Sudan and South Sudan are back at the bargaining table, trying to hammer out what the diplomats call a sustainable and robust border agreement. Reaching an agreement would be an achievement because both sides must respect it and enforce it. If they don’t it will just be another piece of paper. Enforcing the agreement, however, puts both countries at odds with some of the tribes in their own territory. This particularly applies to Sudan, where tribes in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states openly prefer the Christian/animist south to the Islamic north. These tribal wars within the Sudan-South Sudan war will not be solved by a single border agreement between the two governments; each one of them has unique circumstances. As it is, Sudan continues to allege that South Sudan supports rebel groups operating in its territory. Tit for tat, South Sudan accuses Sudan of supporting rebels in its territory. The north stated before the latest round of negotiations began that it would force the south to admit it supports the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army-North (SPLM-N), which operates in the north’s Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. So far no admission has been forthcoming. Rather, South Sudan hotly denies the north’s charge and calls it propaganda designed to justify northern support for rebel groups and disgruntled tribes in the south. South Sudan now has what it calls corroborating evidence from UN observers that the north is supporting rebels in the south’s violent Jonglei state (see reports of September 22 and 23).
September, 25, 2012: The UN and African Union urged the presidents of Sudan and South Sudan to at least agree to establish a de-militarized buffer zone along the disputed border. The new round of negotiations, which are being held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, began on September 24.
September 23, 2012: UN military observers serving with the UNMISS (UN Mission in South Sudan) peacekeeping operation confirmed a South Sudanese report that a white fixed-wing transport aircraft dropped packages into a rebel-area in South Sudan’s Jonglei state. The UN observers, however, could not confirm the South Sudanese accusation that the plane was Sudanese.
South Sudan said that it is willing to accept the African Union High Implementation Panel’s (AUHIP) recommendation that the dispute over the oil-rich Abyei region be resolved by a referendum. The referendum would take place in October 2013. AUHIP recommended that only members of the Dinka Ngok tribe and resident (ie, living permanently in Abyei) members of the Misseriya tribe be allowed to vote in the referendum. The Dinka Ngok are overwhelmingly pro-south, the Misseriya are overwhelmingly pro-north. However, many Misseriya are semi-nomadic. The north has previously rejected this suggestion as favoring the south. There is a deal sweetner, however. The north would get a share of Abyei’s natural resources.
September 22, 2012: South Sudan accused Sudan of air-dropping ammunition and weapons to the rebel group led by renegade officer David Yau Yau. Yau Yau’s group operates in Jonglei state.
Sudan reported that the Misseriya and Mahariya tribes in Darfur’s Naga Douli area (central Darfur region) have been fighting for two days. A firefight erupted after a member of the Mahariya tribe stole cows from the Misseriya. At least 12 people have been killed and another 50 wounded.
September 21, 2012: A rebel source claimed that a militia backed by the Sudanese government attacked the town of Tabit (North Darfur state), looted the local market, and robbed several houses. The militia stormed the town in a convoy of 30 to 35 vehicles.
September 19, 2012: The Sudanese Army claimed that it launched a successful attack in the Sarkam area of Blue Nile state (southwestern region). The army maintained that it killed several rebels fighting with the SPLM-N. The Sudanese Army also reported that it fought with elements of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) in the East Jebel Marra area of North Darfur state. The Sudan Liberation Movement-Minnawi faction is a member of the SRF and a SLM-M spokesman confirmed that it had attacked a Sudanese army unit operating in the area.
September 18, 2012: A senior SPLM-N representative met with a group of U.S. government officials in Washington, DC. The SPLM-N representative said that Blue Nile and South Kordofan states are a humanitarian disaster and protected aid corridors must be established to allow food and medicine to reach suffering tribespeople in the region. The SPLM-N accuses Sudan of preventing aid from reaching the tribes and it wants the U.S. to put even more diplomatic and economic pressure on Sudan.
September 15, 2012: The U.S. government ordered all non-essential U.S. government personnel and all family members to leave Sudan. Anti-U.S. violence, associated with a wave of protests in Muslim countries, has increased throughout Sudan.
September 14, 2012: South Sudan accused Sudan of sending Sudanese Air Force planes over southern territory.
September 13, 2012: The UN now estimates that 105,000 people have fled Sudan’s Blue Nile state and are now residing in four refugee camps in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state. The 105,000 figure is pretty solid, as refugee estimates go. Pre-positioned food stocks near the camps have already been expended (most were used up by the end of July) and now the rainy season has made food and aid delivery by vehicles all but impossible. As a result, the World Food Program has begun air-lifting food and medical supplies to the four camps. The air-lifts began in August and they are expensive. An interim UN report said the air-lift operation had prevented mass starvation at the camps but must continue because the deliveries merely meet immediate needs. That’s why the 105,000 figure is reliable. The air-lift may have to expand since more refugees continue to come south, though the rainy season has made even travel on foot difficult.
September 10, 2012: The Sudanese Army claimed that it killed 18 SPLM-N rebels in a firefight in South Kordofan state in the Dloka area (south of the city of Kadugli). The SPLM-N called the Sudanese claim a fabrication and said that no new battle had occurred in the area.
Albeit belatedly, the government and the rebels have now agreed that their forces did fight a large battle in and around the village of Hagar al-Dom (South Kordofan, about 30 kilometers northeast of Kadugli). This battle occurred on August 6. The date and location are just about all that the Khartoum government version of the battle and the SPLM-N version have in common. The SPLM-N claimed that its forces took Hagar al-Dom from the Sudanese Army garrison, killed numerous government soldiers, and seized stocks of weapons and other equipment. The Sudanese Army claimed that it stopped the rebel assault and killed 77 rebel fighters. The truth is, no one knows because Free World journalists have trouble getting into the area – the Khartoum government makes sure that access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile is restricted.
September 9, 2012: The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Darfur rebel group claimed that its fighters killed ten Sudanese Army soldiers in a firefight near El Muglad in South Kordofan state. The area is near the state’s border with Darfur. The JEM is now a member of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), which means it is an ally of the SPLM-N.
The SPLM-N claimed that its forces beat back a government attack on the village of Dloka (South Kordofan state, about 15 kilometers south of Kadugli). The attack occurred September 7.
September 7, 2012: An unidentified group of gunmen killed seven people in Sudan's North Darfur state. The attack took place in the Kitum area. 21 people were wounded in the attack.
A faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) Darfur rebel group claimed that its forces defeated a vehicle-mounted attack by the Sudanese Army. The attack occurred in the Fanga Suk area of West Darfur state (northern part of the state). The SLM claimed that the government force had around 70 vehicles and that its fighters captured 32 vehicles. Two Sudanese Air Force AN-12 transport aircraft rigged as bombers attacked the rebel force just before the Sudanese Army launched its assault.