News / Africa

South Sudan Oil Dispute Raises Specter of War

Gabe Joselow

South Sudan and Sudan have been engaged in a war of words since the south stopped pumping oil to the north in a dispute about pricing. Both sides have warned that a return to violence is a possibility.

South Sudan is retooling its armed forces - working to strengthen the former rebel Southern People's Liberation Army into a more formal military.

Soldiers here at the Bilpam military base in Juba could be called into battle sooner than expected, if a bitter oil dispute with Sudan turns from a war of words into action.

The south shut off oil flows to the north, claiming Sudan has stolen millions of dollars worth of crude. Khartoum says it confiscated the oil to compensate for unpaid transit fees.

South Sudanese Deputy Defense Minister Major Majak D'Agoot said such actions represent a serious threat to the new nation.

“I don't want to pinpoint it to any particular source, but anything that tends to threaten our core interests as a nation of course will have to be responded to,” said D'Agoot.

Although Major D'Agoot did not specifically say Sudan was the primary threat to South Sudan, outside his office a statue of former SPLA General John Garang points firmly toward the north.

Amanda Hsiao of the Enough Project says the oil shutdown also could provoke Sudan to take action.

“With the South saying that, one: they're willing to break of relations completely with the North; two: that they will seek alternative pipelines so that their oil doesn't have to flow to the north, Khartoum is left with very little options in terms of dealing with its economic situation. Remember it's a regime that has few friends in the international community,” said Hsiao.

South Sudan declared independence from the North last July, following decades of civil war that killed more than one million people.

Sporadic fighting has continued. In the past year, Sudan has bombed areas near the border where it suspects Southern-backed militias to be active, including an attack on Abyei in May of last year that displaced up to 100,000 people.

The leaders of both nations have said a return to war is a possibility.

On the streets of Juba, a rapidly developing capital, businessmen are nervous about the prospect of violence.

Michael Toma sells automotive supplies at the Jebel market.

“In my own opinion, I for one think war - I don't want to rule out war because war is inevitable. However, I'd like to ask the two authorities to work together and come into dialogue so we can reach a harmonious conclusion that's going to benefit either country,” said Toma.

Others, like Simon Gatdier Yieh, say if Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir wants war, he will get it.

“If the Bashir came with the peace then our president will talk to the Bashir in a peaceful manner. If the Bashir wants to fight with the people of South Sudan we are ready, even now we are ready,” said Yieh.

Both countries are dependent on South Sudanese oil and, as a prolonged shutdown continues to drain their two economies, tensions are bound to increase.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs