Sudan Civil War
At a ceremony in the South Sudanese capital Juba, Sudan's government and rebel groups on 03 October 2020 inked a landmark peace deal aimed at ending decades of war in which hundreds of thousands died. "Today we have reached a peace agreement. We are happy. We have finished the mission," Tut Gatluak, head of the South Sudanese mediating team said shortly before the signing took place. Guarantors of the deal from Chad, Qatar, Egypt, the African Union, European Union and United Nations also put their names to the agreement. Sudanese paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo -- best known by his nickname "Hemeti" -- signed the deal on behalf of Khartoum.
A representative of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) and others from the groups making up the coalition, also signed. The SRF comprises rebel groups from the war-ravaged western Darfur region, as well as the southern states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan. Two other well-established rebel groups did not sign, reflecting the challenges still facing the peace process.
The peace agreement covers a number of tricky issues, from land ownership, reparations and compensation, to wealth and power sharing and the return of refugees and internally displaced people. Under the deal, SRF fighters are to be slowly incorporated into joint units with government security forces.
In June 2016, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir declared a unilateral four-month truce in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan regions. In June 2016, Bashir declared a unilateral four-month truce in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan regions. The UN Secretary-General welcomes the signing of the Roadmap Agreement for Ending the Conflicts in Sudan by the Sudanese opposition groups on 8 August 2016. The agreement was proposed by the African Union High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) and was signed by the Government of Sudan on 21 March 2016.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on 10 October 2016 extended the ceasefire unilaterally declared in three regions of the country where tens of thousands had been killed in fighting between government forces and rebels have killed. He told the concluding session of Sudan’s national dialogue conference in Khartoum that “I declare the extension of ceasefire until the end of the current year in all conflict areas.” Al-Bashir, who was handed the national document of the dialogue, which was approved by the conference, vowed to implement all the recommendations upon which the participants have agreed. He said he would consult with all political forces in the country to form a mechanism to implement the national document and build a strategy to reform state institutions. The presidents of Egypt, Mauritania, Uganda and Chad attended the dialogue’s closing session.
Following the formation of the new Government of the Sudan, in June 2015, the ruling National Congress Party maintained its position that the national dialogue process remained national in character and rejected the holding of a pre -dialogue meeting under the auspices of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel. The major opposition political parties and armed movements in the Sudan continued to call for such a meeting to determine the format of the dialogue process and establish the necessary preconditions for their participation, particularly with respect to the security of their members.
On 10 October 2015, the President of the Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, opened the National Dialogue Conference in Khartoum, nearly two years after having first announced his initiative to resolve the conflicts and political crises in Sudan. Even though major opposition parties, armed movements and civil society boycotted the process, the dialogue was attended by 112 political parties and 30 armed movements, mainly splinter factions of the major movements. Specialized committees on peace and unity, the economy, freedoms and basic rights, issues of identity, foreign relations and issues of governance and overall implementation were formed as part of the dialogue.
By late February 2016, it was reported that consensus within the committees had been reached on several issues, including Sudanese identity and guidelines for the constitutional review process. On the issue of transitional arrangements, most of the non-National Congress Party participants reportedly recommended a four-year national reconciliation government to be established within three months of the endorsement of the recommendations of the National Dialogue Conference. The process, which was originally scheduled to conclude on 10 January 2016, has been extended twice so as to allow the committees to finalize their discussions and convince key opposition groups and armed movements to join the process. Having concluded their work, on 09 May 2016, the committees announced their readiness to present their reports to the President and to discuss arrangements for the General Conference of the National Dialogue to approve their recommendations.
However, major political parties and armed movements refused to participate in the conference, including the Revolutionary Front Alliance, which brings together the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)/northern sector and major Darfur armed movements. Darfur armed groups and the SPLM/northern sector insisted that a preparatory conference should be held according to decisions of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Security Council.
Sudan had two distinct major cultures -- Arab and Black African -- with hundreds of ethnic and tribal divisions and language groups, which makes effective collaboration among them a major problem. The northern states cover most of the Sudan and include most of the urban centers. Most of the 22 million Sudanese who live in this region are Arabic speaking Muslims, though the majority also use a traditional non-Arabic mother tongue (i.e., Nubian, Beja, Fur, Nuban, Ingessana, etc.).
Among these are several distinct tribal groups; the Kababish of northern Kordofan, a camel-raising people; the Ja'alin and Shaigiyya groups of settled tribes along the rivers; the seminomadic Baggara of Kordofan and Darfur; the Hamitic Beja in the Red Sea area and Nubians of the northern Nile areas, some of whom have been resettled on the Atbara River; and the Negroid Nuba of southern Kordofan and Fur in the western reaches of the country.
The southern region, which eventually achieved independence as South Sudan, has a population of around 6 million and a predominantly rural, subsistence economy. This region had been negatively affected by war for all but 10 years of the independence period (1956), resulting in serious neglect, lack of infrastructure development, and major destruction and displacement. More than 2 million people died, and more than 4 million were internally displaced or become refugees as a result of the civil war and war-related impacts. Here the Sudanese practice mainly indigenous traditional beliefs, although Christian missionaries have converted some. The south also contains many tribal groups and uses many more languages than in the north. The Dinka (pop. est. more than 1 million) is the largest of the many Black African tribes of the Sudan. Along with the Shilluk and the Nuer, they are among the Nilotic tribes. The Azande, Bor, and Jo Luo are "Sudanic" tribes in the west, and the Acholi and Lotuhu live in the extreme south, extending into Uganda.
Sudan was a collection of small, independent kingdoms and principalities from the beginning of the Christian era until 1820-21, when Egypt conquered and unified the northern portion of the country. Historically, the pestilential swamps of the Suud discouraged expansion into the deeper south of the country. Although Egypt claimed all of the present Sudan during most of the 19th century, it was unable to establish effective control over southern Sudan, which remained an area of fragmented tribes subject to frequent attacks by slave raiders.
There is little documentation for the history of the southern Sudanese provinces until the introduction of the Turkiyah in the north in the early 1820s and the subsequent extension of slave raiding into the south. Information about their peoples before that time is based largely on oral history. According to these traditions, the Nilotic peoples -- the Dinka, Nuer, Shilluk, and others -- first entered southern Sudan sometime before the tenth century. During the period from the fifteenth century to the nineteenth century, tribal migrations, largely from the area of Bahr al Ghazal, brought these peoples to their modern locations.
Some, like the Shilluk, developed a centralized monarchical tradition that enabled them to preserve their tribal integrity in the face of external pressures in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The non-Nilotic Azande people, who entered southern Sudan in the sixteenth century, established the region's largest state. In the eighteenth century, the militaristic Avungara people entered and quickly imposed their authority over the poorly organized and weaker Azande. Avungara power remained largely unchallenged until the arrival of the British at the end of the nineteenth century. Geographic barriers protected the southerners from Islam's advance, enabling them to retain their social and cultural heritage and their political and religious institutions. During the nineteenth century, the slave trade brought southerners into closer contact with Sudanese Arabs and resulted in a deep hatred for the northerners.
Until its gradual suppression in the 1860s, the slave trade was the most profitable undertaking in Sudan and was the focus of Egyptian interests in the country. The government encouraged economic development through state monopolies that had exported slaves, ivory, and gum arabic. In some areas, tribal land, which had been held in common, became the private property of the shaykhs and was sometimes sold to buyers outside the tribe.
Slavery had been an institution of Sudanese life throughout history, but southern Sudan, where slavery flourished particularly, was originally considered an area beyond Cairo's control. Because Sudan had access to Middle East slave markets, the slave trade in the south intensified in the nineteenth century and continued after the British had suppressed slavery in much of sub-Saharan Africa. Annual raids resulted in the capture of countless thousands of southern Sudanese, and the destruction of the region's stability and economy. The horrors associated with the slave trade generated European interest in Sudan.
In 1881, a religious leader named Muhammad ibn Abdalla proclaimed himself the Mahdi, or the "expected one," and began a religious crusade to unify the tribes in western and central Sudan. His followers took on the name "Ansars" (the followers) which they continue to use today and are associated with the single largest political grouping, the Umma Party, led by the descendant of the Mahdi, Sadiq al Mahdi. Taking advantage of conditions resulting from Ottoman-Egyptian exploitation and maladministration, the Mahdi led a nationalist revolt culminating in the fall of Khartoum in 1885. The Mahdi died shortly thereafter, but his state survived until overwhelmed by an Ango-Egyptian force under Lord Kitchener in 1898. Sudan was proclaimed a condominium in 1899 under British-Egyptian administration. While maintaining the appearance of joint administration, the British Empire formulated policies, and supplied most of the top administrators.
The civil war in Sudans displaced more than 4 million southerners. Some fled into southern cities, such as Juba; others trekked as far north as Khartoum and even into Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, and other neighboring countries. These people were unable to grow food or earn money to feed themselves, and malnutrition and starvation became widespread. The lack of investment in the south resulted as well in what international humanitarian organizations call a "lost generation" who lack educational opportunities, access to basic health care services, and little prospects for productive employment in the small and weak economies of the south or the north.
The SPLA, and its NDA allies received political, military and logistical support primarily from Ethiopia, Uganda and Eritrea. These states were firmly behind efforts to overthrow the Sudan Government and install in its place Sudanese opposition groups, operating under the umbrella of a coalition known as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). From the outset, the SPLA had the support of the Government of Ethiopia. Uganda provided the SPLA with access to arms and permission to train its forces within its territory. Eritrea allowed the SAF to use its territory for training, and supports its activities. They received indirect support from the United States. The US allocated $20 million in "non-lethal" military assistance to SPLA supporters (Uganda, Eritrea, Ethiopia) in February 1998 for defense against opposition groups in their countries backed by Sudan. Sudan has long accused Eritrea, which has a hostile relationship with Khartoum, of providing training facilities and arms to the SPLA in the south, to rebel forces in Darfur, and another rebel group called Beja Congress in the east.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|