South Darfur militias clash, killing dozens
Plus: Diplomats warn of another Darfur genocide
Fighters belonging to the Salamat and Habbaniya tribes clashed in Buram Locality of South Darfur State, leading to dozens of deaths.
Unlike the recent violence in West Darfur, in which non-Arab tribes were targeted, this violence involves two tribes that both identify as Arab.
Tensions between the two tribes go back years, marked by occasional hostilities. But recent months have seen an increase in clashes, fueled by the proliferation of heavy weaponry, worsening economic conditions, and a breakdown of law and order in areas controlled by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
The above video, filmed by a Salamat fighter, shows members of the tribe heading toward Habbaniya territory in Buram Locality, near the South Sudanese border.
“The Habbaniya will be successfully annihilated. Go, go, readiness!” the cameraman says, using an RSF slogan. The slogan is repeated by a group of fighters near the end of the video (2:20)—an indication of the overlapping identities between this group of local militia and the RSF, which is comprised mostly of Darfur Arab fighters.
The clashes began Sunday, November 12, and continued for three days in the al-Nadhif and Marfayina areas of Buram Locality, Radio Dabanga reported, citing community activist Hamed Abu Ghara.
He said that at least 30 people were killed and others were wounded, who were taken to El Daien for treatment. Abu Ghara attributed the clashes to disputes over land.
As justification for their attack, Salamat fighters have labeled the Habbaniya as army loyalists. A commander of the Salamat in the video below claims that the Habbaniya were using more than 30 vehicles belonging to the army.
He said that the clashes took place in al-Nadif Administrative Unit in the western part of Buram Locality. “Now we attacked—we were attacked—by four-wheel drive vehicles belonging to the army. And the Habbaniya in fact they are army. More than 30 vehicles of the army attacked us. You [Habbaniya] belong to the army, you belong to Burhan...”
He said they captured seven combat vehicles.
Last week the SAF 64th Brigade headquarters in Buram was looted after troops abandoned it.
This fighting follows earlier clashes between the Habbaniya and Salamat in October.
It also comes about a week after the Salamat signed a peace deal with a different Arab tribe, the Beni Halba. The conflict between the Salamat and Ben Halba lasted several months and resulted in hundreds of deaths and several villages burned.
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Ruto escalates his involvement
Kenya’s President William Ruto met with the Sudan Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan at State House in Nairobi, November 13, signaling warming relations between the two leaders.
Burhan’s government previously had criticized Ruto, claiming he was too close to the RSF. During a summit of the East African regional bloc IGAD in early July, SAF delegates walked out to protest Ruto’s chairmanship of the meeting.
Since then, however, the two leaders have had several opportunities to meet. They spoke by phone in mid July, and they met last week at a summit of African leaders in Riyadh. They may have also met on the sidelines of a UN meeting in September.
After Monday’s meeting, the Kenyan presidency published a joint statement saying that that the two leaders had agreed on three points:
“Recognizing the slow progress in Jeddah, the leaders underscored the urgency to accelerate the process towards cessation of hostilities and humanitarian assistance.”
“To work towards the convening of an urgent IGAD Summit to find ways to accelerate the Jeddah process towards cessation of hostilities in Sudan.
“The Summit will also agree on a framework for an all-inclusive Sudanese dialogue.”
Ruto’s criticism of the Jeddah process as “slow” is noteworthy, as is the idea for an all-Sudanese dialogue. Until recently, the IGAD initiative led by Ruto and the Saudi-led Jeddah initiative were separate processes, but the Jeddah facilitators at the most recent round of talks in October invited IGAD to take part as “co-facilitator.”
Ruto yesterday held another meeting about Sudan with Workneh Gebeyehu, the Executive Secretary of IGAD and a former foreign minister of Ethiopia, who acted as IGAD’s representative at the recent Jeddah talks.
Workneh briefed Ruto on the talks and they discussed next steps.
On Twitter, Ruto said, “A substantive ceasefire is the foundation of a succesful peace process in Sudan. It is the only way to end the violence and accelerate humanitarian aid to alleviate the suffering of the people. IGAD is fully behind the Jeddah peace process and urges the warring parties to work towards agreement.”
Although this statement emphasized Kenya’s support for trhe Jeddah initiative, the idea for an “all-inclusive Sudanese dialogue” is outside the scope of the Jeddah process. It may have been an idea floated by SAF.
Kenya played a leading role in the peace talks that ended Sudan’s second civil war (1983-2005), including hosting them and leading the mediation. However, Kenya had a closer relationship with the SPLM, a main protagonist in that war. During the more recent Darfur peace processes in Doha and Juba, Kenya did not play a leading role.
Among the delegates accompanying al-Burhan for his meeting with Ruto was Minni Minawi, leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement and Darfur Regional Governor.
EU warns of genocide in Darfur
Governments of the USA, UK, and Norway, as well as the European Union, have issued statements about recent atrocities in Darfur. The strongest worded statement was by Josep Borrell Fontelles, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs:
The European Union is appalled by and condemns the recent dramatic escalation of violence in Darfur. According to credible eyewitness reports more than a thousand members of the Masalit community were killed in Ardamta, West Darfur, in just over two days, during major attacks carried out by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and its affiliated militias.
These latest atrocities are seemingly part of a wider ethnic cleansing campaign conducted by the RSF with the aim to eradicate the non-Arab Masalit community from West Darfur, and comes on top of the first wave of large violence in June.
The EU reminds the warring parties that under international law they have a duty to protect civilians in Darfur and throughout Sudan.
The EU is working together with the International Criminal Court and other international partners to monitor and document human rights violations in order to ensure accountability of the perpetrators and contribute to ending the culture of impunity in Sudan.
The international community cannot turn a blind eye on what is happening in Darfur and allow another genocide to happen in this region.
Similarly, the UN Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, issued a statement yesterday warning that recent attacks in Ardamata in West Darfur “if confirmed, may constitute acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.”
She added, “The latest reports from the Darfur region depict a deeply disturbing picture of continued systematic and indiscriminate attacks against civilians, including along ethnic lines... Current dynamics in the region could lead to further mass killings in an environment of complete lawlessness and impunity, The risks of genocide and related atrocity crimes in the region remain grimly high.”
The UN Security Council on November 14 renewed for one year the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force in Abyei (UNISFA), a disputed area between Sudan and South Sudan. The resolution called for the full demilitarization of Abyei. The UN peacekeeping mission in Abyei was established in 2011.
During a briefing to the council last week, UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Hanna Serwaa Tetteh said that military developments in Sudan are likely to have adverse consequences on Abyei’s “social fabric and the already fragile coexistence between the Misserya and the Ngok Dinka [communities].”
Following an attack on Jebel Aulia on Sunday, the RSF have maintained control of the helicopter airbase on the south side of town as well as other outskirts of the city. RSF sources circulated many videos showing mass arrests of fighting aged men in various neighborhoods of the city.
The dam road, the RSF’s principal military objective in the area, remains under control of the SAF, as well as the main market and western part of the city.
The Justice and Equality Movement (Jibreel Ibrahim faction) reaffirmed its neutrality in the current conflict and disavowed a statement by its economic affairs advisor, Beshara Suleiman Nur, declaring war on the RSF.
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