Here’s a good explainer from Al Jazeera about the political rifts in the leadership of South Sudan. In brief, the Sudan’s People’s Liberation Movement —  the dominant political party in South Sudan that has pressed for the South’s independence from Khartoum — is much less unified than it would seem.  There are fears that the various factions may turn on each other when the South holds a referendum for Independence next January. This comes on top of worries that Khartoum may instigate conflict to gain control of some of the South’s oil fields.  Watch. 

Meanwhile, UN officials are worried that its 10,000 strong peacekeeping force in Southern Sudan is not prepared to handle the potential outbreak of violence.   The troops are under-equipped and lack the political support from the Security Council to prepare for the worst-case scenario–which is an outbreak of violence that targeting civilian populations. The overlapping conflicts, the reality that a state of South Sudan will be, upon independence, the world’s most recent failed state, and the fact that South Sudan generally does not fall near the top of any major powers’ list of top international priorities suggests that we are headed for a humanitarian disaster in South Sudan in the year to come. 

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