Analyst: Sudan and South Sudan Engaged in Unofficial War
Violence between Sudan and South Sudan surged this week when both countries attempted to assert control over the Heglig oilfield, cancelling plans for a summit between these countries’ respective presidents, Omar al Bashir and Slava Kiir. On Thursday, South Sudan accused its northern neighbour of aerial bombing the South Sudanese town of Bentiu. With both countries accusing each other of initiating the current level of violence, which has been at its highest since South Sudan gained independence last year, each side is also vying to defend itself. Magdi El Gizouli, a fellow at the Rift Valley Institute in Kenya, has likened the situation to a smaller version of previous civil warfare between these two regions, maintaining that Sudan and South Sudan are “effectively . . . at war.” On Wednesday, the United Nations officially requested “an immediate de-escalation of the situation… to avoid further bloodshed.”
Sudan Accuses US of Waging “Stealth War”
This week, Sudanese parliamentary speaker Ahmed Ibrahim al-Tahir accused the United States of waging a “stealth war” against Sudan. The accusations surround 15-year-old American economic sanctions against Sudan, which recently contributed to the postponing of the inauguration of a $1 billion sugar plant in White Nile State, as well as American pressuring of Khartoum to allow the international community to provide aid to Sudanese civilians living in war-torn South Kordofan and Blue Nile. He argued that the United States is prohibiting Sudan from progressing as a country and maintained that the Sudanese people would choose food deprivation over loss of dignity.
Sudan Arming Civilians Against Rebels
Civilians in Talodi town claimed to have been provided with guns supplied by Khartoum to aid in fighting against Sudanese rebel groups along the Sudan-South Sudan border. Such civilian soldiers have been suspected by a human rights organization to be committing human rights abuses. This news comes amid speculation that South Sudan is similarly arming its civilians in the event of war and that the rate of South Kordofan refugees entering South Sudan has recently increased 8-fold.
Kabila Calls for Former Rebel Leader’s ICC Arrest
Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila recently advocated for the arrest of former rebel leader, Bosco Ntaganda, for whom the International Crime Court issued an arrest warrant five years ago for recruitment child soldiers, rape, and murder. Ntaganda, whose current location is unknown, is believed to have as many as 600 defectors with him; any attempt to arrest him will inevitably cause considerable conflict, according to BBC analyst Martin Plaut.
Kabila Suspends Main Military Operation in East Congo
In response to hundreds of recent desertions within the Congolese army, Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila has halted military operation Amani Leo in eastern North and South Kivu. Though Amani Leo has been relatively successful in its focus on pursuing members of the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda, many civilians have suffered human rights abuses in association with the operation. A representative for Kabila stated that the decision was meant to keep the well-being of the public in mind; meanwhile, Amani Leo will be re-strategized.