Heglig Crisis

Heglig Crisis
South Sudan Sudan Locator-cropped.png
DateMarch 26 – September 26, 2012
(6 months)
LocationAlong the whole Sudan-South Sudan border, although the main fighting took place at Heglig
Result

Sudanese victory[1]

  • South Sudanese withdrawal from Heglig[2]
  • Agreement on borders and natural resources signed on September 26[3]
Belligerents
 South Sudan Sudan
Commanders and leaders

Salva Kiir
President of South Sudan

James Gatduel Gatluak
Commander of the 4th Division[4]

Omar al-Bashir
President of Sudan

Ahmed Haroun
Governor of South Kordofan
Strength
SPLA:
unknown
Overall:[5]
140,000 soldiers
110 tanks
69 artillery pieces
10 helicopters
SAF:[6]
2,000 (at Heglig)[7][8]
Overall:[5]
109,300 soldiers
17,500 paramilitaries
390 tanks
115 light tanks
490 armoured personnel carriers
778 artillery pieces
63 combat airplanes
29 helicopters
Casualties and losses
31 killed (South Sudanese claim)[9]
1,200 killed (Sudanese claim)[8]
106 wounded[10][11]
Several captured[12]
256 killed (South Sudanese claim)[13]
100 wounded[14]
50 captured (Sudanese claim)[7]
1 MiG-29 shot down[15]
29 civilians killed[16]
The casualty numbers are based on the warring parties claims and have not been independently verified

The Heglig Crisis[17] was a brief war fought between the countries of Sudan and South Sudan in 2012 over oil-rich regions between South Sudan's Unity and Sudan's South Kordofan states. South Sudan invaded and briefly occupied the small border town of Heglig before being pushed back by the Sudanese army. Small-scale clashes continued until an agreement on borders and natural resources was signed on September 26, resolving most aspects of the conflict.

Background

South Sudan's independence was preceded by two civil wars, from 1955 to 1972 and from 1983 to 2005, in which 2.5 million people were killed and more than 5 million externally displaced.[18] Relations between the two states have been marked by conflict over the Greater Nile Oil Pipeline and the disputed region of Abyei, even though Sudan was the first state to recognise South Sudan.[19] In January 2012, South Sudan shut down all of its oil fields in a row over the fees Sudan demanded to transit the oil.[18]

In May 2011, it was reported that Sudan had seized control of Abyei, a disputed oil-rich border region, with a force of approximately 5,000 soldiers after three days of clashes with South Sudanese forces.[20] The precipitating factor was an ambush by the South killing 22 northern soldiers. The northern advance included shelling, aerial bombardment and numerous tanks.[21] Initial reports indicated that over 20,000 people fled. The interim South Sudanese government declared this as an "act of war," and the United Nations sent an envoy to Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, to intervene.[20] South Sudan says it has withdrawn its forces from Abyei.[22] A deal on militarization was reached on 20 June 2011.[23] The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei, consisting of Ethiopian troops were deployed under a UNSC resolution from 27 June 2011.[24] In early December 2011, Jau, a town in Unity state in South Sudan, was occupied by Sudanese forces.[25] In early March 2012, the Sudanese Air Force bombed parts of Pariang county.[26]

Each country accuses the other of supporting rebels on their soil as part of the ongoing internal conflict in Sudan and in South Sudan.[25]