The conflict in South Sudan was all too predictable

South Sudan teeters on the verge of civil war

Share
Related Topics

There was a tragic inevitability about the violence that has erupted in South Sudan in the past week, given the weakness of state institutions and the intensity of unresolved internal antagonisms in the world’s youngest country.

It was the Troika of Britain, Norway and the United States that nudged and wrestled the component parts of what are now the states of Sudan and South Sudan into the negotiations that brought 23 years of civil war to an end. It was the outside world, again with Britain to the fore, that cajoled and badgered and bribed the north and the south into treating each other with sufficient respect to allow the population of the south to decide on its destiny – to remain within the north or to form the world’s youngest nation state – through a referendum that was seen by most analysts as a foregone conclusion. Independence was duly celebrated in 2011, and it seemed a great result.

The euphoria was premature, however. South Sudan teeters on the verge of civil war, with deep-rooted ethnic division and the destabilising influence of oil resources creating a conflict that is potentially devastating for Sudan and the larger region, as well as for the south.

It is no easy business to create a new state, and it should be no great surprise – for all that it is regrettable – if there are teething problems. Even so, there are more and less sensible ways to proceed.

The question was how to create a democratic state in a land of extreme poverty, cursed with oil and riven by tribal and linguistic divisions that are numerous even by African standards. The response from the international community was to ignore the vast majority of internal ethnic divisions and external regional stakeholders, to cherry-pick the most powerful and bellicose tribal warlords and to force them to jump through a series of constitutional hoops far removed from politics on the ground.

Nor is this an isolated case. Too often, from Afghanistan to Somalia to South Sudan, this is how desperately frail states are brought into being, states which cannot be expected to long survive the exit of their patrons. There must be a better way.

Video: U.S. Moves To Avoid Benghazi Repeat in South Sudan

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Election catch-up: I’m not saying the Ed stone is bad – it is so terrible I am lost for words

John Rentoul
 

Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living