By South Sudan News Staff
On the morning of June 10, Sudanese forces – both military and irregulars of the Popular Defense Forces – attacked South Sudan’s Upper Nile State in several places along their border. In several spots, the Sudanese troops advanced some 10kms (6miles) into the territory of South Sudan – destroying rural infrastructure and scaring away the civilian population.
The Sudanese attack is an integral part of Khartoum’s policy of brinkmanship and aggression that is aimed to break down Juba’s will to exist as an independent state. The attack comes in the aftermath of a series of unilateral threats from Sudan’s upper-most leaders – starting with President Bashir’s sudden and unprovoked declaration, on Saturday, June 8, that Sudan was stopping the export of South Sudanese oil via Sudan’s pipeline. Bashir also urged all Sudanese youth to join the Popular Defense Forces and head south to fight South Sudan.
The next day, Sunday, June 9, Sudan’s Intelligence Chief Muhammad Atta al-Moula warned that since South Sudan had failed to stop supporting rebels operating in Darfur and the border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile – Sudan would have to retaliate sternly. Significantly, Atta accused these rebels of “fighting to topple the Khartoum government” even though they are actually fighting for self-determination and self-survival. “They (the rebels) get supplied with weapons, ammunition, petrol, spare parts for cars, food - they send their wounded to hospitals in the South. Tens of wounded (rebels) are now being treated in the South,” Atta said. Thus, by Khartoum’s definition, in ostensibly supporting the rebels – Juba is actually supporting the overthrow of the Bashir regime in Khartoum. Therefore, Atta declared, not only will Sudan block the flow of oil from South Sudan (which might take up to 60 days to implement) – but Sudan will also suspend the nine agreements, including security and economic pacts, reached in March 2013 with South Sudan after mediating by the African Union (AU).
In response, on Monday morning, June 10, official Juba attempted to cool down the rhetoric from Khartoum. South Sudanese Army Spokesman Col. Philip Aguer stated that Juba would not consider Khartoum’s threat to shut down the oil exports “a return to armed hostility” as long as Khartoum continued to respect the recent security agreements. “The oil can be shut down,” Aguer said. “What may amount to a declaration of war is if the security agreements that have been reached [by the AU] are violated. Oil is just a bilateral agreement which the Sudanese government has the choice to accept or not to accept.” Juba also reiterated that Khartoum’s allegations regarding support for the rebels were false. “We are not helping any rebels,” Aguer said. “The allegations are baseless. It’s just because they [the Sudanese forces] have been unable to defeat the rebels that they are looking for an explanation elsewhere.”
Alas, as Aguer was offering the olive branch – Sudanese forces were already attacking the territory of South Sudan and invading its Upper Nile State. Raids and inconclusive fighting will continue for a few days. Ultimately, the Sudanese force will be compelled to withdraw back to the poorly demarcated border. The people of Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile States will continue their valiant struggle against oppression and indiscriminate violence by Sudan.
Khartoum will blame Juba for the continued grassroots resistance, and continue the cross-border violence. Absent the realization of the legitimate quest for security and self-determination by the people of South Kordofan and Blue NileStates – violence will continue and keep escalating while official Sudan will seek excuses by blaming and attacking South Sudan’s border states.