In South Sudan local experts are advising the major Western sponsors of peace talks (U.S., Britain and Norway) to halt the current peace talk methods (trying to keep all the faction leaders content) and try a different approach. This would include moving the peace talks from Ethiopia to East Africa (Tanzania) and put more emphasis on the government and rebel factions (at least fourteen at last count) talking to each other rather than Western mediators going from faction to faction trying come up with a power sharing formula everyone could agree to. More emphasis should be placed on the underlying problems of corruption and tribal politics. The government and factions leaders are responsible for this mess and responsible to their tribes for finding a solution.
Most people in South Sudan are feeling the impact of the civil war. In 2017 foreign aid efforts provided emergency aid (mainly food) to half the population. Meanwhile a third of the population (over three million civilians) have become refugees. At this point nearly two-thirds of the population is feeling the impact of the continued fighting. As long has most South Sudanese are directly threatened the number of people desperate to survive will supply more and more fighters, no matter what deals their leaders have made to divide government power.
February 19, 2018: Sudan has released at least 40 people arrested in January for protesting the rise in food prices. Those protests are now referred to as the "bread riots." Several opposition political leaders were also released. On February 15 the U.S. told the Sudanese leaders that "hundreds" of prisoners in Sudan were being held in inhumane conditions. Sudan released the food protestors and opposition leaders because it is worried that the U.S. may impose economic sanctions once more. The government also promised to release another 40 detainees in the near future.
February 18, 2018: In northeast South Sudan (Upper Nile state) UN peacekeepers will begin conducting joint patrols with South Sudan military officers in the city of Malakal. The first patrols involved the South Sudan National Police Service (SSNPS) and UN police officers from the Rwandese peacekeeper Police Unit.
February 17, 2018: Due to the recent resignation of Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Sudan announced that it will postpone the planned three-way discussion with Ethiopia and Egypt about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that were to begin in Sudan this month.
In west Sudan (Darfur) JEM rebels denied that it was involved in fighting in South Sudan. Sudanese government media accused the JEM of attacking a refugee camp for locals in South Sudan.
February 16, 2018: Despite a recent walkout by one South Sudan rebel faction, the UN reported that peace talks between the South Sudan government and South Sudanese rebels are continuing in Ethiopia. The current talks won't stop the war but may produce a "framework" for future discussions about security and governance in South Sudan.
February 13, 2018: Sudan and South Sudan have opened a border crossing for inter-country trade. This is the first border crossing the two nations have opened for commerce since South Sudan became independent in 2011. The crossing lies on the border of Sudan’s White Nile state and South Sudan’s Upper Nile state.
February 12, 2018; In eastern South Sudan (Latjoor state) government forces fought with rebels near the Ethiopian border. The area is an oil producing region and the government claimed it now has full control of the town (Nasir) that was at the center of the fighting.
South Sudan's high court sentenced James Gatdet Dak to death. In November 2016 Kenya deported Gatdet to South Sudan, despite protests by those who suspected four play by the government. Gatdet was accused of inciting violence and conspiracy to overthrow president Kiir and his government. Diplomats in East Africa and several political leaders in South Sudan believe Gatdet's trial violated the December 2017 ceasefire agreement. That agreement called for the release of all prisoners and detainees. The death sentence definitely violated the agreement.
February 11, 2018; General Salah Abdallah Gosh has been reappointed as Sudan's Director General of NISS (National Intelligence and Security Services, Sudan's major intelligence and internal security agency). Gosh led NISS from 2005 to 2009. In November 2011 Gosh was accused of participating a coup d'etat against Sudanese president Bashir. Gosh claimed he was innocent but was imprisoned. In court prosecutors failed to prove he was guilty. He was released from prison in 2012 and given a pardon, but still became a persona non grata. Today Bashir reinstated Gosh as head of NISS. In 2011 Gosh encouraged the government to seek common ground with two opposition parties, the National Umma Party and the Democratic Union Party. This is one reason hardliners in Bashir's National Congress Party accused him of participating in the coup d'etat. But now Bashir is attempting to engage opposition political parties with his "national dialogue." NISS has also become a target of criticism by war crimes investigators and European and American diplomats.
February 9, 2018: Sudan's foreign minister has assured the Egyptian government that the proposed historical renovation of Suakin Island by Turkey is strictly that -- a renovation and modernization project. Turkey is not building a naval base. The foreign minister made a presentation in Cairo. During the Ottoman era, Suakin was a key transfer point for Muslim pilgrims. Turkey will renovate old homes and build a tourist complex.
February 8, 2018: Sudan announced an agreement with Russia to help modernize Sudan's military. No details about the agreement were released. Most of Sudan's military aircraft are Russian-made and out of date. The thinking is that Sudan wants to acquire new aircraft and air defense systems. Sudan also needs airplane and vehicle parts. Modernization discussions between Sudan and Russia occurred in November 2017 when Sudanese leader Bashir visited Moscow. During that visit, Bashir allegedly told Russian president Putin that he wanted to be able to defend his country "against the United States."
February 6, 2018: In South Sudan a demonstration in the capital against the U.S. weapons embargo on South Sudan turned violent when demonstrators assault three reporters. The U.S. imposed the unilateral arms embargo on February 2. The U.S. said it opposes the violence "perpetrated by both sides" (government and rebel) in South Sudan.
February 4, 2018: Relief agencies estimated 2.4 million people in South Sudan are on the edge of starvation. Drought in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya means that food reserves within East Africa are limited. Twice as many people (about half the population) go hungrey to one degree or another and are dependent on deliveries of food aid.
February 2, 2018: The United States began restricting American arms shipments to South Sudan. The embargo affects shipments of weapons and military equipment to all participants in the civil war. The embargo is really a political statement since the U.S. does not provide or sell weapons to South Sudan. However, it signals that the U.S. may be willing to support a complete international arms embargo on South Sudan, the so called "global arms embargo."
January 31, 2018: Ambassadors to Sudan from European Union nations issued a statement criticizing Sudan's imprisonment of opposition political leaders and those who speak out about the crimes (murder and rape) government and rebel commanders tolerate. The EU is concerned about the treatment of protestors by Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).