January 8, 2016 (WASHINGTON) – The Sudanese government devised a plan in 2011 in coordination with two renegade generals in the disputed region of Abyei in order to secure control of oil reserves there, according to emails addressed to then U.S. Secretary State Hillary Clinton.
- Peter Gadet (L) & George Athor (R)
This week, the U.S. State Department released the latest batch of Clinton’s emails sent from her private server in compliance with a federal judge order. These emails are thoroughly reviewed by State department officials to ensure that classified material contained in it is redacted.
One of the emails included a report marked as confidential on Abyei dated June 8, 2011 sent to Mrs. Clinton from an individual referred to as ‘Sid’ whose email address was redacted except for its alias “sbwhoeop”.
A source told Sudan Tribune that he believed the report to have been authored by Sidney Blumenthal who is a longtime confidant to Hillary and her husband, ex-president Bill Clinton since his days in the White House.
The Washington Post had reported last May that “sbwhoeop” was the email moniker used by Blumenthal with the first two letters referring to his first and last name.
“During the evening of June 7, 2011, a source with direct access to the commanders of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and advisers to President Omar Hassan al-Bashir stated in confidence that the Department of Intelligence and Security (DIS) of the SAF has established a clandestine relationship with dissident members of the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) and its military wing, the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA), in support of a secret plan to undermine the claim by the SPLM led government of Southern Sudan to the oil producing district of Abyei,” the report reads.
The source claimed that on orders from Bashir and his then 2nd VP Ali Osman Taha, SAF/DIS officers under the command of the SAF deputy Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Sidiq Aamir established contact with SPLM dissidents including Peter Gadet and George Athor.
Aamir purportedly “chose the Abyei region for these operations based on the knowledge that the area’s oil deposits are still substantial and, with the loss of the oil fields further south, very important to the economic well being of the Khartoum regime”.
Abyei was supposed to hold a referendum on its status in the 2005 peace deal, but the vote was stalled by disagreements over whether the pro-Khartoum Arab Misseriya had the right to join the vote along with the Ngok Dinka.
Citing “sensitive sources” the report by Sid stated that the May 2011 fighting started “after SPLA dissidents, under the influence of the SAF/DIS, staged operations against representatives of the Khartoum government, giving Bashir a reason to send between 500 and 1,000 SAF troops to the region”.
“The regular SPLA forces reacted to this by ambushing SAF forces later in May, killing 22 soldiers. Bashir then used this attack as an excuse to overturn the Abyei Protocol of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), sending in up to 5,000 troops to take control of the district”.
In response, South Sudan president & Sudan’s 1st VP Salva Kiir instructed SPLA commanders to continue guerrilla attacks against SAF forces in Abyei only before realizing that SPLA dissidents are cooperating with the SAF.
On May 19th, SPLA troops ambushed SAF soldiers who were moving outside as they were escorted by UN peacekeepers from UNMISS.
The fighting in 2011, in the run-up to South Sudan’s independence less than two months later, saw the more than 100,000 of its residents flee after SAF occupied Abyei in retaliation to the SPLA attack.
Later, Sudan and South Sudan signed an agreement stipulating the immediate withdrawal of their troops from the region, the deployment of UN Ethiopian peacekeepers and establishment of joint administrative and legislative bodies in the region.
The source said that while only small number of SPLA dissidents are active in Abyei, should the situation deteriorate and the SAF becomes entrenched, there will be an increasing number of attacks by SPLA dissidents against local supporters of Juba government, with SAF support.
“This source believes that Abyei situation will involve a struggle for power and financial gains by various tribal factions, particularly the Dinka, Nuer, Shilluck, Equatorians, and Murle”.
“[A]s part of the SAF/DIS covert action operation, the Sudanese state minister for foreign affairs, Salah Al-din Wansi, followed the incident in Abyei with an official statement that the ambush represented a breach of the CPA,”.
The report goes on to say that Kiir grew concerned that fighting in Abyei will lead the UN to defer a final decision on the future of region, removing it from the Southern Sudan Transitional Draft Constitution.
“The SPLM believes that this step will lead to international mediation under UN auspices, which could, in turn, transform Abyei into a UN protectorate, with Khartoum and Juba forced to divide the profits from the oil fields equally. This source added that Salva Kiir is aware of the fact that the SAF may also decide to simply occupy Abyei on an indefinite basis, creating a situation similar to that existing between Israel and Palestine”.