Monday, July 9, 2012

Victory is Ours, Part 2

In Part 1 we looked at Bashir's Islamist government in Khartoum; we examined some controversy surrounding the regime's version of sharia, and we considered further evidence of the regime's lawlessness, in this case regarding blatant murder of a UN contractor right under the noses of UN peacekeepers last summer. We concluded that Bashir's regime comprises the "bad guys" for this war.

In this post, we begin to examine the situation in South Sudan more closely, with a focus on problems the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) faces.

First and foremost, today is the first anniversary of the independence of the Republic of South Sudan: Happy Independence Day!

On this anniversary, President Kiir delivered a speech with a focus on the economy. We examine South Sudan anniversary: Salva Kiir focuses on economy, from July 9, 2012:

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir has said the world's newest country needs to be "independent economically" in his speech to mark the first anniversary of its independence.

Thousands of people danced and waved flags during official celebrations in the capital, Juba.

The BBC's Nyambura Wambugu, in Juba, says that few South Sudanese have seen much improvement in their lives.

But she says that most feel it has been a good year, despite the problems.

Our correspondent says it has also been a turbulent 12 months, with ethnic conflict in Jonglei State killing hundreds, conflict on the border with Sudan and a huge corruption scandal.

'Short man from Khartoum'

Mr Kiir told the crowd: "We still depend on others. Our liberty today is incomplete. We must be more than liberated. We have to be independent economically.

The economic liberation that President Kiir refers to largely involves the situation regarding oil. As the article mentions toward the end, South Sudan controls 75% of the oil from Sudan prior to the split. Going back to early posts dealing with the situation in Sudan, we wondered what would happen with the oil; most of the oil is located in the south, but the pipelines to get it to port facilities, and the port facilities themselves, are located in the North. South Sudan can't export its oil and cash in without cooperation from the North. However, Sudan - the North - will not make much money without working a deal with the South to charge transit fees for helping bring the South's oil to market.

In the long term, GoSS could work a deal with neighboring countries to build a pipeline to port facilities. The trouble is, the only country South Sudan borders which has a coast is Kenya. The other option would be to take the oil through Ethiopia and then through 1) Eritrea, 2) Djibouti or 3) Somalia. Eritrea is a diplomatically isolated nation, kind of like North Korea, run by a rather paranoid dictator; Djibouti has a US AFRICOM base and a French Foreign Legion base, but has not been untouched by the unrest that has rocked the Arab world in the past eighteen months; and Somalia is in an ongoing state of civil war, though northern Somalia is relatively stable. Politically and militarily, northern Somalia or Djibouti might work the best, though the pipeline would may have to run through the state of Jonglei, both the largest and most populous in South Sudan, and which is currently seeing a great deal of tribal infighting (see below); geographically, the part of Somalia rocked by civil war and pirates might be the best.

Regardless, in the short term, disputes over percentages and accusations of theft of oil have resulted in the South shutting down the flow of oil through the North, with a resulting impact on revenues for both Sudans. Since the proceeds from the export of oil made up a greater percentage of the budget for the government in the South than for Bashir's regime in the North, this may have a greater impact on the government in Juba than on Bashir's government in Khartoum.

In fact, in The Inter-Sudan War, Part 5, we examined rather closely the impact of this situation regarding the shut-down of the flow of oil, and I wondered if Bashir hadn't deliberately provoked this, since his regime is in a better position to weather the storm.

Regarding the gravity of the fiscal situation in Juba, we consider an excerpt from South Sudan Has Foreign Exchange Reserves for 18 Months, March 9, 2012 (see original for further information and links which I did not reproduce):

South Sudan, which shut down its oil industry in January, has enough foreign exchange reserves to last 18 months and is exploring new ways to raise cash including issuing bonds, Vice President Riek Machar said.

The African nation will post a budget deficit next year as a result of lost oil revenue, Machar predicted in an interview in New York today after visiting investors. To close the gap, the country may seek commercial loans, sell bonds overseas and truck at least a third of its oil production to ports in other nations, he said.

South Sudan, which gained control of about 75 percent of the previously united Sudan's 490,000 barrels a day of output at independence in July, completed a shutdown of production Jan. 28. It took the action after accusing Sudan of stealing its oil. Sudan said it confiscated the crude to make up for unpaid fees.

The dispute over the fees South Sudan pays the neighboring country to ship the crude via a pipeline to the Red Sea shows few signs of being resolved anytime soon. Oil accounts for more than 95 percent of the economy of South Sudan, according to the government.

Vice President Riek Machar - remember that name. He's on the right in the photo below.

In any case, the government in Juba is facing economic challenges at a time when it also faces internal unrest and an external threat from the North.

Regarding this latter threat, during the independence day celebrations, South Sudan has received some encouragement from Uganda. Skipping down in South Sudan anniversary: Salva Kiir focuses on economy:

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni said his country would support South Sudan in its struggle with "the short man from Khartoum" - seen as a reference to Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir.

I am characterizing the situation between the two Sudans as an ongoing war, although it seems to not be terribly hot at the moment. Most of the rest of the world seems to think it is not a war, but a war is possible. Regardless, IRIN News had the following to say about the situation with the North in Briefing: South Sudan one year on from independence, July 9, 2012 (see original for links that I did not reproduce):

What are the prospects for defusing tensions with Khartoum?

Months of talks led by the African Union have yet to bear fruit. In early April, the two Sudans embarked on a month-long war on the undefined border they had agreed to start demarcating. South Sudan occupied oil fields in a disputed area that produces around half of Sudan's oil output, while Khartoum's counter-insurgency operations have included bombing raids allegedly up to 70km inside South Sudan.

Security agreements, including on a demilitarized zone along the border, have stalled, and each side claims the other is funding rebel groups within its borders.

Sudan has repeatedly accused South Sudan of supporting rebels in the border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile who during the 1983-2005 civil war were part of the southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army. Juba maintains that the northern wing of the insurgency, SPLA-N, has operated independently since secession.

However, one source reports a possible ray of light regarding hostilities with Khartoum. Sudan and South Sudan pledge to end hostilities, dated July 7, 2012, has South Sudan's Chief Negotiator Pagan Amum and Sudan's Defense Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with chief mediator and former South African President Thabo Mbeki, agreeing to commit to a cessation of hostilities and negotiation. (I don't buy it.)

Farther down in Briefing: South Sudan one year on from independence, we have this (again, I did not reproduce links found in the original):

What about internal conflict?

Ethnic clashes and cattle-rustling in a country awash with guns are a serious threat to stability. Thousands of people have been killed in cattle rustling incidents and related violence.

In late December, up to 8,000 youths from the Lou Nuer ethnic group, joined by some Dinka, marched on members of the minority Murle in neglected Jonglei State, killing hundreds, according to the UN, and thousands according to local officials.

The violence displaced over 160,000 people, and spawned a host of smaller attacks in which hundreds more were killed. This prompted a large-scale civilian disarmament operation in Jonglei State.

While South Sudan has followed a policy of "paying for peace" by integrating militias into its already swollen army, analysts say a worrying trend in the politicization of ethnic groups could see the nation turn on itself if the government fails to prosecute those responsible for attacks.

The incident mentioned was pretty significant. From South Sudan horror at deadly cattle vendetta, January 16, 2012:

An age-old vendetta between two communities known for stealing each other's cattle, women and children recently escalated to unknown proportions when over 6,000 armed Lou Nuer youths marched on Pibor to attack the Murle.


A figure speedily produced by Pibor's county commissioner of more than 3,000 dead remains unverified.

This would make it South Sudan's worst conflict since it gained independence from Sudan in July 2011.

County medical officer James Chacha witnessed the attacks and thinks "2,000 plus" were killed by attackers en route to Pibor town, that he says stationed troops struggled to defend.

"In fact they came and they entered the town. The deployment was not that big to cover the headquarters itself", and surrounding villages felt the full force of attacks, he said.

Mr Chacha said around 800 government troops in Pibor only fired on attackers when they had been driven back.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (Unmiss) had 400 peacekeepers in Pibor at the time of the attack and has increased numbers to 1,000.

"That represents almost half of the UN's 2,100 combat ready personnel", who will be sent to reinforce densely populated areas, said Unmiss official Kouider Zerrouk.

The attacks pushed all the way into Pibor, where government troops, outnumbered more than 7 to 1, had trouble just defending themselves.

As the series continues, we will look more in depth into the internal security situation in South Sudan.

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