In the 200 years before their historic split, the history of Sudan and South Sudan was marred by colonization, exploitation, sectarianism and war. Sudan and South Sudan are culturally, ethnically and linguistically diverse. They contain at least 19 major ethnic groups and 600 sub-groups. Relations and competition between different groups have been bound up in religious, racial and ethnic ideology. South Sudan is rich in resources and fertile in many parts, but has historically been marginalized and disempowered.
In 1955 a civil war began in the Southern regions of Sudan, and when the demand for Southern autonomy was rejected following independence in 1956, Africa’s longest civil war ensued. The Addis Ababa Peace Accord, signed in 1972, initiated 11 years of peace and recovery. But a second phase of civil war reignited in 1983 with renewed intensity, until it was brought to an end in a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005.
In January 2011, a referendum in the South Sudan, stipulated by the CPA, resulted in an overwhelming vote in favor of partition from North Sudan. Although the North appeared to accept the results of the referendum and to resign itself to its much-diminished status as a country that had lost one-third of its territory and three-quarters of its oil, in reality it did not. For its part, the South was too divided internally, insecure, and essentially incompetent to engage in a successful negotiation of outstanding issues. Thus, the separation took place while a host of major problems remained unresolved. Over the next six months, North and South were supposed to negotiate outstanding issues but failed to do so. As a result, conflict broke out almost immediately after the South became independent.
The secession of the South did not address several important territorial issues: unclear and un-demarcated border tracts; the question of whether Oil rich Abyei region should stay within the North or become a part of the South; and the status of South Kordofan and Blue Nile States, regions that were clearly recognized as part of the North, but expected to be given some form of special status under the provisions of the CPA because of their ties to the South. These territorial problems involve complex issues of nationalism in both North and South, deep-seated local grievances, and competition for water and grazing land among local tribe.
Sudan began exporting crude oil in 1999, and oil flow reached a level of 490,000 barrels per day by 2009, making oil the greatest resource for the unified country. It remains a significant economic driver for both North and South Sudan today. Sudan is no exception, making oil the most immediate source of conflict.
About 75 percent of Sudan’s oil is produced below the old colonial line that divided North and South and became the border between the two countries after the split. Making the situation potentially volatile, a large part of the oil fields are located close to that dividing line, thus creating the possibility that either side will make a grab for oil fields that do not officially belong to them—indeed, this happened in April 2012 when the South’s army crossed into the North and seized the Heglig oil fields before retreating again. Adding to the complications, all oil has to be exported through Port Sudan in the North, the terminal of the country’s only pipeline. The alternative for the South of trucking oil southward to the Kenyan coast is impractical, and a new pipeline to that destination remains prohibitively expensive and in any case, years away.
The 21-year civil war between north and south Sudan officially ended in 2005 but tensions remain between Khartoum and South Sudan, which seceded in July 2011.
South Sudan’s army has unlawfully killed and committed other serious violations against civilians in the context of a counterinsurgency campaign. The action in Jonglei State has forced thousands of people to flee their homes, making them more vulnerable to attack from rival ethnic groups. South Sudan should hold all abusive soldiers to account and bolster military and civilian justice to curb further violations.
They are unlawful killings of almost 100 members of the Murle ethnic group between December 2012 and July 2013, constituting serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. Murder and deliberate targeting of civilians during an armed conflict constitute war crimes.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers burned and looted homes, physically and verbally abused civilians, and destroyed schools, churches, and the compounds of aid agencies providing life-saving assistance.
A series of unlawful killings, including of women, children, and people with mental illnesses have caused widespread terror among the Murle, exacerbating the perception that they are being targeted as an ethnic group. The incidents occurred against a backdrop of a conflict between South Sudan’s army and a Murle rebel group.
Many Sudanese have never returned home since the peace treaty in 2005. There are many reasons for this. Some refugees know nothing other than the life they have had in the camps as they were young children at the start of the war. For some of them, they no longer speak the local dialect of the area they came from as, being orphans, there were no family members to keep the languages alive. Many people cannot afford to return home as they have nothing to go back to. Their homes were destroyed and any wealth they had (mostly in the form of cattle) was taken by the Murahaleen raiders. Not speaking the local dialect will make finding employment difficult.
Young people will travel hundreds of kilometers to attend school or university. Old people in the most impoverished areas will ask a visitor for food, but young people will ask for scholarships.
Violent conflict all but destroys education systems and leaves the resident population with the skills needed to survive, but without the knowledge needed to rebuild a country. In this way, education is an important catalyst as a country transitions from war to peace. But no one dies from not going to school, and other life-threatening needs–for food, water, shelter or healthcare–can seem far more urgent during an emergency. It is only in the last few decades that education has become an integral part of emergency response.
The Egyptian economy is the largest and strongest in the region. In that sense, it might also have the most to lose from conflict. However, most scenarios for conflict would not directly affects Egypt’s brooder with Northern Sudan. Wider investor sentiment about the region may be affected by a conflict.
Tanzania is a member of the East African community along with some of Sudan’s direct neighbors. It is clear that the direct neighbors ( Uganda, Kenya, etc) would face significant impacts from further conflict in Sudan.
The overall impact on regional economics is a balance between some potentially positive impacts with larger potentially negative impacts.
Potential positive impacts
Potential negative impacts