The Conflicting Role of the United States of America in the South Sudanese Civil War

Posted: January 23, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Madel Ayuen Madel, Beijing, China


President Bush with President Salva Kiir at the Oval Office, White House

January 23, 2018 (SSB) — The United States of America known to many in South Sudan as ‘America’ has been a long-term ally to the people of South Sudan ever since the liberation struggle against Sudan. However, their role has never been in question until very recently i.e. 2013 to be exact. Subsequent to the December 15, 2013, war that broke out in Juba between the forces loyal to the former deputy vice president Dr. Riek Machar and the President of the Republic of South Sudan Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, the way the United States of America is looked at in South Sudan has never been the same again.

Debates pertaining to the United States role in South Sudan has been very much heated with the supporters of the United States arguing that the tainted image of the United States in South Sudan is an attempt by the government of the Republic of South Sudan to scapegoat the United States for the Political mess in the country; Just like a player always blame missing a penalty on his boats. While on the other hand, the anti- U.S. are of a view that the United States played a very negative role in 2013 that led to December 15, 2013, mutiny in Juba. To this very day, the truth remains a mystery to many South Sudanese.

As of today, if South Sudan is not leading the world with the largest number of armed movements fighting their own government, then it is probably the second largest. In order to logically reason it out so as to establish motives, let’s acknowledge the presence of the following armed groups with an independent command. We have SPLM-IO led by Dr. Riek Machar, SPLM-IO led by Gen. Taban Deng Gai, SSPA led by Lt. Gen. Agany Abdel-Baqi Ayii, FDPSS led by Changson Chang & Peter Gadet, NSF led by Thomas Cerilo, Dot ku Bai led by Kuol Athian, Agwelek forces led by Johnson Olony, SPLA-IO Eastern Equatoria led by Martin Abuja, Baping Monytuil, Col. Chan Garang, and the unknown gunmen.

Nonetheless, we have the non-violence political movements such as the SPLM-FDs led by Gen. Pagan Amum, SSNMC led by Bengasi Bakasoro, and etc. The fundamental question is; is it really the U.S behind all these rebellions in order to get our oil as alleged or is it the South Sudan Government itself?

In July 2013, the President of the Republic of South Sudan Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit dismissed his Vice Dr. President Riek Machar, the SPLM Secretary-General Pagan Amum Okech along with his entire cabinet and disbanded all of the top-level organs of the SPLM party, including the Political Bureau, the National Convention and the National Liberation Council in November 2013.  Undoubtedly, this move resulted in the conflict on December 15, 2013, that later spilled over the entire country. Did the U.S President Barrack Obama fire the whole cabinet or were the U.S marines involved in the firefight on December 15, 2013? The answer is obvious.

Also, Preceding 2013, South Sudan was already very corrupt and for that matter was listed on the World Corruption Index; a recognition we got just for the greed of over 75 people who made our corruption very pronounced when they embezzled millions of dollars and hide them at the Swiss Bank. Again, were the 75 plus corrupt officials Americans? Furthermore, there was an in a fight within the SPLM party over reforms and that basically fueled the tension that eventually led to the war on December 15, 2013. Was America involved in the SPLM Party fight?

The Bank of South Sudan Gov. Koriom Mayiik with his own economic theory devalued South Sudanese Pounds against the U.S dollar, a shoot that we have all felt. Today the Inflation in South Sudan has peaked to the very top that you will never wish to go back to if by any chance we ever get out of it. Honestly, was it Ben Bernanke the Chair of the U.S Board of the Governors of the Federal Reserves System who devalued SSP? Again, it was Koriom Mayiik the Governor of the Bank of South Sudan who did it. So in the above events that I have enumerated, how were the Americans involved in order to take our oil?

For the record, I am not in absolute disagreement with the proponents of ‘U.S has a special interest in South Sudan’, but I take an issue with how it is extremely made to appear like South Sudan is in both political and economic crisis because America wants our oil. In my opinion, I think the United States of America has more oil than South Sudan and if you were to do your homework and substantiate my claim, I am sure you‘ll arrive at a conclusion that some fortunate folks orchestrated this whole rhetoric against the U.S in order to exacerbate the suffering of the people of South Sudan so that they continue looting.

Simple logic, why was U.S Mission in South Sudan not in question until after the war? Maybe yes, maybe not. But, I think the group that goes around preaching hate against a country that has done so much for us; fits the perfect definition of ‘the people who want our oil’.

In 1989, Rep. Wolf traveled into the war-ravaged terrain of southern Sudan to become the first U.S. representative to meet with the head of the southern Sudanese rebels, Dr. John Garang. Payne followed a few years later, and on his return to Washington pushed for the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a resolution endorsing the right of southern Sudanese to exercise self-determination. Congress subsequently condemned the Sudanese government “for its genocidal war in southern Sudan.

Further pressure on the Sudanese government came with the 1993 designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terror, and the 1997 imposition of comprehensive economic sanctions, which prevented U.S. companies from operating in Sudan. All of the above were aimed at giving the southern rebels (SPLA) a military advantage over Sudan. In addition to the above, it was the U.S out of all the white community that started opening its arms to Sudanese refugees and over 20,000 lost boys were resettled in the U.S in order to have the education.

If you were in Kakuma Refugee camp and luckily enough got a chance to be resettled in the U.S, I don’t think you can be delusional to say it was for oil. Which country did that when Sudanese refugees needed educational help?

If you were in IDP camps in the then Southern Sudan in 90’s, you will recall that the most prominent NGO’s were Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), American Relief Agency (ARC), Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), WFP and UNHCR. These organizations helped set up hospitals, schools, fed us and even donated blankets and clothes to us. Surprisingly, the same people accusing them of coming after our oil did not question their help/role in the 90’s. Think about who they are fooling? It is you.

Today we can buy suits, pay for food bills, and even have the audacity to write against them with the education they helped lay a solid foundation for. Don’t you think they deserve credit than hate? Experience level differs, but if all of us went through the same ordeal, then USA and Norway should deserve first preferential treatment in South Sudan.

There is a group that would want to have the whole country believe that it is all about oil and that’s where I strongly disagree. I think there is an element of compassion to it than oil. On a personal account, without the Americans, I would be a dead man in 2001 just like many others who didn’t have access to American built health facilities then. A good example is a big hospital built by the Samaritan Purse’s (Americans) in Lui and without that hospital, many would have not lived to vote for the independence of South Sudan.

And it is through that hospital that I am writing to you today. I don’t know if the help I got from Scot Hughet, Dr. Warren Cooper and the Samaritans Purse’s team in Lui was for oil. You wouldn’t understand my feeling until I take off my shirt in front of you to convince me that it was for oil. So if you tell me that the Americans are responsible for the war in South Sudan in order to get our oil, then I will just walk away from you because there is no way you can make me believe that the Americans would love to push us to kill ourselves for oil when for many years they have been curing South Sudanese.

For argument sake let’s assume it was for oil. Who deserves the oil, the ruling clique eating it alone now or the people who built your schools and hospitals? The ‘they liberated the country narrative’ is irrelevant because all our families contributed and died for it in order for us to eat the oil that you are not eating now.

In my opinion, foreign policy is all about advancing both your political and economic interest and that’s probably what the United States is doing in South Sudan just like the rest of the countries in Juba. If you disagree with me, that’s okay. But think about what South Sudan Embassy is doing in the United States, UK, India, China, Kenya, Uganda, and Germany.

This article is my contribution to the National Dialogue sanctioned by the president of the Republic of South Sudan so I am dialoguing! I expect to pass through life but once.  If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again. — William Penn

The writer, Madel Ayuen Madel is currently a Scholar studying MSc. Economics & Finance at University of International Business and Economics, Beijing -China. He holds a bachelor degree in Accounts & Finance at Vels University, Chennai –India. Currently, he works at Dr. John Garang Memorial University as a teaching assistant as well as a general manager in the office of investment and quality assurance. Previously, he worked with PAE as the project site manager, events manager, and construction project manager, as well as with HIRACA as a consultant and transcription specialist.  In addition to that, he worked at Edenbridge as Tally ERP-9 tutor assistant. He currently lives in Beijing China and can be reached at his email:


The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to PaanLuel Wël website (SSB) do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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