Showing posts tagged as "south sudan"

Showing posts tagged south sudan

14 Aug
Exxon Ends Oil Search With Total in South Sudan as War Rages | Ilya Gridneff 
Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM:US), the U.S.’s largest oil company, ended exploration plans with Total SA (FP) in South Sudan, Total and the government said, a sign of faltering investor confidence in the African nation as a civil war enters its eighth month.
Exxon in April didn’t renew an agreement with Total to negotiate for joint-exploration over parts of a 120,000 square-kilometer (46,300 square-mile) concession in Jonglei state, Total spokeswoman Anastasia Zhivulina said in an Aug. 12 e-mailed response to questions. Total is still bidding to explore in partnership with Kuwait’s state-owned Kuwait Foreign Exploration Petroleum Co. she said. Exxon spokesman Patrick McGinn said by e-mail that the company doesn’t comment on specific ventures.
“Losing the American oil company’s interest is definitely a blow for the future prospects of South Sudan’s oil industry,” Luke Patey, a researcher on the country’s industry at the Danish Institute for International Studies, said in an e-mailed response to questions. Exxon could re-enter South Sudan when security improves, he said.
FULL ARTICLE (Bloomberg Businessweek)
Photo: ENOUGH Project/flickr

Exxon Ends Oil Search With Total in South Sudan as War Rages | Ilya Gridneff 

Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM:US), the U.S.’s largest oil company, ended exploration plans with Total SA (FP) in South Sudan, Total and the government said, a sign of faltering investor confidence in the African nation as a civil war enters its eighth month.

Exxon in April didn’t renew an agreement with Total to negotiate for joint-exploration over parts of a 120,000 square-kilometer (46,300 square-mile) concession in Jonglei state, Total spokeswoman Anastasia Zhivulina said in an Aug. 12 e-mailed response to questions. Total is still bidding to explore in partnership with Kuwait’s state-owned Kuwait Foreign Exploration Petroleum Co. she said. Exxon spokesman Patrick McGinn said by e-mail that the company doesn’t comment on specific ventures.

“Losing the American oil company’s interest is definitely a blow for the future prospects of South Sudan’s oil industry,” Luke Patey, a researcher on the country’s industry at the Danish Institute for International Studies, said in an e-mailed response to questions. Exxon could re-enter South Sudan when security improves, he said.

FULL ARTICLE (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Photo: ENOUGH Project/flickr

22 Jul
South Sudan Ceasefire in Tatters as Rebels Try to Retake Former Headquarters | Samuel Oakford
Defying a ceasefire agreement, rebels in South Sudan launched intense attacks over the weekend on the northeast town of Nasir in an attempt to recapture their former base of operations.
“This attack is a clear violation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement,” the UN Mission in South Sudan said in a statement released Sunday, referring to a January pact that has been all but ignored by both sides in the conflict. Between steady eruptions of violence, the rival forces had recommitted to the pact in May and again in June.
The rebels, who became known as the “Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition” after breaking away from government forces in December, were originally headquartered in Nasir, which is located in a predominantly Nuer area near the border with Ethiopia. Fighting has since fallen largely along ethnic lines, pitting mostly Dinka forces loyal to President Salva Kiir against Nuers nominally led by Riek Machar, Kiir’s former vice president.
FULL ARTICLE (VICE News)
Photo: UNHCR/flickr

South Sudan Ceasefire in Tatters as Rebels Try to Retake Former Headquarters | Samuel Oakford

Defying a ceasefire agreement, rebels in South Sudan launched intense attacks over the weekend on the northeast town of Nasir in an attempt to recapture their former base of operations.

“This attack is a clear violation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement,” the UN Mission in South Sudan said in a statement released Sunday, referring to a January pact that has been all but ignored by both sides in the conflict. Between steady eruptions of violence, the rival forces had recommitted to the pact in May and again in June.

The rebels, who became known as the “Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition” after breaking away from government forces in December, were originally headquartered in Nasir, which is located in a predominantly Nuer area near the border with Ethiopia. Fighting has since fallen largely along ethnic lines, pitting mostly Dinka forces loyal to President Salva Kiir against Nuers nominally led by Riek Machar, Kiir’s former vice president.

FULL ARTICLE (VICE News)

Photo: UNHCR/flickr

14 Jul
Civil Society and the South Sudan Crisis | Jerome Tubiana
Jerome Tubiana is the International Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Sudan.
The inclusion of civil society in efforts to defuse the South Sudan crisis has so far been fraught. The parties to the conflict (see our recent report South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name) all have their own ideas about what civil society is; and each party tends to believe the most legitimate civil-society representatives are those that think just as it does. Most recently, unresolved questions of what civil society is and what role it should play helped cause the suspension late last month of talks between the major warring parties.
The regional precedents are not encouraging. Darfur civil society came out from the Doha process (2009-2011) considerably weakened by both internal divisions and external manipulations. Lessons should be learned from both this and the earlier (2002-2005) Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) processes to avoid repeating similar mistakes.
How ‘civil’ is civil society?
In early June 2014, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) – East Africa’s peace and security organisation – invited notionally independent South Sudanese actors to a “multi-stakeholders symposium” meant to initiate an inclusive phase of IGAD-led peace talks in Addis Ababa. The symposium participants, including civil-society organisations, religious groups, political parties and formerly detained political leaders, nominated 28 members (seven for each group) to represent wider South Sudanese interests at the peace talks.
Those calling for civil-society inclusion in the talks hope unarmed South Sudanese can bridge divisions among armed parties and local communities now embroiled in a war that had a dangerous ethnic dimension from the start. IGAD’s inclusion of civil-society representatives is based on the widely held belief that they are broadly pro-peace and less ethnically divided and ‘political’ than others – but still able to influence armed actors. These were the same reasons civil society was afforded a large role in the Darfur peace process; however, Darfurian civil society proved to be politicised and ethnically divided. (See our recent report Sudan’s Spreading Conflict (III): The Limits of Darfur’s Peace Process.) South Sudanese civil society has shown similar tendencies and community-based leaders have strongly expressed their support for various armed actions.
Nevertheless, Darfur’s experience also proved these voices must be heard if the peace process is to be accepted on the ground. It showed, too, that inclusion should go beyond the usual civil-society organisations (CSOs) – often funded and even created by external donors – to include groups and individuals with more influence on the ground, such as community and religious leaders.
FULL ARTICLE (Crisis Group’s blog: In Pursuit of Peace)
Photo: Crisis Group/jerome tubiana

Civil Society and the South Sudan Crisis | Jerome Tubiana

Jerome Tubiana is the International Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Sudan.

The inclusion of civil society in efforts to defuse the South Sudan crisis has so far been fraught. The parties to the conflict (see our recent report South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name) all have their own ideas about what civil society is; and each party tends to believe the most legitimate civil-society representatives are those that think just as it does. Most recently, unresolved questions of what civil society is and what role it should play helped cause the suspension late last month of talks between the major warring parties.

The regional precedents are not encouraging. Darfur civil society came out from the Doha process (2009-2011) considerably weakened by both internal divisions and external manipulations. Lessons should be learned from both this and the earlier (2002-2005) Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) processes to avoid repeating similar mistakes.

How ‘civil’ is civil society?

In early June 2014, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) – East Africa’s peace and security organisation – invited notionally independent South Sudanese actors to a “multi-stakeholders symposium” meant to initiate an inclusive phase of IGAD-led peace talks in Addis Ababa. The symposium participants, including civil-society organisations, religious groups, political parties and formerly detained political leaders, nominated 28 members (seven for each group) to represent wider South Sudanese interests at the peace talks.

Those calling for civil-society inclusion in the talks hope unarmed South Sudanese can bridge divisions among armed parties and local communities now embroiled in a war that had a dangerous ethnic dimension from the start. IGAD’s inclusion of civil-society representatives is based on the widely held belief that they are broadly pro-peace and less ethnically divided and ‘political’ than others – but still able to influence armed actors. These were the same reasons civil society was afforded a large role in the Darfur peace process; however, Darfurian civil society proved to be politicised and ethnically divided. (See our recent report Sudan’s Spreading Conflict (III): The Limits of Darfur’s Peace Process.) South Sudanese civil society has shown similar tendencies and community-based leaders have strongly expressed their support for various armed actions.

Nevertheless, Darfur’s experience also proved these voices must be heard if the peace process is to be accepted on the ground. It showed, too, that inclusion should go beyond the usual civil-society organisations (CSOs) – often funded and even created by external donors – to include groups and individuals with more influence on the ground, such as community and religious leaders.

FULL ARTICLE (Crisis Group’s blog: In Pursuit of Peace)

Photo: Crisis Group/jerome tubiana

9 Jul
LINK

Battered By Civil War, South Sudan Falters Toward 3rd Birthday

South Sudan is approaching the third anniversary of its independence. For more on the world’s newest country, its civil war and the resulting humanitarian crisis, NPR’s Melissa Block talks with E.J. Hogendoorn, the deputy director of Africa for the International Crisis Group.

FULL INTERVIEW (NPR)

7 Jul
Conflict Alert: Halting South Sudan’s Spreading Civil War
Juba, Brussels  |   7 Jul 2014
The war between the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/SPLA) government and the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) that began in Juba in December and spread to the three Greater Upper Nile states (Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity) is in danger of escalation, including more atrocities and famine. As Crisis Group warned in April, conflict has broken out in Greater Bahr el Ghazal, and rising tensions threaten to drag in the relatively peaceful Equatorian states. The Security Council, in emergency session, should instruct the UN mission (UNMISS) to use its good offices to prevent further cessation of hostilities violations and violence against civilians; establish an international contact group and arms embargo; and better delineate roles between UNMISS and humanitarians on the ground. Concurrently, the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) must better link its stuttering peace process with communal dialogues inside South Sudan and reach out to excluded constituencies. The dynamics that need urgent attention include:
1. Growing tensions between the national government and the leaderships of the three Equatorian states. Fuelled by deliberate rumour-mongering, these have Juba on high alert. The Equatorians and the SPLM/A-IO insist on federalism to break the perceived “Dinka-dominated” central government’s wealth and power monopoly. Though local mediation is underway to stem escalation, worrying aspects include reported clashes (denied by both parties) between the Central Equatoria governor’s (ethnic) Mundari bodyguards and the Presidential Guard; the governor’s statements that Equtorians in the security forces have been disarmed; news of mobilisation of armed civilians within and around Juba; reported weapons shipments into the Equatorian states; a minor clash related to mobilisation of Equatorians in Maridi; and a government curfew in Juba.
2. Outbreak of conflict in Greater Bahr el Ghazal.  SPLA defectors from Wau in Western Bahr el Ghazal, now operating as separate armed units, have prompted abuses by loyal SPLA on local non-Dinka believed to support these units. The latest high-profile defector, 6th Division commander General Dau Aturjong (Dinka), is recruiting in and around Northern Bahr el Ghazal to broaden the armed opposition and open new war fronts.
3. Challenges to governing coalition unity. Frustration with Juba’s failure to win the war has led Uganda to reassess its relationship with the Kiir government. In light of this and other challenges, there are private conversations about the transfer of power within the leadership, particularly among the president’s home Bahr el Ghazal communities.
4. Instability in Lakes state. Many communities want to sit out the war; some have a deal with neighbouring southern Unity state Nuer. Many youth in Lakes have taken to the bush to avoid forced recruitment; some threaten to fight the unpopular governor.
5. Senior SPLA-IO defiance of the 9 May cessation of hostilities. Powerful field commanders, particularly General Peter Gadet Yak in Unity, refuse to respect the Addis agreement. IGAD mediators have little engagement with them or the allied Nuer youth “White Army”. Disaffected commanders point to the government/Ugandan offensive in Ayod and President Kiir’s statement that he will not step down in a transitional government as justification for the rainy season offensive.
Three cessation of hostilities agreements have failed to halt the war, and time is of the essence to expand the current process to address existing and future challenges. The government is borrowing heavily against oil futures to fund the war, its troops are often unpaid, and thousands have deserted. Any transitional government will inherit a bankrupt state. It remains unclear who is funding and arming the opposition and how this outside support may be undermining mediation efforts. 
Pursuant to UNMISS’ mandate approved in May, a regional force is deploying under its command, focused on protecting civilians, cessation of hostilities monitors in key towns and oil-installation workers, but it will be overwhelmed if war continues to expand. UNMISS, which is still not acting under its protection of civilians mandate to address this, should work with the IGAD monitors to prevent further escalation of violence but step back from efforts to be a substitute for humanitarians and to negotiate their access. Both government and SPLA-IO have asked to discuss these issues with unarmed, non-political humanitarians rather than UNMISS, whose attempt to represent humanitarians has already backfired and has limited access for humanitarians in some famine-prone areas. UNMISS should assist humanitarians only on request and refocus its efforts toward its core mandated tasks, such as protection of civilians.
Peace talks have stalled; the 10 August deadline for a transitional government to be in place is increasingly unrealistic. IGAD must expand its efforts for an inclusive process in Addis by including community leaders and armed groups and launch multiple dialogues in South Sudan. The cessation of hostilities Monitoring and Verification (MVM) Teams, protected by UNMISS, should investigate the reports of violations in Greater Bahr el Ghazal and Equatorias.
Many recommendations Crisis Group made in its December 2013 Open Letter to the UN Secretary-General and its April report, A Civil War by Any Other Name, remain relevant to averting further escalation. In the face of faltering peace talks, more aggressive South Sudanese demands for political reform and fractures within the ruling coalition, the UN Security Council should hold an emergency session to do the following:
instruct UNMISS to take decisive action, coordinated with IGAD, under its protection of civilians mandate to prevent further cessation of hostilities violations and violence against civilians, including by using of its good offices;
institute an arms embargo for South Sudan to prevent further escalation and identify the government’s and opposition’s sources of weapons;
task regional troops to provide force protection so the MVM teams can launch investigations in the Equatorias and Greater Bahr el Ghazal; 
clarify that to prevent counter-productive conflation of UNMISS and humanitarians, UNMISS is not to represent humanitarians and is only to assist them on request and;
establish a Contact Group that includes IGAD, the AU, UN, Troika (U.S., UK, Norway), EU, China and South Africa to facilitate coordination and discussion on the way forward.
To stop further intensification of the war, IGAD should take the following steps:
task the MVM teams with investigating reports of cessation of hostilities violations in the Equatorias and Greater Bahr el Ghazal;
increase its political presence on the ground in South Sudan;
open four separate negotiation tracks, both in Addis and South Sudan, sequenced and pursued so as to contribute to the broader national political dialogue and focused on: 1) the SPLM (supported by South Africa’s ANC party and Ethiopia’s EPRDF party); 2) a re-activated Political Parties Forum; 3) armed groups; and 4) communal conflict;
address the questions surrounding inclusivity in the peace process by ensuring selection of representatives is transparent, their numbers are increased, and there are clear mechanisms for civil society or community leaders not part of the official process to contribute to the dialogue in Addis and South Sudan; and
start dialogue with all armed groups and militarised communities; failure to do so is inadvertently making spoilers of those who could be constructively engaged. Much of the dialogue and work with community representatives, armed groups and militarised communities should take place in South Sudan, not in Addis.

Conflict Alert: Halting South Sudan’s Spreading Civil War

Juba, Brussels  |   7 Jul 2014

The war between the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/SPLA) government and the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) that began in Juba in December and spread to the three Greater Upper Nile states (Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity) is in danger of escalation, including more atrocities and famine. As Crisis Group warned in April, conflict has broken out in Greater Bahr el Ghazal, and rising tensions threaten to drag in the relatively peaceful Equatorian states. The Security Council, in emergency session, should instruct the UN mission (UNMISS) to use its good offices to prevent further cessation of hostilities violations and violence against civilians; establish an international contact group and arms embargo; and better delineate roles between UNMISS and humanitarians on the ground. Concurrently, the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) must better link its stuttering peace process with communal dialogues inside South Sudan and reach out to excluded constituencies. The dynamics that need urgent attention include:

1. Growing tensions between the national government and the leaderships of the three Equatorian states. Fuelled by deliberate rumour-mongering, these have Juba on high alert. The Equatorians and the SPLM/A-IO insist on federalism to break the perceived “Dinka-dominated” central government’s wealth and power monopoly. Though local mediation is underway to stem escalation, worrying aspects include reported clashes (denied by both parties) between the Central Equatoria governor’s (ethnic) Mundari bodyguards and the Presidential Guard; the governor’s statements that Equtorians in the security forces have been disarmed; news of mobilisation of armed civilians within and around Juba; reported weapons shipments into the Equatorian states; a minor clash related to mobilisation of Equatorians in Maridi; and a government curfew in Juba.

2. Outbreak of conflict in Greater Bahr el Ghazal.  SPLA defectors from Wau in Western Bahr el Ghazal, now operating as separate armed units, have prompted abuses by loyal SPLA on local non-Dinka believed to support these units. The latest high-profile defector, 6th Division commander General Dau Aturjong (Dinka), is recruiting in and around Northern Bahr el Ghazal to broaden the armed opposition and open new war fronts.

3. Challenges to governing coalition unity. Frustration with Juba’s failure to win the war has led Uganda to reassess its relationship with the Kiir government. In light of this and other challenges, there are private conversations about the transfer of power within the leadership, particularly among the president’s home Bahr el Ghazal communities.

4. Instability in Lakes state. Many communities want to sit out the war; some have a deal with neighbouring southern Unity state Nuer. Many youth in Lakes have taken to the bush to avoid forced recruitment; some threaten to fight the unpopular governor.

5. Senior SPLA-IO defiance of the 9 May cessation of hostilities. Powerful field commanders, particularly General Peter Gadet Yak in Unity, refuse to respect the Addis agreement. IGAD mediators have little engagement with them or the allied Nuer youth “White Army”. Disaffected commanders point to the government/Ugandan offensive in Ayod and President Kiir’s statement that he will not step down in a transitional government as justification for the rainy season offensive.

Three cessation of hostilities agreements have failed to halt the war, and time is of the essence to expand the current process to address existing and future challenges. The government is borrowing heavily against oil futures to fund the war, its troops are often unpaid, and thousands have deserted. Any transitional government will inherit a bankrupt state. It remains unclear who is funding and arming the opposition and how this outside support may be undermining mediation efforts. 

Pursuant to UNMISS’ mandate approved in May, a regional force is deploying under its command, focused on protecting civilians, cessation of hostilities monitors in key towns and oil-installation workers, but it will be overwhelmed if war continues to expand. UNMISS, which is still not acting under its protection of civilians mandate to address this, should work with the IGAD monitors to prevent further escalation of violence but step back from efforts to be a substitute for humanitarians and to negotiate their access. Both government and SPLA-IO have asked to discuss these issues with unarmed, non-political humanitarians rather than UNMISS, whose attempt to represent humanitarians has already backfired and has limited access for humanitarians in some famine-prone areas. UNMISS should assist humanitarians only on request and refocus its efforts toward its core mandated tasks, such as protection of civilians.

Peace talks have stalled; the 10 August deadline for a transitional government to be in place is increasingly unrealistic. IGAD must expand its efforts for an inclusive process in Addis by including community leaders and armed groups and launch multiple dialogues in South Sudan. The cessation of hostilities Monitoring and Verification (MVM) Teams, protected by UNMISS, should investigate the reports of violations in Greater Bahr el Ghazal and Equatorias.

Many recommendations Crisis Group made in its December 2013 Open Letter to the UN Secretary-General and its April report, A Civil War by Any Other Name, remain relevant to averting further escalation. In the face of faltering peace talks, more aggressive South Sudanese demands for political reform and fractures within the ruling coalition, the UN Security Council should hold an emergency session to do the following:

  • instruct UNMISS to take decisive action, coordinated with IGAD, under its protection of civilians mandate to prevent further cessation of hostilities violations and violence against civilians, including by using of its good offices;
  • institute an arms embargo for South Sudan to prevent further escalation and identify the government’s and opposition’s sources of weapons;
  • task regional troops to provide force protection so the MVM teams can launch investigations in the Equatorias and Greater Bahr el Ghazal; 
  • clarify that to prevent counter-productive conflation of UNMISS and humanitarians, UNMISS is not to represent humanitarians and is only to assist them on request and;
  • establish a Contact Group that includes IGAD, the AU, UN, Troika (U.S., UK, Norway), EU, China and South Africa to facilitate coordination and discussion on the way forward.

To stop further intensification of the war, IGAD should take the following steps:

  • task the MVM teams with investigating reports of cessation of hostilities violations in the Equatorias and Greater Bahr el Ghazal;
  • increase its political presence on the ground in South Sudan;
  • open four separate negotiation tracks, both in Addis and South Sudan, sequenced and pursued so as to contribute to the broader national political dialogue and focused on: 1) the SPLM (supported by South Africa’s ANC party and Ethiopia’s EPRDF party); 2) a re-activated Political Parties Forum; 3) armed groups; and 4) communal conflict;
  • address the questions surrounding inclusivity in the peace process by ensuring selection of representatives is transparent, their numbers are increased, and there are clear mechanisms for civil society or community leaders not part of the official process to contribute to the dialogue in Addis and South Sudan; and
  • start dialogue with all armed groups and militarised communities; failure to do so is inadvertently making spoilers of those who could be constructively engaged. Much of the dialogue and work with community representatives, armed groups and militarised communities should take place in South Sudan, not in Addis.

19 May
Oil fans flames of South Sudan War | AFP
Conflict over oil in South Sudan is prolonging a war predicted to spiral into famine if fighting does not end and risks dragging in regional nations, analysts warn.
Despite heavy international pressure, a second cease-fire this month for the world’s youngest nation has crumbled, in a war that has already claimed thousands — possibly tens of thousands — of lives. With the war entering its sixth month, oil fields that once generated hundreds of millions of dollars providing 98 percent of government revenue are “key strategic objectives,” the International Crisis Group (ICG) said.
“There are clear and mutually reinforcing military and political reasons for the parties to continue fighting,” the ICG’s Casie Copeland and Jerome Tubiana said in a report. “Both sides believe they can capture or retake territory, including key towns and oil installations, and thereby strengthen their negotiating positions.” Less than three years old, grossly underdeveloped South Sudan was the most oil-dependent nation in the world at independence. “Oil is a significant driver of the conflict,” said Emma Vickers of Global Witness, a campaign group focusing on resource conflicts.
FULL ARTICLE (Agence France-Presse)
Photo: United Nations Photo/flickr

Oil fans flames of South Sudan War | AFP

Conflict over oil in South Sudan is prolonging a war predicted to spiral into famine if fighting does not end and risks dragging in regional nations, analysts warn.

Despite heavy international pressure, a second cease-fire this month for the world’s youngest nation has crumbled, in a war that has already claimed thousands — possibly tens of thousands — of lives. With the war entering its sixth month, oil fields that once generated hundreds of millions of dollars providing 98 percent of government revenue are “key strategic objectives,” the International Crisis Group (ICG) said.

“There are clear and mutually reinforcing military and political reasons for the parties to continue fighting,” the ICG’s Casie Copeland and Jerome Tubiana said in a report. “Both sides believe they can capture or retake territory, including key towns and oil installations, and thereby strengthen their negotiating positions.” Less than three years old, grossly underdeveloped South Sudan was the most oil-dependent nation in the world at independence. “Oil is a significant driver of the conflict,” said Emma Vickers of Global Witness, a campaign group focusing on resource conflicts.

FULL ARTICLE (Agence France-Presse)

Photo: United Nations Photo/flickr

2 May
Out for Gold and Blood in Sudan | Jerome Tubiana
Jerome Tubiana is Crisis Group’s Senior Analysts for Sudan. This article originally appeared in Foreign Affairs.
In April 2012, a small team of wandering miners discovered gold in the Jebel Amir hills of North Darfur, Sudan. One of the mines was so rich — it reportedly brought millions of dollars to its owners — that it was nicknamed “Switzerland.” Diggers rushed in from all over Sudan, as well as from the Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria. After a much-publicized visit by Sudan’s mining minister and the governor of North Darfur state, their number may have reached 100,000.
With the gold trade came criminals carrying “arms of every calibre,” a local who would prefer to go unnamed told me. “You could find any weapon in Jebel Amir, as well as imported alcohol, drugs, prostitutes.” To avoid being robbed, miners and gold traders eschew cash for checks that could be deposited in a bank in the nearby town of Kebkabiya.
Ever since South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, both governments have faced a host of problems. As the International Crisis Group has chronicled, war has come to Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. In Darfur itself, 450,000 were displaced in 2013, mostly because of violence at the hands of militias. These were once (unevenly) controlled by Khartoum and have since slipped out of the government’s reins in an all-out battle for gold and power.
To stop the bloodshed and mass displacement in Darfur — since the start of 2014, another 200,000 have fled their homes — the government will need to get serious about controlling the militias. New resources, such as gold, are just a piece of the puzzle — behind local conflicts are decades of frustration. Darfurians of all stripes believe that successive governments have stolen their wealth. Such feelings of marginalization have spread throughout Sudan’s periphery and are at the heart of the country’s national crisis.
THE POLITICS OF MINING
Over the last three years, Sudan has experienced a number of gold rushes. New discoveries and high world prices are part of the story. But Khartoum has also promoted gold mining to offset oil production lost after South Sudan’s independence. To prevent smuggling and to bring the government badly needed foreign currency, Sudan’s central bank even pays more for gold than the mineral is worth on the world market. In turn, since South Sudan’s separation, Sudan’s gold production has increased threefold. Gold sales have risen from ten percent of Sudan’s exports to 70 percent today. All in all, the country’s gold industry is now worth about $2.5 billion a year.
Needless to say, numbers that big invite competition. In January 2013, a dig in Jebel Amir — where “each bag of 50 kg of sand contained 1 kg of gold,” according to miners — became the object of bitter fighting between members of the Beni Husein tribe, which has held the land since colonial times, and the Rizeigat tribe, which is made up of nomads without traditional land rights in North Darfur who have increasingly started to settle on others’ territory, often using force.
Both tribes have members in the Haras-al-Hodud (“Border Guard”), a government paramilitary body initially designed to patrol Sudan’s frontiers and into which Khartoum has integrated the Janjawid militia, which it armed starting in 2003 to fight Darfurian rebels. The Haras-al-Hodud is still nominally under government control. In truth, though, many of the fighters answer only to tribal warlords and do not hesitate to battle each other. Al-Hadi Adam Hamid, a retired lieutenant general who has intermittently headed Haras-al-Hodud since 2003, explains: “Initially, our plans were to create a professional guard to protect Darfur’s borders, but in 2003, the objective became fighting the rebels… Later, many members became rebels themselves, as they felt the government abandoned them. Before they were given salaries, cars, fuel and uniforms — now it’s over.”
In the recent matchup over Jebel Amir, the Rizeigat contingent of the Haras-al-Hodud was simply stronger. It “pillaged the mine and surrounding villages and took control of the area,” according to O, a former rebel who is now a mine owner and prefers to go unnamed. The Beni Husein claim that 839 were killed and 420 injured. Some 150,000 people, mostly Beni Husein, were reportedly displaced — a third of all those displaced in Darfur last year.
Hamid, like many others, believes that the fighting is a sign that the government needs to regain control of its various border guards and militia groups. But that is easier said than done. Officials acknowledge that they simply don’t have the capacity. “We can’t fight our own people just because they’re holding arms. We can’t disarm certain groups while others are still armed, and we can’t disarm them all at once either,” Amin Hasan Omar, the state minister in charge of the Darfur file, told me. “The forces of the tribes are ten times those of the national army deployed in Darfur.”
He isn’t exaggerating: Officially, Khartoum has deployed 30,000 army troops and 20,000 Haras-al-Hodud to Darfur. But there is no telling how many of those troops are still fighting in their official role rather than according to their tribal affiliations. Indeed, there are presumed to be as many as 200,000 militiamen out for blood in Darfur.
MUSA HILAL’S SEPARATE PEACE
Many in the region believe that government capacity is not the only problem. In the fight over Jebel Amir, all sides have accused Khartoum of fanning the conflict as a pretext for marching into the gold fields, which are mostly held by small-scale traditional operators. If Khartoum controlled the mines, the thinking goes, it could sell concessions to industrial-scale mining companies that could extract more gold and provide more reliable revenue to the state.
Government officials reject the charge. In a conversation in his Khartoum office, Amin affirmed that Khartoum needs gold, but argued that the government simply doesn’t “need to wage a war to give concessions to companies, we [already] have authority to do it.” In his mind, there is no question that “traditional mining has to either stop or share the area with industrial mining,” which, in return, can “provide services to local communities” and make the region more peaceful.
But there is virtually no way for the government to assert its rights without risking further violence. “The government has no authority at all on Jebel Amir, and mining is fully controlled by Rizeigat armed men,” one miner who continues digging for gold in spite of the violence, told me. Perhaps realizing that, Khartoum’s efforts to promote peace between the Beni Husein and Rizeigat have been half-hearted. Between January and July 2013, the governor of North Darfur organized successive reconciliation conferences between the two groups, which thousands, including Ali Osman Mohammed Taha, Sudan’s vice president, attended. The government made grand promises to send in the national army and bring aid for the displaced, but “nothing was done,” Beni Husein participants complained to me.  
One man was not afraid to boycott the governor’s peace conference — Musa Hilal. Hilal is an important Rizeigat chief whose support many, including Beni Husein leaders, government officials, and rebel chiefs, believe is necessary for any settlement. Accusing the government of intentionally stoking conflict, in August 2013, Hilal started his own reconciliation process. The effort culminated in a conference in the town of Kebkabiya, which some 2,000 civilians and militia leaders from all tribes in the area attended. Rizeigat and Beni Husein agreed to stop fighting and reopen roads and markets. Beni Husein began returning to Jebel Amir. And Hilal even apologized for crimes committed during the fight over the mine.
The effort was remarkable, especially considering Hilal’s checkered past. At the height of the conflict between government and rebels in Darfur, Hilal was the most famous Janjawid leader. He was reported to have authority over 8,000 men, many of them members of the Haras-al-Hodud. Over time, Hilal has grown increasingly critical of the government, which he believes has short-changed the Arabs, and closer to non-Arab rebels. He’d rather spend his time promoting peace between the region’s communities — and, eventually, start fighting Khartoum. “I didn’t rebel against the state, but if the government doesn’t want to find solutions, we will get to that goal,” he warned in an interview last year. In early 2014, he expelled the commissioner of Saref Omra, a small town to the south of Jebel Amir and, in effect, annexed the territory into his own fiefdom. Then he repelled government troops that were reportedly sent to retake control of the town and the Jebel Amir gold mine, confiscating their arms and cars as he did.
Hilal is not the first Darfuri Arab to distance himself from the central government. He is also not alone in negotiating agreements among rebel movements. Hafiz Madiri, a Rizeigat war chief under Hilal whom I met in 2008, reached a similar deal with non-Arab rebels. “We signed this agreement because we heard the people saying that all problems of Darfur come from the Arabs, that we are Janjawid, that we are killers,” Hafiz told me. “I hear people calling us Janjawid every time they see us on our horses or camels.” Like many Arabs, Hafiz rejected the name, which literally means “horsemen armed with G3 rifles.” For him, the term still connoted outlaw, just as it did when he first heard it in 1984. “There was a famous cattle rustler called Hamid and nicknamed Janjawid. Even when he was in prison in Nyala, people kept blaming him for thefts: Hamid Janjawid stole my goat, Hamid Janjawid stole my camel! We even had a camel nicknamed Janjawid because it had been stolen by this Hamid!”
Many have hoped that local reconciliation efforts like Hilal’s and Madiri’s could succeed where the government and international community had failed. But even their progress has proved fragile, as Arab tribes have turned on each other and the government for gold and other spoils. In 2012, Madiri was killed by his own nephew, who had re-joined forces with the government.
REBELS WITHOUT A CAUSE
Darfur has long been seen as Sudan’s Wild West, complete with its own Jesse Jameses and Butch Cassidys. In 1998, a gang of camel-herding Arabs famously robbed a bank in Nyala, Darfur’s largest city. According to members, they dressed up as army officers so that real soldiers stood to attention when they entered the bank and when they left town, throwing banknotes from the backs of their cars to provoke a riot. B, the reputed mastermind of the robbery who prefers to go unnamed, is now the owner of a chic two-story shop selling French perfumes, Hugo Boss suits, and Lacoste shirts in a wealthy Khartoum neighborhood. He is also a close Hilal associate.
“I don’t think sheikh Musa is ready to turn against the government. What he wants is power and development for his community,” B tells me as I sit with him in front of his shop. In fact, rebelling against the government might just be the best way to get that kind of influence: In 2007, Mohammed Hamdan Dagolo “Hemmeti,” a young Rizeigat militia leader and a Hilal rival in South Darfur, turned on the government for a few months. “We didn’t really become rebels,” he told me afterwards. “We just wanted to attract the government’s attention, tell them we’re here, in order to get our rights: military ranks, political positions and development in our area.” His plan partially worked; development never really took off, but Hemmeti was rewarded for his short-lived rebellion with a government job meant to keep him in check. The then 30-year-old seemed less political than Hilal — and less open to peace with the rebels, whom he accused of looting 3,000 camels and killing 75 herders from his tribe back in 2003.
In mid-2013, Hemmeti was appointed brigadier general and took the lead of some 5,000-6,000 kinsmen. Rebranded the Rapid Support Forces, Hemmeti’s men were trained in central Sudan and sent to South Kordofan to fight against allied local and Darfurian rebels. The Rapid Support Forces reportedly suffered heavy casualties and withdrew back to Darfur, where they attacked non-Arab communities accused of supporting the rebels. The operation displaced 30,000 within the span of a few days in February. As the Rapid Support Forces continue to spread terror, officers from the regular army fear that, like Hilal’s group and other Arab militias before them, Hemmeti’s men will eventually slip from the government’s hands.
Darfur is already awash with militias and rebels, many without a cause. Their patrons obtain government positions as the troops fend for themselves by searching for gold or other booty. “In ten years of war, we didn’t get anything. Our chiefs became ministers and left us on our own,” says O. He still hopes to find gold in his Jebel Amir mine or, he says, “we’ll take our vehicles and look for bongo [marijuana] in South Sudan to sell in Sudan. What else can we do?” It is either that or following Hilal and Madiri’s path, which could end in death, or following Hemmeti’s path, which could end in death in South Kordofan, far from Darfur.
More than a decade into the Darfur conflict, it would be reductive to simply blame the government’s militia strategy. There is plenty of blame to go around. The government, the rebels, and all the other players need to work together to stop the violence in all Sudan’s peripheries. Uneasy concessions are needed. The government will have to send clear signals that it is bringing to an end an increasingly costly counterinsurgency strategy and that it will start allocating resources to peaceful activities instead. And rebels will have to show that they are loyal to more than their own tribes — that they are ready to address the concerns of all Sudanese. Non-Arabs will need to grant land to Arab nomads, which will bring Arabs access to much needed education, health, and development. And Arabs will need to openly acknowledge that some among them committed war crimes. All this might be possible. “We’re all Darfurians,” says B. “We know how to fight each other but also how to talk to each other.”
ORIGINAL ARTICLE (Foreign Affairs)
Photo: United Nations Photo/flickr

Out for Gold and Blood in Sudan | Jerome Tubiana

Jerome Tubiana is Crisis Group’s Senior Analysts for Sudan. This article originally appeared in Foreign Affairs.

In April 2012, a small team of wandering miners discovered gold in the Jebel Amir hills of North Darfur, Sudan. One of the mines was so rich — it reportedly brought millions of dollars to its owners — that it was nicknamed “Switzerland.” Diggers rushed in from all over Sudan, as well as from the Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria. After a much-publicized visit by Sudan’s mining minister and the governor of North Darfur state, their number may have reached 100,000.

With the gold trade came criminals carrying “arms of every calibre,” a local who would prefer to go unnamed told me. “You could find any weapon in Jebel Amir, as well as imported alcohol, drugs, prostitutes.” To avoid being robbed, miners and gold traders eschew cash for checks that could be deposited in a bank in the nearby town of Kebkabiya.

Ever since South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, both governments have faced a host of problems. As the International Crisis Group has chronicled, war has come to Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. In Darfur itself, 450,000 were displaced in 2013, mostly because of violence at the hands of militias. These were once (unevenly) controlled by Khartoum and have since slipped out of the government’s reins in an all-out battle for gold and power.

To stop the bloodshed and mass displacement in Darfur — since the start of 2014, another 200,000 have fled their homes — the government will need to get serious about controlling the militias. New resources, such as gold, are just a piece of the puzzle — behind local conflicts are decades of frustration. Darfurians of all stripes believe that successive governments have stolen their wealth. Such feelings of marginalization have spread throughout Sudan’s periphery and are at the heart of the country’s national crisis.

THE POLITICS OF MINING

Over the last three years, Sudan has experienced a number of gold rushes. New discoveries and high world prices are part of the story. But Khartoum has also promoted gold mining to offset oil production lost after South Sudan’s independence. To prevent smuggling and to bring the government badly needed foreign currency, Sudan’s central bank even pays more for gold than the mineral is worth on the world market. In turn, since South Sudan’s separation, Sudan’s gold production has increased threefold. Gold sales have risen from ten percent of Sudan’s exports to 70 percent today. All in all, the country’s gold industry is now worth about $2.5 billion a year.

Needless to say, numbers that big invite competition. In January 2013, a dig in Jebel Amir — where “each bag of 50 kg of sand contained 1 kg of gold,” according to miners — became the object of bitter fighting between members of the Beni Husein tribe, which has held the land since colonial times, and the Rizeigat tribe, which is made up of nomads without traditional land rights in North Darfur who have increasingly started to settle on others’ territory, often using force.

Both tribes have members in the Haras-al-Hodud (“Border Guard”), a government paramilitary body initially designed to patrol Sudan’s frontiers and into which Khartoum has integrated the Janjawid militia, which it armed starting in 2003 to fight Darfurian rebels. The Haras-al-Hodud is still nominally under government control. In truth, though, many of the fighters answer only to tribal warlords and do not hesitate to battle each other. Al-Hadi Adam Hamid, a retired lieutenant general who has intermittently headed Haras-al-Hodud since 2003, explains: “Initially, our plans were to create a professional guard to protect Darfur’s borders, but in 2003, the objective became fighting the rebels… Later, many members became rebels themselves, as they felt the government abandoned them. Before they were given salaries, cars, fuel and uniforms — now it’s over.”

In the recent matchup over Jebel Amir, the Rizeigat contingent of the Haras-al-Hodud was simply stronger. It “pillaged the mine and surrounding villages and took control of the area,” according to O, a former rebel who is now a mine owner and prefers to go unnamed. The Beni Husein claim that 839 were killed and 420 injured. Some 150,000 people, mostly Beni Husein, were reportedly displaced — a third of all those displaced in Darfur last year.

Hamid, like many others, believes that the fighting is a sign that the government needs to regain control of its various border guards and militia groups. But that is easier said than done. Officials acknowledge that they simply don’t have the capacity. “We can’t fight our own people just because they’re holding arms. We can’t disarm certain groups while others are still armed, and we can’t disarm them all at once either,” Amin Hasan Omar, the state minister in charge of the Darfur file, told me. “The forces of the tribes are ten times those of the national army deployed in Darfur.”

He isn’t exaggerating: Officially, Khartoum has deployed 30,000 army troops and 20,000 Haras-al-Hodud to Darfur. But there is no telling how many of those troops are still fighting in their official role rather than according to their tribal affiliations. Indeed, there are presumed to be as many as 200,000 militiamen out for blood in Darfur.

MUSA HILAL’S SEPARATE PEACE

Many in the region believe that government capacity is not the only problem. In the fight over Jebel Amir, all sides have accused Khartoum of fanning the conflict as a pretext for marching into the gold fields, which are mostly held by small-scale traditional operators. If Khartoum controlled the mines, the thinking goes, it could sell concessions to industrial-scale mining companies that could extract more gold and provide more reliable revenue to the state.

Government officials reject the charge. In a conversation in his Khartoum office, Amin affirmed that Khartoum needs gold, but argued that the government simply doesn’t “need to wage a war to give concessions to companies, we [already] have authority to do it.” In his mind, there is no question that “traditional mining has to either stop or share the area with industrial mining,” which, in return, can “provide services to local communities” and make the region more peaceful.

But there is virtually no way for the government to assert its rights without risking further violence. “The government has no authority at all on Jebel Amir, and mining is fully controlled by Rizeigat armed men,” one miner who continues digging for gold in spite of the violence, told me. Perhaps realizing that, Khartoum’s efforts to promote peace between the Beni Husein and Rizeigat have been half-hearted. Between January and July 2013, the governor of North Darfur organized successive reconciliation conferences between the two groups, which thousands, including Ali Osman Mohammed Taha, Sudan’s vice president, attended. The government made grand promises to send in the national army and bring aid for the displaced, but “nothing was done,” Beni Husein participants complained to me.  

One man was not afraid to boycott the governor’s peace conference — Musa Hilal. Hilal is an important Rizeigat chief whose support many, including Beni Husein leaders, government officials, and rebel chiefs, believe is necessary for any settlement. Accusing the government of intentionally stoking conflict, in August 2013, Hilal started his own reconciliation process. The effort culminated in a conference in the town of Kebkabiya, which some 2,000 civilians and militia leaders from all tribes in the area attended. Rizeigat and Beni Husein agreed to stop fighting and reopen roads and markets. Beni Husein began returning to Jebel Amir. And Hilal even apologized for crimes committed during the fight over the mine.

The effort was remarkable, especially considering Hilal’s checkered past. At the height of the conflict between government and rebels in Darfur, Hilal was the most famous Janjawid leader. He was reported to have authority over 8,000 men, many of them members of the Haras-al-Hodud. Over time, Hilal has grown increasingly critical of the government, which he believes has short-changed the Arabs, and closer to non-Arab rebels. He’d rather spend his time promoting peace between the region’s communities — and, eventually, start fighting Khartoum. “I didn’t rebel against the state, but if the government doesn’t want to find solutions, we will get to that goal,” he warned in an interview last year. In early 2014, he expelled the commissioner of Saref Omra, a small town to the south of Jebel Amir and, in effect, annexed the territory into his own fiefdom. Then he repelled government troops that were reportedly sent to retake control of the town and the Jebel Amir gold mine, confiscating their arms and cars as he did.

Hilal is not the first Darfuri Arab to distance himself from the central government. He is also not alone in negotiating agreements among rebel movements. Hafiz Madiri, a Rizeigat war chief under Hilal whom I met in 2008, reached a similar deal with non-Arab rebels. “We signed this agreement because we heard the people saying that all problems of Darfur come from the Arabs, that we are Janjawid, that we are killers,” Hafiz told me. “I hear people calling us Janjawid every time they see us on our horses or camels.” Like many Arabs, Hafiz rejected the name, which literally means “horsemen armed with G3 rifles.” For him, the term still connoted outlaw, just as it did when he first heard it in 1984. “There was a famous cattle rustler called Hamid and nicknamed Janjawid. Even when he was in prison in Nyala, people kept blaming him for thefts: Hamid Janjawid stole my goat, Hamid Janjawid stole my camel! We even had a camel nicknamed Janjawid because it had been stolen by this Hamid!”

Many have hoped that local reconciliation efforts like Hilal’s and Madiri’s could succeed where the government and international community had failed. But even their progress has proved fragile, as Arab tribes have turned on each other and the government for gold and other spoils. In 2012, Madiri was killed by his own nephew, who had re-joined forces with the government.

REBELS WITHOUT A CAUSE

Darfur has long been seen as Sudan’s Wild West, complete with its own Jesse Jameses and Butch Cassidys. In 1998, a gang of camel-herding Arabs famously robbed a bank in Nyala, Darfur’s largest city. According to members, they dressed up as army officers so that real soldiers stood to attention when they entered the bank and when they left town, throwing banknotes from the backs of their cars to provoke a riot. B, the reputed mastermind of the robbery who prefers to go unnamed, is now the owner of a chic two-story shop selling French perfumes, Hugo Boss suits, and Lacoste shirts in a wealthy Khartoum neighborhood. He is also a close Hilal associate.

“I don’t think sheikh Musa is ready to turn against the government. What he wants is power and development for his community,” B tells me as I sit with him in front of his shop. In fact, rebelling against the government might just be the best way to get that kind of influence: In 2007, Mohammed Hamdan Dagolo “Hemmeti,” a young Rizeigat militia leader and a Hilal rival in South Darfur, turned on the government for a few months. “We didn’t really become rebels,” he told me afterwards. “We just wanted to attract the government’s attention, tell them we’re here, in order to get our rights: military ranks, political positions and development in our area.” His plan partially worked; development never really took off, but Hemmeti was rewarded for his short-lived rebellion with a government job meant to keep him in check. The then 30-year-old seemed less political than Hilal — and less open to peace with the rebels, whom he accused of looting 3,000 camels and killing 75 herders from his tribe back in 2003.

In mid-2013, Hemmeti was appointed brigadier general and took the lead of some 5,000-6,000 kinsmen. Rebranded the Rapid Support Forces, Hemmeti’s men were trained in central Sudan and sent to South Kordofan to fight against allied local and Darfurian rebels. The Rapid Support Forces reportedly suffered heavy casualties and withdrew back to Darfur, where they attacked non-Arab communities accused of supporting the rebels. The operation displaced 30,000 within the span of a few days in February. As the Rapid Support Forces continue to spread terror, officers from the regular army fear that, like Hilal’s group and other Arab militias before them, Hemmeti’s men will eventually slip from the government’s hands.

Darfur is already awash with militias and rebels, many without a cause. Their patrons obtain government positions as the troops fend for themselves by searching for gold or other booty. “In ten years of war, we didn’t get anything. Our chiefs became ministers and left us on our own,” says O. He still hopes to find gold in his Jebel Amir mine or, he says, “we’ll take our vehicles and look for bongo [marijuana] in South Sudan to sell in Sudan. What else can we do?” It is either that or following Hilal and Madiri’s path, which could end in death, or following Hemmeti’s path, which could end in death in South Kordofan, far from Darfur.

More than a decade into the Darfur conflict, it would be reductive to simply blame the government’s militia strategy. There is plenty of blame to go around. The government, the rebels, and all the other players need to work together to stop the violence in all Sudan’s peripheries. Uneasy concessions are needed. The government will have to send clear signals that it is bringing to an end an increasingly costly counterinsurgency strategy and that it will start allocating resources to peaceful activities instead. And rebels will have to show that they are loyal to more than their own tribes — that they are ready to address the concerns of all Sudanese. Non-Arabs will need to grant land to Arab nomads, which will bring Arabs access to much needed education, health, and development. And Arabs will need to openly acknowledge that some among them committed war crimes. All this might be possible. “We’re all Darfurians,” says B. “We know how to fight each other but also how to talk to each other.”

ORIGINAL ARTICLE (Foreign Affairs)

Photo: United Nations Photo/flickr

1 May
LINK

Crisis Watch No. 129

Check out this month’s issue of Crisis Watch as an interactive map. Conflict situations deteriorated in Ukraine, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Somalia while conditions improved in Lebanon. A Conflict Risk Alert was issued for Ukraine.

CrisisWatch N°129  |  01 May 2014
The crisis in Ukraine deepened as pro-Russian separatists seized control of over a dozen towns and cities in the east. Several people were killed in clashes with Ukrainian troops as Kyiv failed to reassert control, amid continuing allegations that Russian security forces are assisting separatists – claims that Russia denies. Police in several major regions refused to take orders from the central government. An agreement reached between the U.S., the EU, Russia, and Ukraine to de-escalate the crisis quickly broke down. At the month’s end acting President Olexander Turchynov announced that the government no longer controlled large parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. There are increasing fears that violence will spread and that central control over key areas of the country will continue to shrink, further complicating prospects for elections scheduled for 25 May.
In South Sudan peace appears increasingly distant amid fears the conflict is taking on an increasingly ethnic dimension: both the government and SPLM in Opposition (SPLM-IO) continued to accuse each other of violating the current ceasefire, and thus far attempts at talks have secured little progress. The killing of over 200 people during the SPLA-IO’s capture of Bentiu town drew international condemnation and allegations that civilians had been targeted on the basis of their ethnicity, and the UN rapidly threatened sanctions. Scores were also killed mid-month in an attack on an UNMISS base in Jonglei that was sheltering nearly 5,000 displaced civilians. (See our recent report and video series on the conflict.)
Al-Shabaab retaliatory attacks gathered momentum as the joint military operation led by AMISOM and Somalia’s army (SNA) progressed. Al-Shabaab also began to leverage its control over much of rural south-central Somalia to blockade government-controlled towns, a move which will only increase humanitarian needs and further challenge the government’s attempts to stabilise the country.
Violence escalated in northern Nigeria. Over 500 were killed in attacks by Boko Haram Islamist militants during the first half of April, and over 200 schoolgirls abducted in an attack in Borno state. Security concerns were further heightened when a bomb blast struck a bus station on the outskirts of the capital Abuja, killing over 70. (See our recent report on Nigeria’s Boko Haram insurgency.)
Security forces in Lebanon started implementing a security plan agreed by the country’s main political factions to stem worsening violence, including checkpoints and patrols, arrests, weapons seizures and raids on militiamen. Thus far the plan has been successful, however a security-based approach is unlikely to offer a sustainable solution while socio-economic grievances mount, sectarian divisions deepen, and political representation remains unaddressed. There are also concerns about the fragility of the political truce underpinning the plan, perceptions of an anti-Sunni bias, and reports that members of the political elite have helped protect favoured militia leaders. 
April 2014 TRENDS*
Deteriorated Situations
Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Ukraine
Improved Situations
Lebanon
Unchanged Situations
Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China (internal), China/Japan, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India (non-Kashmir), Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Jordan, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korean Peninsula, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), Nepal, Niger, North Caucasus (Russia), Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somaliland, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Western Sahara, Yemen, Zimbabwe
May 2014 OUTLOOK 
Conflict Risk Alert
Ukraine
—-
READ THE FULL REPORT
*NOTE: CrisisWatch trends are intended to reflect changes within countries or situations from month to month, not comparisons between countries. For example, no “conflict risk alert” is given for a country where violence has been occurring and is expected to continue in the coming month: such an indicator is given only where new or significantly escalated violence is feared.

CrisisWatch N°129  |  01 May 2014

The crisis in Ukraine deepened as pro-Russian separatists seized control of over a dozen towns and cities in the east. Several people were killed in clashes with Ukrainian troops as Kyiv failed to reassert control, amid continuing allegations that Russian security forces are assisting separatists – claims that Russia denies. Police in several major regions refused to take orders from the central government. An agreement reached between the U.S., the EU, Russia, and Ukraine to de-escalate the crisis quickly broke down. At the month’s end acting President Olexander Turchynov announced that the government no longer controlled large parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. There are increasing fears that violence will spread and that central control over key areas of the country will continue to shrink, further complicating prospects for elections scheduled for 25 May.

In South Sudan peace appears increasingly distant amid fears the conflict is taking on an increasingly ethnic dimension: both the government and SPLM in Opposition (SPLM-IO) continued to accuse each other of violating the current ceasefire, and thus far attempts at talks have secured little progress. The killing of over 200 people during the SPLA-IO’s capture of Bentiu town drew international condemnation and allegations that civilians had been targeted on the basis of their ethnicity, and the UN rapidly threatened sanctions. Scores were also killed mid-month in an attack on an UNMISS base in Jonglei that was sheltering nearly 5,000 displaced civilians. (See our recent report and video series on the conflict.)

Al-Shabaab retaliatory attacks gathered momentum as the joint military operation led by AMISOM and Somalia’s army (SNA) progressed. Al-Shabaab also began to leverage its control over much of rural south-central Somalia to blockade government-controlled towns, a move which will only increase humanitarian needs and further challenge the government’s attempts to stabilise the country.

Violence escalated in northern Nigeria. Over 500 were killed in attacks by Boko Haram Islamist militants during the first half of April, and over 200 schoolgirls abducted in an attack in Borno state. Security concerns were further heightened when a bomb blast struck a bus station on the outskirts of the capital Abuja, killing over 70. (See our recent report on Nigeria’s Boko Haram insurgency.)

Security forces in Lebanon started implementing a security plan agreed by the country’s main political factions to stem worsening violence, including checkpoints and patrols, arrests, weapons seizures and raids on militiamen. Thus far the plan has been successful, however a security-based approach is unlikely to offer a sustainable solution while socio-economic grievances mount, sectarian divisions deepen, and political representation remains unaddressed. There are also concerns about the fragility of the political truce underpinning the plan, perceptions of an anti-Sunni bias, and reports that members of the political elite have helped protect favoured militia leaders. 

April 2014 TRENDS*

Deteriorated Situations

Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Ukraine

Improved Situations

Lebanon

Unchanged Situations

Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China (internal), China/Japan, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India (non-Kashmir), Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Jordan, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korean Peninsula, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), Nepal, Niger, North Caucasus (Russia), Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somaliland, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Western Sahara, Yemen, Zimbabwe

May 2014 OUTLOOK 

Conflict Risk Alert

Ukraine

—-

READ THE FULL REPORT

*NOTE: CrisisWatch trends are intended to reflect changes within countries or situations from month to month, not comparisons between countries. For example, no “conflict risk alert” is given for a country where violence has been occurring and is expected to continue in the coming month: such an indicator is given only where new or significantly escalated violence is feared.

29 Apr

Sudan and South Sudan: The Humanitarian Crisis in South Sudan (Part 4)

Casie Copeland, Crisis Group’s Consulting Analyst and Jérôme Tubiana, Crisis Group’s Sudan Senior Analyst, discuss the relationship of China, the biggest consumer of South Sudanese oil, with both Sudan and South Sudan.

crisisgroup.org