New tribal violence has erupted in South Sudan and threatens the peace deal that tentatively ended the civil war. Between 300 and 500 people have been killed in ethnic and clan violence since the second week of May. Nearly a thousand have been killed since the end of February. Eastern South Sudan (Jonglei state) has seen some of the worst clashes. In May the UN and aid organizations reported tribal conflicts erupted in 28 villages there. The cause of most of the violence is one all too common – cattle-raising nomads fighting farmers over pasturage and water resources. Aid workers are caught in the crossfire and a nurse was killed in one recent incident. Foreign aid groups use the phrase “cycles of retaliatory violence” to describe the phenomenon. As bureaucrat lingo goes, this one has some merit. (Austin Bay)
June 9, 2020: In southeast South Sudan (Kapoeta East County) foreign aid groups have aid shipments from Kenya via the Nadapal border crossing. This route has not been used since 2018 because of tribal violence in the area. This is one of the most direct and efficient routes for foreign aid, which arrives via the Kenyan port of Mombasa. While things are more peaceful in the southeast the same cannot be said for the rest of the country. There have been 415 violence incidents during the first five months of 2020, versus 236 during the first five months of 2019. While the government and rebels are now at peace, that February peace deal created more problems as the new government has a lot of former rebels in key positions and that has meant more debate and disagreement who will be appointed to run the states. As always it’s about tribal loyalties. It is difficult to overcome thousands of years of settling these disputes violently. Before the 20th century, the death toll from these clashes was a lot lower. But once firearms became widely available these clashes generated a lot more deaths and a lot more skirmishes. A few men or teenagers with rifles or rapid firing assault rifles could create a lot of casualties on a larger force without much risk. The shooters could be gone before the enemy could find and attack them. The usual suspects were known usually some tribal rival and that would lead to a bloody raid on one or more villages. That would trigger more retaliatory attacks. That is what is going on now, rather than lots of organized violence between army units and rebel militias. Vendetta violence is deadlier than organized fighting. Seven years of civil war has left over 400,000 dead and over four million driven from their homes. Many survivors of that are still seeking vengeance, and that keeps the unrest going.
June 7, 2020: The UN agreed to keep the western Sudan (Darfur) peacekeeping operation going until the end of 2020. The UN's separate task force called UNITAMS (UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan), to help Sudan move from dictatorship to democracy.
As if to prove it isn’t over in Darfur, the acting governor of Central Darfur claimed that soldiers and RSF (Rapid Support Forces) militiamen retook control of the Kutrum area after an attack by SLM-AW and RAC rebels.
June 6, 2020: In South Sudan Kerbino Agok Wol a local businessman, who was once imprisoned for ten years for organizing anti-government riots, has formed a new rebel group. Wol was released from prison in January 2020 by a presidential pardon. He has named his group the October 7th Movement, after the day he led the riot that got him imprisoned. Wol argues the whole system of government must be changed since the country’s current leaders are “looters.”
June 3, 2929: In Sudan crowds in the capital marked the first anniversary of the June 3 Massacre that left an estimated 110 pro-democracy demonstrators dead and 700 wounded. Sudan’s prime minister promised that those who perpetrated the crime will be brought to justice.
In southern South Sudan (Central Equatoria state) there were clashes in the national capital (Juba) that left five dead. The source of dispute: ownership of land. The dispute led to a riot. Government and tribal authorities intervened to stop the violence.
June 2, 2020: In western Sudan, the army accused SLM-AW rebels of attacking government positions in central Darfur. The rebels denied the accusation and claimed the government units attacked them in the same area (west of the Jebel Marra).
June 1, 2020: In southern South Sudan (Central Equatoria state) the Ugandan Army was accused of killing three South Sudan soldiers and a national policeman in the Kajo Keji border area. This fatal “exchange of gunfire” took place on May 30 while the South Sudan personnel were patrolling the border to percent illegal crossings.
May 31, 2020: Sudan and Ethiopia exchanged diplomatic accusations after an armed incident occurred between their security forces. Sudan claimed Ethiopian militiamen crossed into Gadaref state (also called Al Qadarid, in eastern Sudan) and killed three people. Ethiopia disagreed. Apparently the Ethiopian farmers were drawing water from the Atbara River. At least one Ethiopian militiaman was wounded.
My 30, 2020: The UN extended the arms embargo on South Sudan until May 31, 2021. Individual travel bans and financial sanctions also remain in place. The U.S. wrote the resolution and twelve of fifteen nations on the Security Council approved the resolution while South Africa, China and Russia abstained.
May 23, 2020: In Sudan, government Anti-Corruption and Regime Dismantling Committee has confiscated over $4 billion in assets held by former dictator Omar al-Bashir and his family members. The government also confiscated some assets held by Bashir’s political supporters.
May 22, 2020: In eastern Sudan (Kassala state) tribal violence has killed 59 people since May 7. The worst violence has occurred in the city of Kassala, which is on the border with Eritrea, 400 kilometers east of the Sudanese capital Khartoum. The Cushitic Bani Amer tribe and the black African Nuer tribe have had repeated clashes. The Cushite people are native to Sudan, southern Egypt, and Eritrea. The Nuer are from South Sudan. In western Sudan South (Darfur) 30 people from the Falata and Rezeigat tribes were killed in a tribal clash. The Rezeigat are an “Arabized” tribe while the Falata are black Africans from West Africa. To an outsider, all Sudanese seem to be of the same ethnicity (black African) but the reality is that there are several distinct (genetically) black African groups that intermingle in Sudan. The genetic and cultural (language and customs) are often not as diverse as religion. Thus you have “Arabized” tribes that are Moslem and speak Arabic while many other tribes speak local languages and are often not Moslem. In these cases, religion and not appearance and culture are the key distinction.
May 20, 2020: In eastern South Sudan (Jonglei state) thousands of people are fleeing tribal violence that has left over a hundred people dead so far while several hundred have been kidnapped. In one clash at least three foreign aid workers were killed.
May 18, 2020: The U.S. Supreme Court reinstated a $4.3 billion punitive damage award against Sudan on behalf of victims of the 1998 truck bomb terror attacks that destroyed the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Al Qaeda carried out the attacks. The U.S. court cases concluded that Sudan provided “crucial assistance” to Al Qaeda in conducting the attacks.
May 14, 2020: In central Sudan (South Kordofan state) 26 people were killed when gunmen attacked an RSF base outside Kadugli (the state capital). Several of the dead were civilians. At least 19 people were injured.
May 12, 2020: South Korea will resume sending peacekeepers to South Sudan. In March South Korea did not replace its 300 troops (whose tour was up and returned home) due to covid19 concerns. The virus crisis has abated and a new group of South Korean peacekeepers will return to South Sudan.
May 10, 2020: In eastern Sudan (Kassala state) tribal violence there was another clash between the Bani Amer and Nuer tribes. Several people were killed while about 60 were arrested.
May 9, 2020: In Sudan, the government and the SRF (Sudanese Revolutionary Front, the umbrella rebel organization ostensibly representing all of Sudan’s various rebel groups) announced they will extend peace talks “with no time limit.” East African diplomats regard this as a significant statement by both sides.
May 7, 2020: The “states of South Sudan” issue is once again causing severe political problems. In February president Kiir agreed to the rebel position that South Sudan would once again have ten states – but with at least three special zones. The agreement on numbers, however, hasn’t solved the question of who governs the state. According to South Sudan’s government, six will be governed by Kiir supporters, three will be governed by supporters of First Vice President and former rebel leader Riek Machar, and one will be governed by a non-aligned governor. Machar’s supporters said Kiir’s allocation of governors has produced a new political crisis that threatens the peace agreement.
May 5, 2020: In Sudan, a conglomerate tied to RSF (Rapid Support Forces) commander Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (nom de guerre Hemedti) and his family has turned over several major mines to the government. The mines account for about a third of Sudan’s annual gold production. In 2018 Sudan produced an estimated 93 tons of gold. One of the biggest mines is in North Darfur state’s Jebel Amer region. The company operating that mine, named Al Gunade, has been accused of illegally smuggling gold out of Sudan. Dagalo also serves on Sudan’s Sovereign National Council.