Monday, June 6, 2011

Land of the Blacks, Part 4

For background, I suggest you read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

First, a few excerpts to establish what is going on. From Abyei under siege from vicious north Sudan army, May 21, 2011:

ABYEI, Southern Sudan (NSV) - Local and international news media have confirmed reports that Abyei fell to northern Sudan's army after three days of fierce clashes with the SPLA, which is the army of the government of Southern Sudan.

In January both the north and the south signed agreement to remove all unauthorized troops from Abyei as a way of minimizing provocations.

The UN said it was escorting northen troops out of Abyei Thursday when 22 members of SAF were killed in an ambush attack by the SPLA. But the south has denied that charge.

Abyei is a key hamlet right on the border between what will be northern Sudan and southern Sudan, once the south gains its independence effective in July.

Abyei is key since it is located in the Muglad Basin. Oil exploration in the 1970's and 1980's located hydrocarbon accumulations in the area; in the 1990's there was a period of investment in Sudan's oil industry, and Abyei was a target for this investment. Within a decade, more than one quarter of Sudan's total crude output was contributed by Abyei.

The Unity Oilfield is located here, and its "Nile Blend" oil goes to to Khartoum for refining and via the Greater Nile Oil Pipeline to Port Sudan for export.


"The SAF (Sudan Armed Forces) have entered Abyei," said Philip Aguer, spokesman for the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) rebels. "There is still fighting but they have come with tanks, they are shooting and shooting."

The next day, Governor Taban Deng Gai of Unity State pointed out the obvious. From Gov. Taban Deng to South Sudanese: "We're at war":

In a brief speech, Gov. Deng said his state of Unity and Abyei have not enjoyed security since last year's April elections. "Even as am talking to you right now, there are wars and battles taking place in Unity State and Abyei," he said.

He continued: "Many people in Juba do not care of what's happening in the states," the Governor of oil-rich Unity told a smartly dressed crowd of Jubans. "Currently, many of us in Juba do not believe that we're at war,” he stressed, garnering scattered applauses. "And am sorry to say that we're at war."


Mr. Deng said "There are people who are fond of saying, no, no, let Abyei come out from the Constitution of Southern Sudan because we may go into war with northern Sudan." To this group he told them: "But we're at war. We're at war a year ago," he said. "Whether you like it or you don't like it, you're already attacked."

In a related development, press reports about Abyei say the disputed town has been seized by SAF forces on Sunday. Abyei, meanwhile, remains in the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of Southern Sudan, 2011, which is yet to be passed by the parliament.

"If you think attack in Bentiu is not war against the people of southern Sudan because Juba is not attacked, then you're mistaken," he said. He said Juba is next once Bentiu and Abyei fall for SAF.

'War Council' for South Sudan

To counter Khartoum's war strategy of "exhausting the SPLA using militia" and encouraging inter-tribal clashes, said Gov. Taban, South Sudan needed to form a war council.

Pay attention to that last comment - we will come back to it.

From UN urges Sudan's immediate pullout from Abyei, June 4, 2011:

The UN Security Council has called on the Khartoum government to withdraw its forces immediately from the Abyei region, a key area of dispute in the north-south division of Sudan next month.

There has been no agreement on which country the oil-producing region should belong to when south Sudan becomes independent on July 9, but the northern military seized it on May 21, sparking fears of a renewed civil war.

"The council demands that the government of Sudan withdraw immediately from the Abyei area," said a unanimous formal council statement read out at Friday's meeting of the 15-nation body by Gabon Ambassador Nelson Messone, this month's president.

The north's move into Abyei followed an attack the day before on northern troops and UN peacekeepers that the Security Council itself has said was carried out by southern forces. The council has already deplored that attack.

But in its statement on Friday, the council condemned Khartoum's continued maintenance of military control over Abyei, which it called a "serious violation" of north-south peace accords. The two parts of Sudan ended a 20-year civil war in 2005 and southerners voted for independence in January.

The council said that failure by Khartoum to comply with the 2005 peace deal could undermine benefits it was due to receive. However, it did not elaborate.

The council's statement was held up for several days by disagreements between member states over how toughly it should be worded, diplomats said.

'Ethnic cleansing'

The statement expressed concern over the sudden influx of Misseriya nomads from the north into Abyei town "that could force significant changes in the ethnic composition of the area," many of whose permanent residents are from the southern Dinka Ngok tribe.

"The council condemns all unilateral actions meant to create facts on the ground that would prejudice the outcome of negotiations," it said.

Diplomats said that the original US draft had used the phrase "ethnic cleansing," but other council members argued that it might be overstating the case. The phrase was subsequently dropped from the final statement adopted by the council.

Quoted in Part 2 from a March, 2009, wikileaked cable on Sudan:

2. (C) [International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno-] Ocampo said Bashir invents conflict to create a better negotiating position....

Finally, I would like you to consider a talk given by Ambassador Richard S. Williamson, whose work I quoted previously in this series. The first several minutes are introductions. At about the 18 minute point Ambassador Williamson begins to speak about past events in Sudan. His comments are very hard-hitting. Next, Ambassador Williamson goes on to address various options the United States and the international community have to deal with these kinds of situations - this is the topic of his talk. He finishes with a question and answer session that helps develop and clarify important background information. I highly recommend you watch the entire video, about one hour and twenty-three minutes:

Now to put some of this together.

As pointed out in Part 2, Bashir is under indictment by the International Criminal Court.

Sudan's President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir

As established above and in a previous post, one means Bashir uses is to invent a conflict to improve his negotiating position. Also, according to the information presented, especially by Ambassador Williamson, Bashir arms local tribal militias and unleashes them against tribes and groups that are labeled as domestic enemies. The tribal militias, known a "Janjaweed" (see Part 2 for an explanation), attack as part of a coordinated assault, under cover of attack helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft of Sudan's armed forces. The fact that the Janjaweed attack as part of a coordinated assault with air cover and backed up by Sudanese military units means that the atrocities are part of an effort planned and approved in Khartoum.

The attacks along the inter-Sudan border are obviously the work of President Bashir, who is trying to leverage the conflict into more concessions regarding the revenue of oil, most of which comes from the south, but which must transit the north for export.

The presence of northern Sudanese military units in Abyei only confirms what is hopefully obvious to anyone following the situation.

From UN Security Council members arrive in South Sudan, May 23, 2011, by Mading Ngor:

(Juba NSV) - A delegation of the United Nations Security Council concerned about the escalating situation in the flashpoint area of Abyei landed this evening at the Juba International Airport.

On Sunday, the Sudan Armed Forces seized and occupied flashpoint border of Abyei, a provocative move that is threatening to trigger a national war between the north and the south, less than two months before South Sudan is due to declare its independence in July.

A group of protestors from the South Sudan General Students' Union was chanting anti–Khartoum slogans late on Monday when cars carrying the delegates drove by the demonstrators who were spread on either side of road inside the airport compound.


They routinely chanted "Down, down, Bashir," and "Take Bashir and NCP to the ICC" when they weren't sharing with each other words of encouragement.

From Northern Sudan's occupation of Abyei "political adultery" – SPLM, May 24, 2011, by Mading Ngor:

(Juba NSV) - An SPLM press conference this morning condemned the ongoing occupation of Abyei by Sudan Armed Forces in sharply worded statements.

Antipas Nyok Kucha, SPLM Secretary for Political Affairs and Mobilization and Acting Deputy Secretary General of SPLM Southern Sector told journalists the NCP's seizure of Abyei was a "sin."

He said the northern party's move is "illegal" and a "political adultery."

He alleged NCP was busing masses of its supporters into Abyei in order to later claim ownership.

Ethnically cleanse the desired area, move in your own people, then demand self-determination... it works, at least to get concessions, and maybe as a winner-take-all strategy for Bashir to keep both the oil and the pipeline it moves through.

From For North and South Sudan, a scramble to hold talks on Abyei, May 28, 2011:

(Juba, South Sudan NSV) - On Saturday, representatives from north and south Sudan tried to meet in an attempt to normalize relations following sezure of Abyei by SAF this past weekend.

After tanks rolled into Abyei last weekend, President Bashir is said to have refused international calls to withdraw forces from Abyei, saying the 'land belongs to the north.'

It is a move by President Bashir to improve his bargaining position.

And, you'll never guess what US President of partial African descent is going back on a previously stated position that gave "hope" for "change" to the people of the south, and who, by this flip-flopping, is enabling the ethnic cleansing of Bashir's Janjaweed militias, and thus the north's violent takeover of Abyei, even while this same US President wages an illegal war to oust a dictator in order to protect the people of nearby Libya!

(Are you following all this?)

From A last-minute hitch?, May 26, 2011:

THE secession of South Sudan from the rest of the country was always going to be a messy divorce. Some 2m lives have been lost in the decades-long struggle. Now more blood is being shed just before the final settlement.

Supported by tanks and aircraft, northern Sudanese troops recently overran the border town of Abyei, burning down parts of it. Some 40,000 residents fled the area, according to the UN. This is a far cry from the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that brought civil war to an end and opened the door to southern secession.

Abyei, little more than a dusty and remote hamlet, is claimed by north and south. Once desired for its oil flow, now reduced to a trickle, the town has taken on symbolic character, almost a Jerusalem of Sudanese politics. Powerful leaders of the Dinka Ngok tribe in the south see it as their homeland even though northern leaders have pledged to defend the rights of the Misseriya, a nomadic Arab tribe who take their prized cattle to graze there.

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