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The Long Lasting Civil War in Africa Sudan/South Sudan


The Long Lasting Civil War in Africa Sudan/South Sudan

Sudan was Africa’s largest country before South Sudan was created. The people in the hot, dry north and centre of Sudan are Muslims. In the wetter South, most people are black Africans. These ethnicities differences led to a civil war between 1964 and 1972. The South Sudanese economy is agriculture including crude oil.

The conflict in the Sudanese Western Region of “Darfur” is rooted in the soil. The estimated six million Darfurian population are farmers and cattle rearers that lives around the valley where the soil is less sandy. The people from the North and South also migrate to the area due to the soil fertility (TIME Magazine, 2004). The Darfurian farming population is African in nature and its nomads Arab. The mixed races overtime had made it difficult to be distinctive. Almost all Darfurians are black, Muslims and speaks Arabic and disputes amongst them were settled traditionally using tribal laws to prevent cattle routes and rivers that crisscross Darfurs plains.

Some past two decades, constant drought has forced the Arabs to relocate to more fertile lands which has resulted a strained relations with the African host. In the 1980s acquiring for turf became violent. Light arms started proliferating into the region from neighbouring countries from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Chad, causing intermittent massacres. Hostile engagements in the region lasted for more than a decade similar to Nigeria’s headers-farmers’ crises, especially in the repeated scenerous in the Middle Belt. Until in April a spark of war came to being in 2003 following two months occasional raids on African villages. African rebellion known as the “Sudan Liberation Army (SLA)” later turned into “Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM)” then headed by John Garang. The rebellion raided the airport in the town of al-Fashir and killed Sudanese government soldiers, shut down four military aircraft and kidnapped the Chief of Air Staff, Major General Ibrahim Bushra (Bona, 2015). The SPLM claimed responsibility of the action and said that they did that because of the neglect of Darfur region by the Sudanese government. The Sudanese leadership refused to swing into action on the increasing Arab militancy in the Western Sudanese Region of Darfur. Their case is not different from the Niger Delta experience whereby the region has been feeding the whole nation, but nothing to show because they were not in control of their own resources just the way we are not in control in the Niger Delta.

The then President Omar Al Bashir of Sudan did not apply holistic approach to arrest the forthcoming problem, maybe because he is from the Arabian ethnicity. What he did was to call for local tribes to crush the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement rebel group. And the local tribes that consists the rebellion was small groups of the Arab nomads who used that opportunity to grab land and livestock under the aegis of a state-sanctioned military operation. The Darfurians called the Arab nomads militia as “Janjaweed” which invariably means “Devil on Horseback”. But the Darfur’s Arab tribes did not part take in the conflict overtime and many Africans did not support the SPLM, but the battle line had been drawn: Arab against African. The problem degenerated to major crisis beyond government control so the Janjaweed started to uproot African settlements and committing total ethnic cleansing in Darfur.

The Sudanese government headed by Omar al Bashir armed some 10,000 local tribesman as part of the paramilitary known as “Popular Defense Force” and the members of this force had never participated in any of the massacres, just like the “Civilian Joint Task Force” in the Northeastern part of Nigeria aiding the Nigerian Military to fight against the dreaded Boko Haram (TIME Magazine, 2003). Khartoum says the rebels were funded by Hasan al-Turabi who made it possible for Omar al Bashir’s presidency in the 1989 coup and later the both path different ways. The Sudanese government says the war in Darfur was in between insiders and opposition figures, is a proxy battle for power in Khartoum (BBC, 2005).

The conflict escalated into a full blown war and its impact is untold story. The war endured for up to a decade, various mediations and settlements could not hold waters, but in the end the United Nations created a new state for the Darfurians of what we now know as the “South Sudan” in 2011 to end their sufferings from the hands of Sudanese Arabians. The oil rich Darfur was one reason, why the Arabian Sudanese refused to let them go. Western Darfur was created as an autonomous region in 2005 (Bona, 2015). Not quite long, the first leader John Garang of self determining region of western Darfur died in a plane crash while on his way on visitation and immediately his vice president Silva Kiir took the seat of the president of South Sudan.

In December 2013, following the political struggle in South Sudan between President Silva Kiir and Vice President Machar that led to removal of the vice president caused violence between the presidential guards soldiers from the two largest from the ethnicity Dinka aligned with President Silva Kiir and those from Nuer ethnicity seconded Vice President Machar. In the midst of chaos, Kiir announced that Machar had attempted a coup and violence spread quickly to Jonglei, Upper Nile, and Unity states (Bona, 2015). From the outbreak of conflict, armed groups targeted civilians along ethnic lines, committed rape and sexual violence, destroyed property and looted villages, and recruited children into their ranks. Ongoing disputes and the lack of power-sharing agreements between many of South Sudan’s rival factions in the civil war that ended in 2018 has cast doubt on whether the government will be able to prevent violence in the lead-up to national elections, which are set to occur in 2022. An armed insurgency being led in the south of the country by Thomas Cirillo, who leads the group known as the National Salvation Front (NSF), poses a severe threat to civilians and further threatens the peace process. Moreover, the country’s two leaders—Kiir and Machar—were the primary instigators of rival factions in the civil war that began in 2013, and the peace between them is fragile (Bona, 2015). Before the peace deal nearly 400,000 South Sudanese were killed in December 2013 and 2.27 million of them sought for asylum.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Opuene Kingsley Inowei

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