of a lasting peace seems absurd.
A referendum in the Abyei region, which is along the border between Sudan and the recently separated South Sudan, is asking inhabitants which country they wish to be a part of. Being rich in oil, it has been a point of contention, and part of the conflict between the two countries that has existed on-and-off since the 2011 independence of South Sudan. It is roughly analogous to the oil-rich Kirkuk region of northern Iraq, which lies on the edge between Iraqi Kurdistan and the rest of the country.
Neither country endorses the referendum, and there is dispute within Abyei itself about whether this is a good idea. But the effort is going forth anyway. Caught between two warring states, there must be a great deal of anxiety and dread. By going forth, they are trying to push the decision on their own terms. As a prominent priest in the region states, “Abyei is tired of waiting.”