New war between two Sudans possible?

Negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan, aimed to conclude a contract on the borders between the two countries, continue in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. The contract will allow the countries to finally resolve the differences related to the transportation of oil from South Sudan through the Northern Sudan. The UN Security Council gave the two countries the time until September 22 to sign the agreement - if it is not reached, the two countries may be subject to various economic sanctions.

What is the essence of the conflict between northern and southern Sudan?

Sudan is a country located in south-east Africa, with the capital Khartoum. On July 9, 2011 after a referendum Sudan was officially divided in two countries, and South Sudan became a separate state. This was preceded by numerous conflicts between the north and south of the once united country.

The state of Sudan was established in 1956. Since then the politics of the state was the domination of the Arab north over the black south where the north was trying somehow to conduct Arabization and Islamization of the South. Unification of the country did not solve the political problems, and from 1955 to 1972 the first civil war between the two parts of the state was ongoing in Sudan. In 1969 the power in Khartoum was seized by Jaafar Nimeiri, who pursued a policy of active Islamization and introduced Shariah in the legislation of Sudan. In response, the hostilities were continued by the Sudan People's Liberation Army.

In 2003-2004, the negotiations between the government and the rebels continued. In 2005, after the signing of the Naivasha agreement in Kenya, South Sudan received autonomy. This allowed holding a referendum on granting Southern Sudan independence in six years. Oil revenues, by agreement, were shared proportionately between the northern and southern parts of the country.

However, after the death of the leader of the southern autonomy John Garang in 2005, the situation in the country once again escalated. The UN peacekeeping forces were introduced in Sudan.

In 2010, the U.S. government announced that they would welcome the free will of the citizens of the southern Sudan on independence, especially as all the ministries and governance in Southern Sudan have been created. South Sudan gained independence on July 9, 2011 after a referendum.

The separation of Sudan into two states and the formation of the Southern Sudan have not put an end to conflicts between North and South, whose basis is the control over the border of oil-bearing regions, and ethnic tensions between the Muslim Arab North Sudan and South Sudan tribes, most of whose population professes Christianity and animism.

The economic differences between the two countries after gaining independence of South Sudan remained largely unresolved. The South Sudanese government accused Juba (capital of South Sudan) of taking 90 percent of the oil produced in the region. In response, Sudan simply started taking part of the oil of South Sudan transported through its territory, which has a negative impact on the economy of the south. The 2005 Agreement on the division of the money for the oil is little observed by the parties.

On March 26, 2012 an open armed conflict began. South Sudan accused the troops of the North that the Air Force attacked a city in South Sudan. On April 10 the South Sudan military entered the town of Heglig, the center of one of the major oil fields of Sudan. In response, the Northern Sudan declared general mobilization.

On April 16, 2012 the Parliament of Sudan issued a statement according to which South Sudan was declared an enemy state. On April 22 Southern Sudanese troops were withdrawn from Heglig. Altogether during the struggle for Heglig region, according to the commander of the army of South Sudan Maruf Kamal, 1.2 thousand people of Southern Sudan were killed.

Since then there were no direct negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan. They only began in late May of 2012 in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, under the mediation of the African Union. The Egyptian press reported that, according to Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Hussein, South Sudan has put forward unacceptable territorial claims in relation to its northern neighbor, particularly in terms of oil-producing region Heglig.

The conflict between two parts of Sudan is also related to the territorial location of those states. Southern Sudan, in contrast to the North, is rich in oil, but has no outlet to the sea. The North-eastern part of Sudan borders the Red Sea, and South Sudan is forced to transport its oil through the territory of Sudan. Both countries did not come to an agreement on the fees for the transportation of oil through Sudan. Pagan Amum, a representative of South Sudan, has accused Sudan of overstating the price of oil transit through its territory, and the government of South Sudan offered to consider prices for transit through the international arbitration.

The parties finally managed to come to an agreement. On September 4 in Addis Ababa the talks between Sudan and South Sudan continued, which resulted in a compromise reached on the issue of oil transit, reported by The Associated Press. In its statement, the Government of Southern Sudan said that the cost of transportation of hydrocarbons through the territory of South Sudan will be 9.48 dollars per barrel. Southern Sudan is obliged to pay compensation to the Sudan in the amount of three billion dollars.

The agreement between Sudan and South Sudan will be effective for three years, during which time the Southern Sudan plans to build a pipeline that will transport the South Sudan oil through Kenya.

On July 9, 2012 South Sudan celebrated its first anniversary of independence, but in spite of an agreement with Sudan and end of the war, the lives of ordinary citizens of South Sudan involve great economic difficulties. The increase in inflation in the country is 19 percent. Food prices in the past year of the announcement of the independence increased by 120 percent. About half of the population lives below poverty line, and most of the people living in rural areas cannot read or write. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the country is on the verge of starvation. The sad economic situation is also exacerbated by corruption. Can a new war between South Sudan and Sudan over the newly exacerbated territorial and economic differences between the two countries improve the economic situation in both North and South Sudan? Hardly so.

A new war could lead to unnecessary losses and further impoverishment of the people in both countries. Both countries should strive for good neighborly cooperation, based on shared history and cultural traditions. The international community that mediated the agreements between Sudan and South Sudan will continue to provide mediation services to promote peace between the two countries as necessary. However, only time will tell whether the efforts will lead to the establishment of peace in the region.

Sergei Vasilenkov


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov