Thursday, August 15, 2013 Wednesday, December 14, 2011 Tuesday, July 12, 2011 Wednesday, May 25, 2011 Saturday, February 5, 2011 Friday, February 4, 2011 Friday, January 14, 2011
Whether or not Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo technically qualify as “failed states,” their fates are sealed by their colonial inheritance. Indeed, it’s often their borders that are the deepest cause of their conflicts. Many of these national borders are in desperate need of adjustment, and the rest of the world should show more flexibility in allowing them to do so. Europe messed it up the first time, but now the West can support the right regional bodies to adjudicate these new borders — helping others help themselves in the process.

By this logic, today’s hot spots such as Iraq and Afghanistan are not simply “America’s Wars.” Rather, they are to some extent the unexploded ordinance left over from old European wars, with their fuses lit on slow release. Indeed, the United States had nothing to do with the Sykes-Picot and other agreements that parceled the Levant into French- and British-allied monarchies, or the Congress of Berlin, which drew suspiciously straight lines on Africa’s map. Some of these haphazard agreements created oversized or artificial agglomerations like Sudan, which threw together heretofore independent groups of Arabs, Africans, Christians, and Muslims into a country one-fourth the size of the United States but lacking any common national ethos or adequate distribution of resources to sustain commitment to unity. Others did the opposite, like the British officer Henry Mortimer Durand, whose infamous line divided the Pashtun nation between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This growing cartographic stress is not just America’s challenge. All the world’s influential powers and diplomats should seize a new moral high ground by agreeing to prudently apply in such cases Woodrow Wilson’s support for self-determination of peoples. This would be a marked improvement over today’s ad hoc system of backing disreputable allies, assembling unworkable coalitions, or simply hoping for tidy dissolutions. Reasserting the principle of self-determination would allow for the sort of true statesmanship lacking on today’s global stage.
Breaking Up Is Good to Do
Thursday, January 13, 2011 Monday, January 10, 2011

Naming A Nation: Southern Sudan
“The current government in the region, called the Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan, has already set up most of the institutions needed for sovereignity, but it still does not know how the new state will be called.”
(click through to read full article)


Naming A Nation: Southern Sudan

The current government in the region, called the Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan, has already set up most of the institutions needed for sovereignity, but it still does not know how the new state will be called.”

(click through to read full article)

The 2005 north-south peace agreement governing the referendum calls for an “interim period” between the voting and secession, to expire on July 9, 2011. This is also the date the south will declare independence if the referendum passes.

That leaves just a few months for some of the most contentious issues in Sudan’s recent history to be resolved. The parties will have to decide who becomes a citizen, a tricky question since tens of thousands of southerners now live in the north. A security arrangement along the border will have to be worked out — as will the actual border demarcation itself. It’s also not clear yet how north and south Sudan will share oil wealth, much of which will be concentrated in the new independent state. But perhaps most controversial of all is the status of Abyei, which lies along the disputed border. Oil rich, ethnically diverse, and politically explosive, Abyei was supposed to hold its own referendum this week over whether to be in Sudan or the new Southern Sudanese state. Disputes over who would be able to vote, however, have delayed the polls. Clashes have broken out there in recent days between settler and nomad populations, the former preferring to go with the south and the latter favoring the north. The situation on the ground on Monday was reportedly calm, but any further flaring of violence in the area is likely to raise tensions between Khartoum and Juba over an issue on which neither side wants to cede ground.
The Referendum Hangover
Sunday, January 9, 2011
While John Prendergast, George Clooney, and other advocates who don’t speak a word of Arabic have been raising fears about violence for months (and are now embarking on silly plans to take satellite images of areas in which they believe genocide is likely, despite the fact that you can’t actually see that level of detail in satellite imagery), the likelihood that a genocide or war will break out immediately seems to me to be slim to none. As Stephen Chan notes in a discussion hosted by the Royal African Society, there are too many incentives for both sides to behave themselves - the oil needs to keep flowing for both sides to benefit, and the US and China aren’t likely to put up with any shenanigans. Also, al-Bashir seems to be willing to let the secession happen, despite pointing out to al-Jazeera that the South is going to be a bit of a mess in its initial independence period.

As Rob Crilly points out, al-Bashir is right. My real worry for this situation is not that war will break out between north and south - even over Abyei, which I think will eventually be allowed to vote on its own status - but rather than tensions within the South will be played out in the context of an extremely fragile state. Southern Sudan will immediately become one of the world’s poorest, weakest states - albeit one with oil - with a plethora of ethnic groups who don’t see eye-to-eye on everything. That’s rarely a recipe for stability. Add to that the resentment that may build up over the SPLM’s domination of politics within the South and there could be real problems.
Texas in Africa
Monday, November 15, 2010 Saturday, August 21, 2010
The U.S. government cannot de-prioritize the humanitarian and security crisis in Darfur. Moreover, it must learn from the past that a policy of offering the Government of Sudan incentives alone - without also applying serious pressures - will not contribute to lasting peace in Sudan. Tell President Obama to say NO to rewarding Sudan’s dictator Omar al-Bashir, via Save Darfur. (via rightsandhumanity)
Monday, August 9, 2010 Monday, July 26, 2010
People cited a number of warning signs of potential threats, including statements made by National Congress Party (NCP) politicians questioning why southerners should remain in the north after independence and similar articles published in a pro-separation newspaper Al-Intibaha, reportedly owned by President Omar al-Bashir’s uncle. This feeling will be aggravated if the referendum is not held, and the south declares independence unilaterally instead.

While such threats might represent political posturing, they match the political reality of the life of southerners in Khartoum, despite the express provisions of the CPA against discrimination. Sharia law has been applied relentlessly to southerners living in the north in contravention of CPA protections for non-Muslims. The government has never worked to integrate the internally displaced people into northern society, instead denying them government services and periodically forcing them to move to ever more distant sites on Khartoum’s periphery. Even individuals who have lived in Khartoum for years outside the camps have been unable to obtain formal permission to own land. As one displaced individual told RI, “Unity has not produced a good situation for us. Why would it be better after separation?”
Sudan: Preventing Violence and Statelessness as Referendum Approaches
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