Tag Archives: Machar

South Sudan: Machar Fails To Control His Rebels

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Juba — February 25 … Crisis and violence linger in South Sudan more than two months after Riek Machar’s failed coup attempt. Fighting continue at varying levels of intensity and spread. Surges of tribal and clan clashes continue to the detriment of the civilian population caught in the crossfire. On this background the influential African think-tank “Fashoda Institute” has published analysis of the negotiations’ stalemate.

“The destruction is painful particularly to a country still at the beginning of a recovery process from a generation-long bitter and destructive independence war”, stresses Fashoda. “While rebel forces have been responsible for the majority of these clashes, government forces are not blame-free as evident by arrest of officers and soldiers who got carried away. The political process and negotiations are going nowhere. The opposition is irreconcilably divided between Machar’s camp that insists on seizing power and the former prisoners’ bloc that only wants profound reforms in Juba”.

The think-tank points out that “the main problem though is the rebels’ inability to deliver on the most basic issue – a viable cease-fire”. On the one hand, rebel leaders insist that they represent the people of South Sudan. On the other hand, the moment the AU and IGAD mediators demand cessation of hostilities as part of the start of negotiations in Addis Ababa – the same rebel leaders disavow responsibility, insist that they are not in control of the various armed factions and forces, and therefore cannot order them to cease the carnage and fighting. Simply put, if the negotiators in Addis Ababa and their bosses cannot deliver most of the fighting forces – whose leaders are they? In whose name and mandate do they negotiate?”

The Fashoda Institute’s analysis explains that “the situation is further complicated by growing pressure from the US-led West. Western officials now threaten sanctions and the withdrawal of badly needed humanitarian and financial aid. The US-led West demands reforms in governance and human rights that are out of touch with reality on the ground, but clearly endorse and reinforce the rhetoric of the Machar camp.”

“The greatest danger is the growing loss of commitment to the state among the rebels”, asserts the Fashoda Institute. “Despite the repeated claims to patriotism by Machar – there is clear evidence to the contrary. The repeated attacks on, and growing damage to, oil facilities, as well as the cycles of violence and carnage in and around Malakal, testify to this trend. If Machar really cares about his country as he insists – he should have restrained his followers and forces, and prevented damage to strategic infrastructure that serves ALL South Sudanese irrespective of who’s the leader”.

Fashoda comes to the conclusion that “the escalating violence in and around Malakal suggests that either Machar does not care about South Sudan’s vital oil infrastructure, or he is not in control of the fighting forces – which raises questions about his claim to leadership of the opposition”.

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”.

 

 

South Sudan VP Machar Placates Khartoum, Plots To Unseat Kiir

By Juliet Abango
South Sudan News

Juba — July 6, 2013 … Having failed miserably in his latest diplomatic mission to Khartoum to restore and sustain oil exports from South Sudan via the Sudanese pipeline – South Sudan Vice-President Riek Machar is raising the ante in his criticism of South Sudan President Salva Kiir.

At the very same time Sudan not only rebuffed Machar’s conciliatory approach, but reiterated its own assertiveness by attacking and bombing civilian-refugee targets inside South Sudan – Machar finds its expedient to tell the international media that he can, and should, be a better president of South Sudan.

On June 8, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir suddenly announced the stopping of oil experts by South Sudan irrespective of international and bilateral agreements. Bashir was motivated by higher regional and global strategic considerations demanded by Iran.

The stopping of oil exports would have caused a tremendous setback to the economic recovery and development programs of South Sudan by depriving Juba of its most important source of hard currency income. Because the stopping of oil exports constituted a flagrant violation of numerous international agreements, as well as internationally recognized bilateral agreements, Khartoum hesitated for a few days about the pace of implementation of Bashir’s order. However, on June 21, Khartoum reiterated its principled decision to stop South Sudan’s oil exports.

In an effort to capitalize on this hesitation and alleviate the horrendous impact of the oil stoppage on South Sudan, on June 30, President Kiir dispatched his Vice-President Machar to Khartoum in order to convince Sudanese leadership to reconsider their decision. Machar led a high level delegation that included five ministers. Their objective was to launch a comprehensive dialogue in order to restore bilateral relations and cooperation. However, Machar sought to monopolize the negotiations and determine their outcome through his own meetings with his counterpart Ali Osman Taha and subsequently also President Omar al-Bashir.

Instead of hard bargaining and marshaling international law and agreements to push Khartoum to the corner – Machar was forthcoming, conciliatory and compromising. He permitted negotiations to slide to uncharted territories and expressed eagerness to compromise in order to reach a deal at all cost.

Significantly, the lengthy discussions between Riek Machar and Ali Osman Taha went beyond addressing proper modalities for the full implementation of bilateral cooperation agreements to including reaching an understanding about the long-term relations between the two countries. In a subsequent meeting with a Sudanese opposition leader, Machar hinted at some regret about the break-up of Sudan. “If we did not survive as one country, we should now survive as two neighboring sisterly countries,” Machar said. Little wonder that official Khartoum hailed Machar’s visit and senior Sudanese officials told Arab diplomats they were ready for dialogue with Juba if the government is run by Machar. 

Ultimately, Khartoum permits the export of only the oil already in the pipeline. South Sudan’s ability to pump and export more oil a few weeks from now is in doubt. Machar failed in the main task of his mission – to restore his country’s long-term oil exports.

Khartoum noted Machar’s weakness and lack of resolve – and interpreted it as reflecting similar insecurity in official Juba. Therefore, to increase pressure on Juba and assert Khartoum’s dominance – on July 3, the Sudanese military launched several cross-border ground and air attacks into South Sudan’s Upper Nile and Unity States. Several people, mostly civilians, were killed and wounded. First, a Sudanese fighter-bomber jet bombed the Jau area of Unity State. The jet targeted refugees fleeing the conflict in Sudan’s Nuba, South Kordofan State, to the Yida refugee camp in South Sudan’s Unity State. Both fighter-bomber jets and the ubiquitous Antonov transports (converted into bombers) launched a few bombing raids against civilian target inside South Sudan associated with helping and sheltering refugees from Sudan (rather than the “normal” civilian targets in South Kordofan just north of the border).

Meanwhile, small units of the 17th Division of the Sudan Armed Forces in Senar attacked civilian targets in the Gong-bar area, northeast of Renk County, Upper Nile State. The Sudanese forces crossed deep into South Sudanese territory before being confronted and repulsed by the South Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) units that rushed to the area. Sudanese army units also struck an SPLA position in the Jau area of Unity State – not far from the bombed area.

The Sudanese army also attacked SPLA positions south of Lake Jau in Unity State. All the Sudanese incursions were repulsed by local SPLA units. Significantly, on instruction from Juba, the SPLA forces did not conduct hot pursuit into Sudanese territory.

Although the Sudanese military incursions and bombings failed to achieve their military objectives – they did achieve their political goals. Khartoum aptly demonstrated that it is willing and capable of destabilizing and flaring-up the sensitive border area should Juba refuse to succumb to Khartoum’s diktats. This is hardly the “new era of friendly cooperation” Machar claimed to have negotiated and attained while in Khartoum only a few days beforehand.

Rather than accept responsibility for the fiasco he had wrought – Machar went on the political offensive against President Kiir. On the eve of the second anniversary of South Sudan, Machar told the UK paper The Guardian of his – Machar’s – conviction that Kiir has to be toppled and be replaced by himself – Machar.

Simon Tisdall wrote that Machar is urging Kiir “to stand down” and “vowing to replace him before or after elections due by 2015.” Tisdall observed that Machar “threatens to ignite a power struggle that South Sudan” to the point of raising “fears of a new descent into violence only eight years after the end of Africa’s longest civil war.”

While Machar insisted in his interview with The Guardian’s Tisdall that the toppling of Kiir should be accomplished through political-administrative measures at the SPLM’s leadership – Machar’s allies and confidants in London and Juba portray a different picture. According to these allies and confidants – Machar’s ascent to power is so important as to warrant intentional harming of the vital national interests of South Sudan. Simply put, the national interests should be sacrificed on the altar of expediting Machal’s own rise to power. Machar’s allies and confidants explain that “a renewed oil cutoff could bring South Sudan to its knees, triggering a wider governmental collapse” which Machar “can capitalize on to force Kiir out and then rise to power.”

This observation of Machar’s plans by his own allies and confidants sheds a new and significant light on Machar’s own conduct of the negotiations with Ali Osman Taha and Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum.