Sudan News Roundup: The Messenger’s Picks of the Week

UNAMID peacekeepers on patrol in Sortony, North Darfur. Over the past year, thousands of civilians affected by conflict in the Jebel Marra area, Central Darfur, have taken refuge in the vicinity of the Mission’s Sortony Team Site (Photo: Hamid Abdulsalam / UNAMID)

US Supreme Court allows Sudan travel ban to take effect

The United States Supreme Court has reversed a lower court and allowed a partial travel ban to take effect on travelers from Sudan and four other countries, namely, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

President Donald Trump wants stricter rules on vetting travelers from these countries, citing the risk of terrorism, and he has ordered a complete travel ban temporarily until such rules are put in place. Several lower courts in the US initially ruled against the ban on the basis that it was discriminatory against Muslims.

The US Supreme Court has decided that it will hear arguments on the case in October, but in the meantime it allowed travelers from the five mentioned countries to travel to the US if they can demonstrate “a bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the United States.

The court offered some guidance on who will qualify for this exception, including any foreign national who seeks to enter the United States to live with a family member, such as a spouse or mother-in-law. The court said a “close familial relationship is required.”

Also the court is allowing any student who has been admitted to study at an American university, a worker who has accepted an offer of employment from an American company, or a lecturer invited to address an American audience.

Laws passed by the US Congress — which President Trump cannot change by decree — regulate immigration and travel to and from the United States, but the president has authority over immigration and security agencies that can restrict persons from entering in certain circumstances. At issue in the US courts now is whether the travel ban goes beyond the president’s powers or not.

However, Trump’s travel order expires after 120 days, which means that the Supreme Court case may be rendered moot by the time it is scheduled to be argued in October. Unless Trump decides to renew the ban, then the case could be dropped and normal statutory regulations will take effect, possibly relaxing the restriction on Sudanese travelers to the US.

New report on Darfur-Libya-Chad border area

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Toubou herders in the Ennedi Mountains of northeastern Chad (Flickr / David Stanley / Used under Creative Commons License)

Conflict Armament Research has produced a new report called “Tubu Trouble: State and Statelessness in the Chad– Sudan–Libya Triangle.” The report focuses on the role of the Tobu (or Teda) people who inhabit the Tibesti Massif in Chad’s far north and also control the surrounding trans-Saharan routes.

The report details unsuccessful attempts by the Chadian state since 2011 to fully establish its authority over Tibesti. It says local populations are persistently reluctant to accept what they consider to be an external authority.”

Although armed opposition groups from Chad and Darfur and Sudanese ‘janjawid’ militias have regularly crossed the region’s borders, the majority of Tibesti people themselves “seem to have little appetite for a new insurrection,” according to the report. Nonetheless, Tibesti people have formed self-defence militias that control gold mining in the area and operate beyond the control of the central state.

A key recommendation of the report is that the Tibesti Massif needs not external military interventions but “socio-economic interventions… adapted to the needs of local communities.”

“Without this there is a clear danger of these communities on the borders of northern Chad, southern Libya, and northern Darfur becoming even more marginalized in their respective countries. This could in turn result in even more young men offering their services for hire (as militiamen, rebels, mercenaries, or bandits) or engaging in cross-border trafficking,” reads the report, which was written by Jérôme Tubiana and Claudio Gramizzi.

Sudan repatriates children of jihadists fighting in Libya

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Sudanese children whose parents were reportedly jihadists in Libya get off a plane in Khartoum, June 20, 2017 (AFP/Ebrahim Hamid)

Sudanese authorities on June 19th brought home from Libya eight children whose parents are allegedly members of the so-called Islamic State (IS) group.

Authorities believe dozens of young Sudanese have joined IS in Libya, Syria and Iraq.

AFP reports that the children were flown into Khartoum from the Libyan capital Tripoli under the supervision of Sudan’s powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NSS).

NSS Brigadier Tijani Ibrahim said the children were brought out of Libya with help from the Libyan Red Crescent, and that four more children were expected to be flown back to Sudan at an unspecified time.

Six of the children will be handed over to relatives while the state will take care of the other two because authorities could not find any next of kin, Tijani said.

AFP also quoted a representative for the Sudanese community in the Libyan city of Misrata, Motaz Abbas, who accompanied the children home, saying that the children’s parents “are members of the Islamic State group.” “Their mothers have been arrested by Libyan authorities and their fathers are listed as missing,” Abbas said.

Islamist party accuses NCP of aborting dialogue outcome 

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Popular Congress Party (PCP) Political Secretary Kamal Omer (Credit: SUNA)

Sudan’s Popular Congress Party is complaining that the ruling National Congress Party, from which it split in 1999, has reneged on commitments to share power in parliament.

PCP Member of Parliament Kamal Omer protested appointments last Friday during the first sitting of the National Assembly at which heads of parliamentary committees were named, besides the appointment of a third deputy speaker from the NCP.

Omer suggested in an interview with Sudan Tribune that the latter post was meant to go to the PCP, as were the heads of the industry and investment committees, which also were givin to the NCP instead.

The PCP sees this as an abrogation of the outcome of the National Dialogue Conference regarding parliamentary posts, according to Omer.

Democracy group criticizes plan for UNAMID troop cut

Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG) released a position paper on Monday criticizing plans to downsize the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). SDFG’s paper comes as the UN Security Council prepares to meet over whether to renew the mandate of the hybrid peacekeeping mission, and, if so, how large it should be.

The African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) earlier this month decided to reduce UNAMID force levels to nearly half the current strength. One of the findings of a joint AU/UN strategic review in May was that security had improved in Sudan’s western Darfur region and that there had been no major displacement of civilians in 2017.

SDFG criticizes this as a “flawed diagnosis,” saying that downsizing the peacekeeping mission will leave civilians in Darfur “more vulnerable to abuses of all kinds by the Sudanese army, paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and other militias operating in the region.”

SDFG also criticizes a UN-AU proposal for the peacekeepers to take a greater role resolving inter-communal conflicts, including by giving “advisory and logistical support” to local initiatives. The Democracy group says that inter-communal conflicts in Darfur are only “a symptom of the political and security strategy of the government, a direct result of the proliferation of the pro-government militias beyond the control of the state, facilitated by the grant of impunity, particularly as embodied in the evolution of the Janjaweed/Rapid Support Force militias.”

“Without challenging the role of the state apparatus in these conflicts, addressing inter-communal conflicts will be nothing but lip service.”


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