Tag Archives: oil

Will US Clash With China in Africa?

china_africa_us
When will China and US face off in Africa?

By Peter Benjamin
South Sudan News

Juba — January 30 … Influential African think-tank The Fashoda Institute has published an analysis of foreign policy strategies of the United States and China in Africa. The think-tank points at the “evolution in the People’s Republic of China’s attitude toward, and commitment to, Africa.

The rôle of sub-Saharan Africa is evolving from just an economic resource for China into a Chinese strategic lever against the US-led West. The Chinese have long been investing heavily in Africa as the key long-term source for energy, ores, rare earths, and other raw materials for their industrial growth”.

The Fashoda Institute asserts that “recently, the PRC has been expanding its operations into sponsoring the creation of a secondary industrial base in Africa itself in order to better support their economic undertakings. Beijing is now also looking to Africa as a prime instrument for preventing, or at the least controlling, the flow of resources to the West. The PRC is worried because the PRC leadership perceives that the US is desperate to revive its sagging economy and disappearing industrial base while discussing an explicitly anti-Chinese pivot to East Asia”.

“The Chinese are also apprehensive that Europe is embarking on reindustrialization and thus might lessen its dependence on Chinese imports and the trans-Asian venues of transportation — the new Silk Road — and their strategic value”, notes the analysis. “It is in such a grand strategic context that Beijing is studying US-led Western activities in Africa and, not without reason, is becoming increasingly apprehensive about them. That is why Beijing is now determined to capitalize on the PRC’s preeminence in Africa in order to pressure, if not extort, the West. The margin for error under these conditions is extremely narrow”.

The Fashoda Institute warns that “America’s “humanitarian interventionism” in sub-Saharan Africa is markedly increasing tensions and exacerbating conflicts all around. The specter of current and future US- and French-led military interventions and the ensuing toppling of leaders and governments is sending both African leaders and aspirant strongmen to posture for better positions in case the US and France intervened in their states and regions. Desperate to increase their military capabilities, they make Faustian deals with any anti-Western power they can reach out to, be it China or Iran. Hence, there exists a growing possibility that US-Chinese tension will also spark a clash in explosive Africa”.

The analysis ends with a troubling prognosis: “Where the next eruption in Africa will lead is anybody’s guess.

In a recent Brookings Essay entitled “The Rhyme of History: Lessons of the Great War”, Professor Margaret MacMillan warned of the growing and disquieting similarities between the world of Summer 1914 and the world of early 2014. “It is tempting — and sobering — to compare today’s relationship between China and the US with that between Germany and England a century ago,” Professor MacMillan writes. She also points to the prevailing belief — then as now — that a full-scale war between the major powers is unthinkable after such a prolonged period of peace.

“Now, as then, the march of globalization has lulled us into a false sense of safety,” Professor MacMillan writes. “The 100th anniversary of 1914 should make us reflect anew on our vulnerability to human error, sudden catastrophes, and sheer accident.”

South Sudan: Khartoum’s Aid to Machar’s Tribal Violence

By South Sudan News Staff

Juba — December 24 … During the weekend of 20-22 December, the Republic of South Sudan underwent through the low of the crisis and emerged to the next phase of putting down the Machar revolt. The African think-tank, The Fashoda Institute, has published a current analysis of the South Sudan’s crisis.

 

“Juba entered the weekend having lost control over most of Jonglei State. However, this loss of control was the result of an uneasy cease-fire and tenuous cooperation between the predominantly Nuer ex-SPLA forces of General Peter Gadet Yaak and the Merle forces of the warlord David Yau Yau. It is still not clear just how much of Unity State – Machar’s home – and the vital oil fields remained under Juba’s control and how much were under the rebel control” says the report. “On 22 December, the situation in Juba itself was calm and stable. There was no threat to President Kiir’s hold onto power and to the Government’s functioning”.

 

“The main Machar-related threats remained the two military units that defected. Despite repeated efforts, Gadet’s and Koang’s forces failed to break out of the Nuer-populated areas” stresses the report. “The Nuer-dominated areas where these forces operate presently are surrounded by Dinka-majority areas and large SPLA forces. President Kiir intends to bring these mutineer forces back to the fold. If reconciliation doesn’t work – the rebel forces will be defeated”.

 

“To affect a dramatic breakout despite the military stalemate, the Machar camp is pursuing an audacious strategy. On the one hand, they are portraying Machar himself as a world class leader and democrat worthy of the presidency and definitely on par with President Kiir (a theme that is being reinforced by the highlighting and endorsement of Machar’s harsh criticism of President Kiir and his government by the mainstream media in the West)”, explains the report.

“On the other hand, Machar’s forces are escalating their crazy operations – shooting at US Air Force MV-22s trying to evacuate foreign citizens from Bor (and wounding four US military personnel),  shooting at UN helicopters trying to deliver emergency humanitarian supplies in both Jongeli and Unity States, attacking a few UNMISS bases (where three Indian UN troops and 33 South Sudanese refugees were killed), and the threats to blow up the oil facilities in Jonglei State”.

 

“Khartoum started exploiting the diversion of SPLA units from the border to surrounding the mutineer units in Jonglei and Unity States in order to push large quantities of small arms and ammunition to both rebel (like Yau Yau’s) and Nuer forces”, asserts Fashoda.

“A few convoys were interdicted by the SPLA over the weekend. However, the quantities of weapons in hostile hands in sensitive areas are visibly growing. Moreover, the attackers of the UNMISS base used brand-new Sudanese-made ammunition (as determined from the empty cartridges left behind). The SPLA will have to tackle these challenges only after Machar’s coup is brought to an end”.

 

“Unless Juba is capable of marshaling the country’s military forces quickly, suppressing the revolt in Unity State (as distinct from Jonglei where Juba’s control had been tenuous since independence), and restoring SPLA presence along the Sudanese border – the rebellion will spread and a multitude of smaller foci of violence will join the fray as local leaders will conclude that Juba is vulnerable and will therefore attempt to extract-by-force favors, funds and services for their own constituencies”, advises the analytical Institute.

 

“The current crisis in South Sudan cannot be comprehended in isolation from the country’s tormented past and challenging current posture. South Sudan has been trying hard to build a nation and a state after the debilitating war of independence, autonomy period, and the post-independence austerity period (caused by Sudan’s blocking of oil exports until very recently). It is a mighty challenge given the diversity of the population and the gravity of the situation.

President Kiir was doing as great a job as can be expected under such horrific conditions. For several months now, Machar has tried to further the self-interests of his Nuer tribe by undermining the nation-building effort of the Kiir administration, and by reawakening the sectarian-tribal tensions. When Machar was rejected by the Government and Party establishments – he launched the revolt that is now tearing the nation apart along tribal-national lines”, concludes the report. “Irrespective of President Kiir’s actions – Machar must not be rewarded for awakening and capitalizing on sectarian-tribal hostilities and enmities (as he did in the 1990s and caused several Nuer massacres of Dinka).

President Kiir should be helped to restore stability and unity in the country, and then should be helped to improve both good governance and the economy. Hopefully, South Sudan will quiet down and stabilize well before election time in 2015”.

 

 

South Sudan: Khartoum To Invade Abyei As Referendum Favors Union With Juba

By Joe Odaby
South Sudan News

Juba, South Sudan — November 14, 2013 (SSN) … The Ngok Dinka people of the Abyei, a disputed region between Sudan and South Sudan, held their own informal referendum as a desperate cry to the international community to save a people under threat of genocide.

The organizers of the referendum announced on October 31, 2013, that virtually all Ngok Dinka voted to join South Sudan. The Dinka tribe played a key role in South Sudan’s generation-long liberation war: one of the opening clashes in South Sudan’s liberation war was the 1965 massacre of 72 Dinka Ngok by Misseriya tribesmen in the Abyei town of Babanusa.

The semi-nomadic Arab Misseriya tribe boycotted the referendum and promised not to recognize it. The home grounds of the Misseriya tribe are in the deserts of central Sudan and the tribe traditionally move down to the Abyei area, as well as other areas along the Sudan-South Sudan border in quest for grazing for their cattle as well as black slaves for the urban markets in northern Sudan.

Khartoum has announced that it would not recognize the unilateral referendum.

As the Fashoda Institute think-tank points in its analysis, Sudan is determined to hold onto Abyei in order to secure the vast oil reserves underneath: “all the more so as the economic collapse of Sudan is evolving into major popular riots which threaten the very existence of the Khartoum Government”.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir invited President Bashir to Juba on October 22, 2013, for an emergency summit on the future of Abyei. Following the summit, senior Sudanese officials reiterated Khartoum’s commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Abyei crisis in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement CPA of 2005 as subsequently supplemented by the African Union High Level Implementation Panel.

However, “developments on the ground contradict Khartoum’s assertion of a commitment to a legal and peaceful resolution of the crisis over Abyei”, as the Fashoda’s report has pointed out this week. In early October 2013, the Sudanese Army and Air Force have intensified the build-up of forces in the south of Sudan: mainly Kordofan and Blue Nile States. The Army deployed heavy battalions and regiments equipped with tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and artillery. Smaller units — mainly company-level — deployed all the way to the border with South Sudan.

The Air Force deployed to the El-Obeid area strike aircraft — Su-24s and A-5Qs — as well as Mi-24/Mi-35 & Mi-8/Mi-17 helicopters. All the forces and weapons detected are optimized for offensive operations.

Fashoda’s experts agree that “all evidence points to Khartoum’s intent to increase military pressure on Juba in order to force Juba to compromise over Abyei. But a lot of things can go wrong with Sudanese patrols aggressively probing and shooting along the border”.

“All of these activities can be considered harbingers for the possibility of Bashir’s Khartoum electing to provoke a major crisis over Abyei as a way of both avoiding tackling the Abyei crisis while mobilizing Sudan’s own restive population — particularly the Islamists — into supporting and joining a jihad against South Sudan rather than riot against the Bashir Government”, writes the Fashoda Institute.

“Several opposition leaders — including former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi and Hassan al-Turabi — promised to endorse and support any armed undertakings aimed to not only secure Abyei but also “reunite Sudan” (that is, occupy South Sudan). This is a temptation the besieged Bashir cannot ignore. Hence the growing Sudanese bellicosity along the border. The distance between provocations and an unintended war is very small and perilously vague.”

South Sudan: China Challenges US In Africa

By Joe Odaby

Juba, South Sudan — October 16, 2013 … The leading South Sudanese think-tank, The Fashoda Institute of Strategic and Regional Studies, has published a strategic analysis of Chinese grand diplomatic strategy in Africa.

The Fashoda Institute asserts that the key component of the Chinese long-term grand design has long been to “converge all the flow of oil, gas and minerals to a single export point on the shores of the Indian Ocean – that is, in the direction of China. This vision is getting closer to realization given the progress made toward beginning construction of the maritime complex in Lamu on the northern Kenyan shores of the Indian Ocean.

Although Nairobi keeps insisting that there will be international tenders for each and every phase of the Lamu project – the overall design follows Beijing’s proposal and Nairobi acknowledges that no international consortium has so far been able to remotely compete with the financial guarantees offered by official Beijing in support for proposals presented by Chinese entrants. This is because Beijing considers the Lamu mega-port and transportation complex to be the key to the PRC’s long term domination over Africa”.

The South Sudan think-tank reports that the “initial costs of the first phase of the Lamu project are estimated at $25.5bn. The name of this first phase – the Lamu Port and New Transport Corridor Development to Southern Sudan and Ethiopia (LAPSSET) – points to the initial objectives. Significantly, the term used is “Southern Sudan” and not the state of South Sudan. When completed, the first phase of the Lamu complex will include a 32-berth port, three international airports, and a 1,500km railway line. As well, the Chinese plan oil pipelines from Juba in South Sudan, and from Addis Ababa via Moyale, Kenya, to converge into Kenya’s Eastern Province and end in a new huge oil refinery in Bargoni, near Lamu.

The entire construction and pipelines will be supported by a 1,730km road network. In the longer term, the trans-African pipelines the Chinese plan on building from both Nigeria in the west and southwestern Africa (most likely Angola) will also feed into the Lamu complex – thus giving the PRC effective control over the main hydro-carbon exports of Africa”.

“The strategic cooperation between Beijing and Khartoum constitute the key to the Chinese confidence that their Sudanese allies be able to contain their Somali Jihadist proxies so that the risk of terrorist attacks is minimal”, points out the Fashoda’s article.

“Beijing is cognizant that in the long term the Lamu project will constitute a devastating economic setback for their proxy Sudan. Sudan will lose most of the oil income currently derived from transit fees for transporting South Sudanese oil”, says the report. “Moreover, Khartoum considers its control over the oil export venues its primary leverage over Juba on any political issue – including Abyei, the border demarcation, and the popular uprisings throughout Sudan. Hence it will be very difficult for Khartoum to see the oil leverage being taken away – particularly by their Chinese allies. Beijing is already trying to mollify Khartoum. For example, using the term Southern Sudan – as the region that is now the Republic of South Sudan was known when under the yoke of Khartoum – is a way for Beijing to allude to Khartoum’s hope they will get Beijing’s support for the reunification of Sudan”.

Meanwhile, given the ongoing tension between South Sudan and Sudan, the Chinese anticipate that South Sudan will be eager to export its oil through Lamu, Kenya – thus avoiding the port and oil refineries of Port Sudan. In the meantime, China is making efforts to increase South Sudan’s dependence on export via the Sudanese pipeline to Port Sudan.

“Beijing’s objective is to convince Juba not to look for alternate venues of oil exports – such as via Cameroon – until the Lamu pipeline is completed”, opines the article on the Fashoda Institute’s web-site. “Toward this end, Beijing is eager to mediate between Juba and Khartoum and assist in reducing tensions and resolving misunderstandings. In practical terms, Beijing works hard in order to ensnare both Khartoum and Juba in a web of Chinese-brokered agreements that will outlive the opening of the Lamu complex and the ensuing demise of Port Sudan. “China stands ready to help improve the relationship between Sudan and South Sudan,” Luo Xiaoguang, the Chinese Ambassador to Khartoum announced on October 1st. “China appreciates the two parties’ adherence to the option of peace and urges them to find solutions to the outstanding issues between them through dialogue. … We reiterate China’s readiness to play a vital role in enhancing the relations between the two countries.”

“Simply put, Beijing is ready to do anything just to ensure the flow of oil eastwards rather than westwards”, summarizes Fashoda.

Analyzing the situation in Suda, The Fashoda Institute writes that “nevertheless, the PRC might lose control and influence over Sudan and President Omar al-Bashir (or his successor). Khartoum is already cracking as a result of unstoppable economic collapse and building social unrest. The iron fist used by the security forces has so far failed to quell the spreading unrest and grassroots violence. To survive in the next few years, Khartoum might feel compelled to adopt drastic measures – including going to a populist war against South Sudan. To build the case for such a war, Sudan is already setting the stage for a “war of attrition” in the border area that is below a major war but will nevertheless tax the fragile economy of South Sudan and arrest development and reforms. Khartoum is using the dispute over the referendum in Abyei, as well as the escalating popular revolts in Sudan’s own Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan regions, in order to build political and military pressure on South Sudan. Khartoum will then be able to capitalize on the “war of attrition” along the disputed borderline as an excuse for an escalation to a major war.”

Turning back to South Sudan, the Juba-based think-tank writes that “the growing hostility and uncertainty along South Sudan’s northern border only increases the incentive for Juba to seek alternatives to exporting its oil via Sudan. Juba is cognizant of both the economic lure of the Chinese projects and the political-strategic ramifications of a Chinese-dominated oil export. President Salva Kiir is cognizant of the growing regional complexities. The emerging trends guide his policy of looking in both directions – west and east – and not ensnaring South Sudan in anybody’s political and economic stifling embrace. Kiir’s Juba is convinced that the region’s states, and not outside powers, should be the dominant forces leading and driving the regional development. The expertise, technologies and investments of foreign friends and partners are sought after in the context of regionally-dominated undertakings. Juba has already embarked on seeking practical solution by convening a two-day investment conference scheduled for early December.

One of main issues on the agenda of the Government of South Sudan and the development partners is furthering the regional economic integration and growth of South Sudan. Juba’s quest for regional undertakings will be one of the main messages to be conveyed by the December conference.”

Analyzing the dynamics in Eastern Africa, the Fashoda’s analysis suggests that “Juba has already found a most interested party in President Djotodia’s Bangui. Bangui is cognizant that only major economic build-up and development projects will serve as the engine for the education and employment of the country’s populace – thus taking them away from the current fratricidal violence. As well, successful development projects will guarantee long-term income for the government. Hence, such undertakings, rather than humanitarian aid from Western states, are the key to the long-term development and well-being of the Central African Republic “.

“However, this policy is also a major obstacle to China’s grand designs”, notes the analytical article. “Back in mid-2013, Beijing had high hopes that Khartoum would deliver the Djotodia administration in Bangui so as to paralyze and stall the westward option of South Sudan. But this is not working as President Djotodia is reaching out to the West seeking partnerships for major development projects, including regional initiatives. Hence, Beijing started to increase pressure on Bangui – first via the UNSC. In the name of alleviating the humanitarian catastrophe in the CAR, the PRC actively supports the French-US initiative that urges the UN to impose solution in the CAR that might include regime change. Meanwhile, the official Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Beijing) also warned of the serious security and humanitarian situation on the ground in the CAR and stressed the need for urgent international intervention independent of the policies and positions of official Bangui. Beijing expressed interest in joining and contributing to such an initiative”.

Turning to US – China relations, the Fashoda Institute points out that “ultimately, the significance of the Chinese long-term grand design for Africa can be best comprehended in the context of historic transformation in the grand strategy and polity of the PRC. Beijing has been arguing since the fall of the Soviet Union that the decline of the United States was also inevitable and that China was destine to rise as the global Hegemon. Presently, Beijing is convinced that the time is ripe for delivering the coup-de-grace”.

On October 13, the official Xinhua News Agency published an official commentary stating that “it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world.”

The commentary surveyed the abuse the entire world has suffered under US hegemony since the Second World War. The situation has only aggravated since the end of the Cold War, Xinhua argued. “Instead of honoring its duties as a responsible leading power, a self-serving Washington has abused its superpower status and introduced even more chaos into the world by shifting financial risks overseas.” To further its own unbridled ambitions, the US stoked “regional tensions amid territorial disputes, and fighting unwarranted wars under the cover of outright lies,” Xinhua explained. The Xinhua commentary warned that with US society and economy collapsing, Washington is now tempted to intensify the abuse of the rest of the world in order to save the US. “Such alarming days when the destinies of others are in the hands of a hypocritical nation have to be terminated. A new world order should be put in place, according to which all nations, big or small, poor or rich, can have their key interests respected and protected on an equal footing.” Xinhua concluded by suggesting that the PRC, being inherently a developing country, is the rising power best suited to lead this global transformation and de-Americanization.

“Beijing has long recognized that any confrontation with the US will inevitably lead to major economic crises, a series of conflicts world-wide and possibly a global war against the US”, says the Fashoda Institute in conclusion.

“To sustain this global conflict, the PRC would need huge quantities of hydro-carbons, rare metals, other natural resources and even agricultural products – and these can only be secured from a China-dominated Africa”.

South Sudan Organizes Investment Conference in December

By Joe Odaby

Juba — October 4, 2013 …The Government of South Sudan in collaboration with development partners is organizing a two-day investment conference scheduled for December 4-5 this year.

The conference seeks to promote South Sudan as a viable investment and business destination in the region by bring together senior government officials, key agencies and industry leaders to aid essential development and investment initiatives, The Deputy Minister for Finance Mary Jervas Yak said on Thursday while briefing the press in Juba.
To be officially opened by the President of the Republic, HE Salva Kiir Mayardit, the conference is expected to address regional and international potential investors, local investors, representatives of multinational corporations, Bankers, representatives of non governmental organization, donor organizations government officials among others.
This investment conference in South Sudan will provide a platform for investors to explore business or investment opportunities particularly on the five high impact sectors namely Agriculture, Infrastructure, Tourism and Hospitality, Petroleum and Mining” Hon. Yak said.
There is already a steering committee composed of government officials, private sector and development partners chaired by the Ministry of Finance, Commerce, Investment and Economic Planning as well as a committee of the same membership chaired by the South Sudan Investment Authority to spearhead the preparations.
The abundant natural resources, current business opportunities, the conducive investment climate in the country, Business climate transformation, stories of successful investments and South Sudan’s participation in the regional economic integration and growth will be the main messages to convey in the December conference.
Concurrent with the conference, the finance deputy minister said, there will an exhibition to showcase successful investment projects in the country. Both local and international investors  take part in the exhibition. There will also be vibrant social and cultural programs to help promote South Sudanese rich culture, said Hon. Yak.
This conference is part of a larger RSS and development partners initiative stemming from the April 16, 2013 Washington DC South Sudan investment Forum.

 

 

 

Sudan Prepares Major Military Offensive To Divert From Internal Unrest

By Joe Odaby

Juba, South Sudan — September 30, 2013 … The leading South Sudan think-tank, The Fashoda Institute of Strategic and Regional Studies, has published a strategic analysis of the recent military buildup in the neighboring Sudan.

Northern Sudan (capital: Khartoum), from which the South has seceded in 2011 after a long civil war, is led by the Islamist government of President Omar al-Bashar who was indicted in 2010 by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

The Fashoda institute points out that “the escalating fuel riots in Khartoum, and increasingly other cities in Sudan, serve as a stark reminder of the inherent fragility and instability of the country”.

The riots were sparked by the spiraling prices of all fuel products following the abolition of subsidies and the growing shortages of all fuel products. The recurring shortages of fuel result in shortages of food and other products and goods brought into Khartoum from both the Red Sea ports and the countryside. Within a few days, the riots became the worst since the 1989 riots that led to the military coup that brought to power Omar al-Bashir. “What began early this week in Sudan as a protest against the removal of fuel subsidies has developed into a full-blown uprising that is threatening President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s 24-year rule,” Arab political observers warned on September 27.

As the Khartoum riots escalated and turned political, the Sudanese military was sent to the streets to crackdown the riots by force. By 27 September, the Sudanese government acknowledged that over 50 demonstrators were killed by the security forces, over 250 were wounded, and over 600 were arrested. Numerous opposition sources put the casualties tally in Khartoum alone at over 150 fatalities, over 750 wounded, and over 2,000 arrested and/or disappeared. The military’s violent crackdown in Khartoum sparked even bigger and more violent riots over the weekend throughout Sudan. The protesters are now openly demanding the overthrow of Bashir’s regime while calling Bashir himself “a killer”. Moreover, both the Sudanese government and Arab diplomats report a growing use of automatic weapons by the rioters starting the evening of September 27. On the morning of the September 28, four security personnel were shot and killed in Khartoum by unidentified gunmen in the ranks of the rioters.

The Fashoda Institute writes that “the oil crisis is unfolding and escalating at a time when Khartoum is spending huge sums of hard currency on advanced weapons – mainly weapon systems optimized for long-range strikes and major wars rather than handling insurgencies such as the never-ending insurgency in Darfur”.

The Juba-based think-tank unveils that “in recent months, Khartoum has embarked on an unprecedented military build-up – mainly of air power. The key weapon systems are being purchased from Belarus. Most important is the acquisition of 12 refurbished Su-24Ms (4-6 of them already supplied) and 18 refurbished Su-30MKs (originally leased by India from Russia but returned to Belarus for the legal reason that the Russian Air Force cannot operate them).

Sudan was also negotiating the acquisition of another batch of second hand Su-25s to augment the existing fleet of 11 Su-25s (out of 14 originally purchased from Belarus). Belarus has a large arsenal of high quality combat aircraft that was put on sale for hard currency. A total of 35-36 Su-24Ms were withdrawn from service in February 2012, and the remaining 22-23 Su-24Ms are available for purchase. As well, 17 Su-27P and 4 Su-27UBM1fighters were withdrawn from service in December 2012 and also put for sale. The Belarus Air Force also has around 20 Su-25s stored in Lida. Khartoum expressed interest in virtually every major combat aircraft available and the main lingering issue is the availability of hard currency”. 

The Fashoda Institute points at the scope of the Sudanese military buildup: “Sudan is also looking for additional MiG-29s which Belarus cannot offer. Sudan acquired numerous MiG-29s in the last decade. In late 2008, 23 of the MiG-29s were in active service. However, only 11 of these MiG-29s were operational in the first half of 2013. One MiG-29 was claimed by the South Sudanese air defense on April 4, 2012. Apparently, the aircraft crash-landed in a Sudanese airbase and was written off. The other 11 MiG-29s were grounded due to maintenance difficulties. Sudan is interested in a large number of MiG-29s and the main candidate source is Ukraine that has around 100 MiG-29s of various models stored in reserve”.

“The most important undertaking by the Sudanese Air Force in recent months is the large scale recruitment of mercenaries – aircrews, technical experts and ground crews – from all over the former Soviet Union”, discovers the Fashoda Institute. “Their main mission is to activate, up-grade and better utilize the existing arsenal of the Sudanese Air Force (that had suffered both combat and technical damage in recent years). The first visible result is the growing number of MiG-29s that are taking off for test and evaluation flights. The efforts of the ex-Soviet mercenaries have already returned 4-6 additional MiG-29s to flying status.

The revamped Sudanese Air Force has unprecedented long range reach covering northern Ethiopia and all of nemesis South Sudan. Indeed, the Sudanese government is also committing huge resources to the up-grading and expansion of all key military airbases in the southern parts of the country – including the extension of paved runways and the construction of new buildings, bunkers and other facilities.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese government is making strenuous efforts with Russia to expedite and increase the deal for assault helicopters and helicopter gunships. On order are 12+6 Mi-8T and 12+6 Mi-24D/V/P. Although Khartoum is ready to pay cash for everything – the Kremlin is not rushing the deal for political-strategic reasons. Again, the Sudanese acquisition of weapon systems is accompanied by the widespread recruitment of mercenaries – aircrews, technical experts and ground crews – to get Sudan’s existing arsenal of 20 Mi-8/Mi-17 assault and 24 Mi-24 combat helicopters into better operational status, and have highly qualified aircrews in the cockpits”.

The Fashoda Institute points out that “although the main emphasis of Khartoum is air power, the expansion and modernization of the military is not neglected either. The current priority of Khartoum is launching a concentrated effort to fully operationalize and activate the large quantities of heavy weapons (tanks and artillery) purchased from Ukraine in 2009-2010 and delivered over the next couple of years. The main weapon systems are T-72 MBTs, BM-21 MRLs, 152mm 1S3 SPGs, 122mm 2S1 SPGs, and 122mm D-30 guns. As well, the Sudanese army has embarked on the refurbishment and modernization of key military bases and garrisons in southern Sudan – including the installation of modern communications systems.

The Sudanese military build-up effort got a major boost on 9 September during the visit of Libyan defense minister Abdel-Rahman Al-Thani to Khartoum. Sudan’s defense minister Abdel Rahim Hussein signed an agreement with his Libyan counterpart on large scale weapons, spares and ammunition transfers mainly from Qadhafi’s stockpiles in southern Libya. In return, Sudan promised to restrain Libyan Jihadists that had sought and received shelter in Sudan and prevent them from returning to Libya. (The Sudan-Libya agreement is identical to the agreement signed with Egypt in 2001.) The supplies from Libya will also enable the Sudanese military to activate and return to operational use a sizeable force of older models of Soviet-origin weapons”.

“Taken together, these efforts point out to active preparations for a major land war rather than mere escalation of the fighting against irregular forces in Darfur or elsewhere in Sudan”, highlights the report of the Fashoda Institute.

“Khartoum needs a major diversion of the popular anguish and frustration”, says the Institute’s analysis. “Addressing external threats is a proven diversion from internal crises. The calls for the reunification of Sudan under the banner of Islam have been a popular rallying cry for the widespread Islamist and Mahdist constituencies – and thus a sure method for getting their supporters out of the swelling ranks of rioters. Moreover, it is also expedient for the Bashir administration to blame the oil crisis and shortage of funds on the lingering impact of the transfer of so many oilfields to South Sudan after the mid-2011 break-up of Sudan.           

Ultimately, Khartoum is driven by the grim realities of the region, and Bashir’s determination to get involved in crises with assertive offensive strategy. Irrespective of reassuring political rhetoric – Sudan and South Sudan are heading toward a major face-off that might easily escalate into violence. Abyei remains a volatile region with tension growing as a result of Sudan’s atrocious suppression of grassroots revolts in surrounding South Kordofan. The Abyei crisis will also keep lingering since the referendum is nowhere to be seen. Khartoum considers the Abyei oil reserves a shortcut to addressing the economic catastrophe and therefore won’t accept the secession the local population yearns for. The road to war from such irreconcilable quandary is very short. Abyei is not the only crisis point for the South Sudan-Sudan border demarcation as proposed by the AU is equally problematic and destabilizing, and thus might provoke crisis and war at any moment.

Furthermore, even though Cairo is currently focused on domestic issues in the aftermath of the military takeover – the crisis with Ethiopia over the Nile waters lingers on and is far from resolution. Dominance over the Nile waters is a sacred cause for both Egypt and Sudan – and thus no government in Cairo or Khartoum will ever allow itself to be portrayed as having compromised with the Nile Basin states. With no viable solution in sight, and with the work on the Ethiopian dams continuing apace – the crisis might still escalate into a major war. South Sudan will be dragged into such a war by regional geography”.  

“Thus, all of these are both ticking crises in their own right, as well as good causes for diversion and tension building for the besieged Bashir administration”, warns the Fashoda Institute. “Hence, Khartoum’s saber rattling and war preparations might prove self-fulfilling”.

The report on the think-tanks Website ends with assessment of the Juba’s options: “Little wonder that South Sudan is considering its own military build-up – as declared on September 22 by the new Defense Minister Kuol Manyang. Juba is determined to build a strong national army even if such undertaking might take nearly half of the national budget allocation. Manyang explained that Juba wants “the army to be at full military readiness to ensure victories in any military engagements.” Juba’s “strategic vision” calls for the building of “a strong and professional force” in regional terms. Manyang stressed that Juba’s ultimate objective is to deter the eruption of wars and crises, but that “the army, anywhere in the world, can only avoid wars when it is capable of winning them.”

South Sudan: New Report On Regional Perspectives

By Joe Odaby

Juba, South Sudan — September 12, 2013 … The leading South Sudanese think-tank, The Fashoda Institute of Strategic and Regional Studies, has published the strategic analysis of the regional perspectives of Central Africa. Its conclusion: South Sudan, Central African Republic and Cameroon are set to become an energy alternative to the Gulf of Guinea.

The Fashoda’s experts point out that given the instability of Nigeria and limited energy resources of other Gulf of Guinea states – Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo – finding a long-term substitute or back-up for Nigeria is the main challenge for the global energy markets. Moreover, in seeking long-term solutions, the preference of the West (including Russia) is to continue relying on, and even expanding, the transportation infrastructure from the Gulf of Guinea.

Tankers that can no longer load in Nigeria can be diverted to load elsewhere in the area – most likely Cameroon’s seaports.

From a geological point of view – the untapped reserves of the Republic of South Sudan and the Central African Republic are the most promising alternate energy resources. “Production will be expensive initially because the virtual absence of infrastructure in both countries will necessitate major investments in electricity supplies, railroads, pipelines and simple roads”, argues the Fashoda Institute. “However, in view of the magnitude of the estimated reserves and the long-term potential of both countries – the early cost of infrastructure is not considered prohibitive or alarming.

In recent months, experts in both Western Europe and Russia have focused on the band/strip comprised of the Republic of South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Cameroon as both a viable region for accelerated development in the near future and the core of a wider regional alliance”.

“The real challenge is the long-term political stability and predictability of governments and leaders”, stress the analysis. “The West (including Russia) is determined to ascertain the willingness, readiness and ability of local governments to commit to long-term cooperation. The commitment of both Juba and Bangui to democracy, rule of law and forthcoming elections give hope because democratic states tend to abide by official institutional commitments. Initial contacts and discussions, especially with South Sudanese officials, were promising. Senior officials from both countries showed interest in the various ideas the West has for regional development”.

The Fashoda Institute’s report has criticized South Sudan and CAR because “high-level decision making remains slow in both Juba and Bangui”. However, it pointed out that “after the alarm caused by the Nigeria crisis – there emerges a new sense of urgency in the West and a desire, if not determination, to quickly confirm policies and lock long-term cooperation”.

The strategic analysis has also noted that “there are hopeful signs that both Juba and Bangui are ready to expedite the process. The successful visit to Khartoum by President Salva Kiir and the completion of the agreement on sustained oil exports via the Port Sudan pipeline should ameliorate the immense financial burden on South Sudan and should finally enable official Juba to focus on long-term development. The swearing in of President Michel Djotodia in Bangui as a civilian leader signifies the beginning of the transformation of governance and the slow progress toward long-term development (not unexpected given the dire state of the Central African Republic).”

Encouragingly for the Central African region, the report says that “Western leaders and senior officials remain encouraged since both President Kiir and Pres. Djotodia expressed interest in principle in the regional development programs. However, official Juba and Bangui are yet to undertake concrete steps. This procrastination continues much to the chagrin of the key interested and committed foci of power in official Berlin, Moscow, London, Brussels and other capitals. Because of the Nigeria crisis, the expectations of Western leaders and senior officials that both Juba and Bangui will finally commit and start implementation will only keep growing”.

The analysis sums up the challenges and perspectives of the region: “The Republic of South Sudan and the Central African Republic are sovereign states. Both President Kiir and President Djotodia are honorable and patriotic leaders doing their very best for their respective countries. The West desperately needs the energy and mineral (including diamond) reserves and resources in both countries. Cameroon’s sea ports are the key to safe shipping to the West around West Africa and into the northern Atlantic.

These characteristics make the three countries an ideal location for long-term development and strategic cooperation that might further evolve and expand to the entire region. In as much as Western senior officials and experts still consider the band/strip comprised of the Republic of South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Cameroon to be both a viable region for accelerated development in the near future and the core of a wider regional alliance – these Western senior officials and experts are yearning for a glimpse of comprehension of the new sense of urgency from official Juba, Bangui and Yaounde. It is now incumbent upon the leaders and governments in Juba, Bangui and Yaounde to demonstrate that they are cognizant of the new sense of urgency in the West, and that they are ready to help the West help them turn around the heart of Africa”.

 

 

South Sudan: New Roads, All-Terrain Trucks Will Integrate The Region

ssn_roads

By Joe Odaby

Juba — September 9, 2013 (SSN) … Experts are pressing for opening alternate transportation routes from Nigeria to East Africa and using high-mobility all-terrain trucks in order to
overcome the absence of quality roads all over the region.

A recent Reuters report showed how much the development of East Africa, especially of the South Sudan, is hampered by the shortage of quality roads.

Every day up to 130 trucks from Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia or even farther away arrive at the customs clearing area the size of a football field in the small border town of Nimule, South Sudan’s southern gateway to Uganda.

As Reuters put it, “once a sleepy outpost built by colonial ruler Britain to mark its southernmost presence in Sudan, Nimule has become an economic lifeline for South Sudan since the world’s newest state seceded from Khartoum in 2011 following decades of civil war”.

Landlocked South Sudan depends on its oil exports flowing north to fund its state budget, and remains vulnerable to shutdowns caused by disputes over pipeline fees and border conflicts with its former enemy Sudan.

With almost no industrial production and just some 300 km (190 miles) of paved roads, the new nation depends on truck drivers to provide it with everything from diesel to beer, condoms, trousers, laptops and frozen salami.

Whenever the road is blocked, supermarkets across the country struggle to get supplies.

Cross-border traffic has, however, been on the rise since a U.S.-funded project converted the dirt track from the British era into South Sudan’s only paved road.

The economic impact was immediate. “The new Nimule road has boosted trade and also lowered the transport cost of goods,” said Kimo Adiebo, professor of economics at Juba University.

Annual inflation has fallen to less than 10 percent from over 40 percent since the road was completed last autumn.

From Juba 205 km (128 miles) north of Nimule, some goods continue their trip on bumpy roads to the rest of a nation the size of France. It takes up to a month for soft drink cans from Dubai, loaded in Mombasa, to reach the countryside.

The border is open only from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. as the road from Nimule to Juba becomes dangerous at night with frequent accidents and bandits robbing passengers.

That total dependence on the Juba-Nimule road leads experts in Juba to press their Government and the Western neighbours of South Sudan – Central African Republic, Cameroon and Nigeria – for opening alternate transportation routes from the West to East Africa.

However, building the new roads is a costly and lengthy process while South Sudan needs alternate transportation routes right now – to provide for its remote deprived regions and to integrate the country torn apart by years of civil war. Many Western and local transportation experts agree that a quick and cost-effective solution will be procurement of high-mobility all-terrain trucks. A fleet of such trucks would help South Sudan to overcome the absence of quality roads and speedily integrate with its regional neighbours.

 

South Sudan Breaks Oil Embargo Imposed By Muslim North

By Joe Odaby

Juba — September 5, 2013 (SSN). The visit by South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir to Sudan’s capitol Khartoum on September 3-4, 2013, might prove a turning point in both bilateral and regional terms. In the climax of the Summit, Presidents Kiir and Omar al-Bashir signed oil export agreement guaranteeing the South Sudanese oil exports will continue “without any impediments” across “flexible but secure borders” between the two countries.

The agreement removes the immediate threat of economic strangulation and uncertainty by repeated Sudanese threats to close down the oil exports of South Sudan via the pipeline to Port Sudan.

Kiir and Bashir also agreed to “remove all obstacles” in bilateral relations and fully implement all existing cooperation agreements. In this context, the two presidents tilted toward the Juba interpretation of these mutual agreements – namely, the separation between economic issues and each of the various security issues from border delineation to the fate of Abye (where the referendum scheduled for October is unlikely to be implemented on time). Khartoum remained reticent, though.

“We are now taking new steps,” Bashir told Kiir. “We respect all the agreements … and are committed to implementing them as one package.” Kiir was more optimistic about the impact of the Summit. Khartoum and Juba must “close the old chapters and open a new page,” he said. “These two countries cannot always remain on a war footing. If they do that, they cannot offer services to their citizens.” Kiir considered the Khartoum Summit to be the springboard for a new era in bilateral relations. “I do not want these agreements to be on the books [only]; we will work to implement them fully and we are here for that,” Kiir noted.

This breakthrough did not happen in a vacuum. In early August, soon after the establishment of the new government, President Kiir instructed the government to come up with a breakout in the deadlocked relationship between South Sudan and Sudan. Within days, Foreign Minister Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin announced the formulation of new Sudan policy in effort to address the immediate economic challenges and defuse mounting threats along their mutual border and elsewhere.

After rocky start and several delays in the planned Kiir-Bashir Summit, Juba succeeded to convince Khartoum of its sincerity and the Summit took place. Indeed, President Kiir arrived in Khartoum a mere 72 hours ahead of the expiration of the deadline set by Khartoum to halt the flow of South Sudanese oil via the pipeline to Port Sudan.

Beyond the dramatic oil export agreement, the Summit contributes to the overall building of trust and reducing tension between the two neighboring countries.

Ultimately, however, the greatest achievement of President Kiir in the Khartoum Summit is buying time and securing funds for consolidating the true independence of South Sudan from strategic and economic points of view. The arrested development of the first two years – the direct result of the country’s stifling by blocking of oil exports – can now end and the true potential of South Sudan be realized.

Juba will soon have the resources to properly address the growing geo-strategic and geo-economic importance of South Sudan in both economic and regional strategic spheres. Juba can free land locked South Sudan from dependence on one venue of export, as well as develop a system of regional alliances and joint infrastructure construction programs (particularly westward as favored by the EU and Russia).

Juba can also accomplish a long-overdue defense build-up to address the lingering domestic crises (particularly Jonglei), the growing regional instability (such as still unresolved Nile waters crisis), and the unprecedented build-up by the Sudanese Armed Forces (especially the Air Force).

With Juba’s new political vitality and acumen clearly demonstrated in the conduct during the Khartoum Summit – Western political leaders and senior experts are eagerly awaiting the follow-up moves at the geo-strategic and geo-economic levels.

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”.