A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Showing posts with label South Sudan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label South Sudan. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The War Between the Sudans

 I haven't said anything yet about the nasty little border war that has simmered for the past couple of weeks on the still disputed border between Sudan and south Sudan, but with a new front being claimed west of the Heglig oilfield that has been the focus of most of the fighting to date, and African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki warnig that the two Sudans are "locked in a logic of war," perhaps I should.at least acknowledge what's going on.

I'm in no position to judge the rights and wrongs in the case; border disputes between countries that were once united, especially when fueled by oilfields along a still-not-fully-resolved border, usually are not a straightforward question. Since South Sudan's independence last July, little progress has been made in negotiations on the outstanding issues. Like much of the world, I have major reservations about the Khartoum regime due to Darfur and much else, and wish the new kid on the block well; but there seems to be some indication that South Sudan is responsible for upsetting a delicate balance here by occupying the disputed oilfield at Heglig. There are the usual ambiguities: are attacks in South Sudan carried out by local rebels or by Sudan? Whose claims are to be believed about aerial bombings, aircraft shot down, etc.?

The United Nations and the African Union are trying to bring things under control, and both have a lot invested in the peace process that saw the birth of an independent South Sudan. If I don't comment in greater detail for now it is because I fully acknowledge my own ignorance of the rights and wrongs in this case. I am confident of one thing: after decades of warfare starting as far back as the 1950s and with only brief respites, the last thing South Sudan needs after less  than a year of independence is another war. I hope they realize that.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Arab League Delegation Head Has, Um, An Interesting Résumé

As several people are noting in social media, the Sudanese general named to head the Arab League mission to Syria to negotiate a monitoring mission is, as this Daily Star report notes, a former Sudanese intelligence chief whose résumé includes:
- Sudanese army officer for 30 years, from 1969-1999
- Head of military intelligence from June 30, 1989 -- the day Omar al-Bashir took power in a coup -- until August 1995
 - Head of the foreign spy agency, 1995-1996
- Chief of military operations against the insurgency in what is now South Sudan, 1996-1999.
Dabi served as ambassador to Qatar from 1999 to 2004 but also held four separate positions related to Sudan's Darfur region, where fighting broke out in 2003 between non-Arab rebels and the Arab-dominated Khartoum regime.
Among his duties there, Dabi served in 2005 as the regime's pointman for dealing with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1591 on sanctions and other measures related to the conflict.
Sudan's President Bashir is among six people who are being sought or are before the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes allegedly committed in the Darfur region.
I can't resist wondering: is he going to monitor the Syrian Army crackdown, or offer them professional tips?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Israel to Open Full Ties with South Sudan

Israel, which had previously recognized South Sudan even before its independence has said it will soon establish full diplomatic relations. The article at the link speaks of issues such as repatriation of refugees who had fled to Israel, but says nothing about the historic links between the (now-ruling) Sudan People's Liberation Movement and Israel.  By many accounts, Israel provided covert support, and perhaps arms, to South Sudan secessionists as far back as the 1950s, as part of Israel's cultivating sub-Saharan Africa as a means of outflanking Nasser's Egypt. Before the 1974 coup in Ethiopia this was done via Ethiopia; later on it's not so clear. It was never, of course, openly acknowledged.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Welcoming South Sudan

UPDATED: It's past midnight in Juba and South Sudan is celebrating.

 I blogged earlier in the week about the imminent independence of South Sudan, but before I disappear for the weekend I should note that as the clocks tick toward midnight in Sudan, tomorrow is the day the separation becomes official.
The division has been a long time coming, and how the two parts of Sudan will coexist over time remains to be seen. The experience of Eritrea and Ethiopia is not encouraging. But the celebrations in Juba tomorrow will be joyous. Qadhafi's Libya and Iran have said they won't recognize the new state, but Egypt, though nervous about having a new state to negotiate with on Nile water rights, will.