12 October 2012

The State of the Game between Juba and Khartoum

I continue to be fascinated by the nature of the strategic interaction between Juba and Khartoum, without really pretending to understand it very well. As it turns out, Juba's strategy seems to be push ahead with a Kenya pipeline whilst resuming export through North Sudan in the meantime, to give them an alternative option. So what is Khartoum's optimal response to such a move?

A friend suggests that Khartoum's strategy is to continue to create chaos in Jonglei (South Sudan) in order to disrupt future exploration, knowing that a Kenyan pipeline would not be economically viable without further discoveries.

I thought I'd also email someone who is an actual game theory expert, who makes the interesting point that - a little counter-intuitively - it may actually be in Khartoum's interest to encourage the development of a Kenya pipeline, as a way of credibly committing themselves to continued future cooperation on mutually favourable terms.
Paraphrasing the words of the great philosopher Sting, “If Someone Does Not Trust You, Set Them Free“.

1 comment:

Gyre said...

I think it depends on the personalities in the Sudanese government. They may value stability enough to tolerate this so long as the oil still flows north. Alternatively they may calculate that this is dangerous enough that they need to shut it down and that China won't complain about anything in Jonglei so long as oil flows north. They might even keep up a long-running, low level pressure through militants just to have another bargaining chip.

As for South Sudan there's also the issue of personalities. They may be doing this out of a desire for a strategic alternative but there's also probably quite a few people in South Sudan who stand to make a good deal out of a Kenyan pipeline and Kenya must be exerting a great amount of political weight to get this done.

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