South Sudan

Japan will send troops to South Sudan as part of United Nations led nation-building force

Japan will send troops to South Sudan as part of a UN force.

Japan on Tuesday approved a plan to send a unit of ground troops to South Sudan as part of a UN nation-building force, where they are expected to help construct infrastructure for the fledgling nation.

Japan’s military, called the Self-Defence Forces, is barred from fighting overseas under the country’s pacifist post-World War II constitution, but it has joined UN peacekeeping forces in countries such as East Timor and Haiti.

Under the latest plan, troops will be deployed to the South Sudanese capital of Juba — which is considered relatively safe — but will be permitted to use weapons in self-defence.

The troops, mostly engineers and logistical staff, are expected to help repair or build roads, bridges and infrastructure in the landlocked African country, which declared independence from Sudan in July after a long civil war.

Defence Minister Yasuo Ichikawa ordered the Self-Defence Forces to prepare for deployment and await further instructions on their mission, a defence ministry official said.

Japan has contributed military forces to several non-combat operations overseas

“I’ve always thought that the engineering unit of the Self-Defence Forces should play a role, so that they can leave footprints in South Sudan’s nation-building,” Ichikawa told reporters.

“As we start the new mission, it is important for Japan to show the world that we are playing a role in the international community,” he said.

Japan, which has already dispatched two fact-finding teams to South Sudan, is looking at sending the first batch of about 200 troops early next year to establish bases, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tsuyoshi Saito said.

The main unit of around 300 troops will replace them later, he said.

South Sudan, one of the world’s poorest countries, became a member of the United Nations on July 14 and joined the African Union on July 28.

Japan has contributed military forces to other non-combat operations, including the reconstruction mission in Iraq and as part of anti-piracy patrols off Somalia.

Japan recently has began to reestablish a presence on the international scene with its military. With regards to Africa, Japan opened up its first military base overseas in Djibouti.  The base was part of international coalition in helping stop piracy in the Gulf of Aden. Not just using hard power to spread its influence, Japan has also been using soft power in Africa by saying it will invest billions on the continent.

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United Nations welcomes South Sudan as 193rd member

The UN General Assembly has admitted South Sudan as the 193rd member of the United Nations. The vote followed the African country’s achievement of independence last Saturday, breaking away from Sudan after more than 50 years of on-and-off war.

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Chicago Bulls Forward Luol Deng hosts first Hoops summit in South Sudan

Chicago Bulls Forward Luol Deng

Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng is a former South Sudanese refugee, and he was in his new nation to celebrate its freedom  and host it’s first-ever hoops clinic for the youth.  A day before the historical event, Deng joins a practice game with young members of the NBA Africa basketball camp in Juba.

He also had a sit-down interview with John Prendergast of the enough project. Deng talked about what this all meant to him in a video interview. Watch it and you’ll understand why Deng is so well respected by his peers around the league.

Luol Deng can be followed on twitter @LuolDeng9

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South Sudan celebrates independence as world’s newest nation

Southern Sudan became  the world’s newest country on July 9. After more than 20 years of civil war, followed by a half decade of uncertain peace, the new country is starting virtually from scratch. The challenges are many, but the level of optimism is high enough to match.

It is a dramatic shift in mentality from short-term survival to long-term planning. South Sudan faces some challenges; the first being  setting up the apparatus of the state: the security; the police; the military; and all that. The most important task a state is supposed to do is enforce and protect the rule of law. South Sudan needs to defend the peace and security of its citizens. With the exception of the Abyei and South Kordofan border areas, the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement put an end to wide-scale fighting between north and south. But cattle raiding and other crimes persist.

The lack of roads and other infrastructure compound the problem. The country has only about 4,000 kilometers of all-weather roads. Few crops and other goods make it to market centers.  Shortages of basic goods are also common.

Setting up diplomatic relationship with the world and the new administration that was never there will be a challenge. International donors provided aid to besieged communities during the civil war. Now the government is trying to break that dependency. South Sudan must address its revenue problem since the majority of the money will come from oil exports which are dependent on being shipped through the north.

Despite the challenges, there is a sense of optimism among many in Southern Sudan. That resilience is what the people of Southern Sudan will need in the coming months and years.

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President Obama Applauds “Successful” Southern Sudan Referendum

In Monday statement, Obama says U.S. to formally recognize sovereign state in July.

On behalf of the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Southern Sudan for a successful and inspiring referendum in which an overwhelmingly majority of voters chose independence.  I am therefore pleased to announce the intention of the United States to formally recognize Southern Sudan as a sovereign, independent state in July 2011.

After decades of conflict, the images of millions of southern Sudanese voters deciding their own future was an inspiration to the world and another step forward in Africa’s long journey toward justice and democracy.  Now, all parties have a responsibility to ensure that this historic moment of promise becomes a moment of lasting progress.  The Comprehensive Peace Agreement must be fully implemented and outstanding disputes must be resolved peacefully.  At the same time, there must be an end to attacks on civilians in Darfur and a definitive end to that conflict.

As I pledged in September when addressing Sudanese leaders, the United States will continue to support the aspirations of all Sudanese—north and south, east and west.  We will work with the governments of Sudan and Southern Sudan to ensure a smooth and peaceful transition to independence.  For those who meet all of their obligations, there is a path to greater prosperity and normal relations with the United States, including examining Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.  And while the road ahead will be difficult, those who seek a future of dignity and peace can be assured that they will have a steady partner and friend in the United States.

Here is a past article about the vote for independence and the worried outcomes from it.

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How will South Sudan vote for independence go? U.S. to remove Sudan from terror list ? Whats the future of Sudan ?

As South Sudan gets ready to vote for independence what does the future hold? Will the U.S lifts sanctions on Sudan if Khartoum compleys with the international community? That what seems to be likely happening recently based on news reports.  The United States has conditioned its willingness to accelerate the process of removing Sudan from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism provided that Sudan fully implements its obligations under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), including preparing and conducting a January 9, 2011, referendum in southern Sudan and respecting the referendum results.

According to senior Obama administration officials, Sudan’s compliance with its 2005 obligations will “move up our readiness to rescind the designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism as early as July 2011.”

The officials spoke to reporters via teleconference November 7 and asked not to be identified. They said U.S. Senator John Kerry, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reinforced the proposal on behalf of President Obama to Sudanese leaders in recent meetings he held in the region.

“This is a part of our ongoing commitment to do everything that we can to ensure that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is fully implemented, the referendum is carried out on time and is credible on January 9,” an official said.

Sudan has been listed as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1993 due to its links with international terrorist organizations. Terrorist leaders including Carlos the Jackal, Osama bin Laden and Abu Nidal resided in Khartoum during the 1980s and 1990s. The designation prohibits Sudan from buying or receiving U.S. armaments and from receiving any U.S. economic assistance, in addition to other restrictions.

Along with fully implementing the CPA, the senior officials said Sudan will also need to “live up to all of the legal conditions required under law” for it to be taken off the state sponsors list, such as “not support[ing] international terrorism for the preceding six months” and giving “assurances that they will not resume providing that kind of support to international terrorism.”

An official noted that the George W. Bush administration took similar actions to remove North Korea and Libya from the state sponsors list during its tenure.

Although the U.S. offer decouples Sudan’s terrorism designation from the humanitarian and political crisis in Darfur, a senior official noted that comprehensive sanctions enacted by the U.S. Congress in 2003 and 2004 will remain until the Darfur crisis is resolved.

“The U.S. government and the international community expect to see … no attacks on civilians, humanitarian access, no impeding of [the United Nations Mission in Darfur], and, obviously, we will continue to watch those steps very clearly,” the official said.

“There is no way of getting long-term debt relief without the resolution of Darfur, or final improvement of relations to exchange of ambassadors and that sort of thing without improvement in Darfur,” a second official said.

The Obama administration’s offer to Sudan reflects its commitment that “we have to do everything that we possibly can to see that the referenda [in southern Sudan and Abyei] … are held on time and that we do as much as we possibly can to ensure that the outcome is a peaceful one rather than a resumption of conflict,” an official said.

U.S. officials have heard through African leaders with high-level contacts in Khartoum that the U.S. offer “might be a step that would be useful in convincing the Sudanese to have an on-time referendum and one that is credible,” according to an official.

“It’s very clear the steps that the government of Sudan has to take to meet the criteria to be taken off the state sponsors of terrorism list, and it’s our hope that they take those steps,” the official said.

The U.S. is on record of supporting South Sudan’s independence if it votes in favor of it.  Recently last week U.S. Senator John Kerry, head of the Foreign Relations Committee in the U.S congress was in Sudan.

U.S. Sen. John Kerry said Friday Sudan’s northern government will win quick U.S. incentives if an independence referendum in the south goes smoothly, but further improvement of ties depends on progress toward peace in the separate conflict in Darfur.

Kerry, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, is in Sudan ahead of the critical referendum on independence for southern Sudan. The vote is a key element of a 2005 peace agreement that ended the 21-year civil war between the Arab-dominated north and the mainly Christian, animist south. Some 2 million people were killed in the conflict.

Kerry said he has seen a positive shift in the Khartoum government’s approach toward the Jan. 9 referendum, which is expected to see the oil-rich south split off from the north into an independent country.

U.S. Sen. John Kerry speaks to UNAMID peacekeepers Friday, Jan. 7, 2011 as he visits displaced persons in Shangil Tobayi village, where they were forced to flee to by recent clashes between government forces and rebel groups, in north Darfur, Sudan. Kerry says Khartoum will win quick U.S. incentives if an independence referendum in the south goes smoothly, but further improvement of ties depends on progress toward peace in the separate conflict in Darfur.

“They deserve credit for making the decision to follow through and deliver on the (peace agreement),” Kerry said. “I think there has been a constructive change there and we need to follow from there.”

But Kerry, on his fourth visit to Sudan, said resolving the war in the western Darfur region remains an important “matrix” in a U.S. incentives package to the Khartoum government.

He said if the referendum goes smoothly and the north accepts the results, Obama is prepared to “immediately” initiate the process to remove Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism, which Khartoum has been on since 1993. Kerry called the move a confidence building measure.

Relations between Sudan and the U.S. have soured since President Omar al-Bashir’s government came to power in 1989. The U.S. imposed economic, trade and financial sanctions against Sudan in 1997, and added new ones in 2007 because of the Darfur conflict. President Obama renewed the economic sanctions in a letter to Congress in November, a requirement by law every year.

Kerry said lifting economic sanctions would require progress toward a peace deal in Darfur.

“Darfur remains a very critical issue and center of our focus and I went there today to purposely link the future of Sudan to our ability to resolve what happens in Darfur,” he said.

Kerry visited Shangil Tobyai, a village in northern Darfur Friday, where thousands of newly displaced fled to from recently renewed violence. He said he hoped the referendum process and the international focus on Sudan will give impetus to a new push toward making peace in Darfur.

On a previous trip to Sudan in November, Kerry shared with the Khartoum government a letter from President Barack Obama laying out the way forward for a gradual improvement of relations with Washington. He revealed details publicly from the letter for the first time on Friday.

“This is an integrated process and as the president has laid out, Darfur is one of the elements of consideration but the (peace) agreements are very critical,” he said.

Outstanding issues following the southern referendum that still need to be resolved before the peace agreement expires in July this year include border disputes and citizenship rights as well as oil revenue sharing, he said.

“But you can move on one thing or another thing before you have everything completed,” he said. “There has to be a show of good faith on both sides. That requires us to do something when it is appropriate and it requires them to continue to do things.”

Darfur has been in turmoil since 2003, when ethnic African rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated government. U.N. officials say up to 300,000 people have died 2.7 million have been forced from their homes because of the conflict.

Fighting has subsided in much of Darfur, but there have been recent clashes between government troops and rebel forces. The uptick in violence comes as peace negotiations between rebel groups and the government in the tiny Gulf emirate of Qatar have stalled.

Kerry commended the Qataris on their role in Darfur peacemaking, but said he thinks the talks need to move to a more visible, larger stage. He said rebel groups should participate, not boycott the talks.

“We are looking for a serious process here and we are going do everything we can in order to advance this process,” he said.

The ball seems to be in President Bashir’s court. What actions he takes as of now and tomorrow will impact how foreign leaders, officials and government treat Sudan on the international stage. South Sudan might have the majority of the oil reserves, but the majority of infastructure to export that oil for revenue goes through northern east Sudan where Khartoum is in control.  If South Sudan is able to gain, get control of the oil reserves, manage to sell it on international markets without the help of Khartoum, that will be the end of President Bashir and Sudan as a country since it would no longer have an economic base of survival and stability.

The big concern has been the possibility of a return to war by north Sudan and south Sudan.  That shouldn’t be expected since both sides have an interest in not returning to war, especially the north. Both sides share an interest in oil revenue, so that will keep heads calm in the region since they both heavily rely on it.  It is in the best interest of both sides to develop a plan to both profit from the resources, the only problem might be leadership, especially if President Bashir is still in power.

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Ukraine sold arms to South Sudan according to Wikileaks

Latest release wiki-leak documents state that Ukraine sold arms to South Sudan.

The U.S. had satellite imagery that proved Ukraine lied about shipping arms to South Sudan, according to a U.S. State Department cable published Dec. 8 by WikiLeaks. Such sales to Sudan would violate international sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council because of the alleged genocide that has taken place during a protracted and bloody civil war.

The arms shipments were made in 2008, and included tanks and other weapons aboard the Faina, a ship that was hijacked by Somali pirates on Sept. 25, 2008, before later being released on Feb. 5, 2009,after a ransom was paid.

The account of meetings between Vann H. Van Diepen, a U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state, and senior Ukrainian officials in November 2009 also detail how American diplomats raised concerns that Ukraine:

– intended to sell missile systems to Saudi Arabia capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction;

– continued to exports parts, albeit in reduced quantities and not completed weapons, to the military dictatorship in Myanmar;

– was not intervening in the sale by Ukrainian entities of specialty metals for Iran’s ballistic missiles.

Ukraine’s export of arms hit the headlines when the Faina was captured by Somali pirates in September 2008 en route to Kenya.  According to the account of the meeting in the cable, Ukraine claimed the weapons on board this and an earlier shipment were destined for Kenya, but Van Diepen produced a copy of a contract that showed the arms were destined for South Sudan. The Ukrainian side “held to this line, questioned the authenticity of the contract, and asked if the U.S. had any better evidence,” whereupon Van Diepen “showed the Ukrainians cleared satellite imagery of T-72 tanks unloaded in Kenya, transferred to rail yards for onward shipment, and finally in South Sudan.”

“This led to a commotion on the Ukrainian side,” the author of the cable noted laconically. Ukrainian officials claimed they couldn’t be held responsible for the actions of Kenya.

Arms exports to the war-torn country are carefully watched, and under embargo to the Darfur region. South Sudan was granted a degree of autonomy from Sudan in 2005.

U.N. officials told the Associated Press in 2008 that there was no blanket arms embargo on Sudan’s government, but any movement of military equipment and supplies into the Darfur region would violate a U.N. arms embargo if it were not first requested by the government and approved by the UN Security Council’s Sudan sanctions committee.

Van Diepen reminded the Ukrainians that Sudan was on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terror and rebuked the Ukrainian side for lying. He added that the U.S. “would have to consider whether to impose sanctions for the tank transfer, and that a factor in U.S. deliberations would be whether the [government of Ukraine] was being truthful.”

Someone turned a blind eye to this. How can something like this not be known? As we see, neither the former PM or the president of Ukraine at that time called for an investigation into the allegations. On the other hand, this arms build up is rational given the whelming military build up by the government in khartoum headed by President Bashir.

Here is news report about South Sudan’s arms build up leading to the vote on independence.

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