Despite promises of peace by government and rebel leaders last Fall, South Sudan’s civil war continues. The latest round of peace negotiations collapsed on March 5. No one is quite sure when they will recommence. However, everyone agrees that it is going to take a long time for the country to recover economically. To say the war has interrupted oil production is understatement. Oil production is off at least 60 percent, and that is according to government figures. Now the drop in oil prices has created further problems.
March 23, 2015: Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia have finally agreed to resolve their dispute over Ethiopia’s Blue Nile River Grand Renaissance Dam project. Egypt is concerned about its water supply. Ethiopia wants to produce electricity. Sudan also has water worries. The nations released few details but the Ethiopian government said that it will not disrupt the river’s flow. Downstream countries will receive priority on electricity -- and obviously, Egypt and Sudan are downstream.
March 20, 2015: It appears South Sudan has decided to take a hard line after the collapse of peace talks. Sudan will not make any concessions to the rebel coalition.
March 19, 2015: Sudan told East Darfurian tribes that Sudan will not cede a disputed border area to South Sudan, the so-called 14-Mile Area. Darfur’s Rizeigat tribe claims the zone and so do the Malual Dinka of South Sudan. Both use the strip to pasture cattle. Sudan made this clear as the Joint Border Commission (JBC) concluded a meeting to discuss Sudan-South Sudan border disagreements. The JBC is an African Union (AU) effort.
South Sudan rebels claimed to have killed 13 government troops during an ambush near Nyabol Kubur (Unity state).
March 18, 2015: UN believes both South Sudan and the rebels recruit child soldiers. Investigators estimated that a total of 12,000 children are serving as fighters in the civil war. A child soldier is defined as a fighter under the age of 15. The UN report specifically mentioned Upper Nile and Unity states as areas where children have been impressed (forcibly coerced) into service.
March 17, 2015: New fighting in Sudan’s South Kordofan state has produced the usual accusations and counter-accusations of brutality and war crimes. Sudan accused rebels of killing 40 civilians, injuring another 45 and destroying houses in an attack near Kologi. The rebels denied the allegation that they had killed civilians. There was definitely a battle in the area. Kologi residents reported (via cell phone) claims that the rebels did not attack civilians nor did they attack civilian property.
March 14, 2015: Authorities in South Sudan’s Jonglei state are encouraging the Dinka Bor and Lou Nuer tribes to continue their peace talks. Jonglei state officials want the tribes to pursue what is sometimes called “people to people peacemaking.” The process includes negotiations and the use of traditional tribal peace-making conventions. Dinka Bor and Lou Nuer leaders are scheduled to begin a new series of peace talks sometime in April. The talks will focus on relations in three Jonglei countries, Duk, Nyirol and Twic (East). The idea is that a small local success can spread throughout the state and then to the rest of the country.
March 13, 2015: It has been have noticed that Chinese-made weapons are increasingly evident on South Sudanese battlefields. South Sudanforces in Juba displayed a Chinese QW-2 Vanguard SAM (surface to air missile) system. South Sudan is very concerned about Sudanese air attacks on civilians in their contested border region. The system could also be used to defend oil fields. China is a major importer of South Sudan oil. Sudan, the South Sudan government and South Sudanese rebels all use Chinese-made infantry weapons, infantry support weapons and munitions. China has resisted international efforts to impose stiff arms sanctions on the Sudans.
March 12, 2015; Sudan insisted that the contested Abyei region (and its oil fields) will remain Sudanese territory. The Dinka Ngok of Abyei overwhelmingly favor joining South Sudan. The Misseriya tribe tends to overwhelmingly support Sudan, which is encouraging Abyei tribes members who support Sudan.
March 11, 2015: The South Sudan rebels claim that Sudanese Air Force warplanes bombed civilian homes in the village of Tanase (Tabo County, South Kordofan state). Peace talks to end the civil war in South Kordofan and Bule Nile states collapsed in December 2014.
March 9, 2015: The International Criminal Court (ICC) has asked the UN Security Council to enforce its indictment of Sudan president Omar al Bashir, who has so far successfully evaded the ICC arrest warrants. He is charged with crimes against humanity and of committing genocide in Darfur. The ICC issued the indictment in 2009. In December ICC prosecutors said that they would have to put their effort on hold since nations were not cooperating in pursuing Bashir who then spent two months thumbing his nose at the ICC.