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On July 9, 2011, after nearly thirty years of civil conflict, the nation of Sudan split in two. I remember talking to people I know about the split, about how the former single country was now split into Sudan and South Sudan, about its impact on global politics. I remember people asking if this meant an end to violence in the region.
Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Let me dispel a few rumors about Sudan right off the bat. I feel the need because there are a lot of misconceptions about it.
First of all, the split between Sudan and the South is completely separate from the conflict in Darfur. The Darfur conflict is in fact, a relatively new one. Although tensions have been brewing there for many years, the violence that has managed to grab the attention of the media only really took off in 2003.
Since 1983 however, an ongoing civil war has been fought. However, it is mostly a north-south split, and has little to do with the western Darfur region. The Sudanese Civil War finally came to an official end in 2005, but the crucial act of the treaty between the two Sudanese groups did not materialize until this year, with the South’s secession.
The official secession of the South from Sudan has done little to ease tensions. This fledgling country still faces a lot of challenges including lawlessness, tribalism, poverty, and relations with its neighbor to the north. Along border regions, areas affected by the secession are still rife with violence, as the two sovereign countries fight for resource rights.
It would appear peace in the Sudan region of Africa is still a long way off. Just because the countries have now split, does not mean that the international community no longer needs to pay attention.
This is not meant to sound pessimistic about the new country’s future. The honoring of the 2005 peace treaty is actually a huge leap forward for the future of the Sudanese people. But the South Sudanese government has a lot of work ahead of them if they want to succeed as a nation, hopefully with a more peaceful future.
The South Sudan split has big implications for the future of African politics. Many countries in Africa have experienced conflicts similar to Sudan. South Sudan is at a vital turning point, and its success as a nation has the potential to reverberate and spread throughout the African continent.
So why bother with South Sudan?
Often times, with countries so far away, it is difficult to see the relevance. But just because South Sudan is far away, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be important to you. Plenty of things could go either right or wrong for South Sudan. Most have potential to affect us, all the way here in Boulder.
Take for example, the price of oil. Sudan is a global producer of oil, and right now, the north and the south are fighting for oil field rights. If the two don’t resolve their issues, it could mean higher gas prices for us back here.
South Sudan could be beneficial for us too. It could mean student exchange or study abroad programs. It could mean travel opportunities. It could mean anything. Because South Sudan is so new, it is important for us to keep an eye on its progress.
Keep up on current events in the region. South Sudan is a beacon of hope for Africa, and an opportunity to break the cycle of violence and rebellion so familiar to the continent. South Sudan, being the young country that it is, can easily be influenced and aided by the U.S.
The country is young enough to cave if the pressures of independence become too much. The U.S. would do well to pay close attention to its politics in the months to come.
As Africa begins to join the ranks of the global community, your world will become more intertwined with it.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Taryne Tosetti at Taryne.email@example.com.