By Deng Elijah
South Sudan just gained independent, and it’s still the youngest, the poorest and most vulnerable state. If South Sudan can’t adjust within the current socio-politico-economics constraints, if the international community can’t nurture a nine-month-old infant, if the fellow African Union can’t cope with South Sudanese trauma, If South Sudan is not listened to, then the only hopes for South Sudanese will be establishing a new “planet”. Or perhaps, help Nigeria establish Nigeria-South Sudan continent. But that would be efficient if and only if the new continent would invite Libya, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, and perhaps pioneer the once proposed “Gold-currency” to cut off the current politico-economic headache with the rest of the continents. Well, that was just a slip of a tongue!!
Alternatively, it would be unfair, or some may even conclude that the father of a prodigal son would be psychopathic, if instead he fined his youngest, lost son when he returned. Or perhaps his judgments were extraordinary, but it is also true that our judgments depend on our perceptions, experiences and prior knowledge. Possibly, South Sudanese have their own context on this situation that they are competitively resolving with many other concern groups. However, the concern groups were somehow hasty to have imposed sanctions on the aid that they endow. How would you sanction a nation that feeds on less than 2% of her economy, aid and debts? Seriously, South Sudan deserves a planet!
Maybe the truth remains that you never argue with a fool because they would drag you to their level then beat you with experience. Controversially, Bashir dragged South Sudan to his level, but surprisingly, he must confess that he entered the wrong ring.
Nevertheless, we would be biased to predict South Sudanese’s long run victory based on either Heglig or on ground tactics alone. Or else Sudanese would be the only outstanding African champions, having been in war for over 5 decades.
It’s grievous indeed that many South Sudan allies are currently “aligning” behind the ICC indicted, and one of the world’s most wanted criminals. Bashir must celebrate his short term winning of empathy from international community, if South Sudan refuses to withdraw; however, he remains the criminal who is accountable for over 4millions lives in Sudan. Bashir must face ICC or South Sudan tribunal. Needless to say, South Sudan must pursuit the criminal, however, they have to keep an eye on their advocators. They may have to instantiate better platforms, find amicable solutions or else re-launch a seizure!
Despite that, there could be ban on trade, possibly on armaments, or other essentials commodities if South Sudan never obeys the international call of withdrawal from Panthou (Heglig). Yet, South Sudan’s image is being distorted in favor of the blighted Khartoum regimes.
It would also be consequential for South Sudanese to remember that the same convict was and is still a king in Arab world despite his atrocities. Bashir had prominent support from big powers like Russia3, China4, Turkey5 etcetera. He had support from within AU, and African countries. If not, Bashir would have been prosecuted before South Sudan got independent, in July 2011. In other words, Bashir was mindful of whom he was trading with and how he plays his games. So, can South Sudanese really conclude Bashir’s cowardice at this point? Or could he possibly be trying to fit South Sudan in his shoes, and beat them with experience? Either way, South Sudan should keep an eye on the enemy without neglecting her allies!
Heglig was originally and currently (as of mid- April) a South Sudan territory, which is undeniable. However, for some explainable reasons Heglig is being shown6 on the map as a Sudanese region. This is what the international community seems to base their warning of withdrawal on. However, for South Sudanese, this scenario should not be surprising as it is one of the major disputes in many parts of South Sudan including Juba. Thus, could South Sudanese apply the same principles they used in solving land disputes in Juba and other disputed areas?
Of course, withdrawal would be viable if Khartoum government withdraw from Abyei, and accept peaceful negotiations to resolve all these disputes. Also, the UN, AU and EU would have to deploy their forces in the disputed areas including Panthou.
Apparently, South Sudan would have to reconsider their decision on their next options; either advancing to Abyei and other contested regions on a full-scale war or unconditionally withdraw from Panthou, regardless. That means, adhesiveness to only panthou is never a solution since South Sudan will only be entertaining Khartoum’s accusations and yet the international community won’t implement any traded accusations.
South Sudanese has to commit to either full-scale war or no war. In either case, their decision has to be quick, efficient and achievable within a given time.
On the other hand, withdrawal from Panthou (Heglig) would be a win for South Sudanese in the long run. If the South peacefully withdraws, they would be able to work out their current misconceptions with UN, US, AU, Egypt, EU and others. They would be able to bale out economic sanctions and further depreciation of their currency. South Sudan would retain their status quos that the Khartoum regime has witnessed their inflated biceps, which would be a bail for reaching agreements on the remaining issues. Moreover, Sudan would also stop their “undercover” bombardments of innocent civilians in Unity states and any other areas along the border. Both parties may postpone a full-scale war, which could be more advantageous to the South since their economy may boom when the North would be barely surviving.
In other words, there would be no point clinging to the same straw with a dying man or else we would both be willing recruits of a never ending streams of tribal, religious, social and political curse. Try to analyze this report7!!
“The recent violence threatens to return both countries to full-scale war and the period of tragic loss of life and suffering, destroyed infrastructure, and economic devastation, which they have worked so hard and long to overcome”, the Council said in a statement delivered8 by Susan Rice of the United States.
After the oil shutdown in January, South Sudanese economy2 has been struggling, and now it would be Sudanese pound and development in both countries.
If the bombardment continues in Unity state, Bentiu, then it would be hard for investors to invest in South Sudan oil, and the country will remain as it has been for the last centuries. Similarly, the agriculture and any other industries that would have been established will be affected due to lack of services, war and its aftermath. Well, because South Sudanese know these consequences, then there would be no need to polarize them!
South Sudan is just a toddler but with great potentials. As estimated in 2009 census, South Sudan is only 8millions in population compared to 32 millions (well, including their rebels) in the North. However, as South Sudanese say “it’s not the flesh that goes to war, but the mentality”. Therefore, just as they captured Panthou, they would also capture Khartoum depending on South Sudanese definition of “mentality”. This may be right, as it was Biblically the case between David and Goliath. However, if Goliath also had a sling or perhaps the “blessings” that David had, then it would have been by chance that David would gather his courage.
Many South Sudanese had no intentions of returning to a “meaningless war” as president Salva Kiir repeatedly announces in his speeches. Therefore, ignoring the chances of a full-scale war, let’s first brainstorm on how far we would reach before taking this upper hand of “teaching Bashir a lesson”.
As it is the case today, chances of delaying a war have to come at a cost. It would be asymptotically bounded to how much we give up today for tomorrow. And since we can’t sacrifice without our consciences, let’s take a few second to reevaluate any possibility: is South Sudan willing to constraint within the fundamentally acceptable self-defense? That is would South Sudan abide to international community’s definition of “self-defense”? Could South Sudan only vindicate by presenting any necessary proofs to Permanent Court of Arbitration9 (PCA) instead of exchanging accusations with Khartoum government? After all, the satellite recordings may prove any traceable proof, if need be. Can South Sudan afford to delay a full-scale war? And if so, do South Sudanese have cause(s) of this mini-war?
It’s possible that South Sudanese have most answers to their questions that would prevent the conflicts today, if they need to. My naïve instincts believe the main reasons that forced Khartoum to start bombing South Sudan, Unity State were due to oil shutdown, intentions to disestablish the South and perhaps due to mere Jealousy of South Sudan sovereignty. But South can solve only the oil shutdown since defending South Sudan territory is a natural right, and yet the cure for jealousy is already known. As a Kenyan suggested, “mwenye wivu ajinyonge” meaning let’s the jealous ones hung themselves, South shouldn’t be bothered of Bashir’s jealousy.
Moreover, Khartoum’s intention on South Sudan’s oil is clear. They budgeted what they are currently demanding. Demanding $36 dollars per barrel, just for transit, was a sign of aggression. And where on Earth would the international community “back up” such a huge demand? Or is it a myth that such pipes would only transport dust if the South decides to shut off on oil issues with the North? Fortunately, it would be South Sudan demanding 28% of Heglig’s oil production very soon (well, assume you haven’t heard that).
This price is negotiable, and hoping that this delegates used door-in-the-face technique, which South Sudan delegate appropriately encountered with a foot-in-the-door. 70 cent per barrel was unbearable but it may be valuable in the upcoming agreements. However, South Sudan may sympathize and offer a little bit more.
Why postponing war!
The relationship between the two Sudans may resemble the Koreans’. It’s very hard to predict when the two countries may return to a full-scale war, but it’s very likely. Chances are, the two sides may amend an ideal CPA to finalize the remaining deals.
However, South Sudan may sign an expensive deal on oil transit with Khartoum, in order to buy time, which is hurtful. But better half bread than none. It is very important that South Sudan would complete her current projects with Eastern Africa and within the young nation. Besides, South Sudan would be able to obtain equipment and trainings at better prices. South would be able to train air forces (maybe marine and navy too, if need be), and they may decide to demarcate whatever they would afford to, if war were unrestrainable.
South Sudan army would be well equipped both on ground and in air. Her development and economy would also get a chance to catch up with other regions. And if the third civil war between Sudan nations is inevitable, say in four years from now, then South Sudan army would not only target to recapture Heglig in a short time, but the entire 1956 border. That would be effective and efficient compared to the today’s undecided war. Or if the contract ends, and the border have not been demarcated, then the South might only request the international community to wish them luck at the border(take that for a joke). Just in case!!
In sum, “People don’t plan to fail they just fail to plan” Alan Lakein.
Deng Elijah is a South Sudanese who lives in British Columbia, Canada. He can be reached @ email@example.com