Posts Tagged ‘liberation army’

Pride and prejudice in Heglig

Posted: April 17, 2012 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan
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The South Sudanese People’s Liberation Army has moved into an oil town on the South Sudan/ Sudan border. While nationalist sentiment runs high, the newly separated states can ill afford renewed conflict: political dialogue is both difficult and urgent.

Erwin van Veen and Ann Fitz-Gerald, 17 April 2012

About the authors
Erwin van Veen works as policy analyst on peace and security for the OECD’s International Network on Conflict and Fragility
Ann Fitz-Gerald is a senior academic with Cranfield University’s Department of Management and Security.

The air in Juba was thick with excitement when South Sudan declared its independence in 2011 after its referendum. Yet, it was never going to be easy and now both Sudans seem close to falling into the jaws of the ‘conflict trap’ – the phenomenon by which countries with recent experience of conflict are more likely to fall back into conflict. On April 10, the South Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) took control of Heglig, an oil town perched on the border between Sudan and South-Sudan. It is unclear at the moment whether this is another incident in a long series, or the spark that will explode the powder keg. But it is even more urgent to assess what can be done to prevent a slide back to violent conflict.

The natural response of the international community when faced with such escalations of violence is to call for restraint and dialogue, which is precisely what the United Nation’s Secretary General (UNSG), Mr. Ban Ki Moon, the US government and the African Union’s mediator, Mr. Thabo Mbeki, have done. However, we know that political dialogue requires a sufficient degree of commitment from both parties to have a chance of success. The list of failed attempts at dialogue is a long one. So, to assess whether this call for dialogue is likely to be heeded, at least two questions need to be answered:

First, how much pressure is the international community willing and able to exercise? This is difficult to assess from the outside, but, given the choice, it is likely that key global players such as the US and UN may prioritize Syria and Iran over Sudan. Regionally, the situation is hardly more favourable with Kenya and Ethiopia embroiled in Somalia, and Egypt focused on domestic issues. Libya’s chaotic situation ensures a ready supply of highly mobile manpower and weapons, as evidenced by the situation in Mali, which may make matters worse. Hence, international calls for dialogue may sound louder than the pressure and support the international community can actually generate.

Second, is dialogue welcomed by participants? Several considerations must be taken into account here. To start with, the trail of broken agreements and promises between Sudan and South-Sudan is a long one and mistrust runs deep.  Recent analysis  suggests that the SPLA has been stockpiling weapons and that both the SPLA and the Sudanese Armed Forces are arming South Sudanese rebel militia groups. However, little reliable, open-source analysis is available on what exactly is happening in the contested border areas. One also needs to take into account that South-Sudan has limited diplomatic capacity to tell its side of the story. Publicly, however, both sides state they welcome dialogue, which the international community can capitalize on. Yet it is also clear that they are gearing up for other scenarios.

In addition, South-Sudan is a young and proud state that cherishes its land and its sovereignty. It may well take the view that it now must defend its hard-won autonomy. The country took a drastic step in January by shutting down its oil production in protest over transit fees, and escalation may well be one of its few strategic options left. The South has proven before that it can survive with food distribution lines cut off and oil wealth denied – large parts of its territory have no electricity anyhow – but its leaders would have to make radical political and financial decisions and be accountable to their people for the ensuing hardship. South-Sudan’s domestic peacebuilding and statebuilding agenda would certainly suffer setbacks, its recent commitment to the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding  notwithstanding.

And yet, on the face of it, there seem to be sufficient common interests to provide a basis for dialogue.  For one, the human suffering and economic damage of renewed conflict will be huge. Collier and Chauvet have conservatively estimated the domestic and regional cost of a civil war to amount to about 85 billion dollars  . The cost of a state descending into conflict with its neighbours can account for two thirds of this amount. This is the figure against which Sudan, South-Sudan and their neighbours must gauge their appetite for dialogue and war.

In short, the signs are not overly hopeful that calls for dialogue can or will be heeded. What can the international community do to help prevent another civil war? Three lessons stand out from the international intervention in the FYR Macedonia in 2001, one of the most successful examples of conflict prevention.

Co-ordinated, fast action between the OSCE, NATO and EU proved critical to an integrated political-security response that was sufficiently context specific. In the case of Sudan, it would be easy to argue that UNMIS and the AU need to swiftly deploy peacekeeping troops into disputed areas like Heglig and that their mediators must immediately commence facilitating a longer-term process to resolve the range of outstanding issues.  However, a lesson from the last few years is that third party intervention, of the UN in particular, has not always been welcomed by Sudan. Moreover, President Kiir stated on April 12 in the South-Sudanese parliament that he had rejected calls from several international leaders, including UNSG Ban Ki-Moon, to pull his troops out of Heglig. Hence, a leading UN role near the contested border seems unlikely. In keeping with the model which kept the pre-Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) talks on track, an alternative option could be that the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) partners’ forum steps up and provides an AU-led initiative with logistical, financial and advisory support. The UN could consider supporting this quietly from behind the scenes.

Strong leadership is essential. It was Kenya that kept the many pre-CPA talks on track and that helped realize several way-stations towards the CPA, such as the Machakos protocol of 2002. Such leadership was also a key ingredient of the successful international intervention in FYR Macedonia, where Mr Van der Stoel, as personal envoy of the OSCE chairman in office, was a highly respected and trusted facilitator who enjoyed the confidence of all parties. As noted above, Kenya may not be able to fulfil this role again at this point in time. In that case, Ethiopia remains one of the few trusted parties for both sides. If its top leadership could convince the presidents of Sudan and South-Sudan to work towards a political agreement, the tide might be turned and Ethiopia would render the region a very valuable service. This is one of the calls that international leaders could consider making. Given the trail of broken promises, however, the conflict must be addressed at the highest levels. It would be helpful if both sides could refrain from any aggression to Ethiopian peacekeepers patrolling Abeyei in the meantime.

Finally, the intervention in FYR Macedonia showed that confidence building is vital. This could begin with credible and verifiable information being collected and shared from the conflict-affected border areas – the lack of reliable information being one of the major difficulties to date. Rumours spread too quickly at the moment, feeding distrust and risking catalysing ill-considered action. An international monitoring mission, possibly IGAD sponsored and AU-supported, might be a way out of this conundrum – but speed will be of the essence.

* United Nations says 14 missing from bombing of camp

* Rebels say Khartoum launched second attack north of border

* Incident deepens arguments over oil revenues (Adds South Sudan comment, background)

By Tom Miles and Hereward Holland

GENEVA/JUBA, Jan 24 (Reuters) – An air strike on a refugee camp near South Sudan’s border with Sudan wounded one boy and left 14 people missing on Monday, the U.N. refugee agency said.

South Sudan blamed the attack on Khartoum, which has repeatedly denied carrying out such strikes on its neighbour.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war, but the two countries have remained at loggerheads over issues including oil, debt and fighting along the poorly drawn border.

Several bombs were dropped on Elfoj, a camp of about 5,000 refugees used as a transit site, less than 10 km from the border on Monday morning, a spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Definitely it is Khartoum forces … there is no one else who can bombard South Sudan’s territory,” a South Sudan military spokesman said of the attack on Elfoj. “This is not the first time.”

Rebels fighting Khartoum’s forces said Sudanese government helicopters and ground forces launched separate attacks on the Sudan side of the border on the same day, although the report was impossible to verify independently.

Sudan’s military was not immediately available to comment on either incident, but Khartoum has always denied carrying out such attacks, including one on the Yida refugee camp in November, which the United Nations blamed on Khartoum.

Fighting between Khartoum’s forces and rebels from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement-North (SPLA/M-N) began in June, before South Sudan became independent in July, and have forced around 417,000 people to flee their homes and 80,000 to cross the border into South Sudan, and into camps such as Elfoj.

The SPLM is now the ruling party in South Sudan but it denies supporting SPLM-N rebels across the border.

The insurgency against Khartoum is a remnant of a two-decade civil war in which many in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states fought with those now ruling South Sudan but ended up falling under Khartoum’s control.

However, fighting around the border also feeds into wider animosity over issues including the division of revenues from oil from South Sudanese fields which is exported through Sudan.

UNCHR did not apportion blame. It moved 1,140 people from the site, around 70 km (45 miles) to the south after the air strike.

Details about what the South Sudanese spokesman described as the attack on rebels in the south of Sudan were sketchy but a U.N. source confirmed it had received reports of two helicopters attacking the Ullu area near the border.

An SPLM-N spokesman told Reuters the settlement of Danfona, just across the border from Elfoj, had been bombed.

“There is a big movement of Sudan Armed Forces from (Blue Nile state capital) al-Damazin towards the Bau mountains. They are coming with heavy weapons and air cover from helicopter gunships,” the spokesman told Reuters by telephone.

Tension between Sudan and South Sudan further escalated on Monday when South Sudan began shutting down oil production, accusing Sudan of stealing $815 million worth of crude that it piped to its northern neighbour for shipment.

(Writing and additional reporting by Alexander Dziadosz and Ulf Laessing; Editing by Stephanie Nebehay and Ben Harding)

South Sudan: UN condemns refugee camp air raid


The UN has denounced the bombing of a camp housing some 5,000 refugees in South Sudan near the border with Sudan.

A boy was injured and 14 other people went missing during the air raid in El Foj in Upper Nile state on Monday, the UN refugee agency said.

A Sudan army spokesman told the BBC that Sudanese forces had not carried out any bombing raids in the area.

South Sudan split from Sudan last July and since then their relationship has deteriorated.

Both countries accuse the other of backing rebels operating in their territories and it is not the first time South Sudan has been bombed – there were attacks in Upper Nile state and Unity state last year.

Refugees fled

The UNHCR says a plane dropped several bombs on Monday morning which landed on the transit site for those who have fled the conflict in Blue Nile over the border in Sudan.

“Bombing of civilian areas must be condemned in the strongest terms,” Mireille Girard, UNHCR’s representative in South Sudan, said in a statement.

The BBC’s James Copnall in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, says the UN did not say who was responsible, but the refugees will almost certainly suspect the Sudanese Armed Forces.

Blue Nile is one of three border areas – along with South Kordofan and Abyei – where fighting has broken out since South Sudan’s independence.

Many rebels in these regions fought alongside southerners during the decades-long civil war that ended with Khartoum agreeing to the south’s independence.

Relations between Khartoum and Juba are clearly at breaking point. Since South Sudan won independence last July, there has been no end of trouble along their border. At times their armed forces have clashed, using tanks and aircraft, but no all-out conflict.

But the dispute over oil could push relations over the edge. South Sudan has decided to close its oil production after Sudan seized crude oil piped through its territory to reach international markets. Both countries depend almost entirely on oil for their revenues. They have few alternatives to fall back on.

For South Sudan there is the option of finding a route to the sea via Kenya. There are reports that the authorities in Juba will announce the building of a pipeline through Kenya next week. Another possibility is taking the oil in tankers by road. Both are hugely ambitious, but South Sudan argues that it survived years of war and could survive whatever comes its way.

For Sudan, the reduction in oil revenues has already caused difficulties, with people complaining of rising prices.

Both Sudan and South Sudan have much to lose by continued confrontation, but at the moment there seems little appetite in either capital to find a compromise.

Sudan’s army spokesman Khalid Sawarmi said Sudanese forces had been recently involved in fighting against rebels in Blue Nile in the village of Aroum.

“We attacked them and drove them out of this place. [We] did not use any planes or Antonovs there,” he told the BBC.

Following the strike on El Foj, most people have now fled the area or have been helped to relocate by the UN, the agency says.

The authorities in Upper Nile state say they do not have first-hand confirmation of an incident at El Foj.

However Upper Nile’s Information Minister Peter Lam Both did accuse Sudan of carrying out another air raid in the state on Sunday.

He told the BBC that three people were killed and four wounded in Khor Yabous, near the border with Sudan.

He also said South Sudan’s army had fought off an attack by militias around this time.

The UN says more than 78,000 people have fled Sudan since last August because of fighting in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Our correspondent says the latest incident highlights the bad relationship between the two countries as well as the difficult situation many refugees face.

Recently the focus has been on oil resources, with South Sudan deciding last week to shut down its production rather than, as it sees it, have some of its oil stolen by the north, he says.

The two sides are currently discussing how to share their oil resources at talks in Ethiopia.

But whatever the full truth of the matter, the greatest concern to many is security not oil, our reporter says.

UPDATE 1-South Sudan blames Khartoum for bombing refugee camp
United Nations says 14 missing from bombing of camp * Rebels say Khartoum launched second attack north of border * Incident deepens arguments over oil revenues (Adds South Sudan comment, background) By Tom Miles and Hereward Holland GENEVA/JUBA, 

South Sudan: UN Envoy Urges Sending More Government Forces to Troubled State
The top United Nations envoy in South Sudan stressed today that the best way to protect civilians in the strife-torn state of Jonglei is through military deterrence and urged the Government to deploy more troops and police in the area to patrol buffer 

EAC considering application of South Sudan
The Chairperson of EAC Council of Ministers Musa Cherutich has confirmed that the EAC is considering a proposal tabled by South Sudan to join the community. Cherutich who is Kenya’s Minister of the East African Community told journalists in Kampala 

South Sudan conflict haunts UN
JUBA, South Sudan, Jan. 24 (UPI) — The government in South Sudan is called on to bring justice to those responsible for ethnic violence in the troubled state of Jonglei, a UN envoy said. Hilde Johnson, UN special envoy to South Sudan and head of the 

South Sudan’s Doomsday Machine
New York Times
South Sudan was born as an independent nation on July 9, 2011, with good will and a bounty. Three hundred and fifty thousand barrels of oil per day provided the government with $1000 per year for each of its 8 million citizens.

Medvedev orders Russian troops out of South Sudan
Sudan Tribune
January 24, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The Russian president Dmitry Medvedev issued a decree on Tuesday ordering his country’s troops to withdraw from the newly established nation of South Sudanwho were serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan 

Sudan Rift Prompts South to Curb Oil
Wall Street Journal
By SARAH KENT LONDON—South Sudan has started the process of shutting down its oil production, a government spokesman said on Monday, signaling a further escalation of a longstanding dispute with the North over oil-transit fees. The government 

South Sudan rebels in talks to join government
Africa Review
South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar (centre), flanked by Information minister Marial Benjamin (left) and army spokesman Philip Aguer (back in military uniform) announces rebel leader George Athor Deng’s death at a press conference on December 20, 

Aid group: S.Sudan clashes show “extreme violence”
The Associated Press
JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — Thousands of South Sudanese civilians fled a wave of ethnic clashes and face the danger of being attacked in hiding in what an international medical group on Tuesday called a pattern of “extreme violence.

South Sudan: UN condemns refugee camp air raid
BBC News
The UN has denounced the bombing of a camp housing some 5000 refugees in South Sudan near the border with Sudan. A boy was injured and 14 other people went missing during the air raid in El Foj in Upper Nile state on Monday, the UN refugee agency said.
South Sudan: Latest attacks perpetuate violence
MSF UK (press release)
In Jonglei state, South Sudan, civilians continue to bear the brunt of inter-communal fighting. Wounded patients are still arriving at the Médecins Sans Frontières/ Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in Pibor, three weeks after the violent attack 

Dear All,
Please find attached a Press Statement about a major SPLA victory in South Kordofan/Nuba Mountains State.
Anwar Elhaj
SPLMN Representative to the US


Office of Spokesperson
January 15, 2012
In the dawn of January 15, 2012, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in South Kordofan/Nuba Mountains State ably inflicted another major defeat against the joined Special Forces and Republic’s Guard of the National Congress Party (NCP). These were the same forces that fled Al Buram and Al Tess on January 10, 2012. They sustained heavy losses in lives and military equipments and are fully repelled from the strategic villageof Al Lehimir which is about 15 km South of Kadugli City. The SPLA captured large amounts of equipments and ammunitions which are being assessed. 
After the liberation of the Al lehimir village, we [the SPLM] ascertain that the SPLA will continue its advances toward emancipation of Kadugli City and bring the war criminal, Ahmed Harun, to International Court in Hague. 
A Salutation to Officers and Soldiers of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army on their successive victories and devotion to the removal of NCP mobs to establish a nation of freedom, justice and equality.
Arnu Ngtullu Lodi
The Spokesperson of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army
(Translation by Organization for Advancement of Young Nuba)

Emerging Security Dynamics in South Sudan.pdf Emerging Security Dynamics in South Sudan.pdf
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On 9 January 2011 the people of South Sudan in all parts of the world voted in an historic referendum to decide the fate of the semi-autonomous region of the country then know as Sudan. The referendum was in fulfilment of one of the
major requirements of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which brought an end to more than two decades of hostilities between the North and South and one of Africa’s most violent civil wars – the second Sudan civil war. In the run-up to the referendum, a number of provocative political exchanges between the North and South, as well as logistical challenges, had cast doubt on the possible occurrence and peacefulness of the event. Its orderly and
generally peaceful nature therefore drew the commendations of the international community for the commitment of both the North and South to peace in Sudan. An overwhelming 98,83 per cent of Southern voters cast their ballots in favour of separation.

Emerging Security Dynamics in South Sudan.pdf Emerging Security Dynamics in South Sudan.pdf
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Doubts still existed among the international community in the immediate aftermath of the referendum due to suspicions about Khartoum’s possible response to the choice of separation. It therefore came as a pleasant relief when even before the official announcement of the results, President Omar al-Bashir declared his respect for the choice of the people of South Sudan. Days before the official declaration of the results and about a month after the start of the referendum, militias loyal to renegade General George Athor Deng clashed with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in Fangak county on 9 February.

The clashes claimed more than a hundred lives and displaced several thousand people. Athor’s rebellion was not new – its origins are traceable to the April 2010 elections. However, this attack was important because it registered the de facto breakdown of intra-South dialogue efforts initiated by the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) prior to the referendum. It also highlighted the existence of unfinished business in the attainment of a unified South for independence in July 2011. Since this incident, a number of other former SPLA generals have revolted and separately declared their intentions to topple the GoSS and to replace it with an all-inclusive broad-based government that is representative of the people of the South.

Emerging Security Dynamics in South Sudan.pdf Emerging Security Dynamics in South Sudan.pdf
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The situation has raised serious questions about the state of intra-South cohesion, the capacity of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the SPLA to provide security for Southerners, the SPLM’s ability to preside over and/or nurture….……….Read more 

Emerging Security Dynamics in South Sudan.pdf Emerging Security Dynamics in South Sudan.pdf
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August 1, 2011 (JUBA) – The Government of South Sudan on Monday confirmed the arrest of the Director of Public Security and Criminal Investigation, following reports alleging his involvement in torture, bribery and creation of illegal detention centres.

The government confirmed the arrest following the announcement by President Kiir, while delivering a speech on 30 July 2011 , in which he told the audience had ordered the arrest of some senior officers, reported to have been involved in the tutoring and mistreatment of citizens.

“There are serious and humiliating incidents which occurred. There are now some of the senior officers under arrest. I have ordered them to be arrested and they will remain under arrest until they are investigated thoroughly,” said Kiir.

General Acuil Tito Madut, Inspector of General of South Sudan Police Service on Monday named Major General Marial Nuor Jok as the senior officer arrested on orders of the president following charges which including:

The disappearance of John Luis in April 2011, following reports that he was summoned to the office of the Chief Public Security and Criminal Investigation Department over a disputed plot of land.

Accepting bribes for assets such houses, shops, and plots in return for bribes in form of cash, shops in Konyokonyo.

Permitting the arbitrary arrest of civilians in illegally created public security detention facilities, to extort money from and silence their family.

Arming his tribesmen with guns to perpetuate tribal and sectional disputes in Yirol West and East counties in Lakes State and elsewhere

The illegal incorporation of active Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) officers and other ranks who are not police personnel and who have not obtained official release from their parent units to join any institutions including public security and criminal investigation departments.

“The transitional constitution of South Sudan is very clear. It has defined powers of all government institutions including security personnel,” said Tito, referring to allegations that General Marial Nuor was involved in illegal transfer of SPLA officers and other ranks into Public Security and Criminal Investigation Department, without seeking approval of the president.

Kiir Chol, Nuor’s lawyer described his arrest on Sunday as illegal and unconstitutional. He claimed that Nuor was imprisoned in a military barracks and has not been seen by his family.

He said he would present his observations to the high court of law requesting transfer of the general to public detention centre where his family would have access to him. He claimed the arrest was in “violation of the 2011 Transitional Constitution of south Sudan”.