Sudan: Bad Guys Bicker Over Sharing the Loot

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September 5, 2007: The UN Secretary-General is visiting Sudan and using the trip to focus international attention on Darfur. However, Darfur isn't the only being addressed. The "regional" government of south Sudan and the national government have had several face-offs in the last year, the biggest one being the failure to meet troop re-deployment timetables. The UN has an on-going peacekeeping mission in southern Sudan which is supporting the January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the long war in south Sudan. The problem is, the CPA merely "kicked the ball forward" to 2011, when an election is supposed to be held to determine if "south Sudan" remains part of Sudan or becomes the sovereign state of "South Sudan" (or something similar). The Secretary-General is touting (with good reason) the North-South peace settlement as a "blueprint" for resolving other internal Sudanese conflicts, including Darfur. While the CPA isn't perfect, it provides a working model of what could work in Darfur, if the various factions sat down and really tried to work out a deal.

September 4, 2007: UN and international observer teams reported that the process of "reintegrating" former Eastern Front rebels into Sudanese society is continuing. "Reintegration" was an important part of the East Sudan Peace Agreement reached in October 2006. The "disarmament and demobilization" process in eastern Sudan appears to be much more organized than the similar programs in eastern Congo - but that may go without saying. The Eastern Front was well-organized. Retraining is part of the process. Former rebels also receive clothing and a "one-time cash grant" ($250)

September 3, 2007: Two "Arab" tribes in the Darfur region that have provided a substantial number of "janjaweed" militia fighters are reportedly fighting among themselves. This isn't unexpected. Darfur tribes frequently square-off for a variety of reasons, including pasturage and water holes. Now the the Terjem and the Mahria, which both received arms and training from the Sudan government, have raided each other's villages. In late July Mahria tribesmen attacked a Terjem funeral in the town of Sania Daleiba (south Darfur) and killed around 60 Terjem. The "sand versus sown" dimension may be part of the story. The Mahria remain semi-nomadic. The Terjem are farmers and cattle-raisers. Dividing the "spoils of war" may be another problem. Both tribes have taken over de-populated areas in Darfur - areas they or other militias attacked and forced the inhabitants to flee. There is also the "warlord dimension." The Darfur rebels fractured as rebel leaders developed different agendas or had greater firepower and thought they deserved a bigger say in rebel affairs. The same thing can happen among the tribes supplying janjaweed fighters, as successful warlords decide they can control their own destiny - and do so without support from the Sudan government.

August 31, 2007: The government claimed that a Darfur rebel force attacked a government security post in Darfur (Wad Banda region). At least 41 government troops were killed in a "raid" conducted on August 29. The army had chased the attackers and ambushed at least one group of them. Both the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebel groups had said their forces had attacked a police garrison in the area.

August 27, 2007: The UN Security Council approved a "multi-dimensional" peacekeeping force for the Central African Republic (CAR) and eastern Chad. France, which is the former colonial power in both countries, had strongly favored this peacekeeping force. The force would protect refugee centers in both countries. When this idea was debated earlier this year, a peacekeeping force in the CAR and Chad puts a UN-led force right on Sudan's Darfur border.

 

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