Posted on | December 22, 2013 | 14 Comments
— Jenn Warren (@jennwarren) December 22, 2013
— @NSCPress (@NSCPress) December 21, 2013
If you expected any determined U.S. action to end this civil war, my condolences on your Nobel Peace Prize disappointment:
“This conflict can only be resolved peacefully through negotiations. Any effort to seize power through the use of military force will result in the end of longstanding support from the United States and the international community.”
This is just noise, which any rebel leader or armed tribal mob will scornfully ignore, if they even bother to notice because, contrary to the president’s assertion, conflicts often are revolved violently through the use of military force, and without regard to a lot of diplomatic chatter from “the international community.” The man with a gun in his hand generally only stops fighting when confronted with superior force, and there is nothing in Obama’s statement that indicates any effort by the U.S. in that direction.
— Heather Marsh (@GeorgieBC) December 22, 2013
So we’re sitting this one out, I guess. Turning our attention away from irrelevant noise, let’s talk about what matters, i.e., the war:
Former South Sudan Vice-President Riek Machar has said rebel troops have captured the key oil-producing state of Unity and control much of the country.
Mr Machar also confirmed to the BBC that the forces fighting the government were under his command.
The country has been in turmoil since President Salva Kiir accused Mr Machar a week ago of attempting a coup. . . .
(Which, of course, he was.)
Mr Machar, whose claim to control Unity could not be independently verified, told the BBC that a senior military commander, Gen James Koang, had gone over to the rebels earlier in the week.
However, government forces say Gen Koang defected alone and did not take any troops with him.
Unity, a state on the border with Sudan, produces much of South Sudan’s oil, which accounts for more than 95% of the country’s economy.
Mr Machar added that he was prepared to negotiate with the government if politicians arrested this week were released and transferred to a neutral country such as Ethiopia.
Mr Kiir also agreed to negotiations after meeting African mediators on Friday.
But government troops are currently trying to retake Bor, in one of the most volatile regions in the country.
Troops backed by helicopter gunships were advancing on the town, army spokesman Philip Aguer told AFP news agency.
The African Union called on Saturday for an immediate ceasefire in South Sudan, where U.N. staff say hundreds of people have been killed in nearly a week of fighting.
In a statement, it described the killing of U.N. peacekeepers and civilians at a U.N. camp as a war crime.
Fighting that began on Sunday in the capital Juba has swiftly spread to other parts of the country, fuelled by ethnic divisions between the main Nuer and Dinka tribal groups.
The African Union said in a statement that its chairwoman, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma “calls for an immediate humanitarian truce for the Christmas season, as a sign of a commitment by all concerned to the well-being of the people of South Sudan”.
Like many conflicts in this tenuous nation, the fighting has taken on an ethnic dimension, human rights workers say. Mr. Machar, the former vice president removed over the summer when Mr. Kiir summarily dismissed his entire cabinet, is a Nuer. The president belongs to the majority Dinka ethnic group.
In the capital, South Sudanese forces have targeted members of the Nuer ethnic group, killing many and detaining others, including soldiers, lawmakers and students, rights workers and refuge seekers say.
But outside the capital, in Jonglei State, the reverse has occurred as well, with Nuer militiamen targeting Dinka, descending on United Nations compounds where thousands of civilians have fled for safety and carrying out attacks on oil facilities that have resulted in what the Security Council called “the heavy loss of life” among workers.
“We are deeply concerned that ethnically based attacks on all sides will lead to revenge attacks and more violence,” Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
Other observers have said that politics, not ethnicity, are driving the conflict.
“It is a power struggle,” said Zacharia Diing Akol, an analyst at the Sudd Institute in Juba. “Ethnicity is an afterthought.”
— Semhar (@Semhar) December 22, 2013
— UNMISS (@unmissjuba) December 21, 2013
— ???? ???? (@SalsawiAbamelaw) December 22, 2013
UPDATE: A young Heritage staffer works weekend:
— Robert Stacy McCain (@rsmccain) December 22, 2013
- Dec. 19: Anarchy in Africa: U.S., U.K. Evacuate as South Sudan Spirals Out of Control UPDATE: Rebels Hit U.N. Mission
- Dec. 19: Quick #SouthSudan Update
- Dec. 19: #SouthSudan Update: Obama Urges Calm, Reconciliation, Sends Small U.S. Force
- Dec. 21: #SouthSudan: Please, Pray for Peace
- Dec. 21: #SouthSudan 3 U.S. Troops Wounded as Rebels Fire on Transport Plane UPDATE: Four U.S. Casualties; Rebels Claim Overthrow of Oil Region Capital