Hopefully more details will emerge soon regarding President Kiir’s militia – the group Sudan Tribune called a “private army” (Sudan Tribune) that Kiir allegedly admitted to having organized. However, Salva Kiir would by no means be the first to organize such a private army, and while his admittance of the fact is striking, the fact itself is not so surprising. Taking a historical perspective it makes sense why President Kiir would not see this as a reasonable approach to state (and personal) security. This does not by any means justify President Kiir, but to indicate that the problem of personally loyal militias is not President Kiir’s problem that will be fixed by dismissing him as president, but a systemic problem that needs to be addressed seriously. The SPLM/A in fact started out as a loose coalition of private armies, most notably those of Kerubino Kuanyin Bol and William Nyuan Bany. Continue reading
Cattle Raiding in South Sudan, particularly cattle raiding in Warrap and Unity, has long been associated with rebel movements; in fact, P.A. Nyaba asserts in his 1997 book The Politics of Liberation in South Sudan that historically, many soldiers who joined the military or rebel groups did so with the motivation of acquiring weapons which could be used for cattle raiding or to settle local disputes. Media sources recently reported the deaths of 42 people on Friday in what appeared to be a cattle raid in Warrap as well as an attack on civilians, and local sources attribute the raids to heavily armed militias, likely associated with Unity State rebels.
Conflict Dynamics along Warrap-Unity Border, January 2014
South Sudan Rebellion Maps as of January 2014: A six-map time series showing areas affected by the South Sudan rebellion, December 15, 2013-January 30, 2014
Please note that areas displayed on the South Sudan rebellion maps as areas under rebel control are based on media reports and (often propagandist) claims by both sides of the conflict, and therefore may not portray exact areas over which rebels had complete control. All events, descriptions, and locations reported below are based on media reports and other publicly available sources. This is not a comprehensive list and does not necessarily reflect every event that has occurred on the ground during the time frame. Events, descriptions, locations, and mapped boundaries do not reflect the views of or imply endorsement by mapeastafrica.com, those who manage the site, or any of its affiliates.
1. December 15-21: SPLA defections, former rebel leaders involved
What exactly prompted the fighting in Juba on the night of December 15 remains unclear to most observers. What is clear is that there was either a misunderstanding or an order for disarmament of certain Tiger Force (presidential guard) soldiers, and the issue took an ethnic dimension. By December 21, Riek Machar (former Vice President and also leader of the 1991 “Nasir Coup” attempt to oust John Garang from SPLA leadership) claimed to be in control of the predominantly Nuer areas of Unity, central and northern Jonglei, and southern Upper Nile. Gen. Peter Gadet Yak, former commander of the SSLM/A rebels of Unity who returned to the SPLM/A fold in mid-2011, led rebel forces in attacking Bor. Somewhat ironically, Matthew Pul Jiang (who formerly served in the SSLA under Gadet and took over command of the SSLA rebellion in mid-2011 when Gadet accepted Kiir’s amnesty) and the former SSLA rebels largely aligned themselves with SPLA forces in Unity to fight against the rebels who followed Machar and James Koang Chuol. Gadet’s forces captured Bor and established forward posts along the road to Juba within the first week of the rebellion.