Sudan: They Are Out To Get You

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March 6, 2009: Despite the encouraging words from the U.S., Qatar, and several European countries, the “declaration of intent” (the tentative agreement to begin to agree) signed by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the government on February 17 has not been implemented on the battlefield. That first step (officially called the “Agreement of Goodwill and Confidence-Building for the Settlement of the Problem in Darfur”) was the result of several months of careful diplomacy by the government of Qatar. The Sudan government is now using the arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir as a reason to ignore the deal. On its part, the JEM says it will not continue negotiating with the government.

March 5, 2009: The International Criminal Court (ICC) ordered the arrest of President al-Bashir for atrocities and war crimes in Darfur. The actual warrant does not accuse him of genocide and the prosecution request for a warrant had accused Bashir of leading a “genocidal” campaign against the Zaghawa, Fur, and Masalit ethnic groups. However, the warrant is does accuse him of involvement in murder, rape, torture, and forced displacement of civilians. When “forcibly displaced” civilians flee janjaweed militias en masse they die from exposure, hunger, and disease. This amounts to “slow” ethnic cleansing. Bashir responded like he has responded since the ICC prosecutor asked for the warrant – with defiance and accusations that the warrant is “colonialism.” In a speech in Khartoum he attacked the United Nations. The government, responding to the ICC warrant, began kicking various non-governmental aid and relief organizations out of the country. If carried out, this will result in more deaths among starving refugees. Meanwhile, the Arab world is at a loss how to deal with the arrest warrant. Many Arabs simply see it an another example of European colonialism, and an attack on Islam. But this sort of rationalizing is getting old, even in the Arab world, where there are growing efforts to get Sudan to stop attacking its own people.

February 27, 2009: Former members of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) fought with a militia force loyal to the national government in the south Sudan city of Malakal, leaving around 50 dead. This appears to be another “border dispute” along the north-south frontier that has led to bloodshed. Fighters loyal to militia leader Gabriel Tang (called the “Tangoinyang”) fought on the government side in the southern civil war and still serve as an ally of the national government. The Government of South Sudan (GOSS) recently accused the national government (North Sudan) of trying to start a new civil war.

February 24, 2009: Two Sudanese who work for an international relief agency were murdered in South Darfur state when their vehicle was attacked by a group of armed men riding camels.

February 22, 2009: The Government of South Sudan (GOSS) continues to face a budget crisis. In January the GOSS said the drop in oil prices threatened numerous development projects and basic services. Civil service jobs are some of the best jobs in the region and salaries will have to be cut. The GOSS gets well over 90 percent of its revenue from its share of Sudanese oil sales royalties.

February 20, 2009: The national government said that 11 soldiers and 17 rebels died in a series of firefights in Darfur. The statement comes three days after the signing of a new peace initiative by the government and the JEM. The biggest clash was a battle between government forces and the JEM in North Darfur state just 25 kilometers northwest of El Fasher (the capital of North Darfur). It also serves as the headquarters of UNAMID (UN-AU hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur). JEM accused the government of launching air attacks on JEM positions using “NCP troops,” ie, National Congress Party.

 

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