Formerly Africa’s largest nation, Sudan was the result of a failed diplomatic experiment between the British and Ottoman Empires. The southern half’s struggle for greater autonomy erupted into open conflict as early as 1955, the year before its independence. This, the first of two civil wars, lasted for 17 years and was reignited in 1983 with the formation of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLM), now the governing party for independent South Sudan. The Second Sudanese War claimed up to 2 million lives, and was waged by president Omar al-Bashir for more than half its timespan. A shaky truce concluded the conflict in 2005 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which would establish a schedule for a referendum to determine the South’s independence years later.
The Justice and Equality Movement, representing the western states of Darfur, also took up arms against the national government in 2003, leading to the catastrophic events that became known as a genocide. The region’s woes originate from a centuries old divide between nomadic Arab pastoralists and sedentary African farmers, exacerbated by the latter’s Christian and animist faiths within a predominantly Muslim nation. The Janjaweed were an Arab horseback militia that arose from the fighting and perpetrated many of the atrocities that brought Darfur to a global stage. Bashir, though he denies any ties to this paramilitary, is said to have trained and equipped the Janjaweed as well as order aerial bombings of supposedly “rebel” villages.
A peace agreement was settled upon in 2011, after 5 million people had already been affected by Darfur’s violence. That same year, the South voted almost unanimously in favor of secession. On July 9, 2011 Juba raised the flag of the newly formed Republic of South Sudan, now the world’s youngest nation. SPLM head Salva Kiir now holds the presidency and remains at odds with the Bashir administration. Sculpting a border for the nascent republic has proven to be an incredibly contentious issue, with questions of ethnic identity and oil ownership plaguing the states of Abyei, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan. Tribal violence and aggression along the border (including aerial bombardments from the North) have been a serious concern throughout most of South Sudan’s year-long lifespan.
- #SudanRevolts (7/8/2012) – If the international community won’t bring him to justice, perhaps his own citizens will. Throughout his 23 year-long stranglehold on Sudan, Omar al-Bashir has seen insurrections in the country’s South, East, and West, responding to each with criminal levels of violence. Now the North is taking its chances, walking the fine line between disobedience and […]
- Fabricating an Emergency (5/2/2012) – This past weekend, Sudan detained a South Sudanese national and three other foreigners under a false accusation of espionage. This incident and a growing list of skirmishes along the border have culminated in Omar al-Bashir declaring a state of emergency for his country’s frontier regions. Such a decree will suspend the constitution throughout the states […]
- Insects and liberation (4/26/2012) – Not even a year since its birth, South Sudan is now inching ever closer towards war with the North. Since last weekend’s confrontation at the Heglig oil fields, the African Union has been scrambling to assemble any negotiation or peace deal it can muster. South Sudanese president and SPLM chairman, Salva Kiir, has cancelled a […]
- Free Clooney, Arrest Bashir. (3/19/2012) – Recently, Sudan activist and actor, George Clooney, was arrested at the Sudanese Embassy in Washington D.C. for trespassing on what is officially Sudanese territory. He was, with other activists and Congressman McGovern, protesting the Government of Sudan’s attacks on innocent civilians by bombing, shooting, raping, and starving them — in Sudanese territory, the Nuba Mountains […]
- ICC Issues Another Warrant in Darfur Conflict (3/5/2012) – Add another to the tally board. As we anticipated in an earlier post, the hot ticket out of ICC this week is for none other than one Abdel Rahim Muhammed Hussein (no relation to that other Hussein) of Sudan. Hussein is charged on counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his work in the […]