Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Getting Ready for Secession

Jeffrey Gettleman has a piece in today's New York Times about preparations in South Sudan for the upcoming vote on whether to secede. He thinks the outcome is clear:
Western diplomats and political analysts say the writing is on the wall — in indelible ink. South Sudan will soon be a separate country, they expect, whether the referendum is on time, or is peaceful or not.
It is the "peaceful or not" question that hangs in the air. Since the border between the north and the south has not yet been agreed, and the disputed regions include oil fields, I think some level of violence is almost inevitable. There is also the issue that while the dominant ethnic group in the south, the Dinka, is strong for independence, there are other, smaller groups who fear life in a Dinka-controlled state. Some of those groups may fight for autonomy within the south, or to stay part of Sudan. I fear a long civil war, but I hope that things go relatively smoothly. My gut tells me that all the parties are too tired of fighting to embark on a major conflict, but I am far from certain that is right.

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