July 4, 2011:
When Southern Sudan achieves independence on July 9, will Sudan (Northern Sudan) shut down the oil pipelines? Sudanese president (and indicted war criminal) Omar al-Bashir made that threat in mid-June. Bashir wants a fifty-fifty cut on oil royalties from Southern Sudan or guaranteed fees on every barrel Southern Sudan produces. Bashir’s government has demonstrated it is willing to go to war over disputed territory (eg, Abyei). The south also accuses the north of instigating attacks by rogue militias and tribal groups in Southern Sudan in order to destabilize the new country. All of the pipelines and transportation routes for oil shipments from Southern Sudan run through Northern Sudan. Shutting down the pipelines would cripple the south, since it gets well over 90 percent of its income from oil revenues. Southern Sudan wants to connect to a planned pipeline running from Uganda to a Kenyan seaport, but that will take three to four years to build.
July 3, 2011: Northern Sudan has moved a battery of four BM-21 mobile rocket launchers nearer to South Kordofan state. One battery of multiple-launch rockets is not militarily significant. However, the government has repeatedly said it intends to drive all rebel forces from South Kordofan state. Southern Sudan and Northern Sudan have reached an agreement about Abyei, but not South Kordofan state. The rockets can be used as a terror weapon to fire on villages. Sudan’s security forces have been accused of doing this in Darfur. Reports are circulating that tribespeople in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan state are preparing to wage guerrilla war against the north if the north continues its offensive in the region. Pro-south tribes have accused the national government of rigging the May elections for state governor. The man who won the South Kordofan governorship (a member of the National Congress Party, the ruling northern party) is currently under indictment for war crimes committed in Darfur. A Nuba leader finished a close second in the election. South Kordofan produces around 110,000 barrels of oil a day.
July 2, 2011: Several southern tribes are demanding better representation in the new government of Southern Sudan. The Dinka tribe dominates the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM, the political party) and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (the south’s armed forces). The Nuer point out that a lot of the south’s oil production comes from traditional Nuer tribal territory. For the past two years the SPLA has been battling several rebel militias. In Unity state (which is an oil-producing state) the SPLA has been fighting the South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA), which is commanded by Peter Gadet. At one time Gadet was a general in the SPLA. The SSLA claims it is fighting against Dinka ethnic domination and governmental corruption. Tribalism has long been a major problem in the south.
July 1, 2011: The UN is preparing to make Southern Sudan a member on July 9. The UN will have several aid and development teams in Southern Sudan. The UN Security Council may authorize a peacekeeping force for Southern Sudan, formed from part of the current UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) operation. The Southern Sudan mission will likely be called UNMISS.
June 29, 2011: An Ethiopian soldier serving as a peacekeeper with the United Nations-African Union hybrid mission in Darfur (UNAMID) was killed in West Darfur state when gunmen attacked his vehicle. One other peacekeeper was wounded in the incident. UNAMID currently deploys 23,000 soldiers and support personnel.
Jun. 25, 2011: A pro-north militia attacked Turalei, a town in Southern Sudan. Eight militiamen and three southern soldiers died in the firefight. The town is located south of Abyei and is currently serving as an aid center for refugees from Abyei and South Kordofan state.
June 23, 2011: The government of China has urged both Southern Sudan and Northern Sudan to avoid renewed fighting. The Chinese said that the disputes over Abyei and South Kordofan state must be resolved peacefully. China buys a lot of Sudanese oil. A Chinese official also indicated that his government believes maintaining a peacekeeping force in Southern Sudan and along the disputed border regions was a good idea.
June 22, 2011: The North Sudanese Army arrested six Sudanese citizens who were working on the UN peacekeeping staff in South Kordofan state. A UN spokesman called the arrests a clear violation of agreements between the UN and the national government addressing the rights of UN workers in Sudan.
June 21, 2011: Aid groups report that 100,000 people have fled from North Sudanese Army attacks in Abyei, with the initial surge beginning May 21. The UN estimates that 73,000 people fled attacks in South Kordofan state in early June, but that some of these refugees are now returning to their homes.
Ethiopia announced that it will deploy a peacekeeping force to the disputed Abyei region. The initial force will be one brigade of 3,200 soldiers. The announcement was expected after Southern Sudan and Northern Sudan reached an agreement to demilitarize Abyei. That deal was signed June 21. Both the north and south agreed to a peacekeeping force. Diplomats are also looking for a neutral party to help end border disputes (other than Abyei) between the two Sudans. Ethiopia may also get that job. Ethiopian diplomats responded very quickly to the Abyei crisis. However, both sides remain far apart on what to do with South Kordofan state. The north insists that South Kordofan is part of Sudan.
June 20, 2011: Refugees from South Kordofan state (now in camps in Southern Sudan) are reporting that they saw northern soldiers and militiamen enter villages in the Nuba Mountains (in South Kordofan state) and execute villagers. The attackers wanted to terrorize the villagers into fleeing, which they did. When Serbs did this to Bosniaks in eastern Bosnia it was called ethnic cleansing.
June 19, 2011: A Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) faction in Darfur accused the national government of launching an extensive attack on the rebel group’s positions in the Jebel Marra area. The SLA said the government employed attack aircraft in the battle, both Antonov transports rigged as bombers and some MiG jet planes. Sudanese Army soldiers and militia auxiliaries attacked on horseback and in armed wheeled vehicles.
June 15, 2011: Southern Sudanese officials said that cattle raids and militia and tribal attacks throughout the country had resulted in around 100 dead. The most serious incident was a cattle raid in Lakes state which left over 70 people dead. The raid involved the Toposa tribe and raiders from the Turkana tribe (which lives in the Sudan-Kenya border area). Another incident involved the South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) in Unity state, where SSLA attackers are accused of killing two policemen.
June 14, 2011: Southern Sudanese officials accused the north of attempting to create chaos in Southern Sudan. The north is seeding tribal rivalries (that goes on all the time) but it also employing other tactics like a selective embargo on fuel supplies in order to sow discord and economic instability.