South Kordofan and the Nuba Mountains: An analysis of the recent conflict
Despite the alarming prospects generated by the recent developments in South Kordofan and the Nuba Mountains, very little about the matter is been said on this or on other similar forums.
I had the chance to visit both Kadougli and El-Delang during the last week and, hence eye witnessed some of these developments while they were unfolding.
There had been a lot of local media coverage to the bigger event, its possible causes and potential political impacts, without very much focus on the details of the events; and lot of political writers took the responsibility to analyze the situation and to reflect various views and stand-points depending on their affiliations, interests, or understanding of the situation.
What I am very much concerned about, and what drives me to write this piece, are some of the reflections of the conflict on the ground, and how they are affecting normal civilians. My personal observations are as follows:
1. Apparently the government was quite aware of, and very prepared for the potential moves by the SPLA, but nevertheless did not take any proactive steps to disarm the situation and reach a settlement before the eruption of the fighting and the start of the violent confrontations in Kadougli. Instead, the government massed up troops and forces in South Kordofan before, and immediately after, the start of the armed conflict. The choice of the government was a military settlement to the political problems in the region.
2. Immediately following the eruption of the conflict within the towns, both sides initiated what seemed to be systematic and well planned targeted arrests and assassinations to key figures. This took place rapidly during the first two days, after which the SPLA forces almost completely evacuated Kadougli and El-Delang and took cover in the surrounding mountains. This resulted in a continued process by the government forces to arrest and to assassinate the remaining individuals who are suspected to be members of the SPLA. Kadugli civilians were given an ultimatum to evacuate the city by 9:00 pm – after which time many civilian locations were heavily bombarded and destroyed by the government forces.
3. As of the second day of the conflict, the government started an indiscriminate large scale bombardment and shelling on the mountains surrounding Kadougli and El-Delang. Salara Mountain is a case to the point, where huge casualties were reported among the civilians due to the use of excessive and indiscriminate force (tanks, artillery, and fighter planes). This scenario is repeated in several locations in what suggests a systematic policy of scorched earth and ethnic cleansing. I do not want anyone to take my words literally, but I would advise independent investigation and fact finding into these events. Already thousands of the civilians had left the region and are displaced now in North Kordofan or in Khartoum as a result of these violent events, and in anticipation for more to come.
4. In my view, the most serious implications of these events could be their possible effects on the implementation of the CPA and the relations between the North and the South, not to mention the terrifying ethnic profiling and polarization that is threatening a very deep and more serious conflict in unfolding and destabilizing the whole Sudan and the region. This is especially in view of the potential alliance between South Kordofan, Darfur and the Blue Nile against the military and aggressive tendencies of the central government and its impatience and lack of will for any negotiated political settlement for the flaming issues of the margin.
I hope this will generate some discussions regarding this serious matter.
By Ahmed Hassan