Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sudan: SLM-Nur in Jebel Marra, Darfur rented around 500 horses from the Arab tribes and entered some SLM areas?

TRYING to make sense of news of Sudanese people killing each other in Jebel Marra, Darfur is not easy to do. This is Part 1 of a series. More to come, later.

Jebel Marra, Darfur, W. Sudan

ON 02 February 2010 at Sudan Watch, I published an important analysis by Julie Flint, 01 February 2010, entitled "The Strife Inside the SLA". Here is a copy, followed by several related reports. (Note that Julie Flint refers to the anti-government group SLA-Abdul Wahid as SLA-AW whereas for several years here at Sudan Watch the group has been referred to and tagged as SLM-Nur)
The Strife Inside the SLA

Since 5 January, rival factions of SLA-Abdul Wahid have been fighting each other in Jebel Marra. The fighting, which has been largely unreported, has caused civilians to flee from a number of villages in the south of the mountains, towards Nyertiti and Kass. There are fears that the violence, which has many fault lines, too complicated to explain in this short posting, could have repercussions among civilians in IDP camps where SLA-Abdul Wahid has a hold.

It will be impossible to reach a sustainable settlement to the simmering but still-unresolved conflict in Darfur, regardless of anything the government does or does not do, while the ‘revolution’ of 2003 is eating itself.

The intra-SLA fighting has claimed the lives of a number of commanders critical of the SLA Chairman, his decision to reside in France rather than Darfur, and his refusal both to participate in the Doha process and to seek reconciliation in the SLA faction he leads. Some of the commanders have died in armed clashes; others have perished in ambushes—most recently, a commander from Kass, Mohamed Adam ‘Shamba’, whose car was reportedly attacked with rocket-propelled grenades in Jebel Marra on 26 January.

The long-standing tensions within SLA-AW over Abdul Wahid’s management surfaced dramatically (albeit behind closed doors) in the middle of 2009 when senior SLA commanders—including several of those considered most loyal to Abdul Wahid—‘challenged him for 10 days’, in the words of one of those present, at a capacity-building workshop in Switzerland. The chief of staff of the SLA, Yousif Ahmad Yousif ‘Karjakola’, went as far as to call the SLA chairman incompetent. Others complained about a lack of support, including salaries and military supplies, and the refusal to participate in the internationally-mediated peace process led by Djibril Bassole.

The spark to January’s mini-war appears to have been the capture of Karjakola by JEM in November 2009 as he returned to Darfur from Chad. Abdul Wahid’s critics allege that JEM acted at the instigation of the SLA Chairman, and are super-critical of the US special envoy, Gen. Scott Gration, for not seeking the release of a senior commander who defied Abdul Wahid’s rejectionism and favoured participating in the peace process. After Karjakola’s arrest, I received calls from SLA commanders in Darfur claiming that they have evidence of a ‘hit list’ (reportedly backed by serious money) of pro-peace reformers. I am aware that Abdul Wahid loyalists have made similar claims to others, but have no details of their claims. The list is said to include several SLA leaders in the Ain Siro area—including Ali Haroun, a law graduate of Khartoum University and responsible for justice in the SLA, and Suleiman Sakerey, the highest military commander in Ain Siro. Both met the AU High-Level Panel on Darfur in June last year.

Ain Siro has been untouched by the factional fighting and serious human rights abuses that have cast such a cloud over some rebel-controlled areas. But it has a history of problems with the SLA leadership in Jebel Marra. A number of commanders from Ain Siro were ‘arrested’ and taken to Jebel Marra, Abdul Wahid’s headquarters, late in 2007 as they gave voice to growing popular demand from the field for reform of the movement that Abdul Wahid leads from the diaspora. A confidential UN report said the Ain Siro group were accused of ‘attempting to divide the movement’. During the group’s detention in Jebel Marra, a university companion of Ali Haroun, Abdalla Mohamed, was kidnapped with his bodyguard, Hamadi, by masked men from the centre of Deribat, the SLA stronghold where the Ain Siro group was being held. (Abdalla’s body was later found three months later, hanged, in a village in Jebel Marra. Hamadi’s body was found in the same village, shot in the back.) I personally went to Paris to ask Abdul Wahid for guarantees for the safety of the Ain Siro group. He assured me they would come to no harm, and they were indeed released—albeit many months later. Abdul Wahid claimed that Abdalla Mohamed had been seized, from the market in Deribat, by ‘janjaweed’. I do not know Deribat. I leave it to those who do to judge whether ‘janjaweed’ could have got into the centre of the town, and out again, without a fight.

On 5 January this year, a senior SLA commander critical of Abdul Wahid and supportive of the peace process, Abdalla Abaker, was shot dead by Abdul Wahid loyalists at a checkpoint in Jebel Marra. Abdalla’s supporters subsequently attacked and looted the homes of a number of commanders considered to be Abdul Wahid loyalists, setting in motion a chain of attack and counter-attack that will continue until the root causes of the problem are resolved—most importantly the lack of structures, and accountability, in Jebel Marra.

The people of Darfur—those stuck in wretched camps and those still clinging to the countryside so utterly devastated by Khartoum’s criminal counter-insurgency—deserve better leadership than this. I have many reports of, and testimony to, the latest clashes and killings. It is a pity that none of this reaches the ‘ordinary’ people of Darfur, to enable them to judge for themselves who they want to represent them and speak on their behalf. A little naming and shaming, with dispassionate, detailed reporting of what exactly is going on—and why—might help Darfurians to find a voice of their own that is informed by fact rather than internet rumour and propaganda.
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SLM-Nur clashes with government forces or internal wrangling?

ON 19 February 2010 at Sudan Watch, it was reported that on 15 February 2010 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.

Here is an extract from the report by SRS (Sudan Radio Service) entitled "Unrest in Jebel Marra - SLM Clashes with SAF or Internal Wrangling?"
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.”
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ALSO, at Sudan Watch on 19 February 2010 it was reported that:
On Feb 6: Seven killed in clashes between SPLA & Messiriya in Abiemnom, Unity state, S. Sudan - Sudan Army Forces (SAF) spokesperson denied that SAF had armed the Messiriya. The spokesperson told SRS (Sudan Radio Service) that: "It is illegal for the Messiriya to use SAF uniforms or equipment. There are Messiriya nomads who were recruited by the SPLA and they were given uniforms and military ranks and they started saying that they belonged to the SPLA and this caused a lot of problems".

On Feb 9: Gunmen on horseback raided Baytari refugee camp in Kass, S. Darfur, Sudan - 2 IDPs shot dead, 10 injured - A patrol of UNAMID peacekeepers on 09 February 2010 saw armed horsemen riding into a refugee camp at Kass in South Darfur, western Sudan while others surrounded the settlement, one senior UN official said on condition of anonymity. "They were members of an Arab militia, apparently related to the man who was killed. They were shooting sporadically when they entered the camp," the official told Reuters.

On Feb 16: Gunmen opened fire on peacekeepers close to El-Sherif camp, nr Nyala, S. Darfur, Sudan - UNAMID spokesman said government troops captured the two suspects outside the south Darfur capital of Nyala. Authorities also recovered one of two UN-AU vehicles stolen in the attack.

Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) refuses to confirm Ukrainian tank deal - SPLA are not allowed to buy weapons from abroad, according to the CPA. UN Security Council resolutions 1556 and 1591 prohibit the sale of arms to warring parties in the Darfur region where SAF is combating armed anti-government groups.
So, who raided Baytari refugee camp in South Darfur and who attacked UNAMID peacekeepers in South Darfur? And why, after seven years, do we still not know who is supplying arms to warring parties in Darfur?

Further reading

Sudan Watch, 20 February 2010 - US Special Envoy Calls on Darfur Armed Groups to End Conflict and Emphasizes Civilian Security - Exclusive interview from SRS (Sudan Radio Service) 19 February 2010:
(Juba) - The US Special Envoy to Sudan, General Scott Gration, is urging the anti-government forces in Darfur to stop fighting each other in Darfur.

Speaking to SRS in an exclusive interview in Juba on Thursday, Gration said the majority of people who are suffering in the recent fighting at Jebel Marra are civilians.

[Scott Gration]: “The fighting has to stop in Darfur. Those people have suffered so much every time we have these fights; it is not just between the rebels. The biggest problem is it displaces civilians, those civilians then have to go to a place of security and normally to an IDP camp and this is not good. We already have 2.7 million people that are residing in IDP camps living in conditions that are not right. In fact it is unacceptable and dire. And what we would like to see, we could give security and we could give stability, we could get an environment where people could go back to their homes.

General Gration urged the anti-government groups in Darfur to resolve their differences and find a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Darfur.

[Scott Gration]: “The rebels need to have their issues resolved. Doha and the issues of Doha have to be resolved. This will include compensation, power sharing, wealth sharing, land reform and it includes a security embargo. All these things have to be resolved so that the people that are fighting in Jebel Marra have an opportunity to participate as political parties. What we see right now is because they have militias, armed militias, they can’t participate in elections. So there is going to have to be some way that these individual and their parties are able to be represented in the next phase of government. Those are things that we are working on right now, but the big issue for me is the local security."

Gration said the Government of National Unity is responsible for providing security to the people of Darfur. He added that reducing tension caused by outside interference will help resolve the conflict in Darfur.
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Darfur / UNAMID Daily Media Brief
EL FASHER (DARFUR), Sudan, 24 February 2010/APO
UNAMID Daily Media Brief / 2010-02-24
Security situation in Darfur
The security situation in Darfur remains relatively calm but unpredictable.

UNAMID military forces conducted 105 patrols including routine, short range, long range, night, and Humanitarian escort patrols, covering 79 villages and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps during the reporting period.

UNAMID police advisors also conducted 123 patrols in villages and IDP camps.

UNAMID to address needs of newly-displaced persons in West Darfur
Following a humanitarian mission conducted by UNAMID’s Humanitarian Liaison Office and several of the region’s agencies on February 22, UNAMID has ascertained that over 1,500 people have been displaced to Thur, West Darfur, from nearby villages as a result of the increased fighting in Jebel Marra area.

Due to the volatile security situation since fighting broke out in January, very few agencies have been able to provide these IDPs with desperately-needed aid. However, following the Darfur Framework Agreement signed yesterday between the Sudanese Government and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), it is expected that help will quickly begin to reach the areas affected by the recent clashes.

UNAMID is already finalising plans for other similar missions to the affected areas, in coordination with other humanitarian agencies.

JSR Gambari congratulates all parties on ceasefire accord
Following the signing of the Darfur Framework Agreement in Doha yesterday, Joint Special Representative (JSR) Ibrahim Gambari congratulated Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed Al-Bashir, JEM leader Dr. Khalil Ibrahim, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, as well as Chadian President Idriss Deby, President Issayas Afewerkiof of Eritrea and AU-UN Joint Chief Mediator Djibril Bassolé for their concerted efforts to bring about this agreement.

The UNAMID JSR had a series of contacts, on the sidelines of the ceremony, with several personalities attending the event, among them the Chairperson of the AU Commission Jean Ping; the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic conference, Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu; and a number of special envoys to the Sudan, particularly those of the U.K., France and Canada.

This weekend, the JSR will lead a retreat for the special envoys to the Sudan in Kigali, Rwanda, where they are expected to discuss their plans and priorities to restore stability to Darfur.

SOURCE: United Nations – African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)
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Darfur: recent fighting leaves 1,500 displaced and without aid, UN reports
Report from UN News Centre, 24 February 2010:
Over 1,500 people have been displaced by increased fighting in the western part of Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region and very few agencies have been able to provide them with desperately-needed aid due to lack of security, the United Nations reported today.

The displaced people have sought refuge in Thur, West Darfur, after fleeing from nearby villages because of increased fighting in the Jebel Marra area last month, the joint African Union-UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said, after sending a humanitarian mission there earlier this week.

“However, following the Darfur Framework Agreement signed yesterday between the Sudanese Government and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), it is expected that help will quickly begin to reach the areas affected by the recent clashes,” UNAMID added, referring to the cessation of hostilities pact the Government signed in Doha, Qatar, with the main rebel group.

“UNAMID is already finalising plans for other similar missions to the affected areas, in coordination with other humanitarian agencies.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday hailed the Doha accord as “an important step towards an inclusive and comprehensive peace agreement” for Darfur, where nearly seven years of war between the Government, its militia allies and various rebel groups have killed at least 300,000 people and driven 2.7 million others from their homes. He called on all parties in the conflict to agree on a definitive political settlement

Other rebels have still not signed agreements with the Government. Earlier this month Assistant-Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) Dmitry Titov reported to the Security Council that two rebel coalitions known as the Addis and Tripoli Groups have shown themselves unprepared so far for substantive negotiations.
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Fifteen Dead in Fighting Between SAF and SLM in Jebel Marra
Report from SRS (Sudan Radio Service) 25 February 2010:
(Nairobi/ Khartoum) - Fighting has broken out between government troops and the SLM-Abdelwahid al-Nur faction, in Jebel Marra, despite the announcement by President al-Bashir on Wednesday that the conflict in Darfur had ended.

The SLM faction said that sixteen people had been killed in the fighting in Dirbat in Jebel Marra. At least one person was injured in the clashes.

In an interview with SRS on Thursday, an SLM general commanding the troops in Jebel Marra, Abdulgadir Abdurrahman, said that the government troops are still in Dirbat and that the fighting is still going on.

[Abdulgadir Abdurrahman]: “The government troops attacked our men and they inflicted a lot of damage. One of our soldiers and 15 civilians were killed. Yesterday, the same thing happened. They moved from Nyala and came to Dirbat and now they are in Dirbat. They are destroying and looting property and stealing money and cows from the citizens. The fighting started in Kidinyer and they looted property of the organizations in the area including 4 vehicles from one organization together with generators, 27 grinders and some water tanks. What they couldn't carry with them they sprayed with bullets.”

The Sudanese army has denied the reports.

SAF spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khalid spoke to SRS Thursday from Khartoum. He said that government troops were in Jebel Marra but there were no clashes between government troops and the SLM.

[Al-Sawarmi Khalid]: “There were no clashes, just the normal SAF presence. They think it is not acceptable, that’s why they said we fought with them but there was no fight. Jebel Marra as an area cannot be said to belong to Abdulwahid. If there was fighting maybe other groups fought but SAF doesn't have anything to do with that. We assure you that there was nothing and we have not clashed with anybody. Our presence in the area is perfectly normal."

SAF spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khalid was speaking to SRS on Thursday from Khartoum.
More on Jebel Marra coming up, later.

UPDATE - See Sudan Watch, Sunday, March 14, 2010: SLM chief Abdel-Wahid Mohamed Nur enjoys life in Paris while Darfuris are cared for by the world's taxpayer

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