South Sudan: the World's Newest Nation Faces Serious Challenges

“With all the killing that has occurred in Darfur, Abyei and the Nuba Mountains, we surely can’t say we didn’t know this could happen. Diplomacy as usual backed by no tangible international pressures is a recipe for ongoing death and destruction.


That’s John Prendergast of The Enough Project last week describing evidence of mass graves in South Kordofan as detected by the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP), a program started by Prendergast and actor George Clooney in late 2010.  Monitoring what happens on the ground in Sudan from space is the best option at this point since the United Nations and other outsiders have been ejected from many parts of the country by the government of Sudan.


These concerns come as the world welcomed its youngest nation on July 9th, the Republic of South Sudan.  After decades of civil war, the country decided to split, delineating the predominantly-Islamic north from the predominantly-Christian south.  It was a bittersweet celebration for many, though, because even as the Southerners relished their newfound freedom, the actual border between the two sides has yet to be finalized – so they cheer on an invisible border as yet.


What’s the problem?  Well, among other things, oil.  A majority of the reserves sit beneath the ground that, incidentally, is primarily what is to be the border between Sudan and South Sudan.  The government of Sudan currently gets approximately one-third of its revenue from that oil, so it’s probably not inclined to give it up.


Finding a fair resolution has proven to be, and likely will continue into the future to be, a difficult task with the ruler Omar al-Bashir in control of the Muslim country to the north.  In 2008, the International Criminal Court indicted al-Bashir of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur, a situation that has yet to be resolved.  And as Prendergast points out in his interview with Bob, the President of Sudan seems to be hardening his tactics in the conflict areas of Darfur, Abyei, and the Nuba Mountains (South Kordofan), not softening. 


So will diplomacy “backed by tangible international pressures” come to the rescue of the South Sudanese?  The world waits with bated breath.


Post-Script Reminder: Unlikely Brothers


You might remember Prendergast was on the show recently to discuss his latest book: Unlikely Brothers, a memoir of his remarkable friendship with Michael Mattocks, whom Prendergast met at a homeless shelter when the boy was just six years old.  The story continues.