April 20th, 2012
12:12 PM ET

Sudan, South Sudan: An increasingly high-stakes game of 'chicken'

Clashes between Sudan and South Sudan soared in the past week after South Sudan declared the disputed Heglig oil region is under its control. The move is just the latest as fears rise of a return to war and rights group are warning of deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

South Sudan split from the government in the north in July, officially breaking Africa's largest nation into two, the result of a referendum last year overwhelmingly approved by voters.

The referendum was part of a 2005 peace deal that ended the civil war that pit a government dominated by Arab Muslims in the north against black Christians and animists in the south.

CNN's Nima Elbagir weighs in on what's behind the tensions and what the response has been from the international community. (Edited transcript below)

Q: What's behind the increased tensions and border clashes?
In very simple terms, it all comes down to oil. If the north's economy hadn't been so badly damaged by the south's secession - and with it, taking 90 percent of the area's oil - there wouldn't have been so much rancor. To further compound the issue, the south promptly turned off the pipeline to the north. ... Putting all the economic issues aside, you also have issues that weren't dealt with when independence first happened: There is no internationally recognized defined border between the two countries and most of the oil is along that border. So all of this back-and-forth is happening in that contested area. Now we're seeing tens of thousands of refugees living in situations that the United Nations says is too dangerous for many [aid agencies] to get into.

Q: Why weren't these issues addressed at the time of South Sudan's independence, less than a year ago?
At the time, the separation felt like a divorce in name only. The Heglig region is part of that disputed area but it was never really a disputed area that the south seriously claimed. It was part of the broader Abyei region. For the south to go after Heglig, which provides almost 60-70 percent of the remaining oil the north has, it's really escalating this. One diplomat at the African Union I spoke with said, for him, it was like we're all standing and watching an increasingly high stakes game of chicken, where both sides are waiting for the other to blink and are willing to push each other to further risky maneuvers to try to win this.

Q: How do the resources of each country compare?
That's one of the big issues. It's the south's infrastructure, what little there is, that's suffering now. A third of the South Sudanese population is already dependent on food aid and then you have more than 100,000 refugees that are coming in – that puts more tension on that fragile infrastructure. And at the moment, all we're hearing from the international community are statements of condemnation. But there haven't been any serious movements to try to resolve this.

Q: Is there any support from the African Union?
The AU has condemned [the violence] as has the U.N. and the Security Council. ... Condemnation after condemnation. This has been ratcheting up for months, and no one, especially with the Syria situation being so serious at the moment, seems to be giving it the attention that it needs and deserves.

Topics: Sudan

soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. qq

    Is the US supposed to pay attention to everybody else and not to ourselves? Are we supposed to simultaneously take care of Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and everywhere else while letting our own people starve to death in Appalachia and ignoring the drug cartels just to our south? Are we supposed to spend more money on the Eastern Hemisphere when we have huge debts and run away inflation in the educational and health care sectors?

    April 20, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Reply
    • pat carr

      In short...YES!!! we've somehow become the "world cop". who cares if we are trillions dollar in debt, have to cut every program. There always needs to be money for WAR in Awarica, errr i mean america. why take care of your own people when you can worry about everyone else

      April 23, 2012 at 1:02 am | Reply
    • wisdomania

      Noooo noo nooo, you got it wrong buddy,,we are suppose to ignore those in Somalia, and Yemen, we have no interests there, but then help those in places like South Sudan, and Iraq in the name of HUMANITARIAN efforts because that is where our interests are, that is where the oil is, and that is how we are going to feed our starving people by steeling from other starving people.....and if we cannot get what we want....the fire is already on, so all we need to do like we have been doing for years is to put some gas on it, and have others do our dirty job...just supply the rebels in North and South Sudan and have them kill each other...who cares right? it is all in the name of HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS and all we are trying to do is help those idiots...RIGHT?

      April 23, 2012 at 11:55 am | Reply
    • MakAttack

      you think what America does is actually taking "care" of them? They have their own big interests in all of this.

      April 23, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Reply
  2. Testicleese

    The Obama answer is: "YES"

    April 20, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Reply
    • TIred of it all

      As was the Bush answer, and the Clinton answer, and the Bush answer, and the Reagan answer, and the Carter answer...this is NOT a political issue and if you try to make it into one I suggest you learn about your Republican presidential history before you start attacking Democratic actions that are the same policy.

      April 20, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Reply
      • corporate democracy

        That is a good observation! Would you say it is too radical to say that most, if not all, politicians do not represent the people; rather, they represent their vested interest ? ... I understand that I could be wrong, but what I see, our government does not care about the people. Just, gaining power.( I understand that it is difficult to refer to our govt as "our govt" because of all the different interest groups held within the govt.)

        April 21, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
      • Aaron Chaney

        Romney vs. Frankenstein (Obama)

        Put simply, better the devil you don't know. Vote Romney.

        April 23, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • wisdomania

      Bush's (and theputt-licearns) answers would have been NOOOOO...."lets go help them"....meaning lets go get their oil.....who cares if any issues are resolved as long as we get the oil!!!!! I mean look at Iraq, there is still unrest in the country and many are dying everyday, and the average iraqi's life level has deteriorated...but again whooo caresss...we are still getting what we wanted.....

      April 23, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Reply
  3. 100% ETHIO

    When it comes to positive relationship with East-Africa, particularly helping Ethiopia, former President Bush is the Best.
    Who is Obama?

    April 21, 2012 at 12:09 am | Reply
  4. stateschool

    Hello from America. There have been several developments since the last time you checked the news over here. First, we elected (sort of, but it's a long story) one of President Bush's kids as our President, so there are now two former Presidents named Bush. Second, we elected a half-black man named Barack Obama as President in order to clean up some of the messes that the second Bush made. You should be aware that, for better or for worse, US foreign aid to your country is rising sharply under President Obama.

    April 21, 2012 at 11:27 am | Reply
    • qud

      what crap

      April 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Reply
  5. MH

    People going to war over oil? Who would do such a thing?

    April 21, 2012 at 11:49 am | Reply
    • Rickirs

      This similar to Sadaams invasion of Kuwait and you know how that ended. It all depends on what Haliburton wants from S. Sudan.

      April 24, 2012 at 3:47 am | Reply
  6. j. von hettlingen

    The conflict between Sudan and South Sudan is about borders. Like those in the rest of Africa thy were drawn up by colonial powers with little regard to cultural realities on the ground. South Sudan is full of jungles and swamps, while the north is mostly desert. Oil is the main sources of revenues for both but they are dependent on each other. The North tries to keep hold of as much of the oil revenue as it can, yet most oilfields lie in the south. Khartoum has some leverage, as most of the oil pipelines flow north to Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

    April 21, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Reply
  7. iraqi nori al haleki is criminal thug and a thief

    وردتنا معلومات من احد منتسبي الاستخبارات مفادها ما يلي :

    قامت مجموعه من مهربي المخدرات تابعين الى منظمة " بدر" يرأسة هادي العامري بادخال ( ثمانيه ونصف ) طن من المخدرات ( حشيشه ) من ايران وعبر مدينة البصره ثم الى الناصريه لغرض تهريبها الى المملكه العربيه السعوديه وجزء من الكميه تذهب الى محافظات الوسط ( كربلاء – النجف – الديوانيه – بابل ) لبيعها في هذه المدن

    تمكنت مفارز الاستخبارات في مدينة الناصريه من القاء القبض على المخدرات والمهربين وفورا تحرك المهربين للاتصال باللواء ( صباح الفتلاوي ) قائد شرطة ذي قار وتم الاتفاق معه على تسوية القضيه وعلى الشكل التالي ( بعد فحص كمية المخدرات وجدت انها حشيشه مغشوشه ) مقابل ( ٦٠ ) الف دولار تسلمها اللواء صباح من المهربين بغية اطلاق سراحهم من السجن وتسليم المخدرات ( المغشوشه ) ؟؟؟

    ارسلت الاستخبارات معلومات الى وزارة الداخليه حول كمية المخدرات وتفاصيل الاتفاق الذي تم ما بين اللواء صباح الفتلاوي والمهربين تم الاتصال من قبل وزير الداخلية وكالة " عدنان الاسدي " برئيس الوزراء نوري المالكي " القائد العام للقوات المسلحه واعلمه بتفاصيل القضيه وكان جواب المالكي لوكيله عدنان الاتي : ( صباح الفتلاوي" ابنه " اكتفي بنقله الى بغداد اما المهربين وهم من ( منظمة بدر) امر المالكي باطلاق سراحهم مخاطبا وكيل وزير الداخليه ( تعرف ذوله من جماعة " هادي العامري " ( حزام ظهرنه ) ..

    مع العرض ان المنظمه نشرت معلومات سابقه عن الخلاف الذي نشب بين اللواء صباح الفتلاوي شقيق ( لهلوبة المالكي ) بسبب قيام احد مرافقي " صباح " بشفط ( 80 ) الف دولار ارسلها بيده صباح الى اهله في محافظة بابل وهي مبالغ رشى المخدرات ولم يسترجعها له وهدده بكشف الاموال الطائله التي جناها شقيق حنان من تهريب المخدرات .

    April 21, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Reply
  8. south sudan are criminals thugs and thiefs

    south sudan are killers puppets to usda and uk and other countires to steal the oil and the diamonds....now they have a country and they dont know how to run it, those villoge idiots know nothing but the killing and stealing, stealing other people land and oil .....they shopuld leave the north sudan land and all the boarder towns that belong to north.

    إحتلال هجليج إعتداء علي سيادة السودان ووحدة وسلامة اراضيه

    شبكة المنصور
    قيادة قطر السودان – مكتب الطلاب

    بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

    حزْبُ البَعْثِ العَرَبي الاشْتِرَاكي
    قيادة قطر السودان
    مكتب الطلاب

    أُمةٌ عرَبِيةٌ وَاحِدَة ذاتُ رِسالَةٍ خَالِدَة
    وحدة حرية اشتراكية

    ● إحتلال هجليج إعتداء علي سيادة السودان ووحدة وسلامة اراضيه.

    ● النظام مطالب بحشد الإراده الوطنية لاستردادها لا لتوظيف أجوائها للمزيد من قهر الشعب وتضيق حرياته.

    ● وحدة إرادة الحركة الطلابية طريقنا للحفاظ علي استقرار الجامعات وحرية النشاط والتعبير السلمي في القضايا الوطنيه.

    ● لا لنهج التصعيد والتصعيد المضاد .. نعم لسياسة حسن الجوار والتعايش السلمي بين شطري السودان.

    الشرفاء الطلاب :

    ظلت عصابات النظام الفاسده كل يوم تجدد دوامات العنف في الجامعات وإشاعة جوء من الارهاب الفكري والسياسي ،بغرض تصفية العمل السياسي داخل الجامعات بعد أن تم عزلها سياسياً وإجتماعياً من قبل الطلاب وفشل مشروعها الذي عبر عن نفسه بوضوح بالتردي وإنتشار الفساد وعدم الإسقرار الإقتصادي والسياسي .

    إننا في مكتب طلاب حزب البعث ندين إحتلال هجليج من قبل جيش الحركه الشعبية ،والزج بأبناء السودان في شطريه في حروب لا تخدم إلا سماسره الحرب وتجارها تنفيذاً للمخططات الأجنبيه الهادفه إلى إضعاف السودان وتشطيره، كما توكد أن نظام الراسمالية الطفيلية المتاسلمة وغير المتاسلمة أكد فشله مجدداً في إدارة شئون البلاد و والحفاظ علي وحدتها وسيادتها عبر نشر الحروب فيها، وإضاع هيبة القوات المسلحة والوطن .

    إن فشل حملة النظام في حشد الطلاب حوله في أحتلال هجليج ،قاده الى وصم الآخرين بالعماله وأخذ يوزع صكوك الوطنية ذات اليمن وذات اليسار متناسياً أنه من قام بفصل الجنوب دون إستشارة الآخرين وتحت الضغوط الأجنبية. وهو من فرط في السيادة الوطنية، وهذا الأسلوب الرخيص يؤكد مدى التخبط الذي يعيشه النظام، والذي ظهر جلياً في محاولات عصابات النظام بإستغلال الأزمة الدائره في هجليج ونشر العنف في الجامعات السودانية وإستهداف الطلاب وإرهابهم بغرض إسكات الخصوم ،وما حدث في الأيام الماضية في جامعة النيلين ،جامعة السودان ،جامعة أمدرمان الاسلاميه ، وجامعة القضارف يقف شاهداً ودليل .

    اننا في مكتب طلاب حزب البعث نؤكد علي الاتي :

    ● ان النظام غير مؤهل لإداره شئون الوطن فعلي الجميع الأصطفاف لاسقاطه حتى نخرج بالبلاد الي بر الأمان .

    ● علي إدارة الجامعات ان تحافظ علي الإستقرار والإستمرار في التحصيل الاكاديمي.

    ● يجب على الحركه الطلابية أن تعي لخط عصابات الفساد في نشر العنف بهدف ضرب إستقرار الجامعات إغلاقها .

    ● على الحركه الطلابية التوحد والاصطفاف للدفاع عن حقها في التحصيل الأكاديمي و النشاط السياسي والاجتماعي والثقافي .

    حزب البعث العربي الاشتراكي

    قيادة قطر السودان

    April 21, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Reply
    • pat carr

      USDA?

      April 23, 2012 at 1:03 am | Reply
    • jaysonrex

      A VERY INTERESTING COMMENT YOU POSTED BUT THIS IS NOT, REPEAT – NOT, AN ARABIC SITE. IF YOU CANNOT SAY ANYTHING IN ENGLISH ... GOOD BYE. THERE IS NO PLACE FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU HERE. SO PLEASE GO AWAY AS FAST AS YOU CAN. THANK YOU.

      April 23, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Reply
  9. jqent

    Another nice mess for us to stay completely away from. The government of Sudan may use religious intolerance as inspiration for their troops to attack South Sudan (that worked for years during the war), but in the end they will be slitting each other's throats over oil. so be it. The real victims will be the hapless, unarmed villagers.

    April 22, 2012 at 10:31 am | Reply
    • wisdomania

      ooohhh reaalllyyy...yes of course at the end they will slit each others' throats for no reason.....I just wonder who goes to South Sudan and is like: "hey dummies" the North is giving all the oil to China and we are not getting any...I think you should split from them and we will buy the oil from you....oh..now that you did split..how about you go and fight those racist northerners anti-christ muslims and we and our best allies (israel, the First country whose south sudan's president visited after they split) will supply you with weapons because those idiot northerners even though we only left few oil fields for them..they are STILL selling it to China...they haven't learned their lesson....

      April 23, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Reply
  10. please

    Why do we care what the frogs do?

    April 22, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Reply
    • wisdomania

      AGAIN....Noooo noo nooo, you got it wrong buddy,,we are suppose to ignore those in Somalia, and Yemen, we have no interests there, but then help those in places like South Sudan, and Iraq in the name of HUMANITARIAN efforts because that is where our interests are, that is where the oil is, and that is how we are going to feed our starving people by steeling from other starving people.....and if we cannot get what we want....the fire is already on, so all we need to do like we have been doing for years is to put some gas on it, and have others do our dirty job...just supply the rebels in North and South Sudan and have them kill each other...who cares right? it is all in the name of HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS and all we are trying to do is help those idiots...RIGHT?

      April 23, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Reply
  11. wisdomania

    word of advice for the ignorant commentators: "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and prove you are an idiot"

    April 23, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Reply
  12. Hugh Evans

    The summarry is only half true.........................The whole mess is abaout a war which started some 30 years ago and only recently the South split from Sudan and created its own country.
    The border issue it is true has not been decided but North Sudan has always assumed that it has belonged to N/Sudan and ineffect half of it lies in S/Sudan. The North has the pipe line that takes the oil to the Red Sea.
    The South realize that they cannot send the oil out of their sector because they have no pipeline and have ventured into the oil bearing areas which the north have provided and have paid for.
    Prior to the South breakaway the oil moneys made were shared between the South and the North, but after the break the north have increasingly made it difficult for the South by pumping the oil out without paying the south for its normal share of the oil. Call it leverage......political brinkmanship or good old Arab agreement where you say you will do something and you dont (see Ceasefire agreements in Syria for instance) but this has lead to much breast beating by the south who feel cheated by the whole affair and also they feel that this is the kind of payback for the overwhleming vote that happened in S/Sudan when the break occurred.

    From the Wests UN point of view they are constrained, because any move on their behalf will be seen by China who own most of the oil wells as a direct provocation of their interests. China also recieves most of the oil that is delivered. So the crunch remains.........who owns what territory and can the borders be controlled in this area...........this is going to take a long time

    April 23, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Reply
  13. lyle chen

    我是中国人!!!!

    April 23, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Reply
  14. jaysonrex

    QUITE FRANKLY, THERE IS NOT MUCH THAT CAN BE EXPECTED FROM NORTH SAUDAN OR ISLAMIC SUDAN. TRUE TO THEIR TRADITION, ISLAMISTS WILL TRY TO DESTROY CHRISTIANS AND THUS OBLITERATE THE SOUTHERN HALF OF SUDAN THAT HAS A BRIGHT FUTURE TO LOOK FORWARD TO.

    THIS IS NOT ONLY A RELIGIOUS WAR BUT A RACIAL VERSION THEREOF, TYPICAL OF MUSLIM NATIONS WHEREVER THEY ARE – AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST OR EASTERN ASIA. NOW THAT THE "ARAB SPRING" REVEALED TO BE A FARCE, THERE IS NOT MUCH HOPE FOR ANY TYPE OF PROGRESS IN THE MUSLIM WORLD DURING THIS OR THE NEXT MILLENNIUM.

    IT IS INTERESTING TO NOTE COMMENTS POSTED IN ARABIC, ATTACKING SOUTH (CHRISTIAN) SUDAN. THIS PROVES, ONCE AGAIN, THAT ISLAM IS THE ENEMY OF CIVILIZED PEOPLE WHEREVER THEY LIVE.

    April 23, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Reply
    • Lindsey

      AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!

      April 23, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Reply
  15. Lindsey

    South Sudan is about the only place that legitimately deserves US help. To hell with Syria, Libya, Egypt and all the other Muslim countries Obama helps! However, South Sudan is a Christian nation and of course Obama ignores them. It makes you wonder if he is really a Christian as he says when he refuses to help his brothers in need and yet helps Muslims that kill Christians in these other Muslim countries. Also by not helping South Sudan, he is effectively helping Sudan (Muslim) kill the Christians in South Sudan!!!!!!!!!! What a worthless foreign policy!!!

    April 23, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Reply
  16. ncikdre

    Hate is strong word they say, Bashir will never stop as long as he finishes the south. it happened some time back. and now he is at it again. This MF needs to be stopped in his heels before it becomes a worse blood bath than it already is.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:12 am | Reply
  17. عقارات السودان

    We are a gaggle of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your website offered us with valuable info to work on. You've done a formidable process and our whole group might be thankful to you.

    May 29, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Reply

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,741 other followers