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Sudanese rebel calls for no fly zone in conflict areas

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By Ngor Arol Garang

March 4, 2012, (JUBA) - The coalition of Sudanese rebel groups, fighting against the Khartoum government in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states on Sunday, called for a no fly zone to be imposed in the areas where they are fighting the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) to allow humanitarian relief to be delivered.

The call comes after Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir instructed governors in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile to set up training camps for recruits to Sudan’s main paramilitary group, the Popular Defense Forces (PDF), over the weekend.

The commanding officer of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance, Abdel-Aziz Al-Hilu, said that Bashir was planning to use the PDF with Sudan’s official military to attack the group.

Al-Hilu is the former deputy governor of South Kordofan, where fighting between his group, the northern sector of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-N), and SAF and the PDF began in June 2011 after a disputed election result in favour of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

In August last year fighting also broke out in Blue Nile and the SPLM-N’s Malik Agar, the elected governor, was replaced with a military ruler by Bashir. In February the SPLM-N and the three biggest Darfur rebel groups appointed Aggar the head of the SRF coalition, with Al-Hilu in charge of the group’s military operations.

The SRF claim that they recently took control of Toroge in South Kordofan and Jau town, which both Sudan and South Sudan say lies within their territory. South Sudan has denied that it backs the SPLM-N and that its forces were involved in the Jau attack, despite accusations from Khartoum.

Al-Hilu told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that the SRF are "not afraid" of Bashir’s attempts to mobilise the PDF militia, which played a prominent role on the side of the government during the Sudanese civil war (1983-2005).

"They have tested our strength and they know us very well. The only problem is that their attacks targets civilian population making them [the civilians] becoming the victims of the military operations," Al-Hilu said from an undisclosed location.

Khartoum claims that the SRF is using Unity state in South Sudan as a base for its operations in South Kordofan but Juba denies this.

Al-Hilu said accused the Sudanese army and their affiliates of deliberately targeting local people perceived to be on the side of the SPLM-N. He said that Bashir has ordered an “extensive aerial bombardment” to aid ground attacks by SAF and the PDF against areas under their control in Nuba mountains, but also in Blue Nile and in Darfur.

The rebel leader said that Bashir had "declared a war against Sudanese people in Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile and in Darfur" not just the rebel groups in these areas. "This is a clear indication that they are not committed to reaching a peaceful settlement”, he said denying that they are being supported by neighbouring South Sudan.

Al-Hilu said they are ready to defend their positions, however extensive the attack might be, in order to protect civilian populations from being attacked by the “notorious and ruthless” Khartoum based regime.

The Nuba mountains of South Kordofan saw some of worst fighting during the civil war, which saw many groups north of the border join the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in their war with Khartoum.

On Saturday Bashir said he soon planned to pray in the SPLM-N stronghold of Kauda just as he had done in Kurmuk the former stronghold of the rebels in Blue Nile state.

"They know our capabilities to protect civil population. We have always frustrated their attempts to declare control of the areas under direct control and will we also do the same should they make similar attempt," Al-Hilu said.

Al-Hilu repeated the SPLM-N’s claim that they do not receive any international support maintaining that his rebel group sustains itself by capturing arms from the Sudanese army. The recent attack on Jau, which the SRF say was successful, had boosted morale he said.

“The morale of our forces is up and we are prepared to launch more attacks even though we know that Khartoum plans to launch major offensives targeting areas of Alatmour, Nglu, Alburam and Kauda. The goal is to take control of Southern part of Nuba Mountain areas but I think this plan will not succeed”, he said explaining that they have reports indicating that President Bashir has personally promised to organise and supervise offensives in the Nuba mountains.

Al-Hilu said the predicted SAF offensive would be led by Lieutenant General Alnau Jafar Abu Ashara, Major General Maki Basher Albahi and Major General Ahmed Khamis.

"The primary objective of this operation targets civilians in order to force them seek refugee and create a situation in which the government in Khartoum would claim control of most of the areas and immediately declare that there are no internally displaced who require humanitarian assistance in Southern Kordofan State”, Al-Hilu said.

Sudan has so far denied humanitarian agencies any meaningful access to South Kordofan. Khartoum has also denied the presence of any Sudanese refugees from South Kordofan and Blue Nile were present in South Sudan, having been displaced by the conflict. According to the United Nations (UN) 78,000 people displaced from the conflict have been forced to seek shelter in South Sudan since August 2011.

The UN have also accused SAF of bombings along the border, including the Yida refugee camp in South Sudan’s Unity state. In January the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that SAF had bombed the Elfoj of Upper Nile state injuring one boy.

Khartoum, which denies bombing South Sudanese territory, seems intent on finding a military solution to the conflict, according to Al-Hilu. He claimed that the NCP in Khartoum were planning more attacks and ignoring the possibility of discussions through the African Union, UN and Arab League to try to get more humanitarian relief into the conflict zone.

However, after the experience of Darfur, where refugee camps became strongholds of support for some of the rebel groups, Khartoum wants to avoid a similar scenario in the new conflict against the SPLM-N.

The NCP also believes that humanitarian aid will find its way to rebels and prolong the conflict. It refusal to allow relief into the area has led the United States to consider providing assistance without the permission of Khartoum.

On Saturday Bashir hinted that US special envoy to Sudan, Princeton Lyman, is collaborating with Al-Hilu and the rebels.

"They have someone who comes wondering around here" Bashir said in reference to Lyman. "Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu explained his plan to Lyman and got his blessings," Bashir claimed.

Al-Hilu told Sudan Tribune that providing humanitarian relief would be hindered by air attacks if a no fly zone was not implemented.

(ST)

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  • 5 March 2012 06:59, by Madina Tonj

    Ngor Arol Garang.

    I belief Omar al Bashir is trying to push Northern Sudanese to worsen situations ever seen. He came to power by coup which caused more blood on all Sudanese people and his agenda was to get ride with Southern Sudanese. His Northern Sudanese citizens are supposedly to tell him frankly speaking to go to jail otherwise, he will driving them to bad situation since too many rebels

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  • 5 March 2012 07:09, by Madina Tonj

    The recalled which Omar al Basir repeatedly about Torit defeat shown that, he has nothing in his mind to offer to Northern Sudanese people but only war and even the third wars could go worst. Many SPLA generals knew that, SAF were using WMD in Torit as a part of getting ride on none Arabs Southern Sudanese however, Students do learn from teachers therefore, their drity tactics could back fire on

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  • 5 March 2012 07:22, by George Bol

    SPLM/A-North, Darfur(JEM) and othe two will defeat SAF. But if the mess up with SPLA in the South ,then I think they will run back to misir. I am sure.
    What? Bashier make noise when things when taughter. How man battles we defeated them in Torit? a lot more and even the major one in 2004. Did Omar forget what SPLA did to them.

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  • 5 March 2012 07:49, by Santo

    Another ignorant writer. Mr. Ngoar, "Jau" which means "lake" in Dinka is a dinkaland. It is not disputed. You have to understand that even name is dinka. Learn to be patriotic. Journalists are not devoid of patriotism, please try to develop some faith in your country

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  • 5 March 2012 08:00, by N.Sudan

    there is a story told everywhere in the south story said that (there was arab that arab reach south with no money and no food he found dinaka one and borrow 2 pounds to buy a cock (real cock) after he buy the cock he paint one of the feathers of the cock and sell it to the same dainka one who buy the cock from him by 2ponds then he go back and return the money.take care frm(yasir Arman)he is arab

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