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In S. Sudan, What Were US Military Aircraft Doing Heading to Bor?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 21, updated -- The shooting of a US military aircraft heading in South Sudan to Bor raises a number of questions. Before he left for Hawaii, President Barack Obama sent to Congress a "Report Consistent with the War Powers Act" that he was sending 45 US military personnel to South Sudan."

Obama stated, "although equipped for combat, this force was deployed for the purpose of protecting U.S. citizens and property."

So what were US military aircraft doing heading to Bor? Was it only to protect US citizens and property? Or was it to support US ally Salva Kiir, against former (thrown out) vice president Riek Machar?

Yesterday as Inner City Press reported on former US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice recorded a recorded a five minute speech to the people of South Sudan, uploaded by Grant Harris here.

  Rice is closely associated with the country's independence; Inner City Press witnessed her in October 2010 giving a pep talk to young recruits a short UN helicopter ride from Juba in Rejaf / Rajaf. Click here for Inner City Press story.

Her speech, though long, doesn't mention the performance of the UN. Should it be pulling armed peacekeepers out of areas where civilians are under threat, like in Yuai? Why wasn't the UN able or willing to contact Riek Machar in the day or days after the violence began?

  Why is the US seeming to side entirely with Salva Kiir against Riek Machar. Inner City Press has asked in the UN about Peter Gadet - more on that to come.

Rice's successor as US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, meanwhile, as been in the Central African Republic and Chad, from which she tweeted Friday night she had raised the issue of the recruitment of child soldiers, for which Chad is on the UN list even as UN Peacekeeping's Herve Ladsous accept this former French colony into the UN mission in Mali, MINUSMA.

Once there, the Chadian troops are charged with gang rape. Did Ambassador Power raise that, as she raised the Congolese Army's rapes in Minovo to Joseph Kabila during the UN Security Council's trip there?

Chad is part of the peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, even as they are viewed as supporters of the Seleka rebels. What Power say about that?

  How and will when she and / or others at the US Mission or State Department explain what the US military aircraft were doing?

  The UN, since a Friday noon briefing full on contradictions has gone silence other than a statement ostensibly from Ban Ki-moon, who is in the Philippines. The UN says it will have no briefings at all next week, despite developments in South Sudan. Will the US have more to say? It should. Watch this site.

Update: after publication of this article, the US Mission in Juba has said that the flight(s) to Bor were for evacuation purposes. 

 Inner City Press has requested further information, including from AfriCom, which responded:

Subject: US military aircraft in South Sudan
Date: Sat, Dec 21, 2013 at 10:13 AM
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at]

Hello Matthew. Here is what we can provide at this time.

We can confirm that four U.S. Servicemembers were injured today from gunfire directed at their aircraft in South Sudan.

The aircraft was participating in a mission to evacuate American citizens in Bor.

After receiving fire from the ground while approaching the site, the aircraft diverted to an airfield outside the country and aborted the mission.

 Watch this site.


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