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Division of Sudan will not solve problems

James Santucci, Guest Writer
98.8 percent of South Sudan’s population voted to secede from North Sudan. The split is the first in Africa to happen by popular vote. The impact is uncertain.

To begin with, the reason the two sides split heralds problems for the countries’ futures. The predominately Christian south voted to break away from the predominately Muslim north mainly because of religious warfare. That warfare resulted in the north’s President Omar al-Bashir being wanted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.

Existence as separate countries, however, is no assurance that the religious intolerance will cease. The two countries will share a long border along which we can expect violence comparable to that between Israel and Palestine as well as Pakistan and India. The idea that two groups with decades of conflict can be made to play nice by drawing yet another made-up line in the sand is idealistic at best, fantastical at worst.

A second question is where to draw the boundary. Were it just a question of how many people North and South Sudan each end up with, it would not be difficult, but attached to land rights are oil rights. Since oil is the country’s main export, both sides are going to fight for as much of it as possible.

The two Sudans are not the only two fighting for oil rights, however. Foreign oil groups have already started drilling in the region. In 2008, a Swedish, Malaysian, Indian and Sudanese group began drilling in a remote southern region of the country.

The main reason for the current conflict in Nigeria is Royal Dutch Shell’s exporting of oil wealth to Europe while the people of Nigeria remain impoverished. It would not be remiss to predict something similar in the two Sudans. Without each other to fight, it is not difficult to believe the two countries might participate in the all-too-African tradition of turning on foreign investors.

Third, South Sudan’s economy has been ravaged over the last 20 years by the country’s civil war. Unified Sudan’s per capita income in US dollars is acceptable for an African country, but at $1880 it is still less than upperclassmen University of Tulsa Presidential Scholars can receive in Dining Dollars each semester.

When early-20s private school kids in the West complain that a certain country’s per-capita income will not buy them and all of their friends beers for an entire semester, it is a good sign that country has some serious development to do before it can achieve any sort of internal stability or international parity.

Ultimately, the only certain results are these: anyone who is not an eight-year-old contestant in a geography bee, upon noticing, will promptly forget anything relating to South Sudan, and within the next 15 years Rand Paul will argue at least six times on the Senate floor that the U.S. needs to halt foreign aid to South Sudan.

Other than that, the idea that being a separate country will somehow mediate the cultural differences between the north and south is extremely optimistic.

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