Monthly Archives: August 2013

South Sudan: Environmental, Social Management Framework Released

By Joe Odaby
South Sudan News

 Juba, South Sudan — August 28, 2013 (SSN) … The World Bank and bilateral donors are supporting efforts by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to deliver services to the population through supporting the development of the Local Government Service Delivery Project (LGSD).

LGSD aims at supporting improvements in local governance and deliver services to communities through strengthening of community engagement and local government capacities in planning, implementation and oversight of local development activities.

The final Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) document  for South Sudan is available on-line and can be read here.

This is part of the efforts of the newly appointed South Sudanese Government to advance broad reforms in all spheres of national life. On July 23, South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit issued a presidential decree removing Vice-President Riek Machar Teny and dissolving the whole government of South Sudan.

Kiir dismissed all 29 ministers and deputy ministers. The decree directed the under-secretaries of the various ministries to run South Sudan’s ministries until further notice. The decree also stipulated the new government will have only 18 national ministers and deputy ministers in order to streamline government work. A senior official at the presidency predicted that government ministers will be replaced in a “very short time, as soon as possible.”

Fashoda Institute, the leading, Juba-based think-tank, asserts that “in embarking on the profound reshuffle of government, President Kiir put the national interest ahead of internal politics and the early posturing for the 2015 presidential elections”.

South Sudan is facing numerous emergencies and challenges as a result of the attempt at economic stifling by Sudan. The economic development of South Sudan has been arrested by the Sudanese blocking of oil exports – thus depriving South Sudan of its primary source of revenues.

The Fashoda Institute states that Sudan has been sponsoring – primarily through the supply of weapons, ammunition and funds – the sustenance and escalation of insurgencies and tribal violence throughout South Sudan to the detriment of internal development. Allegations of endemic corruption throughout the entire government – which already led Kiir to undertake drastic measures such as suspending two senior ministers – considerably restricted the availability of foreign aid.

“The ability of the Kiir Government to tackle these daunting challenges has been needlessly complicated by their cynical exploitation by Vice-President Machar”, reports the Fashoda Institute.

“President Kiir will have a new and invigorated government that will be able to finally tackle the key challenges facing South Sudan: building alternate oil export venues – both short-term and long-term regional infrastructure; enhancing security and suppressing violence both internally and along the borders with Sudan and the Central African Republic; and launching overdue major social and economic development to put the country on a long-term ascent track. Juba will thus demonstrate activism – that is, initiate and launch major programs rather than be beholden to foreign aid.

The Fashoda political analysts write that “President Kiir is correct in arguing that it was impossible to initiate anything beforehand because of the endemic lack of funds and government crises. Soon, with a new government in office and limited income from the short-term export push coming in – President Kiir’s Juba will be moving fast and resolutely to alleviate crises the moment this becomes possible”.

South Sudan Devastated By Floods, Requests Emergency Humanitarian Aid

sudan_floods

By John Leaman
South Sudan News

Juba — August 24, 2013  (SSN) … More than 18,000 people with over 1,000 households in South Sudan have been affected and others displaced from their homes by devastating floods that ravaged the Maiwut County in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State in recent days.

According to County authorities people are deeply suffering and lacking basic essentials. Women and children have mostly been displaced due to flooded homes.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the medical NGO, says about 90,000 people are still missing.

Over 48 people have been killed with severe damage to public buildings, including schools, clinics, offices, shops, markets and water and sanitation facilities. Roads in South Sudan have been inundated, disrupting transport.

south_sudan_flooded_homes_and_crops

Many are still taking shelter at higher grounds and others remain in the open without any food or shelter and no proper medication as water born diseases increases with prevalence of increasing malaria cases where three have already lost their lives.

South Sudan’s Government is stepping in to provide emergency assistance to the flooded areas but the resources of the country are limited due to the economic Jihad waged against this new democratic state by its Islamist northern neighbor, Sudan.

South Sudan’s Government is calling on Humanitarian Organizations to step in and provide assistance immediately to avoid an escalation of malnutrition and diseases.

The floods have been the worst one in two decades and people fear more rains from across the neighboring Ethiopian highlands.

UN agencies led by OCHA and United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNIMSS) have already conducted a brief assessment mission in the area and explained that immediate assistance such as food, cover sheets and medicines and will be provided to the displaced people. 

South Sudan Common Humanitarian Fund Allocates 33 Million Dollars For Refugees

By Joe Odaby

 Juba — August 23, 2013 (SSN) … The South Sudan Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) has allocated US$33 million for life-saving assistance until the end of the year to people displaced by violence, returnees, refugees and vulnerable host communities. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said.

The money, according to a UNOCHA press statement will be channeled to providing clean water and sanitation, education, livelihoods support, healthcare, household items, nutrition, mine clearance and protection for the citizens of South Sudan..

“The money will help people in South Sudan who have been worst affected by violence, disease and displacement. Our goal is to make sure aid gets to those who need it most and as quickly as possible,” said Toby Lanzer, the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan.

The CHF is a tool that provides funding for the most urgent priorities for humanitarian action, and ensures that funds are available for rapid response to emergencies. The fund is managed by the Humanitarian Coordinator, with support from an advisory board of donors and UN and NGO representatives.

To date this year, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom have all provided generously to the fund, Lanzer said. With the new allocation of $33 million, the CHF will have channeled around $90 million to NGOs and UN agencies in 2013.

Aid agencies are now reporting that some sixty thousand (60,000) returnees displaced from Abyei region by the May 2011 Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) invasion have already returned home ahead of the much anticipated referendum exercise scheduled for October this year.

An Abyei return tracking report for June and July this year showed that about 16,000 people have been verified as having returned to Abyei since June 2012. While the verification process did not capture returns in and around Agok in the south of the Abyei area, food partners monthly registration records reportedly suggest that another between 5,000 and 8,000 people have returned and settled in Agok, an areas known to many as Annet.

“Overall, partners estimate that up to 60,000 of the over 100,000 people displaced from Abyei in May 2011 have returned” the United Nation’s weekly bulletin reported. According to the verification report, there are around 3,500 people living in Abyei town.

Aid organizations are said to be responding to the needs of those who have returned to their homes, including by providing communities with seeds, tools and non-food items to “strengthen their resilience”.

Although a number of schools in Abyei town have been rehabilitated, school enrollment, education partners say is much lower than anticipated.

Since 2003, over 2.3 million Darfuris have fled their homes, including nearly 300,000 as refugees in Chad. Thousands of children born in these camps have never known another home.

And the cycle of violence continues. In the first four months of 2013, over five times as many people had been displaced than in all of 2012. In one week alone in April 2013, some 50,000 Darfuris fled into southeastern Chad following fresh ethnic conflict. The refugees reported entire villages being burned and razed with many villagers killed.

In South Kordofan and Blue Nile, indiscriminate aerial bombardments are Sudan’s devastating signature tactic. Bombs destroy residential areas, schools and markets, health clinics and farm fields.

Civilians have no warning of these attacks and flee for protection to caves in nearby mountains or to the bush. Children go without school, and villages are emptied of their people. The air strikes, combined with scorched-earth attacks and deliberate obstruction of humanitarian aid, have led to chronic hunger and conditions conducive to famine.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has stated the human rights violations by Sudan rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Sudan’s campaigns of armed conflict and deliberate denial of humanitarian aid combined with the prevention of South Sudanese oil exports continue to devastate entire communities and regions.

 

 

New South Sudan Minister For Gender Equality Focuses on Street Children

gender_minister_south_sudanHon. Awut Deng Acuil 
Photo: Simon Matip Akol

By Juliet Abango

Juba — August 20, 2013 (SSN) … The newly appointed National Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare the Hon. Awut Deng Aciul has urged the staff of her ministry to embrace teamwork if they are to record any meaningful success.
“Teamwork is the only way we can be able to achieve what we want for this ministry and the people of South Sudan”, Hon Aciul said while being officially received at the ministry.

 

She said the work at the ministry is massive and called for commitment and dedication. One of the major tasks of the ministry, she said, is tackling the problem of street children in South Sudan. She said her ministry will have to work with all players and the ten state’s ministries of Social Development in order to team up efforts to address the issue.
Like many of her fellow ministers, Hon. Aciul was received at the ministry with ululations, dancing and singing. Headed by the South Sudan Undersecretary Esther Ikere Eluzai, the staff members thanked the President of the Republic of South Sudan H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit for appointing Hon Acuil as the Gender Minister.
After the meeting, Hon. Aciul visited the Physical Rehabilitation Centre (PRC), Rejaf School for the Blind and the Deaf along Nimule roads as well as the proposed ministry building along Yei road.

On July 23, South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit issued a presidential decree removing Vice-President Riek Machar Teny and dissolving the whole government of South Sudan.

Kiir dismissed all 29 ministers and deputy ministers. Kiir did not appoint a new vice-president or national ministers and deputy ministers.

The decree directed the under-secretaries of the various ministries to run South Sudan’s ministries until further notice. The decree also stipulated the new government will have only 18 national ministers and deputy ministers in order to streamline government work. A senior official at the presidency predicted that government ministers will be replaced in a “very short time, as soon as possible.”

Officially, Kiir’s Presidential decree does not explain the reason for the major shake-up.

Senior government officials, including some fired by the decree, called the undertaking a “reshuffle” that had long been expected given the mounting problems in government work. Nhial Bol, the editor of the independent Citizen TV, concurred. He believes that the president must have acted in order to end government paralysis. “Things have not been moving in the government because of this internal fighting over who is going to control the SPLM,” Nhial Bol said.

Fashoda Institute, the leading, Juba-based think-tank, asserts that “in embarking on the profound reshuffle of government, President Kiir put the national interest ahead of internal politics and the early posturing for the 2015 presidential elections”.

The Fashoda Institute states that Sudan has been sponsoring – primarily through the supply of weapons, ammunition and funds – the sustenance and escalation of insurgencies and tribal violence throughout South Sudan to the detriment of internal development. Allegations of endemic corruption throughout the entire government – which already led Kiir to undertake drastic measures such as suspending two senior ministers – considerably restricted the availability of foreign aid.

“The ability of the Kiir Government to tackle these daunting challenges has been needlessly complicated by their cynical exploitation by Vice-President Machar”, reports the Fashoda Institute.

“President Kiir will have a new and invigorated government that will be able to finally tackle the key challenges facing South Sudan: building alternate oil export venues – both short-term and long-term regional infrastructure; enhancing security and suppressing violence both internally and along the borders with Sudan and the Central African Republic; and launching overdue major social and economic development to put the country on a long-term ascent track. Juba will thus demonstrate activism – that is, initiate and launch major programs rather than be beholden to foreign aid.

The Fashoda political analysts report that “President Kiir is correct in arguing that it was impossible to initiate anything beforehand because of the endemic lack of funds and government crises.

Soon, with a new government in office and limited income from the short-term export push coming in – President Kiir’s Juba will be moving fast and resolutely to alleviate crises the moment this becomes possible”.

 

 

 

South Sudan: Women’s Groups Support New Government

 

kiir_womens_groups
President Kiir and the Toposa women’s group. On his right is
Gen. Mamur while on the left is
Governor Lojore. Photo: Thomas Keneth

By Joe Odaby

Juba — August 19, 2013 (SSN) … South Sudan President Kiir received in his office a delegation of women’s groups from Toposa Community of Kapoeta South, Kapoeta East and Kapoeta North in Eastern Equatoria State.

The groups, which were accompanied by the Easteren Equatoria State Governor Luis Lobong Lojore and the Minister of National Security Gen. Obutu Mamur Mete congratulated H.E Kiir for reshuffling his government according to the “will of South Sudan people”.
In a press statement, the head of the delegation Ms. Hellen Orasio called on the people of South Sudan to be united behind the President, discard tribal difference and work for peace and development.

Last week the newly appointed ministers and their deputies of South Sudan were sworn in before the President of the Republic of South Sudan H.E Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit and the Chief Justice Chan Reec Madut after the parliament passed their nominations.

The approval of the nominations of Telar Ring Deng as the Minister for Justice and Josephine Napwon Cosmos as the Deputy Minister for Youth, Culture and Sports was however left pending as the concerned parliamentary committee sought more time to clarify some issues about them.

Integrity and the degree of competence were some of the criteria used by the lawmakers to vet the nominated ministers.

“The new cabinet of South Sudan has just taken the oath of office before the President. We have had congratulations from the President who has also directed the South Sudan Minister for Cabinet Affairs to draw up an action plan and get to get the new cabinet to commence work immediately”, said Michael Makuei Lueth, the new minister for Information and Broadcasting.

On July 23, South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit issued a presidential decree removing Vice-President Riek Machar Teny and dissolving the whole government of South Sudan.

Kiir dismissed all 29 ministers and deputy ministers. Kiir did not appoint a new vice-president or national ministers and deputy ministers.

The decree directed the under-secretaries of the various ministries to run South Sudan’s ministries until further notice. The decree also stipulated the new government will have only 18 national ministers and deputy ministers in order to streamline government work. A senior official at the presidency predicted that government ministers will be replaced in a “very short time, as soon as possible.”

Officially, Kiir’s presidential decree does not explain the reason for the major shake-up. Senior government officials, including some fired by the decree, called the undertaking a “reshuffle” that had long been expected given the mounting problems in government work. Nhial Bol, the editor of the independent Citizen TV, concurred. He believes that the president must have acted in order to end government paralysis. “Things have not been moving in the government because of this internal fighting over who is going to control the SPLM,” Nhial Bol said.

Fashoda Institute, the leading, Juba-based think-tank, asserts that “in embarking on the profound reshuffle of government, President Kiir put the national interest ahead of internal politics and the early posturing for the 2015 presidential elections”.

South Korea Donates $5 Million To South Sudan To Fight Child Mortality

By Joe Odaby

Juba, South Sudan — August 15, 2013 (SSN) – The Korean Foundation for International Health Care (KFIHC) has earmarked five million ($5 million USD), United States Dollars an equivalent of SSP20,000,000 for the fight against Tuberculosis (TB) and infant mortality rate in South Sudan.
The Under Secretary in the South Sudan Ministry of Health Dr. Makor Koryom, revealed this yesterday while signing a memorandum of understanding with the South Korean organization.

Dr. Koryom said the three-year project aims at reducing “the already high infant mortality rates” as well as curbing the spread of Tuberculosis in the country.
The funding project, he said will help the South Sudan government to improve the health sector, while on the order hand he said it will open a door of cooperation between the government of the people of South Korea and the Republic of South Sudan.

 

southkorea_southsudan
Dr. Makor and Mr. Sire change copies of the signed MOU
[Photo: William Jufur]

Meanwhile Mr. David Sire, the Secretary General of KFIHC lauded the government, particularly the National Ministry of Health for its readiness to partner with his organization in improving the health sector in South Sudan.
He assured of his country’s commitment in working with the government of South Sudan to bring what he described as “positive changes” in the health care system in the young country.
Furthermore, he promised his organization’s commitment to continue funding more projects in the coming years.

South Sudan: Tens of Thousands of Refugees Return Home

southsudanrefugeechildren

By Joe Odaby

Juba, South Sudan — August 14, 2013 (SSN) … Aid agencies are now reporting that some sixty thousand (60,000) returnees displaced from Abyei region by the May 2011 Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) invasion have already returned home ahead of the much anticipated referendum exercise scheduled for October this year.

An Abyei return tracking report for June and July this year showed that about 16,000 people have been verified as having returned to Abyei since June 2012. While the verification process did not capture returns in and around Agok in the south of the Abyei area, food partners monthly registration records reportedly suggest that another between 5,000 and 8,000 people have returned and settled in Agok, an areas known to many as Annet.

“Overall, partners estimate that up to 60,000 of the over 100,000 people displaced from Abyei in May 2011 have returned” the United Nation’s weekly bulletin reported. According to the verification report, there are around 3,500 people living in Abyei town.

Aid organizations are said to be responding to the needs of those who have returned to their homes, including by providing communities with seeds, tools and non-food items to “strengthen their resilience”.

Although a number of schools in Abyei town have been rehabilitated, school enrollment, education partners say is much lower than anticipated.

Since 2003, over 2.3 million Darfuris have fled their homes, including nearly 300,000 as refugees in Chad. Thousands of children born in these camps have never known another home.

And the cycle of violence continues. In the first four months of 2013, over five times as many people had been displaced than in all of 2012. In one week alone in April 2013, some 50,000 Darfuris fled into southeastern Chad following fresh ethnic conflict. The refugees reported entire villages being burned and razed with many villagers killed.

In South Kordofan and Blue Nile, indiscriminate aerial bombardments are Sudan’s devastating signature tactic. Bombs destroy residential areas, schools and markets, health clinics and farm fields.

Civilians have no warning of these attacks and flee for protection to caves in nearby mountains or to the bush. Children go without school, and villages are emptied of their people. The air strikes, combined with scorched-earth attacks and deliberate obstruction of humanitarian aid, have led to chronic hunger and conditions conducive to famine.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has stated the human rights violations by Sudan rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Sudan’s campaigns of armed conflict and deliberate denial of humanitarian aid combined with the prevention of South Sudanese oil exports continue to devastate entire communities and regions.

Three US administrations, have dedicated political capital, time, and resources to the region. But the Obama administration is neglecting South Sudan with the lack of a high-profile Special Envoy, to facilitate comprehensive peace, democratic transformation, and real accountability in Sudan.

But despite Sudan’s hostile positions and an apparent lack of effort by the US White House to provide real solutions to the oil export crisis that transcends criticism, aid organizations are continuing to save lives.

Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in South Sudan says that they are continuing to respond to the needs of refugees in Upper Nile State.

About 220 new arrivals from South Kordofan were registered in Lelo and some 360 individuals in Kodok. The majority of the refugees registered in Kodok are reportedly children and women.

According to partners, the status of this group is yet to be determined but aid agencies have begun to respond to the most pressing needs for food, health care and household items.

Partners also vaccinated children and women in Lelo and Kodok, and provided additional medical and nutritional supplies and referrals of severe cases.

President of South Sudan To Visit India For First Time

south-sudan-president-salva-kiir400

By Juliet Abango

Juba, South Sudan — August 13, 2013 (SSN) … President of the Republic H.E Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit is set to visit India late this month on an official invitation by his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee.

India’s special envoy to South Sudan Mr. P. S Raghavan met President Kiir this morning where he delivered the invitation and President Mukherjee’s message of strengthening bilateral relations between his country and the Republic of South Sudan.


South Sudan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation the Hon. Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, said President Kiir during the meeting with Mr. Raghavan, discussed in a very positive manner issues of bilateral Relations, economic development and capacity building programs.

He said the president on behalf of the people and Government of South Sudan expressed the regrets to Indian Government through the special envoy, for the UNMISS Indian soldiers killed in Jonglei state by the militia groups.


Meanwhile the Indian Special Envoy to South Sudan Mr. Raghavan described the relations between India and South Sudan as “traditional and of a very long standing”.

“He reiterated to President Kiir India’s determination to continue and intensify cooperation with South Sudan,” said Dr. Benjamin.




 

Salva Kiir Appoints New Cabinet For South Sudan

By Joe Odaby

Juba — 11 August 2013 (SSN) – The newly appointed ministers and their deputies of South Sudan were sworn in before the President of the Republic of South Sudan H.E Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit and the Chief Justice Chan Reec Madut after the parliament passed their nominations.

The approval of the nominations of Telar Ring Deng as the Minister for Justice and Josephine Napwon Cosmos as the Deputy Minister for Youth, Culture and Sports was however left pending as the concerned parliamentary committee sought more time to clarify some issues about them.

Integrity and the degree of competence were some of the criteria used by the lawmakers to vet the nominated ministers.

“The new cabinet has just taken oath of office before the President. We have had congratulations from the President who has also directed the minister for Cabinet Affairs to draw up an action plan and get to get the new cabinet to commence work immediately”, said Michael Makuei Lueth, the new minister for Information and Broadcasting.

On July 23, South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit issued a presidential decree removing Vice-President Riek Machar Teny and dissolving the whole government of South Sudan.

Kiir dismissed all 29 ministers and deputy ministers. Kiir did not appoint a new vice-president or national ministers and deputy ministers.

The decree directed the under-secretaries of the various ministries to run South Sudan’s ministries until further notice. The decree also stipulated the new government will have only 18 national ministers and deputy ministers in order to streamline government work. A senior official at the presidency predicted that government ministers will be replaced in a “very short time, as soon as possible.”

Officially, Kiir’s presidential decree does not explain the reason for the major shake-up. Senior government officials, including some fired by the decree, called the undertaking a “reshuffle” that had long been expected given the mounting problems in government work. Nhial Bol, the editor of the independent Citizen TV, concurred. He believes that the president must have acted in order to end government paralysis. “Things have not been moving in the government because of this internal fighting over who is going to control the SPLM,” Nhial Bol said.

Fashoda Institute, the leading, Juba-based think-tank, asserts that “in embarking on the profound reshuffle of government, President Kiir put the national interest ahead of internal politics and the early posturing for the 2015 presidential elections”.

South Sudan is facing numerous emergencies and challenges as a result of the attempt at economic stifling by Sudan. The economic development of South Sudan has been arrested by the Sudanese blocking of oil exports – thus depriving South Sudan of its primary source of revenues.

The Fashoda Institute states that Sudan has been sponsoring – primarily through the supply of weapons, ammunition and funds – the sustenance and escalation of insurgencies and tribal violence throughout South Sudan to the detriment of internal development. Allegations of endemic corruption throughout the entire government – which already led Kiir to undertake drastic measures such as suspending two senior ministers – considerably restricted the availability of foreign aid.

“The ability of the Kiir Government to tackle these daunting challenges has been needlessly complicated by their cynical exploitation by Vice-President Machar”, reports the Fashoda Institute.

“President Kiir will have a new and invigorated government that will be able to finally tackle the key challenges facing South Sudan: building alternate oil export venues – both short-term and long-term regional infrastructure; enhancing security and suppressing violence both internally and along the borders with Sudan and the Central African Republic; and launching overdue major social and economic development to put the country on a long-term ascent track. Juba will thus demonstrate activism – that is, initiate and launch major programs rather than be beholden to foreign aid.

The Fashoda political analysts write that “President Kiir is correct in arguing that it was impossible to initiate anything beforehand because of the endemic lack of funds and government crises. Soon, with a new government in office and limited income from the short-term export push coming in – President Kiir’s Juba will be moving fast and resolutely to alleviate crises the moment this becomes possible”.

 

 

Obama Tries To Return South Sudan Into Khartoum’s Fold

By Joe Odaby

Juba – August 5, 2013 … In late-July 2013, the Obama Administration intensified its blatant intervention in the domestic political affairs of the Republic of South Sudan – a country considered a close friend of the United States. Washington intervened in an effort to sway the resolution of the government and political crises in Juba in favor of candidates and policies the Obama White House favor and against the democratically elected and widely supported President Kiir and his government.

In the process, the Obama Administration made demands of Juba, but offered no advice let alone assistance in resolving the country’s objective problems – themselves aggravated by US intentional, yet misguided, policies.

On July 27, US Secretary of State John Kerry called President Kiir, articulated US policy and threatened Juba. The State Department issued a “Readout of Call with South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit” that provides Kerry’s record of the call. The primary reason of the call was “to reiterate the United States’ concerns about the political situation in Juba,” as well as express concern about the escalating violence in Jonglei. Kerry described the message he delivered to President Kiir in terms of a tacit warning. “The world is watching to see if South Sudan pursues the path of peace and prosperity, or the tragic path of violence and conflict that has characterized much of its past. The United States will remain a steady partner to those who aspire to stand on the side of democracy, justice, respect for human rights, and who work for the brighter future the South Sudanese people deserve,” Kerry told President Kiir.

Kerry’s call was the beginning of a high-profile focus on, and harsh criticism of, the government of South Sudan in official Washington and the US media elite. The usually compliant New York Times wondered on July 29 about the reasons behind the sudden preoccupation of the highest echelons of the Obama Administration with South Sudan. “It’s also worth asking, why single out this crisis?” the paper’s Mark Landler asked. He suggested that the Obama Administration was putting more public emphasis on the possible displacement of 100,000 civilians in Jonglei than the death of 100,000 civilians in the Syrian fratricidal carnage.

The New York Times explained the quandary of the Obama White House. “The administration has strongly supported the South Sudan government, which is led by Salva Kiir, a leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. But now President Kiir is himself a problem: last week, he dismissed his vice president, who had threatened to challenge him for his party’s leadership before elections in 2015, and his entire cabinet.” Landler noted that Kerry’s call “amounted to a rap on the knuckles. [Kerry] warned the president to form a new government quickly, stop the ethnic clashes in Jonglei and crack down on soldiers in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army who are found guilty of human rights abuses.”

According to Landler, the focus on South Sudan reached the point that “[t]he National Security Council has held deputy-level meetings almost daily to determine how the United States should respond, both to the escalating violence in Jonglei and the governance problems. President Obama, they said, has been briefed about the crisis.”

Although the Obama Administration, and Secretary Kerry in person, pride themselves publicly on having supported the independence of South Sudan – this is only partially true. Internally, the US strongly opposed the breakup of Sudan and preferred autonomy for then Southern Sudan. However, it was the pressure from domestic political groups the Obama presidential campaign of 2008 could not ignore – particularly the Hollywood fund-raising dominated by George Clooney who is personally committed to South Sudan – that influenced Obama’s policy. Subsequently, pressure by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who insisted on the affirmation of President Bill Clinton’s Kosovo policy that led to unilateral secession and declaration of independence by the US supporting and endorsing yet another secession and independence, determined Obama’s reluctant support for the independence of South Sudan.

However, a major element of Obama’s own global policy is the empowerment of, and support for, Islamist regimes throughout the Arab World. Obama asserted this policy in his June 2009 speech in Cairo and hasn’t wavered despite the ensuing chaos and violence throughout the Arab World. The July 2011 secession and independence of South Sudan because of genocidal repression by the Islamist rulers of Khartoum stood in stark contradiction to Obama’s overall world view.

Hence, in the aftermath of South Sudan’s independence, the Obama Administration did not give up on the ultimate return of South Sudan into the Sudanese fold.

Toward this end, the US sought to stifle South Sudan by publicly tolerating, and even tacitly encouraging via Arab states, the Sudanese unilateral and unwarranted cutting of South Sudan’s oil exports – the new country’s primary source of vitally needed revenues. As well, Obama’s Washington led the West’s campaign demanding that Juba implements a host of domestic, political and economic reforms that would have been destabilizing and self-destructive given the country’s disorganized system of governance and enduring fratricidal violence (much of it sponsored by Sudan). The pressure manifested itself in limiting foreign aid – desperately needed to compensate for the absence of oil revenues (that were cut with the US consent).

Nevertheless, the Obama Administration did not pressure Juba all the way during 2011 and 2012 because the Obama reelection campaign desperately needed ever larger infusion of funds and public endorsement from Hollywood and thus couldn’t afford to alienate the stalwart Clooney. Obama was waiting for his second term. On March 25, 2012, Obama was caught on open mike explaining this point to then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Obama pleaded with Putin and Medvedev “to give me space” until after the November 2012 elections because “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”

Thus, starting early 2013, Obama no longer needs his political supporters in Hollywood and elsewhere – and the difference in both domestic and foreign policies has been stark on numerous issues, not just the South Sudan policy.

In early summer 2013, in preparations for a possible nomination of a new Sudan envoy, the Obama Administration launched a thorough high-level assessment of the situation in, and policies toward, Sudan and South Sudan. The study’s main conclusion is that South Sudan will not be able to sustain for a long time and will return to the Sudanese fold is now closer to realization than ever before. Khartoum is cognizant of this and might try to expedite the process by force – preferably exploiting an Egyptian-Ethiopian conflagration over the Nile Dam. A US envoy might smooth and ameliorate implementation of Khartoum’s policies. 

The reunification of Sudan is closer than ever before because South Sudan is collapsing as the aggregate impact of economic destitute (aggravated by the shutting of oil experts) fueling grassroots discontent and internal political dynamics where four major presidential candidates representing four major tribal groupings can be manipulated into tearing their own country apart. The study concludes that “the hard won Southern independence [is] at risk.” At the same time, however, if Juba gets its act together – Juba can reverse the entire regional dynamics in its favor. “If the Southern leadership can restore the unity of its ruling coalition, it can take advantage of the Northern weakness,” the study notes. “After all, a more stable South poses the greatest threat to Bashir and his party in Khartoum.” However, the Obama Administration doubts that Juba can turn things around and senior officials at the White House recommend that Washington must not risk its favorable standing with both Cairo and Khartoum by siding with or supporting Juba.

It is in this context that Riek Machar – an unscrupulous, power hungry South Sudanese politician – has become a major player in the American game. Machar is convinced that if he gives the US-led West what they want – they will empower him over South Sudan or a once-again autonomous Southern Sudan. Hence, since early spring 2013 Machar started exploiting his position as the Vice-President of South Sudan in order to increase tribal tensions, undermine the state from within government vis-a-vis foreign powers, most notably Sudan. Throughout, Machar interacted with Western governments, foreign media elites and leftist-liberal NGOs. He gained support and encouragement to continue his quest for personal power by subverting and undermining his own democratically elected president and government from within the presidency and nascent political establishment. By summer 2013, Machar was ready to sacrifice the national interest in key issues such as the oil and security negotiations with Sudan on the altar of his unbridled personal lust for power.

Throughout, the US and the West have encouraged Machar and given him the impression that he is their favorite South Sudanese politician. This encouragement and help took shape in many ways – from facilitating access to media elite in the West, to high profile events in Western embassies, to favorable reporting of Machar’s dealings in Khartoum and other capitals, to political support by Western NGOs and their local proteges. The favoritism of the US-led West was inescapable in the political and media dynamics on the eve of the second anniversary of South Sudan. Furthermore, the Western intervention and favoritism became blatant to the point that several other politicians and senior officials decided to cast their lot with the West’s chosen candidate at the expense of their official role and government duties.

This created intolerable situation in Juba where then-VP Machar and his camp were undermining the already daunting task of Pres. Kiir and the government. There ensued a discernable slow-down in the government’s ability to cope with crises and take the nation forward despite horrific circumstances. It was under these circumstances that Pres. Kiir decided on July 23 to fire his entire cabinet and quickly establish a new one that will be streamlined, professional, proficient and effective. Despite Western protestations about the drastic move, even Machar acknowledged that Pres. Kiir has the legal mandate to fire any official, or all officials, he no longer trust to serve in his government. On July 31, the composition of the new government was virtually completed.

Now a private citizen, Machar, like anybody else in South Sudan, has every right to criticize the president and the government, become very active in the opposition, and seek high office in the 2015 presidential elections. Machar is now working hard, as is his wont, to become the leader of the opposition and their primary candidate in challenging Kiir in 2015. A civilized campaign focusing on issues rather than personal attacks will only enrich South Sudan’s fledgling democracy.

In the meantime, however, the United States and the Western allies should recall that President Kiir was democratically elected president in April 2010 with 93% of the votes. He still commands favorable public trust as confirmed by the latest US-government sponsored polling of South Sudan (conducted between April 24 and May 22, 2013). The results show that among all South Sudanese – 42% consider President Kiir “very favorably”, 29% consider him “favorably”, 13% consider him “unfavorably”, and 13% consider him “very unfavorably”. In contrast, only 27% consider then-VP Machar “very favorably”, 33% consider him “favorably”, 20% consider him “unfavorably”, and 11% consider him “very unfavorably”. Simply put, 71% of South Sudanese have favorable opinion of President Kiir while only 60% have favorable opinion of Machar.

With a new government sworn in, and some revenues from a few weeks of oil exports becoming available, President Kiir’s Juba has unique opportunity to begin to turn things around. Rather than continue stifling South Sudan, the Obama Administration and its Western allies should provide comprehensive assistance, expertise and encouragement. Rather than increasing pressure and making unrealistic demands for reforms, the Obama Administration and its Western allies should encourage economic development and stabilization.

Unlike most countries in the developing world, South Sudan does not need hand-outs. In the immediate term, South Sudan desperately needs assistance in securing long-term oil exports in order to alleviate the economic decay. In the longer term, South Sudan requires economic investments in developing the countries national riches and huge potential, as well as assistance in breaking the Sudanese siege by developing alternate routes for exporting oil and other natural resources.

Until such time, the Republic of South Sudan – staunchly pro-Western, committed to Judeo-Christian values, and inherently democratic – will continue to be a state betrayed by the countries it considered soul-mates – namely, by the US-led West.