Created: Wednesday, 06 August 2014 14:43
Written by Charles Chinweizu
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 240 August/September 2014
In July 2014, South Sudan’s elites ‘celebrated’ the third anniversary of the world’s newest nation. However, a civil war that began last December has displaced 1.5 million people (a third are children) out of a total population of over 9 million; a predicted famine as early as August 2014 looms which could affect 4 million people; nearly 400,000 refugees have fled to neighbouring countries; the UN states that 5 million people desperately need humanitarian assistance. There exists a scarcity of basic goods, hyperinflation, outbreaks of preventable diseases such as cholera, mass hunger and homelessness. Several of South Sudan’s largest towns are deserted with homes, churches, medical facilities (patients shot in their beds, wards burned down) and even UN bases attacked, looted or destroyed. There is nothing in this catastrophe for the majority of South Sudanese people to ‘celebrate’.
South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011, with Britain and the US orchestrating events from behind the scenes, as part of their balkanisation strategy for regime change in Sudan. The imperialists unwisely plan to divide Sudan into north, south and west (Darfur). Britain plans a long-term military presence in South Sudan which BP estimates holds sub-Saharan Africa’s third biggest oil reserves. The imperialists fear being squeezed out of opportunities for exploitation in the region and intended that South Sudan would be another client state in an East African reactionary bloc with Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda, geared up to help imperialism exploit strategic resources to the exclusion of China.
South Sudan’s crude oil production (98% of government revenue) is predicted to fall to 100,000 bpd (from 350,000 bpd in 2011) in a decade; production has already halved due to fighting. Additionally, problems which preceded independence persist with no solution in sight: since South Sudan gained autonomy from Sudan in 2005, there have been brutal clashes between the army (SPLA) and various militia groups (backed by powerful but sidelined military elites), as well as brutal violence between various ethnic communities, resulting in large-scale displacement and thousands of civilian deaths ignored by the ‘free press’. A third of oil revenues from 2005-2011 were embezzled. These crimes have never been satisfactorily investigated, nor have perpetrators been held to account by the South Sudanese authorities. Imperialist interests meant that these issues, and unresolved disputes with Sudan (border demarcation, oil-wealth sharing and the disputed Abyei region) were ignored in the rush for ‘independence’.
In January and May, the imperialists forced president Salva Kiir and his erstwhile deputy Riek Machar on pain of arrest to sign phony ceasefire or peace agreements (ignored by both sides), to maintain a facade of control rather than looking to solve chronic, deep-seated problems. Seemingly interminable ethnic strife, a divided army, poor socio-economic prospects (almost half the 2013/14 budget was used to pay back bank loans), and the loss of life means South Sudan is considered a failed state.
The imperialists’ plans are in tatters – Sudan has lost 80% of its oil and been forced to develop its agrarian economy. They hoped Sudan would collapse following the south’s secession; this hasn’t happened. Rather, with established infrastructure and an understanding of its internal politics, Sudan may now be South Sudan’s only hope. South Sudan’s corrupt elite and the imperialists are responsible for the country’s near collapse. Britain and the US used people’s genuine desires for freedom from poverty and oppression to balkanise the country. It’s time Britain and the US stopped interfering in the two Sudans’ internal affairs.