May 24, 2012:
South Sudan has launched a new peacemaking initiative designed to end tribal conflicts in Jonglei state. A group of six tribal leaders signed an agreement in early May that committed the tribe to peace, reconciliation, and mutual tolerance. The new initiative makes use of some very old peacemaking techniques, to include traditional tribal peace rituals. South Sudanese, with the aid of Kenya, used a similar initiative to resolve several violent tribal disputes in southern Sudan, prior to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended Sudan’s north-south civil war.
May 23, 2012: South Sudan accused Sudan of launching air and artillery attacks on its territory. South Sudan reported that Sudanese forces attacked the Werguet area in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state on May 21 and again on May 22. The area lies about 30 kilometers inside South Sudanese territory. No independent organization confirmed the attacks, but over the last month several northern air attacks have been eventually confirmed. Some times confirmation takes several days. Foreign observers have to travel to the attack site in order to snap photos of aerial bomb craters. Travel in South Sudan is difficult. The roads are bad, often mere tracks. By the time the observers confirm the air attacks the news cycle has moved on, or the propaganda cycle, if you prefer.
Both sides continue to accuse the other of border violations, which are also difficult to confirm. At the moment there is no sign that Sudan is ready to gamble on a major military assault, despite its overwhelming firepower advantage. Sudan has to pay attention to Uganda’s commitment to support South Sudan with its military forces. Kenya has also made it clear that it supports South Sudan. Ethiopia has tried to act as a neutral mediator (it has a peacekeeping brigade in Abyei) but the burgeoning Ethiopia-Kenya alliance is no secret. South Sudan, however, remains worried. South Sudan continues to ask international organizations and African nations to put political and diplomatic pressure on Sudan to end the conflict. (Austin Bay)
May 22, 2012: In Sudan (Port Sudan) a local businessman died when his vehicle exploded. The dead man turned out to be a major arms smuggler (to Egypt and eventually Gaza) and the Sudanese government blamed his death on Israel.
May 21, 2012: Refugees armed with guns fought with police in a refugee camp near the Sudan-Eritrea border. One policeman was wounded. The camp, located at Shagarab, houses several thousand Eritrean refugees. No one claimed to know who was responsible for the gunfire. Most of the refugees fled Eritrea. Some are trying to escape the Eritrean military draft, others are fleeing the country’s deteriorating economic conditions.
May 20, 2012: South Sudan once again appealed to the international community to force Sudan to withdraw its forces from the Abyei region. South Sudan completed its withdrawal earlier this month. Abyei is a disputed territory which lies between Sudan and South Sudan. Both nations claim the territory. The Abyei Protocol of the 2005, Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) called for a special plebiscite to determine who would finally control Abyei.
May 17, 2012: The UN Security Council passed a resolution calling on Sudan to withdraw its military forces from Abyei immediately and unconditionally.
May 16, 2012: South Sudan said that it plans to buy anti-aircraft missiles in order to counter Sudan’s air power advantage. The new missiles would be part of a military modernization program that will include other modern military equipment. The government did not specify what type of surface to air missiles it wants to acquire. South Sudanese towns have been subjected to numerous air raids conducted by the Sudanese Air Force. A South Sudanese military spokesman said that the anti-aircraft missiles would also be deployed around oil infrastructure and airports. Sudan uses its Russian made transports as bombers, and since South Sudan became independent last year there have been, on average, one or two of these attacks a week. The bombs are just pushed out of the transports and are not very accurate. Residential areas are the most frequent targets.
May 15, 2012: South Sudan continues to expand its army, the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA). The SPLA operates several training camps. The SPLA recently announced that a new class of recruits (around 800) just completed an eight-month long basic training at the camp near Mapel (Western Bahr el Ghazal state). The SPLA’s training camps are in the process of receiving a large influx of recruits who have volunteered in the last month, as Sudan and South Sudan have fought over the Heglig oilfield and skirmished along their border.
May 14, 2012: Sudan said that it would withdraw its forces from the disputed Abyei region but it will only do so after a joint administrative organization is created to control the area. An agreement negotiated after Sudan invaded Abyei in May 2011, called for the formation of such an administrative organization. South Sudan criticized the Sudanese statement because withdrawal of military forces from Abyei is supposed to be unconditional.
An airlift has begun to take native South Sudanese from Sudan to South Sudan. Some 15,000 South Sudanese will be flown from Khartoum, Sudan to Juba, South Sudan. Authorities indicated that many of the 15,000 people have been living in transit camps in Sudan’s White Nile state. Sudan regards the southerners as a security threat.
May 12, 2012: The UN confirmed that South Sudan has withdrawn its police contingent from the Abyei region. The Ethiopian commander of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) provided the confirmation. South Sudan claimed on May 10, that it had fulfilled the requirements of UN Security Council Resolution 2046 and withdrawn some 700 police in the South Sudan Police Service from Abyei. Ethiopia has now deployed 3,716 soldiers with the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) on the Sudan-South Sudan border. There are also 83 Ethiopian military observers serving with the force.
May 10, 2012: The Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), a Sudanese rebel group, accused Sudan of blocking emergency aid distribution from reaching rebel-controlled areas of Blue Nile state. The SPLM-N is part of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF). The SPLM-N is fighting in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. A SPLM-N leader recently denied that the organization seeks independence or wants to join South Sudan. He said the SPLM-N wants to change the government in Khartoum
May 9, 2012: South Sudan claimed that within the last two days Sudanese forces attacked seven different places on the southern side of the international border. The attacks were either bombing sorties by Sudanese aircraft or artillery fire. The attacks occurred in Unity state and Upper Nile state. One of the attacks may have occurred in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state.
Sudan has asked the AU (African Union) and the UN to stop airplane flights from the UNAMID peacekeeping headquarters in El Fasher (Darfur region) to Uganda’s Entebbe international airport. This is a diplomatic shot at Uganda. Sudan and Uganda are increasingly at odds over the Sudan-South Sudan conflict. Uganda supports South Sudan and has said that it is prepared to support South Sudan with Ugandan military forces.