SUDAN WATCH: Darfur Sudan News from Strategy Page - Unrest in Jebel Marra - SLM Clashes with SAF or Internal Wrangling?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Darfur Sudan News from Strategy Page - Unrest in Jebel Marra - SLM Clashes with SAF or Internal Wrangling?

HERE is a news round-up on Darfur Sudan from, plus a report by Sudan Radio Service re unrest in Jebel Marra, southern Sudan. I have highlighted some text in bold, for future reference:
Arming Your Enemy, For A Price

February 17, 2010: A British medical journal has concluded that around 80 percent of the 300,000 deaths in the Darfur region (since the start of the war in 2003) have been caused by disease.

February 16, 2010: It's still unclear what the extent of the fighting between factions of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA). that broke out in late January in the Jebel Marra area of West Darfur state. Refugees also reported fighting between rebel factions in the Jebel Moon area.

Five Ethiopian helicopters arrived in Darfur for duty with UNAMID (UN-AU hybrid peacekeeping operation in Darfur). It has been a long wait, two years in fact. UNAMID asked for 18 helicopters. That means it is still thirteen choppers short.

February 12, 2010: Sudan is littered with minefields, and south Sudan in particular. Serous de-mining efforts began in 2002. A recent de-mining task force report said that since 2002, 31,600 kilometers of roads in south and central Sudan have been cleared of mines. All “major routes” have been cleared (usually with bulldozers and counter-mine vehicles), but many secondary roads, side roads, trails, and open areas have not been completely cleared.

February 6, 2010: Ibrahim Gambari, the new head of UNAMID said he would attend a new round of Darfur peace talks scheduled to take place in Qatar. Gambari recently said that UNAMID should shift its focus from peacekeeping in Darfur to peacemaking. Gambari indicated he thinks the Qatari initiative (Doha talks) are the best diplomatic forum for a peace deal.

February 5, 2010: Some 10,000 people have fled fighting (a series of engagements began in late January) in West Darfur state (in the Jebel Marra region). The fighting took place between factions of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA).

February 4, 2010: Southern leaders in the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) have renewed complaints about the extensive authority the national government (led by the northern-based National Congress Party) have given Sudanese intelligence officers. The GOSS leaders maintain that the national government intends to intimidate voters in the April 2010 national elections.

February 3, 2010: An international appeals court ruled that Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir can be charged with genocide by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC charged Bashir with war crimes and crimes against humanity. Bashir may now face at least one count of genocide. The Sudanese government responded to the decision by accusing the court of attempting to interfere in Sudan's upcoming national elections.

February 1, 2010: The UN accuses GOSS of receiving another shipments of arms. It is well known that the GOSS has access to small arms, with Kenya and Uganda identified as “routes” for the weapons. The UN believes GOSS is receiving some heavy weapons as well, but is unclear where they are coming from. Some believe that the heavy weapons are coming from “internal transfers.” That would mean sources in northern Sudan are providing the south with heavy weapons. How is this? Payoffs and corruption are the likely reasons.

January 28, 2010: An African Union (AU) spokesman said that the 2011 referendum on south Sudanese secession could reignite the north-south civil war. Interestingly enough, the spokesman added that Darfur could also seek independence from Sudan if the south became a separate country. This is northern Sudan's nightmare – a break up where Sudan loses territorial control and control of natural resources. What would an independent South Sudan look like? It would have an area of around 640,000 square kilometers (about the size of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda combined). It would have a population of eight to ten million people (remember, no one agrees on census figures). It would also be an oil exporter.
HERE is one of the latest reports from SRS - Sudan Radio Service re Unrest in Jebel Marra - SLM Clashes with SAF or Internal Wrangling?
Tuesday, 16 February 2010 - (Nairobi) - The anti-government group, the Sudan Liberation Movement-Abdelwahid al-Nur faction says its troops clashed with government forces on Monday in Jebel Marra, Western Darfur.

The advisor to the secretary of information in the SLM faction, Musa Ahmed Mohammed, told SRS on Monday that there have been clashes between the movement and government forces in Kidinir and Laba.

[Musa Ahmed]: “A group from the government moved to the area of Kidinir and clashed with a group from Abdelwahid’s SLM yesterday at around 11.30. Our forces however managed to push the government forces backwards and at the moment SLM is in control of that place and also in Laiba. SAF and Janjaweed clashed with our forces yesterday and the day before yesterday. These clashes had a negative effect on the government side and now the SLM is in full control of the Laba area.”

However, another SLM field commander in the Western Jebel Marra section of the Abdelwahid-controlled area, Mohammed Sharaf, denied that clashes with the government occurred, saying that there was internal wrangling within the movement.

[Mohammed Sharaf]: “There were no clashes between the government and us. What happened was that, amongst us there are people who claim that they belong to Abdelwahid’s group and they disagree on the unity issue. We had agreed in the past that there should be unity between us but there are people who do not want unity and they started to create problems with some of the leaders who are pro-unity like Abdallah Abakar and others. And so yesterday they rented around 500 horses from the Arab tribes and entered some SLM areas and stole a lot of things.”

The UNAMID spokesperson, Noureddine Mezni, appealed to those involved to end the fighting.

[Noureddine Mezni]: “We received some reports from Jebel Marra about the tension there and also the fights and clashes between some groups together with reports about the government and Abdelwahid’s group but because we don’t have an office there we can’t give proper details or confirm the reports that we are getting. However, we do appeal to the groups to stop fighting so that the UNAMID can be able to go to that area.”

The attacks come while other anti-government groups who have been meeting in Doha since 24 January are seeking to reach common ground ahead of direct talks with the government delegation.

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