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South Sudan Doomed From Its Inception?

By Jehron Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Jul 26, 2016 - 2:31:21 PM

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UNITED NATIONS—With increased conflict and the “unstable situation … following clashes between Government and opposition forces” in Southern Sudan—which left some 272 people, including 33 civilians dead—the United Nations peace keeping chief proposed that UN peacekeepers in South Sudan extend their mission until the end of August.

“The current situation in the country remains fluid and uncertain,” said Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Harve Ladsous in his briefing to the Security Council on the activities of the UN Mission in South Sudan, whose mandate expires July 31.

Expressing alarm by the ongoing “fighting in Juba between soldiers of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the SPLA in Opposition,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement, said, “This outbreak of hostilities in the capital, on the eve of the country’s fifth anniversary of independence (July 9), is yet another illustration of the parties’ lack of serious commitment to the peace process and represents a new betrayal of the people of Southern Sudan, who have suffered from unfathomable atrocities since December 2013. ”


In addition, the Secretary-General urged President Salva Kiir and First Vice-President Riek Machar to put an immediate end to the ongoing fighting, discipline military leaders responsible for violence and work together to implement the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan.

Africa’s newest country has spent much of its short life at war with itself, the result of a political face-off between President Kiir and his former Vice-President Machar. This feud erupted into a full-blown conflict late in 2013. Before an August 2015 peace deal ended the major offensives, over 50,000 people had been killed and nearly 2.5 million people fled their homes in fear, making South Sudan the world’s fourthlargest refugee producing country, and second largest in sub-Saharan Africa after Somalia.

To get insight into the root causes of this recurring conflict, go back to the late Dr. John Garang, the father of South Sudan resistance. His vision, his dream had always been to make a “New Sudan” that would accommodate the rich diversity of its people and cultures. Wanting to maintain the integrity of the continent’s largest and most diverse and resources laid country, Mr. Garang, with great difficulty said, “If we cannot rise to the challenge and move to the New Sudan, it is better that the Sudan breaks up before it breaks down.”

In January 2005, at the signing ceremony of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Nairobi, “the deal,” according to the Guardian newspaper, “which ended the decades-long war between the Sudanese government and the SPLM/A rebels of which Garang was chief”—the leader reiterated the above words to the 20,000 Sudanese and 15 African heads of state assembled for the occasion. “This peace agreement signals the beginning of one Sudan regardless of race, religion or tribe,” he said.

Six months later, he was dead, the victim of a helicopter crash in circumstances that continue to suggest the possibility of foul play. And with that, the hope for a united Sudan died with him.

Reports suggested that his vision for a unified Sudan given deputy Salva Kiir, a committed secessionist, the United States and activist leaders, pushing in the same direction, would have been an uphill battle if Mr. Garang had lived.

Harve Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations
“The CPA was heralded as Sudan’s ‘second independence’ and its last and best chance for unity,” the executive director of World Peace Foundation at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, Alex de Waal, wrote in African Affairs, in a lengthy piece titled: “When kleptocracy (a militarized, corrupt neo-patrimonial system of governance) becomes insolvent: Brute causes of the civil war in South Sudan.”

South Sudan was doomed from inception.

Mr. De Waal wrote, that by 2011 date of independence, “the South Sudanese ‘political marketplace’ was so expensive that the country’s comparatively copious oil revenue was consumed by the military-political patronage system, with almost nothing left for public services, development or institution building.”

A January special summit that resolved the crisis between South Sudan oil resources and its transportation via Sudan’s pipeline that included Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi,Kenyan President Mwah Kibaki, the chair of the AUHIP President Thabo Mbeki and former Burundian President Pierre Buyoya, who met with South Sudan’s President Kiir and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashar. Despite the best efforts to track him down SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum Okiech, was for some reason, nowhere to be found.

During the session President Kiir announced, “With regret I must inform you that our delegation is still discussing the matter.”

In the same hotel, a few hours later Mr. Pagan made his own statement during a press conference. “We have been forced to shut down oil exploitation until we get this (complete) commitment from the GoS (Government of Sudan). The shutdown will be complete, and we will discuss with Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti for future oil operations options. It’s a tough decision we had to make. … These talks have come to an end,” he said. Mr. Pagan publicly denied a split in the SPLM, but he had “overruled and humiliated” President Kiir, Mr. De Waal wrote.

Mr. Pagon, by turning off the oil spigot, had just eliminated South Sudan’s sole source of revenue. His rationale was South Sudan had enough cash reserves to last eight months and “before that period was out the government of Sudan would fall, because it depended on revenues and tariffs from oil and it was facing armed insurgencies and popular unrest,” wrote Mr. De Waal.

Later President Meles met with Mr. Pagon and described his group as “better informed than I expected, and more reckless than I expected. Since this action threatened the collapse of both countries, it could be described as South Sudan’s economic doomsday machine,” Mr. De Waal wrote.

This is just one of the many incidents that prove South Sudan wasn’t ready or able to take the reins of sovereignty.

A case in point is the speed with which a shootout between President Kiir and Vice President Machar and their rival forces in the army started, according to the Financial Times. It “metastasized into a vicious conflict (and) exposed the naiveté of those self-appointed (mainly the United States) cheerleaders of southern independence abroad, who argued that all other issues were secondary to sovereignty.”

This view was long held by U.S. activists and officials including, Susan Rice, now national security advisor, and George Cooney, Hollywood actor. They and others were influential in “promoting the belief that the government of Khartoum is ‘too deformed to be reformed,’ and that once liberated the south would thrive.” The argument was that South Sudan simply had to split with Sudan, and a conflict along ethnic, religious and tribal fault lines, to prosper.

Today South Sudan goes down in history, behind Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, in a list of countries that U.S. with involvement have become into failed states.