Tuesday, January 11, 2011

South Sudan - So Far So Partly Good

Back at the end of September I posted that the world was not paying attention to what could turn into a vicious bloodbath starting this week. I was writing in reference to Sudan and the vote for or against secession in the south. So far I am glad to have been proved wrong and President Bashir has said that he will respect the results of the vote, now in its second day out of six. He also offered to assume all of Sudan’s debt after the referendum if the south secedes, saying that it would be unable to handle any debt in its current economic condition.

As everyone now knows, the violence in Sudan between the Muslim north and Christian south (and, more to the point, the racial differences between the north and south) has been going on for decades. The problem in the Darfur has been covered only recently. Fighting goes a long – a long way back and had only marginally to do with what has caught the attention of the media now – oil.

Although thankfully major violence appears to have been avoided at this point in time, it remains a serious and dangerous possibility. Reuters reported yesterday that 36 have died in clashes around the likely new border and claims that Khartoum is supplying arms to Arab Misseriya militias in the Abyei region – where the oil is.

The oil producing regions in the south do just that – produce. Khartoum control, because it has the infrastructure, refining and export. Agreements will need to be signed upon independence (and there is no question the south will become independent) that restructure the revenue sharing. Although so far the fighting has been somewhat confined, I don’t see a peaceful ending to this as a given and some sort of international intervention may be required.

Expect the Chinese to be a major player in the negotiations and outcome.

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