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South Sudan dalliance with Arab League puzzling

Gordon Odhiambo

Debate is rife on recent talks between the South Sudan and Egyptian governments over the possibility of the former joining the Arab League.

So what is in the Arab League that President Salvar Kiir wants to lead his country into or why the change of heart about the Arab world that there seems to be a dalliance with now that never was even before independence since South Sudan was administered as separate provinces of the condominium by Anglo-Egyptian?

Juba has, however, denied the claims that it wants to be a member of the league, saying it only seeks an observer status.

“They made a presentation that they want South Sudan to be a member of the Arab league. It is not us who asked for it but they are the ones who are saying you are part of the Arab world and that’s why we are requesting that you join us,’’ South Sudan Minister for Information Michael Makuei Lueth said in reference to Egypt, which is currently holding the position of the League’s Secretary General through Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

From Lueth’s words, there is no indication of or rather a mention of the “observer’’ status hence when Arab League made the request, they new exactly what they wanted.

More reason why the news of Juba joining Arab League broke in Cairo’s Middle East News Agency (Mena) and not in Juba just hours after Egypt Minister for Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry left Juba where he delivered a letter from President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to President Kiir.

Abyei is a disputed district between Sudan and South Sudan, it has also the richest oil wells. Being an ‘’observer’’ in the Arab League could give South Sudan an impetus in the oil trade. However Kiir risks losing Abyei to Sudan under the new-found friendship.

But if he loses Abyei, he loses South Sudan. Though South Sudan will not be the first ‘’observer’’ in the Arab league – Brazil, Venezuela, Eritrea, India and Armenia – are also observers – the geographical location of South Sudan and their new found friendship with the Arab League will be a concern to Israel.

This is the reason why Israel established its biggest base in Eritrea. Forget about Venezuela and other observers, their geographical location isn’t a factor. Sudanese President Omar El Bashir is probably the only strongman within Magreb countries and remains as such as far as Arab politics is concerned in Africa.

South Sudan could be dancing all the way into abyss. As the possible sixth ‘’observer’’ member, South Sudan will have expanded its market to 1 billion people. Where is East Africa Community in all this?

Has Kiir forgotten the efforts of EAC members, and Kenya in particular, to snatch them from the jaws of Bashir? Well, they say nothing lasts forever. One has only to put his mouth where his money is.

As long as the new founded friendship between Juba and Arab world is for the benefit of the common man, then good move but who knows? Can Arab League help resolve the South Sudan crisis? Has the league ever managed to solve conflicts in the Arab war-torn countries?

Is the Arab league concerned in anyway about the ongoing destruction in Somalia? Have they ever sent troops in the spirit of brotherhood? So what gain is South Sudan up to in her new dalliance with former fierce foes?

Is Kiir going to ignore the protests that have been held in Juba since the new relationship was founded? South Sudan must make a choice.

A choice to build new alliances that benefits her people. Any move to be an observer, member in the Arab League or to decline both shall have its ramifications on her relationship with other states. Either way, the Juba regime must be in a conflict with itself and its next move. Every decision counts, every move watched and every utterance archived. —The writer is a reporter with K24

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