Tag Archives: conflict

South Sudan: Cease-Fire Signed

southsudan_ceasefireSouth Sudan’s government-delegation leader Nhial Deng Nhial (left) and the rebel-delegation leader Taban Deng Gai (right) shake hands after signing a ceasefire agreement in Addis Ababa.

By South Sudan News Staff

NAIROBI, Kenya —  January 23 … The government of South Sudan was pleased to announce that rebels loyal to the country’s ousted former vice president signed a cease-fire agreement today. The cease-fire ends more than a month of fighting that displaced thousands of people.

Under the agreement, signed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, both sides in the conflict promised to lay down their weapons. But they have also said that a cessation of hostilities would be a temporary measure, short of a formal peace agreement, and that negotiations would have to continue.

The cease-fire was scheduled to begin 24 hours after the signing.

“We promise total cooperation in the monitoring and verification mechanism that we urge the special envoys to quickly set in motion,” said Nhial Deng Nhial, the head of the South Sudanese government delegation.

South Sudan: China Challenges US In Africa

By Joe Odaby

Juba, South Sudan — October 16, 2013 … The leading South Sudanese think-tank, The Fashoda Institute of Strategic and Regional Studies, has published a strategic analysis of Chinese grand diplomatic strategy in Africa.

The Fashoda Institute asserts that the key component of the Chinese long-term grand design has long been to “converge all the flow of oil, gas and minerals to a single export point on the shores of the Indian Ocean – that is, in the direction of China. This vision is getting closer to realization given the progress made toward beginning construction of the maritime complex in Lamu on the northern Kenyan shores of the Indian Ocean.

Although Nairobi keeps insisting that there will be international tenders for each and every phase of the Lamu project – the overall design follows Beijing’s proposal and Nairobi acknowledges that no international consortium has so far been able to remotely compete with the financial guarantees offered by official Beijing in support for proposals presented by Chinese entrants. This is because Beijing considers the Lamu mega-port and transportation complex to be the key to the PRC’s long term domination over Africa”.

The South Sudan think-tank reports that the “initial costs of the first phase of the Lamu project are estimated at $25.5bn. The name of this first phase – the Lamu Port and New Transport Corridor Development to Southern Sudan and Ethiopia (LAPSSET) – points to the initial objectives. Significantly, the term used is “Southern Sudan” and not the state of South Sudan. When completed, the first phase of the Lamu complex will include a 32-berth port, three international airports, and a 1,500km railway line. As well, the Chinese plan oil pipelines from Juba in South Sudan, and from Addis Ababa via Moyale, Kenya, to converge into Kenya’s Eastern Province and end in a new huge oil refinery in Bargoni, near Lamu.

The entire construction and pipelines will be supported by a 1,730km road network. In the longer term, the trans-African pipelines the Chinese plan on building from both Nigeria in the west and southwestern Africa (most likely Angola) will also feed into the Lamu complex – thus giving the PRC effective control over the main hydro-carbon exports of Africa”.

“The strategic cooperation between Beijing and Khartoum constitute the key to the Chinese confidence that their Sudanese allies be able to contain their Somali Jihadist proxies so that the risk of terrorist attacks is minimal”, points out the Fashoda’s article.

“Beijing is cognizant that in the long term the Lamu project will constitute a devastating economic setback for their proxy Sudan. Sudan will lose most of the oil income currently derived from transit fees for transporting South Sudanese oil”, says the report. “Moreover, Khartoum considers its control over the oil export venues its primary leverage over Juba on any political issue – including Abyei, the border demarcation, and the popular uprisings throughout Sudan. Hence it will be very difficult for Khartoum to see the oil leverage being taken away – particularly by their Chinese allies. Beijing is already trying to mollify Khartoum. For example, using the term Southern Sudan – as the region that is now the Republic of South Sudan was known when under the yoke of Khartoum – is a way for Beijing to allude to Khartoum’s hope they will get Beijing’s support for the reunification of Sudan”.

Meanwhile, given the ongoing tension between South Sudan and Sudan, the Chinese anticipate that South Sudan will be eager to export its oil through Lamu, Kenya – thus avoiding the port and oil refineries of Port Sudan. In the meantime, China is making efforts to increase South Sudan’s dependence on export via the Sudanese pipeline to Port Sudan.

“Beijing’s objective is to convince Juba not to look for alternate venues of oil exports – such as via Cameroon – until the Lamu pipeline is completed”, opines the article on the Fashoda Institute’s web-site. “Toward this end, Beijing is eager to mediate between Juba and Khartoum and assist in reducing tensions and resolving misunderstandings. In practical terms, Beijing works hard in order to ensnare both Khartoum and Juba in a web of Chinese-brokered agreements that will outlive the opening of the Lamu complex and the ensuing demise of Port Sudan. “China stands ready to help improve the relationship between Sudan and South Sudan,” Luo Xiaoguang, the Chinese Ambassador to Khartoum announced on October 1st. “China appreciates the two parties’ adherence to the option of peace and urges them to find solutions to the outstanding issues between them through dialogue. … We reiterate China’s readiness to play a vital role in enhancing the relations between the two countries.”

“Simply put, Beijing is ready to do anything just to ensure the flow of oil eastwards rather than westwards”, summarizes Fashoda.

Analyzing the situation in Suda, The Fashoda Institute writes that “nevertheless, the PRC might lose control and influence over Sudan and President Omar al-Bashir (or his successor). Khartoum is already cracking as a result of unstoppable economic collapse and building social unrest. The iron fist used by the security forces has so far failed to quell the spreading unrest and grassroots violence. To survive in the next few years, Khartoum might feel compelled to adopt drastic measures – including going to a populist war against South Sudan. To build the case for such a war, Sudan is already setting the stage for a “war of attrition” in the border area that is below a major war but will nevertheless tax the fragile economy of South Sudan and arrest development and reforms. Khartoum is using the dispute over the referendum in Abyei, as well as the escalating popular revolts in Sudan’s own Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan regions, in order to build political and military pressure on South Sudan. Khartoum will then be able to capitalize on the “war of attrition” along the disputed borderline as an excuse for an escalation to a major war.”

Turning back to South Sudan, the Juba-based think-tank writes that “the growing hostility and uncertainty along South Sudan’s northern border only increases the incentive for Juba to seek alternatives to exporting its oil via Sudan. Juba is cognizant of both the economic lure of the Chinese projects and the political-strategic ramifications of a Chinese-dominated oil export. President Salva Kiir is cognizant of the growing regional complexities. The emerging trends guide his policy of looking in both directions – west and east – and not ensnaring South Sudan in anybody’s political and economic stifling embrace. Kiir’s Juba is convinced that the region’s states, and not outside powers, should be the dominant forces leading and driving the regional development. The expertise, technologies and investments of foreign friends and partners are sought after in the context of regionally-dominated undertakings. Juba has already embarked on seeking practical solution by convening a two-day investment conference scheduled for early December.

One of main issues on the agenda of the Government of South Sudan and the development partners is furthering the regional economic integration and growth of South Sudan. Juba’s quest for regional undertakings will be one of the main messages to be conveyed by the December conference.”

Analyzing the dynamics in Eastern Africa, the Fashoda’s analysis suggests that “Juba has already found a most interested party in President Djotodia’s Bangui. Bangui is cognizant that only major economic build-up and development projects will serve as the engine for the education and employment of the country’s populace – thus taking them away from the current fratricidal violence. As well, successful development projects will guarantee long-term income for the government. Hence, such undertakings, rather than humanitarian aid from Western states, are the key to the long-term development and well-being of the Central African Republic “.

“However, this policy is also a major obstacle to China’s grand designs”, notes the analytical article. “Back in mid-2013, Beijing had high hopes that Khartoum would deliver the Djotodia administration in Bangui so as to paralyze and stall the westward option of South Sudan. But this is not working as President Djotodia is reaching out to the West seeking partnerships for major development projects, including regional initiatives. Hence, Beijing started to increase pressure on Bangui – first via the UNSC. In the name of alleviating the humanitarian catastrophe in the CAR, the PRC actively supports the French-US initiative that urges the UN to impose solution in the CAR that might include regime change. Meanwhile, the official Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Beijing) also warned of the serious security and humanitarian situation on the ground in the CAR and stressed the need for urgent international intervention independent of the policies and positions of official Bangui. Beijing expressed interest in joining and contributing to such an initiative”.

Turning to US – China relations, the Fashoda Institute points out that “ultimately, the significance of the Chinese long-term grand design for Africa can be best comprehended in the context of historic transformation in the grand strategy and polity of the PRC. Beijing has been arguing since the fall of the Soviet Union that the decline of the United States was also inevitable and that China was destine to rise as the global Hegemon. Presently, Beijing is convinced that the time is ripe for delivering the coup-de-grace”.

On October 13, the official Xinhua News Agency published an official commentary stating that “it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world.”

The commentary surveyed the abuse the entire world has suffered under US hegemony since the Second World War. The situation has only aggravated since the end of the Cold War, Xinhua argued. “Instead of honoring its duties as a responsible leading power, a self-serving Washington has abused its superpower status and introduced even more chaos into the world by shifting financial risks overseas.” To further its own unbridled ambitions, the US stoked “regional tensions amid territorial disputes, and fighting unwarranted wars under the cover of outright lies,” Xinhua explained. The Xinhua commentary warned that with US society and economy collapsing, Washington is now tempted to intensify the abuse of the rest of the world in order to save the US. “Such alarming days when the destinies of others are in the hands of a hypocritical nation have to be terminated. A new world order should be put in place, according to which all nations, big or small, poor or rich, can have their key interests respected and protected on an equal footing.” Xinhua concluded by suggesting that the PRC, being inherently a developing country, is the rising power best suited to lead this global transformation and de-Americanization.

“Beijing has long recognized that any confrontation with the US will inevitably lead to major economic crises, a series of conflicts world-wide and possibly a global war against the US”, says the Fashoda Institute in conclusion.

“To sustain this global conflict, the PRC would need huge quantities of hydro-carbons, rare metals, other natural resources and even agricultural products – and these can only be secured from a China-dominated Africa”.

Sudan Prepares Major Military Offensive To Divert From Internal Unrest

By Joe Odaby

Juba, South Sudan — September 30, 2013 … The leading South Sudan think-tank, The Fashoda Institute of Strategic and Regional Studies, has published a strategic analysis of the recent military buildup in the neighboring Sudan.

Northern Sudan (capital: Khartoum), from which the South has seceded in 2011 after a long civil war, is led by the Islamist government of President Omar al-Bashar who was indicted in 2010 by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

The Fashoda institute points out that “the escalating fuel riots in Khartoum, and increasingly other cities in Sudan, serve as a stark reminder of the inherent fragility and instability of the country”.

The riots were sparked by the spiraling prices of all fuel products following the abolition of subsidies and the growing shortages of all fuel products. The recurring shortages of fuel result in shortages of food and other products and goods brought into Khartoum from both the Red Sea ports and the countryside. Within a few days, the riots became the worst since the 1989 riots that led to the military coup that brought to power Omar al-Bashir. “What began early this week in Sudan as a protest against the removal of fuel subsidies has developed into a full-blown uprising that is threatening President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s 24-year rule,” Arab political observers warned on September 27.

As the Khartoum riots escalated and turned political, the Sudanese military was sent to the streets to crackdown the riots by force. By 27 September, the Sudanese government acknowledged that over 50 demonstrators were killed by the security forces, over 250 were wounded, and over 600 were arrested. Numerous opposition sources put the casualties tally in Khartoum alone at over 150 fatalities, over 750 wounded, and over 2,000 arrested and/or disappeared. The military’s violent crackdown in Khartoum sparked even bigger and more violent riots over the weekend throughout Sudan. The protesters are now openly demanding the overthrow of Bashir’s regime while calling Bashir himself “a killer”. Moreover, both the Sudanese government and Arab diplomats report a growing use of automatic weapons by the rioters starting the evening of September 27. On the morning of the September 28, four security personnel were shot and killed in Khartoum by unidentified gunmen in the ranks of the rioters.

The Fashoda Institute writes that “the oil crisis is unfolding and escalating at a time when Khartoum is spending huge sums of hard currency on advanced weapons – mainly weapon systems optimized for long-range strikes and major wars rather than handling insurgencies such as the never-ending insurgency in Darfur”.

The Juba-based think-tank unveils that “in recent months, Khartoum has embarked on an unprecedented military build-up – mainly of air power. The key weapon systems are being purchased from Belarus. Most important is the acquisition of 12 refurbished Su-24Ms (4-6 of them already supplied) and 18 refurbished Su-30MKs (originally leased by India from Russia but returned to Belarus for the legal reason that the Russian Air Force cannot operate them).

Sudan was also negotiating the acquisition of another batch of second hand Su-25s to augment the existing fleet of 11 Su-25s (out of 14 originally purchased from Belarus). Belarus has a large arsenal of high quality combat aircraft that was put on sale for hard currency. A total of 35-36 Su-24Ms were withdrawn from service in February 2012, and the remaining 22-23 Su-24Ms are available for purchase. As well, 17 Su-27P and 4 Su-27UBM1fighters were withdrawn from service in December 2012 and also put for sale. The Belarus Air Force also has around 20 Su-25s stored in Lida. Khartoum expressed interest in virtually every major combat aircraft available and the main lingering issue is the availability of hard currency”. 

The Fashoda Institute points at the scope of the Sudanese military buildup: “Sudan is also looking for additional MiG-29s which Belarus cannot offer. Sudan acquired numerous MiG-29s in the last decade. In late 2008, 23 of the MiG-29s were in active service. However, only 11 of these MiG-29s were operational in the first half of 2013. One MiG-29 was claimed by the South Sudanese air defense on April 4, 2012. Apparently, the aircraft crash-landed in a Sudanese airbase and was written off. The other 11 MiG-29s were grounded due to maintenance difficulties. Sudan is interested in a large number of MiG-29s and the main candidate source is Ukraine that has around 100 MiG-29s of various models stored in reserve”.

“The most important undertaking by the Sudanese Air Force in recent months is the large scale recruitment of mercenaries – aircrews, technical experts and ground crews – from all over the former Soviet Union”, discovers the Fashoda Institute. “Their main mission is to activate, up-grade and better utilize the existing arsenal of the Sudanese Air Force (that had suffered both combat and technical damage in recent years). The first visible result is the growing number of MiG-29s that are taking off for test and evaluation flights. The efforts of the ex-Soviet mercenaries have already returned 4-6 additional MiG-29s to flying status.

The revamped Sudanese Air Force has unprecedented long range reach covering northern Ethiopia and all of nemesis South Sudan. Indeed, the Sudanese government is also committing huge resources to the up-grading and expansion of all key military airbases in the southern parts of the country – including the extension of paved runways and the construction of new buildings, bunkers and other facilities.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese government is making strenuous efforts with Russia to expedite and increase the deal for assault helicopters and helicopter gunships. On order are 12+6 Mi-8T and 12+6 Mi-24D/V/P. Although Khartoum is ready to pay cash for everything – the Kremlin is not rushing the deal for political-strategic reasons. Again, the Sudanese acquisition of weapon systems is accompanied by the widespread recruitment of mercenaries – aircrews, technical experts and ground crews – to get Sudan’s existing arsenal of 20 Mi-8/Mi-17 assault and 24 Mi-24 combat helicopters into better operational status, and have highly qualified aircrews in the cockpits”.

The Fashoda Institute points out that “although the main emphasis of Khartoum is air power, the expansion and modernization of the military is not neglected either. The current priority of Khartoum is launching a concentrated effort to fully operationalize and activate the large quantities of heavy weapons (tanks and artillery) purchased from Ukraine in 2009-2010 and delivered over the next couple of years. The main weapon systems are T-72 MBTs, BM-21 MRLs, 152mm 1S3 SPGs, 122mm 2S1 SPGs, and 122mm D-30 guns. As well, the Sudanese army has embarked on the refurbishment and modernization of key military bases and garrisons in southern Sudan – including the installation of modern communications systems.

The Sudanese military build-up effort got a major boost on 9 September during the visit of Libyan defense minister Abdel-Rahman Al-Thani to Khartoum. Sudan’s defense minister Abdel Rahim Hussein signed an agreement with his Libyan counterpart on large scale weapons, spares and ammunition transfers mainly from Qadhafi’s stockpiles in southern Libya. In return, Sudan promised to restrain Libyan Jihadists that had sought and received shelter in Sudan and prevent them from returning to Libya. (The Sudan-Libya agreement is identical to the agreement signed with Egypt in 2001.) The supplies from Libya will also enable the Sudanese military to activate and return to operational use a sizeable force of older models of Soviet-origin weapons”.

“Taken together, these efforts point out to active preparations for a major land war rather than mere escalation of the fighting against irregular forces in Darfur or elsewhere in Sudan”, highlights the report of the Fashoda Institute.

“Khartoum needs a major diversion of the popular anguish and frustration”, says the Institute’s analysis. “Addressing external threats is a proven diversion from internal crises. The calls for the reunification of Sudan under the banner of Islam have been a popular rallying cry for the widespread Islamist and Mahdist constituencies – and thus a sure method for getting their supporters out of the swelling ranks of rioters. Moreover, it is also expedient for the Bashir administration to blame the oil crisis and shortage of funds on the lingering impact of the transfer of so many oilfields to South Sudan after the mid-2011 break-up of Sudan.           

Ultimately, Khartoum is driven by the grim realities of the region, and Bashir’s determination to get involved in crises with assertive offensive strategy. Irrespective of reassuring political rhetoric – Sudan and South Sudan are heading toward a major face-off that might easily escalate into violence. Abyei remains a volatile region with tension growing as a result of Sudan’s atrocious suppression of grassroots revolts in surrounding South Kordofan. The Abyei crisis will also keep lingering since the referendum is nowhere to be seen. Khartoum considers the Abyei oil reserves a shortcut to addressing the economic catastrophe and therefore won’t accept the secession the local population yearns for. The road to war from such irreconcilable quandary is very short. Abyei is not the only crisis point for the South Sudan-Sudan border demarcation as proposed by the AU is equally problematic and destabilizing, and thus might provoke crisis and war at any moment.

Furthermore, even though Cairo is currently focused on domestic issues in the aftermath of the military takeover – the crisis with Ethiopia over the Nile waters lingers on and is far from resolution. Dominance over the Nile waters is a sacred cause for both Egypt and Sudan – and thus no government in Cairo or Khartoum will ever allow itself to be portrayed as having compromised with the Nile Basin states. With no viable solution in sight, and with the work on the Ethiopian dams continuing apace – the crisis might still escalate into a major war. South Sudan will be dragged into such a war by regional geography”.  

“Thus, all of these are both ticking crises in their own right, as well as good causes for diversion and tension building for the besieged Bashir administration”, warns the Fashoda Institute. “Hence, Khartoum’s saber rattling and war preparations might prove self-fulfilling”.

The report on the think-tanks Website ends with assessment of the Juba’s options: “Little wonder that South Sudan is considering its own military build-up – as declared on September 22 by the new Defense Minister Kuol Manyang. Juba is determined to build a strong national army even if such undertaking might take nearly half of the national budget allocation. Manyang explained that Juba wants “the army to be at full military readiness to ensure victories in any military engagements.” Juba’s “strategic vision” calls for the building of “a strong and professional force” in regional terms. Manyang stressed that Juba’s ultimate objective is to deter the eruption of wars and crises, but that “the army, anywhere in the world, can only avoid wars when it is capable of winning them.”