Sudan: Rebels For Hire

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February 21, 2011:  Another round of heavy fighting has broken out in Darfur. Yes, a former UNAMID commander declared a couple of years ago that the war in Darfur is over. Well, it isn't. At least two Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) factions (Abdelwahid Nur and Minni Minnawi) have been tangling with the Sudanese Army in North Darfur state since late December. There may be others involved. The latest firefights are occurring in an area about 75 kilometers southwest of the North Darfur state capital, El Fasher. The Sudanese government is employing Antonov transport aircraft as bombers. There are also reports of helicopter attacks by the Sudanese forces.

February 20, 2011: The alternative oil pipeline proposal is back on the table, and may well be built. Southern Sudan and Uganda both have discussed building pipelines that run through Kenya. When Southern Sudan initially began the discussions it was an interpreted as a diplomatic maneuver aimed at the north. At the moment Sudanese pipelines head north to Port Sudan. There have been several oil discoveries in  western Uganda, which means growing interest in building a pipeline through Kenya to export this oil. Now Southern Sudan says that several new fields in its territory may justify building a new pipeline and if that is the case, the new pipeline will go through Kenya to Kenya's port at Lamu. When Southern Sudan becomes independent in July it will begin paying oil transport fees to the north, and these fees may be so high that it becomes a better business deal to build a pipeline through friendlier countries.

February 19, 2011: Some bureaucrats in the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) are reportedly suggesting that Southern Sudan build a new, modern capital city from scratch and leave the current capital, Juba. This story is rumor, but if it is based in fact it sounds like one of those “we have oil money and since the government controls the money, let's spend it on the government” ideas. It has been done before by countries that don't export oil. Brazil did it (Brasilia). So did Belize (Belmopan). Neither of those countries, however, were recovering from a decades-long war. Southern Sudan needs basic infrastructure, like medical facilities and hard-surfaced roads. If GOSS leaders really are considering building a new capital before they improve the road network, they need to think again.

February 18, 2011: The Sudanese national government, denied that it was support George Athor's rebel militia. Athor's force is accused of launching a series of attacks in Jonglei state, Southern Sudan.

February 17, 2011: According to diplomatic reports, after July 2011 when it becomes fully independent, Southern Sudan will control a little over 70 percent of Sudan's current oil production. Sudan (north and south) produce 450,000 to 500,000 barrels of oil a day.

February 15, 2011: The Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) is accusing George Athor's rebel militia has continued launching attacks in Jonglei state (Fangak area). According to the GOSS, 211 people have been killed in the attacks. 109 people have been wounded. Last year Athor declared that he was launching a revolt against the south. Southerners accused Athor of being in cahoots with the northern government run by President Omar al-Bashir. Jonglei is a very sensitive area. Not only does it have large oil fields, it also has a reputation for inter-tribal fighting. The south believes Athor is exacerbating that fighting.

February 11, 2011: Militiamen under the command of George Athor attacked an Southern Sudanese army convoy in Jonglei state. At least 16 people died in the resulting firefight.

 

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