[8/16/16] On Monday, the government of South Sudan approved plans for expanded foreign military intervention on its own soil, including 4,000 soldiers drawn from East and Central African militaries, to be organized under a United Nations mandate. The UN troops will be assembled under a newly formed “Force Intervention Brigade,” a multinational force proposed during an emergency meeting of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Addis Ababa earlier in August, and approved by the UN Security Council last Friday.
The African troops, committed during the IGAD summit by delegations of Africa’s national bourgeois elites from Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia, will join the 12,000 nominal “peacekeepers” already present in country. They will operate with unusually broad authority to conduct offensive operations in and around the capital of Juba, and employ “all necessary means,” including “proactive” attacks against military units loyal to both the government and the opposition.
The deployment of the offensive-oriented Force Intervention Brigade comes amid mounting instability and chaos in Juba, including clashes between supporters of the ruling clique, led by President Salva Kiir Mayardit, and opposition elements organized around former Vice President Riek Machar, which have led to the deaths of hundreds of soldiers on both sides.
Mayardit and Machar lead opposed ethnically-based—the Dinka and Nuer people respectively—political factions, and their rivalry has been exploited by the imperialist powers to deepen their political control over the country. Since President Kiir Mayardit’s dismissal of Machar from his cabinet in 2013, the newly formed country has been plunged into a grinding civil war, killing over 10,000 South Sudanese in the past three years.
Gun battles have broken out in recent weeks between Mayardit’s and Machar’s fighters at key checkpoints, and in front of the central government compound in Juba. The skirmishes have been seized upon by Washington to escalate its direct military presence, with the US military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) sending scores of Marines to the capital last month. In a sign of increasing imperialist pressure against Mayardit, Western media have played up reports of gruesome atrocities by government troops against residential areas of Juba, accusing forces loyal to the president of extrajudicial killings and rapes of foreign aid workers.
The South Sudan government is clearly ambivalent about the prospect of hosting additional foreign troops. There are signs that Juba has accepted the deployment only under the threat that refusal would be met with stepped-up support to the opposition. While President Mayardit said Monday that his government “welcomes assistance,” he went on to express concerns that Juba was being “presented with a fait accompli from outsiders” and that the “intervention should not turn into an imposition that becomes an intervention in which our sovereignty is compromised and our ability to govern effectively diminishes.”
Mayardit’s concerns are well justified. Though conducted under the formal banner of the United Nations, the deployment of the “Force Intervention Brigade” marks the latest stage in Washington’s protracted political and military intervention in Sudan. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the American ruling class has worked relentlessly to leverage conflicts between factions of the national ruling elite to its advantage, especially through the cultivation of pro-US elements in the south, where most of the country’s oil wealth is located…CONTINUE READING