SUDAN WATCH: Sudan: Abyei Boundary Commission report

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Sudan: Abyei Boundary Commission report

On May 26, 2004 at peace talks in Naivasha, Kenya the Sudanese government and John Garang's South Sudan rebel group SPLM/A exchanged protocols dealing with the outstanding issues of power sharing, the two disputed areas of Nuba and Southern Blue Nile, and a third disputed area, Abyei.

On July 13, 2005 UNMIS announced the Abyei Boundary Commission report was to be released to the Sudanese Presidency within a few days.

The Abyei Boundary Commission is made up of five international boundary specialists and one representative from each of the two parties. The chairman of the commission is Don Petterson, a former US ambassador to Sudan.

Excerpt from Crisis Group Report August 9, 2005:
Abyei was defined under the CPA as the traditional territory of the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms transferred to Kordofan in 1905. The Abyei Boundary Commission defined this as a broad area stretching from the borders of Bahr el-Ghazal, east to the border with Upper Nile, and north to the villages of Umm Sakina, Turda and Edd Dibekir.

The district of Abyei, which South and North both claim, was one of the most divisive issues during the negotiations, and it is a potential flashpoint in the immediate aftermath of Garang's death. The recent report of the Abyei Boundary Commission defined the area broadly, stretching well north of the Bahr el-Arab (River Kiir), and well east of Abyei town, to the Upper Nile border. The report was met with threats of violence by the elements of the Misseriya community who continue to view the Abyei agreement, with its built-in referendum to choose between joining the North or South, as a zero-sum game in which they risk losing their traditional grazing routes to the Dinka and ultimately to an independent South. Although the parties agreed the Commission's decision would be binding, President Bashir has stated publicly that he disagrees with it, and hard-line elements in Khartoum may seek to use the Misseriya as proxies to destabilise the region and scuttle the CPA, particularly as the Commission included the region's oil areas within Abyei's boundaries.

Many Ngok Dinka, the inhabitants of this region, have senior SPLM positions and were close to Garang. Those relationships made negotiating the Abyei issue more difficult, as Garang had little room to manoeuvre and had to satisfy their demand for the historically promised (but never implemented) referendum. That many senior Ngok Dinka in the SPLM who shared a special relationship with Garang will not necessarily enjoy the same support from Salva Kiir could emerge as a fault-line if tensions in Abyei continue to heat up. The Ngok Dinka and Misseriya communities must receive assurances that their land and grazing rights will be guaranteed irrespective of the referendum's outcome.
[For analysis of the Abyei question, see Crisis Group Report, The Khartoum-SPLM Agreement, op. cit., as well as Crisis Group Africa Briefing No. 4, Sudan's Other Wars, 23 June 2003; Crisis Group Africa Report No. 65, Sudan Endgame, 7 July 2003; and Crisis Group Africa Report No. 73, Sudan: Towards an Incomplete Peace, 11 December 2003.]
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UN envoy continues talks with southern rebel leaders, civil society

UN News Centre August 15 confirms Jan Pronk, the top United Nations envoy in Sudan, has met with opposition leaders in the capitol, Khartoum, and will head to Darfur today for a two-day visit to North and South Darfur where he is expected to assess the humanitarian and security situation there. Report excerpt:
"The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reported that Mr Pronk met Friday with senior members of the SPLM and civil society groups.

The meeting focused mainly on the Abyei Boundary Commission's report, which was released in mid-July.

Abyei is a disputed enclave in northern Bahr el-Ghazal province, and negotiations on its status were considered a main concern in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which in January ended Sudan's two decade war between southern-based rebels and the Government. Mr. Pronk urged that the issue be dealt with as a high priority item on the agenda of the Presidency."
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70% of increased aid needs in Sudan are in the East and South
"Meanwhile, on the humanitarian front, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has expressed concern about the chronically impoverished regions of Bahr el-Ghazal in the South, and the Kordofans in central Sudan and Red Sea state and Kassala in the East.

The East and Bahr El Ghazal account for 70 per cent of the increased needs in Sudan.

WFP has warned that its response is severely hampered by critical funding shortages, the late arrival of donor funds and severe shortages of Jet-A1 fuel - as well as limitations on road deliveries and airlifts imposed by the rainy season. These problems sabotaged WFP's efforts to deliver by air and pre-position food aid before rains cut road access in much of the south."
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Mistriyah in north Darfur, is the heartland of the powerful Arab Rizeigat tribe, of which Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal is the chief

The following are a series of notes to myself for future reference:

Musa Hilal, who is suspected by the US state department of being a leader of the Arab Janjaweed militia, is a tribal leader from northern Darfur who lives in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. He is thought to be running one of 16 known Janjaweed bases.

Last July, the Guardian spoke to a deserter from a training camp run by Mr Hilal, who said the Janjaweed commander whipped up racial hatred among his fighters. When the recruits first arrived in the camp, at Mistiriyha in north Darfur, Mr Hilal made a speech in which he told them that all Africans were their enemies.
"Musa Hilal said: 'Zurgha [blacks] always support the rebels. We should defeat the rebels,'" said the deserter, Mustafa Yusuf, 18. Mr Yusuf also witnessed Mr Hilal leading troops into battle. "Musa Hilal led the troops. He was in the Landcruisers, and there were people on horses," he said.
Mistiriyha, the heartland of the powerful Arab Rizeigat tribe, of which Musa Hilal is the chief.
U.N. sources say Hilal is likely to be on a list of 51 government, militia and rebel leaders suspected of crimes against humanity in Darfur which was handed to the International Criminal Court in April, 2005.
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Excerpt from HRW Sudan: Darfur Destroyed: SUMMARY dated May 2004:

Some Arab nomads are given automatic arms and free rein to attack their usual African sparring partners, in the name of government counterinsurgency.130

Many or most of the Janjaweed leaders were emirs or omdas from Arab tribes, and several were appointed by the government in the administrative reorganization of the mid-1990s. The participation by ethnic-political leaders leads to increasing ethnic polarization as members of one ethnic group are summoned and recruited by their leaders to join in a free-for-all war against another ethnic group.

The Janjaweed are not simply a few side-lined ostracized outlaws, as the government suggests. Among the leaders participating in the war in Darfur against the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa are:

- Hamid Dawai, an emir of the Beni Halba tribe and Janjaweed leader in the Terbeba-Arara-Bayda triangle where 460 civilians were killed between August 2003 and April 2004. He has residences in Geneina and Bayda.

- Abdullah abu Shineibat, an emir of the Beni Halba tribe and Janjaweed leader in the Habila-Murnei area. He has residences in Geneina and Habila.

- Omda Saef, an omda of the Awlad Zeid tribe and leader of the Janjaweed from Geneina to Misterei. He has a residence in Geneina.

- Omar Babbush, an omda of the Misseriya tribe and leader of the Janjaweed from Habila to Forbranga, with a residence in Forbranga.

- Ahmad Dekheir, an omda of the Ma'alia tribe and leader of the Janjaweed in Murnei.

Instead of taking strong action against the Janjaweed, the government has incorporated many into its formal security structures, principally the Popular Defence Forces (PDF) and Border Intelligence Guard, but also the Popular Police (Shorta Shabiya) and Nomadic Police (Shorta Zana). In addition to these "formal" groups, there are other tribal militias armed by the government, such as Musa Hilal's infamous El-Khafif, El-Sariya, El-Muriya (The light, the fast, the fearful), based in the Kebkabiya area of North Darfur.

The Border Intelligence Guard (Istikhbarat Al-Hudud), headed by General Al-Hadi el-Tayeed, appears increasingly to be the body of choice for the integration of Janjaweed. It was created in early 2003 in a public ceremony during which the government granted amnesty to a large number of prisoners, enlisting them to fight the rebels. It is annexed to the army, which funds it, but controlled by Military Intelligence. It is given both arms and logistical help by the army and can call for air and armed support as needed. "This is now the core of the Janjaweed", explained a Sudanese observer.

The government clearly believes it can avoid penalties, making for an easy choice between inaction and the admittedly difficult process of now neutralising the militia groups it created. Unfortunately, the international community has not yet acted to influence this calculation. A government official explained candidly:

There are many in the government who are pleased with the work of Musa Hilal and other Janjaweed leaders, because they've protected the government interests in Darfur. Those who committed war crimes should be brought to justice but we are afraid of the backlash. Musa Hilal for example, has 3,000 to 4,000 soldiers under him. If we arrest him, they will turn on us. The government has to weigh that against the outside pressure to take action, and possible repercussions from inaction.

In early November, Musa Hilal was promoted from a colonel in the PDF to a brigadier general in the General Security Services.
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Excerpt from ICG report 8 March 2005 entitled Darfur: The Failure to Protect (ICG) [Note last paragraph about a third new group, al-Shahamah, is made up of Misseriya in neighbouring Western Kordofan. It emerged in October 2004 and was reportedly led by Musa Ali Muhamadein, a former follower of Popular Congress Chairman Hassan el-Turabi and a former leader of the Popular Defence Forces in Western Kordofan.]
On 18 December, the NMRD signed a separate ceasefire with the government, mediated by Chad. It reaffirms the accords signed with the SLA and JEM and calls for creation of a parallel international monitoring mechanism for its implementation. The government also reiterated its pledge to disarm militias.

While the details remain murky, two conclusions can be drawn. First, the NMRD has received significant support, presumably from either the Chad or Sudan government. Some well-placed sources suggest the seed money for Deby's help originated in Khartoum. Reports from eyewitnesses who have encountered the NMRD in Jebel Moon are that it has new cars and uniforms, rockets, and heavy guns, which suggest an outside backer. Secondly, it does not appear to be receiving Khartoum's support now. It has clashed with government forces on multiple occasions since early September 2004, and at least once with JEM, in late October. Reports of up to three NMRD camps in Chad suggest that if support is still flowing, it originates there.

The second new group, Khorbaj, is predominantly Arab and said to be based in South Darfur. Little is known of it, although anonymous statements have been distributed that claim to represent its views. It has not yet done anything in the field but two versions of its purported intentions are emerging. The first is that it is a government creation, designed to organise the Arabs into a "legitimate" political movement, thus further complicating the situation and undermining rebel claims to represent Darfur in any negotiations. The second posits that it is part of a much larger, still evolving, movement within the Arab tribes to assert their independence from and opposition to the government. There is said to be a growing realisation among many in those tribes that have joined Khartoum's counter-insurgency strategy that they have been badly used and will not benefit from continuing the conflict. Contacts between Arab leaders, in some cases Janjaweed, and the SLA have been increasing since mid-2004, when international pressure to disarm the Janjaweed was at a peak. Fearing they would become scapegoats, some Janjaweed opened channels to explore an alliance.

Some contacts go back even further. A meeting was scheduled in December 2003 between some Arab leaders fighting for the government and then SLA Secretary General Abdallah Abaker, who was killed the following month in a government attack. The government learned of the meeting and bombed the site before it could take place, thus increasing mistrust among the Arab tribes involved and the SLA. The elements within Arab tribes which have concluded the conflict does not serve their interests are now reportedly trying to establish a stand-alone Arab movement in Darfur, to fight against the government and establish ties on equal footing with the SLA and JEM. Khorbaj may be a manifestation of this but too little is known to be certain.

The third new group, al-Shahamah, is made up of Misseriya in neighbouring Western Kordofan. It emerged in October 2004 and was reportedly led by Musa Ali Muhamadein, a former follower of Popular Congress Chairman Hassan el-Turabi and a former leader of the Popular Defence Forces in Western Kordofan. He is said to have died on 30 November of natural causes in the SPLM-held town of Warawar, in northern Bahr el-Ghazal. The group has distributed anti-government pamphlets in parts of Western Kordofan, vowing to fight against dissolution of that state, which has been agreed to in the Nuba Mountains/Southern Kordofan agreement reached between the government and SPLM. There were attacks on government posts in the Western Kordofan towns of Gubeish and Magror in late September and early October, and though blame was originally given to the JEM and SLA, it may be that those operating as al-Shahamah were also involved.

A fourth group, the Sudanese Movement for the Eradication of Marginalisation, apparently debuted in mid-December with a high profile attack on government oil installations at Sharef, near the border of South Darfur and Western Kordofan. It has since emerged that this was an SLA action. Interviews with numerous SLA supporters indicate that it undertook the attack as a response to the government offensive then underway but sought to conceal its identity to avoid international condemnation.
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Read Abyei Boundary Commission Final Report 14 July 2005 here or click here for a copy.

Click on Abyei label here below to see previous reports - and latest updates - on Abyei.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Eddie said...

Very useful "brief". A lot of great information is here and I can appreciate the effort. The Janjaweed are not going away anytime soon, and the more we know about them, perhaps the more information we may have to stop them in the future, if that decision is ever made (it should).

Tuesday, September 06, 2005  
Blogger Catez said...

Tracback from Allthings2all:

Spotlight on Darfur 1

Excerpt:

"Welcome to Spotlight on Darfur, which contains reports and views on the Darfur genocide crisis from a diverse group of people. We do not represent any one group or organisation and all share an intention to keep the spotlight on Darfur..."

Tuesday, September 06, 2005  

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