The world’s newest democracy, South Sudan has many challenges. Among those challenges are their own complicated tribal conflicts that have stymied South Sudan’s sustainable nation building that would provide the region a democracy in a part of the world where Jihad breeds (Sudan, Libya, Sinai, Kenya, Uganda, Chad). Israel would benefit from a safe, secure South Sudan – close enough to be a significant geo-polical ally.
Unfortunately, the news out of South Sudan is dominated by continued inter-tribal fighting. Although, South Sudan achieved its sovereignty in 2011, after 99 percent of South Sudanese voted to break away from Sudan (North), tribal conflict has prevented the nation from building a strong, safe, democracy in the region.
Last week, a trusted source on the ground in Juba, South Sudan, reported that the streets in Juba were eerily quiet; Juba was on edge.
Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) Chief, Paul Malong was released from his duties by South Sudan President Salva Kiir in an effort to ease tensions between majority Dinka militia and other tribes. He was replaced by former deputy chief of general staff, Gen. James Ajongo Mawut.
South Sudan’s President Kiir asserted confidence in the former Dinka SPLA Chief, Malong, but stated a change would be good to squelch Dinka fighting with the 64 other (documented) tribes.
The South Sudanese opposition groups further expressed concerns about the “untold” and “unbearable” suffering of South Sudanese people, whom they said urgently and desperately needed peace.
“Aware that the regime in Juba is dysfunctional, in crisis, paralysed and about to implode and take the country down with it, if no urgent action is taken to save the country, to unify it, and reclaim the country from forces who want to destroy and liquidate it, it will not survive,” they said.
Moreover, Israel’s interests in a democratic Sudan, free of conflict for the following reasons:
Hamas has a close relationship with North Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, a convicted war criminal. Hamas has used Bashir’s North Sudan in its route for smuggling weapons into GAZA and some very large shipments have been intercepted by Israel.
While the chaos in the outlining areas of Juba continues, supply routes to the Nuba Mountains where Nuba Christians and marginalized Black Muslims hide, live and attempt to survive and thrive, are starving and humanitarian conditions are grim.
Nairobi press is reporting 23,000 South Sudanese crossed into Sudan (North) last month bringing the total this year to 108,000.
Many of the persecuted South Sudanese who fled North Sudan, have had to return to the arms of war crimes president, Bashir, as they seek safety from conflict in South Sudanese.
“It is a peculiar tragic, and devastating commentary on South Sudan that hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese are fleeing their independent land to seek sanctuary and sustenance in the lands of their former oppressor.” Sudan expert Dr. Alex de Waal commented last Tuesday.
Jewish Policy Center reported back in 2009, an identified ship sunk an Iranian vessel off the Sudanese Coast in the Red Sea hat was reportedly carrying weapons to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. An Egyptian security source alleges Israel was responsible.
Sudan has ties (past and present) to Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. Tehran has provided the Khartoum government (Bashir) with weapons and military training.
Sources close to the conflict in South Sudan reported to this writer today:
“The only chance for a unity government in South Sudan is if the old tribal leaders allow the youth of South Sudan to take leadership roles — youth from the ICC (Inter Church Committee).
Urgent peace keeping is needed, along with humanitarian aid to bring stability to the world’s newest nation — thereby, benefiting Africa and being a vanguard against Jihad in the region.
Lisa E. Benson
National Security/Foreign Policy Analyst, Public Speaker & Commentator