Sudanese Tensions Reach Boiling Point
South Sudan said Thursday that two Sudanese fighter jets dropped bombs Wednesday in Pariang county inside South Sudan. The bombs damaged oil and water wells while Sudanese ground forces were massing in a nearby area.
The Sudanese army said last Sunday that there were armed clashes between its forces and South Sudan forces on the border. Sudan and South Sudan signed a security agreement on February 10 hoping to avoid conflict. However, the two sides have thus far failed to demarcate their joint borders.
Sudan and South Sudan have been at a diplomatic impasse over oil rights and the contested Abeyei region, an area roughly the size of Israel, that is currently occupied by Khartoum. Previously, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir said an inability to reach a treaty agreement could mean war.
"It would not be fair to my people to support an agreement that invites more conflict by failing to resolve underlying issues," Kiir had told reporters.
Open conflict between South Sudan and North Sudan could have a direct impact on Israel, which is presently seeking to return a growing population of illegal immigrants from South Sudan to their country of origin.
Meanwhile, the United States slammed the report of attacks by Sudan on South Sudan as "unacceptable," and urged both sides to exercise restraint to avoid an escalation of tensions.
"Such incidents are unacceptable and threaten to escalate tensions between the two states," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.
"Additionally, continued aerial attacks on civilian targets by the Sudan Armed Forces are deplorable and constitute violations of international law for which there must be accountability,"
Nuland said the U.S. demands that "the Government of Sudan end these aerial bombardments and immediately allow humanitarian access to civilians in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile."
She also warned that actions taken by both parties "are inflaming conflict, fueling mistrust, and imperiling the efforts of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel to facilitate agreements between the parties on outstanding Comprehensive Peace Agreement issues."
Also on Thursday, the International Criminal Court [ICC] issued an arrest warrant for Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, the Sudanese defense minister, as part of investigations into crimes committed in Sudan's western region of Darfur.
The court said in a statement on Thursday that there were sufficient grounds to hold Hussein responsible for 20 counts of crimes against humanity, including persecution and rape, and 21 counts of war crimes, including murder and attacks on civilians.
"Hussein's arrest appears to be necessary to ensure his appearance at trial and to ensure that he will not obstruct or endanger the investigations," the ICC said in a statement..
Hussein, who served as interior minister from 2001 to 2005, and also as President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir's special representative for Darfur from 2003 to 2004, is wanted for allegedly co-coordinating attacks against civilians in villages there.
Sudan dismissed the ICC move.