The situation in South Sudan is rapidly deteriorating and no one seems to have a solution. What many people do not realize is that Sudan is the worlds youngest nation, gaining independence for the first time in 2011. Since this time, the brief history of the country has become riddled with violence as the country has struggled through political ‘growing pains.’
The conflict as we see it today goes back to 2013 when a Civil War broke out following a rift between the President and his Vice President. In December of 2013 President Salva Kiir accused his then Vice President Riek Machar of plotting a coup to replace him as President and threw him, as well as his entire cabinet, out of power.
The rift between the two was caused by, you guessed it, oil. Machar believed that the President was not doing enough to adequately reinvest oil profits back into society, build infrastructure or advance the country forward and as a result, began to publicly criticize Miir. In response, President Miir labeled him a dangerous “rebel”, disrupting the peace of the country, and removed him from government.
However, despite being removed from political power Machar had a great deal of support from the South Sudanese people and more importantly, the countries military – who felt exactly as he did about their President. The divide between these two factions, between the people of the country, was irreparable and Civil War quickly broke out.
Later that month, in December 2013, rebel troops backed by Machar seized control of several towns in an attempted coup to overthrow the President. In response President Miir deployed government troops and enlisted the military help of Uganda to take back control of the cities under rebel control.
There are no accurate numbers, but in the month of December 2013 alone it is estimated that thousands of people died and tens of thousands fled the country to seek refuge. Over the next 19 months it is estimated that another +50,000 people lost their lives and hundreds of thousands more fled the country.
The War came to an end in August 2015 when Miir signed an internationally mediated peace treaty which would eventually allow Machar return as Vice President. Less than a year later, iIn April 2016, Macher returned to the capitol for the first time in years and was officially sworn in as the countries new Vice President – though the peace would not last long.
Less than two months later, in July, Macher was once again accused of plotting yet another coup again Miir. Just as before, Macher removed from political office and the military split behind the two politicians. On July 1o, 2016, heavy fighting between government/rebel soldiers erupted in South Sudan’s capitol and estimated 150 lost their lives in a matter of days.
As reported by Ofeibea Quist-Arcton of NPR:
“former rebels loyal to a vice president in South Sudan say their military positions in the capital have been attacked by government troops who back his rival – the president.
Violence first erupted on Thursday in Juba, the South Sudanese capital, in gun battles between soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his deputy and erstwhile rebel leader, Riek Machar. Machar’s men now say the military has attacked their main barracks in the city.
The UN mission in South Sudan reports exchanges of loud gunfire, and mortar and grenade explosions near its headquarters.”
After Machar publicly stated to local news papers that “South Sudan is back to War,” President Miir began arresting journalists for publishing pro-War, anti-Government articles. Fearing that South Sudan was indeed regressing back into a state of War, the United Nations immediately intervened and sent 12,000 peacekeeping troops in hopes to quell the violence.
However, after 300 more were killed, the effectiveness of the U.N. troops was called into question and many around the world began to doubt if there was even anything the United Nations could do to prevent violence and protect civilians.
On July, 17th The African Union stepped forward and openly criticized U.N. troops for “staying confined to their bases instead of patrolling the streets,” and proposed a solution of their own. The African Union offered to send a coalition of 4,000 multi-national troops into South Sudan to “go where the fighting is happening” and “enter without seeming to take sides.”
After debating to allow the additional troops into the country, on August 6th, the United Nations voted in favor of the African Union and would allow the troops to serve in South Sudan. The matter was complicated, however, when President Hiir refused to allow the African Union to station more troops in his country, stating that the decision “seriously undermines South Sudan’s sovereignty” and accused the U.N. of trying to “take over the country.”
The U.N. responded to President Miir stating that if he refused to allow the additional troops that they would impose and arms trade embargo on the country – same as North Korea. The two sides have since engaged in open dialogue over the matter and the U.N. even admits there are some “pros and cons” on both sides of the debate. With that said, the U.N. is adamant that Miir accept the African Union’s proposal.
As of Sunday, August 14, President Miir is reportedly re-considering the U.N.’s decision to authorize sending extra troops to the country.
This article (What 16,000 International “Peacekeeping Troops” and Humanitarian Aid May Not Be Able To Prevent: Another War in South Sudan) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article using a creative commons license with attribution to Brian Dunn and Alternative Medi4