January 01, 2014

South Sudan and Wind of New War: Where Does it Come From?

Alexander MEZYAEV | 31.12.2013 | 00:00

In the middle of December the situation in South Sudan abruptly turned for the worse. On December 15 ten cabinet members were arrested and charged with an attempt to stage a coup d’├ętat. (1) Riek Machar, former Vice-President of South Sudan, is the main suspect to be charged. He was dismissed from his position this June, but is still at large. (2) Machar says he had no relation to the coup…

According to the government of South Sudan, Juba, the capital, is tranquil again, the diplomatic missions are secure. (3) But it’s too early to say the situation is fully stabilized. Fighting has renewed in Juba, insurgents captured a number of large cities, for instance Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile State. (4) The town of Mading-Bor, the Jonglei State's capital city, situated in central South Sudan, keeps on changing hands. (5)

South Sudan has plunged into the quagmire of civil war. The Dinka people are subject to mass slaughter. (6) It is called «ethnic cleansing» in an attempt to avoid using the word «genocide». According to United Nations convention, genocide is the «intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such». It constitutes a legal ground for an intervention of the «international community» and such structures as the International Criminal Court. It also includes a political element – the people of Dinka traditionally support President Salva Kiir, while the Lou Nuer people side with (ousted) Vice-President Riek Machar...

On December 24 the United Nations Security Council observed the situation in South Sudan and adopted the resolution N 2132 which envisions significant expansion of the United Nations Mission in the country.

Let’s recall that the state of South Sudan was created on July 9, 2011 after a referendum was held, 98, 83 percent of voters voted for independence. (7) The emergence of the new African state was supported by some definite forces acting formally under the United Nations aegis. For instance, the vote ballots were printed in Great Britain. «International donors» allocated 58 million dollars for the referendum. Finally it was all decided in January 2005 when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was formally signed by the government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). It looked like an internal agreement, but in reality the document was signed by top officials of some European states and then US State Secretary Colin Powell. Technically those were the signatures of «witnesses», but it could not deceive anyone. In its statement on February 9, 2011 the United Nations Security Council emphasized that being sui generis the case set no precedent. It’s hard to believe because such cases have been repeated on and on but the United Nations keeps harping on that all they are all «sui generis».

Since the very start of its independence South Sudan faced grave security problems. It’s worth to note that the day before the voting the United Nations Security Council adopted the resolution N 1996 establishing the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). The Mission was initially created to last one year, but it was envisaged that it could be prolonged if need be. UNMISS will consist of up to 7,000 military personnel, including military liaison officers and staff officers, up to 900 civilian police personnel, including as appropriate formed units, and an appropriate civilian component, including technical human rights investigation expertise; and further decides to review in three and six months whether the conditions on the ground could allow a reduction of military personnel to a level of 6,000. One of the tasks is to «deter violence including through proactive deployment and patrols in areas at high risk of conflict, within its capabilities and in its areas of deployment, protecting civilians under imminent threat of physical violence, in particular when the Government of the Republic of South Sudan is not providing such security . (8)

The new United Nations resolution envisages significant surge of the force’s strength from seven to twelve and a half thousand – actually doubling the Mission’s strength. No new units are needed to be brought into Africa to accomplish the tasks set by the UN, the forces are to be transported from the already existing United Nations African missions in Darfur (Sudan), Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The resolution № 2132 was prepared by the United States. In some aspects it serves as an example of how the forces of the United Nations are used in the interests of the United States of America to provide for the operations of the US armed forces. The matter is that after the last flare-up of violence the United States tried to evacuate its citizens working in the country on its own, but lost a few dozen of servicemen. Now the forces from other African missions are being urgently transported to the country. Of course, it is all done under the guise of protecting South Sudanese civilians, including the evacuation of more than twenty thousand refugees given temporary shelter on the territory of the Juba Mission. The humanitarian problems exist in South Sudan since a long time ago exacerbated by armed clashes between the security forces and non-state armed formations, as well as between ethnic groups. The state of Jonglei is hardest hit. In the period from the beginning of 2013 till the middle of September there were around 18 thousand refugees from Jonglei registered in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. According to the United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs, at least 265 incidents of violence have taken place since the beginning of 2013 resulting in the death of about one thousand, while around 160 thousand people were added to increase the numbers of already displaced persons. 65 percent of all South Sudanese displaced are the refugees from Jonglei. Besides, around two million people suffer from hunger. The exodus from South Sudan continues (around a quarter of million people totally).

The country’s troubles and the new flare-up of violence in the middle of December are caused by the activities of armed groups and the interethnic strife. The bulk of armed clashes take place between the Sudan People's Liberation Army and the armed formations led by David Yauyau. At the beginning of July President Salva Kiir reiterated its readiness to declare amnesty for all members of armed groups, but Yauyau rejected the offer. Some groups agreed to accept the conditions offered by the amnesty (the South Sudan Liberation Army and the South Sudan Defense Forces). At present the both formations are in the process of integration into the country’s regular armed forces. Talking about interethnic conflicts, the state of Jonglei is the hotbed of violence. First of all the situation is aggravated due to the fighting between the Lou Nuer and Dinka communities. Hundreds of people lose their lives, children are kidnapped. (9)

On the one hand, the fierce fighting taking place in South Sudan is the further exacerbation of the old strife which never stopped no matter the new state was created. On the other hand, the separation of South Sudan was not the result of armed struggle – it was rather incited by the influence from outside. The West was adroit enough to use the International Criminal Court to blackmail the President of Sudan Omar al Bashir and made him agree to the idea of holding the referendum with the result easily predicted. (10) The separation of oil rich areas becoming the territory of the independent Republic of South Sudan in 2011 never envisaged the policy implemented by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir aimed at terminating oil extraction. (11) He could not get away with it… Princeton Lyman, U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, said clear and purposefully on December 23 that it was President Salva Kiir who is to blame for sparking the violence in South Sudan. (12) It also was not an occasion when learning about the break up of violence, President of South Sudan took away his famous hat which has become his calling card (the present of former United States President George Bush) and changed it for a beret as an element of his military fatigue to don. It means Mr. Kiir perfectly understands where the wind of new war in South Sudan is coming from.

(1) The official website of the government of South Sudan: http://www.goss-online.org. As reported on December 17.
(2) On December 23, 2013 the President of South Sudan Salva Kiir dismissed the government and fired Vice-President Riek Machar. The very same day 17 brigadier-generals of national police force were fired too. The head of state also suspended from office Pagan Amum Okiech, Secretary General of South Sudan's ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement.
(3) The same source, dated December 19, 2013.
(4) The Sudan Tribune on December 25, 2013// Machar’s forces capture Upper Nile state capital, Malakal.
(5) As reported by the Sudan Tribune on December 24, 2013 // South Sudan army claims to have retaken Bor from rebels.
(6) For example: fondsk.ru
(7) It should be noted the formal reports on the Sudan’s referendum used the term «voters» or «participants» instead of «people» or «population» as the tradition goes. It’s not an occasion. The use of the words «voters» or «participants» do not require further explanation unlike the words «people « or «population» which are to be associated with some concrete territory (for instance, the population of Sudan or the population of South Sudan). That’s what the referendum was about! First, it is unusual to extend the referendum outside the country’s borders involving the Sudanese living abroad and this procedure was applied only to South Sudanese. Second, it is even more unusual that the southerners living in the north did take part unlike the northerners living in the south! This kind of approach is in stark contradiction with the norm acknowledging the right of all people of a state to vote, not only the people living in some parts of its territory. For instance, in 1998 the Supreme Court of Canada handed down a well-known ruling in the case related to the right of Quebec to secede putting it plainly that such a referendum could be valid only on the condition the majority of the whole country would say «yes’. The deviation from this principle in the case of South Sudan creates a precedent supported by the United Nations.
(8) Paragraph 3bof the United Nations resolution N 1996 adopted on July 8, 2011.
(9) The report by the Secretary General of the United Nations on November 8, 2013.//United Nations Document: S/2013/651
(10) It should be noted that the government of Sudan has made a great contribution into the predictability of the referendum in South Sudan. As an example, one could remember the introduction of Sharia law in 1983 for the entire population of the country, including Christians, something unprecedented even in the practice of Muslim states where the Sharia law is considered to be the law of persons.
(11) The government of South Sudan stopped pumping oil in January 2012. This decision was taken after the government of Sudan (Khartoum) defined the price for using the pipeline at 34 US dollars per barrel. Producing around 30 thousand barrels a day, the government of South Sudan will have to pay around one million dollars a daily.
(12) According to the Sudan Tribune, the December 23, 2013 edition.// Former US envoy blames South Sudan’s President Kiir for violence.

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