Southern Sudan secession sparks urgent questions

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Secession of southern Sudan is raising urgent questions of why the southerners opted for separation by overwhelming majority and to what extent that move would affect the north-south Sudan relationship and the surrounding Arab and African regions.

Dr. Khalid Dirar, a researcher at al-Rasid Center for Strategic Studies in Khartoum, told Xinhua that "the aggravation of southern Sudan issue is mainly attributed to failure of the political elites in north and south Sudan to achieve harmony among the components of the Sudanese people."

Historical and psychological accumulations enhanced by colonial policies have caused a pre-attitude in the southern Sudanese minds that the north treats the south with superiority, Dirar said.

However, Dr. William Adop, a southern Sudanese political analyst, believed that "south and north Sudan are different in all elements, language, religion, culture, race, origin, that are necessary for the formation of one nation.

He told Xinhua that "unlike many, I believe that colonialism was not an essential reason in the southern Sudan problem, but it rather aggravated the already existing differences through its policies which had isolated the South and prevented it from interacting with the North."

"The attempts by some political elites in the north to politicize the religion exacerbated the problem and thus opened the door for religion to emerge as one of the factors that deepened the gap between the north and south," he said.

Adop further held the two parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), responsible for the failure to address the root-causes of the problem.

"The two parties focused on the power-sharing as a settlement for the political dimension, and the distribution of wealth as a solution for the economic dimension. Those solutions have ended the war, but failed to achieve sustainable unity."

Although the southern Sudan referendum has been conducted in a peaceful atmosphere and the government in the north immediately recognized the result of separation, observers do not expect what they termed as "the honey moon" between north and south Sudan to last for long.

Dia-Eddin Satti, a Sudanese political analyst said it should be noted that the border between the two countries is the longer, most complicated than their borders with other neighboring countries.

"There are areas which are still controversial between the two parties. The fate of the Blue Nile and South Kordofan areas is to be decided through popular consultation," he added.

The problem of Abyei will be a true indicator of the direction of the relationship between Khartoum and Juba, he said.

Satti stressed that the secession of the south would not be the end to the north-south problems, but would rather be the beginning of new conflicts.

"Among the biggest consequences of southern Sudan secession are the cultural implications, because the newly born south Sudan State will move toward its neighbors of African countries, which would weaken its ties with the north of the Arab and Islamic orientation," he said.

"Countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Zaire, and Central Africa will replace north Sudan, which was the artery of communication between the Arab and African worlds. This development will create a strong barrier that will prevent Arab infiltration into the south part of the African continent," he added.

Maj. Gen. (Rtd.) Mohamed Ahmed Fadlallah, a Sudanese military expert, for his part, warned of civil wars among the various components of the south. The tribes in the south may reject control of the Dinka tribe, to which belongs most of the SPLM leaders, over the affairs in the region.

Effects of the south Sudan separation will affect the whole region with its Arab and African dimensions, which will create a new political system and a new changing network of political relations.

Dr. Mohamed Hassan Saeed, a professor of political science at Africa International University told Xinhua that "if we look at the countries neighboring northern and southern Sudan, we will find that Egypt, which was supporting the unity of Sudan, will be the most affected countries by the secession of the south."

"Egypt will be affected by the entry of a new state into the Nile Basin countries' group, which will affect Egypt's water share, particularly that African countries in the Nile Basin Initiative are grouping against the Egyptian interests," he explained.

"As for Kenya, it works to weigh its relations between the Sudanese government partners and its security strategy will decide its support for south Sudan separation. For Uganda, which constitutes a shelter for the southern Sudanese refugees and its security strategy, will also support the south separation," he said.

South Sudan has borders extending for 2,000 km with five countries, namely Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Congo and Central Africa Republic.

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