July 2, 2003
The US-led Civilian Protection Monitoring Team (CPMT) has in the last week issued another report (available at its website: www.cpmtsudan.org), this one treating allegations of attacks on civilians in the Longochok area of Eastern Upper Nile in late May of 2003. Like the previous report on events in the Liang area of Eastern Upper Nile, this report is marred by a host of highly consequential shortcomings, a woefully deficient rendering of the context necessary for understanding the events at issue, and organizational and rhetorical failings that seriously compromise the very intelligibility of the report itself.
But by far the most significant feature of the report is its extraordinary failure to note the existence of a recently completed oil road leading from the Adar Yel oil concession area to Longochok. This elevated, all-weather oil road extends the entire seventy-five miles between Adar Yel and Longochok and can easily serve as a means for Khartoum to project military power, including troop transport. Its existence has been confirmed in the last few days by numerous highly authoritative regional sources. Even so, the CPMT report—while repeatedly referring to the “Petrodar Oil Company” and its seasonal withdrawal—nowhere talks about the implications of the oil road that has been constructed for use by “Petrodar,” and which the CPMT must have seen when in Longochok. This is so despite the immense civilian destruction that has been authoritatively linked to the oil development roads in Western Upper Nile, leading south from Bentiu and west from Bentiu.
Indeed, the oil road leading south from Bentiu to Leer (also about 75 miles) was the focus for some of the most significant reporting done by CPMT in January and February 2003, before the ill-fated change of leadership that brought General Charles Baumann to head up CPMT (in March 2003, during Khartoum’s grounding of the CPMT teams in both Khartoum and Rumbek). The failure to note the existence, let alone the implications, of the oil road from Adar Yel to Longochok is simply inexcusable—indeed, it reflects either a monumental ignorance of what is fueling war in southern Sudan, or a disingenuousness so deep as to compromise all future CPMT investigations under the leadership of General Baumann. In short, either General Baumann is relieved of all his leadership responsibilities (including those that may pertain to the Verification and Monitoring Team created by the February 4, 2003 agreement), or CPMT will no longer be able to fulfill its mission.
The CPMT report of June 19, 2003 on events in the Liang area of Eastern Upper Nile (late April 2002) was a notable and disgraceful failure. In itself, the report deeply undermined, very likely fatally, SPLM/A confidence in the neutrality of the CPMT and its commitment to the original mandate negotiated in March 2002 (see analysis from this source; available upon request). Senior SPLM/A leaders were already deeply suspicious in May 2003 of what the CPMT had become under the leadership of General Baumann. The Liang report, now followed by the grossly inadequate Longochok report, has clearly ended the viability of CPMT under General Baumann. If the US State Department is truly committed to the civilian protection agreement negotiated between Khartoum and the SPLM/A by US special envoy for Sudan John Danforth, then it must act quickly and decisively to remove General Baumann and restore full confidence on the part of the SPLM/A.
Other features of General Baumann’s performance would also seem to justify his removal. He is widely reported as having made clear his sense that not having a background in the historical and contemporary realities of Sudan is actually an advantage—that this deficiency makes it more likely that analysis will be “neutral.” This absurd effort to transform a critical shortcoming into a “virtue” helps to explain why both the Liang and Longochok reports are so conspicuously without the context and background information that might make events intelligible and clarify the relation between various parties (the Fellata, the Nuer civilians of the area, the SSDF militia, which in turn has its own complex relations with the SPLM/A and Khartoum’s forces). General Baumann evidently believes that the mandate of the CPMT can be fulfilled in a knowledge vacuum, when all evidence suggests that precisely the opposite is true.
General Baumann’s commitment to the well-being of the southern civilians he is charged with “monitoring” would also seem open to very serious question. Baumann is reported by a reliable source in Eastern Upper Nile as having had an extraordinarily callous reaction when presented with two wounded children in the Longochok area. One three-year-old girl had been badly burned and a two-year-old boy had been shot through both legs, with a severed artery. The SPLM/A commander pleaded with Baumann to evacuate the children or notify the International Committee of the Red Cross. Baumann did neither, declaring tersely “this is none of our affair.” Both children died within the next two days.
There are a great many specific criticisms that might be made of the CPMT report on Longochok:
Not all the obtained accounts of witnesses, including one important eyewitness, are reported in the Longochok report. Hostile and intimidating interrogation techniques have been reported by two different sources in the area. The report establishes no coherent chronology of attacks, even as it jumps back and forth between two apparently different attacks (May 22 and May 27, 2003). Extraordinarily, no mention is made of the fact that on June 18/19, 2003 Longochok was re-captured by Khartoum’s forces. The killing of 59 civilians—the most significant charge in the original allegation—is reported by different of those interrogated as occurring on different dates during different attacks (one asserts the atrocities occurred during an attack of May 22, 2003; the other asserts they occurred during a different attack on May 27, 2003). No effective effort is made to sort out this confusion. The exceptionally brutal and vicious militia commander Chatyout Nydang (of the Khartoum-allied South Sudan Defense Forces [SSDF] in the Longochok area of Eastern Upper Nile) is evidently credited with remaining in the Longochok area simply to head up what the CPMT report refers to as “Peace Forces.” Further, testimony from “Senior Military Intelligence [Government of Sudan] officials” and “Petrodar”—in the words of the CPMT report—bizarrely helps to “confirm” that Khartoum’s own military forces were not in Longochok at the time of the reported attack. Somehow this “confirmed” conclusion is strengthened by a CPMT visit in June to an abandoned garrison in Longochok.
This last point bears particular emphasis. At several junctures in the CPMT report, the possibility of a military presence in Longochok by Khartoum’s regular forces or officers during the May 2003 attacks is apparently dismissed as somehow less likely because “Petrodar” oil company had suspended work with the arrival of the rainy season in April (2003). This of course suggests clearly that Khartoum’s regular military forces had been serving as security for “Petrodar’s” oil development activities on the road to Longochok, as they have in Western Upper Nile for Lundin Petroleum (Sweden), OMV (Austria), Petronas (Malaysia), the Oil and Natural Gas Company of India, and China National Petroleum Corp. But any suggestion that the presence of Khartoum’s regular forces in Longochok is somehow less possible, or likely, because “Petrodar” has temporarily withdrawn is nonsense. This is the critical significance of the oil road that the CPMT report scandalously fails to note: the elevated, all-weather road can serve to project military force rapidly from Adar Yel to Longochok (about seventy-miles to the south/southeast), even during the rainy season. By omitting any mention of the oil road, the CPMT report makes it seem as though involvement by Khartoum’s regular forces or commanders is somehow unlikely. This is simply untrue. Indeed, the reported drilling by “Petrodar” of three successful wells (one production-ready) near Longochok makes absurd the notion that Khartoum would look with equanimity at the military fate of Longochok.
Suspension of construction along the Bentiu-Leer oil road was formally included in the February 4, 2003 “Addendum” to the cessation of hostilities agreement signed by the SPLM/A and Khartoum on October 15, 2003. It is obvious that any oil road in the highly volatile environment of Upper Nile should be regarded with the utmost seriousness, a seriousness reflected not only in the explicit stipulation of the February 4 “Addendum” but in the exceedingly important investigations conducted by CPMT in Western Upper Nile in January and February 2003. That a CPMT report under the new leadership of General Charles Baumann could emerge without making any reference at all to the construction of a road from Longochok to Adar Yel, with all the obvious and deeply ominous implications for civilians in the area, is a terrible betrayal of the CPMT mandate. The situation must be rectified immediately or the viability of the CPMT will end.
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