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[Dehai-WN] Economist.com: Sudan and South Sudan-Giving divorce a bad name

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2012 16:30:18 +0200

Sudan and South Sudan-Giving divorce a bad name

South Sudan has invaded parts of the north less than a year after its

Apr 18th 2012 | KHARTOUM | from the print edition


THE cold war between Africa's newest neighbours is heating up. South
Sudanese troops advanced deep into Sudan on April 10th, capturing its most
valuable oilfield, Heglig, in the biggest clash since the south seceded from
the north last July. Southern troops claimed to be responding to air and
ground attacks from their former master, but the scale of the offensive is
unprecedented. A fragile peace process that has survived several bumps in
the past few months may now falter. Sudan has suspended its participation in
the divorce negotiations in neighbouring Ethiopia. Parliaments in both
countries are calling for military mobilisation. The drums of war beat ever

The last straw could be South Sudan claiming Heglig as its own. A ruling by
the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2009 appears to put the
field in the Sudanese state of Southern Kordofan. But the south now disputes
this. "Heglig is deep inside our borders," says Colonel Philip Aguer, a
spokesman for South Sudan's army, adding that its troops have moved farther
north. Sudan will not accept this, and for once it seems to be getting some
international support. The African Union is calling on the south to withdraw
its soldiers immediately and unconditionally. Sudan has complained to the UN
Security Council.

The crisis is a direct result of both sides' failure to make progress in
negotiations over post-secession security arrangements, citizenship rules
and oil revenues, among other issues that should have been resolved long
ago. Both countries have accused each other of supporting rebels on their
territory since before separation. Of the two, the southern rebels in Sudan
are by far the stronger. Known as SPLM-North, they supported the
decades-long southern fight for independence but found themselves on the
wrong side of the border at separation. The group controls much of the Nuba
mountains in Southern Kordofan and launches guerrilla raids in Blue Nile
state. Sudan says SPLM-North is getting weapons and supplies from South
Sudan, and that its fighters go there to rest after battles. The northern
rebels in the south are smaller but have sometimes caused havoc in Unity and
Upper Nile states. A local oil worker says they previously helped to defend

Just as Sudan faces a renewed threat from the south, the long-running civil
conflict in its western Darfur region is escalating again. Three years ago,
General Martin Agwai, then commander of African Union peacekeeping troops in
Darfur, said the conflict was "over" and that banditry was now the biggest
problem. But on April 3rd areas around Sortony in North Darfur were hit by
aerial bombardments and attacked by pro-government militias on the ground,
forcing thousands of civilians to flee and sparking fears that the bad old
times are back.

They may be. A dissident report by former UN investigators that has been
submitted to the Security Council-but not yet published-documents the recent
recruitment of non-Arab militias by the Sudanese Armed Forces. They are
accused of ethnic cleansing of the Zaghawa tribe,which is led by Minni
Minnawi, a Darfuri rebel who last year withdrew from a peace agreement that
had made him a presidential adviser. The report says the use of non-Arab
militias marks a "significant evolution". At least 70,000 civilians appear
to have fled new attacks in 2011.

The UN report also documents fresh ammunition deliveries by the Sudanese
army to Darfur and reports on a series of air bombardments of civilians in
the Zaghawa stronghold of Shangal Tobay in early 2011. A UN arms embargo was
apparently violated by the deployment of at least five Sudanese Sukhoi
ground attack jets in Darfur and the acquisition by Sudan of new Antonov
aircraft of a type that has previously been used in bombing campaigns. One
Antonov was photographed next to open crates of bombs.

On the opposing side, Darfuri rebel groups seem to have formed an alliance
with South Sudanese troops. Together they call themselves the Sudan
Revolutionary Front. A separate report published this month by the Small
Arms Survey, a Geneva-based think-tank, says that the two groups have
claimed credit for the same attacks around Jau and Tarogi in February and
for downing an unmanned Iranian-made plane in Southern Kordofan on March

The fighting is making life ever harder for the half million South Sudanese
who live in the north. "I have been in this country for 43 years but am no
longer welcome here," says one, as he makes plans to leave in a hurry.
Following separation, South Sudanese were given until April 8th to sort out
their status. But South Sudan has failed to issue identity documents,
leaving them in legal limbo. Most are keen to leave, fearing for their

Only a month ago a solution seemed at hand. Negotiators on both sides
initialled a "Four Freedoms" agreement, allowing citizens to move, live,
work and own property in either country. But Islamist hardliners in Sudan
objected, accusing southerners of being fifth columnists. The loss of
Sudan's main oilfield will not reassure them.


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Received on Wed Apr 18 2012 - 10:30:25 EDT
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