Kiir clutching on every passing straw in a sea of crisis

By Deng Vanang

January 7, 2014 (SSNA) — President Kiir has plunged into two prong-offensive in a desperate move to floor his infuriated rival, former Vice President and rebel leader, Dr. Riek Machar. The heated military offensive is equally supplemented with rather robust diplomacy. Battalions after battalions have been thrown into bottomless war chest to recapture lost strategic towns of Bor and Bentiu. But rebels’ tight grips seem not to be loosening on the two towns yet. Bor whose master plan to recapture it has so far claimed the lives of highly  decorated three Generals in a backdrop of defecting thousands of army to the rebels is made buffer to capital Juba while Bentiu with huge oil deposits contains valued economic resources that could refuel the government military machine if the war grinds on longer and nastier.

Despite the death of the five- star plus Generals in a melee, government troops are still foolhardily determined in their desperate push to recapture Bor regardless of the costs. The only known benefit to offset those high costs if recaptured by troops is to become a morale booster on diplomatic front should government remain relevant at the on-going peace talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

To keep Upper Nile State oil wells under an already shaky control, Kiir has signed a military pact with Sudan President Omar Hassan Al-bashir. The latter responded to the hurried invitation from the embattled Southern neighbor Kiir in Juba on Monday 6th January 2014. Both agreed on a joint force to protect oil fields still under the government and others yet to be recaptured from Machar’s surging rebels.  The détente unexpected of a quarter of a century old foes took the world by surprise although it is the tale that cements the political sciences dictum that politics has no permanent enemies.

In this flurry of diplomacy Kiir declared a unilateral ceasefire between him and David Yau rebels who are already warming up in bed with Machar. Gain begets loss further with Kiir pulling Al-Bashir to his side, then away from him goes the Sudan Revolutionary Front, RSF bitterly opposed to Al-Bashir in the north. The orphaned SRF must likely seek allies not far from Machar group.

Peace talks

While Kiir refuses to release detained politicians in exchange for a ceasefire and some more pre-conditions, Machar for the mean time has had an upper hand against him diplomatically at the IGAD sponsored peace talks in Addis. That scenario points to one thing: South Sudan conflict will be settled with the barrel of a gun at the battlefield, quite another front favorable to Machar again. In the continuing war, foreign powers opposed to an ICC fugitive Al-Bashir and militarily crumbling Kiir behind whom China stands will support Machar and SRF. China which is the member of UN Security Council wants to retrieve her money in a sheer gamble she invested in oil exploitation. Her interest shall be seen from a hostile and still different context by other rival members of UN Security Council which are non-other than United States, France and Britain. The fence – sitting Russia shall remain as irrelevant as is always the case in staking her claims from global disputes. Such involvement of world powers in South Sudan conflict will rekindle past memory of the cold war.

With Ethiopia neutralized as the host of peace mediation as well as being bankrolled with western cash diplomacy, it is only Uganda remaining solidly behind Kiir as Kenya besides being mindful of her lucrative investments in South Sudan, is too overstretched democracy by war on terror both at home and abroad in Somalia to intervene militarily on Kiir’s side.

As experience shows Uganda forces are a minced meat to South Sudanese firepower. With Lord Resistance Army of brutal Joseph Kony to unleash on the surviving troops scuttled and scattered in different directions, Uganda shall be put on her back foot.

Deng Vanang is a Journalist and Executive member of South Sudan leading opposition SPLM-DC. He can be reached at:[email protected]

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