Sudan: War Crimes Indictments Threaten The Peace

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July 11, 2008: It's shaping up to be a long, hot Summer for the Sudanese government. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is about to indict, and attempt to arrest, the president of Sudan, for genocide (all that unpleasantness in Darfur in the south). Normally, Sudan could depend on its ally (and business partner) China to keep such do-gooders at bay. But China is hosting the Olympic Games next month, and many anti-genocide groups are using the Olympics to put pressure on China to do the right thing in Sudan (and not run interference for the Sudanese leaders liable to war crimes prosecution). This is likely to cause the Sudanese leadership to dig in, and try desperate measures (like tossing peacekeepers out of Darfur and resuming the war with the southern rebels.)

July 10, 2008: The Sudan government and the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) said that a 200-man "joint integrated police unit" will deploy in the disputed Abyei region. The UN has been facilitating the organization of this particular unit. Ultimately, several hundred joint police units are to be formed.

July 9, 2008: Seven members of the UNAMID (UN-African Union) peacekeeping force in Darfur were killed, and  22 were wounded. The peacekeepers were attacked after they had investigated an alleged attack on the Sudan Liberation Army-Minnawi faction. Janjaweed militias (ie, Sudan government-allied militias) were under suspicion. The attack took place in North Darfur state near the town of Um Hakibah. This is a large-scale assault on the peacekeepers. It is the kind of brutal attack that could lead to an increase in combat strength for UNAMID.

July 4, 2008: The Government of South Sudan (GOSS) and Ethiopia have agreed to several "joint development projects." This is another sign that the GOSS is increasingly operating as a separate government.

July 3, 2008: Sudan has begun trying members of the Justice and Equality Movement captured (or arrested?) after the May 10 Omdurman raid. Eight members of the JEM were arraigned in Khartoum,, including the brother-in-law of JEM commander Khalil Ibrahim. The men are accused of conducting a terrorist attack on the capital. The raid, however, was a fairly straight-forward, if audacious motorized attack, a rather common tactical operation in the Sahel.

June 29, 2008: The World Food Program (WFP) reported that a food truck driver was murdered in southern Sudan. This is the seventh murder of a WFP driver since March. The WFP report said that in Darfur 83 WFP vehicles have been ambushed or hijacked since January 2008. This particular truck was empty - the crew had delivered food to Juba, South Sudan. Bandits prefer trucks with food since food is rations for rebel fighters or money - it can be readily sold.

June 28, 2008: South Sudan's representative on the North-South Border Demarcation Commission has asserted that the committee cannot find a definite January 1, 1956 border between northern and southern Sudan. If true this could present a problem. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005 said that the final border between North Sudan and South Sudan will be based on the 1956 border. Over 1000 kilometers of border must be drawn to complete the CPA. It is possible the commission may ultimately rely on colonial-era maps delineating the borders between Sudanese states., but those are not definitive and won't solve the issue of drawing a boundary in the Abyei region.

June 27, 2008: G-8 representatives called for an immediate ceasefire in Darfur and urged that Sudan face new sanctions in order to end the conflict there.

June 26, 2008: The May 10 attack on Omdurman by Darfur's Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) continues to rattle the Sudan government in Khartoum. Hassan al-Turabi, the chief opposition leader, said the attack was "very dangerous for the (entire) country." What the attack did was demonstrate how little control the Sudan government can exert. In Sudan it is easier to arm tribes and pay them to attack "traditional" enemies than it is to address Sudan's complex political and economic problems.

 

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