Between Sudan and South Sudan: Who suffers economically & politically if diplomacy cut off?

BY: Luka Madhieu Kuot, SOUTH SUDAN, JUN/16/2013, SSN;

Given the present diplomatic status quo between the Republic of South Sudan and Sudan where the two-pronged approaches are very hard, erratic and thorny, always on and off since the independence of South Sudan from Sudan on July the 9th 2011, their diplomatic relations have not been that mutual and consensual because of unresolved numerous post-independence issues, ranging from demarcations of common borders, dispute over oil-rich region of Abyei and many more others that are not limited to citizenship, economic links and trade, oil transit fees and etcetera, just to mentioned few related to this saga.

More over, their bilateral ties did not last longer soon after the independence of the South Sudan because the independence came while both sides were counter-attacking and accusing each other of supporting the rebels against one another’s peace and sovereignty but the allegations are rebutted and unproven from that moment up to date by both sides.

However, the situation became blared up when Sudan confiscated crude oil worth billions of dollars from South Sudan in December 2011 which later forced South Sudan to opt for shutting down the oil production and its exportation in January 2012 through Sudan’s oil pipeline to the international markets.

And it was later followed by the fierce fighting over the dubious Panthou/Heglig area of Unity State in April 2012 where the two sides counter-reacted to each other over the media and other forums.

Although the Cooperation Agreement was signed last year on 27th Sept 2012, the two sides did not commit to it and implement it evenly up to the moment when President Bashir threatened South Sudan of padlocking the oil flow and exports once and for all, saying, if South Sudan will not pause from providing support to the rebels and disengage itself from its former comrades/allies, the SPLM-N and the new SRF rebels, then, he will close the oil conduit and South Sudan will export it oil through Djibouti and Kenya.

This warning did not last long for President Bashir to implement it, when he eventually ordered his Oil Minister Mr. Awad Aljaz to block South Sudan oil pipeline and asked South Sudan to transport/export their oil through Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti as he said when addressing the rally in the Northern Parts of Khartoum.

But before one of the two Countries decided that, who do you think will suffer most economically and politically if the Republic of South Sudan and Sudan decide again to cut-of their diplomatic ties unequivocally like what had happened in April 2012 when the two countries soared up their relationship over the Panthou/Heglig war?

In this case, I know majority of people including political and economic analysts and any other stakeholders in the two Sudans can apparently answer this question by saying that the Republic of South Sudan will suffer most in her political economy if its political and economic ties are put off with the neighboring Republic of Sudan, because most the people think that, the country is new and it cannot stand firm and strong enough alone without support and assistance from Sudan in one way or another.

This is because its economy is still growing both on a national and international scale. Others will say it is not yet stable but still forging her international relations and economic ties with other Countries especially with international and regional bodies like World Bank, IMF and others in the sphere.

Understandably, that was why majority of stakeholders were so worried and nervous when they heard that the Republic of South Sudan had decided to shut down its oil production and flow through neighboring Sudan because of the confiscated or stolen crude oil by Khartoum it claimed for unpaid transit fees since the independence of South Sudan in July 2011. An allegation denied by both sides and remains un-addressed even up to now.

The international communities and the world’s economic and political analysts have been contemplating about the shutdown of oil and visualize it from their casual and professional points of view and understandings, saying that, the government of South Sudan is not firm enough and cannot resist the financial crisis or austerity measures of the world if the oil revenue is not included in its national budget which constitutes 98% of national budget/income per annum.

The Western powers and other stakeholders in the world condemned the decision taken to shut down oil production by the Government South Sudan (GOSS) and embarked reprimanding President Kiir Mayardit and his leadership of taking unstudied and precipitated decision in just a new born nation whose economy is still at infantile and nascent stage in the world.

Because of this, most of the regional blocs and international communities had also joined the whistle blowing policy and denounced the decision taken by the government of South Sudan, calling it as ‘economic and political suicide.’ Some called it as ‘a premature decision’ given the fragility of the economy and political arena in the world.

The whistle blowing policy (advocacy) for oil production did not stop right away from that instant when the oil production was announced to be shutdown in January 2012 for further notice until the oil resumed its production in April 2013, and exported it through neighboring Sudan to the international Market.

But the question is why most of the scholars did and analysts think that way? Comparing the economy outlook in the recent months when the oil production and flow was closed down, when the economics and other diplomatic relations were cut-off completely between the two Sudans, the Republic of South Sudan economy was seemingly looks firm and strong enough to survives the austerity measures and do alone without Khartoum assistance and support in one way or the other.

The indicators that attest the economy outlook and withstand is that, the government of South Sudan did not leant and trims off itself as anticipated during the austerity measures/financial crisis, the civil servants wages and their overhead costs were still running and incur throughout although there are few irregularities and omission in payments and in disbursing.

To equate this and reflect on Khartoum situation, where their politics reached the mountain peak within that short time, when the economy and inflation had/has gone beyond the redemption like when the dollar was/is very high against the local currency/Sudanese Pounds which gave a lot of political and economic commotions that burst out into demonstrations and riots in Khartoum, prompting impromptu public outcry that called for regime change and reforms given the economics and political uproars in the country within that interval.

Followed by the practical example of the current insurgencies in the Country that has been going in the western parts of the Country since 2003 and other once in the Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile State

In this case, it seems and sounds like South Sudan will and shall never suffer most and first economically or politically before the Republic of Sudan suffered more and most or even die. This is because, we have where to depend on while trying to get other means and alternatives of livelihoods or exporting and shipping our oil revenue to the outside world or transnational markets.

This can be through our neighbouring, friendly and sisterly countries resembling Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti as he, Bashir said, whether it is by land or by air to any port of these nations, a good example is the undergoing pipeline project between South Sudan and Kenya is of paramount and permanent alternative solution to solve this problem between Sudan and South Sudan over the oil pipeline in their territory.

However, there will be a time when Sudan needs South Sudan relations but she will not get it because things will turn differently and this would’ve been the time they should be careful and get hold of this relationship. It will be very hard for Sudan later on to get this relation from South Sudan to embrace it again otherwise they will suffer most when South Sudan enjoys and turns away from them.

Giving the two scenarios above means that Sudan cannot survive without South Sudan because it has limited resources and there is nowhere she can export or transport her goods mostly apart from South Sudan where their soft drinks, grains, clothes and other materials are all over South Sudan markets currently but South Sudan can stand alone without Sudan economically and nothing can stab their political back like what happened to Sudan previously.

For example, Sudan cannot take her commodities and stuffs to Egypt, neither Libya nor Chad given the topography between Sudan and these countries and following their political and economic amphitheatre these days.

Secondly, Libya and Egypt has the same goods and productions with Sudan and it is Egypt to supply much goods to Sudan, not Sudan to supply her goods to Egypt or Libya no matter what.

Meanwhile, Chad–Sudan relationship is unfriendly and unchangeable since, although President Idris Deby of Chad had recently married the Daughter of Mr. Ali Kusheb, the then Janjaweed Militia Leader in Darfur and ICC wanted man. The marriage was politically motivated in order to improve bilateral relations between the two nations that have been on hike for quiet long time when both sides claimed unfounded accusations of sponsoring mercenaries with intention to destabilize one other’s peace and tranquillity since early 2000s when the rebels stormed the Capital city, Ndjamena of Chad and insurgency began in Darfur, western Sudan.

In my conclusion, it is up to the reader now to relate the current socio-economic, political views and positions of Sudan and South Sudan in comparison to recent months of oil production and inflow, when all the borders were closed and when the state of emergency was declared by Sudanese’ government at all the border’s corridors to South Sudan, whether it is by land or air space.

Luka Madhieu Kuot is a South Sudanese citizen living in South Sudan and he can be reached at madhieu@gmail.com or by dialing +211926030797.

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