A Strategy For Comprehensive Peace in Sudan

International Crisis Group
Africa Report N°130 – 26 July 2007 (details)


Multiple problems loom in Kordofan, where the Misseriya are increasingly unhappy with treatment by the NCP, and several thousand have joined the SPLA. A new movement with an agenda for more local development, the Kordofan Alliance for Development (KAD), is threatening to take up arms. There is risk of both areas joining elements of the rebellion in Darfur. Also in trouble is the agreement on Southern Kordofan, where there is a dangerous rise in clashes between Nuba and nomadic groups. Renewed conflict in either Blue Nile or Southern Kordofan would likely spread quickly to the other.


The risk of new armed conflict is steadily increasing in Kordofan, as well as in the East, where the 2006 peace deal requires urgent attention if it is to hold.

Divergent trends are playing out in greater Kordofan, both of which raise the risk of fighting but are receiving minimal attention from UNMIS and other internationals. A CPA shortcoming is its treatment of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, areas that fought beside the SPLA during the war but were separated from the South during negotiations and received agreements which did not satisfy their demands. Implementation is far behind schedule. Renewed conflict threatens in the Nuba Mountains, below Southern Kordofan, due to a rise in disputes between the Nuba and nomads. The widespread belief there is that the NCP is arming the local Popular Defence Forces (PDF) and encouraging its attacks in order to prevent an alliance between the Nuba, Misseriya and Hawazma.72 The situation is calmer in Blue Nile, though the SPLA is concerned about the numerous NCP-armed local militias.73

The Misseriya, a pastoralist border tribe that fought for Khartoum against the SPLA, has fared the worst. They feel they have lost from the agreements on Southern Kordofan– which merged the Misseriya-dominated Western Kordofan state into Southern Kordofan state – and on Abyei, which includes a referendum for residents there on whether to shift traditional Ngok Dinka home areas (and Misseriya grazing land) to the South. There is growing frustration with the NCP, which many Misseriya say used them against the SPLA but then sold out their interests. Extensive oil exploration in Misseriya areas has damaged the environment but scarcely benefited the communities; the 2 per cent of oil revenue promised them in the Abyei agreement has not been delivered.

There have been reports of growing links between Misseriya elements and the Darfur rebel groups, and when an NRF faction attacked the Abu Gabra oil installation in a Misseriya area of Southern Kordofan/South Darfur, they were reportedly greeted as liberators.74 As many as 10,000 Misseriya Humr have offered to join the SPLA and are now based in Debab.75 It remains unclear if they want to fight Khartoum due to frustration with the NCP or merely to protect the Misseriya during talks on Abyei by gaining influence with the Ngok-Dinka dominated SPLM. The NCP-SPLM discussions on Abyei are focusing predominantly on oil issues, with limited input from the Misseriya, a trend that could worsen an already tense situation.

The Misseriya have organised several movements. The Shahamah include the elements that joined the SPLA and, reportedly, a faction that recently aligned with JEM (Justice and Equality Movement).76 The Shab Mantillat Misseriya (The People for Misseriya Areas, SHAMAM) are mobilising around the lack of development and opportunities, thus far non-violently.77

Northern Kordofan state has seen the emergence of the Kordofan Alliance for Development (KAD), which is said to include representatives from several tribes, including the Hamr, Kababish, Nuba and Juhama.78 It demands greater development and threatens to take up arms, though little is known about its true intentions. An attack was reported in the Obeid and Dardoug areas on 8 July 2007, though local media attributed it to JEM.79 There have been sporadic attacks by Darfur rebel groups in Northern Kordofan over the past three years, the largest of which was by the NRF on Hamrat el-Sheikh in July 2006. The growing unease in both Northern and Southern Kordofan suggests significant risk of increased conflict; stronger links with armed groups in Darfur seems inevitable, barring a drastic change in the government’s approach.

71 Crisis Group correspondence, 24 May 2007.
72 Crisis Group correspondence, regional expert, 14 July 2007.
73 “Sudan’s Blue Nile governor urges disarmament of militias”,
Sudan Tribune, 15 July 2007.
74 Crisis Group interview, Western diplomat, May 2007.
75 Crisis Group interviews, SPLA, donor and UN officials,
March-July 2007.
76 Crisis Group interviews, JEM officials, July 2007.
77 Crisis Group interview, Khartoum, 14 May 2007.
78 Ibid.
79 “Armed raid in North Kordofan”, Alwan, 9 July 2007,
reported in the UNMIS media monitoring report for 9 July,
at www.unmis.org/english/2007Docs/mmr-jul09.pdf.

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