South Sudan: From Internal to Regionalized Conflict

Dr. Machar (right), Kiir (left). Photo: Goran Tomasevic/Mike Segar/Reuters

By: Daniel Wuor Joak

May 4, 2014 (SSNA) — The war in South Sudan has turned from internal to regional conflict where Egyptians, Ugandan (UPDF), Sudanese opposition forces of Justice & Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Alliance Forces (SAF) are heavily participating in South Sudan’s war. All their combined forces have been assisting the faltered government in Juba militarily. This resulted of string victories being scored by their forces in favours of Dinka led government in Juba against the SPLM/A – Opposition forces in the three states of Upper Nile, Unity and Jongeli with the capturing of counties of Ulang and Nasir in Upper Nile, Ayod in Jonglei, Mayom and Bentiu in Unity State within these two days.

Their mission is to totally wipe out once and for all the entire Nuer race that inhabited the three Greater Upper Nile States of South Sudan where oil being extracted and River Nile waters flows through. The first Egyptian’s interest in South Sudan is to resume the digging of Jonglei Canal, which was stopped by SPLA from 1984, when they attacked its headquarters at Jonglei Canal and took all the drilling engineers from French and Germans as hostages. Their second interest is to prevent the Ethiopian government to construct the proposed “Renaissance Dam” in Blue Nile River or use Juba as a launching ground to attack Ethiopia if the two countries inter into war. The recent move from Egypt to support the government in Juba with military hardware like modern tanks, ammo personal carriers, helicopter gunships and human resource to operate the supplied equipment. With the backing from Egyptians and UPDF’s ground and air supports, the government of South Sudan have managed to capture the towns of Ulang and Nasir which are close to Ethiopian border in order to deny the Nuer civilians escape routes to Ethiopia where they can easily seek refuge under UNHCR’s protection at refugee camps there. They are also fighting on the Northern Upper Nile front to capture the two counties of Langichuk and Maiwut to deny the SPLM/A – In Opposition presence there. The Egyptian forces wants to establish these two routes as their military outposts in order to deterrent the Ethiopian government from constructing the dam in Blue Nile River which is currently opposed vigorously by their government in Cairo.

If the government in Juba and its ally’s forces who are fighting against the SPLM/A – In Opposition are indeed genuine to liberate the occupied towns from the rebels, why they kept on burning towns such as Ayod, Doma, Kuickuon, Ulang, Ying, Yomding, Kuich, Dhourding and Nasir to ashes which their forces recently captured from the opposition forces? While on their way to Ulang and Nasir, hundreds of innocent civilians who were caught unaware of the advanced of the government troops and their mercenary allies, were indiscriminately massacred by their forces including those who willingly submitted to them as their supporters in both Ulang and Nasir counties.  The UPDF and Egyptian forces operating in Greater Upper Nile along the government forces have been using helicopter gunships and jet fighters yesterday on the 4 May, when they overran the towns of Nasir and Bentiu concurrently from the opposition forces.

There is no doubt about it; this is truly a war of genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Nuer people. The three countries of Uganda, Egypt and South Sudan, which comprises of 63 tribes, are waging a deadly war of eliminations against one ethnic community – the Nuer. In addition, the UNMISS in South Sudan is also waging negative propaganda campaigns against the SPLM/A – In Opposition and the White Army ally by accusing them of massacring over 200 Darfurian traders in Bentiu when the rebels recaptured the town from the government and their allies forces on the 16April 2014. According to the sources from the Spokesman of SPLM/A – In Opposition and from IDPs who escaped the fighting and ran to UNMISS compound in Bentiu afterwards said that most of those killed were actually government militias or mercenaries of Sudanese opposition forces from JEM & SAF or government sponsored militias and not civilians as portrayed by Mr. Toby Lanzer – the UNMISS boss in Juba during his visit to Bentiu after it was captured by the rebel soldiers.

It was made clear by both sources that there was no massacres as alleged by the UNMISS boss Toby Lanzer and his accompanied team from international news media outlets who briefly went to Bentiu following the seizure of the town by the opposition forces. In fact, some UNMISS officials are honestly inciting more massacres against the Nuer people on tribal grounds as it is already happening in the three states of Greater Upper Nile where Nuer were being massacred inside UNMISS compound in Bor in their hundreds after they pronounced the fake massacres of Darfurian traders. They have exposed innocent Nuer civilians to danger by projecting hateful propaganda campaigns against the rebels and their White Army ally who affiliated to the Nuer tribe. The US Secretary of State Mr. John Kerry has also added his voice in supports of UNMISS campaigns by instructing the IGAD countries of Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia to urgently send a deterrence force to fight specifically against the SPLM/A – In Opposition in favours of the government in Juba. This is very sad indeed. The entire Nuerland is very much engulfed by war and all human rights advocators should not entertain this. The human rights of Nuer as minority community in South Sudan must be protected by all means.

The government in Juba must be condemned strongly by Human Rights body, UN, AU, EU and NGOs agencies for encouraging the eliminations of Nuer tribe in South Sudan on ethnicity ground. Why one tribe of less than 2 million people be fought by four countries in the region and yet the UN does not condemn it? What have the Nuer done that amount to their punishment by three countries and mercenaries from the Republic of Sudan? Dr. Riek Machar like any other world opposition leader is just advocating for the rights of the people of South Sudan against the tyranny and despotic regime of President Salva Kiir who murdered more than 10.000 Nuer civilians for three days only. Why should US government condones such behaviours and still honoured Salva Kiir as a constitutionally elected President that could not be toppled by a rebel leader as was said by US Foreign Secretary Mr. John Kerry during his recent visit to Juba where he held talks with President Kiir? Is power sharing or interim government can be the only solution offered by US top official to end the war instead of addressing first the root causes of the conflict, which brought the war in the country? I think US is not sincere in South Sudan’s conflict because they were the ones who instructed President Yoweri Museveni to send UPDF to South Sudan and fight against the SPLM/A – In Opposition when they also knew that the government in Juba had committed atrocities against the Nuer civilians from the initial stage. Why they continued punishing the victims instead of the offenders? Those Nuers innocent killed by UPDF with cluster bombs and helicopter gunships, US government must be condemned for it. Is this the world that US can claim its leadership while condoning murderers like Presidents Yoweri K. Museveni of Uganda who killed more than 1 million in Rwanda, 3.5 million in DRC, 500,000 Burundi and 100,000 in Somalia and Slava Kiir who killed over 20,000 Nuer civilians Nuer in South Sudan? What rights do these two despotic leaders have to be given free hands to kill at will unpunished while there are others in this world including US who are being condemned to death for murdering only one person? Why should Museveni and Salva Kiir continue to rule while their hands are full of bloods of innocent people with support of US government? Where is fairness in this world?

Instead of condemning fully the infamous Nuer massacres in Juba that occurred from 16 – 19 December 2013, and resulted to the death of over 10,000 innocent Nuer civilians killed by 15,000 Dinka recruited and trained militias based at Luri Military Garrison in Juba under direct commands of General Paul Malong Awan and Major General Marial Cinuong and other numerous massacres which took places afterwards in Bor, Bentiu, Malakal, Renk, Mapel etc., where several hundreds of Nuer unarmed civilians were summarily executed in cold bloods by government loyalist’s soldiers. However, the world is not concerned about it except the most recently publicized death of the so-called “Sudanese traders” from Darfur who are actually mercenaries hired by the Dinka led government in Juba to loot the Nuer cattle and kill them en masse on their behalf. They are tasked to protect the oil installations as well as their supply routes to Southern Darfur and Southern Kordufan states of Sudan where both the governments of South Sudan and Uganda have been supplying them with war materials to destabilize and overthrow the NCP led government in Khartoum. Both JEM and SAF/SPLA – N have offices in Juba and their respective leaders are being housed there where the two countries continuously supporting them militarily and financially as well as nursing there wounded soldiers.

The JEM & SAF/ SPLA – N have indeed lost their cause for material gains by accepting to be used as mercenaries to fight a war of genocide and ethnic cleansing against the SPLM/A – In Opposition and White Army supporters as well as the Nuer civilians in the areas they operate. As for those who watched the BBC TV headlines which is broadcasted this evening of 4th May 2014, where rebels from Republic of Sudan were seen fighting in Bentiu town to recapture it from the SPL/A – In Opposition forces. This frankly indicates that the war is no longer a South – South internal war but rather a regionalized conflict being orchestrated and engineered by President Salva Kiir Mayardit who invites foreign troops and mercenaries from the neighbouring countries to fight his war of genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Nuer in South Sudan. The world community should not continue supports a tyranny government, which liquidates its own civil population on ethnicity basis. No doubt, the Nuer people are completely subjected to exterminations by the President Salva Kiir’s Dinka led government in Juba who invites outsiders to come and kill them in order to protect his faltering and fragile government. The US government, Troika, EU and AU should make their positions clear instead of encouraging war to prevail in the country by inciting some known warmongers from IGAD countries to go and masquerades as peacekeepers while they have been supporting all along the dictatorial government in Juba militarily. What peace can Uganda bring to South Sudan when their UPDF forces are the ones massacring the Nuer civilians in SPLM/A – In Opposition controlled areas? This idea of sending only IGAD forces from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia as deterrence force is grossly unacceptable and biased. Because some of these forces will definitely take side on behalf of the government in Juba against the rebels instead of maintaining neutrality in this conflict and operates strictly under United Nation’s mandate. Any peacekeeping force operating in South Sudan should first and foremost come from the African Union or from outside Africa continent where regional interests will not be displayed against any party in the conflict.

The author is the Executive Director of African Centre for Human Advocacy (ACHA), which advocates for Democracy & Development, Good Governance, Rule of Law, Human Rights, Accountability and Advocacy throughout the Africa Continent. He can be reached through this email: [email protected].

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