July 22, 2012: Darfur may be off the international media’s radar but the demographic war for the territory continues. Since late 2010, Sudan has supported non-Arab militias to attack rebels in the region. This is a shift away from the tactics Sudan began using in 2003, when Arab Janjaweed militias began attacking the Fur and Zaghawa ethnic groups. The new militia forces include members of the Tunjur, Bergid, and Berti tribes. The way Khartoum goes about organizing these new ethnic militias in basically the same way it armed the Arab raiders. Sudan ships in weapons, provides money, intelligence, training, and operational advice. UN and NGO sources reported in 2011, that the new ethnic militias were operating as proxies for the government and sometimes received air support from the Sudanese Air Force. This air support aided these ethnic militias in North Darfur state in some operations during 2012. The Sudanese government claims that these ethnic militias are really local defense forces. In fact, the term Popular Defense Forces crops up in government reports.
July 21, 2012: South Sudan is canceling the on-going talks with the north over ending the oil production shutdown and resolving border issues. South Sudan did indicate that some negotiations may continue through a diplomatic panel organized by the African Union (AU). The Sudanese government denied that it bombed a southern village yesterday. The Sudanese government repeated its threat to attack rebel forces that it claims is organizing inside South Sudan to attack Sudan. The north has claimed that the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the leading Darfur rebel group, now has some of its units operating out of South Sudan.
July 20, 2012: The Sudanese Air Force aircraft dropped eight bombs on Rumaker village in nothern Bahr el Ghazal state.
Satellite imagery shows that the town of Um Bartumbu in the Nuba Mountain region of South Kordofan state has been burned down. This apparently happened last November. Analysis of the imagery revealed that the burning was the result of planned arson. The satellite imagery backs up refugee reports that a group calling itself the March Battalion (Kabita Kabreet is the Arabic transliteration) burned the town late last year. Sudanese security forces had been battling the SPLM-N in that area. The NGO claimed that 250 families had been driven from the town.
Local reports indicate that the main source of weapons for Darfuri rebel groups is the Sudanese Army. The rebels capture weapons on the battlefield. This may well be true. Libya, during Muammar Gadhafi’s dictatorship, supplied the JEM with weapons but that source has not been available for over a year. There are reports, however, that the JEM and other rebel groups stole (or liberated) a lot of weapons, ammunition, and other supplies from Libyan military dumps as Gadhafi’s regime collapsed in August 2011.
July 17, 2012: The Sudanese government claimed that austerity protests in Khartoum are slackening.
July 15, 2012: The UN asked that Sudan and South Sudan both insure that UN relief agencies have immediate access to refugees who have fled the Sudan-South Sudan war and the various internal conflicts ravaging both countries.
The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan met to discuss resolving border demarcation disputes. The AU is sponsoring a series of talks which it hopes will resolve the Sudan-South Sudan conflict.
July 14, 2012: The population of South Sudan’s enormous Yida refugee camp continues to grow and now has around 65,000 refugees. Yida is located about 30 kilometers south of the Sudan-South Sudan border. Refugees come mainly from South Kordofan state’s Nuba Mountain region (in Sudan). The Nuba Mountains and adjacent areas in South Kordofan have witnessed some of the worst fighting between the Sudanese military and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) rebel movement. The total number of refugees in South Sudan is somewhere between 170,000 and 180,000.
July 13, 2012: Demonstrations continue throughut Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. The demonstrations have spread to other towns in the country. Omdurman (adjacent to Khartoum) reported a large demonstration after Friday prayer services at local mosques. Security forces (this usually means riot police or heavily-armed special police units) used tear gas and rubber bullets to break up the protests in Khartoum and Omdurman
July 11, 2012: South Sudan vehemently denied allegations that a new round of ethnic fighting had erupted in the disputed Abyei region between the Dinka Ngok and Misseriya tribes. The Dinka was pro-south, the Misseriya (an overwhelmingly Muslim tribe) favor the north. The report South Sudan disputed came from the Sudanese government and it claimed the Dinka Ngok attacked the Misseriya. South Sudan said that an argument occurred in a public market between a Misseriya merchant and a group of Dinkas who thought the merchant ought to recognize South Sudan’s Independence Day, which is July 9. South Sudan implied that Sudan greatly exaggerated the incident and the elements of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) were on the scene. The South Sudan statement claimed that Sudanese Army forces in the area were trying to incite incidents between the Misseriya and Dinka Ngok and were using the July 9th anniversary celebrations as a way to incite trouble. Ethiopia supplies the troops for UNISFA.
July 9, 2012: South Sudan celebrated the first anniversary of its independence from Sudan. South Sudan’s president gave a speech where he said the country will fight corruption, which is damaging the nation economically and politically. The presidential address also alluded to the north’s demands that the south pay what the south calls exorbitant oil transport fees. The president said that South Sudan’s economy has not been liberated from foreign powers (meaning Sudan). Real independence, the president argues, requires economic independence. South Sudan has shut down its oil production in order to deny the north oil transport fees. The shutdown has hurt both countries. The oil shutdown and the subsequent drop in revenue have forced Sudan to impose austerity budgets. The demonstrations that continue to plague Khartoum, and now other Sudanese towns and cities, began as protests against austerity budgets. South Sudan, however, is in worse shape. That’s why the president was portraying the oil production shutdown as part of the fight for economic freedom. South Sudan is trying to make alternative arrangements for shipping oil from the country. South Sudanese planners say the ultimate solution is a new pipeline that runs to the Kenyan seaport of Lamu. That pipeline, however, has yet to be built.
Meanwhile, in Sudan, the Sudanese government swore in a new cabinet. The new government has only 26 ministerial positions. Five were eliminated as part of the austerity budget. Political critics, however, claimed that the changes are largely superficial and that the government has not really made significant cuts or tried to consolidate operations to improve effectiveness.
July 8, 2012: The leader of the SPLM-N, Malik Agar, stated that his group continues to back the Sudan Revolutionary Front’s (SRF) demand that the government (Khartoum) reach a comprehensive agreement with all rebel groups. The SRF is a composite group (umbrella organization) that brings together several Darfur rebel groups (including the JEM), the SPLM-N, and some other smaller rebel groups in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
Officials in South Sudan’s Lakes state reported that at least 16 people were killed in an ethnic confrontation in the Cueibet region. The government report said two factions of the Gok tribe were involved. The confrontation began as a revenge attack by one of the groups.
July 7, 2012: Demonstrations continue in Khartoum and Khartoum University remains the center of the protest movement. Opposition political groups are increasingly involved in the demonstrations. Due to a loss of oil royalty income –and lack of oil transport income-- Sudan has had to cut its national budget. The austerity budget spurred student protests in Khartoum.
July 6, 2012: Sudan' claimed the SPLM-N rebel group killed two government officials and six other civilians in an ambush in South Kordofan state. Both officials were state government officials. The SPLM-N denied the accusation.