South Sudan gained independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011 as the outcome of a 2005 peace deal that ended Africa’s longest-running civil war.
An overwhelming majority of South Sudanese voted in a January 2011 referendum to secede and become Africa’s first new country since Eritrea split from Ethiopia in 1993.
The new nation stands to benefit from inheriting the bulk of Sudan’s oil wealth, but continuing disputes with Khartoum and a lack of economic development cloud its immediate future.
Long based on subsistence agriculture, South Sudan’s economy is now highly oil-dependent. While an estimated 75% of all the former Sudan’s oil reserves are in South Sudan, the refineries and the pipeline to the Red Sea are in Sudan.
In January 2012, the breakdown of talks on the sharing of oil revenues led South Sudan to halt oil production and halve public spending on all but salaries.
A deal in March 2013 provided for Sudan to resume pumping South Sudanese oil in May, and created a demilitarised border zone.
Despite the potential oil wealth, South Sudan is one of Africa’s least developed countries. However, the years since the 2005 peace accord ushered in an economic revival and investment in utilities and other infrastructure.
Heavy fighting between government forces and rebels was raging in South Sudan’s key oil-producing north, as neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia stepped up efforts to broker an end to the civil war.
Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) has said that, troops loyal to President Salva Kiir were battling forces allied to former Vice-President Riek Machar inside the town of Malakal, capital of the Upper Nile State. The troops were preparing an offensive against Bentiu, the main town in oil-rich Unity State, to follow on from their recapture of Bor, another State capital that had fallen into rebel hands during the nearly two weeks of clashes in the world’s youngest nation.
Crisis in South Sudan and its international implications
Though South Sudan became independent from the Republic of the Sudan in 2011, the future of the new nation was always uncertain. The conflict now raging in the world’s youngest state has serious regional and international implications
Just as Eritrea, which obtained its independence from Ethiopia in 1991 but has been deeply troubled ever since, this current conflict is about ‘poor political leadership’ within a country that is still in need of a massive state-building exercise.
The violence, fighting and displacement that broke out on 15 December, 2013 was not a deliberate coup, but the result of deteriorating relations between the President, Salva Kiir, and his ex-Vice President, Riek Machar. Mr. Kiir has become increasingly authoritarian over the past 18 months when the president tried to take fuller control of the republican guard, this developed into a standoff that sparked what in effect became an accidental coup.
Until this new crisis erupted, international engagement was focused on the border issues with Sudan and encouraging Mr. Kiir to reconcile with his former enemy, President al-Bashir of Sudan.
There is also an ethnic dimension playing out between Nuer and Dinka- the president is a Dinka, while Mr. Machar represents the Nuer. This is nothing new for South Sudan, as inter-ethnic tensions have been a feature of the political landscape here long before independence but the discovery of three mass graves by the UN in recent days signal how quickly this crisis has deepened.
Mr. Kiir has deployed his army to fight supporters of Machar. Thousands have been killed and tens of thousands internally displaced by this fighting. A major crisis is looming and humanitarian access is now the most immediate international preoccupation.
Following which the UN had announced it is doubling its forces on the ground, and the leaders of Kenya and Ethiopia have also visited South Sudan’s capital, Juba to try to halt the fighting. The crisis has already internationalised with Ugandan troop intervention.
What is most depressing for South Sudan is that whether Mr. Kiir succeeds militarily over Mr. Machar or there is a negotiated compromise, the country is likely to become more autocratic.An elite power struggle within the tiny leadership looks to be drawing the whole country into a full civil war that is rapidly developing ethnic dimensions.
What are the necessary/basic conditions for a newly independent nation to progress? (Think interms of political, economic and social angle)
Though most of the African countries are rich in resources, they are considered to be less developed. Why?
What implications would the Sudan crisis have on the regional and the international fora?
The role of other countries in halting the crisis?
Egypt to expand ties with India
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, has chosen India as the destination of his first visit to Asia .This signifies an important step in taking the relationship of the two countries further.
As the regime in Egypt prepares for a referendum in January, 2014 on a new pattern of government, India is looking to take forward discussions held during ousted President Mohamed Morsy’s visit especially in the areas of defence, long term oil supply arrangements, joint ventures in refining and fertilizers and greater cooperation in science and technology.
The two Foreign Ministers (India & Egypt) also discussed specific issues related to enhancing economic cooperation, including need to ease work permit regulations for professionals. Currently, the bilateral trade was $5.4 billion. India is the third largest destination of Egyptian exports ($2.6 billion) and Egypt is the 11th largest destination of Indian exports ($2.9 billion).
The Indian government has also approved to establish a Centre of Excellence in Information Technology at Al Azhar University in Cairo. The centre, which will be set up as project under the India-Africa Forum Summit, is planned for completion in a year after the confirmation of infrastructure by the host institution. Once completed, it will be able to train 500 students annually.
Egypt declares Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group
Egypt’s military-installed government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood of ousted president Mohamed Morsy a “terrorist” group banning all its activities (even protests-‘strikes’)
The decision is likely to accelerate a crackdown on the movement that has killed more than 1,000 people, mostly Islamists, in street clashes and imprisoned thousands since Mr. Morsy’s overthrow by the military in July, 2013.
However, Mr. Morsy’s supporters, who continue to organise demonstrations demanding his reinstatement, insist they are for peaceful protest.
Pro-EU Ukrainians defy protest ban
Pro-EU Ukrainians have defied a ban on protests and fears of police violence in Kiev to push for early elections after President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a historic EU pact.
The ex-Soviet nation was thrown into its deepest crisis since the 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution when Yanukovych shunned the EU leaders at a Vilnius summit recently and opted to keep Ukraine aligned with its former master Russia.
The government’s decision has sparked off mass demonstrations that has turned violent.
The protestors have demanded for early elections as well as a countrywide strike, including daily rallies aimed at blocking the entrance to the Ukrainian government seat in the capital.
They were defying a ban suddenly imposed by Kiev’s (Ukrain’s capital) main administrative court on all protests on the Kiev’s iconic Independence Square s and its surrounding streets until January 7, 2014.
While the U.S. and the German authorities have called on the Ukrainian government to ensure freedom of assembly and to protect the peaceful demonstrators from any kind of intimidation and violence. The jailed former PM Yulia Tymoshenko (Yanukovych rival) whose release was a condition for signing the EU deal has called on Ukrainians to press ahead with their fight.
Massive protest in Kiev (Ukraine)
Several hundred thousand Ukrainians occupied a central square in the capital denouncing President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to turn away from Europe and align this former Soviet republic with Russia.
According to critics, Ukraine is on the verge of entering a Russian-led customs union that could end its sovereignty and place it back under Moscow’s rule.
There has been uprising in Kiev (Ukraine) over the Ukraine President’s refusal to sign far-reaching political and trade accords with the European Union (EU).
The West is regrouping after Russia and its hard realpolitik out manoeuvred Europe, which had relied on its soft power.
For both sides, the stakes are high. Western Europe is emerging from a five-year fiscal depression and is intent on renewing the eastward export of Western values; Russia is intent on blocking that advance and guarding its sphere of influence.
The Russia had threatened trade sanctions if Ukraine signed the pact with the EU. Russia also indicated a potential willingness to spend billions in a bailout for Ukraine, to protect its military and financial interests, which include Black Sea naval bases and transnational gas pipelines.
Whereas, the Western countries, by contrast, had mostly confined themselves on insisting that the Ukraine President to listen to his many citizens who want closer ties to Western Europe.
Russia slashes gas price, to help Ukraine
President Vladimir Putin has come with a plan to buy $15 billion of Ukrainian bonds and slash Kiev’s bill (Ukraine) for Russian gas imports, in a boost for President Viktor Yanukovych as he faces a huge protests over a rejected EU pact.
Russia also agreed to remove trade barriers it put up at the start of the year when it seemed that Ukraine was on the verge of signing a historic trade and political association agreement with Brussels that would have pulled it out of Russia’s orbit for the first time.
The help from Russia may allow Ukraine to avoid the threat of an imminent balance of payments (BoP) crisis and possible default amid a recession that has seen the economy shrink since the first half of 2012.
Strategic importance of Ukraine to Russia and the West.
Russian appeasement of its former USSR satellite states. Strategic Implications of Russian strong hold in the region (Central Asia).
Kosovo, as an independent nation
Kosovo had declared independence from Serbia in 2008. However it is still not Kosovo is recognised by the United States and a majority of EU members. But five, including Spain, which is battling separatist movements of its own, refuse to recognise it.
Serbia is also vehemently against recognising Kosovo’s independence, and Russia, a staunch Serbian ally and a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, has blocked Kosovo’s U.N. membership, stifling its economic and political development.