Limited future: Potential for a role model or a disaster

It is a good news that South Sudan is born as 193rd country among the comity of nations but what is the future of this tiny landlocked nation which needs a long way to go. No doubt it has brought freedom for millions of South Sudanese who have been fighting for this day for last 50 years.

Despite all the potentialities, there is a saying democracy works better if there are enough resources to support all those goals that can protect the freedom for long. In case of South Sudan, it was easy to get born but difficult to survive.

The war has left a long trail and deep scars which need time to heal and nation building also needs lot of dedication and determination to fulfill these dreams which had long dried up.

Some in Juba, the capital city of South Sudan, which does not have a photocopy machine in local markets except few posh offices, it is a freedom from the Arabs and end of Arab domination in their day to day life.

“I have no fear of Shariat any more,” remarked Neil Darr, a resident of Juba. In fact, South Sudan is highly diverse ethnically and linguistically. Among the largest ethnic groups are the Dinka, Nuer and Shilluk.

Unlike the predominantly Muslim population of Sudan, the South Sudanese follow traditional religions, while a minority is Christians.

Sudan’s history is a chequered one. In 1955, southern army officers mutinied, sparking off a civil war between the south, led by the Anya Nya guerrilla movement, and the Sudanese government. The conflict only ended when the Addis Ababa peace agreement of 1972 that accorded the south a measure of autonomy.

But, in 1983, the south, led by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and its armed wing, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), again rose in rebellion when the Sudanese government cancelled the autonomy arrangements.

At least 1.5 million people are thought to have lost their lives and more than four million were displaced in the ensuing 22 years of guerrilla warfare. Large numbers of South Sudanese fled the fighting, either to the north or to neighboring countries, where many remain.

The conflict finally ended with the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, under which the south was granted regional autonomy along with guaranteed representation in a national power-sharing government.

The 2005 CPA mandated that the two regions split revenues from oil produced in the South 50-50 for the duration of the deal’s interim period (July 9, 2005 - July 9, 2011).

Policy review

Now, with the South Sudan parting its ways, North Sudan will loose around three quarters of the known oil. Soon after the independence, senior South Sudan officials said the government would review all existing contracts in order to fit policies of the new nation on the management of the oil revenues.

“The policy of the government of South Sudan is very clear. We will not terminate any contract if there are no contractual concerns, but we will have to review them in order to see possibilities of working together with the companies under new policy, because these contracts were signed when Sudan was one country,” said Garang Diing Akuong, minister of energy and mining in the government of South Sudan.

But there are mixed feelings over the whole episode. In the north, following the declaration of southern Sudan independence, one group appears to be happy and they are the supporters of northern Sudan’s separatist party, the Just Peace Forum.

Nevertheless, most northern Sudanese are subdued and sad for various reasons. Some see the secession as a destruction of the country but they are helpless to do any thing about it. Other groups have mixed feeling of joy and sadness.

Joy that southern Sudanese people have their freedom, and sadness for the great failure of Sudanese nationalism as it loses what has been an important part of its national character for hundreds of years.

The prominent Sudanese poet Mahjoub Sharif has expressed heartfelt emotions of sadness in a new poem he calls “The trees have passed”. People started to realize the new reality when the Ministry of Information and the Survey Department revealed in July that Sudan has lost, as a result of the separation, about 25 per cent of its area, 80 per cent of its forests, 75 per cent of its oil and 20 per cent of its population.

Abdallah al-Sadig, Director of the Survey Department said Sudan will now have no borders with Kenya, Congo and Uganda and its borders with Ethiopia and Central African Republic will be significantly reduced.

Politics on oil reserves

Now despite all this, South Sudan will have difficulties to sustain its momentum it has received after the independence from North. South Sudan will have to be dependent on the North for many basic helps such as an outlet to the sea.

South’s oil will have to pass through North as it will make no economic sense if it is routed through Kenya, Uganda or Ethiopia or any other African country. Now the oil is a major boon for South Sudan but also could prove to be a disaster as well.

The infighting among Southerners to share the oil revenue is not new. Earlier, three days before South Sudan was declared independent, Sudan’s federal minister of petroleum, Lual Achuek Deng, had accused the Secretary General of South Sudan’s ruling party the SPLM, Pagan Amum Akech, of embezzling millions of dollars.

The petroleum minister, who was Southern Sudanese and member of the ruling SPLM, was accused by Amum of betraying the South by selling and giving half of South Sudan’s oil revenues for the month of July to North Sudan contrary to the CPA agreement which ends the share on July 9.

Later in his response to Amum’s accusations, Lual Achuek counter-accused Pagan Amum of allegedly embezzling three million US dollars to his own account from the sale of the VIVACEL network telephone company.

The minister further accused the senior member of the South’s ruling party of violating the SPLM’s Constitution. Lual denied the accusations labeled against him by Pagan on the sale of southern oil for July, saying he was only implementing orders from the President of the Government of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit.

The oil reserves of South Sudan, which is being propped up by the West and various lobbies, could only sustain up to 2035. At the same time, North’s oil reserves which are largely unexplored could sustain till 2095.

Thus, North accepted South Sudan proposal as it was aware that South Sudan will fall into a trap and later it may lead to a chaos. Before that, the secession initiative of South Sudan has come as a boon for North who does not have to share its oil once it comes into full bloom.

Israel's interest

Once South’s oil dries up then there could be lot of tension. Already, there are a lot of conspiracy theories going around over the creation of South Sudan as Israel is being accused of supporting SPLM.

In fact, some say the danger lies in the possible Hebrew factor in the new state in South Sudan. The Israeli presence in South Sudan is not a new thing.

After the tripartite invasion on Egypt in 1956, and the 1973 October War, Israel realized that Sudan is a strategic depth for Egypt. So, it decided to expand its presence in Sudan.

Last year, a study made by a senior officer in the Israeli army leaked to media revealed that the attention drawn to South Sudan by Israel dates back to 1955. Therefore, the military and intelligence institutions in Tel Aviv mapped the whole drama as a long-term strategy on Sudan.

The Israeli strategy is based on supporting separatist rebel movements that pose a threat to the central government in Khartoum. This goes back to Arab-Israel hatred.

To guarantee implementation of this strategy, Israel established a center in Ethiopia. This center was the base for providing armed movements in south Sudan with arms and ammunitions.

The said support, which was delivered under the auspices of the then head of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, assisted the rebels in seizing main citizens in South Sudan.

In the 1980s, Israel supported the late SPLM leader Dr John Garang with arms, ammunition, intelligence information and military training. It also worked hard to prevent Sudan from enjoying the Arab support.

Some Sudanese now see that the Israeli strategy is aimed to establish a military base in South Sudan.

Southerners reject this theory, “Arabs and Egyptians today are not as before when Africa was sleeping in deep breath. But, we are awake from South Africa and Nigerian giants to Ethiopia and Kenya. What ours is ours from today and what yours is yours,” said President of the Government of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit.

“Our water, soil and oil in Africa are ours. It is property of our people. Your deserts and oil is yours. You are talking about small country Israel and Jews. They are not our enemies. But they are our partners in trade, development and cooperation. If your religion Islam teaches you that they are your enemies. Our bible teaches us that they are people of Jesus, Moses and Jacob,” he added.

In fact, the people of South Sudan can become the model state for Africa and the world. South Sudan has the potentiality to bring together Christians, Muslims and Jews to work together for the welfare and prosperity of the newest country in the world.