Conflict in Sudan’s south lays bare deep scars

People who fled ethnic clashes in Sudan’s Blue Nile state wait at a clinic at a camp for displaced people in Damazin, some 450 km south of Khartoum. (AFP file photo)
People who fled ethnic clashes in Sudan’s Blue Nile state wait at a clinic at a camp for displaced people in Damazin, some 450 km south of Khartoum. (AFP file photo)
Short Url
Updated 27 August 2022

Conflict in Sudan’s south lays bare deep scars

Conflict in Sudan’s south lays bare deep scars
  • Blue Nile, a region awash with guns bordering South Sudan and Ethiopia, is still struggling to rebuild after decades of civil war

KHARTOUM: After his family was massacred and home torched, Sudanese farmer Ayoub Haroun sought refuge in a school alongside some of the tens of thousands fleeing recent bitter ethnic conflict.
More than a week of bloodshed last month in Sudan’s Blue Nile state left at least 105 people dead and scores wounded, as rival groups fought in a complex conflict involving deep-seated grievances, control of land and battles for power.
“The gunfire was constant, all day long every day,” said Haroun, now sheltering in the former school in Blue Nile’s Damazin city, some 450 km south of the capital Khartoum.
But while the violence was the culmination of long-simmering ethnic tensions — between the Hausa people and other rival groups including the Barta — it has further emphasized a wider security breakdown since a military coup last year led by army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan.
Since the October coup, regular pro-democracy demonstrations across the country have been met with a crackdown by security forces that has left at least 116 people dead.
Before unrest erupted in Blue Nile, the western region of Darfur had already seen months of ethnic clashes which killed hundreds of people.
“We were left no option but to defend our lands,” said Al-Jaily Abdalla, from the Hamaj people.
“Our homes were burnt to the ground, destruction spread everywhere, and there were multiple deaths.”
Haroun, a Hausa, was left homeless, one of some 31,000 people from both sides forced to flee their houses, according to the UN.
“My brother and nephew were killed and my home was burnt along with the homes of the rest of my family,” he said.
Each side blames the other for starting the violence — and has accused the government of backing the other.
The clashes triggered angry protests across Sudan, with Hausa people demanding justice for those killed.
Other protests called for “unity” and an “end to tribalism” in the impoverished northeast African nation.
In late July, senior leaders from rival groups agreed to a ceasefire, but a more permanent peace deal and reconciliation is needed.
Blue Nile, a region awash with guns bordering South Sudan and Ethiopia, is still struggling to rebuild after decades of civil war.
Conflict there raged from the mid-1990s to 2005, then erupted again in 2011, as ethnic minority rebels battled former President Omar Bashir.
After the ouster of Bashir in 2019, rebels including from Blue Nile signed a peace deal, the latest in a string of agreements hoped to put an end to conflict.
Sudanese pro-democracy demonstrators have accused the country’s military leadership and ex-rebel leaders who signed the peace pact in 2020 of exacerbating ethnic tensions in Blue Nile for personal gain.
Authorities have rejected such accusations.
Since the clashes, calls have intensified to suspend the agreement.
“It didn’t bring any peace at all,” said Obeid Abu Shotal, a leader from the Barta, who sees the Hausa people as a non-indigenous group.
But the conflict today is less about battling the government, and more about who has the right to the land.
The Hausa people, prominent in West Africa, began arriving in Blue Nile over a century ago “in search of grazing lands for their cattle,” according to the International Crisis Group think tank.
Today, some 3 million Sudanese are Hausa, a people with a reputation as skilled farmers.
But tensions remain with groups who see the land as theirs — and violence erupted when Hausa elders asked civil authorities to manage their own affairs, said Hausa leader Abdelaziz Al-Nour.
Some saw that as a means to take the land.
“The land of Blue Nile is a red line for us,” said senior Barta leader Abu Shotal, insisting it “only belongs to original people” of the region.
Calm was restored after a heavy deployment of troops were sent to Damazin, the state capital, and an overnight curfew remains in place.
In the market, some shops are still shuttered, while other show the signs of damage from the fighting.
“The market used to be busy,” said Mohamed Adam, a grocery shop owner. “Now work has been much less and everyone left.”
Haroun, living in a school and mourning his murdered family members, wants just to rebuild his life.
“We just want things to go back to how they were,” he said.


Lebanon’s Grand Mufti appeals for unity in meeting with Sunni MPs ahead of presidential election

Lebanon’s Grand Mufti appeals for unity in meeting with Sunni MPs ahead of presidential election
Updated 15 sec ago

Lebanon’s Grand Mufti appeals for unity in meeting with Sunni MPs ahead of presidential election

Lebanon’s Grand Mufti appeals for unity in meeting with Sunni MPs ahead of presidential election
  • Derian: ‘We hope for government within days’

BEIRUT:  Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel Latif Derian warned on Saturday that Lebanon has become a failed state.

“We are rapidly moving toward no state at all, and the Arabs and the world will soon start ignoring Lebanon’s existence because of political mismanagement at all levels,” he said.

“We need to elect a new president and the MPs are responsible for electing him or creating a presidential vacuum.”

Derian had invited Sunni MPs for a meeting at Dar Al-Fatwa to discuss possible candidates.

All but three of 27 Sunni MPs from different political currents attended the meeting, including one MP affiliated with Hezbollah, in addition to reformist and independent MPs.

Two reformist MPs, Ibrahim Mneimneh and Halima Al-Qaaqour, and independent MP Osama Saad did not attend.

A source in Dar Al-Fatwa said that the meeting was aimed at uniting the Sunni bloc in parliament to allow it to have a meaningful say in the presidential elections.

The bloc also aims stop any attempts to tamper with the Taif Agreement and undermine its provisions regarding Lebanon’s constitution, the source said.

The meeting focused on efforts to preserve national unity, and respect constitutional deadlines on the election of a new president and the formation of a government capable of implementing financial, monetary and legislative reforms, including an economic recovery plan.

During the meeting, Derian said that the survival of nations and states depends on the effectiveness of their constitutional institutions.

The president is the protector of the constitution, and the Christian president in Lebanon is a symbol of coexistence on which the Lebanese system is based, he said.

Arabs “recognize and appreciate the Lebanese experience” because the Lebanese president is the only Christian president in the Arab world, Derian added.

He urged MPs to encourage respect for the president’s position, and help him assume his role at home and abroad.

Derian also said the new president must preserve the principles of the Taif Agreement, the constitution, coexistence, and Lebanon’s national, Arab and international legitimacy.

If these matters are neglected, Lebanon will be unable to maintain order, stability and its national entity, he added.

Derian highlighted the need to put an end to made-up sectarian, divisive clashes over powers and return to the constitutional principle of separating powers but maintaining cooperation between them.

He called for the election of a president characterized by the personal and political qualities of a public businessman who would be ethically responsible for the mission with which he is tasked.

The new president must have wisdom, national responsibility and integrity, as well as the ability to be inclusive of all Lebanese, and to use his powers to help the country out of this crisis and prevent it from reaching total collapse, he said.

Derian reiterated: “Either we elect a president with these qualities, or we see the regime and the state fall before our eyes.”

He also appealed for respect for the prime minister and help for the PM-designate with his mission.

“This is a joint responsibility that rests with everyone. We are looking forward to forming a government as soon as possible, perhaps in the next few days,” said Derain, adding that Lebanon needed a government with full powers  — and not a caretaker government —   in these harsh and difficult circumstances.

Derian said Lebanon can survive only if consensus is reached. There is no salvation without unity, away from tension, sectarian strife and incitement, he added.

Lebanon needed a president “who is not part of the problem or the cause of it.”

In a statement issued after the meeting, those present stressed the principles advocated by Dar Al-Fatwa, especially in terms of committing to the Taif Agreement, Lebanon’s Arab identity and national unity.

They also condemned the abuses that had harmed and were still harming the foundations of national reconciliation and coexistence.

The Sunni MPs stressed the need to end Lebanon’s suffering under mismanagement and rampant corruption.

“Saving Lebanon requires recognizing the mistakes that were made, holding the perpetrators accountable, whoever they are, and sincerely cooperating with the different Lebanese and Arab parties and the international community to restore Lebanon’s identity and stature,” they said.

The Sunni MPs said that they will work with fellow MPs to elect a new president on the specified constitutional date.

They said that the new president “needs to abide by the constitution and be loyal to the people of Lebanon and their interests.”

The statement added that Lebanon’s enemy was and still is the Israeli army, which continued to occupy parts of the Lebanese territories.

It called for the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions that stipulate the Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories and the recognition of Jerusalem as an occupied city.


Lebanon’s banks to reopen on Monday

Lebanon’s banks to reopen on Monday
Updated 16 min 37 sec ago

Lebanon’s banks to reopen on Monday

Lebanon’s banks to reopen on Monday
  • Each bank would determine its own channels for banking operations with commercial and educational institutions

BEIRUT:  Lebanon’s banks will reopen on Monday, the banking association said, after five days of closure following a wave of holdups in the country by depositors seeking access to their frozen savings.
The association said in a statement on Sunday that the decision to reopen “was taken after consideration of the current difficult security conditions and the need to maintain the safety of customers and employees alike, in the absence of adequate protection by the state.”
It added each bank would determine its own channels for banking operations with commercial and educational institutions, and the health care sector among others.
A top Lebanese banker on Friday criticized politicians for failing to enact a capital control law, saying this was the way to avoid bank raids by savers demanding funds from frozen accounts and to stop banks’ “discretionary practices.”
The holdups reflect savers’ desperation three years after Lebanon’s financial system collapsed due to decades of state corruption and waste, and unsustainable financial policies.
The government has agreed neither a financial recovery plan nor enacted reforms deemed vital to get Lebanon out of the crisis. While the government says it is committed to reforms, the International Monetary Fund says progress remains very slow.


At UNGA, UAE minister demands return of 3 islands seized by Iran

At UNGA, UAE minister demands return of 3 islands seized by Iran
Updated 25 September 2022

At UNGA, UAE minister demands return of 3 islands seized by Iran

At UNGA, UAE minister demands return of 3 islands seized by Iran

NEW YORK: The United Arab Emirates on Saturday urged Iran to return to the Gulf state the three islands it had been illegally occupying for the past five decades.

In an address before the General Debate of the 77th United Nations General Assembly in New York City, Reem Al Hashimy, UAE's Minister of State for International Cooperation, said Iran's occupation of the three islands was a violation of the sovereignty.

"... we renew our demand for an end to Iran's occupation of the three UAE islands: Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Musa – the UAE’s sovereignty over which is proven by history and international law," Hashimy said.

Iran seized the three islands in November 1971 shortly after British forces were pulled out. The islands are all located in the Strait of Hormuz between the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

"Despite the UAE’s sincere calls to peacefully resolve this conflict over the past five decades, we stress here that Iran has not responded. We will never relent in voicing our claim to these islands either through direct negotiations or through the International Court of Justice, as is our legitimate right," Hashimy said.

Iran has been accused by its Arab neighbors and members and the West of seeking to destabilize the region by funding and arming its proxy militias, including the Hezbollah of Lebanon, the Houthis of Yemen, and other militants in the Palestinian territories and in Iraq.

On Sunday, the UAE’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan met with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

During the meeting, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed called for strengthening international cooperation to achieve stability and peace in the region and achieve the aspirations of people, according to a statement on the Emirates News Agency (WAM).

Both officials discussed bilateral relations and ways to enhance cooperation between the two countries to achieve their common interests. They also exchanged views on regional and international developments and reviewed several issues on the agenda of the General Assembly.

 

 


Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in West Bank

Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in West Bank
Updated 25 September 2022

Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in West Bank

Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in West Bank

NABLUS: Israeli troops killed a Palestinian militant in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, Palestinian sources said, with Israel’s army saying soldiers fired on “armed suspects” during a routine patrol.
The army said that “hits were identified” after soldiers fired toward “armed suspects driving in a vehicle and a motorcycle” near Nablus in the northern West Bank, an area that has seen near daily violence in recent months.
The Palestinian health ministry named the man killed as Saed Al-Koni.
A loose coalition of fighters called “The Lions Den” that has recently emerged in Nablus claimed Koni as one of their members.
Among the members of this group was teenager Ibrahim Al-Nabulsi, who has become a folk hero on social media since his killing by Israeli forces in August. Pendants of Al-Nabulsi are on sale in the markets of Nablus Old City.
Koni’s death was the second in the Nablus area in the past two days.
On Saturday, a Palestinian driver was killed by Israeli troops after what the army called an “attempted ramming attack,” but which Palestinians said was a traffic accident.
The army said soldiers and police opened fire on a vehicle after the driver “attempted to run them over” during a patrol outside Nablus.
The Palestinian foreign ministry described Muhammad Ali Hussein Awad, 36, as a “defenseless Palestinian” who was not “posing any danger.”
“The Israeli police deliberately shot Awad, with the aim of killing him, after his vehicle collided with a police vehicle in a traffic accident,” the ministry said.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six Day War of 1967.
Israeli forces have faced criticism over their frequent use of lethal force in response to perceived threats.
Israel is on high alert ahead of the Jewish high holiday season which begins on Sunday evening with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year.
Since March, Israel has launched hundreds of raids in the northern West Bank, including Nablus and nearby Jenin, in pursuit of individuals it accuses of involvement in deadly attacks targeting Israelis.
The raids have sparked clashes that have killed dozens of Palestinians.


President Alimi, UN Secretary General discuss peace efforts in Yemen

President Alimi, UN Secretary General discuss peace efforts in Yemen
Updated 41 min 4 sec ago

President Alimi, UN Secretary General discuss peace efforts in Yemen

President Alimi, UN Secretary General discuss peace efforts in Yemen

Dubai: Head of the Presidential Leadership Council in Yemen, Rashad al-Alimi, discussed on Saturday peace efforts with Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly's meetings.
Alimi welcomed the role of the UN and its secretary general’s efforts to stop the war in Yemen and to alleviate the severity of Yemen's crisis, state news agency SABA reported.
Alimi discussed the latest developments in Yemen, economic, service and right reforms adopted by the Presidential Council and the government..
The secretary general confirmed the commitment of the UN in supporting the presidential council and the government and mobilizing necessary resources to alleviate humanitarian suffering.
He also confirmed employing all efforts to tighten the truce and renewing it, resuming the political process and enabling Yemeni people to build their state.