Home | Comment & Analysis    Thursday 5 March 2020

Ethnic Conflicts: South Sudan perspective

separation
increase
decrease
separation
separation

By Steve Paterno

Ethnic conflict is so much prevalent in South Sudan it challenges any attempt to preserve peace and security throughout the entire territorial integrity of nation. In other words, ethnic conflicts in South Sudan is a national security threat.

Currently dominating news headlines is the ensuing deadly battles in Jonglei ethnic triangle, involving Dinka Bor, Lou Nuer, and the Murle. There are so much reporting particularly on social media about the ongoing battles in this Jogolei ethnic triangle that is even hard to separate facts from fiction.

However, one thing remains constantly the same about this conflict and all other ethnic-based conflicts, whether that is in Rumbek State, Warrap State, or Eastern Equatoria State, the conflict is triggered by one or two incidents, escalating further, and repeating into life cycle of vicious violence. The life cycle of this vicious violence is like this: the conflicting neighbouring ethnic groups start off with a relative peace, whereby they peaceful coexist and cooperate among many ways. In the middle of coexistence, an incident would break the peaceful cycle, where for an instant, a criminal individual or a group of criminals, would commit a criminal offence such as cattle raiding or killing of a neighbouring ethnic group. Committing such an act or even suspect that such an act is committed, automatically trigger a retaliatory response against all individuals from the suspected ethnic group in question and all their animals become legitimate targets of raiding. Such retaliatory response is a natural instinct that all the warring ethnic groups developed over the ages for survival sake, due to absence of any neutral arbiter, which in this modern case, should be the state.

It is in this life cycle of vicious violence that the situation escalates from bad to worse. This is the current status reached that involves Dinka Bor, Lou Nuer, and the Murle. Here, by nature of things, the conflict engulfed all human beings from those ethnicities and their entire animals become legitimate targets of raids and counter raids.

This life cycle, would then followed by brokering of peace, where it goes a full cycle, for another relative peace before another incident break to renew and escalate the cycle of vicious violence again. And the life cycle of vicious violence continues in South Sudan naturally unabated just like that.

One would then forced to think that the only way such life cycle of vicious violence would perhaps end naturally with one ethnic group finishing the other to the extinction. However, nature does not work that way. Those conflicting ethnic neighbours live among each other through this cycle of vicious violence since time immemorial.

Therefore, there must be mitigating measures to be put in place to curb this ethic violence. Unfortunately, thus far all the mitigating attempts don’t seem to meet desirable result. Worst of all, when this life cycle breaks into vicious violence, the national leaders, who suppose to act as neutral arbiter in such instant, instead of sides with their ethnic group, which is party to the conflict. The ethnic conflict is so powerful in that it consumes national leaders. Hence, national leaders become nothing, but a bunch of tribal warlords.

Another method used thus far, which have proven not to be working is disarmament. The disarmament exercises in South Sudan is fraught with too many problems, which are not limited just to partial disarmament, discrimination, corruption, where collected weapons immediately exchange hands with criminals, lack of capacity to really collect weapons and store them prominently away etc.

One other deterrence method used, which does not work, is enforcing punitive military measures against a suspected violent ethnic group. Enforcing punitive military measures against suspects seems to be the only law enforcing mechanism SPLA has developed, since bush days and still in practice in modern-day of nation-state building today. The method seems to be luckily working at times, but it backfires all the times and it is not, therefore, suitable to be incorporated in nation state-building.

To show that punitive military measure is counterproductive, let us say, for example, village X is suspected of raiding cattle from village Y.

On hearing the initial report about the suspected crime, the overzealous military governor will ring the President at 3 AM, requesting permission to carry out a military operation against the suspected criminal village X. The President of course as always grant such wishes for military operations. The overzealousness governor would then order a notorious trigger happy military commander along with an illiterate military commissioner to carry out military operations against suspected village X. Without proper planning and without judiciously establishing objectives for operations, the undisciplined soldiers are ordered to lay a siege against suspected village X. As a result, people in the suspected village X are killed, raped, beaten, their properties looted, all their animals are raised, and their entire village burned aground by the national army, which supposes to protect the people and their properties in the first place.

As a result of such military operations, the governor, commissioner, military commander and their associates got away with the loots of the village folks and nothing officially would ever be established about the initial incident, which led village X being branded as suspected criminal to warrant a military operation against it in the first place. In this manner, punitive military operations conducted against civilians also becomes another life cycle of inflicting suffering against innocent citizens, a burden in and of itself.

In those infamous military operations, the primary aims seem to be for the governors, commissioners, military commanders and their associates to get away with the loots of civilians.

Anyway, the most effective way to curb ethnic violence is to reduce those incidents, which trigger the escalation of violence to engulf all, including the most innocent through retaliatory response. Those incidents must be reduced against only individuals who directly participated in the acts and they must be prosecuted as criminals in isolated incidents they commit. The challenge here rests with the state in collaboration with local authorities to act swiftly when those incidents occur before they could naturally trigger retaliatory response, which is often out of control. The point is, if the government, through its overzealousness military governors, notoriously trigger happy military commanders, and illiterate military commissioners can carry out looting military operations among villages, it can easily haunt down criminals hiding throughout villages and even towns. Dealing with criminals does not require a magic wand, for we are a country, South Sudan that can handle its problems well.



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.

Comment on this article



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



Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis


Do Not Provoke a Sleeping Dog: Response to Dr Lam Akol 2020-04-04 14:35:55 By: Josephine Joseph Lagu Recently, Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin, leader of the National Democratic Movement, NDM has been at arms with the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), making media statements (...)

How we should look at the relationship between the two Sudans 2020-04-04 08:28:35 I dedicate this contribution to martyrs and friends, and especially to our leader Dr John Garang De Mabior, Yousif Kuwa Mekki, Mohamed Juma Nail, Hashim Abubakr, Mohamed Ahmed Omar Al Haboub, (...)

Of Peacekeepers and Pandemics 2020-04-03 07:43:49 By Jean-Pierre Lacroix The COVID-19 pandemic is also developing in countries marred by armed conflict. In an op-ed featured in Le Monde, the head of United Nations Peacekeeping, Jean-Pierre (...)


MORE






Latest Press Releases


S. Korea supports UN communities building resilience project in Sudan’s Blue Nile 2019-09-09 09:26:41 UNDP Sudan September 5, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - An agreement was signed on 5th of September between the Korean Ambassador, His Excellency. Lee Ki-Seong and Dr. Selva Ramachandran, Resident (...)

Sudanese lawyers and Human rights defenders back calls for civil rule 2019-04-26 10:22:06 Press statement by 55 Sudanese lawyers and Human rights defenders on Sudan Sit-in and Peaceful Protest Khartoum -24/04/2019 We, the undersigned (55) Sudanese lawyers and human rights defenders, (...)

South Sudan’s Lafon youth condemn killings of civilians by Pari community 2019-04-03 21:54:29 Press Statement on the Fighting between Pari/ Pacidi and Lotuko/Lokiri on 24/3/2019 Release by The Lafon County Youth Union: We, the Lafon County Youth Union hereby condemn the atrocities and (...)


MORE

Copyright © 2003-2020 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.