Sudan: It Was Bad, Then It Got Worse


May 18, 2015: So far 16 months of fighting has killed over 20,000 forced two million people from their homes and put over two million at risk of starvation. Currently the fighting is most intense in the north (Unity State and Upper Nile State). The violence is also increasingly out of control with more reports of rape and enslavement of captured civilians.

The rainy season makes supply operations in both Sudans even more difficult. Roads turn to mud. Supplying refugee camps becomes an even more difficult logistics problem headache for UN agencies and relief organizations. This year airlift is playing an even bigger role in supplying food. Supplies --most of the tonnage is food -- have been moved by air from South Sudan’s capital, Juba, to forward air strips.  One of the untold stories is the effort to keep the forward air strips serviceable. The UN recently reported that the civil war has seriously affected farmers in South Sudan’s Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei states.  The farmers do not have seeds to plant a new crop. That’s bad news because lack of seeds translates into starvation in 2016. Relief agencies are now supplying farmers with seeds and the agencies are having to ship the seeds by air. The seeds are usually distributed in “crop kits” which contain several different plant seeds. One common crop kit contains maize, sorghum and cowpea.

May 17, 2015: The South Sudan government admitted that the deputy commander of army forces in Upper Nile State (Johnson Olony) had defected to the rebels. The government accused Olony of secretly working with the rebels throughout April to make it possible for the rebels to capture the state capital (Malakal). Olony was originally with the rebels but came over to the government side in 2012.

May 15, 2015: Peace negotiations between South Sudan’s warring factions remain on hold. On March 5, the East African Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) said that the government and rebels had failed to overcome remaining differences.  The differences included a rebel demand that the government and rebel forces should merge into a joint army after general elections were held. The government rejected this demand. The rebels also wanted 45 percent of transitional government administrative level positions. The government also rejected that demand. In late April, the African Union asked five more countries to join the IGAD-sponsored mediation effort.  Diplomats from Algeria, Nigeria, Chad, South Africa and Rwanda will be participating in the next peace negotiation round. Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and Eritrea belong to IGAD.

May 13, 2015: South Sudan released a Sudan embassy employ security forces arrested last week on charges of spying and illegally entering a military base.  South Sudan claimed the embassy employee had a cell phone with pictures of weaponry. The arrest (South Sudan called it a detention) exacerbated the already bad relations between the Sudans.

May 12, 2015: UN peacekeepers are monitoring the fighting between the Rezeigat and Maalia tribes. The tribes have fought several small but vicious battles, most of them in East Darfur state. The UN peacekeeping units are prepared to move to protect civilians threatened by the fighting. Peacekeepers recently helped evacuate some 50 people wounded in the fighting.

South Sudanese soldiers fought with rebels in Mayiandit county (Unity state). The rebels claimed they repelled a government attack. Several towns and villages in both Koch and Guit counties have been burned down. They are also accusations of serious war crimes (to include rape) committed in the two counties.

May 10, 2015: South Sudan will not allow the UN to relocate 100,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). The UN wants to let some of the people return to their homes in areas currently under rebel control. The government said it cannot permit that arguing that the safety of the civilians cannot be guaranteed if they return to rebel areas. Most of the IDPs are in camps in five towns controlled by the government: Wau, Juba, Bor, Malakal and Bentiu.

May 9, 2015: Two foreign medical aid groups withdrew their personnel from the town of Leer (Unity state, South Sudan) because the town is under rebel control but government forces are preparing to attack Leer.

May 6, 2015: - The Sudanese Army claimed that one of its anti-aircraft units shot down an unidentified but very small aircraft overflying the Wadi Sayidna “military area” in Khartoum state. A nearby Sudanese air base also reported a radar blip. The military then claimed the aircraft was a drone and then the government claimed it was an Israeli drone. Israel denied the Sudan government’s accusation.

May 7, 2015: South Sudan fired two senior police security commanders. Both of the men are ethnic Dinkas.  A rebel spokesman said the firing is another indication of political infighting within the government and the political party (SPLM) in power. On May 6, the SPLA confirmed that it had suspended two senior officers. One of the suspended officers (a major-general) worked in procurement at the defense ministry.  The SPLA suspended the major-general because he is involved in an on-going corruption investigation.

May 5, 2015:  The UN confirmed that peacekeepers arrested a Sudanese security officer following a March 2 attack on the village of Marial Achak by some hundred Misseriya tribal militiamen. The militiamen killed three people, kidnapped four children and burned 24 houses. UN peacekeepers responded very rapidly and managed to capture eight of the attackers just north of the village.  The men had several automatic weapons and a radio. A rumor spread that one of the captured men was a Sudanese military intelligence officer. Though Sudan denied the rumor, it appears he was indeed an intelligence officer. One of the other prisoners proved to be the militia’s logistics officer. Sudan and South Sudan both claim the Abyei region.

Sudan announced that its Rapid Support Forces (RSF) will increase their operations against rebels operating in South Kordofan state. The RSF is called a pro-government militia organized and controlled by Sudan’s notorious National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).

May 4, 2015: South Sudanese rebels claimed they defeated a pro-government forces in a series of battles in Unity state and destroyed three T-55 tanks near the town of Bentiu. The rebels claimed they killed around 125 government soldiers and wounded 90 in heavy firefights in the Parieng and Lalop areas. 

May 2, 2015: accused the rebels of violating the ceasefire agreements after they allegedly attacked government-held territories north, south and east of Bentiu, including the main oil fields north of Bentiu.

May 1, 2015: The South Sudanese army (SPLA) claimed its soldiers have re-taken an area in Rubkotna county (Unity state).  One of the villages the government now controls is Nhialdiu. The area is regarded as a pro-rebel stronghold. The SPLA claimed that it will soon take control of four more villages in the area. Rebel sympathizers in the area accused the government of burning villages and stealing cattle. One incident involved the theft of 350 cattle on April 29 and 30.

April 29, 2015: The Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) claimed a unit of Sudan’s paramilitary RSF attacked two villages of Fany and Injemena (South Kordofan state’s El Sunut area) and kidnapped several villagers. The SPLM-N also claimed the RSF committed the war crimes (kidnapping) on the direct order of the governor of Sudan’s West Kordofan state.

April 27, 2015: Sudan’s president and dictator Omar al-Bashir is touting his “landslide” re-election as a sign of just how popular he is. Bashir received 94 percent of the vote. However, the political opposition boycotted the election en masse. International election monitors described the election as “not credible” -- which is diplo-speak for a complete sham.

April 26, 2015: UN peacekeepers are sorting through conflicting reports of fighting in Sudan’s South Darfur state.  The UN can only verify that a battle occurred, but by the time they arrive bodies, weapons and ammunition have been removed.  Often local citizens are reluctant to talk as they fear retribution from the government and the rebels. The latest events in South Darfur are an example. Sudanese Army claimed that its forces had inflicted heavy casualties on rebel troops belonging to the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnawi faction (SLM-MM).  In one battle RSF paramilitary fighters battled JEM rebels in the al-Nikhara area (southern South Darfur state).  The RSF fighters claimed they seized 100 vehicles. Army troops also ambushed a rebel convoy. According to the Sudanese Army, the rebels entered South Darfur state from a border area. The governor of South Darfur state then accused South Sudan of supporting the rebels. The Sudan government (Khartoum) claims that JEM has a training camp in Raja area (in South Sudan’s Bahr el-Ghazal state). The JEM quickly denied the Sudanese military claim that RSF militiamen captured 100 JEM vehicles and said the RSF had suffered severe casualties at al-Nikhara. Among the RSF killed in action was a senior RSF area commander. A JEM spokesman later claimed that JEM fighters now control what was a government military facility in the town of Tulus (South Darfur state).

Meanwhile, the SLM-MM claimed that on April 25 its fighters and a contingent JEM allies took control of the town of Buram (South Darfur state, about 80 kilometers south of South Darfur’s capital, Nyala). The SLM-MM defeated a Sudanese Army force supported by a militia. A media source disputed this claim but confirmed that over 60 Sudanese Army soldiers had been hospitalized in Nyala on April 26. (Austin Bay)

April 23, 2015: Sudan is trying to thwart a UN fact-finding mission in the Darfur region. Despite the presence of senior American, British and French diplomats the government has denied the Western diplomats visas. This has happened before because it hinders monitoring efforts and provides a media opportunity for Sudan to portray the UN as an imperialist organization. It can also sidetrack criminal investigations. Earlier several UN officials were expelled for investigating mass rape allegations. However, at the moment denying visas may mask an on-going operation. The government has said it will launch a new offensive in Darfur.  One source reported a government military convoy with at least 500 vehicles had recently moved into (or toward) South Darfur state.

April 22, 2015: South Sudan reported heavy fighting in Malakal (Upper Nile state) during the night. At least two SPLA soldiers serving as bodyguards for the state governor were killed.

April 21, 2015: South Sudan’s SPLA claimed its soldiers killed 28 rebels after the rebels attacked in Upper Nile state’s Jilshal area. The area lies between the town of Malakal and al-Nasir.

The Sudan Troika members (Norway, US, and Britain) criticized the government’s failure to conduct free and fair elections.





Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close