Sudan and the main rebel group in South Kordofan state, the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), have agreed to hold peace talks. The conflicts in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states began two years ago. Relief agencies estimate that some one million people have been affected by the fighting. The peace talks have been tentatively scheduled to begin at the end of this month. Despite the agreement to talk, the war on the ground continues. The SPLM-N accused the government of conducting indiscriminate air attacks on villages in South Kordofan. Indiscriminate air attacks is a frequent accusation made against Khartoum and for a good reason. In Darfur the Sudanese government bombed villages it merely suspected of having sympathies with the rebels. The air attacks were essential state-directed terror attacks that sent a cruel message to villagers: stay in line or we will kill more of you. The SPLM-N contends that Sudan is doing the same thing in South Kordofan.
April 18, 2013: Firefights with cattle raiders have left over 20 people dead in South Sudan’s East Equatoria state. The raiders stole 750 cattle.
April 17, 2013: Sudan pardoned nine military officers who were arrested in what the government had called a coup plot. On April 7th the men had been sentenced to prison.
Sudan claimed that its forces had retaken the Dandor military post in South Kordofan state. The garrison is about 20 kilometers east of South Kordofan’s capital, Kadugli. A statement by the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army-North (the SPLM-N’s military force) confirmed that there had been a major battle at Dandor but said that it had withdrawn its forces from the area and that the SPLM-A had not suffered losses. The SPLM-N claimed that the government had employed ten aircraft in the battle, two Antonov transport-bombers, four MiG jets, and four helicopters.
April 12, 2013: The presidents of South Sudan and Sudan announced that the countries will re-establish full diplomatic relations and work to resolve border problems. The presidents met in South Sudan capital. The dispute over the Abyei region has yet to be resolved, but both presidents said discussions on how to resolve Abyei will continue.
April 9, 2013: Some 30 camps for displaced persons in South Darfur state have not received food rations since February. The camps are also facing water shortages.
Sudan claimed its military forces had retaken the Dubu area in South Darfur state. The Sudanese Army has been fighting the Sudan Liberation Army-Minawi faction in the area. Meanwhile, the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdel Wahid faction claimed that it had attacked three army positions in north Darfur state and killed 64 Sudanese soldiers.
April 7, 2013: Tribal battles in Central Darfur (Umm Dukhun area) have left over 160 dead. Firefights and clashes have been going on for several days. The struggle pits members of the Missiriya tribe against the Salamat tribe. The Misseriya are usually regarded as a pro-Sudan tribe.
April 5, 2013: South Sudan has restarted crude oil production. Almost all oil production was shutdown in January 2012. South Sudan concluded that it could not afford to pay the exorbitant transport fees Sudan was charging for export through Sudan. Now both Sudans have reached a new oil production and transport agreement.
April 4, 2013: The UN reported that it was able to distribute food aid to over 50,000 people in a refugee camp in Sudan’s Blue Nile state. This was the first food delivery in the area in 19 months.
April 1, 2013: The SPLM-N claimed that Sudanese aircraft (Antonov transports rigged as bombers) dropped a total of 17 bombs on various villages in South Kordofan state. The villages were in the Nuba Mountain region. Sudan is also accused of dropping 17 bombs on different villages in the state’s Nuba Mountains. Two bombs hit the village of Al Ganaya on April 1. Five bombs were dropped on the village of Troge on March 31. At least one civilian was killed in Troge.
March 31, 2013: The hostage taking incident of March 24th has now been clarified. Members of the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdel Wahid (SLA-AW) faction took 31 hostages, who were traveling with UN peacekeepers, at gunpoint. The Darfur rebels thought the people were Sudanese government security agents (ie, spies and agitators) who were posing as displaced persons. It turns out they were refugees.
March 26, 2013: Oil company experts reported that South Sudan will likely resume oil production sometime in early April.
March 24, 2013: A Darfur rebel group intercepted a UN convoy of UN peacekeepers and, at gun point, demanded the UN peacekeepers hand over some three dozen refugees the group claimed were security officers working for the Sudanese government. The outnumbered peacekeepers complied. The rebel group was tentatively identified as the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdel Wahid (SLA-AW) faction.
The Sudanese government (Khartoum) signed a peace agreement with a splinter faction of the Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). The faction is the JEM-Basher, named after its leader, Mohammed Basher. The mainline JEM claims that Basher’s group is very small and it is little more than a political front for Khartoum.
March 23, 2013: The UN confirmed that Sudan has agreed to conduct peace talks with the SPLM-N, the main rebel faction in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. The UN, however, said that Sudan and the SPLM-N should immediately cease hostilities. That has not occurred. The UN confirmation follows an earlier report that the government of South Sudan had agreed to act as a mediator in direct discussions between Sudan and the SPLM-N. South Sudan had reported that Sudan has agreed to use the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement as a guide for the new peace talks.
March 20, 2013: Relief agencies report 1,200 more refugees have entered camps in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state. The refugees are fleeing fighting in Sudan’s Blue Nile state. The wave is not as large as other waves but interviews with the refugees indicate that more are on the way. The refugees have fled from some very recent battles between the government and rebel fighters in Blue Nile state’s Kurmuk area. Some of the clashes have not been reported in media. This is not unusual, since independent journalists have trouble in reaching many of these areas. Some of the refugees claim that their villages were bombed by aircraft (ie, Sudanese Air Force aircraft).
March 18, 2013: The South Sudan army (SPLA) has engaged in a series of firefights with what the government described as an armed group in Jonglei state. The clashes began the first week of March.
March 16, 2013: Sudan’s South Kordofan is facing food supply shortages, and relief organizations claim that the situation will likely get worse during the rainy season when dirt roads become impassable. The main rebel group in South Kordofan, the SPLM-N, regularly claims that the Sudanese government is blocking food aid and is using food as a weapon. That is probably true. Sudan certainly did this during the worst days of the Darfur rebellion.
March 13, 2013: South Sudan now has on-going tribal wars or anti-government rebel activity in nine different states. The country has ten states. Conflict with Sudan certainly exacerbates the situation. South Sudan regularly accuses Sudan of fomenting tribal conflict, which Sudan denies. The South Sudan government understands that much of the rebel activity is based on lack of economic progress. Several tribes claim they are neglected and do not get a fair share of oil revenues. Of course, due to war with Sudan and the government’s decision to quit producing oil (ie, denying Sudan oil transport revenues), there has been little oil royalty money to pass around.