Sudan: Civil War Stalemate

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June 17, 2014:  Now South Sudan and rebel leaders are refusing to continue the peace talks in Ethiopia because of provocative remarks (that both sides were stupid for trying to achieve victory through force) from the East African official in charge of organizing the peace talks and because the rebels were not consulted on who would attend. The South Sudan rebellion is six months old now and there seems to be no end in sight. Currently both sides have agreed to work out details on a ceasefire within 60 days but two earlier efforts to do this ended in failure. Proposals to form a new government are also deadlocked by the current government’s redusal to consider rebel demands that the current president resign. The current government also refuses to consider rebel demands that some rebele leads be given senior positions in the government. The vague “transitional government” plan was accepted in general but then rejected when both sides got into the details.   

The new deadlock is in sharp contrast to the deal worked out over the last week. South Sudan’s government and rebel leaders argeed to the formation of a transitional government within 60 days and then prepare to hold new national elections. This deal was made following a series of face to face discussions held in Ethiopia between South Sudan president Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar. The East African Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) sponsored the discussions. In response to the deal Uganda said that if the transitional government does coalesce as stipulated in the IGAD agreement, Ugandan Army units will withdraw from South Sudan. Meanwhile, several international food and medical aid agencies warned that South Sudan is confronting another humanitarian crisis. Some aid groups believe that some 50,000 refugee children in South Sudan face starvation in the coming weeks. The civil war has made ground shipment of relief supplies to remote areas all but impossible and air transport is limited.

June 15, 2014: A recent study of arms shipments to Sundan has found that Iran as Sudan’s second-largest arms and munitions supplier after China. Iranian technical specialists also work at Sudan’s Yarmouk (near Khartoum) weapons manufacturing facility. Iran, however, has also supplied light weapons, rockets and other munitions. Some of the Iranian weapons have ended up in the hands of rebel organizations in South Sudan and in other parts of Africa.

June 14, 2014: A former South Sudanese general who defected to the rebels announced that he is preparing a force for combat. General Dau Aturjong called the current government a dictatorship. Aturjong was in command of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army’s 6th Division (Northern Bahr el Ghazal state).

June 12, 2014:  South Sudan government and rebel leaders have tentatively agreed to a ceasefire. The agreement includes beginning a 60-day period in which the two opposing sides will form a transitional national government. A South Sudan rebel source claimed that the withdrawal of Ugandan military forces is a key part of the deal and that Uganda has agreed to withdraw its military forces from South Sudan. There was no official response to this claim from the Ugandan government or South Sudan government.

The South Sudan government conceded that in early June members of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) in the town of Gadiang (Jonglei state) refused to obey orders because its soldiers have not been paid. The government said that the incident fueled reports (which the government denies) of major desertions and defections to the rebel side.  The soldiers in Gadiang have now been paid.

June 11, 2014:  Uganda has contradicted a central allegation made by his South Sudan; that there was an attempted coup in mid-December. Ugandan officials made the claim during the current peace talks in Ethiopia. Uganda believes that a violent confrontation between Nuer and Dinka soldiers in the presidential guard precipitated the South Sudan civil war. Rebel leaders congratulated Uganda for admitting that there was no coup attempt. Uganda is trying to get the senior leaders of the government and the rebels to get personally involved in negotiations to end the South Sudan war. Some South Sudanese rebels have called Uganda the “co-architect” of the civil war, implying that Uganda helped start it. The Ugandan government rejects that claim and contends its forces entered South Sudan to prevent the South Sudanese state from totally collapsing.

The U.S. government condemned a brutal series of attacks conducted by Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. The Sudan government claims that the RSF is a reserve paramilitary police force. However, its tactics and operations differ very little from those of the notorious Janjaweed militias which savaged Darfur during the worst years of the Darfur war.  The U.S. also accused Sudan of conducting indiscriminate air attacks in South Kordofan. Several international agencies have accused the RSF of looting and conducting what amount to scorched earth attacks in rebel areas. The RSF militiamen target civilian water and food supplies.

June 10, 2014:  Sudan’s ambassador to Uganda has defected and fled to Great Britain where he intends to seek asylum. Sharfi is reportedly disillusioned with the ruling National Congress Party (NCP.

June 9, 2014: The Sudanese Army claimed that it had defeated a counter-attack in the Alatmor area by Sudan Peoples Liberation movement-North (SPLM-N) rebels.  Rebels claimed their attack succeeded in recapturing part of the town. Alatmor is east of Kadugli, capital of Sudan’s South Kordofan state.

June 8, 2014: Sudan arrested Ibrahim al-Sheik, leader of a major Sudanese opposition party, the Congress Party.  Opposition parties have accused the government of harassment and trying to undermine next year’s elections. As it is, the opposition parties confront internal strife. For example the Reform Now Party (RNP) may break into two factions.

June 7, 2014: Sudanese security forces claim they have retaken the Alatmor area east of Kadugli. This incolved a combined operation by the Sudanese Army and the Rapid Support Forces (paramilitary militia units) to defeat a SPLM-N force defending the area. Government forces seized nearby Dalko in mid-May. Sudanese forces have indicated that they intend to attack the town of Kauda (about 90 kilometers from Altamor) sometime this Summer. The SPLM-N maintains a major headquarters in Kauda.

June 6, 2014: An anti-Islamist Libyan militia led by General Khalifa Haftar accused the Sudanese government of supplying Libyan militant Islamist organization with weapons. Haftar’s forces claimed that Sudan delivered the weapons by air to an airport located at Meetiga.

June 5, 2014: The South Sudanese government vehemently denied claims that it had plans to assassinate senior rebel leaders. The rebels claimed on June 2 that they had seized an aircraft carrying a would-be assassin. The rebels said the assassin, who is a Kenyan, admitted he had been assigned to murder senior leaders of the rebel Sudan Peoples Liberation Army in Opposition. The rebels claimed the assassin had two pistols with silencers.

June 4, 2014: A woman that a Sudanese Islamist court sentenced to death for apostasy death has appealed her sentence. Mariam Ibrahim refused to renounce her religion, which is Christianity.

June 3, 2014: A senior member of South Sudan’s ruling Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) party has resigned. Peter Adwok Nyaba, who serves on the National Liberation Council, accused South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, of failing as a president. Nyaba said Kiir lacks vision. 

 

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