Category Archives: Khartoum

Sudan Revolts – The Khartoum Uprising is Gaining Strength

Significant clashes took place between protesters and police yesterday in the regional capitals of Madani and Al-Obayid, but also in the capital of Khartoum, where protests have been limited in size and primarily involved students. The police have thus far responded with the use of tear gas. The regime is trying to play down the protests by arguing that it is no big deal that university students are protesting. However, the Sudan Tribune reported that:

According to many witnesses, Friday’s protests were perhaps the most serious in the nation’s history since NCP took power 23 years ago.

Right now, it is fairly easy for the Khartoum regime to believe that the protests are primarily a response to the austerity measures put in place and that they will be weak and fleeting. Without the backing of the military, protests alone have little chance of success, even with international condemnation of efforts to quell them by the military. However, should the regime choose to employ significant violence, it could result in isolation from the African Union and Arab League.

What would change the situation substantially is if the military would change sides. This is much more likely to occur when soldiers are ordered to commit atrocities against civilians. Yet, this regime has already given those orders repeatedly. This is a regime that has committed genocide against segments of its own population and that is actively trying to starve hundreds of thousands of people now. The regime is likely to become more violent if it feels a real threat of collapse. Would there be any doubt that the leaders of the regime would face death in the aftermath of a successful revolt?

As the revolt continues, so will the violence increase. Not to be forgotten will be the millions of people who will be in danger of starvation, who will face severe health problems, and who will have weak governmental structures in place, if any at all, to aid them in the midst of the fighting. Hundreds of thousands are already in jeopardy of starvation in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. Help Nuba!

Opposition Calls for Overthrow of Khartoum Regime

Growing dissatisfaction with austerity measures imposed by the administration of Omar Bashir’s government, opposition parties are calling for the overthrow the government. Students are protesting in large numbers in the streets shouting, “The people want to overthrow the regime!” The opposition parties and rebels groups in Sudan separately made similar calls yesterday. According to the Sudan Tribune:

The opposition forces say the austerity plan announced by the government did not affect the huge budgets of the army, police, security apparatus, and sovereign sector which acquire 70% of wages and salaries line or 56% of the whole 2012 budget.

This is not only the sign of a regime in severe economic difficulties, it is the sign of a regime on the verge of collapse. Governments cannot abandon care for the general needs of their population. Further, it is clear that Sudan’s ability to continue fighting, much less to improve its capabilities on the battlefield through increased military spending, are non-existent.

Ahmed Hussein Adam, the foreign relations secretary of the Darfur based rebel group known as the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said that:

What is happening in Sudan these days is the beginning of a true revolution.

Media Silenced in Sudan

The National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in Sudan told three Sudanese newspapers on Sunday not to distribute their print runs. According to the Sudan Tribune:

The privately-owned dailies Al-Ahdath, Al-Watan and Al-Jarida received orders from the NISS not to distribute their print run on Sunday without giving them any reasons.

The newspapers have been instructed not to report on interactions with rebel leaders from Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile or with South Sudanese officials. It would appear that the Khartoum regime is also unhappy with reports about the removal of fuel subsidies or criticism of the National Congress Party (NCP).

The absence of a free press in Sudan and the expulsion of NGOs operating the regions of conflict make it even more difficult to obtain information about the situations in the border regions and easier for the Khartoum regime to worsen the abuse of their populations. Problematically for the regime, however, is the fact that this type of action also gives the internal opposition the ability to argue that the NCP is simply doing this to hide information that would benefit them politically, something that may well be true in this case. In the context of protests called about rising prices in Sudan, the NCP may have felt compelled to try to silence the media.

SPLM-N Seeks a Humanitarian Ceasefire

The SPLM-N would like to sign a ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid to reach the people of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Of course, the Khartoum Regime will not agree to this because it has been working hard to create the famine in the first place by bombing civilians working in fields and making it impossible to plant crops. The regime in fact, believes that it can force the SPLM-N to disarm by creating such a horrendous famine that the SPLM-N will lay down its arms in the hope of bringing relief to the people of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Meanwhile, the international community has thus far refused to place enough pressure upon Khartoum to relent and to allow humanitarian aid to be delivered or to work toward sending that aid through South Sudan into the region. Famine and the rainy season are the friends of Khartoum. Those who wish to deliver humanitarian aid to the starving civilians are their enemies.

Sudan Cannot Continue to Fight

Some time ago, I discussed a rather sober assessment of South Sudan’s economy. It appeared that Sudan would be able to continue fighting and that South Sudan would be unable to do so. However, a new assessment by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) offers a new perspective. Sudan is facing “daunting challenges.”

The IMF noted that Sudan lost 75% of its oil reserves when South Sudan became a nation. Without the production from Heglig, Sudan would be in catastrophic economic trouble, but it is not in great shape now. In a posting from a couple of weeks ago, I noted something that has become much more significant. I said that:

While having the upper hand, Sudan should be somewhat concerned. Yes, it has substantially more financial resources to commit to war, but it will also have to spend those resources at a much higher rate to prosecute a war, even a defensive one. The difference in the motivation of the soldiers is paramount. The Sudanese soldiers would be fighting for money to support their families. Sudan is going to have to pay its soldiers substantially to motivate them.

If Sudan’s economy is in bad shape, then this dynamic becomes exceedingly important. Sudan will begin to see desertions from its armed forces and certainly from mercenary groups that it supports. People fighting for money will stop fighting when the money stops flowing or if the tide of battle turns against them. One cannot support a family if he dies. Thus, such soldiers are much more likely to abandon the fight if it gets difficult. People fighting for survival and people fighting for freedom will continue to fight. If in South Sudan and perhaps soon after, the SPLA-North, were to put anti-aircraft weaponry in the field of battle, removing the massive advantage of Sudan, the tide of the entire war could change.

In the meantime, regardless of the fighting, there are people starving in South Kordofan and Blue Nile with the rainy season rapidly approaching. That is a battle the people of the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile cannot afford to lose.

 

Sudan, SPLA-N, and JEM

Sudan is accusing South Sudan of supporting the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army-North in South Kordofan and the Justice and Equality Movement in southern Darfur. This was obviously going to be the strategy of the government of Sudan when the UNSC made the absence of support part of the proposal. I wrote about this issue for Help Nuba on May 1st. I wrote at that time that:

As for ceasing to harbor or support rebel groups, it will be impossible to confirm compliance. If these groups continue to act on their own, the appropriate governments will be accused of supporting them regardless of whether or not they actually offer material or any other type of support. In addition, remember that the rebel groups in the south of Sudan are fighting for freedom against a genocidal government. The UN as an organization is supposed to support democracy. Yes, I know that this is farcical at this point, but to have an official policy that mandates that people combating genocide are not to be supported is at best wrong and at worst cruel and inhumane.

Nothing has changed in three weeks. Sudan is still trying to slaughter the people of South Kordofan and they are still fighting against the Khartoum regime. Neither side seems like it is going to stop anytime soon.

Sudan reaches out to Arab League

Nabil al-Arabi, Arab League Secretary general was in Khartoum for talks with president Omer Hassan al-Bashir over the weekend. The Khartoum regime is seeking aid from the Arab League to combat potential sanctions applied by the US and United Nations failure to work with South Sudan. They haven’t said that explicitly, but it appears to be the truth. The Arab nations have consistently sided with Sudan against South Sudan and exert influence in the United Nations.

Sudan has reached security and peace agreements in the past few months with Chad, with the Central African Republic, and with the newly Ghaddafi-less Libya. It is certainly not a good thing that the newly freed people of Libya have as one of their first activities embraced Omar al-Bashir.

Meanwhile, the conflict between Sudan and South Sudan is being portrayed as one between the Arab world on the one side and South Sudan, Uganda, and Israel on the other. The Sudan Revolutionary Front, the group comprised of people from the Nuba Mountains and Darfur along with others who are persecuted by the Khartoum regime are treated as if they fight for others instead of the truth which is that they are fighting for their own peace, justice, and liberty. This is Sudan’s way of misdirecting the discussion and discouraging western support for the “rebel” groups.

In the meantime, with the focus of attention away from the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile and instead on preventing war between Sudan and South Sudan, the Khartoum regime will be able to continue its efforts to kill or expel the Blue Nile and Nuba peoples, Christians and Muslims, men, women, and children and with the approaching rainy season, the urgency grows rapidly.

Negotiations and Urgency

Thabo Mbeki of the African Union met with South Sudan President Salva Kiir to discuss arranging negotiations with Sudan. South Sudan’s response, “Sure, let’s meet.” Sudan’s response, “No, give us what we want to achieve in the negotiations as preconditions for negotiations and then we’ll negotiate.” You can read more about the meeting between Mbeki and Kiir here.

In other news, the United States has donated $30 million to the UN World Food Program to address food insecurity in South Sudan. The donation will be delivered through the US Agency for International Development (USAID). While we have discussed the need to get food aid into the Nuba Mountains before the rainy season hits, there is also a major need to get aid to many regions within South Sudan. According to USAID’s press release:

Due to South Sudan’s poor road network, about 60 percent of the country will become inaccessible during the rainy season. This contribution helps WFP complete prepositioning of much-needed commodities across South Sudan, where roads will soon become impassable.

Meanwhile, Sudan and the UN have grossly differing estimates for the number of refugees from Sudan who are currently in neighboring countries. Sudan’s estimates are less than half of those of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Regardless, hundreds of thousands of Sudanese now reside in neighboring countries because of the inhuman conduct of the Khartoum regime in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile, while hundreds of thousands more are internally displaced. Remember that the several hundred thousands Christian former citizens of Sudan have become “South Sudanese” in the eyes of the Khartoum government and are being pressured to leave. In addition, many thousands more in the border region of South Sudan have also been displaced because of Khartoum’s cross border bombing campaign and cross border raids.

Sudan Council of Churches Office in South Darfur Ordered Closed

Sudan has raided and closed the offices of the Sudan Council of Churches in Nyala along with Sudan Aid without giving any notice, according to a report from Compass Direct News. Three employees of Sudan aid were arrested. National Intelligence and Security Services also shuttered a church that was caring for the needy in the area.

Sudan Accepts UNSC Resolution

Sudan has accepted “with reservations” the UNSC resolution seeking an end to hostilities between Sudan and South Sudan. The resolution also requires Sudan to negotiate with the SPLM-North in South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions. The Sudanese parliament rejected the use of the term “disputed” to refer to those territories and others which South Sudan also claims.

Sudan’s Foreign Minister, Ali Karti, seemed to take issue with Omar Bashir’s rhetoric of late, proposing that Bashir’s confrontational language makes South Sudan “appear” to be the victim. The Foreign Minister noted that:

The talk that they [SPLM leaders] are a group that only understands the stick was interpreted to be referring to the poem of [Abu El-Tayib] El-Mutanabi that says “you shall not buy a slave without a stick” and the term insect was likened to the use of the term cockroaches by the Hutu against the Tutsi during the Rwandan massacres.

The Sudan Tribune adds that:

Karti cautioned that Africa was still reeling from “an inferiority complex” that makes its leaders prone to interpreting any statement within certain contexts even if it was well-intentioned.

I am trying to figure out how these terms could be “well-intentioned” coming from a man wanted by the ICC for genocide in Darfur while hearing them in the context of attempted genocide in the Nuba Mountains. Seems to me that it is fairly clear that Bashir’s rhetoric is appropriate for his aim and that the world needs to see Bashir for what he is, a wanted war criminal seeking unashamedly to commit more war crimes.