Sudan: Tribal Loyalty Is More Powerful Than Common Sense


May 31, 2014: The civil war continues although both sides talk of wanting to make peace. The basic problem here is that the two major tribes in South Sudan (Dinka and Nuer) are competing for control of the government and all the aid and oil money that entails. It’s the same old tribalism that makes honest and efficient government so difficult in parts of the world where tribal organizations still provide services that governments supply in the West. The Dinka are the about half the South Sudan population of nine million. The Nuer are the next largest tribe and comprise about a third of the South Sudan population. For centuries and Nuer and Dinka generally got along. In the decades of fighting against the Arab tribes that ran the Sundanese government the Dinka and Nuer cooperated. But once independence was achieved Dinka and Nuer leaders wanted a fair share of the aid and oil money for their people. Negotiations on that point never got far and the more numerous Dinka began forcing Nuer officials out of the government. The rebellion is a Nuer reaction to the Dinka acting like Dinka are going to get most of the newfound wealth. Meanwhile minority tribes in South Sudan are sldoconcerned about future power (and money) sharing deals between the Dinka and Nuer. There are around 60 minority tribes in the country and they do not want to be marginalized by a Dinka-Nuer agreement to divide government power between the two major tribes. Dinka and Nuer leaders realize that all this fighting only helps the hated former masters in Sudan. But tribal loyalty is more powerful than common sense and the fighting continues.

The Red Cross has begun using parachute drops to deliver critical relief supplies to refugee camps in South Sudan. This the first time in almost two decades that the Red Cross has had to resort to using parachute-delivered aid supply on a large scale. However, the civil war in South Sudan has made supply by truck convoy very difficult. The arrival of the rainy season has made the situation even worse. Cholera has broken out in several places in South Sudan. The parachute drops have included medical supplies. The Red Cross used parachute drops to provide supplies and humanitarian aid in Afghanistan in 1997.

May 29, 2014:  The UN has agreed to provide support for three battalions of East African peacekeepers. Some 2,500 troops from Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia will deploy to South Sudan to help enforce the May 9 ceasefire agreement. All three countries belong to the East African Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

May 28, 2014: The UN extended the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) peacekeeping mandate until November 30, 2014.

May 27, 2014: Another 70,000 to 80,000 people have fled civil war-related fighting in South Sudan. The UN now estimates that over one million people in South Sudan have been internally displaced. Nearly 40,000 have fled to Kenya.

May 21, 2014: The Popular Congress Party (PCP), a major Sudanese opposition party, confirmed that it is holding regular meetings with the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebels. The PCP has met with representatives of SRF members in the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) and the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minnawi faction (SLM-MM).

May 20, 2014: Ugandan military leaders believe that South Sudan needs more neutral peacekeeping troops from regional nations. Ugandan forces have fought on the government side in South Sudan.  Uganda, however, wants members of the East African Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to send forces. In January IGAD approved a deployment of 5,000 soldiers but so far none have deployed.  The Ugandan government said that a neutral IGAD force should have the specific mission of enforcing the cease fire between the government and rebels. There is support in the UN for an IGAD force.

Sudan accused Sudanese rebels of participating in an attack on the town of Bentiu (Unity state, South Sudan). The attack occurred in late April. The Sudanese accusation followed a UN report that 200 Sudanese were killed by South Sudanese rebels when they launched a counter-attack on Bentiu. The South Sudan government then accused Sudan of sending northern militia fighters to aid southern rebels. South Sudan also categorically denied that Sudanese rebel groups were fighting with the South Sudane Army (SPLA). South Sudanese rebels (referring to themselves as the SPLM-In-Opposition) had previously accused the Sudanese rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) of aiding the South Sudan government in its assault on the town.

May 17, 2014: Ethiopia threatened to withdraw its peacekeeping force from the disputed Abyei region. Ethiopia is dismayed by the lack of progress on resolving the Abyei dispute. Ethiopia blamed both Sudan and South Sudan. The UN Security Council recently announced that it will review the mandate for the UN Interim Force for Abyei (UNISFA) peacekeeping mission.

May 16, 2014: The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) claimed to have evidence that members of the Sudanese rebel Justice and Equality Movement aided South Sudanese government forces in a late April battle om the town of Bentiu.

May 15, 2014: A Sudanese court sentenced a pregnant woman to death. Her crime is apostasy, which means she converted to Christianity from Islam. The court sentenced her to 100 lashes followed by hanging. The court convicted her of adultery on May 11 and gave her three days to renounce her religion. She refused. This has caused an international outrage.

May 14, 2014: Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) has arrested several dozen people (one source claimed over 100) who were allegedly involved in violent confrontations at the University of Khartoum during the first week of May. Most of the people arrested were students who belong to opposition political groups. Pro-government students fought with opposition students in and around the university. The student groups threw rocks at one another. The rock fights escalated to tossing gasoline bombs. Two people were injured in the confrontations.

May 13, 2014:  The UN announced it may create a special tribunal to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity in South Sudan. A recent UN-sponsored report concluded that warring parties have both committed large-scale human rights violations.

The EU condemned the recent air attacks by the Sudanese Air Force on the hospital at Gidel (South Kordofan state, Nuba Mountains).  Sudanese bombers struck the hospital on May 1 and May 2.

South Sudan and rebels accused one another of violating the May 9 ceasefire agreement. Firefights occurred in Upper Nile state, and around the capital of Unity state, Bentiu.




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