Sudan: The Frozen War


August 21, 2012: The rainy season has begun in the Sudans. The result is less fighting, though small-scale actions continue in Sudan’s Blue Nile and South Kordofan states and in the Darfur region, and tribal violence continues to plague South Sudan. The various factions in both Sudans are always talking about peace, or at least talking about talking about peace, but the impact of the new oil production and transport agreement, reached on August 3, on the various armed conflicts has yet to be determined. Sudan and South Sudan remain locked in a frozen war. The rebel groups and disgruntled tribes will make their own assessments. A Sudanese leader in Darfur claimed that the new oil agreement and improving economic and political cooperation between Sudan and South Sudan would lead South Sudan to curtail political support for several rebel factions in the north. Perhaps, perhaps not. That will depend on several factors, especially the behavior of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir and his government. Bashir remains under indictment for war crimes (committed in Darfur) by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Another important factor is economic development – which is a wonk way of saying that the rebels and the tribes want to see a cut of the cash for the people they represent. Sudan and South Sudan both struggle with corruption. (Austin Bay)

August 20, 2012: Sudanese opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi claimed that a revolt against the government of president Omar al-Bashir could erupt at any time. Turabi said that Bashir’s policies will lead to further divisions within Sudan. Turabi is a political Islamist who wants to create an Islamic republic in Sudan. He leads the Popular Congress Party.

August 19, 2012: A Sudanese helicopter crashed in South Kordofan state and 32 people died, including two Sudanese Army generals and a government minister.

August 18, 2012: Gibril Ibrahim, the leader of the Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), accused the governments of Chad and Sudan of trying to foment discord within the JEM and politically divide the group. Earlier this month Ibrahim fired the JEM’s senior military commander, Bakheit Abdallah Abdel-Karim. Ibrahim indicated that Abdel-Karim had been conspiring with the Chadian government to split the JEM. Ibrahim alleged that the new Chad-backed faction would then sign the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD).

Ethiopian security troops attacked a South Sudanese rebel group in Ethiopia’s Gambela region, an area along the Ethiopia-South Sudan border (across from Upper Nile and Jonglei states). Ethiopia claimed it had killed 18 rebels. The rebel group moved into Ethiopia in June after its leader, George Athor, was slain. South Sudan had requested Ethiopia’s help in battling the group.

August 15, 2012: Gunmen in Darfur killed a UN peacekeeper in the Otash refugee camp near the town of Nyala. The victim was a member of the Balgadeshi Formed Police Unit. The policeman was assigned to protect the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA) government office in the camp. The UN also reported that gunmen had fired on a UN police compound in Nyala on August 14.

August 14, 2012: UN-sponsored parachute drops of emergency food aid have begun in South Sudan. One of the first airdrops delivered food to the camp at Maban. The food is for refugees from Sudan’s Blue Nile and South Kordofan states who are now living in camps inside South Sudan. The UN estimates that 170,000 northern refugees are now in South Sudan. Other sources suggest the number may be closer to 200,000. That is a lot of people to feed and South Sudan is very poor. The airdrops are necessary because the rainy season makes travel very iffy on South Sudan’s dirt roads and tracks. The rain also washes out dirt airstrips, so aircraft cannot land.

Augut 10, 2012: The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement - North (SPLM-N) has once again called for comprehensive political discussions with the Sudanese government. The SPLM-N still has guerrilla forces deployed in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, but several SPLM-N leaders have said that only a political solution will end the war with the Khartoum government. The SPLM-N noted that the humanitarian aid agreement it recently reached with Khartoum was a sign that a political settlement was possible. The African Union (AU) will help mediate negotiations between the SPLM-N and the Sudanese government.

August 7, 2012: South Sudan reported that it will begin to ramp up oil production some time in September. However, it will take several months (perhaps a year) to reach full production of 350,000 barrels per day. The announcement follows a new agreement on transport and export fees (also called transit fees) reached between South Sudan and Sudan.

August 5, 2012: Sudan reached an agreement with the SPLM-N to permit aid distribution in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Aid agencies estimate that between 500,000 and 600,000 people have been displaced in the two states due to fighting between the government and the SPLM-N. The Sudanese government said that its forces have the right to inspect the food and aid shipments.

August 3, 2012: Sudan and South Sudan agreed to a new oil transit fee agreement. According to South Sudan, it will pay the north $9.48 a barrel for transport and export fees. Oil analysts estimated the deal would bring the north around $2.5 to $3 billion dollars a year in revenues. However, that will not make up for Sudan’s lost oil revenue. South Sudan has between 70 and 75 percent of the pre-break up Sudan’s oil fields. The Sudans have reached oil deals before but the deals have always broken down, due to mutual suspicion and outbreaks of fighting between their armies. How long will the oil deal last if the nations fail to reach a permanent border agreement is anyone’s guess.

July 31, 2012: SPLM-N rebels in Sudan’s South Kordofan state claimed they killed 17 Sudanese government troops in a series of clashes in the Al-Abbasiya area (northeastern part of the state). The SPLM-N also charged the government with killing six civilians in the area. 

Eight people died when police fired into a crowd of student protestors in the town of Nyala (Sudan, South Darfur state). The crowd was protesting rising gasoline prices. The Sudanese government remains concerned that public protests could breakout throughout the country. The government has managed to clamp down on protestors in the capital, Khartoum, but small protests continue to crop up in other cities and towns.

July 30, 2012: The SPLM-N accused the Sudanese Air Force of dropping bombs of several villages in the Blue Nile state. Three civilians died in the attack on Ora-Balila and 11 were wounded. Four people were wounded when bombs struck the village of Magaf. Six were wounded in an air attack on the town of Wadaka Nellei. There was no outside confirmation of the SPLM-N’s claims, though the UN noted that it had received reports of air attacks in the region.

July 24, 2012: Sudan’s economic crisis spurred the extended student-led demonstrations in Khartoum. The loss of oil revenue is the major cause of the crisis, but some opposition leaders are now becoming more vocal about the economic effects of US-led economic sanctions on Sudan’s government. While the senior government officials and their cronies have the connections to skirt many of the financial sanctions, most small businessmen can’t. Banking transactions involving currency exchange have become difficult for many small businesses. The overall economic effect may be small but it adds to the political disenchantment with the Sudanese regime. And that is one reason the sanctions were imposed.





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