The brief but violent mid-January mutiny by intelligence and security agents severely tested the governing transitional Sovereign National Council (SNC) which oversees Sudan’s transitional government. The mutiny sent Sudan’s civilian leader, prime minister Abdallah Hamdok, once again into full-scale domestic diplomacy mode designed to ease tension and suspicion between the SNC’s civilians from the FFC (Forces for Freedom and Change) coalition and military members. The mutiny caught the government by surprise. Disgruntled current and former General Intelligence Service (GIS) agents participated in what they called a protest of their severance pay packages. However, the protestors had weapons, they seized control of GIS offices in the capital and refused orders to surrender. General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, president of the SNC, called the action an insurgency and later claimed the agents intended to launch a coup against the transitional government. Though former agents and security troops seized buildings in the capital and in a town in North Darfur state, the revolt was not well organized. Violent mutiny designed to cause chaos and test the military’s loyalty to the SNC may be the best description. In the wake of the clash in the capital, Hamdok is emphasizing the need for national unity in order to successfully move from the transitional government to free national elections which democratically select a civilian government. The prime minister argues –accurately-- that the Sudanese revolution that toppled dictator Omar al Bashir succeeded because an alliance developed between pro-democracy civilians and the military. That’s true – an alliance developed as relentless pro-democracy protests continued despite bloodshed in the streets. The alliance was initially strained and the truth is it remains strained. Civilian leaders' distrust is sustained by the continuing presence on the SNC of senior military officers who once supported Bashir. Civilians throughout Sudan are suspicious of the RSF (Rapid Support Forces) militia. The fact the Sudanese Army and RSF militiamen put down the mutiny may ease suspicions. For the record, the GIS is the new name for the NISS (National Intelligence and Security Service) which Bashir used as secret police to suppress and intimidate its political opponents. NISS agents committed murder and torture on behalf of Bashir himself, his senior subordinates and Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP). (Austin Bay)
January 20, 2020: Foreign media are criticizing the Sudan government’s January 8 decision to suspend the operations of four media outlets (two newspapers and two television channels) that supported former dictator Omar al Bashir’s regime. The foreign critics argue the closure violates freedom of the press. Some pro-democracy Sudanese agree with the foreign critics. However, the transitional government argued it is following the recommendations of its Anti-Corruption Committee., which contends the media outlets in question received money, political support and political favors from Bashir’s NCP (National Congress Party). The four outlets were not independent operations but corrupt entities that functioned as NCP assets. Public funds stolen by the NCP and money-laundering schemes run by the Bashir regime financed the newspapers and TV channels. The committee recommended they should be closed, their assets sold and the proceeds of the sales returned to the Sudanese government. (Austin Bay)
In Sudan, a bomb went off in the capital, Khartoum. The explosion killed seven and wounded 25. It is unclear who, or what was responsible.
January 19, 2020: Over the past 30 days Sudan has continued to withdraw its military forces from Yemen. As of January 15 only 657 Sudanese soldiers remained in Yemen. On December 1, 2019, Sudan had around 5,000 soldiers in Yemen serving with the Saudi-led coalition. In 2015 former president (dictator) Omar al-Bashir ordered the Sudanese military to send 15,000 troops and a small air force detachment to Yemen to serve with the Saudi-led anti-Iran coalition. In April 2019, the month Bashir was removed from power, Sudan still deployed 15,000 military personnel in Yemen. In late 2019 civilian Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok vowed to end Sudan’s military engagement in Yemen.
January 17, 2020: In South Sudan, the SPLM-IO rebel leaders rejected a South African proposal that an international panel help South Sudan’s government and the SPLM-IO resolve their differences on the number of South Sudanese states and their political boundaries. President Kiir’s government split up the ten “old states” and created 32 new states. The SPLM-IO argues Kiir did it for his own political benefit. Kiir has accepted the new South African offer. East African diplomats mediating government and rebel negotiations say that before a South Sudan transitional government can be formed per the peace agreement, internal security arrangements must be guaranteed and the states and states boundaries issues must be settled. The Independent Boundaries Commission (IBC) said it has concluded the majority of South Sudanese favor the old ten state structure. However, the boundaries of the ten states are not firmly demarcated.
January 16, 2020: Sudan’s SNC appointed General Jamal Abdul Majeed as the new head of the GIS (General Intelligence Service). Meanwhile, negotiations resumed in Juba, South Sudan, between the Sudanese government and representatives of rebels in the Two Areas (South Kordofan and Blue Nile states).
January 15, 2020: In Sudan, general Abdel Fattah al Burhan, who heads Sudan’s SNC, reported that the Sudanese Army now had full control of all General Intelligence Service buildings in the capital. Burhan called the intelligence agents’ mutiny a coup attempt. The government also confirmed that the military had regained control of two small oilfields protesting intelligence agents seized on January 14. The two small fields produce 5,000 barrels a day. The seizure temporarily halted production but has resumed. The military reported said two soldiers were killed and four wounded in violence that began late on January 14.
Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia and Sudan announced that they expect to sign a deal governing the operations of Ethiopia’s GERD (Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam) and the filling of the dam’s reservoir. The agreement will be signed either in late January or early February. Ethiopia agreed to only fill the reservoir during the rainy season, which occurs in July and August. If rain continues into September, Ethiopia can also fill the reservoir during September. Once the reservoir level reaches 595 meters (1,900 feet) above sea level, filling will continue based on agreement by all three countries.
January 14, 2020: In Sudan fighting erupted in the capital, Khartoum, as armed intelligence agents and GIS security troops loyal to former president Bashir refused to evacuate buildings they had occupied in various places in the city and in two suburbs. The government shut down Sudan’s national air space, although it was quickly reopened. The Sudanese Army and RSF militiamen responded to the building occupation and demanded the rebels (mutineers) hand over their weapons. The agents refused to leave the building and drop their weapons. The military then assaulted the buildings and gunfire erupted. The agents and troops were protesting the financial compensation and severance pay packages the government provided after the SNC dissolved the GIS’ operational security units. The government said a similar incident occurred in El-Obaid, the capital of North Darfur state. It is believed the mutineers in North Darfur were members of a disbanded security service unit. Subsequently, general Daglo accused former NISS commander Salah Abdallah (aka "Salah Gosh”) of being responsible for the anti-government violence. The U.S. government has told Sudan that if it wants to be removed from the SST (State Sponsors of Terrorism) list it needs to pay financial compensation to the families of people killed or injured in terror attacks that are tied to Sudan. The message follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s January 13 decision to decline to rule on Sudan’s appeal to avoid paying $3.8 billion in compensation to the families of people killed or injured in Al Qaeda’s 1998 terror bomb attacks on the American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.
January 12, 2020: South Sudan’s government and the SSOMA (South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance) signed a peace declaration. The SSOMA is an umbrella group of political opposition groups. Meanwhile, the SPLM-IO rebels accused the South Sudan government of organizing political protests in favor of keeping the 32 states the Kiir government established. The rebel SPLM-IO says the protests are a clear breach of the peace agreement.
January 11, 2020: In Sudan, the SLM-AW rebels said they would participate in a national conference for peace within Sudan. So far the SLM-AW has refused to participate in the peace negotiations between Sudan and its regional rebel groups that are sponsored by South Sudan.
January 9, 2020: In central Sudan (South Kordofan state), prime minister Hamdok visited the headquarters of the rebel SPLM-N al-Hilu rebel faction. Hamdok said he was seeking peace within Sudan. He is the first senior Sudanese leader to visit this area since the war in South Kordofan began in June 2011. The SPLM-N al-Hilu has asked Khartoum to resolve the fighting between the Nuba and Beni Amer tribes which is occurring in the Port Sudan area of Red Sea state.
January 8, 2020: In South Sudan, the U.S. imposed individual sanctions on First Vice President Taban Deng Gai. He had been involved in murdering anti-South Sudan government political workers.
January 7, 2020: In Sudan, the FFC pro-democracy coalition produced a list of 14 nominees for state governorships in Sudan. Prime minister Hamdok is tasked with appointing 18 transitional governors. The FFC is discussing the other four state governorships with various rebel groups.
January 5, 2020: In Sudan, it was announced that tribes in West Darfur State had committed themselves to end violence in the region. Recent inter-communal fighting between the Massalit and Arab tribes killed over 50 people.
January 3, 2020: In western Sudan, the UN-AU (African Union) peacekeeping operation in Darfur reported that a series of violent tribal clashes between the Massalit and Arab tribes recently took place. The murder of a member of the Arab tribe near a refugee camp apparently sparked the violence. The fighting ended January 1 with 65 people dead and 54 injured. The fighting also displaced over 40,000 people. This included 32,000 of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) who were forced to flee from refugee camps in the area. Most of the IDPs are now in temporary shelters near the state capital.
In northwestern South Sudan, peacekeepers confirmed that over a thousand soldiers and SPLM-IO rebel fighters have entered cantonment/training centers. The goal of the retraining program is to create a unified South Sudanese army.
December 31, 2019: In western Sudan (South Darfur) local officials demanded an investigation into the looting and damaging of a former peacekeeper headquarters. Sudanese security forces were accused of failing to intervene to protect the site which was to be given to the University of Nyala. The demand has national implications. With the establishment of the Sovereign Council, the Sudanese military promised to protect and serve the Sudanese people. Peacekeepers protested the failure of Sudanese security forces to stop the looting of the peacekeeper's former headquarters facility. According to observers, the looting was systematic. Assets in the buildings were stolen, some dismantled. Building materials and equipment were put on trucks and driven away. The UN gave the property to a local university in November 2019. Sudanese officials estimated the property and equipment was worth $100 million. Two days ago several hundred people. described as civilians, broke into and looted the site, popularly known as Super Camp. The gift required the site and its assets (buildings and equipment) to be used for civilian purposes.
December 30, 2019: In Sudan, a court has sentenced to death 29 members of the former NISS security service. The intelligence officers were convicted of torturing and murdering a political prisoner, Ahmed Khair, who was arrested in January 2019 and died “in detention” in early February. Khair’s murder inspired Sudanese resistance to the Bashir government.
December 26, 2019: The UN awarded service medals to 850 Indian peacekeepers serving in South Sudan. The UN commended the Indian soldiers' commitment to supporting local South Sudanese communities.
December 25, 2019: In Sudan, the SRF accused supporters of the toppled Bashir government of inciting tribal clashes in Red Sea State, with the city of Port Sudan the focal point. Since June 2019, several deadly clashes involving Nuba, Beni Amer, Hadandawah and Alamrar tribesmen have occurred in Port Sudan. The SRF contends Bashir’s supporters use the tribal fighting to maintain their influence in Red Sea State.
December 23, 2019: In Sudan, the government confirmed that the GIS will not have operational security units. The old NISS organization fielded heavily armed paramilitary units.
December 22, 2019: In South Sudan, the U.S. imposed individual sanctioned on the Minister of Cabinet Affairs and Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs for engaging in actions that undermine South Sudanese peace efforts. The Defense Minister, Kuol Manyang Juuk, is a major political figure in South Sudan.