Sudan: Peacekeepers Enter the Fight

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March 10,2008: Increased attacks on trucks carrying UN food aid in Darfur, threaten food supplies to over two million refugees. The attacks are increasing, as more bandits realize how easy it is to steal trucks, rob the drivers and sell the food on the open market. The UN food convoys are usually guarded, but if a much larger force halts the convoy, the guards will not fight to the death in an effort to defend the food. The guards will either flee or just surrender.

March 9, 2008: Are French peacekeepers neutral? The Darfur conflict is an "overlapping war." Sudan is clearly involved, as are Sudanese rebels. The borders, however, are porous. The tribes have members or kin that live on the "other side" of the political boundary. Thus Chadians are involved. Chad's government has an interest because Sudan has supported anti-Chad government rebels. Of course, Chad has done the same thing to Sudan – and favors get returned. The Central African Republic is something of a victim in this war. The northern part of the CAR has rebels from all sides moving through, often robbing tribes who live in the CAR. But back to the French. Traditionally, France supports whoever is in power in Chad. France has also been a leading critic of Sudan's genocidal war in Darfur – and the new French government has become even louder in its criticism. Sudan has called the French "imperialist" in their policies in Chad and in their aims in Darfur. Of course that must be taken with several grains of salt, since Sudan is highly imperialistic, at least as far as the black African farmers are concerned, the ones suffering from Sudan-sponsored janjaweed militia attacks. With the French lined up on the side of Chad's government, and the Chad government in a quasi-war with Sudan, the Sudanese government sees France as an enemy.

March 7, 2008: The Sudanese reported that a French soldier who died in Sudan was found alive by a nomadic group but they were unable to help him "because of a language barrier." The man was alive and walking, though terribly wounded. Shortly thereafter four of the nomads were killed when they tried to move his body. Apparently a grenade he was carrying went off. There are several strange elements to this story. A novelist might think the commando was trying to toss the grenade at the nomads; a detective might think the nomads killed him and were trying to plunder the corpse. But who knows. The Sudanese government thinks the French soldier was part of a patrol along the border that was collecting intelligence about Sudanese military activities. It may have been, but monitoring infiltration and logistics support of rebels is a legitimate peacekeeping mission.

March 4, 2008: The European Union (EUFOR) peacekeeping force in Chad reported one of its soldiers (a French special forces soldier) was missing and probably wounded after a firefight near the Chad-Sudan border. At least one other EUFOR soldier was wounded. According to one report the soldiers strayed into Sudanese territory. France and the EU both apologized for the unintentional incursion. EUFOR has 3700 soldiers in this peacekeeping mission.

March 2, 2008: This may not look like big news but this is a very big issue as far as Sudan and the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) are concerned. First of all, the border dispute (where is the line between the north and south?) has not been resolved. That means a census, scheduled for this spring, could be delayed. The census is vital to carrying out the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Elections are scheduled for 2009 and a final plebiscite for 2011. Each side is concerned that the other will try to "pack" the border areas with tribespeople who, in the case of the south, favor a separate state, and in the case of the north, with voters who will favor a unified Sudan.

March 1, 2008: The Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA, essentially the army of South Sudan) said that its forces fought with "armed nomads" from the Misseriya tribe who had violated the north-south border. The SPLA said it had six soldiers killed and 26 wounded in the firefight. The Misseriya said they had 37 killed and 62 wounded. This is a rare instance when both sides acknowledge a battle took place and then provided casualty reports. Moreover, the casualty reports look like they could be reasonably accurate. The figures suggest the SPLA had a tactical advantage over the Misseriya (perhaps ambushed them?). According to the Government of South Sudan the fight took place in the town of Wut-Majak.

 

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