ith great fanfare, world dignitaries gathered in Juba, the capital of the freshly independent Republic of South Sudan, on Saturday to celebrate the official birth of the world's newest nation. South Sudan overwhelmingly voted to succeed from Sudan in January, as allowed under a 2005 peace plan. But the African-Christian south is also now one of the world's poorest and least-developed countries, and U.S. envoy Susan Rice said there's a "real risk" the peace deal with the Arab-Muslim north will unravel if outstanding issues aren't resolved quickly. What are South Sudan's odds of success?
South Sudan has a fighting chance: After 50 years of struggle and 3 million lost lives, the "South Sudanese deserve the celebration they're enjoying," says Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times. Few expected diplomacy to carry them this far, and despite a host of problems, the country has oil, fertile land, and hope. Unlike much of Africa, I think "South Sudan actually has a fighting chance of being in significantly better shape a decade from now than it is today."
"Welcome to South Sudan!"
This is more "a new chapter" than a new beginning: As other African nations can attest, oil wealth is "no guarantee of economic or social development," says John Campbell in Royal African Society. And South Sudan can't even exploit its oil until it reaches a revenue-sharing deal with the north, which controls the pipelines. Factor in the lack of an agreed-upon border and other festering conflicts, and it's a safe bet that "international peacekeepers are likely to be required for a long time."
"No velvet divorce"
Things are better than they look: Despite the harsh "anti-north feelings in South Sudan," many southerners harbor "friendly, nostalgic emotions" regarding the north, says Mohamed Vall in Al Jazerra. And even among those holding onto hatred, there's a "hidden attachment to the common history of this land." Just look at the name they chose for their new country: "'South Sudan' not Tonj or Fonj or any such extra-terrestrial name." Perhaps that's "a ray of hope" that peace will win out.
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