Sudan: The Border Is Burning

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August 18, 2011: The Nuba Mountains war isn’t going away. The U.S. government believes that the situation in in the Nuba Mountains (Sudan, South Kordofan state) is getting worse. The Nuba tribesmen who belonged to the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA, the Southern Sudan military wing of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement) have begun waging a low-level guerrilla campaign against Sudan (North Sudan). The Nuba fear complete domination by the north. The big concern is that this fight could spread to neighboring Blue Nile State, which would risk reigniting the north-south war. Moreover, Blue Nile State borders on Ethiopia and has many traditional ties to Ethiopia, which provides the peacekeeping force currently operating in the disputed Abyei region.

August 12, 2011: The National Congress Party (NCP), which governs Sudan, is discussing banning the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) as a political party. Some SPLM members still live in the north and at least one northern governor is a member of the SPLM. The northerners insist the SPLM is a foreign interloper since the south became independent from the north. The truth is, the NCP fears that the northern members of the SPLM will make common cause with various Darfuri rebel groups and possibly the Nuba tribe.

August 11, 2011: Southern Sudan and Kenya are seeking more money to build pipelines to Kenya’s port of Lamu. The port’s oil facility would also be substantially upgraded. To upgrade the port might cost as much as $20 billion. That’s a lot of money but as far as Southern Sudan is concerned, it would be worth it. Right now all of Southern Sudan’s oil is shipped north and the northern government is charging a transport fee that the southerners call extortion. The fee the north demands ranges from around $20 to $30 a barrel ($32 according to one source) to ship the oil from southern oil fields to Port Sudan on the Red Sea. The southerners want an alternative route to international markets for their oil.

August 7, 2011: 1,200 Ethiopian soldiers have deployed to the Abyei region (between Sudan and Southern Sudan). Eventually 4,200 soldiers will deploy, forming a reinforced peacekeeping brigade.

August 6, 2011: The northern government briefly detained a 600,000 barrel shipment of southern oil. Sudan claimed that Southern Sudan had failed to pay the requisite transit fee. Southern Sudan accused the northern government of conducting an economic attack.

Anglican Church officials have asked the UN to send peacekeepers into the Nuba Mountains (Sudan, South Kordofan state). Church officials claim that the Sudanese Army has been conducting attacks on defenseless villagers in the mountains. Many Nuba are Christians, which is one reason why they were allied with Southern Sudan.

August 5, 2011: A soldier serving with the UN peacekeeping forces in Darfur was killed and another wounded when gunmen ambushed their vehicle near the town of Nyala. Both soldiers were from Sierra Leone.

August 4, 2011: UN officials protested to the Sudan government that Sudanese Army troops threatened to shoot down a UN helicopter which had been sent to evacuate peacekeepers wounded in a land mine explosion in the Abyei region. The incident occurred on August 2. Four Ethiopian soldiers died in the incident and seven were wounded. The Ethiopians were on a patrol near the village of Mabok. Following an investigation, the UN alleged that the Sudanese military’s threat kept the helicopter grounded for three hours. The helicopter was then allowed to fly to Abyei.

August 3, 2011: A rebel militia based in South Sudan’s Unity state has declared a ceasefire with the South Sudanese government. The militia is led by rebel general Peter Gadet.

July 28, 2011: A pro-Southern Sudan newspaper claimed that Somali militants (presumably members of the Somali Islamist extremist group, Al Shabaab) have arrived in Sudan (northern Sudan) and intend to deploy in South Kordofan state. Iranian Revolutionary Guards may also be deploying. There is no independent confirmation of this, so it may be pure propaganda. However, the Nuba tribes in South Kordofan have said they will not submit to northern rule. A low-grade war has been going on since early June. Why hire foreign Muslim mercenaries? Deniability is one reason. The Sudan government could respond to charges by saying the attacks were not committed by the Sudanese military. Volunteer Muslim fighters? The northern information officer could shrug and say go ask them.

 

 

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