Sudan: Everyone Prepares For More Fighting

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September 29, 2016: Despite the on and off fighting in oil-producing Unity state, South Sudan is slowly reviving its oil industry. The government announced that in mid- to late-October it will open a new oil production facility in Unity state to handle production from the Palouch fields. South Sudan oil production in late 2013 was around 235,000 barrels a day. The civil war began in December 2013 and production plunged so that by now it ranges from 120,000 to 130,000 barrels a day.

September 28, 2016: Sudan warned South Sudanese rebels that it would take action if the rebels used Sudanese territory to launch new attacks into South Sudan. Sudan’s warning came after the South Sudan rebel leader (Riek Machar) called on his followers to renew their “armed struggle” against the South Sudan government. Sudan admitted that it had given Machar temporary permission to stay in Sudan and receive medical treatment. Machar and some of his followers had been hiding at a jungle camp in the Congo. Meanwhile, another rebel faction ( (SSDM/Cobra Faction) announced it was ready to resume fighting becasuse a 2014 peace deal was not honored by the government, which had agreed to give the SSDM homeland (the Pibor region) local autonomy.

September 27, 2016: The UN accused the Sudan government of repeatedly violating weapons sanctions in Darfur. Sudan also employed cluster bombs and financed proxy forces (militias) to attack rebels. Meanwhile, UN peacekeepers in the west are demanding that the government allow relief supplies to reach the Jebel Marra area in Darfur.

South Sudanese soldiers fought off another series of attacks by rebel forces near the town of Bentiu (Unity state) leaving 15 rebels and three soldiers dead.

September 25, 2016: South Sudanese soldiers and rebels fought a two day battle in Rubkotna county (Unity state). The battle lasted two days. Both sides said there were heavy losses but no one would supply precise numbers.

September 22, 2016: In South Sudan (Greater Equatoria region) soldiers and rebels fought several battles in and around the Lasu settlement. Several thousand civilians fled the fighting in the area. At least 1,500 people reportedly fled across the border into Congo.  A refugee camp is located at Lasu. A UN report confirmed that during the last week gunmen have attacked the refugee camp on and forced refugees living there to flee.

September 21, 2016: The UN accusses South Sudan of not complying with a September 4th agreement to allow 4,000 peacekeepers (regional protection force or RPF) to monitor areas where unrest is still present. The government is not just blocking access for UN officials but also urging the African nations who are supplying troops for the RPF to reconsider and stay out of South Sudan. The UN plans to staff the RPF with experienced combat troops and allow them to use force like the UN Intervention Brigade (IBDE) created for UN peacekeeping force in the Congo. South Sundan apparently does not want to deal with something like the IBDE or any other kind of UN rapid reaction force.

September 16, 2016: The UN is threatening to impose sanctions on individual South Sudan officials (including the president) for their role in the July violence that essentially destroyed the August 2015 peace agreement. The July violence in Juba drove the rebel leader into exile in the Congo. A subsequent UN sponsored investigation concluded that the South Sudan government, especially seniot officials, were solely responsible for the violence. Some of the worst fighting in Juba (July 10-11) occurred in a neighborhood where UN personnel lived and worked and that provided lots of credible witnesses to what went on. Elsewhere in the capital soldiers fired rocket-propelled grenades at a UN armored vehicle protecting a refugee camp. This clash left two Chinese peacekeepers dead and four wounded. The two Chinese troops who died could have been saved (by evacuating them to a hospital) if fighting between soldiers and rebels had not prevented it. Heavy fighting also occurred near a UN camp occupied by Japanese soldiers, who gave detailed reports of nearby fighting between soldiers and rebels. The Japanese compound was hit but none of the Japanese peacekeepers were hurt.

The UN is also looked into how the South Sundan government went about purchasing weapons and ammunition in spite of UN sanctions. Of particular interest was the South Sudan announcing in early 2016 that it had bought bought two Czech L-39 light attack jets. One was seen in action dyring the July fighting. Uganda helped South Sudan maintain its two L-39s. There is at least one reported sighting of the L-39s being serviced at an air base in Uganda. South Sudan rebels cite this as demonstrating Uganda being an active military ally of the South Sundan government. Uganda had agreed not to do this sort of thing. In late 2015 Ugandan troops withdrew from South Sudan as part of the peace deal with the rebels. Uganda has long supported the South Sudan government but the peace agreement stipulated that all foreign forces leave South Sudan by mid-October 2015 and be replaced by troops supplied by other nations in the region who had not previously had troops in South Sudan. Uganda delayed withdrawal because the replacement troops was not ready. However Uganda did get its remaining 3,500 soldiers out of South Sudan by the end of October. The rebels accussed Uganda of continuing to provide military support to the South Sudan military.

September 15, 2016: Britain agreed to increase its peacekeeper contingent in South Sudan by 245 percent (t0 500 personnel. The UN wants to increase its peacekeeper force in South Sudan from its current 12,000 troops to about 17,000. The UN force needs a mocbile and combat trained reserve to respond to future emergencies like the unexpected fighting in the capital this past July 7-12. Around 8,000 UN peacekeepers are currently committed to developmental aid programs (engineers building roads) and local security. That leaves about 4,000 peacekeepers available for a rapid response force. For a nation as large as South Sudan that isn’t enough. The proposed RPF of 4,000 soldiers would double the number of troops available to quickly respond to new fighting.

September 12, 2016: In western Sudan (Darfur) JEM rebels denied accusations that it has participated in combat in eastern Libya and denied that it has “any presence” in Libya. The Libyan gvernment (GNA) and members of the GNA Oil Installation Guards accused JEM fighters of participating in attacks on on three Libyan oil ports led anti-GNA Libyan forces. The Sudan government has previously accused the JEM of operating in Libya as well as Chad, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

September 11, 2016: UN peacekeepers in Congo have concluded an operation that moved 361 South Sudanese refugees from north-eastern Congo (the Garamba National Park). Most of the South Sudanese are supporters of former South Sudanese Vice-President Riek Machar. In fact, Machar and members of his family were among the refugees. They took shelter in camps inside Garamba after fleeing the July violence that erupted in South Sudan. The UN operation began in late August. Some of the refugees remain in the Congo and some have been taken to Sudan. A few have returned to South Sudan.

September 7, 2016: South Sudan said that it has plans to use troops to expel any anti-Sudan rebel groups that operate in South Sudan. In August Sudan asked South Sudan to expel the JEM rebels from South Sudan because JEM fighters had a base area in western South Sudan and regularly transit South Sudanese territory. Sudan claimed South Sudan promised to beging operations against the JEM by the end of September and South Sudan says it will do so as soon as it has assembled a sufficient forces.

September 5, 2016: Canada is investigating allegations that a Canadian company sold Sudan 30 armored vehicles in violation of weapons sanctions imposed by Canada on Sudan in 2004. The ban is near-absolute but Typhoon armored trucks produced in the United Arab Emirates by Streit Security Vehicles (a Canadian company) were shipped to Sudan in 2012. According to Canadian media, the company argues that the trucks are not military vehicles. However, they were sold for use by Sudanese police --paramilitary police. The trucks can mount machine guns. Investigators claim Sudanese security forces have used the armored trucks in South Kordofan state and in the Darfur region. The company may also have sold 173 armored vehicles to South Sudan. The question is, do the 2004 sanctions apply to South Sudan, which didn’t exist in 2004. The 173 vehicles supplied to South Sudan included Typhoon armored trucks and Cougar armored personnel carriers.

September 4, 2016: South Sudan has agreed to allow the UN to send in 4,000 m0re peacekeepers to avoid UN threats to impose an international arms embargo on South Sudan. The new force would be supplied by the AU (African Union) and called a “regional protection force” (RPF).

September 1, 2016: UN now has 975,000 registered (individually documented) South Sudanese refugees housed in camps and facilities outside of South Sudan, mainly in East Africa (Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Sudan). This is an increase from December 2015 when the UN reported 778,700. In addition to South Sudan’s 975,000 refugees, around 1.6 million South Sudanese are internally displaced (ie, they are in camps or facilities that are not their homes). Sudan has somewhere between 620,000 and 650,000 refugees who have fled the country. Most of these Sudanese refugees are in Chad or South Sudan. Civilians who have fled the fighting in Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states (the Two Areas) tend to flee to nearby South Sudan. Darfur area refugees usually flee to Chad or western South Sudan. In 2015 the UN estimated that war in Sudan had internally displaced 3.2 million people, twice the number of South Sudan’s internally displaced.

 

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