One year ago, South Sudan celebrated its inaugural independence day. Yet peace has remained fragile, and further development elusive.
One year ago, South Sudan celebrated its independence. As the country takes its first hesitant steps and learns to walk in freedom, the international community must remember that the risk of mass atrocities within Sudan, and the risk of war between Sudan and South Sudan, is far from over.
The scaremongering of the western media about a threat of war in Sudan is exaggerated; the current sabre-rattling is part of the business. Far more interesting is the question of why the peace process survived the last five years at all. Although the situation in Sudan is tense, a new civil war is not to be expected for the time being.
South Sudan has no future as an independent state. No common language, culture, or history unites the region. European and US lobby groups will try to establish a foothold in the south. The region is best served if it retains its ties to President Bashir. He has proven his confidence.
The possible independence of south Sudan is exacerbating the crisis in Africa's largest state. President Bashir, who has already shown that he is indifferent to international humanitarian rules, is not going to renounce the oil revenues from the south. A carrot-and-stick-policy might be the only option to prevent a new war.
In January, the population of South Sudan will vote on its potential independence. Wedged between North and South is the province of Abyei. It could become the epicenter of another round of mass killings.