Sudan: The U.S. Makes An Offer That Can Be Refused

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November 18, 2010: Both the north and south have noticed the migration. Thousands of southerners are leaving the north and heading south. The word of mouth is that the south Sudanese are concerned about the national government's (northern government) reaction to the January 2011 independence vote. The consensus opinion is that the southerners will vote for independence. The north calls it secession. Southerners who remain in the north fear reprisals, based on ethnic and religious differences. Most southerners are from tribes that are either Christian or animist. The north is predominantly Muslim. The Government of South Sudan (GOSS) regards the arriving southerners not so much as refugees but as potential voters who support independence. Interviews by journalists with many of the southern returnees indicate they intend to vote for independence. Approximately 1.5 million southerners live in the north, so despite the numerous returnees, a substantial number of southerners are still in the north.

November 14, 2010: A Sudan Air Force plane dropped bombs in GOSS territory. The plane attacked  a Darfur rebel group that had crossed into South Sudan. The national government reported that a Sudanese Army unit had been fighting a rebel faction but the combat took place about 20 kilometers north of the South Sudan border. In other words, the national government rejected the SPLA version of the incident. Remember this incident. It foreshadows the kind of rebel pursuit operation that could trigger a war between Sudan (north Sudan) and South Sudan if and when South Sudan becomes a completely separate state. The rebel unit operating in Darfur might see South Sudan as a sanctuary, if its leaders recognized the border at all. The Sudan military unit would argue that it was in hot pursuit when it crossed the new North-South border. The SPLA unit might consider the northern unit's pursuit a border violation. Then the shooting starts. It might not lead to an all-out war but the situation would be dicey.

November 12, 2010: A U.S. government spokesperson acknowledged the January 2011 independence referendum could lead to war between the north and south. The U.S. statement followed a series of reports from UN agencies that several contingency plans are being considered should large-scale violence occur. One option includes reinforcing UN peacekeeping troops in south Sudan and along the disputed north-south border.

November 11, 2010: The U.S. has made the national government an offer,  based on the assumption that the south will vote for independence. If that occurs the U.S. wants the national government, led by President Omar al-Bashir, to let the south depart and not go to war. In exchange the U.S. will take Sudan off its list of state sponsors of terror. The question is, does Bashir's government think the diplomatic offer is sufficient? Being on the U.S. list of terror states has a lot of disadvantages. However, the south has a lot of oil that the north does not want to lose.

November 7, 2010: The national government accused a Dutch-sponsored radio station of supporting Darfur rebel groups. The station, named Radio Dabanga, has an office in Khartoum, which government security troops raided earlier this month.

November 6, 2010: The UN said that at this time it does not want to place peacekeeping forces in a buffer zone between the north and south. The UN peacekeeping operations office said that creating and manning a buffer zone was an unrealistic option. There is still talk of stationing troops near areas of likely conflict, such as the Abyei region.

November 5, 2010: Gunmen in South Darfur kidnapped three Latvians. The men were members of a helicopter crew supporting food distribution operations in Darfur.

 

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