Sudan escalates conflict with South Sudan
The recent conflict between Sudan and newly independent South Sudan around the oil rich town of Heglig looks set to escalate.
Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, announced at a ruling National Congress Party (NCP) rally yesterday that it was his intention to ‘liberate’ the people of South Sudan of the ruling South Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
When South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July last year the one outstanding issue was how to divide the revenues from the oil rich southern region. South Sudan holds most of the oil reserves but the oil pipelines run through Sudan. The Chinese are the main beneficiaries of the Sudanese oil wealth to date and they have most to lose by an escalation of the conflict.
Sudan has used fighter bombers to attack towns around the border area whilst South Sudan invaded Sudan two weeks ago and took the strategically important town of Heglig.
Whilst both sides will, no doubt, seek mediation from regional and international players past experience suggests that neither is likely to back down from further confrontation.