We have been monitoring the situation in the Sudan closely for the last couple of months and war continues to look increasingly likely. In July of 2011, South Sudan officially seceded when devout Christian president Salva Kiir was inaugurated.
In the months since, the issue of oil, the majority of which is in South Sudan has been a major bone of contention between the Islamic north and the Christian south. The most immediate region that has escalated tensions is the Heglig region, just on the northern side of the border between the two countries. Kiir’s forces took control of Heglig after charging that Sudan was launching attacks from there.
The Sudan’s Muslim Brotherhood leader – Omar al-Bashir – pointed to the situation in Heglig to bang the war drums. Here is a news report from al-Jazeera via BNI:
Rather than push the issue, Kiir has decided to withdraw his troops from Heglig.
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has ordered the withdrawal of his troops from the Heglig oil field in Sudan.
But Sudan’s leader Omar al-Bashir later said his forces had retaken Heglig town.
South Sudanese forces captured the area last week, accusing Khartoum of using it as a base to launch attacks.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon had described the occupation as illegal and also called on Sudan to stop bombing the South.
Mr Bashir on Friday told supporters at a victory rally in Khartoum: “We thank God that he made successful your sons; and the security forces and the police force and the defence forces – he has made them victorious on this Friday.”
On state TV, his defence minister said Sudan’s armed forces had entered Heglig 11:20 GMT.
South Sudan has so far made no public comments on Khartoum’s claim.
The escalating fighting and rhetoric between the two sides over the past week has led to fears of all-out war.
Interestingly, this situation seems to share some parallels with Israel and the Palestinians. Hamas fires rockets indiscriminately into Israel and when Israel strikes back, international bodies ask both sides to use restraint, despite the fact that one side never will.
Kiir likely saw this as a matter of discretion being the better part of valor but Bashir is already exploiting it as a military victory.