By Jacob K. Lupai
April 16, 2012 (SSNA) — Sudan was one united country until the 9th July 2011 when the southern part became independent Republic of South. This left the northern part to remain as the Republic of Sudan. Reasons for the split of Sudan into two independent countries are so numerous that it may probably need a 100,000 word thesis for critical analysis of the reasons for the split of Sudan. Suffice to say that northern Sudanese elite were overzealous of their Arabness and their religion, Islam. Understanding this in the context of South Sudan can give a clue or glimpse of the fundamentals of the split of Sudan into two independent countries. However, dwelling on the split is like crying over spilt milk. What is important, though, is to understand how and why the Republic of Sudan is dangerous as erratic neighbor to the Republic of South Sudan.
Sudan was an Arab country and a member of the Arab League before the southern part separated to become independent. Being officially an Arab country, Sudan was already internally divided into Arab and non Arab faces and with the Arab element with its privilege position was dominant in all aspects of running the affairs of the country. There was gross marginalization of the non Arab element manifested especially in the underdevelopment of Southern Sudan. Another twist was the adoption of Islamic Sharia when marginalization of non Muslims was consolidated. The dream was more of control of resources in Southern Sudan that the promotion of unity of Sudan. The dream made the northern elite overenthusiastic to get it fulfilled. As can be realized in their own blunders Sudan has become a dangerous erratic neighbour. The dream of controlling resources in Southern Sudan pushed the northern elite to fiddle with North-South borders. When oil was struck in the first wells north of Bentiu town in Southern Sudan the northern elite christened the wells as Unity Wells. To confuse the northern elite misled the world about the exact location of the oil fields. They claimed the location of the oil fields was 450 miles south of Khartoum and at other times the elite described the oil fields as located in southern part of Western Sudan. Associating the oil fields with the southern part of Western Sudan made the oil fields to appear within the borders of the North now the Republic of Sudan. This deceptive plan obviously revealed the northern elite’s sinister design to deprive the South of its wealth.
As to add insult to injury a pipeline would be constructed from the oil fields to Port Sudan for the oil to reach international markets. The reaction from the people of the South was swift with demonstrations taking place. The demand was the channeling of the oil to international markets through Mombasa Port in Kenya instead of Port Sudan. In reaction to the demonstrations in the South the feeling in the North was expressed by the President of Sudan when he said southerners did not want northerners to have anything to do with the oil from the South. This clearly suggests that the North all along had wanted to control southern wealth. This was to be achieved through fiddling with North-South borders in transferring rich agricultural and pasture lands, and areas where oil was discovered from the South to Southern Darfur, Southern Kordofan and the White Nile provinces. This was followed by another North’s decision to build an oil refinery in Kosti to refine Bentiu crude oil. Specifically the North had attempted to transfer the rich oil, agricultural and grazing lands of Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal to Northern provinces by merely redrawing the map. However, boundary changes were not acceptable to the South. As a result a committee was appointed to investigate and review the relevant legal texts and to advise. The committee independent recommendation was the retention of boundaries fixed on 1st January 1956 and this showed the discovered oil fields were in the South. Nevertheless, with the independence of the South, the Republic of Sudan is still dreaming of controlling what are precisely oil fields in independent Republic of South Sudan.
When on the 9th July 2011 Sudan split into two independent countries of South Sudan and Sudan, Sudan automatically lost its share of wealth from South Sudan. It is to be recalled that in old Sudan most of the natural resources including oil were mainly in the South. The separation of South from the North brought economic woes and uncertainty to what is now the Republic of Sudan. In its complacency old Sudan never believed that the South would one day become an independent country. Old Sudan saw its unity untouchable. However, for people in the South who saw the unity of old Sudan as a curse rather than a blessing, it was not difficult to get a near unanimous yes vote for total independence of the South. This left the now Republic of Sudan reeling in confusion, sleepless nights and in panic. The Republic of Sudan’s immediate response to the South’s declaration of in dependence was to undermine the young Republic. Sudan occupied Abyei, an area that belongs to South Sudan but circumstantially was annexed to the North. It confiscated South Sudan’s crude oil on flimsy reasons. Sudan stole crude oil from South Sudan in broad day light prompting South Sudan to shut down oil production. In desperation Sudan responded by bombing targets in South Sudan as an act of intimidation and also as a contempt of the international community that had instantly recognised the independence of South Sudan. Clearly Sudan is a menace and an erratic neighbour that needs a decisive response it will not easily forget.
South Sudan’s military response
South Sudan had asserted on numerous occasions that it would not return to war with Sudan despite provocations by the latter. It opted for a peaceful resolution of conflicts through dialogue and negotiations. Nevertheless, Sudan had other ideas. As a dangerous and deceptive neighbour, Sudan has been scheming on how best to administer South Sudan a deadly blow of no survival as an independent country. Sudan combined its air force and infantry to undermine the territorial integrity of South Sudan. Although with limited air defenses South Sudan responded decisively to the constant and outrageous provocation by Sudan. The South Sudan army well known as Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) has shown beyond anybody’s doubt that it is capable of defending the sovereignty of the country. The response of South Sudan is a lesson that Sudan will not swallow easily. The hawks in Sudan must be wondering what next. Well, it is possible that the Sudanese masses may soon rise up against the tyrannical regime of Sudan that has been a thorn in the flesh of the people both in South Sudan and Sudan. The masses in Western, Eastern and Northern Sudan must converge for the final push so that there is peaceful co-existence between Sudan and South Sudan. The masses in both countries have the same aspirations of peaceful co-existence and trade for better living conditions. They are all sons and daughters of Adam and Eve but the tyrants in Sudan are the greatest obstacle in promoting brotherhood between the two countries. The sooner the tyrants are out of the way the better.
South Sudan’s diplomatic response
South Sudan’s diplomatic response to the outrageous provocations by Sudan seems at best dismal and worst non-existent. One would have expected South Sudan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs to travel to Addis Ababa and New York to brief the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) respectively on provocations and invasion of South Sudan territory by Sudan and on the location of the contested oil fields. The Minister should have been also to Washington, London, Moscow and Beijing to brief the leaders there of the situation in the border areas between Sudan and South Sudan. Other South Sudan Ministers accompanied by expert geographers and historians should have visited countries strategic to South Sudan to explain the side of the story of South Sudan on the ongoing conflicts in the border areas and the location of oil fields. In this way the world might have come to know the conflict better than when Sudan diplomatic missions were lying to the world. The Sudanese ambassador in London claimed Heglig is in Sudan but not in South Sudan. This is arguable and South Sudan diplomatic response should have been to counter such baseless arguments advanced by the Sudanese. It is understandable that the President of Republic of South Sudan may remain inside the country to handle the escalating situation in the border areas. In all the near absence of South Sudan’s diplomatic offensive to the claims by Sudan that Heglig belongs to its territory is depressing indeed.
The world now believes the one-sided story of Sudan. This may explain why the AU and the UN are hard on South Sudan but soft on Sudan. The AU and the UN may incline to side with the perceived strong one considered right. In this case South Sudan may be perceived weak and so it can be bullied into submission because it is perceived to be on the wrong side as indicated by the order of the UN Secretary General for South Sudan’s troops to withdraw from Heglig immediately. South Sudan’s diplomatic offensive, if there was any, might have counter-balanced the AU and the UN grossly biased perception of South Sudan as the aggressor while they were indifferent when Sudan was involved in persistent indiscriminate bombing of targets in South Sudan where innocent civilians lost their lives. Hopefully a formal complaint against Sudan’s naked aggression has been lodged with the AU and the UN.
Sudan is indeed dangerous as an erratic neighbour to South Sudan. South Sudan has no air force to launch bombing campaign against Sudan. Yet in a deliberate attempt to sabotage the economy of South Sudan, Sudan embarked on a crude way to starve South Sudan of the vital revenue from oil. At first Sudan wanted to charge exorbitant fees for services to South Sudan oil industry. As that was not enough Sudan started to steal South Sudan oil. When it was discovered, Sudan turned to naked aggression against South Sudan. In retaliation South Sudan has also shown the world that tyrants should not be rewarded with appeasement all the time.
In conclusion, it is regrettable that the AU and the UN have behaved like a poor referee officiating a match of two teams. Where is the fairness of those two world bodies when they issued strongly worded statements against South Sudan for allegedly occupying Sudan’s territory when in fact Sudan was persistently attacking South Sudan from the air and also on the ground. South Sudan must be weary of the AU and the UN and so must take the diplomatic initiative to educate those who are deliberately ignorant. In other words those who turn a blind eye to the realities on the ground as though nothing is happening but only to succumb to tyrant’s propaganda of deception. The AU and the UN are obviously aware that the leadership of Sudan is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and is still at large while the leadership of South Sudan is not. Appeasing tyrants for continuing to bomb the hell out of innocent civilians is strange indeed for bodies such as the AU and the UN.
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