Sudan: Ethnic Cleansing With Tanks

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June 13, 2011: The UN is pulling its non-mission essential staff personnel out of South Kordofan state because of two weeks fighting there. Sudan (northern Sudan) has forces deployed throughout the region. This could be the first of several withdrawals of civilian UN and non-governmental organization personal in threatened border areas between Southern Sudan and Sudan. The UN has a military peacekeeping contingent garrisoned in Kadguli, but the unit lacks the personnel and equipment to provide an adequate security force.

June 12, 2011: And now he is back to talking peace, exactly what he was doing before his army attacked Abyei last month. Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, who is under indictment for war crimes in Darfur, said that he would withdraw northern troops from the disputed Abyei region, and it would occur before Southern Sudan becomes independent (scheduled for July 9). Bashir simply cannot be taken at his word. He has agreed to meet with senior southern leaders, but for now his troops remain in place and the north has imposed a de facto embargo of fuel on the south. The facts on the ground in Abyei and the border region are that Sudan has a big edge in tanks and personnel and since May 20 or May 21 (depending on the source) the tanks have been in Abyei. The north now controls the region completely. At this point, control of Abyei gives the north a huge diplomatic edge.  Since they have already used the stick (their invasion) Bashir and his supporters in the National Congress Party (NCP) can use the offer of withdrawal as a carrot to gain southern concessions. Control means other political shenanigans are possible. The north has driven out of Abyei a substantial number of Dinka Ngok tribespeople. If there is a plebiscite held now or in the immediate future (when northern troops control it) the Dinka Ngok will not be there, only tribespeople favoring the north. Sure, it will be a completely hollow vote, but the north can tout it. The south thinks Bashir’s peace talk is just propaganda and that his government intends to send the tanks further south and take control of southern oil fields. That is the political story. On the battlefield the north has shown that it will attack any time it decides to attack. The bombing attacks into Unity State demonstrate that. What were the immediate targets? Possibly southern soldiers, but the area is flooded with refugees. The northern government in has used the Sudanese Air Force to attack fleeing civilians in Darfur. What not in Abyei, South Kordofan, and Unity State?

June 10, 2011: Ethiopia announced that it would examine the possibility of sending peacekeeping forces to the Abyei region if Sudan and Southern Sudan both made the request. Ethiopia indicated that the UN is involved in the discussion and know Ethiopia would consider sending peacekeepers.

Southern Sudanese leaders alleged that northern forces launched several aerial attacks on a village the Yau (Jau) area of Unity State (in Southern Sudan). The bombing sorties definitely violated the border. Southern Sudan also said that so far 140,000 people have fled Abyei and the border areas into Southern Sudan, since the north took control of Abyei on May 21.

June 7, 2011: The government of Southern Sudan claimed that 100,000 people have been displaced by the northern offensive in Abyei. The UN said the figure could be that high. So far UN aid workers have registered 77,000 refugees.

Some 1,100 former Darfur rebels had participated in the UN sponsored North Sudan Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) program which started May 22. The DDR functions similar to the program in eastern Congo. The rebels agree to lay down their arms and in return receive re-training for civilian life and in some cases are integrated into the national army.

June 5, 2011: Southern Sudan political and military leaders met with northern leaders in Kadugli (South Kordofan state) and signed a ceasefire agreement. Many people doubt that it will hold. The meeting occurred two days after northern forces attacked five towns south of Kadguli.

May 31, 2011: Sudan and Southern Sudan announced that they had set up a new demilitarized zone. The African Union mediated the negotiations. The zone between the north and the south will be jointly patrolled. This is roughly the same agreement that existed before May 18, when heavy fighting started between northern and southern forces. The difference is that the north in now in complete control of Abyei. Also, the new DMZ may include the entire north-south border (which is over 2000 kilometers long). The front line has moved further south.

May 29, 2011: Southern Sudan reported that 80,000 people have fled from Abyei into Southern Sudan. Abyei town is a ghost town, and prior to the attack had around 50,000 people living in it or in its immediate environs. Aid workers reported that most of the refugees they have seen are Dinka Ngok (a pro-southern tribe). Driving off the Dinka Ngok is definitely one of the north’s goals. The north may be doing the same thing in South Kordofan state which is also supposed to hold a plebiscite. Southern Sudan claims that pro-southerners in South Kordofan state are being harassed. The national government has been moving more troops into South Kordofan state. The southern government alleged that the north has said that any southern military forces (Sudan People's Liberation Army, SPLA) found in South Kordofan state will be attacked.

 

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