Sudan Is Trying to Create Instability in South Sudan
Khartoum is not fully abiding by September 2012 agreement.
South Sudanese Ambassador to the United States Akec Khoc told Qorvis’ Focus Washington that pressure from The Republic of Sudan is creating continued instability in South Sudan.
Two years into South Sudanese independence, Sudan continues to create political, economic and social instability, the ambassador told host Chuck Conconi. Khoc says this is due to the non-implementation of the cooperation agreement between the two countries. The agreement — signed in September 2012 — covered nine issues, including security, border arrangements, trade and oil.
“Borders are still porous,” said Ambassador Khoc. He added that the security arrangements have still not been put into effect.
South Sudan is the world’s youngest independent nation. It seceded from the Republic of Sudan after years of conflict and a referendum in which more than 90 percent of the population voted for independence.
“Khartoum has been sending in some South Sudanese-opposed to the current administration to destabilize,” said Ambassador Khoc. “We have been able, recently, to give them amnesty, and some of them have responded very clearly.”
The South Sudanese efforts for compromise and amnesty have yet to end sporadic fighting. Armed clashes continue in Jonglei state, but not usually for political reasons.
“Unfortunately, it has been exploited by Sudan in arming those groups who rustle cattle, who abduct children, and who create instability within the region,” he said.
South Sudan is working to create conditions of inclusive dialogue with communities in order to make them aware that we cannot develop these areas while we continue to fight.” The Ambassador stressed hope that his country can move forward with development once all parties are interested in ending conflict.
Oil: Cause of conflict and promise for the future
Oil is both the hope for South Sudan’s economic future and the cause of much of its present conflict with Sudan. Division of oil revenues that formerly belonged to Khartoum was a major issue in separation negotiations.
The only current transport for oil from resource-rich South Sudan to export sites is a Sudanese pipeline. Ambassador Khoc said that Sudan is taking advantage of South Sudan’s dependence on the pipeline, and has demanded exorbitant transport fees. Sudan initially demanded $36 a barrel — which far exceeded the international standard of less than one dollar. Under the September 2012 cooperation agreement, the price has come down to $20 a barrel, but the compromise has not ended the conflict over oil. Sudan also occasionally disrupts oil flow through the pipeline in order to create leverage in unrelated political conflicts. In June 2013, Sudan threatened to stop the pipeline after allegations arose that the South Sudanese government was supporting a group of rebels fighting the government in Khartoum.
Despite the conflicts, the Ambassador remains positive.
“I am very hopeful that the implementation of that [September] agreement will soon bring the resources that we need for the development of the country, for the provision of services to our people,” he said.
In the meantime, South Sudan is working toward a new pipeline that would take oil out through the south. This will allow the new country to not be reliant on the Sudanese pipeline for economic development and oil exports.
Bipartisan Support in Washington
Ambassador Khoc says his country is working not only to compromise with Sudan and create a dialogue among its own people, but also to develop its relationships with countries like the United States. South Sudan has a number of friends in Congress who have supported the country during its struggle for independence and in the years since. He named Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Reps. Steve Stockman (R-Tex.) and Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as strong supporters.
While the ambassador acknowledged that the different interests in Washington can be difficult to manage, he said that his country has found great bipartisan support that enables them to work with both parties.
President Obama has also pledged aid for South Sudan. Obama has previously pressured Sudan and South Sudan to come to agreements like the September compromise. Ambassador Khoc said that the U.S. is a strategic ally and gives us aid,”, but envisions that the aid could have been even better.
“I think the aid could have been much higher if we didn’t have the instabilities and the consequent alleged human rights violations,” the Ambassador said. “The unrest in the country seriously affects the request for aid and the delivery of aid.”