Sudan: The Bloody Blue Nile

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October 13, 2011: They have said it before, and then war erupted. However, this time the presidents of both Sudan and South Sudan claim that there will be no war between the Sudans. The statements by South Sudan’s Salva Kiir and Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir are welcome, but Bashir in particular has a dismal record for living up to what he says he will do. Borders remain unsettled. Sudan is waging war in the Nuba Mountains and in Blue Nile state against allies of South Sudan. The situation is highly unstable.

October 9, 2011: Jonglei state has witnessed several serious outbreaks of tribal conflict, with the Lou Nuer and Murle tribes frequently fighting one another. Cattle theft and water rights are perennial reasons for tribal fighting. Since late May, the Lou Nuer and Murle have been fighting what amounts to a small scale cattle war (or range war). The government says around 1,000 people have died in the fighting. So the government is promoting an inter-tribal peace conference. The initial conference was two days. An actual tribal reconciliation ritual could take several days. That may be what the government is trying to get the tribes to agree to hold. Not too surprisingly, the tribes do respect traditional peacemaking techniques. The process includes listening to the other side's complaints. If it sounds like diplomacy, it is, but the complaints often involve accusations that your cousin killed my brother. The mediation process can include the sacrifice of a bull (cattle are wealth – hence the cattle raids- so sacrificing a bull shows you are serious about making a deal).

October 8, 2011: Almost 30,000 people have fled attacks by Sudanese forces (north Sudan) in Blue Nile state. Ethiopia has opened a refugee camp in western Ethiopia (a camp supported by the UN) to help take care of refugees who have fled east instead of south. At the moment the Ethiopian camp can only handle 3,000 refugees.

October 7, 2011: The fighting in Blue Nile state looks more and more like the old north-south civil war in miniature. Blue Nile state now has its own rebel army, the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N). If that sounds like a splinter group of the Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA), the southern army, it is supposed to. The SPLA-N has stated that it is loyal to South Sudan.

Despite promises to withdraw, Sudanese forces (north Sudan) remain in the Abyei region. The forces were supposed to have left by the end of September. The Sudanese Army invaded Abyei in May.

September 29, 2011: The Sudanese government (north Sudan) said that it intended to attack a rebel force in Blue Nile state. The government said the attack is imminent and that it will not negotiate with forces it considers to be mutineers. A Sudanese Army force of at least 3,000 troops is concentrating near the town of Kurmuk, which appears to be the town the government is threatening to attack.

September 28, 2011: The government of South Sudan said that it has undeniable evidence that several rogue militias in South Sudan are receiving weapons from outside sources. The foreign interests, according to the government, want South Sudan to become a failed state. The government is trying to be diplomatic but the biggest source of weapons flowing to the rogue militias and militant tribal factions is the Sudanese government in the north.

September 26, 2011: The government of Iran declared that Iran and Sudan (north Sudan) are allies and both countries are being pressured by western nations because of their political positions. The Iranian government referred to the western nations as powers of arrogance.

September 22, 2011: A firefight between of the SPLA-N operating in South Kordofan state and a Sudanese Army unit left at least 30 Sudanese soldiers dead. The government claimed that it had killed 30 SPLA-N fighters and captured two rebel fighters.

September 20, 2011: The government of Sudan claimed that its forces engaged a small group of Justice and Equality movement (JEM) rebels in Darfur. The government claimed the JEM group was bringing in weapons from Libya. One JEM rebel was killed in the firefight.

September 19, 2011: Despite the fighting in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, and the stand-off in the Abyei region, the governments of Sudan and South Sudan signed a border crossing agreement. The two Sudans will open ten border crossings.

 

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