War has broken out between the Sudans. There is no other way to describe the conflict. South Sudan invaded and occupied what Sudan considered Sudanese territory. Now, Sudan is in the third day of a bombing campaign against targets most definitely in South Sudan. This includes bombing a bridge in a state capital in South Sudan.

South Sudan’s president is visiting Beijing today. That is significant because China holds considerable sway over Khartoum. There is no easy way out of this conflict. Khartoum clearly holds a military edge, and seems willing to use its superior airpower to attack positions inside South Sudan.  Unless significant outside pressure (read, from China) is applied on Khartoum, there is no telling when or how this will end.

Khartoum wages war by targeting civilians. It happened in Darfur in 2004; in the Nuba mountain region last year; and now potentially the conflict is moving south.  If this conflict escalates, there is a distinct possibility  — probability, really — that significant violence will be leveled against civilian populations.

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