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Category Archives: Nuba MountainsImage
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SUDAN DEFIES US AND UNSC, ESCALATES ETHNIC VIOLENCE
Bishop Andudu speaks out against ethnic cleansing, Activists urge strong consequences
WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 10, 2012 – Act for Sudan urges the United States, the United Nations, the African Union and the Arab League to issue a strong warning to the Government of Sudan that if it carries out an attack on Kauda Valley, it can expect immediate and debilitating consequences.
While activists appreciate recent efforts by the United Nations to address the humanitarian crisis and to resolve the outstanding issues that have instigated violent conflicts in Sudan and South Sudan, these measures will not save the lives of Sudanese living in Kauda Valley and throughout the Nuba Mountains who are in grave danger.
In January, George Clooney’s Satellite Sentinel Project provided clear evidence that the Government of Sudan was preparing a final assault against the Nuba people living in Kauda Valley, Southern Kordofan.
President Omar al-Bashir and his assistant, Nafie Ali Nafie, confirmed the government’s intentions and the Satellite Sentinel Project’s predictions. According to a Sudan Tribune article dated May 8, 2012, Nafie indicated that the army is close to taking control of the area and Bashir threatened to hold prayers in Kauda this Friday.
While Kauda Valley is the stronghold of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement North, a member of the Sudan Revolutionary Front which has vowed to overthrow Bashir’s regime, the tactics of the Government of Sudan violate international norms and the spirit of the United Nations Resolution 2046 dated May 2, 2012.
Since June 2011, the Government of Sudan has indiscriminately and continuously bombed Kauda Valley. It has blocked humanitarian aid from reaching civilians and it has cut-off the main evacuation route for those attempting to escape. The Government of Sudan has trapped and subjected its citizens to months of terror and violence. Before the rainy season begins, it intends to carry out a final military campaign to eliminate those who have not succumbed to starvation.
According to Bishop Andudu, the Anglican Bishop of the capital of Southern Kordofan, Kauda Valley in the Nuba Mountains was home to a diverse population, a place where Muslims and Christians lived and worked together peacefully. He noted, “however, the people who are being killed by the Sudanese government in the Nuba Mountains are mostly black Africans – both Christians and Muslims and animists.”
Act for Sudan has consistently sounded the alarm about the spectre of the Government of Sudan’s systematic behavior of breaking agreements to allow humanitarian aid as well as those that require a cessation of violence, most recently in a letter to the United Nations Security Council dated April 24, 2012.
Act for Sudan is an alliance of 68 American and Sudanese grassroots organizations that advocate for an end to genocide and mass atrocities in Sudan. Act for Sudan is dedicated to advocacy that is directly informed by the situation on the ground and by Sudanese people who urgently seek protection, justice, and peace. For more information please visit http://www.actforsudan.org.
Sudan has is rejecting the UN Security Council’s demand to negotiate with the SPLM-North based upon a June, 2011 agreement. SPLM-N Secretary General Yasser Arman indicates that the SPLM-N has agreed to negotiate. A statement signed by him states that:
The entry point for the comprehensive peaceful settlement in Sudan is for the parties to address urgently and seriously the humanitarian crisis in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile immediately and to put into effect the tripartite agreement of the United Nations, African Union and the Arab League, which was signed by the SPLM-N long ago and avoided by Khartoum using different tricks to buy time. And in this regard, the SPLM-N is ready for a humanitarian cessation of hostilities that will enable the UN, African Union and Arab League to implement their proposal.
Sudan’s leader Omar Bashir, no doubt feels that since Sudan seems to currently have the upper hand in international opinion to force South Sudan to abandon support of the SPLM-N, it is time to increase Sudan’s military operation against the SPLM-N rather than to negotiate. In response to this decision by Sudan, the United States may push for sanctions against Sudan. However, there is little to no chance that sanctions will pass the UNSC as both Russia and China are likely to veto any such resolution.
The Global Post has an excellent interview with General Abdul Aziz Hilu, chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North), commander of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-North) and Chief of the Joint Military Command of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF).
How will this end?
We are working for regime change, for complete transformation, for writing a new constitution, a democratic constitution that recognizes diversity, that accepts the liberal values of justice, equality, individualism. We want to achieve lasting peace and justice in this country.
Some may say we are not qualified to reach this but I think it is possible.
In my most recent posting for Help Nuba, I noted that the grave prediction by the World Bank concerning the state of the South Sudanese economic situation without oil revenues likely has had an effect on efforts to prioritize ending fighting between Sudan and South Sudan over addressing the dire circumstances in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
The SPLA-North and South Sudan
In fact, the effort to end the fighting between the two nations has significantly worsened the military situation for the SPLA-North in South Kordofan because the absence of a threat from South Sudan would allow Sudan to focus its military attention on the SPLA-North. Thus, the UNSC and African Union resolution aimed at ending the fighting between Sudan and South Sudan is almost certain to worsen the situation of the people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
In the meantime, however, Sudan must avoid making life so difficult for the South Sudanese that they choose to resume a full scale war. South Sudan, finding itself in a desperate financial situation, may decide to join fully with the SPLA-N against the Khartoum regime, restarting the war. It is even possible that if things get bad enough for the people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile that their friends in South Sudan may choose to enter the conflict in support of them.
An additional issue, one for which I have seen no commentary yet, is that South Sudan must be concerned at some level about losing the SPLA-North as a buffer on its northern front. While there have been cross border attacks, Sudan cannot fully commit to efforts against South Sudan because it must defend against opposing forces within its territory. It must focus inwardly as well as outwardly. South Sudan then has a significant incentive not to let the SPLA-North be defeated.
Fighting for Survival vs. Fighting for Money
So 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. When winning a conflict and obtaining spoils, soldiers have historically performed well. When finding themselves defending and regularly losing ground, gaining no spoils, soldiers tend toward lack-luster performance or even desertion. The South Sudanese, SPLA, JEM and others would be fighting for their survival. People fighting for money, such as most of the Sudanese forces, will run if things get bad.
The Oil Pipeline
Meanwhile, because ultimately such a conflict could not end without taking control of the oil pipeline, once this level of war starts, the South Sudanese and allies would have no option but to fight all the way to Khartoum. Unless the United States were to intervene to prevent Sudan from using its air advantage, this war would see an enormous casualty figure among people in the south with widespread famine being a real possibility.
Some have suggested bombing Sudanese air strips in order to prevent the bombing of civilians in the Nuba Mountains. Without its air superiority, Sudan can’t win against the rebels or South Sudan, so taking out Sudan’s air bases not only would prevent bombing in Nuba, it would result in the collapse of the regime. Sudan should fear the possibility of angering the United States to the point that it acts against Sudan’s air superiority, even if it does nothing else.
While noting that South Sudan has few good options right now but to try to achieve and agreement with Sudan and to get the oil flowing again so as to avert economic collapse next year, Sudan cannot act as if it has no worries.
Those opposed to genocide in the Nuba Mountains and who care about the ultimate fate of the people in South Sudan, are faced with the need to do three things:
1. Get food into Nuba.
- The deadline for this is before anything else could really be done, so it is by far the top priority.
- People will begin starving in large numbers soon.
2. Work on promoting unity among the South Sudanese, Nuba, Blue Nile and Darfurian communities in the diaspora as well as in the region.
- If this doesn’t happen, the SPLA-N has little chance in the long run to win against Sudan and
- South Sudan will become increasingly hostage to the whim of the rulers in Sudan with a decreasing ability to combat it.
3. Promote the reasonable idea that the US cannot allow indiscriminate bombing of civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
- Any military action by the US would only become an option if Sudan uses its air forces to kill large numbers of civilians and
- If South Sudan decides to officially join the fight because the consequences of US intervention in Nuba are dire for both Sudan and South Sudan.
- The US cannot act against Sudan without consideration of retaliation by Sudan against South Sudan and
- The World Bank report shows precisely that simply shutting off the oil indefinitely could do tremendous damage to South Sudan.
As if the problems for those threatened in the southern states of Sudan were not bad enough already, South Sudan may well be forced to comply with demands made by Khartoum in order to survive. The Sudan Tribune published an article about the fact that the World Bank is warning the government in Juba that its economy will collapse if the situation between the countries is not remedied.
The crisis began with Juba’s decision to shut down its oil production in a dispute with Khartoum over the fees Sudan was charging. Since that time fighting has broken out and Khartoum has pledged never to allow South Sudan’s oil to flow through its pipeline. 98% percent of South Sudan’s revenues came from sales of that oil. The World Bank was briefed on March 1st by Marcelo Giugale,the World Bank’s Director of Economic Policy and Poverty Reduction Programs for Africa, who noted that even if non-oil revenues in South Sudan triple this year, it will not be good enough to avert a crisis by the middle of 2013.
So here, alas, must be the reason why the UNSC and United States have been pushing Juba to meet the demands of Khartoum.
According to the article, Guigale told representatives of the major donor groups including the United States, United Kingdom, European Union (EU), Norway and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) among others that:
“[T]he World Bank has never seen a situation as dramatic as the one faced by South Sudan.”
The article notes that Guigale went on to say that:
The decision (to halt oil production) was shocking and that officials present had not internalized nor understood the consequences of the decision.
There is a near certainty of the collapse of South Sudanese currency if things do not change rapidly:
As a result of “sharp” drop in influx of hard currency and once citizens in South Sudan realize that value of their local currency is slipping “there will be a run for the dollars and families with dollars will almost certainly shift them outside the country.” Giugale pointed out that because most South Sudanese are not fully financial literate the run on the point has not yet happened. “Once it starts, the currency will almost certainly collapse,” Giugale says.
South Sudan’s foreign cash reserves could possibly last a little over a year or even up to a year and a half with significant austerity measures put in place. During this time poverty will rise dramatically and expenditures on things such as healthcare and education will fall significantly, impacting daily life. Large scale famine and disease would be a real possibility. The World Bank would shift its aid to South Sudan from economic development to humanitarian aid, crippling the economic growth of the nation.
There are two alternatives to this that I can see. South Sudan tried one and may well have been trying the other.
The first option is to build an alternative pipeline that does not run through Sudan. Salva Kiir met with Chinese leaders to propose this. China rejected it as an option, not simply because of the political cost in its relationship with Sudan and other Arab nations or because of the significant expense involved, but because it could take years, not months, to create. Additionally, the report from the World Bank of which China was well familiar could lead China to believe that the government of South Sudan could collapse before any pipeline could be completed, thus potentially rendering useless any investment in it. Salva Kiir returned from China with loan guarantees, quite possibly ones contingent upon improved relations with Khartoum and a renewed flow of oil.
The second option may have been to take Heglig from Sudan in an attempt to force Khartoum to accept significantly less for oil flowing through the pipeline. I cannot say with any certainty that this was the purpose behind taking control of Heglig because there are other potential reasons, however, the thought may have been that:
Ultimately Khartoum gets a share of all the oil flowing through the pipeline, so it really doesn’t matter one way or another whether or not it owns the wells along the way. If we (South Sudan) control all of the oil flowing in, Khartoum will have to deal with us or they will suffer.
Sudan would have suffered for certain, but Sudan can easily hold out far longer than South Sudan. This plan might work if Juba had several years worth of reserves and a broader economy not almost entirely dependent upon oil revenues, but it never could have worked swiftly.
This all may then explain why the international organizations and the United States reacted so strongly against South Sudan concerning Heglig. They likely believe that Juba’s sole option in averting an existential crisis is to mend relations with Khartoum and that millions of lives are at stake if that does not happen.
A third option is not being discussed and probably will not be, namely a US or UN led effort at regime change in Sudan. There are too many factors to list right now, but suffice it to say that the bottom line is that a large scale invasion would create a dramatically increased humanitarian crisis without solving any part of the existing one in the near term.
The significance of this understanding for those concerned about the suffering in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur as well is that there is no pressure that may be exerted upon Khartoum by Juba that will be of help. Worse, intervention, even strong sanctions, by the UN, US, AU or any other body against Sudan would likely jeopardize its willingness to allow transit of oil and military intervention could, likely would, result both in a dramatically worsened humanitarian situation and in the pipeline being shut down for an extended period of time almost certainly leading to the economic collapse of South Sudan predicted by the World Bank.
Thus, South Sudan has no choice but to work with Sudan in order to get the oil flowing once again. It can spend a few months determining which concessions are best for it to make, but it has little or no choice but to make some significant ones.
This is a very bleak picture. The survival of the people in the Nuba Mountains who are being persecuted by the Khartoum government will then depend upon non-governmental organizations raising funds and sending in large quantities of humanitarian aid without the help of major international agencies and certainly without any help from the government of South Sudan. It is up to us to Help Nuba!
Accusing Sudan of occupying and claiming territories since the resources were discovered, South Sudan released a map of its territory that includes Panthou/Heglig and other disputed territories on its side of the border. According to the Sudan Tribune:
The Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Service, Madut Biar Yel, told the press after the cabinet meeting that six areas that were contested and occupied by Khartoum including Heglig/Panthou were included as part of South Sudan as per the new map presented to the cabinet by the Vice President…
The areas disputed by Khartoum are located in the four bordering states of Upper Nile, Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Western Bahr el Ghazal states. Khartoum has a different rival map which has also incorporated the same disputed territories.
Madut accused Khartoum of occupying territories which historically belong to South Sudan and claiming them because they have resources
With this vote, the Council has clearly imposed tight deadlines for concrete action, in line with the African Union decision. This Council, especially those members with particular influence, including my own, must continue to press both parties to implement the African Union Roadmap by ending hostilities, ceasing cross-border attacks and movements, halting aerial bombardments, withdrawing all their forces from the border areas including Abyei, activating the necessary border security mechanisms, and ending support to rebel groups working against the other state.
It is also essential that both parties return at once to the negotiating table under the auspices of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel to reach agreement on critical outstanding issues. We support the plans of the African Union to travel to Khartoum and Juba in the coming days to begin the process. This is ultimately the only way that further conflict can be avoided.
If the parties fail to take these steps promptly, this Council is united in its determination to hold both sides accountable. We stand ready to impose Chapter VII sanctions on either or both parties, as necessary.
The clear and unmistakable impression given by this statement is that the United States will offer no support whatsoever to those people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile who are fighting for their lives against a genocidal regime that wishes to kill them precisely because fighting for their lives constitutes a rebellion against the government of Sudan’s wish for them to leave or die. Is it possible for a rational human being not to wish for regime change under such a circumstance, nor to fight for it to happen?