By Reng’o Gyyw Reng’o, Addis Ababa
Just over a month ago, a well placed individual in the system, South Sudan, confided in me and told me the information I did not understand, – Khartoum had been supplying weapons to Juba, during and after the December 2013 crises. The gentleman was very happy. The only question that I asked, was, ” don’t you think Khartoum is doing the same thing to the other side?”. His answer was no. “Why would they?” He asked. I said ” for the same old reasons, wanting to fail South Sudan and now that we are fighting each other, Khartoum might be interested in seeing us annihilating each other!” I was assured Khartoum now needs Jaath [oil] flowing.
While my fears were not addressed, the gentleman sentiments were not isolated. Khartoum’s ambiguous hibernation during the crises, made many regional and international analysts happy. They were praising Khartoum , believing a new era has dawn between Khartoum and Juba. The notorious Islamist Ali Karti, Sudan’s foreign Minister gave concrete assurances of his country’s neutrality in the conflict. He had also taken part in the IGAD’s mission to South Sudan to resolve crises.
However, piecing together number of evidences and occurrences today between South Sudan and Khartoum, it makes me believe that my misgivings then are coming home. First of all, Khartoum was kept out of the countries interfering in South Sudan current conflicts. This is in spite of the fact that it was ferrying weapons to the government in Juba. As long as it was supporting Kiir’s government clandestinely, public relations placard dictates that it was a neutral friend.
You know President Kiir has been accused by his colleagues of flirtation with Beshir, NCP and Khartoum. It was evident in the press release during the December 2013 when the SPLM opposition accused Kiir of wanting to establish a new party that will work the NCP. Only serious minded citizens did not believe that. Otherwise, the gullible groups took the message serious.
There were other developments that were convincing that a new beginning has just arrived in the relationship between Juba and Khartoum. Juba had requested Khartoum to deploy troops in South Sudan to protect oil fields. To effect this, Minister of Defence, Hon. Kuol Manyang Juuk, had to pay a visit to Khartoum just over two weeks ago. Sudan thus has become one of the two neighbouring countries that are seen publicly to be supporting President Kiir. The other being Uganda.
Last week, President Kiir paid a visit to Khartoum to meet President Beshir. It was assumed number of issues were discussed, peace talks, implementation of cooperation agreements, oil protection, etc. However, Abyei, and border demarcation were not mooted. The two issues were not on the table for discussion. Juba read into the mind of Khartoum,-raising these would be a red line. After all, they are “not crucial issues” at the moment.
As soon as President Kiir left Khartoum for Uganda, Sudan’s AirForce bombed Panriang and other areas in Unity State. People were shocked. What was it that Kiir had gone to fetch in Khartoum, “peace or bombs?” I discussed this with my friend Paanluel on the facebook. Below were our exchanged.
P: Khartoum bombing Panrieng county. Kiir was in Khartoum 1-2 ago.
Me: They were welcoming him with bombs.
P: Apparently, yes.
Me: Who might they have targeted? Are there Riek’s rebels in the area, therefore helping Kiir?
P: No. Bombing the civilians.
Me: Hahaha…He has lost it all. That is a message for Kiir to interpret.
Me: Have they condemned it?, I mean the Kiirs.
P: Aguer Panyang was doing the laundry.
Me: I do not know when Kiir will wake to the reality of politics, and development. He has revejuvanted Beshir to strength and potency, and now Beshir is slapping him incessantly on the face.
P: Yeah and Beshir is consolidating his position. While kiir is fighting everyone in the RSS. Beshir is wooing his political rivals.
Me: That is what I have seen over the media.
p: Consolidation and with consolidation comes the exigency of creating distraction. Possibly a conflict with RSS wud be a perfect one.
Me: A sound politician would that, to consolidate at home? I mean I would do that.
P: And create trouble abroad to keep the consolidation intack, and the public occupied with “cockroaches in Juba.”
Me: Hahaha… Kiir is a toddler when it comes to that politics. I would have done just that, when crises where developing in Juba, to divert the rebels.
P: yep. Beshir [is] doing it, perhaps.
Me: We would be fighting along the border now, while seeking international mediation
Khartoum in its crafty ways, was quick in denying any bombing. That was one negative development.
Just few days ago, Juba announced that its intelligence reported massive movements of the Sudan Armed Forces along the border. The Military Spokesperson Philip Aguer made an alarm. However, Khartoum through its armed forces spokesperson denied the allegation. Yesterday but one, Sudan Tribune website published Khartoum or Sudan’s reservations on IGAD’s mediation, accusing IGAD’s process of being bad. We noticed something that was growing.
On Tuesday 14th April 2014, all of a sudden, Bentiu, Capital of Unity State fell to Riek Machar rebels that were alleged to have come from Sudan. South Sudan Military Spokesperson, Col. Philip Aguer, accused Sudan of not only offering sanctuary to the South Sudan’s rebels but also training and supporting them. Still, Khartoum has denied that accusation as if there is going to be a day they will accept any accusation.
We knew something was developing when rebels went silent. It might be that they have now made another agreement with Khartoum over the oil. I had just raised an alarm the other day, that the Juba’s way of handling Khartoum is wanting in all aspects. That type of foreign policy relations would definately backfire. Juba wake up. I am missing Mading Ngor on that.