Sudan: Free The Slaves


May 4, 2012: Sudan and South Sudan are once again indicating that they want to avoid another round of intense combat, so the UN-led international mediation efforts to end the war have made some headway. The diplomats are focusing on ending skirmishes between northern and southern forces and then getting both aiswa to pull their forces back to positions they held in, oh, late March. This agreement would keep the war from expanding to include Uganda (which has said it would come to the aid of South Sudan) and possibly other neighboring nations (Ethiopia, Kenya, and Egypt are candidates).

However, the prospect for negotiating a comprehensive peace agreement to end what is already a multi-front war within Sudan and South Sudan is dim to nil. Rebel forces in Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states (primarily fighting with the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North, SPLM-N) are claiming that they have made gains in their war against Sudan. Analysis of the battles between the north and south that occurred around the Heglig oil field (roughly April 16 to 20) may well indicate that Sudan had to pull military units from operations against South Kordofan and Blue Nile rebels and use them against South Sudanese forces. In other words, the southern occupation of Heglig took some of the pressure off the rebel forces. Several reports indicate that SPLM-N forces in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan state launched a series of attacks just before southern forces occupied Heglig.

April 10, is the date the world learned that South Sudan had occupied Heglig, though several reports indicate that southern forces were observed in the general area several days prior to April 10. Whether these reports record accidental border violations, recon patrols, or probing operations is not yet known. Sudan says these attacks by the SPLM-N are evidence of direct collusion (coordination) between the SPLM-N and the Juba government. Maybe, maybe not, but anti-Khartoum rebel forces are indeed colluding with each other, openly. The main Darfur rebel group, the Justice and Equality movement (JEM), has teamed up with the SPLM-N to form an umbrella rebel organization called the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF). Though the UN is claiming that Darfur is no longer the war it was (it isn’t), Darfur is not over as long as the JEM keeps troops in the field. The SRF does divert the north’s attention and military resources. In fact, the north alleges the SRF is now a proxy army for the south.

Many of the SPLM-N fighters (the Nuba, for example) make it clear that their preferred end state is secession from the north and political integration with the south. The Nuba people are essentially a southern demographic island trapped in the predominantly Arabized-Muslim north (though some Nuba do support the Sudan government). The 2005, Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) said that the Nuba people’s political and cultural aspirations would eventually be addressed. The Nuba situation, however, has not been addressed. So the 2005 CPA wasn’t comprehensive either. For its part South Sudan confronts two organizations it claims are backed by the north: the South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) and the South Sudan Democratic Movement (SSDM). The south has described the SSLA as a mercenary band run by Sudan. SSLA and SSDM fighters have operated in Unity state, Upper Nile state, and Jonglei state. South Sudan also faces an array of inter-tribal conflicts that they government swears are the work of northern agents. A ceasefire agreement that ends main force combat between the north and south is achievable. However, ending the little wars that exacerbate the bigger war is not yet in the cards. (Austin Bay)

May 3, 2012: The governments of Sudan and South Sudan reported that armed clashes along their disputed border had ended. Both governments said they had accepted a ceasefire proposal offered by the African Union (AU) and supported by the United Nations. The UN Security Council had issued a statement that it would sanction both nations if they did not agree to end the fighting. South Sudan said that it had fully accepted the AU plan and the border area had been quiet for 48 hours. Sudan said military operations in the border area had ended, that it accepted the ceasefire agreement in principle but that the Sudanese Army had not yet implemented the ceasefire agreement. The AU’s ceasefire proposal sets a date of May 8, to end all hostilities.

Kenya said that Sudan has failed to implement the 2005, CPA and that that failure to honor the peace agreement is the real cause of the Sudan-South Sudan War. The biggest mistake is the failure to accurately demarcate the borders.

May 2, 2012: The Sudan-South Sudan War has sent another 100,000 refugees into South Sudan. The situation is particularly dire in camps in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state. Some 40,000 refugees in the camps are facing water and food shortages. Most of the refugees are from the Blue Nile state (Sudan) which borders on Upper Nile state. There are also refugees from the South Kordofan state (Sudan). The refugees report they are fleeing attacks by the Sudanese Army. The Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) rebel group is fighting the Sudanese Army in both Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.

May 1, 2012: South Sudan said that its army (Sudan Peoples Liberation Army, SPLA) will kill tribal cattle raiders who are abducting women and children in Jonglei state. South Sudan has deployed around 15,000 soldiers in Jonglei state. The SPLA has been ordered to disarm tribal warriors in order to end the cycle of violence. Over 1,000 people were killed in inter-tribal battles in Jonglei during 2011. Cattle raids sparked most of the battles.

April 30, 2012: South Sudan claimed that Sudanese Air Force jet fighters bombed South Sudanese positions along the Sudan-South Sudan border on April 29, and April 30. The aircraft struck positions inside Unity state (South Sudan). The north said that its aircraft attacked South Sudanese units that are still inside northern territory.

The United Nations called for a ceasefire between Sudan and South Sudan. Russia said that it would support a UN Security Council resolution (proposed by the US) that would place harsh political and economic sanctions on both belligerents if they failed to reach a ceasefire agreement.

April 29, 2012: South Sudan is reminding the world that Sudan conducted slave raids during the long civil war (1983-2005). The facts are on South Sudan’s side and the allegations are a political embarrassment for the government of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. The evidence is contained in news reports and aid agency studies going back into the early 1990s. One of the best first hand accounts was provided by two Baltimore Sun reporters in June 1996, in a series of articles entitled Witness to Slavery. Several academic studies have attempted to corroborate the field reports and estimate the number of people seized in slave raids. Some southerners maintain that at least 20,000 people (mostly women and children) from what is now South Sudan were kidnapped by forces loyal to the north (Khartoum) between 1986, and 2005, and still remain enslaved in the north. Other sources claim the figure is higher. No one really knows for sure. What is certain is that Sudan doesn’t like the criticism the slavery accusations elicit.

April 27, 2012: South Sudan reported that a tribal militia backed by the Sudanese Army had attacked SPLA positions in Upper Nile state (near the town of Malakal).

South Sudan has asked the European Union to upgrade its military mission in the nation. Observers suggested that the request is an indication that South Sudan would like to see EU peacekeepers deployed to the region.

The SPLM-N is claiming that it now has control of 70 to 80 percent of Sudan’s South Kordofan state. 70 to 80 percent is likely an exaggeration but since early March the SPLM-N has had a string of successes against the Sudanese Army. The SPLM-N has launched several attacks on the town of Talodi, which is still under control of Sudanese forces. However, the SPLM-N claims that it has a force of from 1,500 to 1,800 northerners surrounded in Talodi. The SPLM-N reportedly has between 3,000 and 5,000 fighters in the Talodi area.

April 26, 2012: The UN is considering reducing the size of the UNAMID peacekeeping force in Darfur. At the moment the UN has almost 24,000 military and civilian personnel in Darfur. The UN may pull 4,000 troops and support personnel out of Darfur.

April 25, 2012: China has told South Sudan that it will provide it with economic and humanitarian aid but will not participate in an alternative oil pipeline project. South Sudan wants to build an oil pipeline from its fields to the Kenyan seaport of Lamu.




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