Will Goz Dango Battle be the Beginning of the End of a Rebel Movement??

By: Aisha Braima

NYALA, DARFUR (SUDANOW) - For now, the inhabitants of Nyala, capital of South Darfur state, one of five states in the restive region of Darfur, near the borders with Chad, Libya, Central African Republic and South Sudan, are secured against any rebel incursions or threats, for as many years as you could count, according to the military Commander of the area, General Adil Hamad Al Nil Mohamed Al Sayed.

The Sudanese Rapid Intervention Forces (RIF), affiliated to the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) have foiled a major rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) attack that sought to spoil the presidential and general elections in the country and take control over Nyala before moving on to other major towns in the region.

The JEM, one of three rebel movements, was created shortly after the rebellion flared in Darfur in 2003, crying foul play in power and wealth sharing. But with fragmentation and internal splits weakling most of the other movements, JEM remained the strongest military and ideological wise among the many Darfur rebel movements. The Movement led major offensive on Khartoum in 2008 which was foiled and its initiator, Dr. Khalil Ibrahim was killed the same year.
Seven years later in April 2015, the movement amassed 212 trucks loaded with machine guns, multi barrel RPG, anti-aircraft rocket launchers and ammunitions. The target, according to Sudanese military officials, was to overrun Nyala and then move to other areas including the national capital Khartoum once again.

"But with massive and highly coordinated intelligence gathering, including from the Army, the police and all other regular forces, the movement was closely monitored, starting from South Sudan down to Al-Fakhar Goz Dango area, where in half an hour the whole convey was crushed" Major Nimir Khalifa Abdul Hafez told reporters in Nyala, on a visit within a group of reporters and foreign correspondents to the
region on Tuesday.

The rebel troops, Hafez said, moved from South Sudan where they have training camps, managed by Israeli and South African military trainers, to enter Sudan, 37 kms away from the joint borders. The offensive was to coincide with the announcement of the presidential and parliamentary elections, April 27th.

On April the 26th "one of the fiercest battles took place and I could assure you that the rebel JEM is now incapacitated" the Military commander of the region, General Al Sayed said in a statement in Nyala's main square.

Behind him are lined over a hundred trucks and vehicles, ammunitions and weapons the Rapid Intervention Forces captured from the rebels.

The National TV and the semi-independent Shrooq TV, last week showed dozens of haggard looking rebel soldiers who surrendered to the government troops.

The square was swarmed with civilians and inhabitants of Nyala coming to see for themselves whether the reports about hundreds of trucks seized were true or not. It was like an exhibition.

President Omar Bashir, who flew to the area shortly after the
announcement that RIF defeated the rebels, has warned south Sudan that Juba should either dismantle the remaining rebel camps or Khartoum would exercise its right of self-defense even if it has to track the rebels in Aweil, or Juba, in south Sudan.

The rebellion and the inter-ethnic fighting in the region, according to the UN has left over 300,000 dead and millions refugees or internally displaced persons (IDP).

The United Nations and African Union have formed a joint force known as the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) TO help restore peace and stability there.

A number of agreements, some sponsored by the African Union, others by the Arab league and UN and the government of Qatar, have yet to bring peace to the region.

However the RIP overall commander Brigadier Mohamed Hamdan Dalgo was sure there was no serious rebel threats any more. What remain, he says, are only pockets of insurgents, car hijackers and robbers.

"For us the only major movement (military wise) was JEM and with this battle, it is now over." Dalgo said. Of the 1200 rebel troops that took part in the offensive, only about 40 have managed to return safe to their camps inside South Sudan, he added.

The rebel Movement, JEM, has conceded in a communiqué it published on its official website (Sudanjem.org) defeat but claimed the number of trucks seized and prisoners and dead was far below the figures claimed by the government and the RIF.

JEM said this was only a battle won, but the war was far from being over.
"whatever they claims, it would take them years and years to get even closer to what they were before they were crushed" Gen. Sayed said.

Looking at the number of trucks seized and now in display in Nyala, as seen by reporters in the field, and the number of surrendering soldiers, may be the general has a point. But the potential victims will remain the civilian population.
And with such threats and a peace agreement putting a definite end to the war, far from being concluded, the calm now enjoyed by the inhabitants of Nyala, will, however, remain precarious.


Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...


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