The of whom escaping to Ethiopia (Radio Dabanga,

The conflict in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile states have displacedand killed thousands of people, more specifically 250,000 people have beendisplaced from the Nuba mountains since mid-2011 (UNHCR, 2016) many of whomescaping to Ethiopia (Radio Dabanga, 2017). This war commencing from SouthSudan’s independence, started in South Kordofan and spread to the neighbouringBlue Nile state when the government of Sudan began a crusade to defeat theSudan Revolutionary Front, who wanted to replace president Omar al-Bashir’s governmentwith a democracy. The SRF, led by the SPLM-N, comprises of an alliance withDarfuri rebel groups, including the Justice and Equality Movement, the UnitedPeople’s Front for Liberation and Justice, the Sudan Liberation/A and the SudanLiberation Army/M, thus creating a national agenda (Sudan Tribune, 2013).

It istherefore important to consider that this conflict is inextricably linked withthe War in Darfur. I will focus on the impacts of this conflict and explore whythe conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states between the government ofSudan and the Sudan Revolutionary Front is stuck in a stalemate.  South Kordofan is home to a population that is demographically diversein terms of ethnicity and religion (ARC, 2016). This divide is between the Nuba inhabitants who follow Christian,animist but mostly Islamic beliefs, and several other Arab tribes including theMisseriya located in the west region, and the Hawazma located in the eastregion. Since Sudan gained independence in 1956, tensions between the Nubapeople and the Arab-dominated government of Sudan has been recurrent and it hasbeen argued that this was the origin of the conflict. Throughout Sudan’shistory, there has been a lack of political representation of the Nuba peopleand perceived marginalization in the centres of power in Khartoum.

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During theFirst and Second Sudanese Civil Wars, many Nuba identified with the South, asthe central government carried out aggressive policies toward the Nuba onseveral occasions.  Later in the 1980s,the SPLA began recruiting in the Nuba Mountains and the government of Sadiqal’Mahdi began recruiting members of Arab tribes into paramilitaries, with theaim of destroying Nuba villages.  The 1989 coup that brought Omar al-Bashir closer to presidency worsenedthe relationship between Khartoum and the Nuba and in 1992, the governmentdeclared a fight against the enemies of Islam, on the African Nuba people ofSouth Kordofan, which Alex de Waal described as the “genocidal campaign of agovernment at the height of its ideological hubris.” (de Waal, 2004). Thisjihad by the Islamist Government of Sudan in Khartoum with the use of aerialbombardments indiscriminately bombing Nuba villages indicated an arbitraryextermination campaign (International Crisis Group, 2013). It is clear that theSudanese Armed Forces were motivated by regime survival which was dependant ondestroying and preventing the establishment of insurgencies in other regions todeny rebels a base of support, as they saw all populations in rebel-held areasas an imminent threat to the survival of the regime (Tubiana and Gramizzi,2013).

The aerial attacks against the rebels were a humanitarian disaster andhave had environmental impacts as remote violence increased from 66 in 2015 to100 in 2016, destroying harvests and contributing to food insecurities (ACLEDData, 2016). The ensuing climate of fear caused further exacerbated thewidespread food insecurity as thousands of civilians settled in caves inattempts to survive the aerial attacks thus rendering them incapable offarming. Furthermore, it has been reported that 2 million people have been affectedby human rights abuses, with approximately 500,000 being forcefully displacedby the end of 2014 (Radio Dabanga, 2017).  Other internal factors exacerbated the crisis such as the Sudanesegovernments’ refusal to grant the United Nations and other humanitarianorganizations access to the region therefore sufficient food and medicalassistance could not be delivered. Since fighting increased due to Omaral-Bashir’s government in 2015, in the lead up to the elections, theIntergovernmental Authority on Development and the European Union have providedassistance in monitoring and implementing the peace agreement between therebels signed by Salva Kiir, amid hostility against the internationalcommunity.  Following this, the UnitedNations established UNMISS in 2016 to further monitor the human rightsdisasters and provide shelter to civilians (Human Rights Watch, 2017). Conclusively, the root causes of the conflict in South Kordofan are theperceived marginalization, both economically and politically of Sudan’speripheral regions by the elite throughout Sudan’s history, namely the centralgovernment in Khartoum. Instances of cultural exploitation have also occurredas there is a lack of representation of other ethnicities given the internaldivisions within Khartoum’s elite (Malik, 2014).

It is also important toconsider the immediate trigger for the conflict, which followed from theComprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2005. Failure to implement key mandatesof this agreement foreshadowed the ongoing state of war that broke out again in2011 and why it is still continuing. Ultimately, the conflict in South Kordofanand Blue Nile states are complex and it is evident that they link with theSecond Sudanese Civil War and the conflict in Darfur.

The wars in these statesdo not represent a new conflict for Sudan, but rather a manifestation ofSudan’s fundamental problem since the 1980s; the ideological opposition betweenKhartoum attempting to centralise the country with a dominant Arab-Islamicidentity, versus the SRF’s agenda for a more decentralised Sudan. Whilst therehave been several peace talks aimed at resolving the conflict, they have notsucceeded and all three wars have threatened domestic and regional stability(IMF, 2014). These internal divisions between South Kordofan and the Blue Nileitself, also benefit Khartoum as they limit peace talks and prevent reform(Aljazeera, 2016). Subsequently, this stalemate is likely to continue untilPresident Omar al-Bashir is revoked from his presidency.

 

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