South Sudan: Khartoum’s Aid to Machar’s Tribal Violence

By South Sudan News Staff

Juba — December 24 … During the weekend of 20-22 December, the Republic of South Sudan underwent through the low of the crisis and emerged to the next phase of putting down the Machar revolt. The African think-tank, The Fashoda Institute, has published a current analysis of the South Sudan’s crisis.

 

“Juba entered the weekend having lost control over most of Jonglei State. However, this loss of control was the result of an uneasy cease-fire and tenuous cooperation between the predominantly Nuer ex-SPLA forces of General Peter Gadet Yaak and the Merle forces of the warlord David Yau Yau. It is still not clear just how much of Unity State – Machar’s home – and the vital oil fields remained under Juba’s control and how much were under the rebel control” says the report. “On 22 December, the situation in Juba itself was calm and stable. There was no threat to President Kiir’s hold onto power and to the Government’s functioning”.

 

“The main Machar-related threats remained the two military units that defected. Despite repeated efforts, Gadet’s and Koang’s forces failed to break out of the Nuer-populated areas” stresses the report. “The Nuer-dominated areas where these forces operate presently are surrounded by Dinka-majority areas and large SPLA forces. President Kiir intends to bring these mutineer forces back to the fold. If reconciliation doesn’t work – the rebel forces will be defeated”.

 

“To affect a dramatic breakout despite the military stalemate, the Machar camp is pursuing an audacious strategy. On the one hand, they are portraying Machar himself as a world class leader and democrat worthy of the presidency and definitely on par with President Kiir (a theme that is being reinforced by the highlighting and endorsement of Machar’s harsh criticism of President Kiir and his government by the mainstream media in the West)”, explains the report.

“On the other hand, Machar’s forces are escalating their crazy operations – shooting at US Air Force MV-22s trying to evacuate foreign citizens from Bor (and wounding four US military personnel),  shooting at UN helicopters trying to deliver emergency humanitarian supplies in both Jongeli and Unity States, attacking a few UNMISS bases (where three Indian UN troops and 33 South Sudanese refugees were killed), and the threats to blow up the oil facilities in Jonglei State”.

 

“Khartoum started exploiting the diversion of SPLA units from the border to surrounding the mutineer units in Jonglei and Unity States in order to push large quantities of small arms and ammunition to both rebel (like Yau Yau’s) and Nuer forces”, asserts Fashoda.

“A few convoys were interdicted by the SPLA over the weekend. However, the quantities of weapons in hostile hands in sensitive areas are visibly growing. Moreover, the attackers of the UNMISS base used brand-new Sudanese-made ammunition (as determined from the empty cartridges left behind). The SPLA will have to tackle these challenges only after Machar’s coup is brought to an end”.

 

“Unless Juba is capable of marshaling the country’s military forces quickly, suppressing the revolt in Unity State (as distinct from Jonglei where Juba’s control had been tenuous since independence), and restoring SPLA presence along the Sudanese border – the rebellion will spread and a multitude of smaller foci of violence will join the fray as local leaders will conclude that Juba is vulnerable and will therefore attempt to extract-by-force favors, funds and services for their own constituencies”, advises the analytical Institute.

 

“The current crisis in South Sudan cannot be comprehended in isolation from the country’s tormented past and challenging current posture. South Sudan has been trying hard to build a nation and a state after the debilitating war of independence, autonomy period, and the post-independence austerity period (caused by Sudan’s blocking of oil exports until very recently). It is a mighty challenge given the diversity of the population and the gravity of the situation.

President Kiir was doing as great a job as can be expected under such horrific conditions. For several months now, Machar has tried to further the self-interests of his Nuer tribe by undermining the nation-building effort of the Kiir administration, and by reawakening the sectarian-tribal tensions. When Machar was rejected by the Government and Party establishments – he launched the revolt that is now tearing the nation apart along tribal-national lines”, concludes the report. “Irrespective of President Kiir’s actions – Machar must not be rewarded for awakening and capitalizing on sectarian-tribal hostilities and enmities (as he did in the 1990s and caused several Nuer massacres of Dinka).

President Kiir should be helped to restore stability and unity in the country, and then should be helped to improve both good governance and the economy. Hopefully, South Sudan will quiet down and stabilize well before election time in 2015”.