August 6, 2018:
Yesterday another peace deal was agreed to for South Sudan and the deal was signed in Sudan, where all the principal faction leaders met to agree on the terms. There have been several of these deals since 2013 and all those failed but this one seems more likely to hold. The primary South Sudan rivals Salva Kiir (president of the country) and Riek Machar (former vice-president and rebel leader) signed a power-sharing agreement that deliberately worked to avoid past peace deals that failed. This one will end the civil war in part because everyone is resigned to the fact that the war is pointless and self-destructive. For example; Machar returns to being vice president, a job he was fired from in 2013 when Kiir accused Machar of plotting a coup. The peace deal was worked out with the help of many faction leaders and that meant a redistribution of high-level government jobs and creation of enough new posts to satisfy everyone, at least for now. For example, there are now five vice-presidents and 35 ministers (head of ministries). The parliament has been expanded to 550 members. All these new high-level jobs are an attempt to solve the problem that caused the civil war in the first place; tribal rivalries, jealousy, greed and paranoia. President Kiir belonged to the dominant Dinka tribe while Machar was a Nuer, the largest of many smaller tribes that accused the Dinka of taking more than their fair share of the goodies. South Sudan is a poor country but it does have some oil (five billion barrels, worth nearly $300 billion at current prices). Getting access to oil money often encourages political rivals to cooperate so that the oil can be pumped, shipped and sold. Yet South Sudan, even with oil income, is still an economic disaster. Peace is one thing, productive (rather than the usual plundering) government is another. Peace does not mean prosperity, just less deliberate killing.
August 3, 2018: The rainy season has begun in the Sudans. A downpour in central Sudan (North Kordofan state) destroyed 200 houses. In the west, a rainstorm in North Darfur took a similar toll. Torrential rains make movement on the ground very difficult. Many rural airfields are also shut down because cloud cover socks them in and the rain turns their dirt runways to mud. In South Sudan, foreign aid groups have already begun conducting air drops (via parachute) to deliver medicine and food. Aid groups know that the rainy season has made 70 percent of South Sudan “inaccessible” to ground convoys. This is a big problem as seven million South Sudanese are dependent on food and medical aid. The planes used to deliver by parachute can drop just over three tons of food per flight. A ton of rice (or other grains) can feed about 1550 to 1600 people per day at a subsistence level, so one plane can airdrop enough food to feed around 5,000 people a day. On a recent mission for a refugee camp in eastern South Sudan (Katdalok, Jonglei state), nine tons of food (three planeloads) were dropped over a two-day period. The camp houses some 5,000 refugees, so that was three days’ worth of food. But presumably, one planeload was consumed on the day it was delivered. Life hangs on a slender thread and fickle weather could delay future deliveries. What applies to the military applies to humanitarian aid: logistics, logistics, logistics. (Austin Bay)
August 2, 2018: Sudan and Ethiopia have begun a new border demarcation process intended to end disagreements over agricultural land rights along the border. Ethiopians and Sudanese have a specific over land in the Al-Fashaga area in Sudan’s Gedaref state (eastern Sudan).
Kenya will be the site got the next round of South Sudan peace negotiations. The two sides have not agreed to a general deal yet but key leaders are meeting in Sudan to try and work out a power-sharing agreement. If the Sudan talks succeed the September meeting in Kenya will work out additional details and address problems encountered so far.
August 1, 2018: South Sudan has informed Sudan that it expects to resume oil production in the El Toor and Toma South fields on September 2. The two fields will produce about 45,000 barrels a day. The oil will pass through Sudanese pipelines. Production from the Unity and Munga fields will begin by the end of December 2018.
July 31, 2018: The SSUM (South Sudan United Movement) rebels insisted they are still a member of the SSOA (South Sudan Opposition Alliance), which is the rebel political organization. SSOA leaders booted the SSUM because SSUM leaders had approved the latest transitional peace agreement between the South Sudan government and the main rebel group SPLM-IO. The SSOA says the deal does not sufficiently protect minority tribes in South Sudan or fairly share power. Nine political parties belong to the SSOA.
July 30, 2018: Sudan’s national intelligence agency announced it had conducted an operation that helped free five Egyptian Army soldiers kidnapped by an armed Libyan group (or Chadian gunmen operating from Libya). The rescue apparently took place inside of Libya.
July 26, 2018: The South Sudan government and SPLM-IO have signed another preliminary power-sharing agreement. South Sudan will create a transitional national legislature with 550 members. The government will have five vice-presidents. One vice-president must be a woman.
July 20, 2018: Egypt and Sudan have agreed to renew full diplomatic ties. They will also address their difference over Nile River water rights and a border dispute. The Egyptian Navy in the Red Sea has been supporting Saudi Arabian coalition operations in Yemen.
July 18, 2018: Much to the chagrin of Iran, Sudanese forces continue to serve with the Saudi Arabian-led coalition operation in Yemen. Sudan has all but terminated its long-term alliance with Iran and made it clear it will back the pan-Arab effort.
July 14, 2018: The South Sudan rebels (SPLM-IO) strenuously objected to the South Sudan parliament’s decision to extend President Salva Kiir’s term in office by three years. The SPLM-IO said the vote could undermine ongoing peace efforts.
July 13, 2018: The UN Security Council has imposed a tight arms embargo on South Sudan. The U.S. sponsored the resolution which received nine yes votes, the minimum number of votes required. The U.S., Great Britain, France, the Ivory Coast, the Netherlands, Kuwait, Peru, Poland and Sweden supported the resolution. Russia, China, Bolivia, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan abstained. The embargo includes a travel ban on key leaders and freezing of assets.
July 12, 2018: Sudan announced it will extend its unilateral ceasefire in the west (Darfur), central Sudan (South Kordofan) state and the southeast (Blue Nile state) until December 31, 2018. The problem is, the ceasefire is intermittently broken by both the government and rebels.
July 11, 2018: Today is the seventh anniversary of South Sudan’s independence. South Sudan has little to celebrate. The civil war began in December 2013 and continues. Out of a population of 13 million, 4.4 million South Sudanese are either refugees in foreign countries or internally displaced, Seven million South Sudanese need foreign aid (main food and medicine) to survive.
July 10, 2018: In southern South Sudan the SPLM-IO accused the army of attacking rebel positions in Yei River state. A force of around 200 soldiers left their camp at Morobo and attacked the rebel base in the town of Isebi.
July 9, 2018: In central Sudan three civilians were killed and six wounded when 18 soldiers attacked a group of herders in South Kordofan state. The soldiers stole over 60 head of cattle and 80 goats. The herders formed a posse and chased the soldiers, killing one soldier and wounding one. The cows and goats were recovered.
July 8, 2018: In western Sudan refugees entering the camp at Mershing (South Darfur state) report new fighting between government forces and rebels in the Jebel Marra area. The clashes occurred in Fundug Badiya (Central Darfur state). Subsequently, the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM Abdelwahid faction) claimed its fighters killed 45 members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia. One rebel died in the firefight.
July 6, 2018: The Sudan president (Omar Al-Bashir) showed up in Djibouti (north of Somalia) to attend the China-Africa Economic Forum and Exhibition. Bashir remains under indictment by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. The indictment was handed down in 2008 but the Moslem world, in general, prefers to ignore that sort of thing, if only because such bad behavior towards your own population is more common in Moslem majority states.
July 5, 2018: Diplomats in East Africa are saying the June 27 Declaration of Agreement signed in by South Sudan government and rebel leaders could result in a final peace settlement. However, the “permanent ceasefire” which was to take effect June 30 has already been broken by both parties. But the “Revised Bridging Proposal” that creates a process for forming a new transitional government and improving security arrangements has real promise. The government would form over a three-year transitional period. IGAD (East African Intergovernmental Authority on Development) would be closely involved. U.S. demands for a strict UN arms embargo on South Sudan are also a positive. Neither the government nor the rebels want to cross Washington. The Declaration’s oil production provisions benefit China, a permanent member of the Security Council which also has political and economic leverage in both Sudans. Oil royalties benefit both the government and the rebels in South Sudan. Sudan will behave because it gets oil pipeline fees. That’s the upside. Relentless genocidal civil war is the downside. (Austin Bay)