Khartoum's Aerial Attacks on Civilians and Humanitarians in Sudan's Marginalized Areas: What the international community is embracing


Eric Reeves | May 2, 2016  |

Today, May 2, 2016, Radio Dabanga reports yet another deliberate attack on civilians in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan:

Six children - three of them from one family - have reportedly been killed in air strikes my MiG fighter jets on residential areas in South Kordofan. In a statement to Radio Dabanga, the military spokesman for the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), Arnu Ngutulu Lodi, says the attack occurred at 6pm yesterday. "Two Sudanese Air Force MiG fighters attacked residential areas within Heiban town in the Nuba mountains of South Kordofan with four bombs that killed six children, three of them for one family." He names them as Nidal Abdolrahman Ibrahim (12), Ibrahim Abdolrahman Ibrahim (10), Jihan Abdolrahman Ibrahim (5), Hafez Mahmud (10) Kuku Dawli (4), Yusif Yagoub (4).

photo (3)

This photograph of a victim of Khartoum's campaign of bombing civilians came to me a month ago from Dr. Tom Catena---the only surgeon working in the Nuba Mountains and tasked with putting together those bodies that come to him in such great number at the Mother of Mercy Hospital near Kauda, in the heart of the Nuba Mountains.  I am aware of how gruesome this photograph is, how difficult to view. I have included only one of the many that Dr. Catena sent to me (the rest may be found at But we simply cannot in good conscience avert our eyes from this horrible suffering and maiming and killing. This is what the world is accepting in embracing the Khartoum regime. If we had full photographic records, there would be tens of thousands of such pictures of human destruction--ER]

Such attacks are so commonplace, so much a part of Khartoum's strategy in waging counter-insurgency wars in the marginalized areas of Sudan, that we may be sure there will be no non-Sudanese news coverage of this event-or the countless other such attacks, attacks in which the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) have deliberately attack hospitals, schools, churches, mosques, and agricultural production. These aerial attacks have been relentless since the current National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime came to power by military coup in June 1989-twenty-seven years ago.

I have chronicled the regime's aerial attacks on civilian and humanitarian targets in considerable statistical detail ("They Bombed Everything that Moved": Aerial military attacks on civilians and humanitarians in Sudan, 1999 - 2013 What is clear from the monograph's data spreadsheet, generated from thousands of reports from dozens of reliable sources, is that many, many thousands of such attacks have occurred-and continue to occur, as today's assault on the Heiban area of the Nuba Mountains makes clear (only a small fraction of actual attacks are captured in reports I considered to have sufficient reliability and authenticity). Since 2012/2013, Nuba Reports, Radio Dabanga, Sudan Tribune, and occasionally intrepid international journalists have offered sufficiently detailed reporting that we may be sure that there has been no let up in the use of military aircraft to attack civilians and humanitarians (including repeated attacks on the MSF hospital near Frandala and the Mother of Mercy Hospital near Kauda in the Nuba Mountains).


One of Khartoum's many advanced, Russian-built military attack aircraft, of the sort used to attack hospitals, schools, mosques, churches, agriculture--and civilians wherever they may be found.

And yet the international embrace of the regime that is ordering these attacks-deliberately targeting civilians or so indiscriminate as to make the issue of targeting moot-only grows. I have produced the first two of a three-part series on the nature and consequences of this ghastly "embrace":

• The International Embrace of Khartoum Deepens: With what consequences for Sudan? Introduction and overview (first of three parts) | March 31, 2016 |

• The International Embrace of Khartoum Deepens: With what consequences for Sudan? Introduction and overview (part two of three) | April 18, 2016 |

But the attack today on Heiban compels me to rehearse again the names of those international actors whose embrace has done so much to encourage the Khartoum regime in its belief that it may continue to commit serial war crimes, amounting to crimes against humanity, with total impunity. The Sudan Tribune in particular has provided excellent coverage of the ongoing acceptance of the Khartoum regime as a legitimate actor on the world stage. Europe and the United States figure prominently among the headlines, but so do many other countries, organizations, and international groupings. Perhaps wishing to outdo all his rivals in giving the warmest "embrace" to the Khartoum regime, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, in a bizarrely vicious gesture, last month awarded the Medal of the Republic of Serbia to regime president Omar al-Bashir-for whom the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant, charging him with multiple counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. Other countries, if not so fulsome, are nonetheless deeply culpable:

  • Poland, Sudan to engage in security and military cooperationMarch 20, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - The Polish minister of defence Antoni Macierewicz has expressed his country's desire and readiness to coordinate with Sudan in security and military issues. Macierewicz, who met Sudan's foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour in Warsaw on Saturday, pointed to Sudan's regional importance, expressing his country's readiness for security and military cooperation with the east African nation. (Sudan Tribune)
  • Sudan, UK agree to enhance economic cooperationMarch 21, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan and the United Kingdom (UK) have agreed to promote cultural, economic and investment cooperation besides exchange of visits by senior officials in both nations. (Sudan Tribune)
  • Sudan, UK to discuss ways to promote bilateral tiesMarch 19, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - A political consultation committee between Sudan and the United Kingdom (UK) would meet Sunday in Khartoum to discuss ways for promoting bilateral relations... (Sudan Tribune)
  • Sudan, UK to engage in strategic dialogueMarch 16, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan's Vice-President Hasabo Mohamed Abdel-Rahman Wednesday discussed with the British Ambassador to Khartoum Michael Aron bilateral ties between the two countries... (Sudan Tribune)
  • Italian commercial delegation to arrive in Khartoum next weekFebruary 3, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Italy's embassy in Khartoum Wednesday announced that an Italian commercial delegation would arrive in the Sudanese capital next week to discuss ways for expanding the trade exchange between the two countries. (Sudan Tribune)
  • Germany, Sudan sign €51m cooperation agreementMarch 3, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Germany and Sudan Thursday signed a €51 million cooperation agreement for the implementation of development projects in the three states of eastern Sudan, and five states of Darfur. (Sudan Tribune)
  • German delegations to visit Khartoum in January: Foreign Ministry | January 5, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Several official and legislative German delegations would arrive in Khartoum during this month, announced the Sudanese foreign ministry. Following a meeting Tuesday with the German ambassador to Khartoum Rolf Welberts, foreign ministry deputy under-secretary Daffa Allah al-Hag Ali Osman, said his country welcomes the expected visit of the German official.(Sudan Tribune)

[Most of this money will end up in the pockets of the National Intelligence and Security Services for their own nefarious purposes, not to stanch the flow of "irregular migrants," which the domestic policies of the Khartoum regime have done much to increase in number-ER-see]

[Construction contracts for these pumping stations will benefit regime cronies, and the very fact of needing so much construction for adequate water supplies in Sudan is a reflection of the callous domestic economic policies of the regime-ER]

  • Sudan, USAID discuss ways to promote joint cooperationFebruary 28, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan's Minister of International Cooperation Kamal Hassan Ali has discussed with the Assistant Administrator for the Africa Bureau at the US Agency for International Development (Sudan Tribune)

China and Russia, to be sure, have long viewed Sudan through the lens of military weapons sales and oil development, as well as other commercial opportunities:

  • Sudan and Russia vow to boost economic cooperationFebruary 27, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese and Russian foreign ministers Friday pledged to work toward greater economic cooperation between the two countries. Ibrahim Ghandour and Sergey Lavrov met... (Sudan Tribune)

But Arab and African countries have also been particularly "forgiving" of the massive crimes, economic malfeasance, and corruption that have defined the 27 years of NIF/NCP tyranny:

  • UAE funds $260m water stations for Khartoum StateJanuary 8, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will fund the construction of two water pumping stations at a cost of 260 million dollars in Khartoum state in support of the Sudanese (Sudan Tribune)

[Again, construction contracts will benefit regime cronies, and the very fact of needing so much construction for adequate water supplies in Sudan is a reflection of the callous domestic economic policies of the regime-ER]

  • Sudan, Egypt FMs discuss Ethiopian damJanuary 9, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Ibrahim Ghandour Saturday held talks in Cairo, with his Egyptian counterpart Samih Shoukri on issues of common interest (Sudan Tribune)
  • Egypt invites Bashir to attend investment African forumJanuary 17, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese president Omer al-Bashir has received an invitation from his Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fatah al-Sissi to attend the African Investment Forum (AIF) at at the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Shiekh from 20 to 21 February 2016. (Sudan Tribune)
  • Bahraini Prime Minister invited to visit SudanJanuary 23, 2016 (MANAMA) - Sudan's foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour has handed over an official invitation for the Bahraini Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa to visit Sudan. (Sudan Tribune)
  • Sudan's Bashir to participate in the upcoming African Union summitJanuary 24, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - President Omer al-Bashir will lead the Sudanese delegation participating in the 26th African Union head of states and governments summit scheduled to take place 30-31 of January 2016, at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa. (Sudan Tribune)

[This claim by Khartoum is utter nonsense, particularly in light of the regime's hostility to the UN/African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur (UNAMID)-a hostility that is sometimes murderous: see compilation of evidence at |]

  • Arab League renews calls for lift of sanctions on Sudan| March 11, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - The Arab League called for the removal of American economic sanctions on Sudan, and vowed to exert more efforts with the international funds and organizations to support the Sudanese economy and cancel its foreign debt. (Sudan Tribune)

[The African Union is content to overlook the massive violence orchestrated against Sudanese civilians by the Khartoum regime, as well as the regime's gross mismanagement of the economy and exorbitant expenditures on the armed and security services, as well as various paramilitary forces. There could hardly be a country less deserving of debt relief than Sudan under the NIF/NCP-ER]

  • UN agencies to implement Qatari funded projects in DarfurFebruary 16, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Darfur Regional Authority and the United Nations signed Tuesday an agreement to implement a number of development projects in Darfur five states funded by the State of Qatar. (Sudan Tribune)

In the case of Saudi Arabia, Khartoum's economically compelled decision to cut ties with Iran has yielded extraordinary dividends:

  • Sudan severs diplomatic ties with IranJanuary 4, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan on Monday said it is severing diplomatic relations with Iran, one day after Saudi Arabia announced it was also cutting off ties with Tehran. (Sudan Tribune)
  • Saudi Arabia gives Sudan $5 billion in military aidFebruary 22, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Saudi Arabia has granted five billion dollar military assistance to Sudan initially dedicated to the Lebanese army, multiple sources told Sudan Tribune on Monday.  (Sudan Tribune)

 [Despite some skepticism about this dispatch, the ST had excellent sources for this information-ER]

Radio Dabanga:


What must be said now:

What must be said now is that the international community is again averting its eyes from suffering, tyranny, cruelty, and civilian destruction that over the past 27 years have had very few rivals. The international community is implicitly claiming to be persuaded by the professed ambitions of the U.S. Obama administration.


Barack Obama came to office promising not to turn his eyes, or those of the United States, aways from civilian slaughter and genocidal destruction. He has failed to honor that promise.

These "ambitions"-little more than expedient and disingenuous ways of averting U.S. eyes-were best, or at least most revealingly, articulated by former Obama administration special envoy for Sudan Princeton Lyman.

"Frankly, we do not want to see the ouster of the [Sudanese] regime, nor regime change. We want to see the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures."  (Princeton Lyman's response to a question by the respected Arabic news outlet Asharq Al-Awsat, concerning Sudan and the "Arab Spring," December 3, 2011)


Former Obama administration special envoy for Sudan, Princeton Lyman--spokesman for a vicious Obama administration expediency

The assumption here-that the NIF/NCP regime is somehow capable of "carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures"-is so utterly preposterous that there can be only two explanations-for the U.S. and the rest of the world as well. One explanation is an ignorance of the regime so colossal as to defy ordinary rules of magnitude by which we measure diplomatic stupidity or incomprehension. This seems unlikely. Rather, what we are seeing in the international rush to embrace the Khartoum regime is a political cynicism that will incinerate any claim by these actors to be working for the larger good of the Sudanese people.



Eric Reeves 
Smith College

Northampton, MA  01063




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