Why Forces behind South Sudan Rivals Will Determine the Fate of Peace Process


Event Summary

There has been a spate of attacks in South Sudan between 29th-30th August 2015 with rival parties behind President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar accusing each other of spurring the attacks.

The government accused forces loyal to the former vice president, Riek Machar, to have carried out attacks on positions held by forces allied to President Salva Kiir in Malakal town.

On the other hand, rebel forces behind Riek Machar said that government forces moving with barges and gunboats from Juba to Malakal along the river Nile were attacking their bases.

Interestingly, the attacks came only hours after the ceasefire was reached when Kiir signed the peace deal to end the 20 months of fighting in South Sudan.

Analysis and Forecast

Armed forces behind President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar will work under their own motives to stage attacks against each other.

Earlier intelligence foresaw a possibility of the flopping of the peace deal even after the opposition was eager to sign it. Kiir, after consulting with his officials in Juba, agreed to sign it, though grudging over loopholes that were clear to him in the peace deal.

The recent attacks, which forces allied to the government, admit to conducting are a clear indication that Kiir did not achieve much in convincing his officials to agree to the terms of the peace deal. The peace deal outlines a power sharing structure that will see to the South Sudan government share some seats in the government with former rebels. It also means that some officers in the government will be required to surrender their seats to create room for Machar and some of his men.

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This is clearly a battle that goes beyond the control of only Kiir and Machar. It is a fight for power between a big number of men on two opposing sides. And intelligence summaries provide a forecast of future attacks, with each of these sides fighting for control of as many territories as possible in contested regions in and outside Juba.

As it is, the situation in South Sudan is no longer the traditional Kiir-Machar rivalry. Earlier OSINT reports indicated that some forces allied to Machar have cut their allegiance from the opposition leader and are possibly organizing themselves into a distinct rebel group. The same goes for Kiir where there is a possibility that some of his men could not be satisfied with the signing of the peace deal. This could make yet another sect of armed opposition.

The complexity of the various opposing groups is likely to lead into a situation in which each fight to topple the government. This also amounts to the important need for the two key rivals to reach agreement and stymie smaller potential rebels together while there is still time to do so.

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