Sudan’s conflicts have long been shaped from both the inside and out. Many governments and international actors have a long and deep history of involvement in the Nuba Mountains and across Sudan. Each has has left their mark on the current conflict.
Before the signing of the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement, South Sudan’s army – the SPLA – fought alongside the current SPLA-North against Sudan government forces in the 21-year Sudanese civil war. As part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, South Sudan broke away from Sudan in 2011 to form an independent nation, leaving South Kordofan and Blue Nile in Sudan. Though the SPLA-North and SPLM
The US was a major backer of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that eventually saw South Sudan split from Sudan in 2011. Since the split, U.S. involvement has centered on border and oil disputes between the two countries. Khartoum has frequently threatened to cancel security agreements over South Sudan’s alleged support of the SPLA-N and the US has urged Khartoum to address the matter through existing security arrangements and the African Union.
The bulk of US involvement in South Kordofan since the conﬂict began has been humanitarian. Ofcials in Washington have also met with SPLMN and SRF leaders including Malik Agar and Abdulaziz al Hilu on several occasions.
Since the start of the war in South Kordofan in 2011, UN access to South Kordofan has been cut of. Humanitarian agencies such as UNHCR have been limited to receiving and caring for refugees who have ﬂed to South Sudan for sanctuary. The refugee camp at Yida, Unity state has taken in nearly 70,000 over the course of the war, while many more are displaced just across the border.
The AU has been the only major conduit of talks between SRF/SPLM-N ofcials and the Khartoum government since the outbreak of the war. The two sides met on the sidelines of security negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan in Ethiopia in 2012, but were unable to reach any real agreement. The groups did sign the “Tripartite Agreement” in August 2012, to allow humanitarian aid into South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, but the agreement was never implemented. Since then Sudan has called on the SPLM/A-N to stop any contact or cooperation with South Sudan before further talks can take place.
Uganda, under the leadership of President Yoweri Museveni, was a long-time supporter of the SPLA during the Sudanese civil war, providing weapons and safe haven to the rebel group. Uganda has, in the past, provided weapons to the SPLA-N though it is unclear whether such support continues. Kampala was also the site of the signing of the “New Dawn” Charter, an agreement by various opposition groups, including the SRF, to pursue political change in Khartoum together. Ugandan support for South Sudan and the SPLAN stems, in part from President Museveni’s seemingly personal dislike of Sudanese President Omar al Bashir, as well as Sudan’s prior support of northern Ugandan rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Through charitable organizations such as Norwegian People’s Aid, Norway provided ﬁnancial backing and support to the SPLA-N during the Sudanese Civil war. The country remains an ally to South Sudan.
Ethiopia provided backing and safe haven to SPLA rebels during the early days of the Sudanese civil war. Ethiopia became a major headquarters and training ground for the SPLA as the war continued. The SPLA were, however, forced to leave Ethiopia after the fall of President Mengistu and the communist government in 1991. As the host of the African Union, Ethiopia often plays a large role in negotiations between Sudan, rebel groups and South Sudan.
China is the largest single investor in Sudan’s oil industry as well as the largest single consumer of Sudanese oil. China is also a major supplier of arms to the country. SPLA-N soldiers have captured various Chinese made weapons over the course of the war in South Kordofan, including Red Arrow-8 and Weishi rockets.