By Joseph Oreste Odhok, South Sudan, FEB/22/2017, SSN;
The civil war in South Sudan is poised to become a proxy regional war as some countries in the region begin to flex their muscles in furtherance to varied interests. Of late the regional bloc, IGAD witnessed intensive shuttle diplomacy from within and surprisingly from outside the bloc.
President Kiir visited Cairo on invitation of his Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi who later returned the visit to Juba. President Al-Sisi made similar visits to both Uganda and Kenya on Dec 18th 2016 and Feb 18th 2017 respectively. A move seen as lobbying for support against construction of the Ethiopian “Renaissance Dam”, which Egypt regards as a threat to her national security.
In their bilateral talks at the State house in Entebbe, President Museveni welcomed Egypt’s intention to contribute troops for protection force in South Sudan. He also asked Al-Sisi to discourage the UNSC policy on imposing sanctions on South Sudan and further assured the Egyptian President that his government would work hard and take strict measures to ensure conservation of the River Nile so that Egypt would not be affected.
This meeting has its political overtones on South Sudan conflict and marks the beginning of a downward spiral to the fragmentation of the country, and a threat to regional peace and international security.
According to unverified information, South Sudan and Egypt made a deal that would make it possible to disrupt and frustrate the work on the Ethiopian “Renaissance Dam” project. This secret deal entails allowing the Ethiopian rebels to operate within South Sudanese territories, in return to providing air cover to the SPLA by Egyptian air force.
The ongoing Arial bombardments of civilian population settlements around Malakal and other areas of the “Shilluk Kingdom” on the West bank of the Nile seems to substantiate the claim.
Literally, the Shilluk kingdom is now empty after all the civil population — including the IDPs of Wau Shilluk— fled their villages for safety to the neighboring Sudan.
Mr. David Shearer, the head of UNMISS in South Sudan said he was denied access to Wau by the government and that he did not know the fate of the civilians sheltering there whom he thought fled towards Kodok.
President Kiir is well known for not keeping his promises. In fact, he is a pathological or a plausible liar. For how could you talk of conducting a dialogue and at the same time carry out military campaigns against those who’re supposed to take part in that same dialogue?
While this latest position of the regional bloc coupled with Egyptian meddling in the country’s affairs has emboldened President Kiir to deflect the peace agreement and openly declare before the parliament that he would neutralize the armed opposition wherever they are, Ethiopia and Sudan on the other hand, I believe, would not sit by and watch their own peace and national security being tempered with.
In the case of Ethiopia, it has soft borders with South Sudan with by having the same tribes on both sides of the border. These blood relation and ethnic bonds provide a sense of unity and belonging to each other. This sense of belonging could easily come to play in times of conflict and great turbulence such as this one.
In Equatoria, the situation could be described as catastrophic as evidenced by the number of fleeing civilian population to Uganda and Kenya, and the defecting officials to the Opposition. Most people in that region are living in constant fear and under harsh living conditions as the SS currency lost its purchasing power.
Add to this, the fear of crackdown and risk of deportation back to the country should they opt to take refuge in Urban Areas in Kenya and Uganda. These factors combined make the life extremely miserable for those still in the country.
The people of Western Bahr el Gazelle, mainly the Fertit tribes, are still sheltering in the UN protection sites and churches and in the bushes under harsh living conditions. In a nutshell the only free people who the president referred to as citizens of South are his tribes-people the “Jieng.”
Sudan’s concerns would come from the deteriorating security situation on its white Nile and South Kordufan States borders with Upper Nile State. Also the security of her nomads and their cattle while on their seasonal journeys for pasture and water in the area.
The Niger nomadic tribe of Flata Ombororo also visits the area in search of pasture and water.
Nevertheless, the Sudanese oil installations in Upper Nile and Unity States remains the most important items. The security of these installations will ultimately determine the next move of the Sudanese Government should the war escalate between the belligerent parties.
At present the Sudanese are working to lift the remaining US sanctions from their country and would not want to be distracted from achieving that goal. Though that should not be taken for granted.
This new escalation of conflict with vehement characteristics of ethnicity which is openly advocated by a tiny tribal elite and sanctioned by the Head of the State, made the polarization even worse, and the demise of the country much imminent than ever before.
The recent defections of senior military and civil service officials from the government, and their revelations are but clear testimony to the level of frustration and despair.
The insistence of the President on going ahead with the fake “National Dialogue” while promising to quell the rebellion by military means is an inept way of handling of the country’s affairs and a brazen idiocy.
Unless he wanted to throw the country to the dogs as Adolf Hitler had done before the allied forces brought him to his knees, there is no rational reason to opt for military solution. There shall not be decisive military victory by either side.
If Egypt, Uganda and Kenya all stand behind Kiir’s government to advance their covetous and malicious interests, they too should know that there are others out there who similarly covet South Sudan and would want to enter the scramble for this dying animal.
This unfolding unfortunate situation will eventually turn the country into a safe haven for criminals and illicit trade and by extension provide a springboard for terrorist activities.
In conclusion, the current political development of events in South Sudan brings me to corroborate the supposition in a report published by Pax International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) — Scenarios for South Sudan in 2020 — in which the author predicts the Fragmentation of the country into many parts by October 2017.
The collapse of the government and fragmentation of the country is now becoming a possible reality given the recent policy shift to a military solution of the conflict, the already declared famine and the collapsing economy.
Dr. Riek and his SPLM/A–IO should not take the blame for collapse of peace. After all it takes two to tango. END