December 20th 2016
Sudan, before the cessation of South Sudan was a fourth of the U.S.in terms of size. The country, which is in the northeast of Africa,has had major conflicts since 1955. This was one year prior to thecountry’s independence. Notably, the country has had two majorcivil wars between 1955 and 2005. Historians have opined that thecountry’s second civil war between 1983 and 2005 is the longestthat any country has ever been engaged in1.Neighboring countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia have had to receivemillions of refugees from the country since the 1900s. Essentially,Kenya had to accept the formation of the Kakuma refugee camp in thenorthern part of the country to accommodate the millions of therefugees that were streaming from Sudan. Primarily, the civil wars inSudan have been between the government of Sudan and the southernrebels.
History of civil war in Sudan
It is impossible to discuss the second civil war in Sudan withoutlooking at the history of country prior to independence and afterindependence. The second civil war in the country occurred between1983 and 2005. However, between 1955 and 1972, Sudan was engaged infierce civil war where rebels from the south fought with thegovernment forces over religious issues and autonomy2.But what triggered this conflict? It is important to point out thatthe country was colonized by two countries simultaneously in what wascalled a condominium between 1899 and 1956. Egypt and Britain playeda pivotal role in the advent of conflicts in Sudan. Due to thepresence of many ethnic groups, languages and religions, the Britishcolonizers decided to divide the country into two governing regionsthe north and the south. The Northern part of the country waspredominantly occupied by Arabs and practiced the Islamic religionwhile the south had Christianity as the dominant religion.
The British and the Egyptians left Sudan as an independent countrywithout offering a solution to the two major issues that were likelyto divide the country. The country was unsure of the religion thatwould be dominant in the country. Moreover, the southerners wanted afederal system of government that was not established by the Khartoumbased Government of Sudan (GOS). Sensing a wave of independence in1955, the southerners were afraid that the north would be dominantover the south3.Clearly, the capital would be in the north and therefore, thegovernment would be based in the north, which is predominantlyIslamic. These were the major issues that triggered the first civilwar Sudan. The Anya Nya in southern Sudan fought with the governmentforces as they sought autonomy. The southerners needed independenceand self-governance without any interference from the northern basedgovernment.
By 1971, the southern rebels against the government formed theSouthern Sudan Liberation Movement (SSLM). As the conflict escalated,peace talks and negotiations between the GOS and SPLM were being heldin other countries mainly Ethiopia. This would bear fruits when apeace agreement was signed in Addis Ababa in 1972. In the country,the GOS accepted to offer the southern part internal autonomy.Furthermore, it was agreed that the people Abyei, which is a regionalong the border of the north and the south, should hold a referendumto decide which side they would want to be associated with. Thisagreement would signal the end of a civil conflict that lasted for 17years. Sudan experienced relative peace after this agreement.
The Second Civil war in Sudan
The second civil war in the country started in 1983 and partly endedin 2005. This is a period of 22 years of guerilla war. It left over2.5 million people dead and four million people displaced. Thefactors that contributed to the first civil war would escalate totrigger a second civil war. The conflict was still between thenorthern based government and the southern rebels, mainly the SudanPeople’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), which is the formerSSLM. President Jaafar Nimeiri failed to honor the Addis Ababaagreement by introducing Sharia Law in the entire country.Furthermore, he changed the boundaries between the north and thesouth in order to recover the oil rich Bentiu area4.He also ignored the plight and concerns of the people and ordered theconstruction of Jonglei canal through the Sudd swamps. It isessential to note that during this period, the south was equallydivided. Politicians from the region were divided among themselvesand president Jaafar used these divisions to his advantage. He couldhire or fire ministers from the south at will. It was assumed thatthe Dinkas were predominant in the regional government.
In many cases, civil wars are hardly fought for their actual reasonsor causes. Wars emerge on basis of historical issues or pastconflicts. Although the GOS defected on the agreement in Addis Ababa,it is clear that the southerners were more concerned with thereligious and ethnic issues that have been the historical sources ofconflicts. There were internal issues in the south amongst thepoliticians and the people. The different ethnic groups felt thatsome of the people such as the Dinkas were benefiting from theregional government. Furthermore, there could be different factionsbesides the SPLM/A that were fighting for different agendas. Notably,the Garang led SPLM/A wanted a united Sudan with an establishedreligion, government and territory. Conversely, there were otherfactions such as the Nasir faction that were calling for thecessation of the south and even the overthrowing of Garang as theleader of SPLM.
Resources, namely land and oil were major causes of the second civilwar in Sudan. Along the border between the north and the southernparts of the Sudan lies huge oil reservoirs, which are beingexploited and sold by the government to earn foreign income.Considering that the southern part was economically disadvantaged,the northern Arab based government took the areas that contained oilfrom the south. This has been one of the major sources of conflict inthe country since 19835.The cessation of some oil rich sections is in contravention of theAddis Ababa agreement where southern Sudan was to be given autonomy.It is essential to note that oil comprises 70% of the country’sforeign income. Therefore, it is clear that this is a preciouscommodity in the country.
The attempts by the government to impose the Sharia Law in theentire country have also contributed immensely to the conflict.President Jaafar tried to impose these laws knowing too well that hewould face resistance from the southerners and all the non-Arabs inthe country. Furthermore, Jaafar divided the southern Sudan intothree regions and abolished the regional government. This led to thegrowth of rebel groups who felt that the south was being exploitedand controlled by the north. A peace agreement would be reached in1989 and the Sharia Laws suspended. However, shortly after in June1989, Omar Al-Bashir led a coup that overthrew the government ofSadiq al-Mahdi who had deposed Jaafar. Consequently, the agreement isabolished and the country goes back to war. Omar institutes anational wide campaign to popularize Islam and bans politicalrallies, trade unions and non-religious institutions. Furthermore, heorders the army to raid southern villages where most of the rebelswere hiding.
The People’s defense forces are deployed in southern Sudan wherethey kill numerous people, rape women and girls and engage childrenin child labor. Most of the people in the 1990s would flee for safetyfrom the army to neighboring countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia.Many countries including Kenya, Eritrea and Ethiopia were attemptingto bring peace between the different groups in the country to noavail. Bashir used aerial bombings against unarmed people in the poorsouthern region of the country6.Notably, Bashir is still wanted in the International criminal courtfor crimes against human including killing, rape, slavery andforceful displacement. The bombings were prevalent in Bahr el Ghazal,southern Blue Nile and Upper Nile regions. Between 1999 and 2001,there were 392 aerial bombings in southern Sudan leading to thedeaths of hundreds of thousands.
After 22 years of civil war, the government of Sudan and the rebelgroups would come into an agreement in Nairobi Kenya in 2005. TheIntergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) led the talks andsaw the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. It wasagreed that the revenue from oil should be shared equally between thenorth and the south. Furthermore, it was agreed that the southernerswill go into a referendum six years after the agreement to decidewhether to remain part of Sudan or have their own independence. Sixyears after the agreement, the southerners voted overwhelmingly forcessation leading to the formation of the 193rd countrynamely South Sudan. Despite this cessation and relative peace in thecountry, millions of the displaced people are yet o return tosouthern Sudan since they lost all their wealth including houses andland.
Effects of the civil war in Sudan
Primarily, the greatest effect of the war is the loss life, propertyand the displacement of people. Over 2.5 million people died as aresult of the conflict in Sudan. Moreover, there were approximatelyfour million people who were driven out their homes in the south.Most of them run to Kenya and Ethiopia where they have continued tolive as slaves. Even after the end of the war, most of the peoplehave not yet returned to their countries since they know no otherlife since they were displaced when they were young. There werethousands of girls and women who were raped by the attackers in thesouth7.Additionally, documented research has indicated that property worthmillions of dollars were destroyed during the conflict. Thegovernment forced bombed people homes, businesses and vehicles, whichwere completely destroyed.
Due to the 22 year conflict, the southern Sudan has remainedeconomically behind. For many years, the newest country relied solelyon aid from foreign countries and the United Nations. Thedisplacement of people and destruction of property meant that thecountry would hardly engage in constructive economic activity. Mostof them when the people would be engaging in economic activities suchas farming, they were engaged in war. It is also essential to notethat the country went into famine and hunger in 2001. This is due tothe lack of suitable conditions for farming. The people of Sudan havehad to rely on foreign food aid from countries such as the U.S andthe World Food Program (WFP).
Since one of the causes of the war was the boundaries, the countrywas finally divided into two with the formation of a new countrycalled South Sudan. It is essential to note that during the conflict,there were various changes to the boundary with the north seeking totake more land that supposedly contained oil reserves8.There have been tremendous effects on the society. The conflict hasensured that there is distrust between the different communities andethnic groups in the country. For instance, the Dinkas and the nuerhave for long suspected each other as a result of the war.
While concluding, it is evident from extensive and documentedresearch that the civil war in Sudan was historical. The colonialgovernment set the tone for the first civil war, which eventually ledto the second civil war. Issues related to religion, ethnicity,leadership and government were central in the conflict. The countrywas not set on a unified religious and political path by thecolonialists. Soon after their departure, the country erupted intocivil war as southerners doubted the northerners who formed thegovernment. This culminated into the second civil war starting in1983 to 2005 and leaving over 2.5 million people dead and fur milliondisplaced. It also led destruction of property and eventually thecessation of the south to form the newest nation, South Sudan.
Breidlid, Anders. A concise history of South Sudan.Kampala, Uganda: Fountain Publishers, 2014.
Grawert, Elke. Forging two nations: insights on Sudan andSouth Sudan. Addis Ababa: Ossrea, 2013.
Lango, John W. The ethics of armed conflict: a cosmopolitanjust war theory. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Malcolm, Bruce. South Sudan: prospects for peace anddevelopment: fifteenth report of session 2010-12.London: The Stationery Office, 2012.
United States. The North-South Sudan conflict 2012: hearingbefore the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, andHuman Rights of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Twelfth Congress, secondsession, April 26, 2012. Washington: U.S. G.P.O, 2012.
1 Grawert, Elke. Forging two nations: insights on Sudan and South Sudan. Addis Ababa: Ossrea, 2013.
2 Breidlid, Anders. A concise history of South Sudan. Kampala, Uganda: Fountain Publishers, 2014.
3 United States. The North-South Sudan conflict 2012: hearing before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Twelfth Congress, second session, April 26, 2012. Washington: U.S. G.P.O, 2012.
4 Lango, John W. The ethics of armed conflict: a cosmopolitan just war theory. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
5 Malcolm, Bruce. South Sudan: prospects for peace and development: fifteenth report of session 2010-12. London: The Stationery Office, 2012.
6 Lango, John W. The ethics of armed conflict: a cosmopolitan just war theory. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014
7 Breidlid, Anders. A concise history of South Sudan. Kampala, Uganda: Fountain Publishers, 2014.
8 Grawert, Elke. Forging two nations: insights on Sudan and South Sudan. Addis Ababa: Ossrea, 2013.