n Africa Conflict Monthly Monitor - Understanding Abyei : the oil-rich source of Sudan-South Sudan tension - : Africa-wide - featured analysis

Volume 2013, Issue 02
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Ownership of the Abyei region, claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan, remains a fraught situation that might at any time erupt into armed conflict. Such a conflict, if it should arise, would likely involve neighbouring states and make the crisis regional in nature. An understanding of East Africa's principal disputed area requires an appreciation of the long, troubled history that led to one of Africa's longest civil wars. Like other civil war situations that resulted in the creation of a new nation out of the original country, such as Pakistan from India, the break up did not immediately erase years of bitter emotions and mutual suspicion. A residue of distrust may linger for decades.

However, South Sudan's independence has finally separated erstwhile antagonists. If left to their own devices, each country would pursue a separate path based on national interests. Idealists will lament that Arab Africa and black/Christian/animist Africa could not get along in Sudan as a single country, whereas others might conclude that with separation each Sudanese culture may pursue its destiny unencumbered by the other. In time, old wounds will heal, and perhaps northern infrastructure and southern resources might profitably link.

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