Sudan: Ominous Quiet

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November 30, 2016: Will it be less or more? South Sudan is reconsidering the controversial decision to increase the number of states. The rebels (SPLM-IO) said that the expansion decision was one that unraveled the August 2015 peace agreement. Meanwhile, a few senior officials claim that some tribes and political groups have lobbied the government to create more states. Some small tribes favor more decentralization because it makes them less vulnerable to pressure, and oppression, by larger neighboring tribes. Meanwhile the government is encouraging pro-government tribal militias to work directly with army units in dealing with security threats. The army is short of troops because many tribes discourage their members from joining the military, which is dominated by members of the Dinka tribe. The government forces have long been mainly Dinka while rebels are largely from smaller Zande, Jur and Moru tribes. The rebellion began in late 2013 as disputes between armed tribesmen (some of them on the government payroll) spiraled out of control. This came after South Sudan achieved independence from Sudan in 2005 after decades of ethnic and religious fighting between the largely Arab government and the black, and often Christian tribesmen in the south. That united many South Sudan tribes that normally fight each other. It was hoped that the experience of working together to drive out the Sudan government forces would last. It didn’t and now we have another example of that.

November 29, 2016: In southwest South Sudan ceasefire monitors were blocked by soldiers from getting to the town of Yei, where there were numerous reports of government approved tribal violence. The UN protested this interference with the recent peace deal the government agreed to and pointed out that foreign aid could be withheld if such misbehavior continued.

November 27, 2016: Opposition political groups and student activists began three days of strikes in Sudan. The groups oppose an increase in medicine, healthcare and fuel prices. One group accused the government of letting transportation infrastructure degrade. Food prices are also rising in Sudan.

November 26, 2016: The UN reported that from January 1 to September 30, 2016, 54,000 South Sudanese refugees entered Sudan’s East Darfur state. The refugees have fled violence in South Sudan and famine conditions. The refugees have settled in six refugee camps: Kario, Khor Omer, El Ferdous Raja, Abu Jabra, Adila, and Assalaya. Authorities reported that the camps lack facilities to provide food and care for the refugees.

November 24, 2016: The Sudan SPLM-N rebels claimed that the army launched missile attacks on four of its defensive positions in Um Dorain County, South Kordofan. The SPLM-N claimed that a total of 21 missiles were fired. Sometimes rebel reports confuse missiles with Russia-type barrage rockets. The Sudanese Army, however, does deploy several short-range battlefield missiles.

November 23, 2016: Agents from Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) arrested Siddig Youssef, Mohamed Diaa al-Din, Tarig Abdel-Mageed and Munzer Abu al-Maali. These four are senior political opposition leaders belonging to the National Consensus Forces (NCF) coalition. The NCF recently advocated overthrowing the current government.

November 22, 2016: In a first 350 Japanese infantry arrived in Juba, South Sudan, for service with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). This is the first time Japan has sent combat troops overseas on a peacekeeping mission. These Japanese infantry replace a group of Japanese military engineers currently serving as peacekeepers. The Japanese infantry have the authority to use force to defend civilians. These troops are armed and trained to do that while earlier Japanese peacekeepers were support troops who were armed for self-defense only.

November 20, 2016: A Sudanese court sentenced a member of the rebel SPLM-N to prison as the man was convicted of spying for South Sudan. The defendant allegedly provided South Sudan with information about Sudanese Army operations in the El Meriam area.

November 19, 2016: South Sudan announced that U.S.-supported Eye Radio may resume broadcasting. The government shut down the radio service earlier this month because it reported that the former South Sudanese rebel leader had left Sudan for exile in South Africa.

November 17, 2016: South Sudan rebels clashed with soldiers in Unity state near the village of Adaab el Bahr. The government claimed that a rebel unit attacked the village and stole cattle. The rebels then ambushed a government force that chased them. A total of 15 people were killed in the battle.

November 16, 2016: The Sudanese president, while speaking to a government security agency, described South Sudan as Sudan’s “enemy.

November 12, 2016: The UN warned that South Sudan is once again on the verge of reigniting its civil war. A UN official said that violence between ethnic groups is increasing and that a new civil war could quickly become a genocidal conflict.

November 10, 2016: Rebel gunmen in South Sudan attacked the city of Yambio (Gbudue State) leaving at least four people dead. Several hundred people have since fled the city. South Sudan troops counter-attacked and drove the rebel gunmen from the town. Several rebel groups in Gbudue state recently received conditional amnesty from the government. The office of the state governor said that it is considering revoking the amnesty decree.

November 9, 2016: a hundred Kenyan soldiers have withdrawn from South Sudan. The soldiers were serving with UN peacekeeping force. Ultimately Kenya intends to withdrawn its entire 1,000 soldier contingent. The Kenyan government said it would withdraw its soldiers from South Sudan after the UN dismissed the Kenyan Army lieutenant-general commanding UN peacekeepers in South Sudan. The UN determined that UN peacekeepers in Juba failed to defend civilians in Juba when fighting broke out in July 2016. The peacekeeper commander was subsequently relieved.

November 8, 216: South Sudan government announced that it has moved troops away from the Sudan-South Sudan border in order to comply with the Cooperation Agreements signed in September 2012. That agreement specified that both countries would create a buffer zone between their military forces.

November 4, 2016: Sudan has terminated its military relationship with North Korea. It has also ended diplomatic cooperation with North Korea. Sudan cut the ties in response to a South Korean request after North Korea conducted a nuclear test that violated a UN Security Council resolution forbidding further nuclear tests.

November 3, 2016: The UN has updated a report on its investigation of the actions of UN peacekeepers in Juba, South Sudan, during the fighting that occurred in the city in July 8-11, 2016. The updated report affirms the interim finding that UN soldiers failed to provide adequate security for civilians and UN facilities when government troops attacked rebel troops in the area. The report also confirmed that South Sudan government troops committed serious human rights violations (to include murder, rape and torture).

 

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