Second Sudanese Civil War

Second Sudanese Civil War
Second Sudanese Civil War
Date 1983–2005
Location Blue Nile, Nuba Mountains, Southern Sudan
Result Comprehensive Peace Agreement; 2011 Referendum; independence of the Republic of South Sudan
Various government-aligned armed groups
South Sudan Sudan People's Liberation Army
Commanders and leaders
Sudan Gaafar Nimeiry
Sudan Abdel Rahman Swar al-Dahab
Sudan Sadiq al-Mahdi
Sudan Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir
South Sudan John Garang
Casualties and losses
1-2.5 million dead (mostly civilians, due to starvation and drought)

The Second Sudanese Civil War started in 1983, although it was largely a continuation of the First Sudanese Civil War of 1955 to 1972. Although it originated in southern Sudan, the civil war spread to the Nuba mountains and Blue Nile by the end of the 1980s.

Roughly two million people have died as a result of war, famine and disease caused by the conflict. Four million people in southern Sudan have been displaced at least once (and often repeatedly) during the war. The civilian death toll is one of the highest of any war since World War II.[1] The conflict officially ended with the signing of a peace agreement in January 2005.


Background and causes

The war is often characterized as a fight between the central government expanding and dominating peoples of the periphery, raising allegations of marginalization. Kingdoms and great powers based along the Nile River have fought against the people of inland Sudan for centuries. Since at least the 17th century, central governments have attempted to regulate and exploit the undeveloped southern and inland Sudan.[2]

Some paint the conflict as racial (Arabs vs. Africans) Others also paint the conflict as religious (Muslims vs. Christians and Animists). In reality, the conflict is far more complicated. Scholars such as Douglas Johnson have pointed at exploitative governance as the root cause.[3]

Southern Sudan.

When the British governed Sudan as a colony they administered the northern and southern provinces separately. The south was held to be more similar to the other east-African coloniesKenya, Tanganyika, and Uganda — while northern Sudan was more similar to Arabic-speaking Egypt. Northern Arabs were prevented from holding positions of power in the Catholic-dominated south, and trade was discouraged between the two areas. However, in 1946, the British gave in to northern pressure to integrate the two areas. Arabic was made the language of administration in the south, and northerners began to hold positions there. The southern elite, trained in English, resented the change as they were kept out of their own government.[4] After decolonization, most power was given to the northern elites based in Khartoum, causing unrest in the south.

When the British moved towards granting Sudan independence, they failed to consider southern needs. Southern Sudanese leaders weren't even invited to negotiations during the transitional period in the 1950s. In the post-colonial government of 1953, the Sudanization Committee only included 6 southern leaders, though there were some 800 available senior administrative positions.[3]

In the early Sudanese state, the government enacted many repressive measures. In 1962, foreign Christian missionaries were expelled from the country, and Christian schools were closed. The government's attacks on southern protesters resulted in sporadic fighting and mutinies, transitioning into a full-scale civil war. The civil war ended in 1972, with the Addis Ababa Agreement. Part of the agreement was a great deal of religious and cultural autonomy to the south.[5]

Another factor in the second war was the natural resources of Sudan, particularly in the south, where there are significant oil fields. Oil revenues make up about 70% of Sudan's export earnings. Due to numerous tributaries of the Nile river and heavier precipitation in southern Sudan, the south also has greater access to water, and is therefore much more fertile. The north of the country is on the edge of the Sahara desert. The northern desire to control these resources in 2004 to present, and the southern desire to maintain control of the resources where they live, contributed to the war. A parallel war between the Nuer and Dinka also raged in the south.

Government marginalization was also the cause of spreading the war to other regions of Sudan. The government's policy was of taking land from farmers (Muslims and non-Muslims alike) and transferring it to government officials and merchants. This had drastic effects on the population of Darfur and Blue Nile. Eventually this would create unrest all over Sudan, including the north.[6]

Nothing Important

Foreign interventions

In 1999, Egypt and Libya initiated the Egypt-Libya Initiative (ELI) By this time the peace process of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD) had reached a stalemate. ELI's main purpose had been to bring members of the non-Southern opposition (especially opposition in the north) aboard the talks. However, as ELI avoided contentious issues, such as secession, it lacked support from the SPLA, but the NDA leadership accepted it. By 2001, ELI had been unable to bring about any agreement between the parties.[7]

In September 2001, former U.S. Senator John Danforth was designated Presidential Envoy for Peace in the Sudan. His role was to explore the prospects that the US could play a useful catalytic role in the search for a just end to the civil war, and enhance humanitarian services delivery that can help reduce the suffering of the Sudanese people stemming from war related effects.

Following an internal outcry, the Sadiq al-Mahdi government in March 1989 agreed with the United Nations and donor nations (including the US) on a plan called Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS), under which some 100,000 tons of food was moved into both government and SPLA-held areas of the Sudan, and widespread starvation was averted. Phase II of OLS to cover 1990 was approved by both the government and the SPLA in March 1990. In 1991, Sudan faced a 2-year drought and food shortage across the entire country. The US, UN, and other donors attempted to mount a coordinated international relief effort in both north and south Sudan to prevent a catastrophe. However, due to Sudan's human rights abuses and its pro-Iraqi stance during the Gulf War, many donors cut much of their aid to the Sudan. In a similar drought in 2000-01, the international community again responded to avert mass starvation in the Sudan. International donors continue to provide large amounts of humanitarian aid to all parts of the Sudan.

The US government's Sudan Peace Act of 21 October 2002 accused Sudan of genocide for killing more than 2 million civilians in the south during the civil war since 1983.

Arms suppliers

Sudan relied on a variety of countries for its arms supplies. Following independence, the army was trained and supplied by the British. However, after the 1967 Six-Day War, relations were cut off, as were relations with the United States and West Germany.

From 1968 to 1972, the Soviet Union and COMECON nations sold large numbers of weapons and provided technical assistance and training to Sudan. At this time the army grew from a strength of 18,000 to roughly 50,000 men. Large numbers of tanks, aircraft, and artillery were acquired, and they dominated the army until the late 1980s.

Relations cooled between the two sides after the coup in 1972, and the Khartoum government sought to diversify its suppliers. The Soviet Union continued to supply weapons until 1977, when their support of Marxist elements in Ethiopia angered the Sudanese sufficiently to cancel their deals. The People's Republic of China was the main supplier in the late 1970s.

Egypt was the most important military partner in the 1970s, providing missiles, personnel carriers, and other military hardware. At the same time military cooperation between the two countries was important.

U.S.-aligned countries resumed supplying Sudan in the mid-1970s. The United States began selling Sudan a great deal of equipment around 1976, hoping to counteract Soviet support of Marxist Ethiopians and Libyans. Military sales peaked in 1982 at US$101 million. After the start of the second civil war, American assistance dropped, and was eventually cancelled in 1987.[8]

Meanwhile the rebel SPLA was supplied weapons through or by Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Uganda. The Israeli embassy in Kenya also supplied anti-tank missiles to the rebels.[9]

Child soldiers

Armies from all sides enlisted children in ranks. The 2005 agreement required that child soldiers be demobilized and sent home. The SPLA claimed to have let go 16,000 of its child soldiers between 2001 and 2004. However, international observers (UN and Global Report 2004) have found demobilized children have often been re-recruited by the SPLA. As of 2004, there were between 2,500 and 5,000 children serving in the SPLA. Rebels have promised to demobilize all children by the end of 2010.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Sudan: Nearly 2 million dead as a result of the world's longest running civil war, U.S. Committee for Refugees, 2001. Archived 10 December 2004 on the Internet Archive. Accessed 10 April 2007.
  2. ^ Seymour, Lee J. M. (2003), "Review of Douglas Johnson, The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil Wars", African Studies Quarterly 7 (1),, retrieved 10 April 2007 .
  3. ^ a b Karl R. DeRouen and Uk Heo. Civil wars of the world: major conflicts since World War II. 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 743. 
  4. ^ What's happening in Sudan?, Sudanese Australian Integrated Learning (SAIL) Program. Archived 27 December 2005 on the Internet Archive. Accessed 10 April 2007.
  5. ^ Karl R. DeRouen and Uk Heo. Civil wars of the world: major conflicts since World War II. 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 744. 
  6. ^ Brian Raftopoulos and Karin Alexander (2006). Peace in the balance: the crisis in the Sudan. African Minds. pp. 12–13. 
  7. ^ Brian Raftopoulos and Karin Alexander (2006). Peace in the balance: the crisis in the Sudan. African Minds. p. 19. 
  8. ^ Sudan - Foreign Military Assistance, Library of Congress Country Study (TOC), research completed June 1991. Accessed 10 April 2007.
  9. ^ Karl R. DeRouen and Uk Heo. Civil wars of the world: major conflicts since World War II. 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 742. 
  10. ^ "SPLA to demobilize all child soldiers by end of the year". Sudan Tribune.,36125. 

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