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August 20, 2012 | by  | in News |
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A Sisterly Squabble

UNDERSTANDING THE TENSION IN SUDAN

It’s been just over a year since the messy breakup between the central African countries of Sudan and South Sudan, but there is still a long way to go before they’ll be on reasonable terms with each other.

The South celebrated its first birthday in July, with thousands of citizens taking to the streets of the capital, Juba, to wave flags. Although the area has been autonomous since the end of an ethnic civil war in 2005, citizens are still pretty stoked about their young nation’s independence. But critics say there’s not much to party about.

Oil is their main problem. South Sudan scored seventy-five per cent of the oil fields when it became independent, but it needs access to Sudan’s pipelines and sea ports in order export the oil and make money. Sudan tried to charge the South transit fees to use its facilities, which the South did not pay, claiming they were a rip-off.

Furthermore, Sudan was accused of forcefully thieving some oil for its troubles, which really pissed of South Sudan. South Sudan relies on oil revenues for ninety-eight per cent of its budget, so you can imagine how completely screwed their economy was when oil output was shutdown to 350,000 barrels a day.

The two countries have now reached an agreement on oil transit fees, but since both sides have failed to hold up past agreements and the oil deal is conditional on a border security agreement, no-one is holding their breath.

Although oil is South Sudan’s main problem, it’s not the only one. There is some serious disagreement over the where the border lies. Since the split, each country has citizens whose homes now lie in foreign territory. On top of that, both governments have accused each other of supporting rebel groups. If only splitting a country in two was easier!

Internally, South Sudan is also dogged by problems. Of its ten states, seven are racked by inter-ethnic violence and armed rebellions due to alleged vote rigging, cattle rustling and land disputes.

But just when things seemed like they couldn’t get much worse, hope appeared in the form of a heart-melting smile and devilish good looks: George Clooney.

Using his celebrity to cast light on the situation between South Sudan and Sudan, Clooney has met with President Obama, testified before the Senate’s foreign relations committee, and even been arrested for the cause after blocking the entrance to the Sudanese embassy in Washington.

Perhaps not as good a Batman as Christian Bale, he has been a vigilante nonetheless, and, we can be assured, he is on the case.

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