Clashes in areas along the border between Sudan and newly independent South Sudan have displaced tens of thousands of people and prompted warnings of a widening cycle of violence and regional instability.
Here is a round-up of recent publications by think tanks, analysts and human rights organizations.
In Sudan – Avoiding a New Crisis, the International Crisis Group said the “risk of implosion” in Sudan “was very real” and that violence was “spiraling out of control” in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
The report, published on 1 October, pointed to the dashed hopes raised by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Accord between Khartoum and the former southern rebellion: “more legitimate, inclusive governance – a platform for dealing with the grievances of marginalised groups in the peripheries of the country, including Darfur, the East, the transitional areas of Southern Kordofan, the Blue Nile, and Abyei, as well as the political opposition.”
“If Khartoum continues to block reform efforts to build more inclusive governance, then prolonged armed conflict is inevitable. With multiple grievances still unsettled, this would mean insurgency will spread in the North. This could have destabilizing, spillover effects in the Republic of South Sudan and the region as a whole,” ICG said.
“The North needs a holistic approach to resolve its problems, and international actors need to develop a more cohesive strategy that helps to make it a viable partner for peace and stability throughout the region,” it urged.
In late August, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International documented civilians in South Kordofan talking about the daily, indiscriminate bomb attacks by the Sudanese Armed Forces that have killed many civilians and displaced more than 150,000 people since June.
“Agents of the ruling National Congress Party have perpetrated the large majority of the violations of human rights committed in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states,” the Africa Centre for Justice and Peace Studies said in a recent report covering in detail events in late August and early September.
“Members of the international community, particularly the African Union, UN Human Rights Council and UN Security Council should condemn these violations and send the message to perpetrators that they will be held accountable for crimes committed,” it urged.
Magdi El Gizouli, a fellow of the Rift Valley Institute, accuses too many people "addicted to the pornography of bloodshed" who know too little about Sudan of meddling in its affairs. He criticizes NGOs for spurring on rebellions in Blue Nile from ousted SPLM governor Malik Agar and Abdal-Aziz al-Hilu's operations in South Kordofan in the belief they will bring down Bashir's regime. He explains why calling for US military intervention, the imposition of a no-fly zone over Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile and the destruction of the government's offensive aerial assets are as bad at fomenting further unrest as hardline pledges of fighting until dissent is stamped out.
When Sudanese Armed Forces stormed into Abyei in May, the George Clooney-sponsored Satellite Sentinel Project claimed footage showed that one-third of civilian buildings were destroyed by tanks and looting. More than 110,000 people fled south of the border and have been stuck in South Sudan ever since in areas hit by flooding and food insecurity, as the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian affairs (OCHA) requested humanitarian access to Abyei.
The former southern minister Luka Biong Deng also called for access to the disputed territory from both sides of the border on legal and political grounds that mean the area of "special status" belongs to no one until both countries reach an agreement.
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) warned that escalating inter-communal violence in Jonglei from cattle raids threatened to destabilize the new country. UNMISS Special Representative Hilde Johnson said containing the increasing brutality and sophistication of these armed attacks to a state the size of Bangladesh was the peacekeeping mission's highest priority. "If it gets out of hand, we will be in a situation where the cycle of violence will escalate to unknown proportions in South Sudan," she said on 27 September.
Sudan researcher and veteran Khartoum critic Erich Reeves, writing in Dissent Magazine mourns the loss of the UN Panel of Experts for Darfur set up in 2005 to monitor an embargo on the movement of arms and military supplies and a UN Security Council ban on military flights into the Darfur region. Reeves says Darfur has been bombed more than 100 times this year, and that Sudan's government has succeeded in closing down the most authoritative body investigating reports of indiscriminate aerial attacks, and those targeting civilians.
A Human Rights Watch report in July also lamented the world's apparent disinterest in Darfur since South Sudan's independence. It said that during this period, Sudan stepped up bombing attacks on civilians, displacing more than 70,000 people, largely from ethnic Zaghawah and Fur communities linked to rebel groups.