Fighting continues between Sudan and South Sudan, as economies collapse
At this time last year, South Sudan was preparing to become Africa's newest nation. Now the dispute between South Sudan and Sudan may turn both into the latest failed states.
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The reason may be because both countries see this as an existential fight to the finish.Skip to next paragraph
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South Sudan refuses to pump oil through Sudanese territory, because it is convinced that the North is charging too much for oil pipeline fees, and it feels that an oil cutoff hurts the North more than it does itself.
North Sudan, meanwhile, says it has lost some $2.4 billion in lost oil revenues from the dispute, and it fears that other rebel groups within its own territories of Darfur, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile states are moving to seize the advantage against a government that is isolated and pressed for cash.
The rebels confirm that this is precisely what they want. A spokesman for the rebel group Sudanese Liberation Army led by Minni Minawi told Reuters news agency that his group had recently begun to take towns away from the Khartoum regime in Darfur.
“We want to bring the downfall of the regime,” Abdullah Mursal, spokesman for the Sudan Liberation Army told Reuters. “And to do that we have to take over cities before we reach Khartoum.”
But wait, it gets worse.
A confidential World Bank report, obtained by Sudan Tribune in Khartoum, says that neither of the two rival countries seem to realize that they are headed toward collapse.
By cutting off its oil production, South Sudan has not only stopped the growth of its economy; it has stopped its economy, period. If the cutoff persists, the new country will have to cut social spending on all those South Sudanese immigrants it welcomed back over the past year, many of whom rely on foreign aid donations to survive. And the effects of that could be devastating.
The percentage of South Sudanese living below the poverty line will grow from the current 51 percent to 83 percent in 2013. The mortality rate for children under five will double from 10 percent to 20 percent, and school attendance for those children who do survive will drop from 50 percent to 20 percent, the World Bank report estimated.
This is how nations fail.
Yet, while all of this feels like a scene from the Hunger Games, there is a way out of this mess.
The United Nations resolution has provided the stick, with both nations facing possible economic sanctions. The African Union can provide the carrot, with a fresh round of talks to resolve the relatively simple numbers game of satisfying both sides by playing with percentages, and setting down firm boundaries to which both sides can agree.
What is needed is a political leader, preferably an African, who has the experience and seniority to push both sides to the negotiating table and then lock the doors until the two sides are ready to come to an agreement.
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