Sudan Military May be Poised for Major Offensive

Posted: January 25, 2012 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Sudan
Tags: , , , , ,

Photo: Satellite Sentinel Project
Satellite image of helicopters at the Sudanese airbase at Kidugli.

Analysts say new satellite images of Sudan’s Southern Kordofan State indicate a major government military offensive is about to begin against the Nuba people.  The images were released Wednesday by the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP).

Government forces have been fighting the rebel SPLA-North Sector in Southern Kordofan, causing thousands of civilians to flee to South Sudan.

De Capua interview with Nathaniel Raymond

“What we’re seeing is the grounds for issuing a Human Security Alert, which we issued today,” said Nathaniel Raymond, director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which analyzed the images.“Satellite imagery collected by DigitalGlobe has captured evidence of road construction and the presence of heavy armor units in position to the Kauda Valley. The Kauda Valley is where at least 200,000 civilians of the Nuba people are currently taking refuge,” he said.

No escape?

Images also indicate the route that’s been used by thousands of civilians to cross into South Sudan appears to be under the control of the Sudanese Armed Forces. Raymond said the route “appears to be blocked, limiting the movement of civilians who may still be trying to flee the Kauda Valley and the Nuba mountains.”

There are also images of an airbase where improvements are being made.

“We see the construction of an airstrip at Talodi, which is approximately 30 miles or 50 kilometers from Kauda Valley. Why this is important is that the runway there is being lengthened to approximately 1800 meters. It takes 1500 to 1550 meters to land an Antonov. An Antonov is the plane which has been used to drop bombs and explosive ordinance of many types. With this new strip, they will be able to conduct high tempo air operations into the Kauda Valley, combined with the infrastructure improvements needed to deploy heavy armor in coordination with that air support,” said Raymond.

Witnesses say it was an Antonov plane that dropped bombs Monday on a refugee center just across the border from Southern Kordofan in South Sudan. Images also show helicopter gunships at the Kadugli airbase

The Satellite Sentinel Project issued a Human Security Alert last year for the disputed oil rich region of Abyei two months before it was attacked by Sudanese forces. “We saw almost an identical force pattern and infrastructure pattern prior to the invasion of Abyei region,” said Raymond.

Final assault

Analysts believe the military offensive could begin soon. “At this point, there’s approximately 8 to 9 weeks before the start of the rainy season. And it makes sense based on the very clear statements of indicted war criminal Governor Ahmed Haroun and President Bashir that they intend to take the Kauda Valley, if possible, likely before the rainy season begins again,” he said.

The Satellite Sentinel Project said the images indicate “preparation for a final assault against the Nuba people.” It said when the fighting began last June in Southern Kordofan there were more than one million Nuba people in the state. It estimates there are now between 200,000 and 400,000.

“During that time you have had more than half of the Nuba population killed, displaced internally or displaced into South Sudan,” he said, adding, “It is crucial to note that this is occurring with the backdrop of what we call a green famine. The Famine Early Warning System, the United Nations and the U.S. government have made it very clear that the food security situation in the Nuba Mountains and the Kauda Valley is precarious.”

The SSP said reports from the ground say the price of sorghum has skyrocketed.

Raymond said, “People are eating reserve foods and in some cases eating bark and leaves. If there is not immediate humanitarian assistance into this restricted area, it is a very real possibility that a famine could occur by some estimates as early as March. And we’re talking 200,000 civilians at least cut off from escape, cut off from humanitarian aid and cut off from protection.”

http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/decapua-southern_kordofan-25jan12-138034648.html

Satellite Images Show Artillery Barrage in S. Kordofan

Joe DeCapua

Images of smoke plumes indicate a Sudanese armed forces artillery barrage against SPLA-North rebels in Toroge in Southern Kordofan State.

Photo: Satellite Sentinel Project
Images of smoke plumes indicate a Sudanese armed forces artillery barrage against SPLA-North rebels in Toroge in Southern Kordofan State.

For the second time this week, new satellite images have been released for Sudan’s Southern Kordofan State, where Sudanese armed forces have been fighting the rebel SPLA-North Sector.

The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) said Friday’s images indicate an apparent artillery barrage and an attempt to block civilians from crossing the border into South Sudan.

DE CAPUA – SOUTHERN KORDOFAN – SATELLITE UPDATE 1-27-12

“The latest images are probably some of the most visually striking we have captured so far at Satellite Sentinel,” said Nathaniel Raymond, head of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, which analyzes the satellite images.

Smoke Plumes

“One of the lead images,” he said, “is six plumes of grey smoke consistent with an artillery barrage on a ridge in the area known as Toroge. And that area, according to information we received last night from sources on the ground, has been the site of fighting for the past two days or so.”

Images indicate Sudanese forces are at battalion strength on the Buram-Jau Road. It’s been the main route civilians had been taking to South Sudan to escape the fighting. The road leads to the Yida refugee camp in South Sudan.

Earlier this week, the SSP released images showing a build-up of Sudanese forces in Southern Kordofan, along with road construction. It said the information indicated a pending military offensive against the Nuba people in the Kauda Valley.

“It does not show the beginning of the offensive that we fear will take place in the next few weeks,” said Raymond. But he added that the position of the Sudanese troops has created a “choke point” on the Buram-Jau Road, which is about 45 kilometers north of the Yida camp.

“The position is described as a choke point because it sits directly across the road and in a mountainous area where there is basically one way down that stretch to get to the border with South Sudan. And now we know why there has been a decreasing flow of civilians across that border,” he said.

Accusations and denial

The Sudan Armed Forces have accused the Satellite Sentinel Project of helping the SPLA-North rebels by providing them with information.

“My reaction to that accusation is simply this – The Satellite Sentinel Project and the analytic operation that we run at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative is party to the Red Cross NGO code of conduct, which means that we are impartial. We do not provide information to either side. What we do provide information about is specific to one thing: threats against civilians,” Raymond said.

He said the SSP does not provide GPS coordinates.

“We do show specific information, yes, when it’s relevant about the Sudan Armed Forces’ bases and positions. But that’s when those bases and positions are threats to civilians,” he said.

A spokesman for Sudanese forces, Col. Al-Sawarmi Khalid Said, is quoted as saying the SSP is “carrying out a hostile operation” and that the armed forces are responsible for protecting civilians.

Raymond rejected those comments. He said, “South Kordofan and the Blue Nile have been the site of clear evidence of mass atrocities against the civilian populations there. We have documented evidence of systematic house to house mass killing in Kadugli, the displacement of the entirety of the Dinka-Not population from Abyei, the bombing and burning and armored attacks on civilian villages in Blue Nile and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians,” he said.

He added, “If the Sudan Armed Forces is responsible for civilian protection, then it is no surprise why so many civilians have fled.”

The SSP has called on the international community to “take responsibility for civilian protection.”

http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/decapua_s_kordofan_plumes_27jan12-138205919.html

South Sudan, Kenya Sign Deal to Build Pipeline
Wall Street Journal
By NICHOLAS BARIYO LONDON—South Sudan and Kenya signed an agreement to build an oil pipeline between the two countries, Martin Heya, the commissioner in charge of petroleum at Kenya’s Energy Ministry said Wednesday. The pipeline will provide a

Sudan Military May be Poised for Major Offensive
Voice of America
Government forces have been fighting the rebel SPLA-North Sector in Southern Kordofan, causing thousands of civilians to flee to South Sudan. De Capua interview with Nathaniel Raymond download iconDownload: MP3 Right click (Control click for Mac) and

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