Category Archives: SPLA

The Grave Situation in South Sudan – Updated

This is the most up to date information, we have as of Jan. 6, 2014 at 8:15 am Central Time.

  1. (Jan. 6) Pres. Omar Bashir of Sudan is meeting with Pres. Salva Kiir of South Sudan in Juba today to discuss the crisis.
  2. (Jan. 5) The Government of South Sudan is fighting to retake Bor from the rebels.
  3. (Jan. 5) A General in the South Sudan Army, Abraham Jongroor Deng, was killed in an ambush.
  4. (Jan 5.) Peace negotiations are scheduled to begin today with the sole agenda item of ending hostilities. The rebels are refusing to come to the table until the leaders arrested on December 16 are freed and allowed to come to the talks.
  5. (Jan. 5) Report of fighting ongoing in Unity State.
  6. (Jan. 4-5) Reports of gunfire or even “heavy fighting” occurring at points during the evening and night in or near military barracks in the capitol, Juba, and in Yei, a town on the Ugandan border. No reliable information is available as to the nature or extent of the gunfire or fighting. There is an unconfirmed report that soldiers in Yei may have defected to the rebel side (@ougasam).
  7. (Jan. 3) The US has evacuated most embassy personnel from Juba.
  8. (Jan 3) Reports are that the South Sudan Army was ambushed on the way to Bor suffering significant casualties. Riek Machar stated that the rebels will reach Juba soon.
  9. The South Sudan Army will again attempt to retake Bor and confront the White Army there instead of Juba.
  10. If the White Army wins in Bor, Juba may be attacked soon afterwards. The distance is not far.
  11. If the White Army fails in Bor it will be because thousands have been killed.
  12. If Juba is attacked, many more thousands will be killed.
  13. Uganda will become involved much more substantially if the threat against Juba increases. Right now Uganda is largely on the sideline. Museveni will not allow Juba to fall without engaging in the fight and using the full weight of his military including air power.
  14. This conflict seems to have begun with a power struggle within the leadership of the SPLM.
  15. Whether or not there was a coup in process at the start of this conflict (Riek Machar denies it), there is now an insurrection involving several military leaders and demands for the ouster of the President under threat of violence at the hands of the military. By definition there is currently a coup attempt in process, though the scope of this event makes that term irrelevant. This is on the scale of a civil war involving thousands, if not tens of thousands, of soldiers on both sides. East African leaders will not accept a coup in South Sudan.
  16. Riek Machar has said that he only wants to run in the next elections. However, at this point, he is leading a rebel group seeking to take over the country.
  17. Several leading figures of the SPLM are currently being held under arrest including former party leader Pagan Amum.
  18. No oil will flow from South Sudan until the conflict ends and foreign workers can return to work.
  19. Unmanned wells will deteriorate rapidly and require significant reconstruction before long, resulting in a major delay, perhaps months long, for the renewal of the oil flow and costing the nation billions of dollars in revenue resulting in a certain economic crisis following even an immediate end to this crisis and a worsening one the longer it continues.
  20. The only possibility of democracy returning to South Sudan in the near future: i.e. months, not weeks, would be for the sides to agree to a cease fire soon. The longer this conflict goes on and the more people die, the worse the animosity will be afterwards and the more difficulty it will be to work together in a democratic nation.
  21. Ethnic based killings and other human rights violations have occurred.
  22. The refugee situation in South Sudan is extreme with tens of thousands of people displaced and existing refugee camps in areas of conflict.
  23. Peace talks in Ethiopia have just begun. Failure of the peace talks will have catastrophic consequences.
You may be interested in reading Dr. Eric Reeve’s extensive analyses exploring the issues: Riek Machar’s possible end game and asking whether or not South Sudan has passed the tipping point.

Important words by Dr. John Garang about Peace

Dr. John Garang de Mabior

Dr. John Garang de Mabior

This is from a speech given by Dr. John Garang on the occasion of the signing of the Nairobi Declaration, June 5, 2004. Dr. John’s words need no commentary. They are obviously applicable to the events ongoing today in both Sudan and South Sudan:

There are many – here and elsewhere – who think that peace is about job allocation, is about apportionment of positions of authority, is about lining pockets through misuse or abuse of public assets, or is about lording it over others. Those who thus think must be reading from a different script than mine.

We have more supreme goals and loftier ideals and alternatives. My script reads that peace is what people think and believe peace should hold for them. Peace to my mind and in the depth of my soul is a promise of better living to the young, the middle aged and the aged, to each individual, to the unemployed and the destitute, to the sick and the unlettered, all over Sudan. It is also a promise to the men and women of Southern Sudan, the Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile, Abyei, Eastern Sudan and other marginalized areas of Sudan who suffered in dignified silence the loss of their dear ones in the war of liberation or who felt and still do feel a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, a promise that we shall never betray the cause for which those martyrs have made the ultimate sacrifice. And theirs is a cause for better and more honorable living.

It is also a promise to martyrs and to those who lost their dear ones on the other side,

promise that just and honorable peace

shall heal all the wounds

that we have inflicted

on ourselves on both sides.

Dissolution and Rebuilding

Those of us who have been involved with Sudan related issues for a decade or longer feel some anxiety about the decision by President Salva Kiir of South Sudan to dissolve the government and restructure it, removing numerous key leaders. However, we also know well, it was obvious in fact, that the government as it had been constituted was incapable of functioning as South Sudan needed it to function. Whether this was because there was infighting among leaders or because people had been appointed to positions based upon what they did during the long war rather than based upon their ability to direct the ministries to which they had been appointed, we do not know. We do know that the people of South Sudan have seen corruption proliferate and conflict spread while the needs of the average citizen in many parts of the country have gone largely unmet.

We also know that while things could improve quickly under the right circumstances, it is all too easy for them to deteriorate as well. At this moment, there is a significantly increased military presence in the streets of Juba and there are heightened fears of conflict between the Dinka and the Nuer, the two largest tribes, with the former Vice President Machar a Nuer. There are also many voices praising Kiir’s decision, hoping for new faces in the government with reduced corruption. Machar himself is calling for calm while criticizing the Kiir’s decisions.

For the health of South Sudan moving forward, a true multiparty political system that encourages healthy policy debate is absolutely essential. The fact is that right now, the SPLM is so dominant that free debate is difficult to achieve and tends to occur within the party itself where dissenters are criticized or even ostracized, something not helpful to the advancement of the nation on the whole. In other countries, Kiir, Machar, and Pagan Amum might well lead two or three different political parties, offering criticism of one another while promoting different solutions to the problems faced by the nation. Perhaps, this is the direction in which the nation is headed, something that would be beneficial in the long run.

Our fervent hope is that the rebuilt government will be more effective at creating prosperity and renewing hope for the people of South Sudan. Only time will tell if our hope will come to pass.

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.