Friday, April 20, 2012

Waiting for the Bombs to Fall

There is a lot of heated rhetoric right now between the government of Sudan (the northern part of the country) and South Sudan (the new country in the southern part of the country.) I'm in the southern part of the country.
Like a couple that had a bad break-up and still has some unfinished business to resolve, the split between these countries though seemingly peaceful enough was actually fraught with a lot of unresolved issues. Thanks to the north's aggressions there has been an almost constant series of low level clashes along the long and unresolved border between these two nations. Northern troops have dropped bombs and attacked in small numbers places all along the border. The south has demonstrated pretty remarkable restraint in resisting these constant provocations but two weeks ago the southern army decided finally to strike back. As a result of its actions the south actually ended-up taking the town of Heglig and some area north of there. Heglig is significant because it was a major oil producing area for the north. As if the tensions between the north and south owing to cultural, religious and every other kind of reason weren't bad enough, the fact that there is oil lying under the border area makes a rotten situation even worse.
As a result of these events the northern government through its leader Omar Bashir, a man indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, has denounced the south and threatened to bomb Juba and replace the "insects" which govern there. People around Juba have taken to referring to one another as "insects." On a more sinister note though, people in Juba also think that Bashir referred to the leaders of Juba as insects possibly to justify the use of chemical weapons.
It is surprising and I think hurtful to the South Sudanese people how quickly the international community has condemned South Sudan for its taking of Heglig. The world community tsk-tsked and pooh-poohed when Sudan invaded Abyei, and invaded Khordofan/Nuba, and Blue Nile chasing out a democratically elected governor, and dropped bombs in southern territory including on schools, hospitals and refugee camps. And throughout all of this South Sudan did not respond militarily. But when finally pushed to the limit the South struck back the UN and other bodies have started howling about South Sudan's "aggression" and labeling it a bad state. In response some people on the ground here have begun not to take the international community seriously which is a bad result.
I'm hopeful that cooler heads will prevail and that the two countries will not again fall back into all out war. There has been so much progress in the south over the last couple of years, so many buildings and schools have been built, so many lives rebuilt, it would be a shame to see all of this destroyed.
I ask people everywhere to pray and hope for peace here in this troubled part of the world.

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