Sudan conflict may spiral out of control: ICG

Posted: September 26, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan

KHARTOUM — The conflict in Sudan is spreading, and the government’s efforts to crush the rebels in its southern border region could spark a wider civil war for control of the country, a report warned on Monday.

"With hundreds of thousands of people displaced… the growing war on multiple fronts poses serious dangers for the country, for its future relationship with the Republic of South Sudan and for the stability of the region as a whole," the International Crisis Group think tank said.

Khartoum is now engaged in military operations against rebel movements in three separate regions along Sudan’s volatile border with the south, which gained full independence on July 9.

The impending loss of the south prompted what the think tank described as a "soft-coup" within Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party by senior army generals, who outflanked the more pragmatic elements seeking a negotiated strategy and opted instead to remove their opponents militarily.

The conflict in South Kordofan state erupted just one month before southern secession, between the Sudanese army and Nuba militiamen who fought with the SPLA, the former rebel army of the south, during their decades-long war with the north.

The fighting, apparently triggered by the army’s insistence on disarming the opposition SPLM-North, spilled into nearby Blue Nile state at the beginning of this month, as the government moved to assert its authority within its new borders.

"There is a real possibility of a new era of protracted civil war in Sudan if key international actors are not able to contain it," the ICG report warned.

"To the resurgence of war in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile will likely be added an escalation in Darfur, especially now that the leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has returned from Libya and rejoined forces in Darfur," it added.

In August, the SPLM-North’s deputy chairman Abdelaziz al-Hilu met with leaders of Darfur’s main rebels movements, and formed a new alliance aimed at bringing about regime change in Sudan through the use of force and popular uprising.

Since then, Khalil Ibrahim, the leader of JEM, Darfur’s most heavily-armed rebel group, has returned to the country’s war-torn western region from Libya, where he sought refuge last year.

The ICG urged the international community to put pressure on Khartoum to abandon its military strategy in favour of an inclusive national dialogue that leads to decentralisation, a new constitution and free and fair elections.

"In the absence of a national political framework, and without clear international consensus to encourage and support a national peace process, the conflict in Sudan may spiral out control and engulf the region."

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