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Nicholas Kristof's blog - George in Sudan

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Nicholas Kristof's blog - George in Sudan

Post by Katiedot on Tue Dec 07 2010, 02:39

Thanks Lucilla for the link

From Kristof's blog

December 6, 2010, 9:59 am

George Clooney in Sudan


In just over a month, South Sudan is scheduled to vote on whether to become an independent nation. But it’s no clearer now than it was three years ago that the North will actually allow the referendum to go ahead. There’s still considerable anxiety that the North, determined not to lose the three-quarters of the country’s oil that lies in the South, will find one means or another to block the vote or deny its legitimacy — and that the result will be the world’s worst war in 2011.

That’s where George Clooney comes in. He was recently in South Sudan and did this video from his trip, trying to galvanize attention:

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

In a worst-case scenario I wrote earlier this fall, I raised the possibility that the Referendum Commission (controlled by the North) would ask for a modest delay in the vote, to have an excuse to denounce the vote — and now there are reports that the Commission may do just that. Likewise, VOA reports that a ruling party member in the North has said that it will not recognize the vote outcome because of irregularities. But my hunch is that the North still hasn’t decided yet what to do, and some southerners I speak to are optimistic that the vote and secession will go ahead. Much will depend on the stance of the international community.

Aside from the risks of a deliberate war and seizure by the North of the South’s oil wells, there is a risk of an accidental war provoked in the disputed territory of Abyei. There are risks of conflict in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile areas, where many people want to be in the South but will find themselves in the North. There are risks of tribal conflicts along the border and in the south that could trigger a larger war. Distrust is enormous.

The Obama administration was AWOL on Sudan for its first 18 months but has lately been very energetic on Sudan diplomacy, trying frantically to avoid an outbreak of war. President Obama himself has set the pace, and the latest round of efforts and engagement has been very impressive.

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.


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