Khartoum Begins New Military Offensive in South Kordofan
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North (SPLA/M-N) today reports that Khartoum has begun a new military offensive in South Kordofan:
"Today morning, 21st February 2017, the Sudanese army and its allied militia started their dry season offensive around 6 am at Krongo Abdalla in Kadougli county, breaching the declared joint cease-fire," reads a s statement issued this morning. (Sudan Tribune, February 21, 2017)
There has been no comment to this point from Khartoum, but it should be noted both that the SPLA/M-N has a record of highly credible accounts of major military events, while the military spokesmen for the Khartoum regime have a fantastic record of lies, sometimes denying events that have been fully confirmed by third parties, including the UN. Moreover, the Kadugli area is the most likely place for a renewed offensive.
Such an offensive would be a clear violation of the terms stipulated by the Obama administration in its badly misguided decision to lift sanctions long in place against the Khartoum regime for its support of terrorism and—with the tightening of sanctions under the George W. Bush administration—the commission of genocide in Darfur. Khartoum continues to play a dubious role on “both sides of the street” in the arena of terrorism/counter-terrorism, (see leaked minutes of August 31, 2014 meeting of Khartoum’s most senior military and intelligence officials )—and genocide continues in Darfur.
In lifting sanctions, the Obama administration stipulated two significant conditions for the continuation of such sanctions lifting: improvement in humanitarian access and an end to military offensives in Darfur, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan. Despite the gross falsehood promulgated by Obama administration ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power (there has been a “sea change”—her phrase—of improvement in humanitarian access in Sudan), no such improvement can be seen anywhere in Sudan. And if the military offensive in South Kordofan has indeed been renewed for the seventh year in a row (Khartoum began its assault on South Kordofan in June 2011, targeting primarily civilians perceived as Nuba /African), then there should be immediate condemnation from the current Trump administration and a clear threat to reinstate sanctions.
The Trump administration—and particularly the xenophobic, racist and supremely ill-informed President Trump—shows no sign of even registering the significance of what has occurred in Sudan in recent years, and the odds of a response to current events seem vanishingly small. The Europeans have long since come to terms with the regime in Khartoum—both for economic/commercial reasons and because of a desire to have Khartoum serve as a partner in stanching the flow of African migrants to Europe. Last May (2016), Der Spiegel reported on the basis of leaked documents the extent of this partnership, which included sending high-tech surveillance and registration equipment to Khartoum, inevitably to be provided to the brutal National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). Der Spiegel reported on the desperate desire of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini to keep this effort secret:
The ambassadors of the 28 European Union member states had agreed to secrecy. "Under no circumstances" should the public learn what was said at the talks that took place on March 23rd, the European Commission warned during the meeting of the Permanent Representatives Committee. A staff member of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini even warned that Europe's reputation could be at stake.
Der Spiegel also reported that Germany—incredibly—was committed to building “closed” camps in the Khartoum areas for detaining potential migrants. It should be clear to all that this amounts to building concentration camps—camps from which people are not permitted to leave, and where they will be “concentrated” by NISS on the basis of ethnicity, place or country of origin, and religion.
Where are the allies of the Nuba people among international actors of consequence? Where is the UN, which finds so much time to condemn human rights abuses in South Sudan? Where is the African Union, which has long countenanced genocide in Darfur? Where is the Arab League? The Organization of Islamic Conference?
There are no such allies, and Khartoum knows it full well. Having largely prevailed militarily against rebel groups in Darfur, where the very substantial continuing violence is now more the responsibility of militia forces, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and its major militia ally the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) is preparing to end what it sees as the last real internal military threat it faces in South Kordofan (Blue Nile has never been the military obstacle for the regime that South Kordofan has proved to be).
We should expect to hear nothing but silence from the world, as Khartoum fully resumes the genocidal assault on the Nuba people well begun in the 1990s (and authoritatively documented).
This silence will be another ghastly chapter in the book of silences that has been the response of the world to so much of the slaughter and destruction and has defined Khartoum’s domestic policies in the 21st century.
[Eric Reeves has written extensively on Sudan for almost two decades; he is a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights https://fxb.harvard.edu/people/eric-reeves/ ]