Dallas, TX -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/11/2013 -- Sudan Defence & Security Report for Q1 2013 examines the strategic position of the Republic of Sudan and the newly independent state of the Republic of South Sudan, both in the African region and the context of the wider world. It provides an overview of the contemporary geopolitical challenges facing the country, and considers the challenges it may face in the future.The report examines the trends occurring in the country’s current and future defence procurement, and the order of battle across its armed forces. The report also looks at the security implications of South Sudanese independence, with the new country having formally split away from Sudan in June 2011.
The report’s general conclusion is that, while the situation remains extremely fragile, Sudan and South Sudan have made some important progress – not without considerable pressure being applied by the UN and by the African Union – following peace talks in Addis Ababa that concluded in late September 2012. Oil has been a key consideration, and the agreement of transit fees for the transportation of South Sudanese oil through Sudan was a breakthrough that gives both sides strong economic incentive to remain on good terms. The two countries have also agreed to establish a demilitarised zone along the border.
However, several issues remain outstanding, notably the future status of disputed areas along the border. This includes the oil-rich Abyei region, which was the scene of fighting between the two countries in Q2 2012. The UN and the AU have endorsed a plan for a referendum on Abyei’s status to go ahead in October 2013, unless Juba and Khartoum are able to reach agreement themselves by December 2012. However, Khartoum has objected to this approach, and appears reluctant to honour the results of the referendum if it goes Juba’s way. At the same time, it would face international isolation, and most likely the loss of Abyei in any case, if it refuses to accept a vote backed by both the UN and the AU.
Sudan also is also facing up to the international implications of its alliance with Iran. Voices in Khartoum for ending the alliance are becoming louder, as Sudan becomes guilty by association with its pariah ally. They point at that good relations with the Gulf Arab states would be far more beneficial. Meanwhile, an explosion at a major arms factory in Khartoum was attributed – perhaps without basis – to Israel. The effect of this has been to highlight the vulnerability that friendship with Tehran brings. The Sudanese parliament has also resolved to increase the defence budget for 2013 in response to the military’s failure to prevent the alleged Israeli air strike.
Even if Sudan and South Sudan establish peaceful relations, both face severe security challenges both internally and regionally. In South Sudan, a number of rebel groups continue to defy the writ of the new government, with 24 government troops having died in August during an ambush by Yau Yau rebels. The army hit back in Q4, targeting a Yau Yau base and killing around 18 rebels. Similarly, in Sudan the JEM militant group remains a significant threat. The government was due to hold peace talks with one JEM faction in December in Doha, but even if these succeed it is not certain that other rebel factions will follow suit in laying down their arms. Meanwhile, violence in Darfur has continued, with both the Sudan army and the UNAMID mission suffering losses.
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