Africa Center Nonresident Senior Fellow Gerard Prunier writes for Open Democracy on South Sudan’s civil war:
On 15 December 2013, South Sudan, the planet’s newest state, born in July 2011 out of a nineteen-year war of independence against its Khartoum-ruled quasi-colonial metropolis, exploded into renewed civil war. July 2011 had been a moment of unabated rejoicing and celebration, seen as the final end of many years of suffering – no wonder, for even that later conflict had been a second bout of fighting after a first, seventeen-year war. Two years and five months on, all this hope and celebration collapsed into massive bloodshed.
There was, apparently no rational cause. The “explanations” given for that sudden outburst of violence tended to be simplified and reductionist: it was described either as a “tribal war” between the majority Dinka tribe and the second-largest South Sudan tribe, the Nuer. Or, even worse, as a kind of savage fight between two rival warlords, the new country’s Dinka president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, and his Nuer former vice-president, Riak Machar Teny Dhurgon – who were seen as motivated by “kleptocratic interests”.
Underlying these already ugly assessments was another unspoken but ever-present “analysis”, contemptuously thrown in by Khartoum’s Arab leadership and more discreetly hinted at in London, Brussels and Washington: these people are uneducated savages who are incapable of governing themselves.