Sudan clashes ignite media campaigns

South-Sudan's Sudan People's Liberation Army pointing towards a circling Antonov in Heglig Southern troops who seized the oil centre of Heglig have faced counterattack from the North

With clashes between South Sudan and Sudan threatening to spiral into all-out conflict, state TV networks in both countries are pulling out the stops to rally support for their respective causes.

Martial music accompanies footage of soldiers, and statements by military commanders reinforce the military mobilization under way on both sides of the border.

Meanwhile, online activists within Sudan are using social media to question the official line.

Sudan TV

State-run Sudan TV is re-running programmes made during the north-south civil war, including a 1990s repeat, "In The Fields of Sacrifice". The programmes urge "jihad" against "the enemy" - namely, South Sudan's ruling party.

The TV carries videos promoting the Popular Defence Forces (PDF) militia, a mainstay of the Sudanese military. The footage features PDF "martyrs" and archive footage of battles from the long-running civil war.

Other footage, broadcast under the title "The Youth Who Answer The Call To Arms", urges young men to join up. It features key figures from the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), including the defence minister and Khartoum State governor, who are shown dressed in military fatigues, extolling the virtues of jihad.

Unlike its counterpart in South Sudan, Khartoum's official TV is not showing contemporary footage from Heglig. Instead, it relies on archive video from other battlegrounds. The TV repeatedly insists that Sudanese forces are about to "liberate" the area.

South Sudan TV
Omar Bashir addresses a youth rally in support of troops The South aired footage of a commander talking of sending President Bashir "back to Arabia"

South Sudan TV is showing footage of parades and recordings of commanders addressing soldiers. In one video, a commander addresses his soldiers in Arabic and blames the NCP and President Bashir for lying to their people and dragging the countries to the brink of war.

The commander urges his fighters to "liberate Khartoum from the NCP" and talks of sending President Bashir and his tribe "back to the Arabian peninsula".

Echoing the jihad calls from Sudanese commanders, the SPLA officer advocates "a Christian holy war" against the "mondokoro" (slang for Arab Sudanese), and promises to hand over President Bashir and other Sudanese officials to the International Criminal Court.

The network has been showing footage of prisoners of war, said to have been captured in Heglig. The parading of the PoWs before the cameras has been condemned by Khartoum.

Sudan's online battleground

Within Sudan, pro-government and anti-war camps are engaged in an online battle which has spilled over onto social media platforms.

Pro-military outlets include the "Electronic Army for the Defence of Sudan" Facebook page, which has been reporting developments on the ground in Heglig.

The Electronic Army - which appears to have close links to the Sudanese security apparatus - carries reports from "reporters" said to be embedded with the army.

Its Facebook page carries a montage of a fighter jet - a symbol of Sudan's aerial superiority. There are images of corpses, purportedly those of South Sudanese soldiers killed in Heglig.

The anti-war camp, meanwhile, is using social media to question the official and military narrative.

Facebook group Tadaeiat carries clips that ridicule the NCP, including a video that shows President Bashir dancing and singing following a speech in which he vowed to fight South Sudan.

Khartoum appears to be fighting back. Since the occupation of Heglig, pages on several popular sites including Al-Rakoba and Sudaneseonline have been rendered inaccessible.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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