Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sudan: Sudanese Embassy - SPLM Deadly Attack on Sudan Armed Forces and UN Imperils Peace

SOURCE Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan

In yet another flagrant act of aggression the SPLA launched an attack against the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) on Thursday killing scores of unsuspecting soldiers and UN personnel. This heinous incident took place as the SAF was redeploying in accordance with a technical agreement between the two parties.

It started as early as December of 2010 when additional SPLA forces, in clear violation of the Abyei protocol entered the region. To ease tensions, the parties soon embarked on talks that led to the Kadugli Agreement on January 17th this year, which demanded that all the forces in the area be replaced by two battalions composed jointly of the SAF and the SPLA. The latter however merely scattered and spread its forces around the region and engaged in provocations. They soon kidnapped six Northern soldiers who are members of the Joint units, and on February 12th killed Northern businessmen and burned their properties.

These incidents compelled yet another meeting between the parties who sat to once again attempt to deescalate the situation by reinforcing the Kadugli Agreement. Yet as the Northern delegates were boarding their aircraft upon the conclusion of the meeting, rocks were hurled at them and 10 of SAF's vehicles were torched. The Joint Defense Council then sought to compensate the SAF so they would have the same number of vehicles within the SPLA's arsenal. As the convoy advanced towards the region, SPLA launched an attack that again killed 14 Northern soldiers, left 11 wounded and 5 unaccounted for, 2 of which are high-ranking officers. Even the United Nations was compelled to intercede and urged restraint.

On May 7th, the SPLA then finally agreed to pull out all the additional forces, committing itself to a timetable. But just 4 days later, the Head of Administrative Council of Abyei, a member of the SPLM, declared he was not going to abide by the agreement. Noting the implications of this irresponsible gesture, the UN was again forced to call for calm. Frustrated by this virtual lack of will for peace and intent on avoiding any further escalation, the Sudan Armed Forces resolved to disengage from the Joint Units, notifying the UN commander in charge of their decision. The latter sympathized and agreed to use the UN vehicles and personnel to escort the force to Goli. It was during this transit yesterday that both the SAF and the UN were ambushed by the SPLA.

This tension and heinous act of aggression is the doing of a few who, having lost all relevance in the political landscape, do not have any interest in seeing peace take hold. If the SPLM is serious about peace, they must swiftly deal with such destructive elements. If it doesn't it risks losing whatever control it has over the region to chaos and widespread instability. The response of the Sudan Armed Forces however is to be commended. It was an egregious incident that would've otherwise sparked a major catastrophe if it weren't for the inherent professionalism and composure exercised by the Army. It is their duty to safeguard peace. They know how to do it and they will do so in the best way the see fit. The South itself is in the grips of unprecedented insecurity that kills innocent citizens on a daily basis. The international community must therefore react firmly to this incident, if not for the sake of peace, then for the sake of its own personnel who are victims of this incident.