• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • A Return to War for Sudan and South Sudan?

    Not even a year after South Sudan’s independence from Sudan, the world’s newest country is already on the brink of war with its longtime foe.

    Last week, South Sudanese troops (otherwise known as the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army, or SPLA) occupied the oil-rich town of Heglig in Sudan—host to the Greater Nile Oil Pipeline, vital to Sudan’s oil exports. However, South Sudan claims that the land, otherwise known as “Panthou,” is part of its territory.

    Following international condemnation, the government of South Sudan withdrew SPLA forces from Heglig on Friday but warned that if bombarded by Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), South Sudan will “hit back.” Yesterday morning, the SAF carried out reprisal aerial bombings in the oil town of Bentiu, the capital of Unity State.

    In a video message last Friday, President Obama addressed the governments in Sudan and South Sudan by appealing to their people, emphasizing the need to resist returning to war. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the South’s occupation, calling it an “illegal act.”

    The United States is heavily invested in maintaining relative peace and stability between Khartoum and Juba. The Bush Administration was an influential partner in brokering the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), ending the decades-long civil war and paving the way for South Sudan’s independence. Although it took 10 months for the Obama Administration to announce its policy on Sudan, it is largely a continuation of the Bush Administration’s strategy—overseeing the completion of the CPA and ensuring that peace is maintained.

    Unfortunately, a number of issues were not resolved before South Sudan’s independence in July 2011: citizenship, oil management, and most importantly, border demarcation. The disputed Abyei territory remains the underlying reason for the escalation of violence. Following the December 2010 decision to indefinitely postpone the referendum that would have determined the geographic claim on Abyei, hostilities have continued to escalate.

    There is still time to prevent the return to war. However, the window of opportunity is quickly closing. There is a lot at stake for both countries, as protracted conflict would result in devastating humanitarian and economic consequences. South Sudan has taken monumental strides in assuming the responsibilities of a sovereign government. Its progress should not be jeopardized.

    Prudence Ukwishatse contributed to this blog post.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    Comments are closed.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.