Sudan’s Spreading Conflict (I): War in South Kordofan
"The war in South Kordofan shows every sign of having settled into a strategic stalemate in which the government is unable to dislodge the rebels entrenched in the Nuba Mountains, and the SPLM-N and its allies are incapable of holding much territory in the lowlands. Each side hopes pressure from elsewhere will somehow change the calculations of its enemy, while the international community largely focuses on North-South negotiations. The fighting is exacting an horrendous humanitarian toll, principally on civilians. To fight the insurgency, government forces have fallen back on their familiar pattern of striking at communities suspected of supporting it, in order to make it impossible for the SPLM-N to live off the surrounding civilian population and therefore to operate in the area. Unable to farm, and with the government preventing humanitarian access to SPLM-N-controlled territory, many have been forced to flee. There is no military solution, since neither side is strong enough to impose one. A negotiated solution is the only feasible option. However, the international community should not fall into the familiar trap of pursuing localised quick (and often still-born) fixes. Such piecemeal power-sharing arrangements often merely stimulate further rebellion with the aim of winning more concessions from Khartoum. If negotiations do not fully address political marginalisation of the peripheries, calls for selfdetermination will increase, including in South Kordofan. Unless the government and the international community engage with both the armed and unarmed opposition and achieve a comprehensive solution to Sudan’s multiple conflicts, there will be no end to the warfare that plagues the country."