Splitting Sudan

Does the map below look strange? Believe it or not, Sudan could be split along these lines in a few short months.

In Darfur in the west, under the terms of the Darfur Peace Agreement, the Transitional Darfur Regional Authority is an interim authority governing the territory made up of important independence groups, and in 2010 (or more likely 2011), the permanent status is to be determined by a referendum. The people in Darfur will then have the choice between either the amalgamation of the three current states of Darfur into a single autonomous region of Darfur, with a constitution and regional government, perhaps similar to Kurdistan in Iraq, or maintenance of the status quo.

Southern Sudan is scheduled to hold an independence referendum in January 2011, not to become an autonomous region, but to become an entirely independent state. A simultaneous referendum may also be held in three border regions — Abyei, Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile.

The exact metrics for the threshold for independence, who is eligible to vote, and how to vote, are all issues that will have to be finalised before the vote, but regardless of what happens, many observes believe that the vote will overwhelmingly be for independence.

These referendums were agreed on many years ago, but have recieved precious little press coverage in the broad condemnation of Sudan over the years because no casual observers expected that the vote would actually happen. At this point in the process, independence for the south looks almost inevitable, and we may have to get used to a new state in Africa, as Sudan, the largest country in Africa and the largest country in the Arab world (and 10th largest country in the world), is cleaved by popular referendum.

About Curzon

Lord George Nathaniel Curzon (1859 - 1925) entered the British House of Commons as a Conservative MP in 1886, where he served as undersecretary of India and Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Viceroy of India at the turn of the 20th century where he delineated the North West Frontier Province, ordered a military expedition to Tibet, and unsuccessfully tried to partition the province of Bengal during his six-year tenure. Curzon served as Leader of the House of Lords in Prime Minister Lloyd George's War Cabinet and became Foreign Secretary in January 1919, where his most famous act was the drawing of the Curzon Line between a new Polish state and Russia. His publications include Russia in Central Asia (1889) and Persia and the Persian Question (1892). In real life, "Curzon" is a US citizen from the East Coast who has been a financial analyst, freelance translator, and university professor; he is currently on assignment in Tokyo.
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9 Responses to Splitting Sudan

  1. Eddie says:

    As this has unfolded to its seemingly unbelievable end (unbelievable in the sense it may actually be a peaceful split), it does inspire a few questions.

    Primarily, what country will be the primary int’l backer of South Sudan? Khartoum has China bankrolling it so who will Juba turn to? America, Great Britain, India? All three and South Korea as well? It won’t just be a matter of aid money and investment, but the training and arming of the armed forces, the police and the intelligence service.

    In other fake states in sub-Saharan Africa, could we imagine similar outcomes? Nigeria comes to mind, as it seems to be running into a hell of a rough patch of late, with leadership chaos, mounting insurgency, and rising religious tensions. How could the dissolution of the Somali state be better navigated and guided?

    Finally, what happens if it becomes a failed state (which it is perilously close to as we speak)? Do you get an East Timor like situation where the IC steps in once again (via a regional hegemon) and tries to put Humpty back together again?

  2. Scott says:

    Some how I don’t think peace will last, the oil issue as well as water will be a big thing.

  3. kurt9 says:

    There will be a period of chaos following secession. However, the separation of Arabs and Blacks will be better for both groups over the long run.

    Africa has to be Africa. It has to be free from the meddling of Europeans and Arabs so that they can evolve their own model of economic growth.

    It is currently fashionable to talk about the hopelessness of Africa, of the inability of the African people to pursue growth oriented societies. One must remember that it was fashionable to say these same things about East Asia around 1960 or so.

    Give it time. Africa will be OK.

  4. dave says:

    Having travelled extensively through Africa, a problem (not the main one), is that most people that rise to power, do so for powers sake, and not for the sake of the people.
    Africa has far too few selfless politicians.
    Any succession by the south of Sudan will come about due to the wantr of power of the few, not gthe masses.
    Does Africa need another Liberia / Sierra Leone ?

  5. Windthorst says:

    Thanks for the reminder. The topic is really rarely covered

    As you raised the question concerning the international alignment, I could imagine that the new South Sudan could move to the side of Ethiopia by that towards the USA. With the still fresh memories of the recent civil wars, I think South Sudan will stay away from Arab dominated and Muslim orientated countries.

    I wonder how the Chinese will react, if the new government breaks some oil supply agreements.

  6. DPT says:

    Re Windthorst and Eddie, I think China’s reaction will be particularly interesting – on the one hand, China has always been a strong opponent of any sort of “splittism” because of its own issues with Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang – so it would not be surprising for Beijing to stay at Khartoum’s back.

    But on the other hand, China’s economic interest would be to forge some kind of arrangement with South Sudan to access the oil. The Chinese might try to broker some sort of deal between Juba and Khartoum to keep those pipelines open, but a lot of China’s reaction will probably depend on how independent South Sudan becomes in practice. If the Sudanese Civil War resumes, China might just support Khartoum or fence sit.

    And given the difficulty of getting oil from South Sudan to anywhere else without going through Sudan (new pipelines through Kenya would probably fall victim to terrorism from Al Shabaab or the like), the new government probably will not be in any position to make or break oil supply agreements at all.

    Considering that the US and other states trying to impartially form a peace agreement cannot provide much support to South Sudan without disavowing their neutrality, South Sudan will probably not be in a position to govern in general. I am not sure if 2011 will be call for much celebration, even in Juba.

  7. J. Naylor says:

    The present situation in both regions is the result of years of neglect by the government in Khartoum and the British/Egyptian condominium before that. If both areas vote for independence of one kind or another the end result will be two new failed states on the continent. Lack of food,water and little or no infrastructure plus oil does not a good mix make.

  8. Eddie says:


    I agree about the depressed nature of independence. If the Chinese were wise, they would invest heavily in both countries to keep the oil flowing and help create something resembling a at least a 19th century nation-state in S. Sudan.

  9. Pingback: ComingAnarchy.com » Splitting Sudan: Dangerous Contagion, or About Time?