By Alison Giffen, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Alison Giffen is co-director of the Future of Peace Operations program at the Stimson Center, a nonprofit and nonpartisan international security think tank. She has worked on the protection of civilians and peacekeeping in South Sudan since 2007 and lived in Sudan from 2007-2009. The views expressed are her own.
Tens of thousands of people in fear for their lives are sheltering inside six United Nations bases in the world’s youngest country, South Sudan. They have fled to these “safe havens” to escape the violence of a civil war that has been tearing apart their country since mid-December. Swift and decisive United Nations action is needed to protect civilians from further suffering and bloodshed.
Violence flared on December 15 between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir’s government forces and supporters of his former vice president, Riek Machar.
Mass graves, mass extrajudicial executions, attacks on U.N. personnel, sexual violence and the targeting of individuals based on their ethnicity have been reported since the first weeks of fighting, and the conflict has displaced approximately 740,000 men, women and children – a number that continues to grow. And, although civilian casualties are notoriously difficult to count and confirm, the International Crisis Group has reported that as many as 10,000 deaths may have occurred during the first month of fighting.
By Amb. Princeton N. Lyman, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Ambassador Princeton N. Lyman was the U.S. Presidential Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan March 2011 to March 2013. He is currently senior advisor to the president of the U.S. Institute of Peace. The views expressed are his own.
President Barack Obama has now appointed the sixth U.S. Presidential Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan as part of the long effort begun in 2001 to end war and instability in this part of Africa. Much has been accomplished, especially the end of Sudan’s civil war in 2005 and the independence of South Sudan in 2011. Yet the intense level of internationally supported negotiations over the past two years has produced only a fragile peace between the two countries that is fraught with border clashes, broken agreements, accusations of bad faith and the need for constant international intervention to overcome one crisis after another.
And this cycle will continue and very likely spiral downward until there is a radical change in the way this situation is addressed. I was the U.S. Presidential Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan for two years, helping the parties step back from the brink again and again. It is clear to me that time is running out on this patchwork process.
Both countries face existential decisions that will determine whether they live in peace and prosperity or continue this self-destructive confrontation. The Sudanese government of President Omar al-Bashir needs to abandon outworn formulas for maintaining internal control and undertake fundamental political change that would recognize the diversity of its people and regions and create a more democratic state. In South Sudan, the government must stop supporting fighters across the border seeking to overthrow the regime in Khartoum, which risks the exporting of oil on which its very survival depends, and instead focus on its own internal political crises and the desperate poverty of its people.
By Caelin Briggs, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Caelin Briggs is an advocate at Refugees International. The views expressed are the writer’s own.
Two years ago today, South Sudan gained independence from Khartoum, becoming in the process the world’s youngest country. The Sudan People’s Liberation Army, which today is South Sudan’s national army, was then just a group of rebels, fighting in the mountains and deserts for sovereignty for their people. But this independence day, many South Sudanese aren’t cheering the SPLA – they are running from it.
Reports of abuses by government soldiers in Jonglei State have streamed in during recent weeks, adding to a long list of major human rights violations since 2011. The time has come for South Sudan’s foreign backers to force major changes to the nation’s military. If they do not, then the SPLA could destroy the very country it helped create.
A month ago, I traveled with my colleagues from Refugees International to Jonglei State and met with some of those who had just fled their homes after SPLA attacks. Between January and June of this year, soldiers allegedly burned down hundreds of homes, looted and destroyed property belonging to Medicines Sans Frontieres and other aid groups, displacing tens of thousands of people across the state.
This is the latest in a series of entries looking at what we can expect in 2013. Each weekday, a guest analyst will look at the key challenges facing a selected country – and what next year might hold in store.
By Alex de Waal, Special to CNN
Editor’s note:Alex de Waal is executive director of the World Peace Foundation at the Fletcher School. The views expressed are the author’s own.
Eighteen months after the secession of South Sudan, its future is still tied to its northern neighbor and former mother country. In 2013, Sudan and South Sudan will rise or fall together. If the two can overcome their rancor and work together, both can be economically viable and rebound from their respective economic crises. If not, both countries may become ungovernable.
At a summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on September 27, 2012, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir signed a series of agreements to resolve the outstanding business left over from the secession, to settle the disputes that had brought them to the brink of all-out-war in April, and to reopen South Sudan’s oil production – source of 82 percent of its GDP. But they haven’t been implemented yet.
By EJ Hogendoorn & Ben Dalton, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: EJ Hogendoorn is Deputy Africa Program Director for the International Crisis Group. Ben Dalton is a Communications & IT Officer for ICG. The views expressed are their own.
Last month’s arrest of senior security figures for allegedly plotting a coup showed how close Sudan is to even greater violence and disintegration. Despite the indictment by the International Criminal Court of President Omar al-Bashir, South Sudan’s secession, billions spent on humanitarian assistance and numerous other international interventions, civil war continues to plague the country. Only managed but fundamental governance reform can help it escape a pattern of chronic conflict and human misery.
Bashir remains a key hurdle, and it is time for him – and the international community – to face some painful realities. He must confront the fact that the challenges he and his ruling National Congress Party face are the gravest they have ever been and threaten the state’s stability and integrity. His own personal position is likely only to become ever more tenuous. International actors need to acknowledge that there is no lasting solution to decades of civil war without the willing participation of the president and the NCP.
By Jonathan Schanzer, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Jonathan Schanzer is vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. He tweets at @JSchanzer. The views expressed are his own.
The latest round in an endless cycle of violence between Israel and Gaza has culminated in a surprising win for the US- Israel relationship: an apparent renewal of vows between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu.
It’s surprising because the relationship appeared to be at its nadir. It was just a few months ago that editorial pages charged Netanyahu with meddling in U.S. politics, angling for a Mitt Romney victory over President Obama. With Obama having soundly thumped Romney at the ballot box, U.S. relations with Israel appeared due for a four-year winter.
Editor's Note: Christopher Alessi is an associate staff writer at the Council on Foreign Relations. Jendayi Frazer is an Adjunct Senior Fellow for Africa Studies at CFR. The following interview is reprinted from CFR.org with permission .
By Christopher Alessi and Jendayi Frazer, CFR.org
Tensions along the oil-rich border that divides Sudan and recently independent South Sudan have escalated in recent weeks, raising the prospect of a full-scale war between the longtime foes. China, which maintains considerable oil interests in both countries, has called for restraint (Reuters) and vowed to work with the United States to bring both sides back to the negotiating table.Jendayi Frazer, the former U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, says while the role of mediation should remain with the African Union, the United States and China are vital players in this conflict that can bring pressure to bear on both parties.
However, Frazer says it is "a strategic mistake and it has never worked" for the international community to treat both sides equally, since the northern Sudan is clearly the aggressor in this latest conflict as well as many of those in the past. "The international community should be united against northern aggression," she says. FULL POST
Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned Sudanese air raids on South Sudan and called on the neighboring countries to engage in dialogue, amid an escalating conflict over the countries' shared oil-rich border area (al-Jazeera). However, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir rejected negotiations with the South yesterday, saying "our talks with them were with guns and bullets." Meanwhile, on a visit to China, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir told Chinese President Hu Jintao that Sudan had declared war on South Sudan. China, an ally with significant interests in both Sudans, called on the two sides to exercise "calm and restraint" (Reuters). FULL POST
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. FULL POST
George Clooney was arrested this morning for protesting about the situation in South Sudan. I interviewed him earlier this week. My interview will air in full this Sunday at 10a and 1p Eastern on CNN, but here's an excerpt from Clooney on why the crisis in Sudan affects your wallet:
"China has a $20 billion oil infrastructure in the Sudan. They get 6% of their oil imported from the Sudan. And the South Sudan has the oil and North Sudan has the refineries, and North Sudan was taking that money from the oil and not giving it back and buying weapons to hurt the South. So about six weeks ago, the South said, 'OK, we're done.' And they shut off the oil.
So China suddenly is getting no return on their money. That gives us a unique position, as opposed to looking to them as humanitarians or to do the right thing, we can meet with China - not we, but a high-level government official - could meet with China and say 'Let's work on this together, because we both, economically, would benefit by a resolution, a cross-border resolution.'"
"Right now, our gas prices go up as the president said in his press conference because when the Chinese aren't getting their 6% from the Sudan, they're getting it from somewhere else and that raises the price for all of us. So it's something that's mutually beneficial."
By Alan Boswell, TIME
If a new country is born, and no one sees it online, does it really exist? More than a month after South Sudan's independence, the new African nation is still not on the world's map, literally. Google, Bing and Yahoo are all yet to update their cartography of Africa to include the United Nation's newest member. Instead of the crooked contours that should mark the new international border, there instead lies only the uninterrupted sprawl of old, defunct Sudan. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Andrew S. Natsios is a Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. Mr. Natsios served as Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) from 2001 to January 2006, and served on GMF’s Transatlantic Taskforce on Development in 2008-09.
By Andrew Natsios, GMF
On July 9, 2011 the world’s newest state was born—the Republic of South Sudan—when it formally seceded from the Sudan at a ceremony attended by 30 heads of state. What happens to the fledgling Republic matters to the region and to the United States and Europe – not as a humanitarian victim but as a potential strategic ally.
I served as the U.S. Envoy to Sudan under President Bush and attended the independence celebration in Juba as a guest of the Southern government. I was joined by many other westerners who had worked with the South over more than two decades to publicize the atrocities taking place, to mobilize humanitarian and development resources, and to work on the political and diplomatic issues. When I took my first trip to Sudan in 1989 during a terrible famine in the South which claimed 250,000 lives I never thought this day would come. But it has. FULL POST