Last Thursday, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir signed a series of agreements addressing issues that have at times this year brought the two countries to the brink of war.

The agreements are the culmination of months of talks and a one-day presidential summit that turned into four. The current deal allows for oil production to resume, creates a demilitarized zone along the border and opens the border up to trade. However, despite progress made by both sides, this is far from the comprehensive peace agreement that is needed. 

There is no doubt that this deal is significant. An agreement on security issues, specifically the demilitarized zone, was a prerequisite for the signing of the provisional oil agreement reached in August. A resumption of oil production in South Sudan, shutdown since January as a result of a dispute over oil fees, is vital to the economic survival of both countries.

While resumption of any substantial levels of oil production can be expected to take months to a year, the effects of the deal on the price of food and basic necessities in Sudan and South Sudan where the shutdown has caused hyperinflation should be apparent quickly.

In the past, Sudan and South Sudan have signed any number of agreements that failed to be implemented and while much can happen to derail the process in the months it will take to restart production, it is a step back from the brink of conflict between the two countries. Once resumed, the international pressure to keep the oil pumping should prevent both sides from threatening to turn off the spigots.

Nevertheless, this is not yet the dawn of a new day in Sudan/South Sudan relations. In a recent post we drew attention to the fact that any deal that fails to address the situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile will be hollow and fragile.

The deal not only failed to address the humanitarian crisis but it failed to achieve consensus on border demarcation or ownership of the contested Abyei region. In fact, as the deal was being signed in Addis Ababa, Sudan was bombing South Kordofan state. With such violence continuing and critical issues still left unresolved, last week’s deal shows limited progress that is motivated by economic self-interest.

Gathering of residents in Western Darfur (Sarah Hunter/UN Photo)

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  • Sharon Silber

    I think that this deal is not only negligent in its lack of attention to ongoing genocide in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur but it actually provides funds to the government of Northern Sudan, the regime headed by Omar Bashir which has dedicated itself to the persecution of “non-Arab” people in Sudan. In so doing we actually are facilitating the transfer of funds which will prop up an illegitimate regime and which are extrememly likely to be used in ethnic cleansing operations (70% of Sudan government funds are spent on military operations). By striking this deal, the US is helping Sudan to attack civilians, including women and children, to persecute minorities and human rights defenders, and to use hunger as a weapon of war,

  • Laura Avant

    Thank you for the news. The networks and even Current TV don’t seem inclined to let us know what our money and power are doing to the world. So now we are reduced to hoping that economic incentives will help stop genocide. What a pity that human rights aren’t even discussed in all this time and that this agreement may indeed be hollow and shallow.

  • Reggie Shofet

    Human Rights…oil,oil,oil…go figure.To those who are in power;what is more important ?
    We have to pay attention now ,to the people and organizations who are now showing
    interest in the Sudan.The country needs much more than the U.N.,but peace between
    the North and South of Sudan.China has a pipe-line there and what’s next ?W.A.R.

  • Ashley

    Thank you soo much! I have been keeping an eye on Sudan/ Darfur since really freshman year of high school ( that was 5 years ago). This news, however not completely what we are wanting and if this deal does hold up, it is definitely a start. The people of Sudan and South Sudan are in my prayers every day.

  • Carl Jakobsson

    This is another illustration of the importance of working in coordination with allies who share an interest in a democratic, humane outcome in both Sudan and South Sudan. That means working in coordination with the elected governments in the African Union. If you combine the economic strength and electronic intelligence capabilities of the USA with the human intelligence of people who have been going to meetings for years with representatives of both sides of the argument, then you you can proceed toward a solution with minimum possibility of making the wrong mistake. In considering the meaning of the term “wrong mistake,” this is what it means: There are some mistakes that cause you to step in a hole and twist your ankle. The wrong mistake is the mistake that causes you to step over the edge of a 100 foot cliff. By working with our friends in the African Union, we will still occasionally step in holes, but we can avoid going over the cliff.

  • MLOK in Iowa City

    Any agreement is better than none but I will keep praying & acting for peace!

  • Brianna

    Its great that they came to some agreement about oil. But what about the genocide that has taken 2 million lives and counting… Will they ever address that?