Category Archives: Obama

The Answer – South Sudan’s Economy will Collapse without Oil Revenues

As if the problems for those threatened in the southern states of Sudan were not bad enough already, South Sudan may well be forced to comply with demands made by Khartoum in order to survive. The Sudan Tribune published an article about the fact that the World Bank is warning the government in Juba that its economy will collapse if the situation between the countries is not remedied.

The crisis began with Juba’s decision to shut down its oil production in a dispute with Khartoum over the fees Sudan was charging. Since that time fighting has broken out and Khartoum has pledged never to allow South Sudan’s oil to flow through its pipeline. 98% percent of South Sudan’s revenues came from sales of that oil. The World Bank was briefed on March 1st by Marcelo Giugale,the World Bank’s Director of Economic Policy and Poverty Reduction Programs for Africa, who noted that even if non-oil revenues in South Sudan triple this year, it will not be good enough to avert a crisis by the middle of 2013.

So here, alas, must be the reason why the UNSC and United States have been pushing Juba to meet the demands of Khartoum.

According to the article, Guigale told representatives of the major donor groups including the United States, United Kingdom, European Union (EU), Norway and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) among others that:

“[T]he World Bank has never seen a situation as dramatic as the one faced by South Sudan.”

The article notes that Guigale went on to say that:

The decision (to halt oil production) was shocking and that officials present had not internalized nor understood the consequences of the decision.

There is a near certainty of the collapse of South Sudanese currency if things do not change rapidly:

As a result of “sharp” drop in influx of hard currency and once citizens in South Sudan realize that value of their local currency is slipping “there will be a run for the dollars and families with dollars will almost certainly shift them outside the country.” Giugale pointed out that because most South Sudanese are not fully financial literate the run on the point has not yet happened. “Once it starts, the currency will almost certainly collapse,” Giugale says.

South Sudan’s foreign cash reserves could possibly last a little over a year or even up to a year and a half with significant austerity measures put in place. During this time poverty will rise dramatically and expenditures on things such as healthcare and education will fall significantly, impacting daily life. Large scale famine and disease would be a real possibility. The World Bank would shift its aid to South Sudan from economic development to humanitarian aid, crippling the economic growth of the nation.

There are two alternatives to this that I can see. South Sudan tried one and may well have been trying the other.

The first option is to build an alternative pipeline that does not run through Sudan. Salva Kiir met with Chinese leaders to propose this. China rejected it as an option, not simply because of the political cost in its relationship with Sudan and other Arab nations or because of the significant expense involved, but because it could take years, not months, to create. Additionally, the report from the World Bank of which China was well familiar could lead China to believe that the government of South Sudan could collapse before any pipeline could be completed, thus potentially rendering useless any investment in it. Salva Kiir returned from China with loan guarantees, quite possibly ones contingent upon improved relations with Khartoum and a renewed flow of oil.

The second option may have been to take Heglig from Sudan in an attempt to force Khartoum to accept significantly less for oil flowing through the pipeline. I cannot say with any certainty that this was the purpose behind taking control of Heglig because there are other potential reasons, however, the thought may have been that:

Ultimately Khartoum gets a share of all the oil flowing through the pipeline, so it really doesn’t matter one way or another whether or not it owns the wells along the way. If we (South Sudan) control all of the oil flowing in, Khartoum will have to deal with us or they will suffer.

Sudan would have suffered for certain, but Sudan can easily hold out far longer than South Sudan. This plan might work if Juba had several years worth of reserves and a broader economy not almost entirely dependent upon oil revenues, but it never could have worked swiftly.

This all may then explain why the international organizations and the United States reacted so strongly against South Sudan concerning Heglig. They likely believe that Juba’s sole option in averting an existential crisis is to mend relations with Khartoum and that millions of lives are at stake if that does not happen.

A third option is not being discussed and probably will not be, namely a US or UN led effort at regime change in Sudan. There are too many factors to list right now, but suffice it to say that the bottom line is that a large scale invasion would create a dramatically increased humanitarian crisis without solving any part of the existing one in the near term.

The significance of this understanding for those concerned about the suffering in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur as well is that there is no pressure that may be exerted upon Khartoum by Juba that will be of help. Worse, intervention, even strong sanctions, by the UN, US, AU or any other body against Sudan would likely jeopardize its willingness to allow transit of oil and military intervention could, likely would, result both in a dramatically worsened humanitarian situation and in the pipeline being shut down for an extended period of time almost certainly leading to the economic collapse of South Sudan predicted by the World Bank.

Thus, South Sudan has no choice but to work with Sudan in order to get the oil flowing once again. It can spend a few months determining which concessions are best for it to make, but it has little or no choice but to make some significant ones.

This is a very bleak picture. The survival of the people in the Nuba Mountains who are being persecuted by the Khartoum government will then depend upon non-governmental organizations raising funds and sending in large quantities of humanitarian aid without the help of major international agencies and certainly without any help from the government of South Sudan. It is up to us to Help Nuba!

Why Not Mention Genocide

I remain highly bothered by the complete absence of any mention by the United States at the UN Security Council, much less by the UNSC itself, of the ethnic cleansing and genocide being practiced by the government of Sudan against the people of the Nuba Mountains. I am appalled that instead the term chosen to refer to those fighting for their very lives against people who are trying to starve them and their families to death or force them to flee the country is “rebels.” The Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising were rebels. The people bombed into hiding in caves in the Nuba Mountains are indeed rebelling. They wish to stop the government that is trying to murder them from accomplishing the feat. Such a rebellion! What gall they possess to think life deserving of rebellion!!!

Here is a United Nations resolution that totally ignores the genocidal nature of the regime, ignores the awful nature of its actions in recent times, and ignores the long history of the conflict, instead acting as if it began with South Sudan taking over Heglig from an purely innocent Sudan. Instead, it acts as if Sudan has every right to starve hundreds of thousands of people to death and to bomb them if they resist. No aid must be allowed to come to the rebels, the UN insists. No aid. This makes a mockery of the commitment “Never Again.” For an organization that itself has a day devoted to genocide, it is an absurdity.

This cannot be just about the war not long ended possibly resuming. It cannot, because resuming the war to save thousands of lives–that alone–would be reason to begin it anew and to begin it with the blessing of the UN which by all that is right and good should send troops to make sure that food aid is delivered to the starving masses. Certainly, the United States should have spoken out to mention the horrors occurring from its bully pulpit as chair of the Security Council. Yet, it did not. Why not mention the genocide in Sudan?

Here are President Obama’s words offered last Monday at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. They stand in stark contrast to those offered by US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice’s words at the UN Security Council which did not mention South Kordofan or Blue Nile or mention genocide at all. I think that in this context President Obama’s words at the USHMM offered exactly one week before need no commentary. It will suffice for each to be followed by a simple question to be asked of the United States in its handling of the Sudan conflict at the United Nations, “Why Not Mention Genocide?”

We must tell our children about how this evil was allowed to happen — because so many people succumbed to their darkest instincts, and because so many others stood silent.

Why not mention genocide?

We must tell our children.  But more than that, we must teach them.  Because remembrance without resolve is a hollow gesture.  Awareness without action changes nothing.  In this sense, “never again” is a challenge to us all — to pause and to look within.

Why not mention genocide?

The killings in Cambodia, the killings in Rwanda, the killings in Bosnia, the killings in Darfur — they shock our conscience, but they are the awful extreme of a spectrum of ignorance and intolerance that we see every day; the bigotry that says another person is less than my equal, less than human.  These are the seeds of hate that we cannot let take root in our heart.

Why not mention genocide?

And finally, “never again” is a challenge to nations.  It’s a bitter truth — too often, the world has failed to prevent the killing of innocents on a massive scale.  And we are haunted by the atrocities that we did not stop and the lives we did not save.

Why not mention genocide?

When the referendum in South Sudan was in doubt, it threatened to reignite a conflict that had killed millions.  But with determined diplomacy, including by some people in this room, South Sudan became the world’s newest nation.  And our diplomacy continues, because in Darfur, in Abyei, in Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile, the killing of innocents must come to an end.  The Presidents of Sudan and South Sudan must have the courage to negotiate — because the people of Sudan and South Sudan deserve peace.  That is work that we have done, and it has saved lives.

Why not mention genocide?

In short, we need to be doing everything we can to prevent and respond to these kinds of atrocities — because national sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your people.  

Why not mention genocide?

I will give my own answer, “Because it would require good people to act. We know that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” Help Nuba!

US worsens Sudan situation in UNSC

I wish I could have titled this blog posting, “United States uses its chairmanship of the UN Security Council to act to prevent genocide.” Unfortunately, I cannot. I’m stuck dealing with how to explain the United States’ support for the African Union proposal which

  • Defends Sudan,
  • A government that is well known to have committed genocide on a large scale in Darfur and
  • Is equally well known for its attempts to do so in South Kordofan and Blue Nile right now,
  • A government that is actively trying to starve tens of thousands of its own people in the Nuba Mountains, and is a proposal which
  • Demands that all aid going to the groups fighting those trying to commit the genocide must cease, and
  • Threatens sanctions against our friends, the South Sudanese people,
  • Unless they comply with the wishes of our enemy, the government of Sudan.

The United States has done just that introducing a resolution in the UN Security Council to this effect.

In addition, the UNSC under the direction of the United States is seeking to reduce the Darfur hybrid force as a result of “the improved security situation there.” Instead, UN undersecretary-general Herve Ladsous said, according to the Sudan Tribune article, that

Half of the infantry companies will be redeployed in East and South Darfur states which have seen an increase of attacks carried out by rebel groups who cross from South Sudan.

They are planning on using the African Union troops to combat those fighting the genocidal regime in defense of Sudan’s sovereignty.

The Sudanese ambassador to the United Nations, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman indicated that he was happy about the downsizing of the UNAMID forces. A glowing endorsement from the representative of the genocidal regime is hardly reassuring that this is a good decision. Additionally, as Eric Reeves recently pointed out, reports of the improved situation in Darfur appear to be grossly exaggerated. US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice indicates that the reduction in UNAMID forces is not a downsizing, but a “right-sizing”, trying to get the appropriate forces in the right places. Somehow, fighting ones friends instead of fighting ones enemy does not seem like putting the forces in the “right places.”

That the United States would use its opportunity as President of the UN Security Council to take action against the Sudanese Revolutionary Front, the several rebel groups friendly to the United States who are united in trying to combat the genocidal anti-American regime in Khartoum, and to threaten South Sudan, another friend of the United States, if it tries to help the rebels is mind boggling.

Why is the United States aiding Sudan in its fight against the rebels and the South Sudanese who are our friends? Why are we not advocating for them? We do not help people who are facing genocide.

President Obama’s own Senior Foreign Policy Advisor, Samantha Power, in speaking about Bosnia, herself noted that:

No U.S. president has ever made genocide prevention a priority, and no U.S. president has ever suffered politically for his indifference to its occurrence. It is thus no coincidence that genocide rages on.

More to the point, however, she noted something that eerily resembles the Obama Administration’s own position on the rebels in the southern part of Sudan. The Center on Law and Globalization in discussing Samantha Power’s argument about “Why the United States has Failed to Stop Genocide” notes that:

Once the killing starts, Americans tend to believe that if the civilians who are in danger just keep their heads down they will be left alone. After all, a “rational” regime would only be a threat to groups that threaten the government. Why waste time, effort and resources killing innocent people who pose no threat?

In other words, if the rebels stop fighting, the regime will stop attacking the civilians. Of course, in Sudan we have evidence that the Sudanese government deliberately targets civilians. The article goes on to cite the Armenian Genocide. This paragraph is frighteningly similar to what is happening in South Kordofan and the genocide against the Nuba people:

Henry Morgenthau Sr., U.S. ambassador to Turkey at the time, provided detailed and gruesome accounts of Turk atrocities against the Armenians to the U.S. government. However, the official line from Mehmed Talaat, Turkey’s interior minister, was that Turkish forces were merely responding to the threats of Armenian groups against the Turkish government. Civilians were not the targets.

Friends, it is time that we Help Nuba!

Franklin Graham calls for bombing Sudan’s airbases

In an article for the Washington Times, Franklin Graham called upon the United States to bomb Sudan’s runways to prevent Sudan from bombing the civilians in the Nuba Mountains:

I am asking him (President Obama) to use our Air Force to destroy Mr. Bashir’s airstrips – the airstrips his military uses to launch bombers that carry out daily attacks in the Nuba Mountains. The Nuba people don’t want American soldiers – they can fight for themselves. They just want to be free. But they have no defense against bombs dropping from the sky on their villages, schools and hospitals…I certainly am not asking the president to kill anyone, just to break up some concrete to prevent the bombers from taking off. I think that by destroying those runways, we can force Mr. Bashir to the negotiating table. This needs to happen soon because Sudan’s rainy season is coming. If we continue to turn our backs and don’t act, it will be too late for thousands of men, women and children.