July 9th: The Roles of CDR Arok Thon Arok and CDR Edward Abyei Lino in the Liberation of South Sudan

Posted: July 10, 2019 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Arok Thon Arok, Columnists, Commentary, Contributing Writers, Deng Diar Diing, History, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

CDR Arok Thon Arok and CDR Edward Abyei Lino Wuor: How The Ogaden War Inadvertently Led To The Liberation Of South Sudan

By Engineer Deng Diar Diing, Mombasa, Kenya

CDR Kerubino Kuanyin Bol, CDR Arok Thon Arok and CDR William Nyuon Bany
CDR Kerubino Kuanyin Bol, CDR Arok Thon Arok and CDR William Nyuon Bany

Wednesday, July 10, 2019 (PW) — The just celebrated independence of South Sudan came through multifaceted efforts of South Sudanese, citizens of other areas of new Sudan and their sympathizers. Some of the well-wishers went a long way in ensuring that Sudanese had a Launchpad to their liberation struggle while others guaranteed that peace came in terms that provided safeguards to the right to self-determination of the marginalized people. This was indeed secured through Dr. John multi-frontal methodology that deployed armed struggle (AS), Diplomatic and International Isolation (DII), agitation for internal uprising (IU) and political negotiation (PN) with successive regimes in the Sudan.

A critical devotee that ensured successful launch of Sudanese Liberation agenda in 1983 was Federal Republic of Ethiopia through Derg Regime of Mengistu Hail Meriam. Mengistu sent helicopter to search and picked Dr. John Garang at the border of Ethiopia and Sudan when he was under hot pursuit of Sudanese Army. The government of Ethiopia leveraged its relations with USSR, Cuba, Angola, North Korea and Libya to give SPLM/A its first international podium. Federal Government of Ethiopia also with the support of Russia and North Korea helped arm 105, 104, Jamus, Tiger and Tumsah battalions.

Dr. John and his team were able to use this platform to secure military hardware worth US$ 96 millions from Libya to arm Koryom, Muormuor and Zalzal. What has never been publically discussed by South Sudanese, whether out of dearth of inquisitiveness or by deliberation was the exact interest of Ethiopians in advancing liberation movement in neighboring Sudan. While others would simply argue that it was geopolitical orientation of Communism-Capitalism axis.

Others, would say, it was a counterinsurgency by the Mengistu to stifle the support of the Sudanese to the Eritrean and Tigray rebellions. All those contributed to why Derg Government of Ethiopia supported the formation of Sudanese People Liberation Movement.

But the game-changer event which gave the people of South Sudan and Ethiopia timeless bond, is the role South Sudanese men played to maintain territorial integrity of Federal Republic of Ethiopia in a war where it almost lost 200, 000 square kilometers Somali region of Ogaden. This war became known as Ogaden War.

The Ogaden War was a Somali military offensive between July 1977 and March 1978 over the disputed Ethiopian region of Ogaden, which began with the Somali invasion of Ethiopia. Ethiopian-Somali region of Ogaden was annexed to Ethiopia by the British in 1954 with diplomatic support of the United States of America. Somalia in July 1977 launched a well-premeditated war to annex Ogaden Region to its territorial boundaries.

The Soviet Union disapproved of the invasion and ceased its support of Somalia, instead starting to support Ethiopia; the United States, contrariwise, ceased its support of Ethiopia and started supporting Somalia. The war broke out and ensued and saw Ethiopians suffering series of military losses.

Ethiopia was saved from a major defeat and a permanent loss of territory through a massive airlift of military supplies (worth $7 billion), the arrival of 16,000 Cuban troops, 1,500 Soviet advisors and two brigades from South Yemen, also airlifted to reinforce Harar. The Ethiopians prevailed at Harar, Dire Dawa and Jijiga, and began to push the Somalis systematically out of the Ogaden.

By March 1978, the Ethiopians had captured almost all of the Ogaden, prompting the defeated Somalis to give up their claim to the region. A third of the initial Somali National Army invasion force was killed, and half of the Somali Airforce destroyed; the war left Somalia with a disorganized and demoralized army and an angry population.

In its long plan to regain Ogaden from Ethiopia, Somalia military intelligence recruited about two hundred (200) Ethiopian Somalis and then sent them to Sudan intelligence training centre. These individuals were sent back to Ethiopia where they enrolled in various sovereign institutions including the Military Intelligence, Police and in both regional and Federal Governments of Ethiopia.

When war broke out in July 1977, Ethiopian Military dived-nose in losses in various fronts against the Somali military because of porosity in intelligence, both operational and strategic. When Soviet switched side to support Ethiopia against Somalia in the war, the Soviet Military advisors brought the source of intelligence fiasco to the attention of Ethiopian Government.

The Soviet military advisors informed the Ethiopian army of infiltration and advised them to contact one socialist political activist in the Sudan, in the name of Edward Abyei Lino Wuor to facilitate them in identification of the moles.

The Ethiopian Embassy in Sudan straightway directed its military attaché to contact Edward Lino. Edward was contacted and was given the details of the task at hand.

Edward Lino being a shrewd political operator saw strategic opportunity in this engagement. He right away promised the Derg officer that he would contact his relative who was an instructor in the intelligence center to identify the moles and give their identities to the Ethiopian intelligence in return for political favour.

Edward contacted his friend and brother in-law Capt. Arok Thon Arok who was by then a well-respected Sudanese military intelligence officer and an instructor in the intelligence college. (Edward’s sister is married to Gen. Mathiang Malual Awak Bior, a cousin to Arok).

Edward and Arok met and discussed the matter. Arok agreed to the favour but on clear condition that Ethiopian Government promised future political support to the people of South Sudan in their quest for independence. It has to be noted here that Capt. Arok Thon was already a member of Underground Movement.

Edward and Arok therefore went to Ethiopian Embassy to meet the Ambassador and their intelligence officer to share the offer and expected consideration. The embassy telephoned their headquarters back in Addis Ababa to share the terms. They were unconditionally given go-ahead to accept any terms presented by the two gentlemen.

The intelligence was shared, moles identified and consequently, military tides in favour of Ethiopia were reversed. By March 1978, Somali military war reduced to smithereens and officially surrendered the remaining areas of Ogaden under their control to Ethiopia. This was a generational victory for the people and the government of Ethiopia. Thanks to the support of USSR and its allies, notably little known, South Sudanese Underground Movement.

So in the frenzy of days leading to the 16th May 1983, Maj. Arok Thon Arok informed Edward Lino to contact Ethiopian Embassy to inform their government to be on the standby to support an imminent military revolt by South Sudanese in the South of the Sudan. While Dr. John was in Juba on his way to Bor, Maj. Arok had shared the communication with Ethiopian Embassy in Khartoum and advised Dr. John to proceed to Ethiopia as soon as there was an outbreak of fight.

Following his intervention on the 9th of June 1983, to have Kerubino blockade lifted at Juba bridge, Maj. Arok became a principal suspect after the first bullet was shot in Bor on orders of Lt. Col. Kerubino Kuanyin Bol. He was arrested on the 17th of May and flown to Khartoum on the same day and consequently arrested at the military headquarters. He then sent for his relative (name withheld) who was by then in the Sudanese military artillery to contact Edward so that he visits him right away.

In his visit to the cell, Maj. Arok and Edward shared the events and thereafter directed Edward to contact Ethiopian Embassy so that they could pick Dr. John Garang who was then fleeing to the Ethiopian border. He told Edward to ask the embassy to facilitate Dr. John’s meeting with Chairman Col. Mengistu Hail Mariam.

This message was immediately wired to Addis Ababa, which sent helicopter that hovered for over one week at Ethiopian border to pick Dr. John Garang. About ten (10) days later, Dr. John was spotted, picked and carried to Addis Ababa to meet Col. Mengistu Hail Mariam. Thereafter, Mengistu became the protégé and godfather of the Peoples Liberation Struggle.

Edward remained in Khartoum to run the recruitment and as a source of intelligence until he joined the movement after 1986 where he was commissioned as an Alternate Commander and assigned as Director of External Intelligence, a position he held until the demise of Dr. John Garang de Mabior.

Long live South Sudan

Long live our martyrs

Long live Abyei.

The author, John Deng Diar Diing (P.E. B.tech., MSc, MIEK.), is the Deputy Director, Infrastructure Development and Management, at the Secretariat of the Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority in Mombasa, East Africa region. He can be reached via his email: Deng Diar <diardeng@gmail.com>

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.Bottom of FormBottom of Form

  1. John Mayen says:

    Excellent reflection and on our history and contributions from our brothers and sisters in Abyei.


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