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From: "IRIN" <he...@irinnews.org>
Date: 13 Oct 2016 09:04
Subject: South Sudan's never ending war ...
To: "ElisabethJanaina" <elisabethjana...@gmail.com>

Today's humanitarian news and analysis

*Online version
South Sudan's never ending war

South Sudan’s conflict has entered a new, more dangerous phase. While there
has been no new fighting in the capital, Juba, since a splurge of violence
in July, rebellion is spreading across the country. In its wake, refugees
are fleeing into neighbouring Uganda and Ethiopia, fearing yet more
bloodshed to come.

This briefing explores a crisis that has already left more than five
million people
– roughly half the population – in need of aid.

Where are we now?

At the root of the conflict is a political contest for power between
President Salva Kiir and his rival, former vice president Riek Machar.

After two years of civil war, Machar arrived in Juba in April to cement a
shaky peace agreement that gave his opposition SPLA-IO a stake in a
government of national unity. But that deal expired in five days of
fighting in July, which routed Machar’s protection force.

Late last month, Machar announced from Khartoum that he would fight on
He was joined in rebellion by veteran dissident Lam Akol, who launched
his own National Democratic Movement to battle the government.

More of the same?

So far so predictable. South Sudan is a country held to ransom by what
analyst Majak D’Agoot refers to as the “gun class”
- men like Kiir and Machar, “sectarian warlords” that have historically
used violence, channelled through appeals to ethnic nationalism, to
“hijack” the state for “personal gain”.

It’s essentially a zero-sum game for who will be “king of the hill in
Juba”, says conflict researcher Alan Boswell. So far, it’s a contest that
Kiir appears to be winning. He has moved quickly to sideline Machar, with
former SPLA-IO chief negotiator, Taban Deng Gai
sworn in as vice president.

The government’s intention is for Taban to woo over as many SPLA-IO
commanders as possible, and to present him to the outside world as a
credible alternative to Machar. To that end he recently visited New York
and hobnobbed with officials in the UN and Western governments.

At home, the government maintains the idea there is still a government of
national unity, based on the Addis Ababa peace agreement, an exhausting and
frustrating mediation effort by the regional Inter-Governmental Authority
on Development (IGAD).

[image: UN Peacekeeper patrolling in Akobo, South Sudan]
Hannah McNeish/IRIN
Is the international community turning it's back?

“What I hear from government is a determination to move forward with
implementation of the peace process,” said a Juba-based analyst who asked
not to be named. “You go to meetings and workshops where people have name
tags that still read TGoNU [Transitional Government of National Unity].”

Is Machar finished?

In building up Taban, the government is presenting the international
community with a dilemma. Donors have to decide whether “we work with what
we have, which is Taban, versus trying to ease Machar back into the peace
process,” says Rashid Abdi of the International Crisis Group.

How acute the choice is will depend to an extent on what Machar does next.
Khartoum, against which Kiir and the SPLA fought a bitter war to gain
independence in 2011, has long meddled in the south – backing a rebellion
by Machar against the SPLA in 1991 for one.

But Abdi believes the strategic calculation is changing. Through force of
habit Khartoum may maintain an interest in Machar, but warming relations
with Juba, and its main backer Uganda, means it would not be in Sudan’s
long-term interests to arm and support him.

There is also diplomatic pressure to relocate Machar to South Africa, or
anywhere else that does not share a border with South Sudan. With his aura
already diminished, “If he goes to South Africa that will be the end of
him,” says analyst Jok Madut Jok of the Sudd Institute.

He therefore wouldn’t be surprised if Machar manages to slip back into
South Sudan: “If he can get into Upper Nile he will be a real player, and
we’ll be back to full-blown civil war.”

Power to (my) people?

Ethnicity is often used as shorthand to explain South Sudan’s conflict and
the atrocities committed against civilians by both sides. But the trigger
for the civil war in 2013 was essentially a political dispute, based on
internal SPLM opposition to Kiir that was drawn from multiple sources and

Kiir and Machar have since successfully mobilized key segments of their
respective Dinka and Nuer communities, the country’s two largest groups.
But while Kiir is seen by his opponents as promoting narrow ethnic
interests, backed by the conservative Dinka Council of Elders
there is also resentment among some Dinka towards his clan, who are seen as
especially favoured.

Neither are the Nuer monolithic. There are senior Nuer who have remained
loyal to the SPLA, especially from northern Unity state. Broad ethnic
labels tend to obscure local community dynamics.

Abdi believes the cardinal sin of the IGAD agreement was to view the
struggle solely as a contest between Kiir and Machar. It was a narrow
rather than a universal agreement, ignoring the demands of other ethnic
groups and contestants for power that predate the peace process.

Those “centrifugal forces” are going to accelerate “the longer [a credible]
peace process stays in the freezer,” says Abdi.

“I think you have two different wars going on in South Sudan right now,”
notes Boswell. “You have a fight between Kiir and Machar’s coalitions over
who will be king. But there are a bunch of smaller groups in South Sudan
who are waging a war against the kingdom itself.”

Even though some groups in Equatoria
have teamed up with SPLA-IO, they are all opposed to the hegemony of both
sides. “They want a structure that’s more like a political union, a lot of
smaller hills rather than one big one,” explains Boswell.

There are other groups like the Cobra Faction
which draws support from among the Murle in Greater Upper Nile. While
former leader David Yau Yau is sticking with the government, the Cobras
have joined “the struggle against the authoritarian, tribalistic regime in

Stick or carrot?

The government’s approach in the past was to buy off these community
militia, a strategy of co-option known as the “big tent”. But oil-dependent
South Sudan is broke, and with carrots limited, the government has turned
enthusiastically to the stick.

Wau, South Sudan’s second largest city, has felt the impact of a strategy
of retribution. It was purged by the army
allegedly on the grounds the Fertit people were supporting SPLA-IO. Human
rights groups reported mass graves, and the UN estimated 125,000 people
were made homeless.

Overall, more than one million
South Sudanese are now refugees in the region, with about 174,000 fleeing
since the beginning of July.  UNHCR’s figures jumped sharply in late

People escaping the violence in Equatoria speak of villages being attacked
and looted, women sexually abused, and young boys conscripted. “You can
feel something terrible looming on the horizon, an enormous pall,” says the
analyst in Juba.

How can disaster be averted?

“The best scenario is an impossible one,” says Jok. “It’s to get Machar and
Kiir to retire from politics, to be replaced by a caretaker technocratic
government until elections.”

There are equally few diplomatic options. For a start, the Addis Ababa
process is deeply discredited. “IGAD is in complete disarray. Many people
no longer believe there is a cogent regional strategy to find a solution,”
notes Abdi of the ICG.

The UN’s response to the July violence, in which its peacekeepers failed to
to save civilian lives, has been to talk tough about an additional Regional
Protection Force.

IGAD countries may provide some of the troops (Zimbabwe and Egypt have also
volunteered), but as it wants the UN to pay for the intervention, the
proposed 4,000 RPF soldiers would fall under a discredited UN Mission in
South Sudan (UNMISS) command structure.

[image: Bentiu, South Sudan]
Andrew Green/IRIN
Bentiu IDP camp

The RPF has the “pacification” of Juba as part of its mandate. But the
government has made it clear it will not accept any force that could offer
any real interference, and the fact its army has shown no compunction
about killing
UN peacekeepers
this is likely to provide food for thought for any potential troop

Start again?

South Sudan is such a mess that there have been calls by, among others,
former US special envoy Princeton Lyman
and African academic Mahmood Mamdani
that the country be placed under some kind of trusteeship for 10 to 15

It’s of course a non-starter. The clock can’t be put back, and there is no
support for the proposal in the African Union.

“Mamdani has taken progressive positions on most issues, so this is more a
symptom of despair rather than anything else,” says Abdi.

“A trusteeship of 10 to 15 years is more than a regime change policy, it’s
like ‘we’re really messed up’,” adds Boswell.

The solution has to come from South Sudanese, says Jok. His best-case
scenario is that Kiir gives Taban enough space to play a legitimate role,
allowing him to put a brake on the excesses of the army, and build a
constituency among the opposition that bleeds support away from Machar.

But Boswell has a more pessimistic take. He believes the government will
pursue a security solution that will intimidate and coopt communities. But
he likens the outcome to a giant Ponzi scheme, in which its political base
of support only gets narrower.

“The government is winning the war militarily, but the big question is what
happens if the Ponzi scheme collapses, swallowed up by the political
grievances it’s generating?”

South Sudan, already poor and underdeveloped, is being made poorer still.
It's people that have lived through decades of civil war are enduring yet
more violence. "There are no winners in any of this," says the Juba-based

Briefing on a failed peace process, and where to next South Sudan's never
ending war South Sudanese soldiers patrol the streets of Juba as voting
gets under way in the week-long referendum beginning 9 January 2011 to
decide whether the region splits away from the North
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