Sudan: The Slow War Speeds Up

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January 22, 2012: The government of Sudan (northern Sudan) is strenuously objecting to a U.S. decision to provide South Sudan with defense support. The U.S. announced earlier this month that South Sudan (which is now an independent country) can receive defense support from the U.S. Defense support usually means equipment and training aid (defense services). South Sudan can also purchase weapons. Sudan accused the U.S. of igniting tensions between the two countries. The problem with that propaganda line is reality. Sudan and South Sudan are already engaged in a slow war over Abyei.

January 20, 2012: South Sudan announced that the dispute with Sudan over oil transport fees has become so bad that it may stop oil production. South Sudan accused the north of siphoning off oil worth over $350 million since January 1. Sudan has accused the South of shortchanging it on transport fees and has begun taking a percentage of the South Sudanese oil that passes through its pipelines on the way to Port Sudan for export. South Sudan is landlocked. It wants to develop a pipeline running through Kenya to the Indian Ocean, as an alternative to shipping through Sudan.

January 19, 2012: Both the Sudan government and rebel fighters in the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) are reporting battles in Blue Nile state. The SPLM-N claimed it shot down a government helicopter in one clash and killed 26 government soldiers in a battle on January 18. Aid agencies estimate that over 400,000 people have been displaced since the fighting escalated in September 2011. The government made its own series of claims. The government described its forces as conducting operations to clear out rebel resistance and said seven rebels were killed in an operation. The government also denied the rebel claim that the rebels had downed a helicopter.

January 17, 2012: A group of gunmen from the Murle tribe attacked the Dinka village of Duk Padiet (South Sudan, Jonglei state) and killed 51 people. Most of the dead were women and children. The South Sudan government said the attack was likely retaliation since some Dinka had participated in the Lou Nuer tribe attack on Murle refugees in the town of Pibor. The Murle also launched a retaliatory raid on the Lou Nuer on January 13.

January 14, 2012: Rebels in Sudan’s South Kordofan state claimed that they had seized the town of El Ahmier (southeast of Kadugli). The rebels belong to the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N). The rebels also claimed to have captured numerous mortars and machine guns after the battle. The Sudanese military denied the claim and also denied a rebel charge that the Sudanese Air Force had killed 16 civilians in a bombing raid.

January 12, 2012: The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM, the main Darfur resistance group) may be splintering in the wake of the death (in late December) of its senior commander Khalil Ibrahim. Some senior leaders in the JEM are now re-considering the JEM’s rejection of the Doha Darfur Peace Document (sponsored by Qatar).

Sudan claimed that a large number (no specific number given) of SPLM-N fighters in Blue Nile state were defecting to government forces.

January 11, 2012: South Sudan accused Sudan of failing to export almost 3.5 million barrels of crude oil. South Sudan also stated that Sudan is diverting South Sudanese oil to Sudanese refineries for its own use. Essentially, South Sudan is accusing Sudan of waging economic war on the south.

The UN accused Sudan of restricting UN peacekeepers ability to monitor incidents in Darfur. This isn’t the first time the Sudanese government has placed restrictions on UN aircraft monitoring flights and ground patrols. The UN reported that there has been a marked increase in the number of violent clashes between Sudanese government forces and rebels in Darfur.

January 10, 2012: Leaders of Sudan’s National Congress Party (NCP, Sudan’s dominant political party) are dismissing reports that its chief opposition parties, the National Umma Party (NUP) and the Popular Congress Party (PCP) may form a coalition. The NUP’s leader, Al Sadiq Al-Mahdi, and the PCP’s senior leader, Hassan Al Turabi, have been discussing reconciliation

January 7, 2012: Some 50,000 people have fled violent battles in South Sudan’s Jonglei state. The worst incidents have occurred in the town of Pibor and its immediate region, as some 6,000 Lou Nuer tribal warriors have launched attacks on Murle tribe refugees and villages. The Lou Nuer raiders burned part of Pibor after one attack. The UN is providing emergency rations for 2,000 people. South Sudan has declared Jonglei state to be a disaster area.

January 6, 2012: Media are reporting that it is very difficult to get journalists into Sudan’s Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. The Sudan government is doing an effective job in keeping reporters already in Sudan from reaching the battle areas. As a result, most of the information on Sudan’s war with the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) comes from refugees that make it to camps in Ethiopia or from very occasional rebel statements made to the press through cell phones or through intermediaries in South Sudan. Sudan continues to accuse South Sudan of providing aid to the SPLM-N. In December 2011 the Sudan government accused the south of letting SPLM-N rebels hide in South Sudanese refugee camps. South Sudan rejected the accusation and called it completely false. It is very likely that some SPLM-N fighters have fled the battle areas and become refugees. As far as Sudan is concerned, that makes the refugee camps safe havens for rebels.

 

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