News / Africa

South Sudan President Kiir in Washington for US-Africa Leaders Summit

Days after he said the West "covets" South Sudan's natural resources, President Salva Kiir is due to head to Washington for the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders summit.
Days after he said the West "covets" South Sudan's natural resources, President Salva Kiir is due to head to Washington for the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders summit.
Karin ZeitvogelJohn Tanza

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and scores of other African leaders are in the U.S. capital for the first-ever U.S.-Africa leaders summit that begins Monday.

But just days before he was due to travel to Washington for the summit, Mr Kiir made some scathing remarks about the West, accusing countries that are seen as having played essential roles in South Sudan’s birth in 2011 – including the United States – of seeking to grab the young country’s oil.

“When they went into Iraq, what happened? And when they went into Libya, what happened? Now, Syria is going down in flames. We need to sit and have a dialogue instead of using force,” Mr Kiir said in the speech on Wednesday to commemorate the millions who died fighting for South Sudan’s independence.

Then, the president of South Sudan said, “What they covet is our resources, it’s this rich land of ours.”

South Sudan’s key, and at this point only, resource is oil. Almost all government revenues come from oil.

But South Sudanese oil production has been hard hit by more than seven months of fighting in the country, which has been concentrated in the two oil-producing states, Unity and Upper Niles, as well as Jonglei state, in between them.

What they covet is our resources, it’s this rich land of ours.

Luke Patey, a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies and author of “The New Kings of Crude,” which is about South Sudan’s oil, said Mr. Kiir’s accusations were wrong-footed.

Even at the pre-conflict production level of around 300,000 barrels per day, South Sudan’s oil production is only a drop in the global oil bucket -- 0.3 percent of worldwide production, Patey told South Sudan in Focus.

“This isn’t an Iraq, this isn’t Saudi Arabia. This is really a small player in the international oil industry, and at the moment there are no U.S. interests in that oil,” Patey said.

Awan Guol, a Minister in the Office of the President, said Mr. Kiir's anti-Western statement were a slip of the tongue.

"The government is being pushed to the wall, and things slide out. It may bring some consequences that nobody likes," he said.

But a country's natural resources, Guol added, are part of the "internal affairs of a country" and "must be respected."

This isn’t an Iraq, this isn’t Saudi Arabia. This is really a small player in the international oil industry.

South Sudan has been looking to diversify its economy away from oil by exploiting its reserves of gold, but the foreign investors required to do that have held off because of the conflict. 

Western input could stabilize oil decline

Instead of attacking Western companies and questioning their intentions in South Sudan, Mr Kiir should be wooing them, Patey said.

“American and European firms, particularly specialized oil service companies, can actually help to stabilize South Sudan’s decline in production,” he said.

Mr. Kiir’s condemnation of alleged outside interference in South Sudan’s affairs, and his accusation that the West is after South Sudan’s resources could be an attempt to shift the focus away from the dire situation on the ground in South Sudan, Patey said.  

“It may be a sign of an increasingly desperate president who’s looking for scapegoats to explain the chaos and destruction that he and rebel leader Riek Machar have unleashed on the people of South Sudan,” he said.

“Let’s hope with upcoming peace talks -- if they occur -- and with the U.S.-Africa Leaders summit that South Sudan and the U.S. can patch up deteriorating relations and work together towards ending the civil war.”

Talks led by East African regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), to end more than seven months of fighting in South Sudan were supposed to get back up and running on Wednesday.

They are now due to resume in Addis Ababa on Monday -- just as the U.S.-Africa Leaders summit gets under way in Washington.

"Remarkable' US-South Sudan relations

Guol said relations between Juba and Washington have been "remarkable since the days of the struggle," the term used by many South Sudanese for the long fight for independence from Sudan.

"However, the incident of December 15" -- when fighting broke out in Juba before spreading to other parts of South Sudan -- "put us back," Guol said. 

"We believe that the efforts of the U.S. and other friendly countries who supported us in our struggle for independence – we feel we let them down," he said.

 

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: wadrodros from: juba
August 06, 2014 10:09 AM
this not time to acuse ple we need peace


by: Lisa from: Tx
August 05, 2014 6:53 AM
Dc, i don't blem you. I will stand for the Americans . Facts, because of American south sudanese know that they can express their freedom instead of being second hand class citizens. If your not for American then your evil . Sometimes you studip people don't understand what you want in life. Just look at your country not other nations before you hate the Americans. Am just a person who believe in peace and commonsense. If you refuse to understand how the Americans work stay studip. And enjoy your studipity like your presendent kiir.

In Response

by: Daplla Ahmed Daphaallah from: Kampala Uganda
August 08, 2014 5:22 AM
“People who think with their epidermis or their genitalia or their clan are the problem to begin with. One does not banish this specter by invoking it. If I would not vote against someone on the grounds of 'race' or 'gender' alone, then by the exact same token I would not cast a vote in his or her favor for the identical reason. Yet see how this obvious question makes fairly intelligent people say the most alarmingly stupid things.”

Lisa, not all South Sudanese are Stupid make correct wordings, the Shame that South Sudanese are facing in the world including you is from the behavior of our Leaders, Since resources are now abundant these leaders can’t relate it to the past sufferings of South Sudanese during the Liberation Struggle, not even directing these resources to strengthen the Country Security wise & other aspects. Point blank. the nonsenses that the remaining 59 tribes in south Sudan are facing is from some groups of Dinka & Nuer who calms to be patriotic for selfish gain, if all South Sudan tribes could behave backward like the Dinkas & the Nuers, South Sudan would have been in tones. Lias, you’re in Safe Heaven in the US. You aren’t aware of how politics goes down groom-up plse.


by: Chuol Both Met from: Ethiopia
August 04, 2014 6:42 PM
President Kiir, Why would you run here and there, blaming others for a situation you have caused to your on country? You knew that the West played a great role in creating this country. The West did just the right thing for you. This current situation is no longer a result of a coup. Do you still want somebody who initially intended something good for you to come back and take part in the destruction that you yourself has caused? What a shame could that be!


by: Dc from: Us
August 04, 2014 1:30 PM
Lisa, stop bragging, you could not win the war in iraq and afganistan. South sudanese know how to defend themselves. Try it and you will see. The greedy america and the west always want to destroy other countries because of their resources. You are messing with the wrong country this time. To rebel supporters, you cannot start a coup and complaint about death of people. Didn't you know people will die before your action.


by: Lisa from: Tx
August 04, 2014 11:34 AM
South Sudan government, this time their is no room for studipity. act like you mean it, you accused the west and the American for nothing. By the way don't mess with the American when it came s to killing innocent people, this time kiir ask forgiveness before your government is run down. You can not accuse people who help you achieving peace, in return your killing the innocent people do you think the world is not seeing, every body in kiir government is paid not to speak up. But one day your own families will pay so dearly. God bless peace makers.


by: Pete from: Mexico City
August 04, 2014 10:58 AM
Was he screened for ebola before entering the country?


by: akol deng akot from: juba
August 04, 2014 1:54 AM
Our president kiir right by the way,west country are not seeing well what is going on in the south Sudan between rebel and the elected government,the rebels want to took the the government by force which is not happen in the west country. If you want to help the people of south Sudan you just make peace with out condition from the rebels.

In Response

by: Nyakor from: US
August 04, 2014 12:01 PM
To be honest with you Akol, Western countries have seen enough.What Salva Kiir is doing in South Sudan by killing his own people is 100% wrong,.It would never happen and will never happen in western world for a president to kill his own people,buying more weapons and army in order to get rid of some of citizen of the country.May Salva Kiir realize that rebel are part of S.Sudan and reserved to be treated fairly.Thanks, Peace be with us all!!!

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