My New Years resolution is to contribute to a different public debate online in line with Arne Næss’ recommendations for a public debate. I will mostly contribute in Norwegian, but also when it comes to South Sudan. In line with this I wrote this letter to Counterpunch and journalist Thomas C. Mountain after reading this article. I’m not used to defend US foreign policy, but I do believe that to criticize these policies it is paramount that the facts are correct.
I’m writing to comment on your article about South Sudan on Counterpunch. After living in South Sudan for two years I feel the article doesn’t really reflect the situation. There are several reasons for this:
1. Abyei isn’t rich in oil. At the time of the separation Abyei accounted for less than one percent of the oil production in the (old) Sudan. I agree that oil is important to understand the conflicts in the Sudans, but using oil to explain Abyei is not correct. Abyei is a complex issue with cattle, water, historical significance and strategically positions all playing major roles.
2. The UN-forces stationed in South Sudan are mostly Indian and Bangladeshi troops, not Ethiopian. The only Ethiopian troops are to be stationed in Abyei as this was the only troops both North and South Sudan was willing to trust. The Ethiopian troops in Abyei are not to number 10 000 but 4 200
3. As Abyei is positioned pretty far away from Oagden, as a quick glance on a map will tell you, I think it is a little farfetched to link their role in Abyei with anything to do with fighting The ONLF.
4. It is not clear to me how the US would benefit from destabilizing South Sudan as South Sudan is already an ally.
5. North Sudan is already unstable with no less than three different wars going on. These are the results of the power structures within Sudan with the elite in Khartoum fighting the marginalized periphery. Finally I’m wondering about the introduction “As South Sudan implodes in a growing mass insanity of ethnic violence” which is tendentious and doesn’t reflect the situation in most parts of the country.