July 29, 2017:
South Sudan admitted that it had recalled ambassadors or heads of mission in seven countries (Britain, Sudan, Uganda, Germany, India, Eritrea and Egypt) and said this was a normal rotation. Irate suppliers in most of the 29 countries where South Sudan has established embassies or foreign missions complain that the South Sudanese are not paying their bills. South Sudan is short of cash and this is another indication of how bad it is.
June 27, 2017: Famine is once again a weapon in South Sudan. In Unity state 90,000 people are facing famine conditions as more displaced people has arrive at the Bentiu refugee camp in obvious need of food.. The Bentiu camp now has around 125,000 refugees but about five million people in South Sudan are in areas where crops have failed because of fighting (disrupting planting season) or transportation difficulties because the roads and river routes are too dangerous to move farming supplies or anything else (like food, medicine and consumer goods). Food supplies are being used up and the next crop will be reduced or absent in areas where the hunger is expected to be worst.
June 25, 2017: The U.S. and Sudan are working out the details of lifting sanctions, some that have been in place for two decades. The U.S. eased some of those sanctions in January 2017, before a new government took over and further progress depends on verifying progress in five areas. These include ending support for rebel groups in South Sudan and ending the endless skirmishing in the west (Darfur) and south (South Kordofan and Blue Nile states). Sudan must also give humanitarian aid groups improved and secure access to conflict areas. The U.S. also wants Sudan to cooperate with U.S. agencies in America’s counter-terrorism effort. Critics point out that Sudan has failed to provide humanitarian access in several areas, but South Kordofan and Blue Nile in particular.
June 21, 2017: Sudanese media report that 17 Sudanese soldiers were killed in a battle on June 10 in northwestern Yemen. The Sudanese soldiers were fighting Yemeni Shia rebels. Their bodies were returned to Sudan and they were buried today in an official military ceremony.
In South Sudan foreign aid workers accused the government of using scorched earth tactics against the Shilluk tribe in Upper Nile state. Details were provided on incidents that occurred between January and May 2017 during which soldiers and pro-government Dinka militias systematically burned and pillaged villages. Troops also ntentionally shelled civilians areas. The objective was forced displacement of the Shilluk from their homes. The evidence supporting the accusation is impressive.
June 20, 2017: Diplomats have begun describing South Sudan’s civil war as a “fragmented war.” When it started in 2013 there were two distinct sides. Now there are several factions. Some of the new factions are collections of minority ethnic groups who live in the same region. They have formed a loose grouping to defend themselves against the Dinka-dominated government and the Nuer-dominated rebels (SPLM-IO). The fragmentation became noticeable in the early summer of 2016.
June 19, 2017: Several more firefights have erupted in South Sudan’s Upper Nile region. The government blames the firefights on “rebel attacks.” At least one of the incidents took place near the town of Renk (now in Eastern Upper Nile state). The area has oil fields and is close to the Sudan border.
Throughout South Sudan tensions have dramatically escalated in recent days in the northern region of the country after a series of rebel attacks. A senior government official warned that “the clock has now run out” and that “all options are on the table” to provide security in the country.
June 18, 2017: In late May Japan completed the withdrawal of its troop contingent serving with the UN South Sudan peacekeepers for five years. A total of 3,854 Japanese troops served with UNMISS. They built 210 kilometers of roads. They also constructed 94 facilities. Japan is still analyzing the mission. One goal was for soldiers to gain experience cooperating with foreign militaries.
June 15, 2017: In Sudan the U.S. has confirmed that SPLM-N rebels opposes an American proposal for providing humanitarian aid in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. The rejection was known because a senior U.S. diplomat had accused SPLM-N leaders of pursuing their own private political agendas. The SPLM-N is struggling with internal political conflicts generated by ethnic rivalries.
June 14, 2017: UN officials are trying to muster enough support to change the mandate for the African Union-UN Hybrid peacekeeping Operation in Darfur. The UN wants key member states (the Security Council) to reduce the Darfru force by almost 50 percent to 8,735 troops and 2,360 armed police. The force is currently authorized 15,845 military personnel and around 3,000 policemen. UN officials said most of the fighting in Darfur now is confined to the Jebel Marra area and that current levels of violence do not justify the size of the current force.
June 12, 2016: In South Sudan rebels claim to have defeated governemtn forces in the town of Kwet (Northern Upper Nile state). The government acknowledged the attack and said its forces in Kwet had withdrawn to the town of Kwek. The rebels are portraying the fight at Kwet as a significant victory. They claimed they killed 134 soldiers and captured three tanks, several other vehicles mounting machine guns, and a mortar. Two of the tanks were T-55s, one was a T-72. The rebels also accused government forces of attacking rebel positions in the area on June 9.
The leaders of Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia, and diplomats from Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia are publicly encouraging the government of South Sudan and the main rebel group (SPLM-IO) to revive the August 2015 peace agreement. For several months the U.S. and Great Britain have been trying to get Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia to exert more pressure on the South Sudan government. The U.S. and several other key donor nations appear to be concluding that South Sudan’s president is an impediment to peace.
June 9, 2017: The government of South Sudan said that it will deploy a new security force to Gogrial state. The force will establish and patrol buffer zone between the Aguok and Apuk communities. When South Sudan had ten states instead of 28, Gogrial was part of Warrap state.
June 8, 2017: In South Sudan 15 passengers were killed when their bus was ambushed on the highway between the capital and Uganda border. Five of the dead were Ugandans and 35 other passengers suffered injuries. The gunmen have not been identified.
June 5, 2017: Battles between the Apuk and Aguok clans near the town of Gogrial have left at least 38 people dead. The clans are fighting over water holes and pasturage. The South Sudan president is a Dinka from Gogrial and the clans fighting are Dinka clans. The Apuk clan also claims that county services in the new state of Gogrial are unfairly distributed. They also say the power structure in the state discriminates against them.
June 4, 2017: In South Sudan a rebel faction in Yei River state has agreed to a ceasefire with the government. Uganda mediated the agreement. However, several senior rebel officials say that they do not recognize the agreement as valid. The faction that agreed to the ceasefire is led by a former army general who claims to have 16,000 soldiers on his side and is considered hostile to SPLM-IO, the main rebel organization.
June 3, 2017: Representatives from Egypt and Sudan met in Cairo to discuss economic and territorial disputes. However, the talks concluded with the statement that no concrete progress had been made. There will be more discussions at a later date. The biggest issue is control of the Halayeb Triangle on the Red Sea. Egypt has also accused Sudan of giving refuge to radical members of the Muslim Brotherhood -- members Egypt regards as Islamist terrorists. Sudan denies the accusation. Sudan has accused Egypt of providing supplies for rebels in Darfur. Egypt says that is completely false.