"There is a point, we believe, when it should become self-evident that the continuation of talk, talk and more talk with a state that has engaged in serial crimes against humanity, genocidal-like actions, ethnic cleansing ... is all but a total waste of time," Totten wrote. "As hundreds of thousands of innocents needlessly suffer, there is a moral imperative that the continual 'diplomatic' talking, negotiating, pleading, and ultimately begging with leaders of such openly deceptive and destructive strategies must be replaced by concrete and effective action ... ."
Preventing a return to war between Sudan and South Sudan appears to be the international community's first priority. A border has not yet been defined, and major oil disagreements over the last year have seen the South half its oil production, costing its own government and that of Khartoum's millions of dollars in lost revenue. Border skirmishes broke out in April.
The U.S. special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Princeton Lyman, traveled to the region in late November. Lyman said that without ending the conflict in the Nuba Mountains it will be hard for Sudan and South Sudan to sort their outstanding issues. Khartoum accuses South Sudan of aiding the SPLM-N rebels, a charge officials in Juba, South Sudan's capital, deny.
"There has to be, and I think everybody really recognizes this, a political channel inside Sudan between the government and the SPLM-N, to bring this conflict to a close. And the first step has to be a cessation of hostilities," Lyman said.
E.J. Hogendoorn, a Horn of Africa expert at the International Crisis Group, a think tank that tracks conflicts, said Sudanese forces aren't strong enough to take the Nuba Mountains without heavy casualties, and the SPLM-N isn't strong enough to push outside of Nuba.
"You have a strategic stalemate that if the international community doesn't do anything about it could last for a very long time, and the knock on-effect is that the civilian population is going to get screwed," he said.