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Case Analysis 15 October, 2012

The Addis Protocol: Resolution or Stop-gap?


The Unit for Political Studies

The Unit for Political Studies is the Center’s department dedicated to the study of the region’s most pressing current affairs. An integral and vital part of the ACRPS’ activities, it offers academically rigorous analysis on issues that are relevant and useful to the public, academics and policy-makers of the Arab region and beyond. The Unit for Policy Studies draws on the collaborative efforts of a number of scholars based within and outside the ACRPS. It produces three of the Center’s publication series: Situation Assessment, Policy Analysis, and Case Analysis reports. 

Delegations from both the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan, led by the presidents of the two countries, Field Marshal Omar Hassan al-Bashir and General Salva Kiir Mayardit, respectively, signed a host of agreements in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on September 27, 2012. These agreements formed part of a wider protocol aimed at addressing unresolved issues that afflict relations between the two countries. The agreements were extensively covered on satellite TV stations and in newspapers, both of which carried interviews with a number of specialists and experts on the matter. While wide sections of the public in the Republic of Sudan - including the political opposition - welcomed the agreements, a number of commentators expressed caution over the future of this multi-faceted protocol. As those commentators pointed out, the two most pressing threats to peace between the two neighboring countries - the question of the Abyei region and the ongoing war in the states Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile - are not covered by the agreements. Further reports also indicate that the public opinion regarding the agreements in South Sudan demonstrates a mixture of suspicion and apathy.

Following the secession of South Sudan, the Khartoum government in the North continued to accuse the newly-formed government of South Sudan in Juba of abetting the splinter of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army in the North, claiming that the South was providing rebels in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan with weapons and logistical support. Both of the states in question share a border with South Sudan, and the government in Khartoum has repeatedly stated that it would not sign a permanent agreement with the government in Juba before reaching a final solution to the security question, of which the war raging in Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile is a focal point.

Previously, President al-Bashir of Sudan had annulled an agreement, at the time known as the "Four Freedoms Agreement", signed by his advisor Nafe Ali Nafe. By accepting this new multi-faceted protocol, it seems that the Sudanese government has caved in to a variety of pressures and backtracked on the declared positions of the Four Freedoms Agreement despite the fact that the multi-faceted Addis Ababa Protocol does not explicitly include provisions for the major security situation that threatens peace and stability between the two countries.

Implications of the Closure of the Oil Pipeline

Following a disagreement between Sudan and South Sudan over the pipeline transportation fees for oil transiting from Southern Sudan to an oil exporting port on the Red Sea, in addition to Khartoum's decision to extract South Sudanese oil as transit fees, South Sudan's authorities halted all oil exports via the Northern pipeline. This step angered the Bashir government which retaliated by forbidding the transit of all South Sudanese oil through its territory, thus forcing the Juba government to find another route for its oil exports. In so doing, both countries were thrown into a severe economic crisis.

Financially, oil exports are the main source of hard currency for the Republic of South Sudan, and with its secession, the North lost two-thirds of its foreign currency revenue. With most of Sudan's oil reserves being located in the newly formed state of South Sudan, officials in the North were driven to another source of revenue (i.e., imposing high transport fees on South Sudanese oil crossing their territory). Exploiting South Sudan's dependence on their pipelines, the Khartoum government also closed the borders between the two states. When doing this, they knew that the people of South Sudan, especially those living in the densely populated states along the border between the two countries, would be cut off from the necessary goods they rely on, which primarily come from the North.  Through these measures, the two countries entered a stand-off of sorts to determine which could withstand economic strangulation the longest, trying to see who would blink first.

The value of the Sudanese Pound plummeted against the US Dollar, with more than half of its value being wiped out within the space of a few months. The rate of inflation in the Republic of Sudan increased sharply at this point, climbing to about 40 percent, with the citizens facing an unprecedented increase in prices. This drastic change in livelihoods quickly bred protests in many neighborhoods in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, as well as a number of regional cities throughout July and August. These protests served to frighten the Khartoum authorities into finding an immediate solution to their problem.

South Sudan also witnessed massive consumer price inflation, with the price of one gallon of car petrol reaching unimaginable heights due to the transportation costs and scarcity that had resulted from the closure of trade lines with the North. South Sudan began to feel the gravity of their hastily taken actions in stopping the flow of oil through the North. By undertaking a surprise military maneuver in April 2012, and occupying the Hegelig oilfield, which lies within the territory of the Republic of Sudan, South Sudan placed the North in the same boat. The move also unleashed a popular uproar in Sudan, as well as among the broader Arab community. South Sudan's government was also taken by surprise by the regional and broader international condemnations of the move, including condemnations by some of its Western allies.

Economic Constraints Lead to a Clouding of Strategic Vision

When reflecting on the necessary negotiations, many observers cite two reasons that compelled the two sides to join in. The first of these is the suffocating economic crisis, born of hastily executed resolutions, and the second is the diplomatic pressure applied by the African Union and the UN Security Council, with the UN declaring the need for an agreement within a limited timeframe in its UNSC Resolution 2046. With its almost absent infrastructure and extremely weak economy, the young state of South Sudan had placed its Western allies in an uncomfortable situation by choosing to leave itself stranded with no economic resources.

An indication of the level of Western concern for the economic constraints in both countries, particularly for those affecting South Sudan, comes in form of a joint statement issued by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Eide, and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, who together make up the troika known as the unofficial guarantors of the Naivasha agreement. In the words of the joint statement: "As the Presidents of Sudan and South Sudan prepare for the September 23 Presidential Summit in Addis Ababa, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Norway call on both governments to urgently reach final agreement on all outstanding issues, as required by the African Union Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) Roadmap and United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2046 (2012)."[1] The statement concludes by stating: "[The] [f]inal resolution of the outstanding issues and an end to conflict in the Two Areas will allow Sudan and South Sudan to consolidate the peace achieved by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. It will allow both governments to focus on the economic, developmental, social, and security needs of their people. Now is the time to demonstrate courage, vision and to deliver peace, security, and prosperity for the people of Sudan and South Sudan."

They took this stance despite the fact that the Addis Protocol did not address any of the main security concerns, such as the situation in Abyei and the ongoing war in South Kordofan and in the south of the Blue Nile. In an orchestrated media campaign, the Khartoum government celebrated the agreement and broadcast congratulatory letters that they say were sent by Sudanese citizens. All in all, one can conclude that the suffocating economic constraints, as well as the consequent deterioration of the general situation, ensures that the rulers of the Republic of Sudan and the majority of its people want only to get out of the current economic pitfalls, even if such an exit is temporary.

An Economic Agreement with No Prospects

The agreement between the two sides undid the noose of the economic crisis around South Sudan's neck, though it was a noose it had tied upon itself. Naturally, resuming the transport of South Sudan's oil through the Republic of Sudan, after reaching an agreement on the transit fees at a rate much lower than what the Republic of Sudan had initially demanded, in addition to the resumption of cross-border trade between the two states, serves to give the Khartoum government economic breathing space. However, this reprieve will remain limited and temporary as the agreement only has a lifetime of 42 months.

In the event that the Juba government manages to construct another pipeline to carry its oil, the government of the Republic of Sudan would find itself in the same economic crisis. Should the conflicts in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states continue at their current pace, any temporary economic easing may not carry any benefits, especially since Sudan's debt - valued at US$ 40 billion - has yet to be remitted. The real guarantee against future threats would be an agreement with the Alliance of the Revolutionary Front, which includes the armed forces operating in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur.  The Khartoum government holds the key to such a solution, but refuses to act on it. The most eloquent proof of this refusal comes from the statement by Yasser Arman, Secretary General of the People's Movement-North Sector, who welcomed the accord that normalized relations between the neighboring countries. At the same time, however, Arman said that preserving the stability of demilitarized zone declared by the agreement would require the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North Sector to take control over 40 percent of the border between the two countries. This group, however, is not a party to the agreement.

The Triumph of Immediate Concerns and the Absence of a Strategy

The Sudanese National Congress government's exclusion of other, competing political forces, as well as their methodical isolation of enlightened political actors, has only served to exacerbate the Sudanese crisis. Other factors adding to increased tensions is their silencing of critical voices by constricting the press and journalists, and their adoption of partial, unilateral agreements since the Naivasha Agreement, which led to the secession of the Republic of South Sudan. Noticeably, the remnants of Sudan continue to be prone to disintegration, and, as a result of a series of grave errors, the Khartoum government is no longer able to adopt a strategic vision. Their options are limited to temporary escapes through buying time, no matter how brief the time period. Politically, South Sudan is equally fragmented and incapable of implementing a long-term strategic vision in which the interests of the mother country from which it split would represent an important part.

South Sudan's young government made a grievous misstep by depriving the North of its newfound wealth while showing no concern for what the people of the Republic of Sudan would suffer as a result. The reality of the situation and the interconnections between the two states suggests that the South will never be stable without stability in the North. Nothing prevents Juba's government from constructing another pipeline for the transportation of its oil in the next three and a half years, though such a move would not achieve the stability it so desires. It appears, then, that the national programs adopted by both countries, which would rely on co-dependence between them, are no longer controlled by the two governments. The mistakes made, and repeated foreign pressure and intervention, have done away with the two governments' rationality and poise. 



[1] A full text can be found here: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/09/198054.htm.