Sudan: Peace At Last (Maybe)

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October 30, 2015:   The UN issued a list of recommendations to return peace and prosperity to South Sudan. This included prosecution of those who committed atrocities during the civil war and reparations for victims. The UN called for a more efficient justice system and less corruption. The report also criticized the growing use of mass media (radio, TV, cell phones, the Internet) to stir up tribal animosities and promote more violence. For decades this wish list has been the accepted solution for the many problems found throughout Africa. The problem has been finding a way to implement it.

October 28, 2015: South Sudan’s warring parties have finally signed all ancillary agreements and supporting documents related to the peace agreement. However, both the government (Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement, SPLM) and the rebels (Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement In Opposition, SPLM-IO) have expressed deep reservations with the specifics in the peace deal and the transitional security arrangements. The government wants to deploy 5,000 soldiers in the capital Juba. The rebels say no way. The government did agree to prohibit the secret police (NSS) from carrying rifles or machine-guns in the capital. NSS personnel can carry pistols but cannot wear uniforms. Mediators acknowledge that who will provide security Juba has yet to be determined. The rebels are still angry about the SPLM’s decision to politically restructure South Sudan’s states. The peace agreement governed post-civil war arrangements in the existing ten states. The SPLM government now wants to create 28 states.  The SPLM says smaller states will be easier to manage and provide better services in isolated areas.

October 27, 2015: The International Criminal Court is urging India to arrest Sudan dictator Omar al-Bashir when he visits New Delhi. The ICC has indicted Bashir for committing genocide and crimes against humanity in the Darfur War but several Arab states and other countries friendly to Arab oil money have refused to detain Bashir.

October 26, 2015: In South Sudan about a hundred rebels seized a barge carrying supplies (fuel) for UN peacekeepers. Also captured were 18 Bangladeshi peacekeepers and twelve Sudanese UN workers. The UN protested and the peacekeepers were released on the 28th but the Sudanese and the barge was reported to have been released shortly thereafter.

A UN human rights assessment team will deploy to South Sudan to investigate war crimes allegations. Both the South Sudan government and the rebels have been accused of committing grievous human rights violations and abusing civilians. UN investigation teams have been active in South Sudan for quite some time. Teams have worked with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). However, this new assessments team is a high level delegation tasked with conducting a thorough investigation and assimilating evidence gathered by other teams. It looks like an attempt by the UN Security Council to keep political pressure on leaders of the government and the rebels.

October 25, 2015: The Sudan government has rejected Iran’s criticism of its decision to send Sudanese Army troops to Yemen. Sudan said that it has agreed to send troops because it supports restoring Yemen’s legitimate government. Iran supports Yemen’s rebel coalition. In the not too distant past Iran and Sudan have acted as allies. Iran has supplied Sudan with weapons and Sudan has let Iran use Sudanese facilities for operations elsewhere in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. However, Sudanese Muslims are Sunnis. Iranian Muslims are Shias. The Sudanese are also Arabs. Iranians are Iranian (Aryanistan Indo-European). But that is not all that is going on. Sudan is supporting Saudi Arabia, which is leading the Arab coalition fighting in Yemen.  Saudi Arabia has also occasionally provided Sudan with economic aid.  Iranian criticism of Sudan increased in late September 2015 after Sudan kicked a couple of low-level Iranian diplomats out of the country.

October 24, 2015: South Sudan rebels and several tribal leaders have condemned the murder of 140 civilians by government forces in Unity state. The murders took place earlier this month. The victims were members of the Dok Nuer tribe (sub-group of the Nuer tribe). Militias allied with the government attacked the civilians and burned their homes. Rebel leaders contend government troops were also involved.

October 22, 2015: Sudan has formally applied to join OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries). OPEC no longer enjoys the high degree of control of oil markets it once possessed. Oil prices have also declined dramatically. However, the Sudanese government believes there is still some political value in the organization. Over two-thirds of formally united Sudan’s oil reserves are located in what is now South Sudan.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement - North (SPLM-N) has rejected a peace proposal by the Sudan government. The SPLM-N is fighting a guerrilla war against Khartoum in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. The SPLM-N called the proposal an incomplete solution. It is demanding a comprehensive settlement to end the war.

October 21, 2015:  The Ugandan Army has begun to withdraw from South Sudan.  The withdrawal was part of the South Sudan peace agreement. Uganda has supported the government (SPLM). All foreign forces were supposed to have withdrawn from South Sudan by October 10, to be replaced by a neutral force with troops supplied by other nations in the region. Uganda said it delayed withdrawal because the neutral force was not ready. However, on October 11 Uganda announced that it would withdraw its forces before the end of the month. On October 11 Uganda still had an estimated 3,500 soldiers in South Sudan. One contingent defended the international airport at Juba. Another occupied a base in the town of Bor. Another contingent occupied a camp south of Juba.

The Sudan government has ordered its forces to release 52 supply containers belonging to the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). On October 14 the UN accused Sudan of blocking shipment of approximately 200 supply containers from Port Sudan to UNAMID forces. Most of the containers hold food rations for peacekeeping troops.  The Sudanese government has a long track record of harassing UN operations in Sudan. Sudan denied the accusation. Sudan claims that it is in the process of clearing another 90 containers for shipment to Darfur.

October 20, 2015: The UN estimates that four million people in South Sudan now face severe food insecurity. The term means two things: food shortages and/or the inability to ship food supplies to threatened areas. The civil war has killed a lot of cattle and limited agricultural production. It has also limited access to areas within the country, which makes it difficult for truck convoys to deliver food air.

October 19, 2015: Sudan and Egypt have agreed to peacefully resolve a border dispute in the Halayeb region on the Red Sea.

Sudan announced that it will send another 450 soldiers to fight in Yemen. The government expects the force to participate in an offensive to retake the town of Taiz. Sudan has told Yemen and Saudi Arabia that it is willing to send up to 10,000 troops to Yemen.

October 17, 2015: Renewed violence in South Sudan’s Unity state is preventing aid groups from serving vulnerable refugees and tribespeople. One aid agency said 250,000 people living in Leer and Koch counties have been cut off from assistance for several months.

October 14, 2015: South Sudan and Sudan have reached a new border monitoring agreement. Part of the deal includes joint security arrangements in the disputed Abyei region. The Sudans will also deploy joint monitoring units to observe the border.

October 13, 2015: Sudan security forces have fought a series of battles with a coalition of Ethiopian gangs called the Shifta.  At least one Sudanese soldier has been killed in the skirmishes. The first major incident occurred sometime in September when a Sudanese defense force in the Atrad area killed eight Ethiopian gunmen. The governor of Sudan’s Gedaref state (eastern Sudan) claims that Ethiopians have taken control of several hundred thousand acres of farmland in the region.

October 12, 2015: South Sudan’s army is investigating the theft of military salaries in its 6th Division (based in Lakes State). The government said it believes division senior officers stole the salaries. Several soldiers in the 6th Division went on strike to protest lack of pay.

October 8, 2015: South Sudan’s government officially announced that it will reorganize the country. The term is re-partition. The result will be 28 states in South Sudan instead of ten. The government had been openly discussing the idea for several days. The rebels had already denounced the concept as a violation of the peace agreement. The rebels also complained that the government failed to discuss the idea with them. South Sudanese president Salvaa Kiir contends the smaller states will reduce the size of the national government and provide more resources to people living in isolated, rural areas.

October 4, 2015: Three small factions belonging to the Darfur rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) have refused to join in Sudan’s national dialogue process. Chadian President Idris Deby met with the factions on behalf of the Sudan government but failed to convince them to join the process. The three SLM factions say the process is flawed and is a political ploy by Sudan’s dictator, Omar al-Bashir. On October 3 the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and two other SLM factions (Minni Minnawi and Abdel Wahid al-Nur) also rejected invitations to participate in the dialogue.

October 1, 2015: South Sudan’s government said that it opposes increasing the number of UN troops assigned to South Sudan. The government indicated that it should be consulted about troop increases. It also said that a peace agreement has been signed that should end the civil war.

September 30, 2015: Britain said that it will deploy a contingent of British Army troops to South Sudan to assist in peacekeeping operations. The contingent would field from 300 to 370 soldiers. The British unit’s primary duty will be training and logistics support.

The Sudan SPLM-N rebels accused the government of violating the cessation of hostilities agreement. The rebels said Sudanese Air Force planes bombed the villages of Allobu and Tablo (Umdorain county, South Kordofan state). 

September 29, 2015: The U.S. State Department asked the Sudan government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) to recommit themselves to the cessation of hostilities agreement they agreed to in mid-September. The SRF is the umbrella political organization representing rebel groups throughout Sudan. The cessation of hostilities agreement calls for a six month-long halt to fighting. Humanitarian aid can be distributed during the suspension of combat.

 

 

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