Friday, December 27, 2013

South Sudan Goes South

Things are getting worse in South Sudan -- Walter Russell Mead is watching:
These problems of ethnic identity are not unique to South Sudan. Significant chunks of Africa and the Middle East today are being ripped apart by identity wars—sometimes religious, sometimes ethnic, sometimes a mix. While international peacekeepers can sometimes play a constructive role in stabilizing the situation, the so-called ‘international community’ lacks both the will and the capacity to intervene effectively in the dozens of such conflicts capable of flaring up at any time.
In the case of South Sudan, there are Dinkas and Nuers and it's getting ugly, according to the Financial Times:
“Mass extrajudicial killings, the targeting of individuals on the basis of their ethnicity and arbitrary detentions have been documented in recent days,” Ms Pillay said in a statement. “We have discovered a mass grave in Bentiu, in Unity state, and there are reportedly at least two other mass graves in Juba.”

President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, his former deputy, have both indicated they were ready to talk to try to end a deepening conflict that has killed hundreds of people since it erupted this month. 
Western powers and east African states, anxious to prevent the fighting from destabilising a particularly fragile region, have tried to mediate between Mr Machar, who hails from the Nuer tribe, and President Kiir, a Dinka.

Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said that the bodies of 75 soldiers of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army were believed to be in the mass grave in Bentiu visited by UN rights officers.
As Mead rightly notes, these identity wars are endemic and they can happen just about anywhere -- ask anyone who lives in what was once Yugoslavia. The United States could, if it wanted, get involved in dozens of these conflicts. We already have a small contingent of troops in the area. Anyone feel like sorting this one out?

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