Sudan: Breaking Bad

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November 16, 2009: The war in Darfur continues, despite the former UNAMID commander's recent declaration  that the war was over. Large-scale clashes between Sudanese forces and rebel organizations (like the Justice and Equality Movement, JEM) are less frequent. There are negotiations between the government and the rebels but that isn't new, either. For almost five years Darfur was a popular subject for many journalists, but that interest appears to have waned. As for U.S. policy towards Sudan, it remains very similar to what it was in 2004, threats of sanctions but also offers to promote negotiations. Another American diplomat arrived in Sudan today to continue with that effort. Sudan's national government has successfully defied the former U.S. administration and that defiance continues. The Sudan government still refers to UNAMID as “western imperialism” or “United Nations imperialism.” The U.S. government could have pushed stiff economic sanctions, but that would have meant confronting China (which imports a great deal of Sudanese oil). As Darfur simmers, U.S. diplomats are expressing concern about the tension between the national government and the Government of South Sudan (GOSS. whose leaders talk increasingly of separation.) The national government is adamantly opposed to separation.

November 12, 2009: The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), the peacekeeping force organized after the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the national government and South Sudan, announced that it is helping demobilize 7,000 “former combatants” in southern Kordofan State. The former fighters include former militia men, members of the Sudanese Army (Sudan Armed Forces) and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA, the south Sudan forces).

November 11, 2009:The national government announced that it will close down several refugee camps in the Darfur region. The shut-down date has yet to be determined, but officials say “sometime in 2010.” The national government is also touting the construction of public housing in Darfur. The government says it will build 20,000 housing units. Will displaced people move from their camps into the housing or will they go back to their villages? That is not clear. In other African countries, where long wars created large numbers of Internally Displace Persons (IDPs), when the shooting stopped a majority indicated they wanted to go back to their original homes. Northern Uganda is wrestling with this issue right now. The national government likely has an angle. Housing units in towns are far easier for the government to control, than widely dispersed rural villages. An estimated 2.5 million refugees are in Darfur and across the border in Chad, so 20,000 units does not begin to provide sufficient housing.

November 9, 2009: The Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) threatened to disrupt the 2010 elections. The SLA regards government election personnel as “soldiers” (ie, members of the national security forces)

November 8, 2009: The UN believes 300,000 people have died in fighting there or as the result of the conflict (ie, from exposure, starvation, etc). The national government disputes the figure. The UN also believes the UN arms embargo is regularly violated. The report says that the JEM is a significant arms embargo violator. As for the war being over? Here's a quote: "The Darfurian population continues to be victimized by the effects of attacks and counter-attacks involving most of the armed movements that frequently lead to the disproportionate use of force by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and their auxiliary forces, and result in killings, injuries and displacements."

November 3, 3009: A senior member of the national government, who is from southern Sudan, accused his own government of fighting a “proxy war” in the south. Deng Alor, Sudan's foreign minister, is a member of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM), the leading southern party. Alor said that the National Congress Party (NCP, the northern political party that dominates the national government) believes southerners “overwhelmingly” support separation from the north.

November 2, 2009: Senior leaders in the GOSS favor complete separation from Sudan. The president of South Sudan recently said that if southerners remain with “northern Sudan” they will remain second-class citizens.

November 1, 2009: Eight people died in a tribal fight near the town of Malakal (south Sudan).

 

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