Sudan has watched western nations slowly drop sanctions against Iran. For over a decade Sudan has accused the UN of imperialism. It is a curious accusation, but the UNAMID hybrid peacekeeping force put troops in Darfur over Khartoum’s objections. That was imperialism. Of course, the Sudan government and several senior officials, including President Bashir, were accused of genocide and crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted Bashir and he still faces charges. In response the UN, Western European nations and the United States were accused of imperialism for placing economic and political sanctions on Sudan. This approach didn't work. Now the Sudan Foreign Ministry is trying a new tactic to obtain sanctions relief. Call it the Peace Gambit. Sudan says that economic sanctions, particularly the heavy economic and trade sanctions imposed by the U.S. inhibit peace initiatives by the African Union (AU). Many of the American sanctions go back to 1997. These were imposed for two reason: Sudan’s proven support of international terrorist organizations and Sudanese abuse of African Christians and animists in what is now southern Sudan. The sanctions were tightened in 2007 and the reason was genocide in Darfur. Sudan is making several arguments. One of them is that U.S. sanctions limit AU resources. Just how that happens in not quite clear. The AU receives substantial financial and logistics support from the United States and donor nations in Western Europe. But that’s diplomacy for you. (Austin Bay)
January 22, 2016: In South Sudan the government and rebels failed to form a transitional government by today, as the peace deal stipulated. The problem is the post-agreement government decision to reorganiuze the country into 28 states rather than the original ten. Meanwhile the rebels have sent a new team of negotiators to the South Sudan capital, Juba and repeated the rebel contention that the government decision to expand to 28 the number of states in South Sudan abrogates the August 2015 ARCISS (Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan). South Sudan was founded with ten states. The rebels contend the December decision by South Sudan President Salva Kiir to expand the number of states from ten to 28 was designed to halt implementation of the peace deal. On December 24, 2015, the government announced the decision to create 28 states. The idea of creating new states was brought up in April 2015 and again in October 2015, but the December announcement was abrupt. At the time the government and several senior rebel leaders were involved in serious talks about distributing positions of power in the unity government that the peace agreement stipulates the government and the rebel SPLM-IO form. One rebel negotiator said government acted deceitfully and this decision could lead to a wider civil war. After the announcement the government moved quickly. New governors were sworn in on December 29. Earlier this month the SPLM-IO pointed out that the borders of the new states break up tribes which belong to the rebel coalition. The structure of the new states also gives the pro-government Dinka tribe more political control. International mediators reported that some members of the rebel coalition have said if 28 states, why not 60 or more? In other words, give each tribe or tribal sub-group a state. The rebel leadership has decided that sticking to ten makes sense because a small ethnic group could always complain and demand another division. (Austin Bay)
January 21, 2016: The UN accused the South Sudan government of using tactics similar to the Sudan government to forcibly displace civilians. Evidence exists that the government has destroyed food resources and burned villages in order to displace people loyal to the rebels. This is a politically significant accusation since it supports rebel allegations.
January 20, 2016: UN observers reported that militia attacks in South Sudan have led to a new wave of refugees seeking safety in Uganda. An armed militia (unidentified) burned and looted a village South Sudan’s Central Equatoria state. No date was given for the attack but it occurred after January 1. Several hundred people fled to Uganda after the attack.
January 19, 2016: According to the UN tribal clashes in Darfur have intensified over the last ten days. Sudan government troops have fought with rebel tribes in the Jebel Marra area (border of Central, North and South Darfur states). There have also been several firefights in Central Darfur state. Heavy clashes between the government and rebels occurred in Jebel Marra in Fall 2015.
January 18, 2016: The South Sudan rebels accused the government forces of breaking the ceasefire agreement in Unity state.
January 15, 2016: – In South Sudan the army reported that troops had recovered seven vehicles that were stolen earlier this month by a armed youth group. This group had attacked several villages in the Diabio and Ezo counties of Western Equatoria state. However, the official statement referred to the clashes as occurring in Gbudwe state, which is one of the new states created by the government in late December 2015. Western Equatoria was divided into Gbudwe, Maridi and Amadi states. The army also reported another attack occurred near the town of Yambio.
January 14, 2016: South Sudan rebels point out that the boundaries and leadership of the country’s 28 “new states” divide ethnic groups, to the benefit of the pro-government Dinka tribe (which the president belongs to). One example is the Shilluk tribe (also the Luo Shilluk). The Shilluk are not necessarily part of the rebel coalition. Rebel forces attacked Shilluk villages in 2014. However, the Shilluk matter politically. The Shilluk are the country’s third largest tribe, after the Dinka and Nuer. A number of Shilluk also favor Shilluk independence (ie, their own country). At one time the Shilluk had their own separate kingdom. The Shilluk live in an area along the east and west banks of the Nile River in what was Upper Nile state. The new South Sudan state divisions essentially split Shilluk territory. Upper Nile is now three states. Moving east to west, they are Latjoor, Eastern Nile and Western Nile states. (Austin Bay)
January 12, 2016: The Sudan government has broken diplomatic relations with Iran. Sudan has military units in Yemen serving with the coalition led by Saudi Arabia. The coalition opposes Iranian-backed Yemeni rebels. Sudan has long maintained mutually rewarding diplomatic and security arrangements with Iran. However, the recent execution of a Shia cleric by Saudi Arabia led Iran to break relations with the Saudis. Sudan knows who pays the bills. It is supporting Saudi Arabia. In addition most Muslims in Sudan are also Sunnis.
January 10, 2016: South Sudan appealed to Sudan to reduce the oil pipeline transportation fee it charges to move South Sudanese crude to the Sudan seaport of Port Sudan. South Sudan said the decline of oil prices necessitated the request. Sudan charges South Sudan from nine to eleven dollars a barrel. Sudan indicated it would consider lowering the fee.
January 9, 2016: In Darfur gunmen attacked the village of Mouli (West Darfur state) and killed six people.
January 7, 2016: Gunmen ambushed a UN patrol and wounded one peacekeeper. The attackers also seized several weapons. The attack occurred near the town of Anka (North Darfur state).
January 6, 2016: In South Sudan the Catholic Church is protesting an attack by rebels on a teacher training college in Yambio, capital of Western Equatoria state. Five armed rebels entered the college on December 28 and assaulted and threatened the nuns running the school. According to the nuns, the men demanded they be given money and weapons.
January 1, 2016: Today marks the 60th anniversary of Sudan’s independence from the British Empire. On January 1, 1956 Sudan became independent of British and Egyptian “condominium” rule. Muhammad Ali conquered Sudan in 1820, ostensibly on behalf of the Ottoman Empire. Ali was really an independent actor. He made Sudan part of Egypt. From 1899 to 1956, Sudan was officially called Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. Since 1956 Sudan has experienced at least 13 military coups (perhaps more). The coups of 1964, 1985 and 1989 were successful.