Update on Conflict Between the Sudans
I wanted to offer some bullet points on what’s going on inside South Sudan in regards to conflict with Khartoum in the North. These are just some updates compiled from local sources within South Sudan, the Sudan Tribune, and Al-Jazeera English.
– The SPLA (Southern Peoples Liberation Army) has withdrawn it’s forces from the Heglig oil field this week after seizing the property in the South’s first offensive move of the border conflict.
– Sudan Armed Forces has continued to bomb in South Kordofan and has now began hitting targets in the border state of Unity in South Sudan.
– Sources here tell me that last week, South Sudanese protestors took to the streets of Nimule and Torit (Eastern Equitoria State) calling for UN intervention into the border conflict between Sudan and South Sudan.
– On South Sudanese television last week, President Salva Kiir Mayardit called for the youth of the nation to join the SPLA. Just the other night I saw a recruitment convoy moving through Kajo Keji to encourage and sign up new soldiers.
– Uganda has begun sending it’s own troops to the northwest regions of South Sudan after reports that Bashir has been in contact with the LRA. Convoys have already been spotted streaming across roads leading to Bahr al-Ghazal, the western state bordering Congo and Central African Republic.
Up to this point, the conflict has been fairly contained with South Sudanese leaders reluctant to take a military approach to solving the dispute. After harsh words from Omar al-Bashir and relentless bombing campaigns by the North, both sides are beginning to notch up the violence. Most likely the conflict zone will not expand beyond a narrow border region, but it will intensify. An increase in the number of refugees and food insecurity is already growing in states like Unity and Upper Nile. Rains are coming soon in the region and will hopefully slow the progression of violence due to a weakened transportation infrastructure.
Early reports of contact between Kony and Bashir are troubling. Many have speculated that the Sudanese president would use the LRA to destabilize South Sudan, and he may begin playing that card. Some people here even believe that Kony may occasionally take safe harbor in Khartoum.