Sudan: Blood And Oil


May 13, 2010: Can the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) make it as a separate country? Southerners certainly think so, which is why so many support independence (or secession, as the national government calls it). At the moment South Sudan relies on oil royalties for 95 to 98 percent of its budget. The north (North Sudan) dispenses the revenues. If the south opts for independence it would have to be certain its share of the revenues flowed honestly and unabated. The GOSS contends that it received around $300 million less than it was due in 2009 (based on the difference between the north's accounting and the records of the China National Petroleum Corporation). Roughly 75 percent of Sudan's oil reserves lie in territory that GOSS claims. You have to word it that way because the exact north-south border has not been finalized (though the GOSS and Sudan have resolved some key disputes). Also, estimates of Sudan's oil reserves vary. The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) said the north and south would share the oil royalties. A number of southerners now want a third party to handle the accounting (for example, an NGO, or an international panel). The term being used in southern Sudan is oil transparency (oil isn't transparent, but the accounting should be). Some major diplomatic efforts are involved though at the moment they are in the background. For example, Great Britain, Norway, and the US want to help the north and south reach a new oil revenue sharing agreement beginning in 2011. A fair agreement would go a long way to preventing a new civil war, whether or not Sudan remains a single state or South Sudan spins off into independence. The GOSS is hoping to improve the south's agricultural productivity but the region is short of roads and other essential transportation infrastructure –what you need to bring agricultural products to markets.

May 12, 2010: The UN reported that 107 people had been killed in fighting in Darfur since the end of March 2010. The government is reinforcing its units in North Darfur. Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) forces are increasingly active in the Shangil Tobaya area.

Another firefight occurred in Jonglei state between soldiers loyal to George Athor and a Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) unit. This firefight occurred in Thoudiak. The SPLA is the army of South Sudan. An SPLA spokesman said it had a recon unit in the area and it encountered Athor's forces. Two SPLA soldiers were killed in the firefight.

May 11, 2010: The JEM threatened to renew the war in Darfur on a large scale. The JEM had agreed to a ceasefire deal earlier this year but quit the new round of peace talks. JEM field commanders are objecting to a government request for the arrest of JEM senior leader Khalil Ibrahim. Ibrahim is currently in exile in Egypt. The government alleges that Ibrahim planned the big 2008 raid on Omdurman. That raid featured a spectacular cross-country motorized attack by JEM forces.

May 8, 2010: Discussion in South Sudan persists about the April 30th firefight in Jonglei state between SPLA regulars and rebel troops following the national elections. Eight soldiers were killed in the battle. The rebellion was led by a former general George Athor who ran as a candidate for governor of Jonglei state in the election and lost. The general accused the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM, the ruling party in the south) of electoral fraud. The rebel faction (which consists of an estimated 100 soldiers) insists the SPLM forces attacked first. The rebels are demanding amnesty as a condition to ending their rebellion. The GOSS is concerned that other disgruntled army officers may join Athor.

May 7, 2010: UNAMID reported that two Egyptian peacekeepers were murdered by gunmen in an ambush in South Darfur state. The attack took place near the town of Edd al-Fursan. Three soldiers were wounded in the incident.

A spokesman for the JEM accused the government of escalating the fighting in Darfur.

The JEM claimed its forces fought the government in a battle near the town of El Fasher on May 4 and fought a battle in West Darfur state on May 6.

May 3, 2010: The GOSS, through a military spokesman, confirmed that following an army unit led by General George Athor mutinied at the mid-April elections and that a firefight occurred on April 30 between Athor's forces and an SPLA unit. The GOSS spokesman claimed that Athor's force attacked a barracks in the town of Doleb.





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