The Three Areas, consisting of Abyei, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile, located along Sudan's volatile North-South border, bore the brunt of decades of armed conflict that ended in January 2005 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement
(CPA). During the CPA period the terms of the peace agreement covering the areas were only partially implemented. Following the secession of South Sudan and the end of the CPA period, each of the Three Areas has devolved into open conflict.
In Abyei, Sudan's ruling National Congress Party (NCP) steadfastly blocked CPA implementation in Abyei, first by refusing to accept the CPA-mandated directive to demarcate the territory, then by rejecting the findings of the 2009 boundary ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague
. A long-standing political impasse led to both sides building up their forces in and around the territory until SAF took advantage of an altercation with the SPLA to mount a full-scale aerial and ground invasion of Abyei. A security agreement
concluded between the SPLM and the Government of Sudan in June called for the withdrawal of SAF and the deployment of a brigade of Ethiopian peacekeepers. The force, authorized under a Chapter VII mandate from the UN Security Council, has begun to deploy. But as of early September SAF and Missiriya militias continue to occupy Abyei. The CPA-mandated Abyei referendum, to decide whether to join South Sudan or remain in the North, is unlikely to come to pass. Click here for a summary of this situation in Abyei and here for a more detailed report.
After a highly dubious and disputed gubernatorial election that returned International Criminal Court-indicted NCP candidate Ahmed Haroun, tensions mounted. On 23 May, SAF gave the SPLA a deadline of 1 June to withdraw all their forces from Blue Nile and South Kordofan. Violence erupted in South Kordofan on 5 June, pitting SAF, paramilitary, and special forces against the SPLM-Northern Sector (SPLM-North) and its supporters among the population, most notably the Nuba. The conflict has involved the widespread bombing of civilians by SAF and accusations of human rights violations. More than 70,000 people have been forcibly displaced as a result of fighting. A political and security framework agreement on 28 June has not stopped the conflict from escalating. The popular consultation is now unlikely to occur. For a full account of the South Kordofan conflict as of 15 September, click here
After a 12-month delay, in January 2011 the popular consultation took place in Blue Nile amid strong calls for the area to be given autonomy. The results have not been fully released. On 1 September 2011, SAF forces clashed with SPLA elements of the Joint Integrated Units and supporters of SPLM-North. The following day Sudan president Bashir called a state of emergency in Blue Nile, sacked Governor Malik Agar (SPLM-North), and shut down the headquarters of SPLM-North in Khartoum. Click here
for background on armed elements in Blue Nile as of December 2010.
Updated 15 September 2011
Click below for information on the following:
Note on sourcing: This site makes use of military documents whose authenticity has been confirmed by a source close to the Joint Defence Board (JDB). The JDB is under the presidency and composed of the chiefs of staff of SAF and the SPLA, their deputies, and a number of senior officers.
Relevant Tables, Maps, and Summaries
Relevant HSBA Publications