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Activist Post: The Plundering of South Sudan

Activist Post: The Plundering of South Sudan.

image source

Tony Cartalucci
Activist Post

RT’s report “Who is to blame for the crisis in South Sudan?” gave a succinct background on the warring factions inside the new “nation” of South Sudan and the Western genesis of the conflict. The report would state:

The SPLM has received support from the US and Israel throughout the duration of the civil war fought between southern rebels and Khartoum, which has historically had unfriendly relations with the West and has moved very closely to China in recent times to jointly develop the country’s oil wealth prior to the separation. Romantic notions for self-determination did not motivate the West to support southern secession; the objective was to partition Sudan and deprive Khartoum of economically relevant territory in the south where most of the oil fields lie. In exchange for the financial, material, political, and diplomatic support received from the West, the new government in Juba endorsed a ‘Faustian pact’ with its sponsors to open its economy to international finance capital and multinational interests. The government in Juba even applied for IMF membership before it had even officially gained independence from Sudan.

The piece would continue by laying out the current dilemma for the West:

Despite supporting the South’s independence with diplomatic muscle and military aid, the United States has been unable to gain a foothold in the country’s oil sector; Juba’s crippled economy remains dominated by Asian companies, primarily from China. South Sudan must rely on pipelines that run through Khartoum to export its oil, and the two countries produced around 115,000 barrels of oil per day in 2012, less than half the volume produced in the years before South Sudan’s independence. Both sides have nearly gone to war over disputed oil fields that straddle a poorly demarcated border. Judging from the poor economic performance of both countries since the partition and the dramatic loss of the life in the ongoing crisis, the experiment of South Sudanese independence is failing.

Image: Violence predictably is centered around currently Chinese-controlled oil infrastructure. The goal is to have violence drive the Chinese out just as was done by NATO in Libya.

The piece would go on to note that peace deals reached leaving Sudan intact could have avoided the deadly conflict now raging – and that of course is correct. However, peace is not and never was the goal of the West and its involvement in Africa – economic gain is.

Precisely because China still maintains extensive holdings in Sudan and South Sudan’s oil infrastructure, the conflict will be brought to a fever pitch – and unsurprisingly the conflict’s epicenter corresponds with South Sudan’s primary oil producing regions. If and when the Chinese are pushed out of South Sudan, the West will continue either across the border to establish routes for exporting their newly gained oil wealth from the landlocked country, or proceed through Kenya with or without the current government in Nairobi’s backing.

The BBC would report in their article, “China’s oil fears over South Sudan fighting,” that (emphasis added):

The stakes could not be higher for China, the largest investor in South Sudan’s oil sector, as fierce fighting continues between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those of his former deputy.

Some of the largest oil fields China operates are in areas controlled by fighters backing Riek Machar, the country’s vice-president until he was sacked in July.

Oil production has already dropped by 20% since the onset of the conflict three weeks ago and more than 300 Chinese workers have been evacuated. 

The spectre of their Libyan experience also weighs heavily on the Chinese minds – project after project now lies deserted because of heavy fighting during the Arab Spring uprising of 2011, inflicting huge losses on China.

Most telling of all is the BBC’s reference to Libya – another nation destroyed by Western military aggression that saw both Russian and Chinese interests crumble overnight and replaced by Western corporations. While South Sudan’s chaos is being orchestrated more covertly by the West, the final goal of pushing out the Chinese and taking over is the same.

Similar covert destabilization can be seen all across what the 2006 Strategic Studies Institute’s report “String of Pearls: Meeting the Challenge of China’s Rising Power across the Asian Littoral” calls China’s “String of Perals.” This includes US-backed militants attempting to carve off the province of Baluchistan from Pakistanwhere China has established a port at Gwadar and at another Chinese port in the state of Rakhine, Myanmar that has been the scene of brutal, genocidal violence carried out by “democracy icon” Aung San Suu Kyi’s “saffron monks” against Rohingya refugees.

Setting Up Shop in South Sudan

There is no doubt that the US and its accomplices Israel and Uganda have decided to stay in South Sudan. TheUS corporate foundation-funded “Enough Project” provided the rhetorical justification for an enduring presence in the war-torn African state in its Al Jazeera op-ed titled, “Al Jazeera America Op-ed: South Sudan’s Salva Kiir needs to put his black hat back on,” which stated:

To be sure, growing pains are common in societies working to secure their independence after years of marginalization and authoritarian rule. Building a cohesive national identity among South Sudan’s 81 ethnic groups will take generations. Still, the looming specters of mass intercommunal violence means we cannot afford to be complacent. The United States committed itself to the South Sudanese people’s long march toward independence decades ago. It would be a shame if America allowed a return to war when the South Sudanese are so close to securing their future.

With that humanitarian/freedom-promoting foot-in-the-door, the West has the pretext it needs to meddle for decades to come.

To begin with, Israel Military Industries Ltd. (IMI) signed what it called a “water infrastructure and technology development” deal with South Sudan’s government in 2012. The deal allegedly covers desalination, irrigation, water transport and purification, but a visit to Israel Military Industries Ltd. website indicates they are military contractors and arms manufacturers, not engineers and certainly not specialists in water infrastructure. Other sources claim IMI will serve as a conduit for actual Israeli water firms – but in light of US, Israeli, Saudi, and Qatari joint operations elsewhere, IMI will most likely serve as a conduit for weapons, cash, and conflict as well (or instead).

Image: It is not entirely clear how a military contractor and weapons manufacturer like Israel’s IMI is going to develop South Sudan’s water infrastructure. Just like Qatar’s use of humanitarian aid groups to smuggle weapons into Syria, Israel is most likely using “development” as cover for perpetuating conflict both within South Sudan to drive out the Chinese, as well as across the border in Sudan to the north to finally topple the government in Khartoum.

In 2013, Israel and South Sudan would begin forging oil deals. In UPI’s report, “South Sudan signs oil deal with Israel,” it was stated:

South Sudan says it has signed an agreement with several Israeli oil companies, a potentially significant strategic move that will consolidate the Jewish state’s relations with the fledgling, oil-rich East African state.

UPI would continue, highlighting the glaring problem of actually exporting the oil to turn a profit:

South Sudan’s petroleum and mining minister, Dhieu Dau, announced the oil deal last week after he returned from a visit to Israel.

He said negotiations were ongoing with Israeli companies, which he did not identify, seeking to invest in South Sudan.

Dau indicated the southern government in Juba, ramshackle capital of the infant state, hoped to export oil to Israel, but observed that this could not happen before March.

He gave no indication how the landlocked south would achieve this, or what volume of crude would be involved. But it’s a move Khartoum would do everything possible to wreck.

Finally, the UPI report indicates the much larger implications of Israel’s (and the US’) involvement in South Sudan, using it as a springboard to topple neighboring Sudan in the north:

The prospect of Israel actually getting oil from South Sudan remains uncertain, given Juba’s difficulties with Khartoum.

There has been talk of building a 1,000-mile export pipeline from South Sudan across Kenya to the Indian Ocean that would free Juba from reliance on Khartoum’s pipelines.

But no definite plans for the project, expected to cost around $2 billion, have yet materialized.

It may be that Israeli companies are seeking to help out in that regard — if only to undermine the Islamic-oriented Khartoum regime and its alliance with Tehran, and to gain access to the Nile River, Egypt’s primary source of water and a strategic target.

During Sudan’s civil war, one of Africa’s longest conflicts in which some 2 million people died, Israel provided the southern rebels with arms, training and funding, as it has done in other parts of Africa seeking to weaken its Arab adversaries.

Clearly, the presence of Israeli arms dealers is not to develop South Sudan’s infrastructure but rather to flood the region with weapons to flush out the Chinese and eventually stab northward toward Sudan and its capital of Khartoum. UPI’s report would go on to admit that military aid was still undoubtedly flowing to South Sudan for this very purpose.

In addition to a proxy military confrontation with Sudan, the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have been attempting to overthrow the government in Khartoum from within – attempting an “Arab Spring-style” uprising in late 2013 that eventually fizzled.

Enter US AFRICOM and Uganda’s Museveni 

Infamous Western collaborator and Ugandan dictator-for-life Yoweri Museveni has been fighting the West’s proxy wars in Africa for decades. He has also done much within his borders to appease the West including selling large tracts of land to foreign developers right out from beneath the feet of his own people – many times killing landowners who refused eviction.

Image: Whatever pretext the West attempts to use to place Western troops inside of Africa while Fortune 500 corporations scoop up the continent’s vast resources, it is nothing more than modern recolonization. US troops placed in Uganda to fight “Kony” are now conveniently in place to aid in the despoiling of neighboring South Sudan – a state carved out of proper Sudan via Western-fueled civil war. 

In 2011 under the false pretext of fighting Joseph Kony’s “Lord’s Resistance Army” the US would begin deploying troops to Uganda. By 2013, these troops would still be there – when violence began to spread across nearby South Sudan, US troops conveniently still stationed in Uganda would be mobilized for the evacuation of US citizens. Stars and Stripes would report in their article, “Marines airlift US Embassy personnel out of South Sudan,” that:

Nonessential U.S. Embassy personnel were evacuated Friday from South Sudan aboard two KC-130 aircraft assigned to a Marine crisis response team positioned in nearby Uganda.

The article would also report:

Last week, the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response also was pre-positioned at Entebbe, Uganda, to provide additional support. The unit, from Moron, Spain, was formed less than a year ago to bolster AFRICOM’s crisis-response capabilities.

Uganda, like Sudan, has clearly been permanently brought into AFRICOM’s fold under an initial false “humanitarian” pretext that was then quietly shifted to the permanent occupation of African territory. And Uganda not only serves as a base for US AFRICOM, but is also using its soldiers to carry out AFRICOM’s objectives beyond Uganda’s borders.

The Guardian would report in its recent article, “South Sudan peace talks falter as Uganda sends in troops,” that:

The South Sudan peace talks being held in Ethiopia have stalled, officials say, as a rebel commander claims big victories against the South Sudanese government and Uganda sends in more troops and military hardware.

The report would also claim:

Uganda, he said, had sent 1,200 troops to secure installations such as the airport and state house, adding that Ugandan military aircraft had bombed several rebel-held positions.

Uganda says its deployment of more troops and military hardware to Juba this week came at the request of Kiir. Lieutenant Colonel Paddy Ankunda, a Ugandan military spokesman, said on Wednesday that reinforcements were dispatched on Monday and Tuesday “to plug security gaps”. He denied the Ugandans were actively involved in combat.

Yoweri Museveni, the president of Uganda, is a strong ally of Kiir. The neighbouring countries have built a bond that goes back to South Sudan’s armed struggle for independence from Sudan and the Khartoum government. Museveni recently warned Machar that East African countries would unite to defeat him militarily if he does not agree to attend peace talks.

In essence, Uganda is providing the manpower on the ground while the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and others provide the cash, weapons, and everything else. It is another proxy war, just like the ongoing conflict in Syria, albeit with Ugandan troops literally invading South Sudan to prop up the West’s proxy government in Juba.

Who is funding and arming rebel groups fighting the West’s proxy government is still unclear. Reports indicate it may be dissident factions of South Sudan’s own armed forces involved in a recent coup attempt. Other theories suggest that US, Uganda, and/or Israel may be funding and arming both sides hoping to carry the conflict onward to Khartoum. It is clear that Khartoum, Sudan, one way or another, is the US-Israeli-Saudi-Qatari goal – to complete the theft of Sudanese oil as well as the means to export it out of the broken, worn-torn, decimated country.

This is the current state of the Wall Street-London global order in Africa – and a tattered, exploited Africa in our future should this state persist.

Tony Cartalucci’s articles have appeared on many alternative media websites, including his own at 
Land Destroyer ReportAlternative Thai News Network and LocalOrg.

Read other contributed articles by Tony Cartalucci here.

The US Is Not Switzerland: Weighs Sanctions Against South Sudan | Zero Hedge

The US Is Not Switzerland: Weighs Sanctions Against South Sudan | Zero Hedge.

Despite telling us just yesterday that it would not take sides in the tensions in South Sudan…

  • *U.S. NOT TAKING SIDES IN S SUDAN: PSAKI

the US government is on the verge of deciding to… take sides. As Reuters reports, the United States is weighing targeted sanctions against South Sudan due to its leaders’ failure to take steps to end a crisis that has brought the world’s youngest nation to the brink of civil war. Africa, aswe have discussed at length, remains the only region on earth with incremental debt capacity (and therefore growth in a Keynesian world) and so it is no surprise the US wants to get involved in yet another conflict.

 

Via Reuters,

“It’s a tool that has been discussed,” a source told Reuters on condition of anonymity about the possibility of U.S. sanctions against those blocking peace efforts or fueling violence in South Sudan. Another source confirmed the remarks, though both declined to provide details on the precise measures under consideration.

 

No decisions have been made yet, the sources added. Targeted sanctions focus on specific individuals, entities or sectors of country.

 

The U.S. government was unlikely to consider steps intended to economically harm impoverished South Sudan but would likely focus on any measures on those individuals or groups it sees as blocking efforts at brokering peace or committing atrocities.

 

As we discussed previously, there is an African scramble so it is unsurprisng the US would choose to take sides and get involved:

While those in the power and money echelons of the “developed” world scramble day after day to hold the pieces of the collapsing tower of cards in place (and manipulating public perception that all is well), knowing full well what the final outcome eventually will be, those who still have the capacity to look, and invest, in the future, are looking neither toward the US, nor Asia, and certainly not Europe, for one simple reason: there is no more incremental debt capacity at any level: sovereign, household, financial or corporate. Because without the ability to create debt out of thin air, be it on a secured or unsecured basis, the ability to “create” growth, at least in the current Keynesian paradigm, goes away with it. Yet there is one place where there is untapped credit creation potential, if not on an unsecured (i.e., future cash flow discounting), then certainly on a secured (hard asset collateral) basis. The place is Africa, and according to some estimates the continent, Africa can create between $5 and $10 trillion in secured debt, using its extensive untapped resources as first-lien collateral.

Africa is precisely where the smart money (and those who quietly run the abovementioned “power echelons”), namely China and Goldman Sachs, have refocused all their attention in the past year precisely because they both realize that Africa is the last and only bastion of untapped credit growth and capacity. But you won’t read about it in the mainstream papers: the last thing those who are currently splitting up Africa into its constituent parts want is for the general public to become aware what is in play. You will, however, read about it on these pages (see here and here and here). Also, if you are a Goldman client, you will certainly know all about it, as the firm ventures out with reverse inquiry indications of interest to its wealthy clients giving them the right of first equity refusal, and slowly but surely providing “financial services” to the last great hope for the developing world, which ironically is what most still consider the poorest continent…

Africa in geographical perspective…

South Sudan army recaptures oil hub – Africa – Al Jazeera English

South Sudan army recaptures oil hub – Africa – Al Jazeera English.

Malcolm Webb reports from Uganda on flight of South Sudanese refugees into neighbouring countries
South Sudan’s army says it has regained control of the rebel-held town of Bentiu, handing the government control of Unity State’s oilfields where production had been halted.The army had earlier announced it was mobilising thousands of additional troops as it battled to recapture two rebel-held cities, including Bentiu, although regional mediators were still hopeful a ceasefire could be reached.

“It happened this afternoon at 2.30pm,” Philip Aguer, army spokesman, told Reuters news agency on Friday.

“When you control Bentiu, you control all the oil fields in Unity state.”

Forces in Bentiu loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar had been holding off the army of President Salva Kiir for several days, leaving it ransacked and emptied of its civilian population.

Machar confirmed rebel forces had lost control of the northern oil hub, but pledged his fighters would continue their battle against the government.

Follow our in-depth coverage of South Sudan

“We withdrew from Bentiu, but it was to avoid fighting in the streets and save civilian lives. We fight on, we will continue the battle,” Machar told AFP by satellite telephone from an undisclosed location in the country.

He said the rebel side would remain engaged in peace talks that are taking place in Addis Ababa in neighbouring Ethiopia.

“Yes, we are committed,” he said, without giving any indication if he was willing to agree to an immediate and unconditional ceasefire.

Speaking in Addis Ababa, a rebel military spokesman described the loss of Bentiu as a “temporary setback”.

“Our forces made a tactical withdrawal to avoid civilian casualties,” Lul Ruai Koang said.

“The government does not have the capacity to defeat us militarily,” he added, accusing the South Sudanese government of “bringing in mercenaries” from neighbouring Uganda and the Darfur region of Sudan.

He also said rebels still controlled Unity State’s oil infrastructure outside Bentiu.

Troop mobilisation

Fierce battles have also continued around Bor, another rebel-held town in central South Sudan that has already changed hands three times since the conflict began nearly a month ago.

In the capital Juba, the government’s allies from several regions say they are in the process of calling up thousands of former soldiers to shore up the South Sudan army.

Infographic: Untangling South Sudan violence

“We have to mobilise all SPLA soldiers, all former soldiers who were in the Sudanese army,” Clement Wani Konga, governor of Central Equatoria State, said, adding 3,000 extra troops had been found in his region alone and a further 12,000 were expected to soon be armed and ready.

Nevertheless, in Addis Ababa, where the peace negotiations are being held under the aegis of the East African regional bloc IGAD, the chief mediator told AFP news agency he was still optimistic.

“If you ask me on the possibilities of signing, I am very optimistic … because we have now come a long way in establishing understanding between the parties,” Seyoum Mesfin said.

He said he expected a ceasefire in “the shortest possible time”.

Against this backdrop, the UN says it believes that “very substantially in excess” of 1,000 people have been killed in the South Sudan civil war.

It also says that nearly a quarter of a million people have fled their homes, many of them fleeing a wave of ethnic violence between Kiir’s majority Dinka tribe and Machar’s Nuer.

For its part, the US, which was instrumental in helping South Sudan win independence from Sudan in 2011, has said it fears implosion of the young country and is urging the two warring factions to immediately agree to a truce.

When cow love meets car love

When cow love meets car love.

by Tom Abel, originally published by A prosperous way down  | TODAY

For an anthropologist like myself raised on stories of the Nuer and Dinka (and the other tribes in the region), the latest news from the Sudan is jarring. These men fighting each other are not ‘soldiers’, they are warriors. They live in ‘tribes’ or ‘local groups’ ruled by kinship. And they fight each other in terms of historical animosities. But they are now armed (who armed them?), and the big players (the US, China, others) have oil ‘interests’ in the region. So the language has changed, this is a ‘state’, it should follow the ‘rules’ of international law, people can be charged with ‘war crimes’, etc. The US has soldiers stationed nearby to protect ‘facilities’. Thousands of UN ‘peacekeeprs’ as well as ‘attack helicopters’ are coming. All of this, clearly, is not for the building of ‘democracy’ or for some other higher moral purpose, but to create ‘stability’.

e3_cow

A Nuer ox, with tassels hanging from its horns, from Evans-Pritchard’s famous ethnography, The Nuer (1940)

Stability is the overarching goal of our time, perhaps the only widely-agreed-upon social goal any more, with the ultimate purpose in this case of allowing the oil to flow. This is what we foist on the rest of the world, this is what the US and the UN and the Chinese and the Russians, and especially their corporations do when they set their sights on resource extraction from a region clearly not ready or even desiring of such economic ‘development’. All in the name of our addiction to oil, to automobiles, to plastics, to pharmaceuticals, to pesticides, etc. Just watch, we will end up blaming one tribe or another for the violence, or some ‘warlord’, or some ‘faction’, or the ‘uncivilized’ behavior generally of Nilotic peoples. But are they to blame? For having their world turned completely upside down? By peoples with weapons, technologies, and goals they barely understand?

Nuerland in the rainy season with sorghum plots (Evans-Pritchard 1940).

Nuerland in the rainy season with sorghum plots (Evans-Pritchard 1940).

I don’t mean to romanticize the Nuer or the Dinka. They are thoroughly modern peoples, capable of coming to comprehension of what now assaults them. But this was not their choice, and they are certainly not in control of what is happening. A few will be made superrich. The rest, you can imagine. And in a decade or two, when the oil’s gone, should we picture a peaceful democracy with schools and hospitals and cafes? Look at Nuerland. In the rainy season it is one great swamp. Where do you put the 7-11s?

I find it very hard to watch this. I want to look away. But then I realize that this is the same story that we read if we dare to read the colonial histories of Europeans throughout the world. Time and again the killing and the ‘civilizing’ and in the end some foreigners or their companies are left holding the prize, and the locals are reduced or tamed and left with little. South Africa, Nigeria, Indonesia, we can trace this back a long way, the Americas. We think this is history. This can’t happen today. But there it is. Right there, once again in my news feed. The Nuer, the Dinka, famous breeders of cows, worshipers of cows, are being set up to go the way of all those others before them.

Time to think again?

We in the developed countries should consider the impacts of our lifestyles. We did this. We are doing this, as I write. Isn’t it time for a reboot, a fresh look at the world, time to think smaller, to live more locally, to pedal instead of drive? A better world won’t come to us. Our government sure won’t hand it to us. We have to make it ourselves, from the bottom up, from the choices we make every day in what we do and buy. It’s starting. Many people and communities are beginning to choose more renewable lifestyles, more local, more self-sufficient. Transition Towns are an example, but there are many possibilities. There are guidelines here (on the Prosperous Way Down website) for how we can reorganize communities during transition to fit with the natural processes of land and water that sustain us (summarized here). Growing some of your own food is a good beginning. People are starting down that road. But don’t wait for politicians to lead us. We’ll have to show them, and show ourselves too (and that’s a big sell), that there is another way to live in the 21st Century. Start small. Show your neighbors. It’s worth a try. For the Nuer and Dinka, and all the rest.

 

Brent Crude Rises on Escalating Violence in South Sudan – Bloomberg

Brent Crude Rises on Escalating Violence in South Sudan – Bloomberg.

Brent crude advanced to near its highest level in three weeks as violence in South Sudan forced a partial shutdown of oil production facilities.

Futures were up as much as 0.3 percent and are poised to end the year higher for the fifth time. Fighting in South Sudan, which exports about 220,000 barrels a day, has killed at least 500 people and led to the evacuation of employees from India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp. There will be no floor or electronic trading tomorrow due to the Christmas holiday.

“There is thin holiday trading today and Brent prices are being sustained by political concerns surrounding South Sudan,” Andrey Kryuchenkov, an analyst VTB Capital in London, said by phone. “We’ll wait and see how the broader market reacts to the instability there as more news trickles out.”

Brent for February settlement rose as much as 34 cents to $111.90 on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange and was at $111.87 as of 12:02 p.m. in London. The contract closed at $111.77 on Dec. 20, the highest in more than two weeks. The volume of all futures traded was about 74 percent below the 100-day average. Prices have increased 0.7 percent this year.

West Texas Intermediate for February delivery was up 25 cents at $99.16 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent was at a premium of $12.73 to WTI. The spread widened yesterday for a fourth day to close at $13.

UN Peacekeepers

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asked the Security Council for 5,500 soldiers to add to the peacekeeping mission of 7,000 already in South Sudan. The U.S. is positioning troops in the Horn of Africa region to assist in any additional evacuations, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said yesterday.

“As the year comes to a close, the risk of an all out civil war that could stymie the country’s production of around 250,000 barrels a day is growing,” Vienna-based researcher JBC Energy GmbH said today in a note.

South Sudan has sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest oil reserves after Nigeria and Angola, according to BP Plc data.

WTI’s 200-day moving average is $98.88 today, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Futures also halted a rally near this indicator two weeks ago. Sell orders tend to be clustered around technical-resistance levels.

Just Wait

“Crude is seeing some resistance around the 200-day moving average, and that’s giving traders a reason not to move too far away from this level,” Ric Spooner, a chief analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney, said today. “After recent gains, we are at a level where traders might be comfortable to just wait and see if the news can catch up to the prices. People in the market would want to square these long positions.”

Gasoline stockpiles stockpiles in the U.S., the world’s largest oil consumer, probably rose by 1.1 million barrels in the week ended Dec. 20, according to the median estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Bloomberg before Energy Information Administration data on Dec. 27. Supplies have climbed the previous four weeks to 220.5 million, said the EIA, the Energy Department’s statistical arm.

Crude inventories are projected to have decreased by 3 million barrels, the survey shows.

 

S Sudan loses control of key oil-rich city – Africa – Al Jazeera English

S Sudan loses control of key oil-rich city – Africa – Al Jazeera English.

Former South Sudanese deputy president Riek Machar has told Al Jazeera that he wants to be the country’s next leader, as the government has lost control of Unity state’s capital city, Bentiu.

Machar’s statement on Sunday comes amid fighting which has raged in one of the of the world’s youngest countries for more than a week, after President Salva Kiir accused Machar of attempting a coup.

Machar has denied the allegation and accused Kiir of carrying out a vicious purge of his rivals.

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Sunday, Machar said he wanted to be the next leader of the country – to run for president at the next election in 2015. He called on Kiir to step down.

He said his troops were now in control of Bentiu, the capital city of Unity state where a military government has been established.

South Sudanese military spokesperson, Colonal Philip Aguer, confirmed late on Sunday that the capital city had been lost to a commander loyal to Machar.

“Bentiu is in the hands of a commander who has declared support for Machar,” he said. “Bentiu is not in our hands.”

The fighting has left hundreds dead and sent tens of thousands of people fleeing for protection in UN bases or to safer areas of the country, which only won independence from Sudan in 2011 but has been blighted by ethnic divisions, corruption and poverty.

Special envoys from the US and Nigeria flew into the capital Juba on Sunday, following on from a mission by foreign ministers from east Africa and after an appeal for an end to the violence from UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

There are so many bodies, over a hundred not yet buried.

Local official.

Toby Lanzer, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator, said the death toll from a week of violence in South Sudan has likely surpassed 1,000 people, though there are no firm numbers available. The number of internal refugees has likely surpassed 100,000, said Lanzer, who is seeking urgent financial assistance from the international community.

“I can’t afford any delays from donor capitals right now,” he told The
Associated Press in a phone call. “Never has there been a greater time of
need in South Sudan.”

The fighting has ethnic and political dimensions, as troops loyal to Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, battle forces backing Machar, a Nuer.

Foreign governments, including those of the US, Britain, Uganda and Kenya, have been organising special evacuation flights to pull out their nationals. The US State Department said on Sunday it had safely evacuated American citizens and some other nationals from Bor by helicopter, in co-ordination with the UN and South Sudanese government.

On Saturday, four US servicemen were wounded when their planes were fired at in a rebel-held area.

At least one UN base has also come under attack in recent days – with the deaths of two Indian peacekeepers and possibly dozens of civilians.

President Barack Obama has warned against continued fighting.

“Any effort to seize power through the use of military force will result in the end of longstanding support from the United States and the international community,” the White House said.

Government loses territory

South Sudan’s government, meanwhile, acknowledged that much of Unity State, the country’s main oil-producing area, was in the hands of the rebels.

Machar denies government suggestions that rebels have been forced out of Bor, which is situated about 200km north of Juba, although South Sudan’s army spokesman said government troops were advancing.

A local official in Bentiu said the area was littered with bodies following the fall of the town, which was prompted by the defection of a top government commander.

“There are so many bodies, over a hundred not yet buried,” the local official, who asked not to be named, told AFP news agency.

Army spokesman Aguer said “Unity State is currently divided, with the SPLA and the loyalists to the government on one side and those who are supporting Riek Machar on the other.”

 

US Aircraft, UN Helicopter Attacked In South Sudan | Zero Hedge

US Aircraft, UN Helicopter Attacked In South Sudan | Zero Hedge.

With a wave of detente spilling over the Middle East, following the surprising US overture to calm relations with Syria and Iran just months after it nearly launched an offensive war in the country over a few fabricated YouTube clops Looks like Africa will be the next geopolitical hotspot. But while France is the figurehead leading the offensive over west Africa, focusing on Mali and the Central African Republic, where they are “peacekeeping” (with the support of US drones), east Africa appears set for a full-blown flare out, with the Sudan area emerging as the dominant zone of instability and future escalation. Which is perhaps why not only a US aircraft, but a UN helicopter, both came under fire in the Sudan over the past 24 hours in what is assured to generate an “appropriate” response by the US.

First, Reuters reports about a U.S. aircraft which was by gunfire in South Sudan:

A U.S. aircraft came under fire on Saturday on a mission to evacuate Americans from spiraling conflict in South Sudan and four U.S. military service members were wounded.

 

Nearly a week of fighting threatens to drag the world’s newest country into an ethnic civil war just two years after it won independence from Sudan with strong support from successive U.S. administrations.

 

The U.S. aircraft came under fire while approaching the evacuation site, the military’s Africa Command said in a statement. “The aircraft diverted to an airfield outside the country and aborted the mission,” it said.

 

Hundreds of people have been killed in the fighting that pits loyalists of President Salva Kiir, of the Dinka ethnic group, against those of his former vice president Riek Machar, a Nuer who was sacked in July and is accused by the government of trying to seize power.

 

Fighting that spread from the capital, Juba, has now reached vital oilfields and the government said a senior army commander had defected to Machar in the oil-producing Unity State.

And just to assure a condemning social response is generated, and the public mood against the South Sudan is sufficiently negative, the AP just reported that a UN helicopter in the region had been downed also following gunfire by local militant:

Two officials have told The Associated Press that a U.N. helicopter trying to evacuate peacekeepers and civilians was fired on and sustained significant damage on Friday in the same restive South Sudan state where a U.S. helicopter was hit Saturday.

 

Rob McKee of Warrior Security said the U.N. helicopter was hit by small arms fire and made an emergency landing while trying to evacuate personnel from a base in Yuai in Jonglei state. A second official who insisted on anonymity because the information hasn’t been released said the helicopter was abandoned and remains unable to fly. No injuries were reported.

 

A U.N. spokesman didn’t answer a phone call or email seeking comment.

 

U.S. aircraft were fired on Saturday in Bor, the capital of Jonglei. Four U.S. service members were wounded.

Of course, the question is why the US (and, laughably, French) scramble to get involved militarily in Africa now? The answer is easy: as we reported in June 2012, in the rush for Africa China has a multi-year head start in the colonization race. So what short cuts is a self-determined superpower to do to catch up – why find one pretext after another to send a military force and achieve through brute force what China has been able to attain through infrastructure and domestic investing over the past several years.

From June 2012:

“The Beijing Conference”: See How China Quietly Took Over Africa

Back in 1885, to much fanfare, the General Act of the Berlin Conference launched the Scramble for Africa which saw the partition of the continent, formerly a loose aggregation of various tribes, into the countries that currently make up the southern continent, by the dominant superpowers (all of them European) of the day. Subsequently Africa was pillaged, plundered, and in most places, left for dead. The fact that a credit system reliant on petrodollars never managed to take hold only precipitated the “developed world” disappointment with Africa, no matter what various enlightened, humanitarian singer/writer/poet/visionaries claim otherwise. And so the continent languished. Until what we have dubbed as the “Beijing Conference” quietly took place, and to which only Goldman Sachs, which too has been quietly but very aggressively expanding in Africa, was invited. As the map below from Stratfor shows, ever since 2010, when China pledged over $100 billion to develop commercial projects in Africa, the continent has now become de facto Chinese territory. Because where the infrastructure spending has taken place, next follow strategic sovereign investments, and other modernization pathways, until gradually Africa is nothing but an annexed territory for Beijing, full to the brim with critical raw materials, resources and supplies. So while the “developed world” was and continues to deny the fact that it is broke, all the while having exactly zero money to invest in expansion, China is quietly taking over the world. Literally.

 

More from Stratfor:

In late July, Beijing hosted the 5th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, during which China pledged up to $20 billion to African countries over the next three years. China has proposed or committed about $101 billion to commercial projects in Africa since 2010, some of which are under negotiation while others are currently under way. Together, construction and natural resource deals total approximately $90 billion, or about 90 percent of Chinese commercial activity in Africa since 2010. These figures could be even higher because of an additional $7.5 billion in unspecified commitments to South Africa and Zambia, likely intended for mining projects. Of the remaining $3 billion in Chinese commercial commitments to Africa, about $2.1 billion will be used on local manufacturing projects. While China has proposed $750 million for agriculture and general development aid and about $50 million to support small- and medium-sized business development in addition to the aforementioned projects, it has been criticized for the extractive nature of its relationship with many African countries, as well as the poor quality of some of its construction work. However, since many African countries lack the indigenous engineering capability to construct these large-scale projects or the capital to undertake them, African governments with limited resources welcome Chinese investments enthusiastically. These foreign investment projects are also a boon for Beijing, since China needs African resources to sustain its domestic economy, and the projects in Africa provide a destination for excess Chinese labor.

S Sudan president says coup attempt ‘foiled’ – Africa – Al Jazeera English

S Sudan president says coup attempt ‘foiled’ – Africa – Al Jazeera English.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has said a coup led by his former deputy has been foiled and vowed to bring to justice those responsible.

Soldiers loyal to former vice president Riek Machar, attempted to overthrow the government of South Sudan, as sporadic fighting between factions of the military gripped the capital in the latest violence to hit the world’s youngest nation.

I promise you today that justice will prevail.

President Salva Kiir

 

Flanked by government officials, President Salva Kiir, who had put on fatigues with an army general’s epaulets, said in a televised address to the nation that the military had foiled a coup orchestrated by “a group of soldiers allied with the former vice president.”

The soldiers had attacked the South Sudanese military headquarters near Juba University late on Sunday, sparking sporadic clashes that continued on Monday, he said.

“The attackers went and (the) armed forces are pursuing them,” Kiir said on Monday.

“I promise you today that justice will prevail.”

The government was now “in full control of the military situation”, he said, ordering a curfew in Juba from 6:00pm to 6:00am (1500 to 0300 GMT), which will remain in force until further notice.

Details unclear

Details of the attempted coup remained sketchy, but South Sudan’s Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin told the Associated Press news agency that troops in the main army base raided a weapons store in Juba but were repulsed.

Some politicians had since been arrested, he said, but could not confirm if former vice president Riek Machar – who he said led the attempted coup – was among them. Benjamin said the coup was plotted by “disgruntled” soldiers and politicians led by Machar.

An Associated Press journalist saw heavily-armed soldiers patrolling the streets of Juba on Monday while gunfire was coming from the city’s main army barracks. The streets were largely empty of civilians.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reported the sound of mortar and heavy machine-gun fire, saying hundreds of civilians had sought shelter at a UN compound.

The UN deputy special representative for South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, tweeted that up to 13,000 civlians were taking refuge from the fighting in UNMISS bases.

Tension had been mounting in South Sudan since Kiir fired Machar as his deputy in July.

Machar, who has expressed a willingness to contest the presidency in 2015, told Al Jazeera in July that if the country is to be united it cannot tolerate “one man’s rule or it cannot tolerate dictatorship.”

Power struggles

His sacking, part of a wider dismissal of the entire Cabinet by Kiir, had followed reports of a power struggle within the ruling party.

At the time, the United States and the European Union urged calm amid fears the dismissals could spark political upheaval in the country.

While Kiir is leader of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement party, many of the dismissed ministers, including Machar, were key figures in the rebel movement that fought a decades-long war against Sudan that led to South Sudan’s independence in 2011.

Machar, a deputy chairman of the ruling party, is one of the country’s most influential politicians.

The local Sudan Tribune newspaper reported on its website that military clashes erupted late Sunday between members of the presidential guard in fighting that seemed to pit soldiers from Kiir’s Dinka tribe against those from the Nuer tribe of Machar.

South Sudan has experienced bouts of ethnic violence, especially in rural Jonglei state, since the country peacefully broke away from Sudan after a brutal civil war.

 

Sudan devalues currency amid economic crisis – Africa – Al Jazeera English

Sudan devalues currency amid economic crisis – Africa – Al Jazeera English.

Dozens died in Sudanese protests against fuel price rises in September [Al Jazeera]

Sudan’s central bank has devalued the Sudanese pound by almost a quarter against the US dollar, the second such move in little over a year as the African country struggles with hard currency shortages.

Sudan’s economy has been in turmoil since South Sudan’s secession in 2011 took away of three-quarters of oil production.

Oil was the driver of the economy and source for dollars needed for food and other essential imports. Sudan produces too little to feed its around 32 million people.

Bidding prices for the Sudanese pound were stated as 5.6871 for one dollar, compared with 4.4 previously, central bank data on Reuters terminals showed on Monday. The official rate was nearer 3 Sudanese pounds to the dollar in 2011.

The central bank has been trying to bridge a ballooning gap with the black market rate where one dollar costs 7.8 Sudanese pounds as import firms struggle to get their hand on hard currency.

The black market rate has become the benchmark for banks and firms.

A central bank official, asking not to be named, said the rate had been already changed in September when the government cut fuel subsides. He did not elaborate.

The subsidy cuts led to mass protests, with dozens of people killed in the capital, Khartoum.

The secretive central bank tends not to announce devaluations, which are embarrassing for the government, which denies there is a shortage of hard currency.

Sudan has sought to offset the loss of southern oil reserves by boosting gold sales, which make up almost 70 percent of exports. But a recent sharp fall of the global gold prices means 2013 revenues will be well below last year’s $2.2 billion.

 

Bashir threatens to block S Sudan oil – Africa – Al Jazeera English

Bashir threatens to block S Sudan oil – Africa – Al Jazeera English.

 

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