Clashes kill 3 civilians in Sudan’s Darfur, say doctors

Sudanese villagers walk in the war-torn town of Golo in central Darfur. (AFP/File)
Updated 12 August 2019

Clashes kill 3 civilians in Sudan’s Darfur, say doctors

  • The violence over grazing land, which was one of the root causes of a deadly war that erupted in 2003, had been relatively rare in Darfur recently

KHARTOUM: Clashes that erupted over pasture between farmers and herders in Sudan's western region of Darfur left three civilians dead on Sunday, a doctors committee linked to the country's protest movement said.
"Three citizens were killed this morning in Shengel Tobay, in North Darfur state, and another was wounded," the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors said in a statement.
Such deadly violence over grazing land, which was one of the root causes of a deadly war that erupted in 2003, had been relatively rare in Darfur recently.
The latest incident marred the first day of the Eid al-Adha Muslim feast and it was Sudan's first since months of protests brought down longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir and created an opportunity for civilian rule.
The deadly conflict that broke out more than 15 years ago in Sudan saw ethnic African rebels take up arms against Bashir's regime, which they accused of marginalising the remote region.
Khartoum armed Arab pastoralists to quash the rebellion, leading to massacres against the population that earned Bashir and others international warrants on charges of genocide.
While the fighting has subsided in Darfur, tensions over pasture remain and those responsible for the war's darkest hours have not been brought to justice.
"The former regime fuelled the conflict and contributed to deepening the crisis by not helping to provide sustainable solutions, and not holding perpetrators accountable," the doctors committee said.
Bashir was ousted in April after 30 years in power and a temporary power-sharing agreement was reached a week ago by the country's generals and protest leaders.
The document that will serve as Sudan's de facto interim constitution, however, does not mention the fate of Bashir and others wanted by the International Criminal Court over massacres in Darfur.
A key figure in Sudan's transitional authority and widely tipped as the country's new strongman was once a top leader of an Arab militia known as the Janjaweed and responsible for some of the Darfur conflict's worst atrocities.


Scramble for Syria after US withdrawal

Updated 15 October 2019

Scramble for Syria after US withdrawal

  • Turkey considers the SDF and YPG to be terrorists allied with the PKK, who have been involved in a bloody campaign for autonomy against Turkish states for decades

ANKARA: As Ankara pressed on with its offensive in northeastern Syria amid international criticism, Washington announced some 1,000 soldiers were withdrawn from the zone.

With the US departure, the attention turns to how the regional actors, especially Turkey and Syria, will operate in their zones of influence in the war-torn country where the possible escape of Daesh fighters from prisons could result in more chaos.

Some experts claim that with the US decision to withdraw its forces, the territorial claim of northeastern Syria by the Kurdish YPG militia and its political wing, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has finished.

Turkey considers the SDF and YPG to be terrorists allied with the PKK, who have been involved in a bloody campaign for autonomy against Turkish states for decades. The PKK is listed as a terror group by Turkey, the EU and the US.

But, whether some 50,000 YPG fighters will be integrated into the Syrian Army or will try to maintain their autonomy is still a matter of concern.

Mazloum Abdi, commander-in-chief of the SDF, recently wrote for Foreign Policy that the Kurds are finally ready to partner with Assad and Putin.

Yury Barmin, an analyst at the Russian International Affairs Council, said: “Damascus and the SDF struck a deal at the Russian base in Hmeymim to let the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) enter the Kurdish-controlled area in the northeast and deploy at the Syrian-Turkish border. The SAA is set to take control over Manbij, Kobane and Qamishli.”

However, Barmin told Arab News that a deal between Damascus and the SDF would greatly contribute to a buffer zone that Turkish President Recep Yayyip Erdogan intends to create in northern Syria, allowing Kurds to take some areas along the border without directly antagonizing Ankara. This policy, Barmin added, would be unacceptable to Moscow.

“There are now lots of moving targets and the goal of the Syrian Army — whether it will take some strategic cities or control the whole border along Turkey — is unclear for now. As Russian President Vladimir Putin is on his official visit to Saudi Arabia, his decision for Syria will be clearer when he returns home,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

Some experts claim that with the US decision to withdraw its forces, the territorial claim of northeastern Syria by the Kurdish YPG militia and its political wing, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has finished.

Barmin also noted that Russia let Erdogan operate the Adana agreement to a certain extent, under which Turkey has the right to conduct cross-border operations.

“But now, Russia would like to show Turkey its own red lines in the region,” he said.

However, Navvar Saban, a military analyst at the Omran Center for Strategic Studies in Istanbul, said that the Syrian regime is not capable of striking a deal without being backed by Russians, and that Moscow would not want to lose its relationship with Ankara.

“Russians always talk about the Adana agreement. We are now talking about a renewal and reactivation of the agreement with new specifications to allow Turkey to go deeper into Syrian territories. In this way, the Russians will have a bigger chance to allow the Syrian regime and Turkey to communicate. It is something that will open the diplomatic channels,” Saban said.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump tweeted: “Big sanctions on Turkey coming! Do people really think we should go to war with NATO Member Turkey? Never ending wars will end!”

Joe Macaron, a resident fellow at the Arab Center in Washington, said that if the US is completely out of the way, Russia and Turkey will have to either agree or contest each other to take over the US territorial control in northeast Syria. He added that this might be the most crucial race in the coming weeks.

Concerning the diplomatic channels between Damascus and Ankara, Macaron thinks that the channels were and will remain open between Moscow and Ankara since they have common interests beyond Syria.

“If Turkey had no other option, it might have to settle for controlling a few border towns, but this means Erdogan can no longer effectively implement his plan to return Syrian refugees, most notably without funding from the international community. Ankara is more likely to succeed in striking such a deal with Moscow than with Washington,” Macaron told Arab News.

Many experts agree that the Syrian chessboard will be determined predominantly by Russian moves.

“Assad has no say in what will happen next, Russia is the decision maker and there is little the Syrian regime can do unless Iran forcefully intervenes to impact the Russian-Turkish dynamics in the northeast,” Macaron said.