07 December 2010

George Clooney in Southern Sudan

A few weeks back my Facebook newsfeed filled up with photos of grinning friends standing next to George Clooney in Juba's bars. Well this is what he was up to.



Kristof is somewhat predictably a fan.
I admire Clooney (and Ann Curry of NBC, who went with him and got an hour on Dateline) for trying to raise an alarm bell in the night. Let’s hope that the alarms, and the latest burst of diplomacy and spotlight on South Sudan, are enough to avert a new war.
Tom Murphy
worries that this over-simplifies what is going on in Sudan
I'm actually going to side with Kristof on this one. Whilst I don't think that a return to war is the most likely to outcome, it is a possibility, and given the track record of the US in helping to broker the 2005 CPA I do think that US diplomacy could be important in ensuring a peaceful outcome.

I don't think that a return to war is likely because I think that ultimately both sides are going to behave rationally, by which I mean in their own self-interest. The Khartoum government has a strong interest in not losing the oil revenues from the South, but an even stronger interest in not having all oil production come to a halt completely due to a return to war. The cost to the SPLM of building a new pipeline through Kenya is basically prohibitive, and they have already indicated that they would be willing to pay hefty pipeline fees to Khartoum, even to the point of extending the current 50:50 split.

Added to the mix for Khartoum is that arrest warrant for Bashir, the desire to get sanctions lifted, and the desire to get some relief on that $30bn of debt.

There is a lot of space for a mutually profitable deal to be made, if cool heads can be made to prevail.

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