3 March 2012

Sudan: Bashir Orders Mobilization of Paramilitary Forces, Slams U.S. and Its Special Envoy

Photo: UN Photo/Paul Banks
People displaced by conflict in Kadugli, the capital of Southern Kordofan State, have sought refuge outside the town (file photo).

Khartoum — The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir vowed to flush out remaining rebel pockets in South Kordofan as he ordered the setting up of camps across the country for the Popular Defense Forces (PDF).

Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) is fighting insurgencies on multiple fronts in the western region of Darfur and in the border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. South Sudan stands accused by Khartoum of aiding the Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) that is fighting SAF in border states.

The SPLM-N fighters fought alongside the forces of what is now the south's ruling SPLM during Sudan's two-decades civil war that ended with a peace deal in 2005 and led to southern secession in 2011.

Juba says it has broken any links with the SPLM-N after the south seceded but military officials in Khartoum say that several divisions of South Sudan's army are still fighting with the rebels.

To makes matters worse, SPLM-N joined hands with Darfur rebels late last year to form the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF). The latter claimed last month to have launched its first attacks against SAF in South Kordofan managing to take Jau town and Toroge area.

SAF at the time acknowledged the fighting but said it was SPLA attacking and that they eventually managed to repel them.

Events in the war zones are impossible to ascertain as access to these areas is severely restricted.

Bashir said that he plans to soon perform prayers in Kauda which the SPLM-N stronghold in South Kordofan.

"We will soon liberate the area from the rebellion and our coming battle will be in Kauda," he told a rally of PDF fighters in Khartoum, including females, who pledged death to Bashir in their defense of the country and the Islamic programme.

"Just like we prayed in Kurmuk [Blue Nile state] we will soon pray in Kauda....We have warned those people [SPLM-N]" he added.

The Sudanese leader said camps will be created to accommodate thousands of PDF recruits.

"We direct all the states' governors to open PDF camps and equip an entire brigade of these forces, to be named the Deterrence Forces, to confront all the agents and traitors," he said.

The new recruits will "beat anyone who tries to disturb the security of Sudan," Bashir vowed.

Bashir recalled how SAF managed to defeat SPLM in their stronghold of Torit during the civil war years but that later they heeded to the call of peace despite being in a good position militarily.

"We were victorious and not defeated," the Sudanese leader said before adding "we gave 18,000 martyrs and are willing to give the same number today" he warned.

"Conspiracy [against Sudan] will continue and our response will be that Allah will suffice and He is the best guardian" Bashir said amid chants of "There is no God but Allah" and "Allah is Great".

Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir (R) and Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Muhammad Hussein attend the Popular Defense Force rally in Khartoum March 3, 2012 (Reuters)

Alongside with Bashir was his defense minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein who had an arrest warrant issued for him on Thursday by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Bashir himself is wanted by the Hague based court since March 2009.

The two men, who dressed today in military uniforms and later danced before the crowd, are accused of being responsible for war crimes committed in Darfur since the conflict erupted in 2003.

"We heard two days ago that our brother Abdel-Rahim they said they want him in the ICC," Bashir said before being interrupted by PDF militia members with their cries of support.

"Why? This [ICC investigation] has been going on since 2003 so why now? " Bashir posed the question before saying that this was timed with SAF victories in Blue Nile and South Kordofan and that ICC wants to target the army's symbol in the person of the defense minister.

However, it is widely believed in Khartoum that Hussein is an unpopular figure within the army and whose presence is forced upon the military by Bashir.

"Anyone who raises his finger at Sudan will cut it for him and anyone who lifts up his eyes we will poke in it," the Sudanese leader warned.

Bashir hailed the Arab spring in neighboring nations saying that Sudan had the first one through his coup in 1989.

"We tell them congratulations because they won against the powers of oppression and got rid of tyrants led by Muammar Gaddafi may god damn him" he said.

"All of you know the dirty role played by Gaddafi and others and thank god for giving us the chance to respond back," he added.

After Gaddafi's regime started to crumble last year, Bashir lashed at him publicly saying that the Libyan leader was responsible for many of Sudan's woes particularly in Darfur through supporting rebels.

'U.S. NASTY CARROTS'

Bashir also took shots at the United States in the wake of comments made on Wednesday by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clinton accused Bashir personally of working to undermine the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the newly established state of South Sudan.

"The Americans always said they will treat Sudan with a carrot and stick. We want to say to them: we don't want their carrot because their roots are poisoned and nasty. And we don't fear their stick" he said.

"We have been tested [by Americans] for over 20 years" Bashir added.

He also hinted that U.S. special envoy Princeton Lyman is collaborating with the rebels.

"They have someone who comes wondering around here" Bashir said in reference to Lyman. "[SPLM-N leader in South Kordofan] Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu explained his plan to Lyman and got his blessings," Bashir claimed.

The strong rhetoric by Bashir reflects the growing tensions in Sudan caused by increasing levels of fighting in the border states, worsening economic situation and the lack of progress in post-secession negotiations with South Sudan and particularly on the issue of oil.

Bashir said in an interview last month that war with South Sudan is now a possibility.

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