Home | Comment & Analysis    Tuesday 28 January 2014

The White Army factor in South Sudan’s conflict


By Steve Paterno and Scott Morgan

January 27,2014 - The recent fighting in South Sudan surprised several analysts with the rapid spread in the conflict between Forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those who maintained loyalty to the recently ousted Vice-President Riek Machar. It is now clear since the cessation of hostilities was signed in Addis Ababa that tensions are still rife. But one force decided to take this time to reemerge on the scene, with potential to further pollute the already violent

The force that people should be concerned with is the White Army, ( not the Pro-Czarist Forces that existed after the October Revolution of 1917). This White Army is a loosely armed Nuer tribesmen without any formal organization or command structure. Today, with white spread of cell phones, the group can organize on an instant of a click of a bottom. The White Army gained its non de gurre notoriety by having to smear themselves with white ashes in an effort to prevent bug biting. The group of course follow no any specific political ideology within or outside the country. The group is rather a free agent, prone in responding during crisis or perceived threats to maintain Nuers prestige, loot the booties obtain from the battle or conduct cattle raid. Such, dangerously exposed the group to political manipulation, where they can respond to any perceive threats, real or imagine.

The first emergence of this force on the scene was in early 1990s, about the same time that an influx of arms into the eastern part of the Upper Nile Province split the SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Army) into two factions. One Faction was led by the recently ousted Vice President Risk Machar and the other faction was led by the late John Garang, who is considered to be the “Father” of South Sudan newly emerged nation.

The nexus of support for the Machar Faction of the SPLA came from two primary sources. They were from those who deserted the faction of Mr. Garang, who feared outright control by the Dinkas and also for ideological reasons, while the second group came from other Militias that were backed by the Islamist Government in Khartoum. It was during this time where the Neur cattlemen, though full participants of the war, they were never absorbed into any formal command structure by any of the other armed groups. In essence this so-called White Army was a “Free Agent” force to reckon with. This is a formula that would haunt South Sudan in its infancy of independence as a nation.

It was assumed that after the 2006 Declaration which saw several Pro-Khartoum Militias absorbed into the SPLA that the White Army would disappear. In many cases the Neur Population were pleased to see the integration of the Militias as the General Neur Population. It was then assumed that the White Army and other Militias were destroyed by through professionalization within SPLA forces.

However, all these assumptions changed in late of 2011, when tribal cattle rustling between the Nuer and Murle were on increase, the White Army reemerged more powerful than ever before. Particularly, in a response to a Murle raid, which left several hundreds Nuer dead and thousands herds of cattle stolen, the White Army mobilized in their thousands with one aim to annihilate the Murle tribe. Although it is generally accepted that Riek Machar is the founder of White Army, while a vice president, Riek Machar plea for peace to the White Army was squarely defied. The group claimed Riek Machar was not their leader and they marched on in his face to plunder Murle land.

In this current crisis, the White Army resurfaced once again as a force to reckon with. On December 15, after alleged failed coup by Machar in Juba, Gen. Peter Cadet, a Nuer divisional Commander in state of Jonglie and a purported ally of Machar acted swiftly by taking over Bor, the capital of Jonglei. The government counter attacked and took the town back. Then, a UN surveillance revealed thousands of thousands of White Army marching toward Bor. They were reacting on allegation of Nuer getting killed in Juba. The breaking of the news of the marching of such a force alone brought back memories of Bor massacre of 1991, under the hands of the White Army, and the same feelings might have also jolted among the White Army who were marching into Bor. The residence of Bor panicked and those who could quickly got away ended up fleeing, while the rest remained victims. On the White Army arrival, the SPLA manning the town could not hold the fire, hence, they bolted. The White Army reclaimed the town and defended it by fighting bravely and fiercely for weeks until they were defeated.

Now, the questions are as follows: Does Riek Machar has supremacy over the White Army forces? He claims so and that is yet to be proven along with its further implications. Another pressing question, who supply the White Army with weapons? As far as recently, the reports by Small Arm Group and others suggest that the White Army was getting supply from Khartoum, however, on the current issue, there is no evidence to suggest that Khartoum is in support of White Army. The challenge remains as to how the White Army will play on recently signed cessation of hostilities and in the future of South Sudan.

Steve Paterno is the author of The Rev. Fr. Saturnino Lohure, A Romain Catholic Priest Turned Rebel. He can be reached at stevepaterno@yahoo.com. Scott Morgancomments on US Policy in Africa and the struggle for Human Rights in Africa. He is a contributing writer to www.frontpageafrica.com and other sites.He can be contacted atscott_morgan_23220@yahoo.com

The views expressed in the 'Comment and Analysis' section are solely the opinions of the writers. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibility of the author not Sudan Tribune.

If you want to submit an opinion piece or an analysis please email it to comment@sudantribune.com

Sudan Tribune reserves the right to edit articles before publication. Please include your full name, relevant personal information and political affiliations.
Comments on the Sudan Tribune website must abide by the following rules. Contravention of these rules will lead to the user losing their Sudan Tribune account with immediate effect.

- No inciting violence
- No inappropriate or offensive language
- No racism, tribalism or sectarianism
- No inappropriate or derogatory remarks
- No deviation from the topic of the article
- No advertising, spamming or links
- No incomprehensible comments

Due to the unprecedented amount of racist and offensive language on the site, Sudan Tribune tries to vet all comments on the site.

There is now also a limit of 400 words per comment. If you want to express yourself in more detail than this allows, please e-mail your comment as an article to comment@sudantribune.com

Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 28 January 2014 05:13, by parajok

    Paterno you need to study the story of white Army before saying something which is contrary to the meaning. All Sudantribune readers knew you are just a jumping fox looking for an opportunity. Do you think Kirr will give you a position by being his mouthpiece? no not in a million years. I think Lam is more closed to Kirr he will let the president know you are not trustworthy guy.

    repondre message

    • 28 January 2014 05:37, by Tutbol

      Calm down pal. Riek Machar & his cohorts like Nyandeng Garang plus the accused 11 are aren’t going to fool any clearing thinking S Sudanese, They have attempted a coup & are now pursuing an open armed rebellions against S Sudanese. Idiot like Nyandeng will try to explain her self out of this open armed rebellion, but it will not her. Why she is not in jail is questionable on behave of...

      repondre message

      • 28 January 2014 05:43, by omoni jr.

        you are always pretending too much as if you have any clue about what happened in Juba on december 15,2013, do you really have any idea??? Or you just choice to followed murdere salva kiir because he is a Dinka like you?????
        White army were just reacted because members of their tribe has been hunted down across the streets of juba like birds.
        who can stand and watch their been killed

        repondre message

        • 28 January 2014 07:32, by Big Boy

          Dear Omoni
          The white army has been there before south sudan got in dependency they are always survivor with peoples properties such stolen cows,looted,rapies and killing civilian since and before cpa was signed, so now when the fighting accurated in Juba last yr the white army they have a got a chance to enriches themselves again from this troubles crisi.

          repondre message

      • 28 January 2014 05:50, by Tutbol

        Kiir side. Nyandeng has not condemned Riek Machar armed rebellion ever since, but always blamed Kiir that there was no coup as if she was at the barracks on the night of 15/12/13?! She is Riek Machar spoke woman in Juba & her son is Riek Machar’s spokesman in Adis Ababa. Nyandeng even acknowledged that the problem started when the president body guards wanted to disarm other body colleagues....

        repondre message

        • 28 January 2014 05:58, by Tutbol

          guards from Nuer section & they refused & shoot-out has ensued from there. Nyandeng knows better in the army, an authority can disarm anyone junior on suspicion of violent & if you refused, then you have mutinied against the authority & that is what happened on the night of 15/12/13. Why did those body refused to be disarmed? Why did Riek Machar left the town & declared himself a rebel leader?

          repondre message

          • 28 January 2014 06:07, by omoni jr.

            you, mr. kiir follower.
            Disarming one section from specific tribe within national legitimate government is the sign of division from the top the last by your boss kiir. Eliminating one tribe in order for him to rule is also a crime. I know you always attacking different direction with degesting first.

            repondre message

          • 28 January 2014 06:10, by Tutbol

            Why did the Peter Gadet & ’white army’ captured Bor & killed innocent civilians, but not in Bhar el Gazelle where most of the presidential guards hail from? Why is Riek Machar & Nyandeng continue to demand the release of the 11 accused of involvement in the attempted coup & armed rebellion? If the 11 accused & Nyandeng have nothing to do with the attempted coup & armed rebellion, then why are....

            repondre message

            • 28 January 2014 06:18, by Tutbol

              they not condemning Riek Machar for waging an armed rebellion against an elected govt? Why is that the likes of Riek Machar, the 11 accused, Nyandeng Garang, her son & their supporters in the US & Europe think that was no coup, while at the same time are waging an open armed rebellion against the S Sudanese people? Do they think that S Sudanese are that they can be easily manipulated by the fools.

              repondre message

              • 28 January 2014 06:29, by Tutbol

                ...like Riek Machar & his bunches of the US-European puppets? I for one i am not a supporter Kiir nor do i support the shrink like Riek Machar, a dimwit like Nyandeng, US puppet like Pagan Amum or egoistic like Majak Agoot & many of clowns in both Kiir & Riek Machar,s shadows; they are baddies & thieves. They have all been in the govt of S Sudan in one way or another since 2005...

                repondre message

                • 28 January 2014 06:39, by Tutbol

                  but they all have nothing to show for a reform, but only to clamor for a reform when they were outed from the govt. I respect Kiir for he was elected, his continued to endless amnesties to those who only want power & money & not the well being of S Sudanese. Though he is least educated than many criminals behind the destruction & killings in our country, he far more better than them...

                  repondre message

                  • 28 January 2014 06:47, by Tutbol

                    Ordinary S Sudanese want services delivered, they want their security & freedom to express views & not to be harassed in the market places by endless so-called MIs that are increasingly became more of thugs than the protectors of S Sudanese. S Sudanese have never fond of kings, egalitarianism has been a way of life in our nilotics plains....

                    repondre message

                    • 28 January 2014 06:59, by Tutbol

                      since anyone can remember, in the nilotic plains; you may have one thousand herd of cattle, but you still have to a table with a twenty herd of cattle guy. And this tradition had for eons, made our niltics plains, the plains of peoples who don’t themselves high classes, middle classes, lower classes; of rich & poor classes, but S Sudanese people....

                      repondre message

                      • 28 January 2014 07:17, by Tutbol

                        Though we have our draw drawbacks in our plains such as stealing each others babies, women & cattle, between the Dinka-Mundari-Nuer-Murle. Taposa-Latuho-Achol-Mboya etc; We remained the classless communities. And if our way of peoples ways life were not to be infected by our West half-baked politicians...

                        repondre message

                        • 28 January 2014 07:24, by Tutbol

                          then our would peoples would have hoped for a better country for their children, but with kinds of politicians like Riek Machar & his cohorts; peoples would continue to grind their spears & more at each others, the US & Europeans will continue to use those clowns against S Sudanese.

                          repondre message

            • 28 January 2014 06:24, by Mi diit

              The poor Steve Paterno is a known money seeker running after Kiir with such poorly analyzed articles. Why don’t you write about Kiir’s militia called gelweng which he recruited in thousands, trained at Luri Bridge in Juba, and were responsible for the start of the war and killing of Nuer in hundreds in Juba. You don’t have that courage Steve to do so because you are a coward opportunist.

              repondre message

  • 28 January 2014 05:26, by Jubawe

    Whaaaaaaaaaaaat a POOOOOOOOR Articale, This articale doesn’t make any sense, this is not book page for people to study or read, i was sock with this article when i shown it.

    repondre message

  • 28 January 2014 05:28, by choldit

    The double stand of the western bulls can be seen here if at all is not a pro-tyranny president mrs. Kirr Museveni in disgusting as a western writer. The articulation spelled out that the writer supports the massacred of the Nuer in juba by this tryanny regime of tribalistic president. The white army responded to the massacre of their relatives by the govt the supposed to protect them. Same as Gen

    repondre message

  • 28 January 2014 05:45, by Knight In Shining Armor

    Do not waste your time to comment on this article. His writing is full of garbage.He always pretends to know everything even when he does not have any knowledge about it. These are kind of people who gives false information to foreigners and they buy such stories with notion that they from from the land, Africa.

    repondre message

  • 28 January 2014 06:13, by Dinka-Defender-General

    calm down guys, everyone has an opinion. Thus, Steve Paterno and Scott Morgan have an opinion. Why are you guys fighting for? If you don’t like to read this article, you should not comments. Don’t run your mouth for no reason.

    repondre message

  • 28 January 2014 07:07, by Kim Deng

    For your info, the "White Army" of Mighty Nuer Warriors was not formed yesterday (1991, 2011, or 2013) as many people assume to believe. The Mighty Nuer Warriors (White Army) was formed since 1800s during their occupation towards other Jurs’ lands.

    repondre message

  • 28 January 2014 07:08, by Kim Deng

    In 1908-10, the British sought to end the Nuer occupation toward Dinkaland and established control over the area. A new border between the Nuer and Dinka was established at the favor of Dinka at Duk Padiet, fifty miles north of Kongor, and the Ghol, Ric, and Nyarraweng were awarded about four thousand aquare miles of territory they had previously lost during Nuer expansion. Although a substantial

    repondre message

    • 28 January 2014 07:44, by Tutbol

      Kim Deng,
      If the Dinka were your cowards as you often want the world know about your superiority in over the S Sudan’s Dinka, then why didn’t you people fight Arabs in then the Nuer areas, but would let Dinka, the cowards liberate you people from those who make your people live in the deserts in Khartoum, in their own country then ^ goad them like slaves to mould bricks in the scorching sun with..

      repondre message

      • 28 January 2014 07:59, by Tutbol

        Kim Deng,
        no sun protections. If this war you always wage against the Dinka & the S Sudanese were to be between Nuers & jangs, then your brave Nuers asses won’t still be talking peace in Ethiopia to date. You are one of the lowly educated Africans, in the UK, the US & some lowly morally Western countries who sent who have their junks of Africans...

        repondre message

        • 28 January 2014 08:09, by Tutbol

          to be trained by the OBAMA’S administration so-called *Africans youth leadership program* to be trained by the AFRICOM to change African govts according to US wants of a leader. Many young Nuers Are SIGNED UP for. Good luck Nuers! You are the bravest of the bravest in the S Sudan & indeed Africa, thank you, the Jang coward.

          repondre message

  • 28 January 2014 07:11, by Kim Deng

    Although a substantial portion of this grant represented an uninhabited no-man’s-land between the Nuer and the Dinka, the Nuer were also required to relinquish territory under active occupation. The Nuer undoubtedly viewed the transfer as a government-sponsored Dinka invasion.

    repondre message

  • 28 January 2014 07:13, by Kim Deng

    It is also quite clear that Nuer military domination of the Dinka and other Jurs was grounded in their capacity to field a numerically superior fighting force, and in the organizational features through which mobilization on a large scale was effective. Other aspects of the Nuer advantage were secondary and derivative. Nuer Warriors tactics are relatively simple and straightforward.

    repondre message

  • 28 January 2014 07:14, by Kim Deng

    Lacking the capacity to mount an offensive counterattack, the Dinka, Anyuak, Burun… had no recourse other than withdrawal. Under these circumstances, the rapid Nuer Conquest/occupation of the vast Western Dinka region [Mayom, Mankien…], Southern Dinka region [Nyuong Nuer territory], Central Dinka region [Fangak, Ayod, Waat…], Eastern Dinka, Anyuak and Burun region [Eastern Jikany Nuer and Lou Nuer

    repondre message

  • 28 January 2014 07:16, by Kim Deng

    Eastern Dinka, Anyuak and Burun region [Eastern Jikany Nuer and Lou Nuer territory] is not difficult to understand.
    Had the Nuer ever wished to occupy the whole greater Upper Nile, from Renk to Mading Bor and from Ruweng/Biemnom to Buma-Gambella, it seems unlikely that the other coward Jurs (Jaang, Teet, Bar, Chai…) could have stopped them.

    repondre message

  • 28 January 2014 07:20, by Kim Deng

    The vast area appropriated by the Nuer during the nineteenth century was formerly occupied by a Dinka, Anyuak and Burun population. The fate of this population is one of the most interesting questions pertaining to Nuer expansion. How many Dinka, Anyuak, Burun… were killed by the Nuer? How many died of starvation? How many migrated to other areas? And how many were assimilated into Nuer community?

    repondre message

The following ads are provided by Google. SudanTribune has no authority on it.

Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis

Perspectives on Kiir and Machar meeting 2018-06-20 22:48:12 By Santino Ayual Bol IGAD which has been facilitating and mediating the slow-heel Agreement to Resolve the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan shortly abbreviated as ARCISS has unilaterally (...)

SLM’s al-Nur’s response to Troika countries about violence in Darfur 2018-06-20 22:02:28 Response by the Sudan Liberation Movement to statement by the United States, United Kingdom & Kingdom Of Norway on cessation of violence in Darfur By Abdul Wahid al-Nur Dear President (...)

Another electoral farce Sudanese should expect in 2020 2018-06-18 02:08:16 Sudanese Elections Scheduled for 2020 will be Fraught with Dangers andCounterfeiting like its predecessors By Mahmoud A. Suleiman The National Congress Party (NCP) regime’s Elections Scheduled (...)


Latest Press Releases

The Suspension of Hurriyat Online Newspaper 2018-04-29 07:04:37 Sudan Democracy First Group 28 April 2018 The Sudanese civil and political circles and those concerned with Sudan were shocked by the news that the management of Hurriyat online newspaper has (...)

Petition on the Deteriorating Human Rights and Humanitarian Situation in Sudan 2018-04-22 10:01:20 UN Secretary-General, New York African Union Commission, Addis Ababa UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva Petition on the Deteriorating Human Rights and Humanitarian Situation in Sudan (...)

Abyei celebrates Mine Awareness Day 2018-04-05 08:52:03 4 April 2018 | Abyei - The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) commemorated the International Day for Mine Awareness and (...)


Copyright © 2003-2018 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.