World View: Sudan Border Clashes Affect Israel's and China's Interests

World View: Sudan Border Clashes Affect Israel's and China's Interests

This morning’s key headlines from

  • The world in the eye of the hurricane
  • Sudan / South Sudan border clashes threaten oil production
  • China loses big in the Sudan / South Sudan conflict
  • Egypt eyes close ties between South Sudan and Israel with suspicion
  • West German mayors balk at further aid to East Germany

The world in the eye of the hurricane

All major world crises appear to be in a lull right now, including the euro crisis, the Mideast crisis, and the South China Sea crisis. The world is relatively calm, as if it were in the eye of a hurricane. However, its worth noting that in the last three days we’ve covered major stories on Africa — “European Union escalates its war against Somalia pirates” on Monday and “Chaotic rebellion in Mali provides opportunity for an al-Qaeda linked Islamist state” on Sunday. Today’s focus is on Sudan and South Sudan, a region that’s particularly important to Israel and China, as well as the rest of the world. I often like to point out the size of Africa, since some people think that Africa is about the size of Texas. But Africa is just a little bit bigger than Texas. In fact, Africa is bigger than the ENTIRE United States INCLUDING Alaska PLUS all of China PLUS all of Europe — and there’s still enough room left over to throw in New Zealand. So with the world in the eye of the hurricane, it’s worth keeping an eye on a large region where it’s not so calm.

Sudan / South Sudan border clashes threaten oil production

South Sudan became an independent nation in July of last year, with much jubilation in South Sudan and much anger in Sudan, the country from which South Sudan was seceding. The two countries are in a generational Recovery era following a bloody civil war that ended with a peace agreement in 2005. There’s no chance of a renewal of the civil war during a Recovery era, but there are plenty of clashes along the disputed border between the two countries, particularly over the revenue from oil production. Most of the oil is in South Sudan, but the pipelines are controlled by the north, and so there are continuing disputes over money. South Sudan shut down oil production in late January after accusing its northern neighbor of stealing $815 million of its oil. Sudan said it confiscated the crude to make up for unpaid fees to use the pipeline and processing facilities in its territory. The border disputes and clashes make it unlikely that agreements will be reached any time soon. CNN and U.S. Energy Information Administration

China loses big in the Sudan / South Sudan conflict

China, which is sucking up every drop of oil in the world that it can get, moved quickly last year to establish relations with the new nation of South Sudan to protect its oil interests. China has huge investments in both countries. The oil from both Sudans represents at least 5% of China’s global crude imports. China has always had rock solid relations with Sudan, but South Sudan is threatening to cut off China and turn to Western oil companies unless China is willing to help in the dispute with the north. Tensions reached a head last month, when Sudan allegedly bombed an oil field at El Nar in South Sudan, nine miles from the jagged, contested border between the two countries . This sent the Chinese and other foreign workers maintaining the oil wells scrambling for their lives. According to one observer, Sudan is sending a message. “It’s a message to all foreigners: You deal with us, not the other side.” Washington Post

Egypt eyes close ties between South Sudan and Israel with suspicion

After a recent visit of the South Sudanese president Salva Kiir to Israel and a meeting with Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, South Sudan said it will establish an embassy in Jerusalem rather than Tel Aviv, thus supporting Israel’s claims to Jerusalem. In return, Israel will invest in South Sudan. A particularly touchy issue is the fate of some 2,000-3,000 Sudanese refugees in Israel, formerly living in the southern part of Sudan when full-scale war was going on. Since South Sudan is now an independent state, Israel has announced that they are no longer considered refugees, and they will be deported back to South Sudan. However, Israel has softened its position, and will allow some of the former refugees to remain in Israel. In addition, Israel will provide training for those being deported back. South Sudan’s relations with Israel are frequently viewed with intense suspicion in the Egyptian press, cafés and bars — though because of water, not oil. Egypt views the Nile’s water sources, one of which flows through South Sudan–the White Nile, as a matter of national security, and they fear that in case of a conflict, the Israelis and South Sudanese will (somehow) cut off the water flow to Egypt. Bikya Masr (Cairo)

West German mayors balk at further aid to East Germany

When East Germany was reunited with West Germany in 1991, it was an economy basket case after four decades of Communist rule. The Germans adopted a “Solidarity Pact,” which obliged Western municipalities to provide funds for aid and infrastructure to East German cities. Now, 20 years later, the east and west have reversed situations. The cities of the former East Germany are doing well, with task the of building up the eastern economy and infrastructure largely completed: modern motorways, brand new shopping malls and painstakingly refurbished town centers. By contrast, many western towns are falling apart from neglect, with closed swimming pools, potholed streets, and run-down buildings. Now the western mayors are finally balking at providing any more aid to eastern cities, setting the stage for a bitter political battle in the upcoming elections. Spiegel