Sudan: Arabs Agree To Stop Killing Each Other

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August 13, 2007: The government brokered a peace deal between rival Arab tribes in south Darfur. Fighter there had killed over 140 people in the last few weeks. While Arab tribal militias have done most of the government dirty work in Darfur (driving non-Arab tribesmen from their villages), there are still ancient rivalries between all tribes in the area.

August 12, 2007: UN peacekeeping operates on the "pledge system." Member nations agree to provide troops ("pledge troops") for a specific peacekeeping operation. Even if the peacekeeping operation is well-planned (a big if) and well-funded, planners always remain uncertain. Often pledges are not fulfilled. One example is Somalia. So far only Uganda has supplied troops. Getting troops for Darfur has also been a problem, though the UN reports that it has received a significant number of pledges for infantry soldiers. Not surprisingly, many African nations are promising ground troops. Rwanda, Ethiopia and Egypt have promised contingents, as have Uganda, Nigeria, and Tanzania. Jordan, Malaysia, and Bangladesh (the last three are predominantly Muslim countries) have also promised infantry. However, specialists troops (ie, communications, medical, engineers, mechanics, etc) are missing. So far no nations has firmly agreed to supply attack helicopters (and attack helos like the AH-64 are superb weapon systems for an operation in Darfur). Logistics support will also be a huge problem. At the moment the UN is actually considering supplying Darfur from Port Sudan - which is located on the Red Sea, on the other side of Sudan. Darfur is in the middle of Africa. That's a long way for trucks to roll. Any Darfur operation will need a lot of air transport support. That means the UN needs the US Air Force, with its fleet of C-17s and C-130s.

August 10, 2007: Several large-scale firefights have broken out in the last ten days. The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) confirmed that its troops had captured the town of Adila on August 1. Adila is a railroad terminal for the line running east to Khartoum. Fighting in the area continued for several days. On August 9 the Sudanese military claimed its troops re-took Adila. The Sudanese government forces and their janjaweed militia allies took a beating in the fighting with over 100 soldiers and militiamen killed in the battles. Ten JEM fighters were killed.

Darfur rebels claimed that Sudan Air Force planes bombed four different villages in Sudan. There was no independent confirmation of the claims.

August 8, 2007: Members of the JEM Darfur rebel group claimed that they shot down a Sudan Air Force MiG-29 fighter which was operating in Darfur. The rebels claimed the aircraft went down south of the town of Adila. The Sudanese government denied the allegation. However, rebels with the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) said that they believed a Sudan government jet had crashed due to mechanical failure. This is another one of those "who do you believe" stories. Shooting down a MiG-29 is quite a trick, if the plane is piloted by a competent pilot. It is a very modern aircraft. It is also much harder to service than a turbo-prop aircraft (like the Antonov transports the Sudan government typically uses as bombers). It's more likely if one crashed it went down due to mechanical failure.

August 7, 2007: The south Sudan government has begun demobilizing 25, 021 soldiers. The process has begun despite funding delays from UN sources. The funds are for "support packages" for the demobilized troops. The support packages include tools, farm implements, seeds, and other supplies to ease the transition back to civilian life. The Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (essentially the army of south Sudan) still has 160,000 to 170,000 troops.

August 6, 2007: Eight Darfur rebel factions agreed to a common negotiating platform for upcoming peace negotiations with the Sudan government. In the past these "united fronts" have dissolved as factions disagreed and in some cases turned their guns on one another. The UN, however, has finally approved a major peacekeeping force for Darfur. That's a significant political change. It also means rebel groups that don't get with the peace program won't get a slice of the aid and development funds the peacekeepers will bring with them.

 

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