South Sudan: Uprising in a State that Cannot Afford Independence

For days, the Kenyan capital of Nairobi has been on edge over the carnage in South Sudan.

Both of its major newspapers, Daily Nation and Standard, are running cover stories concentrating on the plight of thousands of Kenyan citizens who are stranded in Juba and other cities inside the ‘youngest nation on earth,’ often in desperate conditions.

Foreign countries — including Uganda, Kenya, and the United States — are now sending military aircrafts to the juvenile Frankenstein nation they were recently so busy creating. But this time, the aircrafts are there to rescue; to airlift their citizens to safety.

As always, there are hardly any in-depth analyses of why and how South Sudan was actually created, who was behind its birth, or which political and economic interests this unnatural entity is supposed to satisfy.

The hard news reports keep talking about the coup, about the rebellion of the military, about the fact that some 80,000 (or maybe 100,000) people are displaced, and that perhaps thousands are dead.

Cities such as Bor and Bentiu had fallen to the “rebels.” Then government forces recaptured Bor. Then, as media reported on December 24, “Forces loyal to Mr. Kiir’s ex-deputy Riek Machar were on the run,” according to the information minister.

In Nairobi, there is a constant movement of South Sudanese citizens — those escaping fighting and those who are desperately trying to return home. They can be seen at the borders, airports, in hotels, and in countless cafes. Most of them are waiting for an opportunity to hitch a flight to Juba. Others are on their way to some third country.

At Java Café at Yaya Center shopping mall, I encountered Mr. Christophe Mononye, South Sudanese Education Specialist working for UNICEF in Nigeria.

“I am trying to get home”, he explained. I asked him about the situation in Juba. He was brief but precise: “Now it is all in the open… and it was predictable… the old feud, since the early 90s.”

He seems to be calm; not surprised.

Actually, almost nobody seems to be surprised.

South Sudanese troops loyal to President Salva Kiir pictured at Bor airport after they re-captured it from rebel forces. (AFP Photo/Samir Bor)

South Sudanese troops loyal to President Salva Kiir pictured at Bor airport after they re-captured it from rebel forces. (AFP Photo/Samir Bor)

And very few in East Africa are willing to talk; to reveal what is really behind the façade and everything that mainstream Western [media] is reporting. [Few are willing] ‘to go public’ on this particular subject. To dive towards the sub-currents of South Sudan’s murky waters can often prove extremely dangerous, even deadly.

An opposition figure — and one of my best sources in Uganda — this time refused to go public, to reveal his name. But he made sure to make his point clear in his personal email to me:

One of the reasons that brought Idi Amin to power was his involvement, his clandestine helping [of] the earlier rebellion in South Sudan… Museveni has just jumped on the bandwagon as a conduit for Western and Israeli interests. The situation there, in South Sudan, is very sore and dangerous to comment on for Ugandans, as it could lead to death or torture, as has happened to anyone here that got involved… Machar is a sponsor of Joseph Kony, so there is a fine line to tread… It is also rumored that Museveni was responsible [for] Garang’s helicopter crash…

Mr. Sufyan bin Uzayr attempted to explain the situation in his article for Counterpunch, titled, ‘Is South Sudan a Failed State?’ His arguments regarding the conflict are solid:

President Salva Kiir, who comes from the powerful ethnic group named Dinka, sacked Vice President Riek Machar in July 2013, accusing him of organizing coups against his government. Machar, a member of the Nuer tribe (the second largest ethnic group after Dinka), in turn accused Kiir of trying to establish his dictatorial control over the entire country…

What began in July as a conflict of political ambitions has now led to country-wide unrest. The South Sudanese military too seems to be taking sides: one section remains loyal to Kiir, whereas the other group has pledged allegiance to Machar. Bentiu, an important city and a provincial capital, was captured by army units loyal to Riek Machar, thereby implying that unrest has transformed into full-fledged civil war. It is worth noting that Bentiu also happens to be the country’s most oil-rich region.

But he is not saying anything about the Western interests or how the idea of South Sudan came to life, as if it was really only the rebellion and the civil war that split off this oil-rich part of what was once the largest country on the African continent – Sudan.

Mr. Mwandawiro Mghanga, National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Kenya (SDP), brings the topic to a global level for this report. And he is well familiar with the issue. For years, as an MP, he was serving on the Foreign Relations Committee of the Kenyan parliament.

What is happening in South Sudan is sad but we predicted it would happen. Imperialism encouraged the division of Sudan led by tribal chiefs of the likes of Salvar Kir, who only are in power to loot their country without any development or democratic agenda of uniting South Sudan. Tribalism, nepotism, dictatorship, corruption and backward ideas are the order of the day in the regime of SPLM. I hope this tragedy happening will begin to remove from power the present leaders that drive the country along the path of primitive capitalist accumulation by the elites, imperialism, meaningless wars, and tribalism. Imperialist governments should keep out of the affairs of Sudan and South Sudan, for they are part of the problem — not the solution.

At the end of his article, Mr. Sufyan bin Uzayr gets philosophical:

At this junction, one is forced to question: was breaking up Sudan really a wise thing to do? As far as I get it, an undivided Sudan would have been better off. Attempts should have been made to quell the southern rebels and bring prosperity to the entire undivided Sudanese country as a whole. Sadly, we decided for the rather questionable choice of creating two countries, and the outcome is far from praiseworthy, because the newer nation of South Sudan has not impressed anyone.

The question is, were Sudanese people really those who ‘decided’ to create two countries out of one complex and imperfect — but influential one? And was ‘impressing’ someone abroad the real purpose of that dubious and costly (in terms of human lives) experiment?

In Africa, there are many anecdotes circulating about South Sudan. One says that it was created to reward Uganda’s President Museveni for his relentless plunder of the Democratic Republic of Congo, on behalf of the Western governments and companies.

Wounded South Sudan military personnel receive medical treatment under a tree at the general military hospital compound in the capital Juba December 28, 2013. (Reuters/James Akena)

Wounded South Sudan military personnel receive medical treatment under a tree at the general military hospital compound in the capital Juba December 28, 2013. (Reuters/James Akena)

Almost all United Nations experts who worked in South Sudan that I spoke to agree that the country simply couldn’t function on its own; that it is basically a scandalously corrupt failed state without almost any social policies — with a horrid health and education system. And all that, just two years after it was officially severed from Sudan. Most admitted that South Sudan is fully dependent on foreigners who are running it, financing it, and determining its course.

And those willing to think outside the box actually admit that South Sudan was never supposed to be standing on its own feet.

In East and Central Africa, there are already several attempts to create resource-rich, small ‘independent countries,’ which would be open to exploitation by international companies, by Western governments, and by several local proxies turn bullies.

A classic example is East Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a territory obnoxiously rich in natural resources — including coltan, diamonds, and uranium. Here, both Uganda and Rwanda are playing deadly games; plundering and killing millions. Overpopulated and aggressive, Rwanda is almost openly aiming at expanding its Lebensraum to East Kivu. Naturally, the first step towards such ambitions would be full ‘independence’ of East Kivu from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The second such case is an oil-rich Jumaland, in the southern part of war-torn (after years and decades of destabilization attempts by the West) Somalia. Jumaland has been invaded and occupied by the closest ally of the US, UK, and Israel in Africa – Kenya. And Kenya justifies its aggression by applying the usual Western cliché designed to cover most brutal aggressions – the ‘war on terror.’

People of Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in fact citizens of entire Africa, should watch very carefully what is now happening in South Sudan. Illusionary ‘independence’ can sometimes lead to complete dependency on foreign powers. Such dependency can in turn result in the absolute and dreadful collapse of a ‘new nation.’

As great Ghanaian thinker Nee Akuetteh once told me: “The West does not have friends… it only has interests.” It also has plenty of blood on its hands, including that of the people of Africa. South Sudan is no exception.

  • Originally appeared at RT.
  • André Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker, and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His critically acclaimed political revolutionary novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and market-fundamentalism is called Indonesia: The Archipelago of Fear. He just completed a feature documentary Rwanda Gambit about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website. Read other articles by Andre.