Dienstag, 29. Mai 2012

Another Conflict in the Making - The Sad State of Sudan


There is fresh bloodshed in Sudan. The North and South are struggling to get get control of Abyei province, where much of the two countries oil revenues are coming from. One of the underlying themes of the conflict, however, is to do with culture and religion. In many ways, the Horn of Africa is best understood, when considered being a bridge between Africa and the Arabian peninsula. There is only a limited amount of well-written books on the subject [see Hansen's and Twaddle's book for an absolute must-read and Alex de Waal's superb book], so every paper on the subject starts from scratch by lying out all issues that are at stake. That makes most papers on African affairs hard to read for anyone who is already familiar with the issues. And that amounts to the only weakness I can see in Marina Ottaway's otherwise terse analysis on the recent escalation of the Sudanese conflict (see here [pdf]). I have always thought of Sudan as being the one state that does not fail from the inside but rather on its periphery—though that exact relationship deserves a hell of a lot more academic research—in contrast to Somalia, which imploded in 1991 when Siad Barre was finally ousted. And it is indeed remarkable to what extent conflicts within Sudan (i.e. North Sudan) continue to plague the state. Not only is there a looming danger of all out war between South Sudan and Sudan over Abyei, but Sudan itself is facing numerous challenges in Khordofan and Blue Nile, which in fact are the new South of the country (as Hassan al-Turabi seems to have put it). I only mention this, because this conflict does not get any media attention, though it should. South Sudan is no match for Sudan's armed forces and in a renewed confrontation, both sides might hence return to destabilising each other by proxy forces, which could eventually resuscitate organisations like the Lord's Resistance Army. What I am saying is this: this conflict is not small potatoes.

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