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Question & Answer: South Sudan's Oil Issue
Today evening (3/8/2012) Sudan signed an agreement with South Sudan on the oil issue in Addis Ababa a few hours after the U.S. Secretary of State's visit to Juba, the capital of South Sudan. The American President welcomed the agreement as soon as it was signed. So, what is behind this agreement? And why did America put its weight behind its signature? Despite the fact that a Sudanese official had ten days ago stated publicly that the finalization of agreement within nine or ninety days is impossible! Thus, in such a scenario is it in the interest of Sudan? Or is it a waiver from Sudan under pressure from the United States?
The Answer gets clarified by reviewing the following matters:
1- Under-secretary of the Sudanese Foreign Ministry, Awad Abdel Fattah, announced saying: "we have reached a final agreement with South Sudan on the oil transit and expect to solve other issues through negotiation". (Sudanese News Agency 04/08/2012). He indicates here that the signing of this agreement is a beginning for resolution of other issues. This official Sudanese Agency quoted the spokesperson of Sudanese delegation Mutrif Sadiq immediately upon his arrival in Khartoum: "the oil agreement is convincing but it did not meet the aspirations of both sides" Then he further said: that the implementation will be started after reaching an agreement on the security issues" Thus, he confirmed that this agreement is a beginning for the security issues to be agreed upon. i.e. these two officials in the Sudanese regime implicitly clarified that there are issues that have been agreed upon in advance without they being agreed officially and their disclosure is awaited so as to be signed officially.
2- The African mediator, Thabo Mbeki told the former South African President saying: "the two countries have a time limit expiring on the coming 22nd September to resolve the issue which is still pending. He specified a meeting in September between the presidents of both countries, Al-Bashir and Salva Kir to discuss the status of the disputed Abyei", (according to American Radio Sawa 5/8/2012). He said: "that the two parties understand the need to reach a security agreement by the time specified to start the oil pumping", (Reuters 4/8/2012). This indicates that this oil pumping agreement comes within other treaties and is not separate. Some of these statements clearly show that a deal was entered into between the regime in Sudan and South Sudan to resolve issues more important than the pumping oil agreement, namely the issue of Abyei.
3- Therefore Hillary Clinton came on 3/8/2012 to Juba and asked Salva Kir to sign this agreement and after a few hours, it was indeed signed despite the fact that this signing was meeting with obstacles, as stated ten days ago by Mutrif Sadiq, the spokesperson of the negotiating Sudanese delegation when he said: the finalization of agreement within nine or ninety days is impossible, because some issues need more time to be discussed and solved", (BBC 23/7/2012). This indicates that the Sudanese delegation until 2/8/2012 did not expect it to be signed and this is the period specified by the Security Council in its Decision No. 2046 which obligated the two countries to sign an agreement to settle their differences regarding the demarcation of the border and the disputed territories. Otherwise, sanctions will be imposed on the two sides. So when one day passed, America put its weight compelling the two sides to sign. American representative in the United Nations and the Security Council, Susan Rice stated, saying: "The United States calls on both the parties to immediately fulfill their obligations in conformity with the resolution 2046", (BBC 2/8/2012).
4- And after the agreement was concluded, U.S. President Barack Obama hailed saying: the presidents of Sudan and South Sudan deserve congratulation on this agreement. I welcome the efforts of the international community which has united to encourage and support the parties to seek a solution". (AFP 4/8/2012). Similarly, U.S. Secretary of State Clinton praised "the courage shown by the leaders of the Republic of South Sudan in taking this decision". She said: "this impasse should be overcome for the sake of the people of Sudan and their aspirations for a better future in light of other future challenges" (the same source).
5- The Sudanese regime made enormous concessions in this agreement. Its biggest concession is to abandon Sudan's oil to the regime of South Sudan which possesses 75% of Sudan's oil by its recognizing the partition of South Sudan and making it a separate entity. Then, Sudan withdrew from the price which it was demanding. The Sudanese regime demanded a sum of $ 36 as remuneration for every barrel passing through its territory and then retreated $ 22,20 per barrel. The South Sudan was insisting to pay $ 7,61 but accepted to raise the remuneration up to 9,10 $ as was stated by the Chief of the delegation of South Sudan, Pagan Amum ten days prior to the signing of the agreement (BBC 23/7/2012). However, When Clinton intervened, South Sudan accepted to pay $ 9.48 for each barrel and Sudan also agreed on it! The figure was close to the demand of South Sudan and too far from the figure, which was being demanded by the Sudanese regime. The latter accepted one fourth of what it was demanding at first and less than half of what it demanded later on. In addition, the Sudanese regime was demanding $ 4.9 billion as part of the debt to South Sudan; but the officials in South Sudan accepted to give the Sudanese regime $ 3.2 billion. The Sudanese regime retreated and accepted this amount!
6- The most dangerous thing in Sudanese waiver is that the agreement is a prelude for a most significant relinquishment in the Abyei region. The Sudanese regime accepted to carry out a referendum there and withdrew its troops from the region in order to pave the way for it (the referendum). It means that Sudan is ready to give up the region and the difference exists as to who has the right to vote. South Sudan is rejecting the participation of Masiriya Muslim tribe in the voting, which forms the majority in this region and insists that the right to referendum belongs to the Dinka tribe loyal to South Sudan. It denotes that the result of the referendum, if done on this basis, would be considered as giving Abyei to South Sudan. When America put its weight to sign the oil pumping agreement, South Sudan was quickly made abandoning its insistence, despite the fact that the issue was being negotiated for some time and no conclusion was reached. Rather, the agreement was almost impossible as stated by the spokesperson of the aforesaid Sudanese delegation. Hence, America is now assured of securing concessions from the Sudanese regime on the subject of oil agreement as well as on Abyei region as the statements of Secretary of State Clinton refer to that when she said: " this impasse should be overcome for the sake of the people of South Sudan and their aspirations for a better future in light of other challenges". These aspirations and challenges are specifically related to the Abyei region due to the fact that South Sudan insists its annexation to her area which it has acquired from Sudan. The praise showered by the American President on the agreement indicates that the matter extends beyond the pumping oil agreement through the north, which is not a big issue because there is a possibility of pumping the oil through Kenya and that was being negotiated. South Sudan felt that it is not hugely dependent on crossing the oil through the north and therefore it insists the amount it sought. The African mediator frankly pointed out that the issue is linked to resolving the dispute over Abyei region and a time limit up to 22/09/2012 has been given to both the presidents to agree upon its relevant details.
7- After reviewing the above, it can be said that:
This agreement, apparently related to the oil, has realized scores of benefits for South Sudan. Some of them are related to oil while others are related to different fields:
As for the oil agreement, the Sudanese regime has officially and actually acknowledged it by consenting that South Sudan shall possess 75% of Sudan oil and it (Sudan) is negotiating only the oil transit charges and that it shall have no ownership over any share of oil. In the future, South Sudan can divert its pumping direction towards Kenya if she deems it appropriate or if America wants to put pressure on the Sudanese regime to withdrew in its favor from any issue related to Darfur or to other areas and issues. Then, Sudan will permanently be deprived from any wages especially considering the fact that this agreement is valid only for a period of three and a half years. South Sudan has imposed the charges/prices on the crossing of per barrel, which are very close to the figure offered by it i.e. $ 9,10 and too far from the figure which the Sudanese regime was demanding and that is $ 36 or $ 22.20.
There are other benefits to South Sudan, that will appear in the future and most prominent among them is the Abyei region. The Sudanese regime has given up all of South Sudan. So, it is not unlikely that it will also give up Abyei region. It has already accepted carrying out a referendum under its related protocol in Naivasha Treaty of 2005, which led to the separation of South (Sudan). The difference remained over who will take part in the referendum. So, whoever accepts the referendum on self-determination of his territory, will also accept to waive his territory. In return, and in order to throw dust in the eyes (i.e. to deceive), South Sudan is likely to accept the border demarcation in the region of South Kordofan and the Blue Nile and to recognize the Heglig region for Sudan as it internationally recognized in 2009 that this region belongs to Sudan. Thus, the Sudanese regime will come out and claim that it has achieved victories and earned gains while demarcating the disputed borders against its withdrawal from the Abyei region via referendum! The main factor in achieving all that is America, which put pressure on the Sudanese regime subservient to it. Accordingly, it gives up at the time when it finds that the circumstances are feasible to do so. The Khartoum based Sudanese regime is afraid of collapse and is not finding any protector/supporter for itself except America and therefore it fulfills their requests and easily gives up its Islamic lands so that another State, similar to the Jewish State, is established in that area. The State of South Sudan, indeed, announced that it will establish a close alliance with the Jewish state. Subsequently, the mutual visits were made between the two and the contract agreements were signed, enabling the Jewish state to direct the State of South Sudan as it wishes, especially against Sudan.
20 Ramadan 1433