The impossible battle for freedom led by fledgeling South Sudanese rebels against the powerful Sudanese central government marked July 9, 2011 as a day that independence and unity could be achieved, even in the most ethnically splintered of nations. Yet, just 18 months after this international success story, South Sudan began to face violence, ethnic splintering, and power politics renewed. At the heart of the problem lies two leaders representing the two largest ethnic groups in South Sudan.24southsudan1-jumbo Salva Kiir, the South Sudanese President and Dinka (the largest ethnic group) is predictably at war with his former vice president Riek Machar the nation’s “most influential Nuer.”

The Dinka and Nuer, South Sudan’s two largest ethnic groups, have continued their constant shift between allies and enemies and now risk sinking their newly formed nation into ruin. South Sudan faces constant bloodshed, political upheaval, a splintered military, and possible genocide. Reportedly, up to 70 percent of women living in camps have been raped, food aid has been commandeered, and children have been burned to death.

The international community, formally acting through the United Nations, has proposed an international takeover, creating a six-year-long trusteeship to stabilize South Sudan. However, critics site instances like Somalia and Iraq as cautions against further international intervention. 24southsudan7-jumboThe other major obstacle facing the country is the current leadership who stands to gain from continual violence and control over the nation’s oil. Mr. Kiir has been accused of misusing his position to secure personal financial gain from the nation’s natural resources as well as pad the pockets of his exclusive inner circle. Kiir also has a fiercely loyal segment of the military backing him. International intervention is largely failed or been nonexistent. When violence broke out in December 2013, the international community failed to stand between the to warring groups and protect innocent civilians. The newly proposed international intervention seems to have come too late and offer too little to create a sustainable solution for South Sudan.

No matter a person’s position on an international trusteeship, all groups agree that South Sudan is in dire need of help. The solution, it seems, would be something more along the lines of the recent power struggle in Gambia. The former president Yahya Jammeh finally stepped down from power after strong persuasion and diplomatic action from his West African political peers. Jammeh lost the election to Adama Barrow, but initially refused to give up the presidency. However, regional cooperation and action settled the heated and potentially disastrous conflict non-violently. South Sudan’s situation is clearly unique, and much more dire; however, the regional community surrounding South Sudan seems to be the most likely to successfully intervene and offer a peaceful solution that is sustainable. This peaceful solution also depends on the election of new leaders who are seeking peace and prosperity for South Sudan. The need for newly elected leaders in South Sudan is critical to the peace process. Yet, this would require both domestic and regional cooperation and diplomacy to broker such a deal.

See NYT article at: https://nyti.ms/2jRK6sZ

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