Sudan: Forward to Failure


January 21, 2008: The political separation hasn't occurred, at least not officially, However, it is becoming more obvious that South Sudan is an increasingly autonomous political entity. A new acronym for South Sudan has appeared : the GOSS (Government of South Sudan). The border flare-ups in Fall 2007, and the scrape over control of oilfields, clarified the division. Now 2011 is only three years away. That's the year of "the plebiscite," according to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Sometime in 2001 the south will conduct a plebiscite to determine whether or not it will become a fully separate nation.

January 20, 2008: During 2007 13 UN aid workers were killed in Darfur, and 147 abducted.

January 15, 2008: The South Sudan leadership has pledged to never return to war, and speed up the end of nepotism, tribalism and embezzlement, while speeding up the development of the entire South Sudan. The long war between the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) and Sudan killed hundreds of thousands and left the region destitute –and arguably the SPLA won. But corruption in its various guises ("nepotism, tribalism, and embezzlement") keep regions destitute – and poverty also kills.

January 13, 2008: Two US security experts visited Sudan to "review embassy security." The investigation of security measures follows the murder of USAID official John Granville and his Sudanese driver. Granville was murdered on January 1.

January 12, 2008: Darfur's Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) is beginning to establish its own civil authority in regions under its control. JEM claims to control a substantial area of Darfur. JEM has begun organizing what it calls three new states. The JEM's new Al Wahat State covers most of the Darfur region's north and northwestern areas. The decision to declare its own "states and administrative districts" is a step toward declaring a new country. It remains to be seen if JEM can actually protect the area (external defense) and maintain order (internal administration and police functions).

January 12, 2008: Poland will deploy 400 peacekeepers to Africa to serve with European Union peacekeeping forces in Chad and the Central African Republic. The Polish force will have two helicopters. The Polish unit is currently scheduled to deploy along the Chad-Sudan border, which means it could easily become part of a European peacekeeping contingent operating as part of the UN-AU hybrid force in Sudan's Darfur region. At least that seems to be the implicit understanding. The Polish announcement followed a commitment by Belgium to send two aircraft. On January 11, France agreed to provide 2000 troops and five helicopters for the EU force in Chad and the CAR.

January 11, 2008: Some 7,000 South Sudan soldiers have completed their withdrawal from Blue Nile State. Blue Nile State is to be garrisoned by soldiers from northern Sudan.

January 9, 2008: UN leaders believe that the UN-AU hybrid peacekeeping effort in Darfur could fail. There are three reasons for this: (1) the continuing violence in the region (ie, chaotic violence from multiple sources); (2) lack of cooperation by the Sudan government; and (3) inadequate equipment for peacekeepers, especially a lack of aircraft (helicopters). Of course, none of this is news to anyone who has been following events in Darfur. From the get-go the Sudan government has been against a UN-led peacekeeping force and has done everything it can to stall the process. The Sudan government refers to a UN force as "imperialist" – a cover for a European invasion of western Sudan. That's a political propaganda pitch that still has some traction around the world. However, in this case it failed, in part because the Sudan government's war in Darfur includes attacks on black African farmers. Sudan has used and continues to use a variety of other stalling tactics. For example, the government is also slow to issue visas to aid workers and international officials. That's intentional. The Sudan government has also prevented a UN engineer task force from working on roads and improving airfields in Darfur. An effective peacekeeping force must be supplied and that means adequate roads and airstrips. As for the violence, on January 7, 2008, a UN convoy in Darfur was attacked and a local Sudan Army officer admitted his forces attacked the convoy. The government later denied the attack and blamed it on the rebels. That's probably a lie on the part of the Sudanese government, but the fact is, in Darfur peacekeepers are caught in a crossfire.


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