An update on this story. The involvement of Arab tribes backed by a militia supported by Khartoum fits all too neatly with Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir’s supremacist plan to impose an Arab identity on the remainder of the country and allow for no law but Sharia to govern the territory. Outsourcing the dirty work to local tribes gives Khartoum a strategic degree of plausible deniability.
Amid all of these recent developments, one must recall who has helped shield Bashir from prosecution for the charges of genocide he already faces: not only the African Union, which has its own vested interests in not setting a precedent for brutal leaders to be held to account, but also the Arab League, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
“20 Policemen Die in Attack in Sudan,” by Jason Strasziuso and Maggie Fick for the Associated Press, January 10 (thanks to Twostellas):
JUBA, Sudan — Southern Sudan’s military spokesman says 20 policemen in the disputed north-south region of Abyei have been killed and 30 more wounded in two attacks by Arab tribesmen and militia.
Col. Philip Aguer said Monday that he believes the Arab tribesmen are supported by north Sudan’s military. Aguer said the tribesmen attacked the police with anti-tank weapons and artillery.
Aguer says the attack came Sunday, the day that Southern Sudan began voting in an independence referendum likely to split Sudan in two and create the world’s newest country.
Abyei, which lies on the north-south faultline, had been promised a separate self-determination vote, but its future is now being decided by north-south negotiations.
More: “Sudan border clashes kill 36 as south votes,” by Andrew Heavens for Reuters, January 10:
KHARTOUM (Reuters) – At least 36 people have died in clashes between Arab nomads and southerners near Sudan’s north- south border, leaders in the contested Abyei region said on Monday, on the second day of a vote on southern independence.
Analysts say the central region of Abyei is the most likely place for north-south tensions to erupt into violence during and after the vote, the climax of a troubled peace deal that ended decades of civil war.
Southerners are expected to vote to split from the mostly Muslim north, depriving Khartoum of most of its oil reserves.
Senior southern official Luka Biong condemned the fighting and told Reuters both sides were still trying to settle their bitter dispute over the ownership of Abyei as part of a package of negotiations, including how the regions will share oil revenues after a split.
Building leverage: Bashir knows he cannot launch an outright military response to a southern vote for independence. But it stands to reason, given his track record, that today’s goodwill gesture may become an instrument for tomorrow’s blackmail:
In a separate, more positive, development, former President Jimmy Carter told CNN on Monday that Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir had offered to take on all of the country’s crippling debt if the south seceded. […]
Leading members of Abyei’s Dinka Ngok tribe, linked to the south, accused Khartoum of arming the area’s Arab Misseriya militias in clashes on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and said they were expecting more attacks in days to come.
The speaker of the Abyei administration, Charles Abyei, said the Misseriya attacked because they had heard false rumors the Dinka were about to declare themselves part of the south.
“A large number of Misseriya attacked Maker village yesterday (Sunday), backed by government militia … The first day one person died, the second day nine, yesterday 13 … It will continue,” he said.
The south’s Biong warned the Misseriya could provoke the wrath of an independent southern Sudan if the attacks continued.
Misseriya leader Mokhtar Babo Nimr told Reuters 13 of his men had died in Sunday’s clash and accused southerners of starting the fighting.
Residents of the central Abyei region were promised their own referendum on whether to join the north or the south but leaders could not agree on how to run the poll and the vote did not take place as planned on January 9.
A U.N. source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there had been another clash in the village of Todach on Monday morning.
The source said Misseriya were attacking police posts in the area, suspecting them of being occupied by southern soldiers, and said the death count could be higher. “Both sides are concealing their casualties,” the source said, adding southern police and Dinka youth had been caught up in the fighting.
In another sign of tension, southern army spokesman Philip Aguer said two men — a Ugandan and a northern army soldier — were arrested with four boxes holding 700 rounds of AK-47 ammunition in the southern capital Juba on Sunday night….