On the U.N. and the Brink of War in Sudan, Again.
Sudan has bombed a border town in South Sudan, again, and with that news United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday continued the everlasting condemnation of violence in Sudan and South Sudan. With this latest reprimand the UN is tiptoeing the line of implementing the opposite of President Theodore Roosevelt’s philosophy of “speak softly and carry a big stick.” Of the sixteen currently deployed UN peacekeeping forces three are located in the Sudans; the United Nations and African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), a fourth peacekeeping mission was completed in 2011.Two weeks ago South Sudanese troops entered the border town of Heglig, internationally recognized to be a part of Sudan. One of the main sticking points to the unfinished independence process for South Sudan, which began in January of 2011 when the Southern population voted in favor of leaving Sudan, is the finalization of the border that separates the two countries. South Sudan said their troops arrived in Heglig after repelling northern troops from the southern Unity State, where one of ten offices of the UN’s South Sudan peacekeeping mission is located. Heglig is a town in a large oil-producing area. Oil is another hurdle the two countries must overcome. South Sudan wholly relies on oil revenue to fund its government, while Sudan isn’t far behind. Most of the oil fields in the two countries lie within the area of South Sudan, but South Sudan is landlocked and doesn’t have a refinery of its own. Therefore the oil has to be piped through Sudan, refined and shipped from the northern town Port Sudan on the Red Sea, the cost of all this is where the oil difficulties stem.
Shortly after South Sudan took control of Heglig earlier this month the UN Security Council as well as UN head Ban Ki-moon called for South Sudan to remove its troops as well as calling on Sudan to stop aerial attacks in the South. Sudan’s ambassador to the UN was pleased with the organization’s statement and stated if the South didn’t adhere then Sudan would “chase them out and hit deep inside South Sudan” (BBC), while dismissing the charge of aerial assaults by the north as fiction. The South Sudanese counterpart responded by saying that the South was not interested in war, but would only withdraw from Heglig if a UN monitoring group took control of the area.
Earlier this week the President of South Sudan ordered his troops to withdraw from Heglig, only hours later to have Sudan’s leader Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, state that his forces drove the Southern army out of Heglig. President al-Bashir told his troops that the “vultures have been well fed and are relaxing in the shade.” President al-Bashir has also labeled the South Sudanese ruling party as “insects” and stated that the party “has turned into a disease, a disease for [Sudan] and for the South Sudanese citizens. The main goal should be liberation from these insects and to get rid of them once and for all, God willing.” In the last 24 hours there have been multiple reports of bombs being dropped in South Sudan with multiple civilian casualties, while Omar al-Bashir yesterday remarked that “We will not negotiate with the South’s government because they don’t understand anything but the language of the gun and ammunition” (via BBC). The international community is patiently waiting for the UN’s statement of disapproval.