Sudan Seeks U.N. Aid as Rebels Advance: Mobilizes for `Holy War'

By Constantine, Gus | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 16, 1997 | Go to article overview

Sudan Seeks U.N. Aid as Rebels Advance: Mobilizes for `Holy War'


Constantine, Gus, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


An alliance of Sudanese rebels has reported new victories as incursions from Ethiopia into the Blue Nile region of Sudan continue.

The incursions this week have sent shudders through the Islamic fundamentalist government in Khartoum, Sudan's capital.

The government of President Omar Hassan Bashir requested an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council, warning that more attacks are expected from the territory of Uganda in the south. Gen. Bashir called for "general mobilization" to wage a "holy war" against his enemies.

The University of Khartoum, Sudan's largest, shut down so volunteers could prepare for deployment to the area of hostilities.

State radio said a brigade of the paramilitary People's Defense Forces was preparing to leave for the threatened region, about 370 miles southeast of the capital.

Meanwhile in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, the Southern Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) said yesterday its forces were advancing on the southern Blue Nile city of Damazin, which has a hydro-power station that supplies most of Khartoum's electricity.

A spokesman for Col. John Garang, head of the SPLA and chairman of the joint rebel command, told Reuters news agency the rebels had captured the Sudanese army garrison at Gadamyeeb, northeast of the town of Kassala, at noon Tuesday and were attacking other government positions in the same area. Kassala is near the Eritrean border and about 280 miles east of Khartoum.

Despite the cascade of developments this week, it was not clear whether Africa's largest nation was taking many light blows from internal and external opponents who accuse it of terrorism, religious repression and regional destabilization, or whether a concerted effort had begun to bring down the Bashir government.

The incursions took on added significance by coming just over a month after the flight from Khartoum to Asmara of Sadiq Mahdi, the previous ruler of Sudan, overthrown in a 1989 coup by Gen. Bashir and the National Islamic Front (NIF).

Long content to seek accommodation with his successors and their enemies, Mr. Mahdi's flight suggested that the time had come for a direct challenge to the NIF government.

The incursions also follow a recent announcement by the United States that it was sending $20 million in military aid to Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda to help them against destabilization efforts from Khartoum.

On Friday, Sudan Ambassador Mahdi Ibrahim Mohamed told The Washington Times in an interview that Khartoum was "willing to enter into discussions with the United States on any and all disputes between the two countries."

But he expressed concern that "the United States may not be interested in discussing differences but only in the removal of the present government."

On Monday, the SPLA announced in Asmara that a joint rebel force had seized Sudanese army garrisons at al-Kali, Daimonsour and Shali al-Fil in the southern Blue Nile region, near the Ethiopian border. …

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Sudan Seeks U.N. Aid as Rebels Advance: Mobilizes for `Holy War'
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