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Regional Power, Profit Obstruct Peace in South Sudan

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Regional Power, Profit Obstruct Peace in South Sudan

Posted by Enough Team on June 10, 2015

June 10, 2015 — Entangled and competing regional interests are undermining efforts to end the civil war in South Sudan, according to a report published today by the Enough Project. “Neighborhood Watch: Mobilizing Regional Action for Peace in South Sudan” is the first in a new “Political Economy of African Wars” series, launched by Enough’s founding director John Prendergast. The series will feature in-depth, field research-driven reports on dynamics of power and profit fueling armed conflicts in the Horn, East and Central Africa.

Justine Fleischner, Sudan and South Sudan Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, said: “South Sudan’s peace process is playing out like a deadly poker game among regional elites where the stakes keep getting raised, but nobody has a particularly good hand. Regional players like Uganda and Sudan have placed bets on the conflict, providing support for either the government or opposition forces, in order to maintain their access to South Sudan’s natural resource wealth. Unless the U.S. and other key international partners step up both diplomatic efforts and economic pressure, neither of the warring sides are likely to fold anytime soon.”

Akshaya Kumar, Sudan and South Sudan Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, said:  “In South Sudan, entangled interests have obstructed forward momentum on peace. Presidents Kenyatta and Museveni serve as mediators of the conflict on one day, and then meet with President Kiir the next day to discuss joint regional infrastructure projects. But, if external donors make it clear that peace is a prerequisite for development, those same dynamics can be leveraged to end the war.”

John Prendergast, Founding Director of the Enough Project, said: “President Obama will travel to Africa next month and South Sudan will be front and center on the agenda of his meetings with regional leaders.  The huge U.S. investment in the world’s newest country is disintegrating as South Sudan spirals more deeply into civil war.  President Obama should use his interactions with regional leaders to build support for much greater regional pressure on the warring parties in South Sudan.  The clearest way to building that leverage is for the region to impose and enforce biting targeted sanctions on those in South Sudan obstructing peace, especially given that so many of their ill-gotten assets are concentrated in neighboring states.”

To build regional support for targeted sanctions enforcement, the Enough report recommends that the U.S. and other international partners focus on cutting off money flows fueling  the conflict, building political will and technical capacity for regional sanctions enforcement, and working with regional players to build economic and political incentives for peace.

Fleischner added: “At the end of the day, the war has been devastating for the regional economy, not just South Sudan. The U.S., China, and other international partners that are invested in the region have an obligation to address these competing interests and ensure the people of South Sudan are not the only ones to bear the cost of this conflict.”

Kumar added:  “South Sudan’s war is costing its neighbors billions. We expect the powerful businessmen profiting from South Sudan’s war economy will try to prevent regional enforcement of biting asset freezes. But the greed-driven lobbying of elites should not stop the region from acting in its collective best interest. The African Union announced support for asset freezes and travel bans on South Sudan’s warring parties weeks ago, and South Sudan’s neighbors now need to the do the same.”

About Enough’s “Political Economy of African Wars” series:

“The Enough Project is launching a new series of in-depth, field research-driven reports on the dynamics of profit and power fueling war in the Horn, East and Central Africa. Violent kleptocracies dominate the political landscape of this region, leading to protracted conflicts marked by the commission of mass atrocities by state and non-state actors. Enough’s Political Economy of African Wars series will focus on the key players in these conflicts, their motivations, how they benefit from the evolving war economies, and what policies might be most effective in changing the calculations of those orchestrating the violence–including both incentives and pressures for peace.” – Introduction to the series by founding director John Prendergast

Link to the full report “Neighborhood Watch”

For media inquiries or to arrange an interview with an Enough Project spokesperson, please contact: Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, +1 310 717-0606, gh@enoughproject.org

ABOUT THE ENOUGH PROJECT

For media use, short version: “The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention research and policy group.”

The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress aiming to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, Central African Republic, Somalia, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research in conflict zones, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. For more information, visit www.EnoughProject.org