February 28, 2012: In January it was the Kenya pipeline, now South Sudan is also exploring an oil pipeline through Ethiopia to Djibouti. Djibouti has access to the sea; South Sudan is landlocked. The central objective is obvious: escaping Sudan’s geographic stranglehold on South Sudan’s oil exports. Right now the oil flows through Sudan and Sudan is basically at war with South Sudan. Pipeline pacts, however, are also good regional politics. They give South Sudan’s neighbors a financial interest in South Sudan’s continued existence.
February 27, 2012: Guerrilla forces now fighting under the banner of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) claimed they had captured a Sudanese Army post in Sudan’s South Kordofan state. The rebels claimed they killed 130 Sudanese soldiers. If this is true, this is a significant victory. However, the claim has no outside verification. The rebels really belong to the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) rebel organization. The SPLM-N is the main rebel guerrilla group in South Kordofan state and Blue Nile state. At one time the fighters in the SPLM-N were simply the northern cadres of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), the southern rebel army, which was the armed wing of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM). Now that South Sudan is a separate country the SPLM is the major political party in South Sudan. The SPLM doesn’t want the SPLM-N to continue using the same name. It opens South Sudan to charges by Sudan that it is helping the SPLM-N, hence the creation of the SRF. For now the SPLM-N still exists but only as a component of the SRF. The Darfur rebel group the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has also joined the SRF.
February 25, 2012: Several gunmen attacked a vehicle carrying UN peacekeepers in Darfur. Two UN soldiers were wounded. That makes five UNAMID soldiers who have been wounded in Darfur since the start of 2012.
February 23, 2012: The government of China is trying to head off any escalation in the conflict between South Sudan and Sudan (Republic of Sudan). China buys a lot of oil from the Sudans but China also faces political blowback, particularly from South Sudan. South Sudan recently expelled the regional head of a Chinese and Malayasian oil company. The man happened to be a Chinese national. South Sudan indicated that it believed the Chinese-Malay company was conspiring with Sudan to deny South Sudan oil revenues. For the last three decades China has tried to portray itself throughout Africa as the nation everyone can deal with. China doesn’t care about local politics, just making deals. The idea links to Maoist anti-imperialist propaganda during the Cold War. But the truth is, the pitch doesn’t work. There are many places in Africa where control of natural resources is contested. That puts China in a bind. Sudan and South Sudan is merely the most obvious situation.
February 22, 2012: South Sudan is telling the African Union that Dinka Ngok tribesmen intend to return to the disputed Abyei region. One of Sudan’s objectives when it attacked last year was to drive out pro-South tribes. The Abyei region is supposed to hold a plebiscite to decide if it becomes part of the north or part of the south, so Khartoum has an interest in keeping pro-South voters in exile. It turns out, however, that the Dinka Ngok are still concerned about security in Abyei. The UN recently claimed that the security situation has improved thanks to Ethiopian peacekeepers serving with the United Nations Interim Security Force in Abyei Area (UNISFA). Security isn’t the only problem. Observers report that around 6,000 members of the pro-North Misseriya tribe have moved into Dinka Ngok areas. If the Dinka Ngok return the Misseriya will have to leave.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) accused the north of bombing routes used by refugees fleeing from South Kordofan state. The refugees are fleeing toward South Sudan and the refugee camp located at Yida.
February 21, 2012: South Sudan denied an accusation by Sudan that SPLM-N rebel forces are operating inside South Sudan.
The Japanese Army deployed a 120-man military engineer force to South Sudan. The force will serve with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). The unit will ultimately deploy 330 soldiers. It is a heavy construction task force (bulldozers, road graders). Its mission is to build hard-topped roads and bridges.
February 20, 2012: South Sudan’s government has cut all spending in half with the exception of worker salaries. The government is continuing with its policy of shutting down oil production rather than pay Sudan what it calls extortionist oil transport rates.
The rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) claimed that it had seized 49 peacekeepers serving with the UNAMID peacekeeping force in Darfur. Most of the captured peacekeepers are from Senegal. The UN confirmed that the peacekeepers had been seized and that negotiations had begun with JEM representatives.
February 19, 2012: Several ethnic groups in South Sudan are accusing the southern government of neglecting them and abusing their human rights. The plight of the Mbororo tribe is an example of the plight faced by smaller ethnic groups, particularly those that are nomadic. The Mbororo are semi-nomadic and depend primarily on cattle herding. Sedentary villagers do not want them moving through their territory. The Mbororo claim that they are denied access to water holes and have been victims of cattle theft and that the government does nothing to protect them. The Mbororo say the government has sided with the larger more powerful tribes like the Dinka and Nuer. This is very likely true. The Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), the leading southern guerrilla movement during the civil war, was primarily a Dinka organization.
February 18, 2012: This is good news: South Sudan and Sudan reached a new agreement to demarcate approximately 90 percent of their disputed border. The demarcation must be completed in 90 days. But here is the bad news: Abyei is not included in the demarcation deal. The Kefia Kingi area (between South Darfur and Western Bahr el Ghazal states) will not be demarcated. The Kakah region (between South Kordofan and Upper Nile states) remains disputed. Two other areas, Jodah and Almqnas (White Nile and Upper Nile border), are not covered by the agreement.
February 17, 2012: South Sudan’s president said that his nation is taking financial steps that will ensure its survival despite its oil production shut down. The shutdown could continue for 30 months.
February 15, 2012: Approximately 100 southerners who formerly served with the Sudanese Army (northern Sudan’s army) protested outside a headquarters in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. The former soldiers demanded severance pay.
February 14, 2012: South Sudan accused Sudan of bombing the town of Jau. Jau is in a disputed area along the north-south border (between South Sudan’s Unity state and Sudan’s South Kordofan). The alleged air attack occurred after Sudan and South Sudan claimed they had reached a new non-aggression agreement.
February 11, 2012: South Sudan and Sudan announced that they had signed a non-aggression agreement. Both sides agreed to respect the other state’s territorial integrity.