We Aren’t the Only Ones Who Go to War Over Oil
South Sudan has been in the news lately because of escalating attacks from Sudan on its northern border. The cause? Oil disputes.
In fact, as of yesterday the president of South Sudan claimed that Sudan had effectively “declared war” on his country after air bombardments continued for yet another day. Those bombings followed South Sudan’s capture of an oil-producing region that had belonged to Sudan.
Right now, South Sudan depends on pipelines in Sudan to export their oil. Even as bombs go off in the north, South Sudan continues to seek investments that will help them build pipelines into other neighboring countries, like Kenya. They want to be free of dependence on the North, who they claim have been stealing oil from the pipeline.
Sudan denies bombing South Sudan and says that any of the oil they used from the South was to help cover unpaid fees for using their pipeline in the first place. The South admits not paying those fees, claiming they are simply “exorbitant.”
The world watches South Sudan with some hope. After all, they do have oil, which helps a lot in getting people to care about you. As an international celebrity itself right now, China is suspected of being deeply involved with both countries. No one seems to want war in the region, but everyone seems to accept it as a natural possibility.
After all, going to war over oil is like a country’s coming of age party. We’ve all done it – why deny the privilege to others? Hopefully they’d learn from our mistakes; but I’m not even sure we’ve done that yet.
Today my husband is starting a new position as a research associate for the Public International Law and Policy Group (PILPG), and my degree of separation with South Sudan shrinks to almost nothing.
PILPG is a pro bono, non-governmental legal group that “provides legal assistance to states and governments with the negotiation and implementation of peace agreements, the drafting of post-conflict constitutions, and the creation and operation of war crimes tribunals.”
For the next year, Michael will be focusing on two countries – one of which is South Sudan. I’m hopeful that this amazing opportunity will help give him greater insight into the conflict there and possible ways to create peace. And while he can’t really share his work publicly (dang attorney/client privilege type stuff), I have a feeling that lessons he learns will translate well here and in other ways.
There’s much better news happening in the other country he’ll be working with. But more on that later…
(Photo of Sunset over Northern Sudan: by David Haberlah)