South Sudan: A Diplomatic Fiasco
By James Pui Yak Yiel,
April 5, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — Foreign policy is the process of setting goals, making decisions and taking of actions by the country government in its interactions with other countries in order to further national interests in the international arena while putting into account domestic political influences and external factors considerations.
In analyzing foreign policy process there are three factors that account for the variations in process and these are differences among domestic political systems, situations at hands and the issues being decided. Inasmuch as , decision makers adopts various models when taking foreign policy decisions the most widely used model is what is called the rational model where leaders uses their rational cognitive thinking to arrived at decisions. In this model decision makers set goals, evaluate their relative importance, calculate the costs and benefits of each course of action, then choose the one with high benefits and low costs.
Following south Sudan independence as the world youngest nation in 2011, it was hoped that the leadership of this nascent country will learn from the past mistakes of other countries in the regional surrounding of Africa if not all the countries of the world and eventually chose a path that will bring more stability, economic growth and possibly developmental progress and prosperity. However, due to the combine elements of poor leadership qualities, wrong foreign policy choices and uninformed political decision making process the country slipped into yet another man made crisis that haunted the people of south Sudan even after the post independence period.
Government wrong foreign policy choices:
The government of south Sudan was bound to disengage with the SPLM north following the secession of the south from the rest of Sudan but this never happened instead it continue to harbor these Sudanese rebel groups including elements from the Darfur rebels especially the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) culminating into the Sudan – south Sudan war of April 2012 five months after the country independence. Today these Sudanese rebel groups are still supplied with weapons and other military hardware by the government of the republic of south Sudan while at the same time operating from inside the territory of south Sudan where they make incursions into the Sudanese territory in their fight against the government of the republic of Sudan.
The government in Juba established friendly relations with the republic of Uganda that supplied by proxy weapons and other military logistics to the Sudanese rebel factions and a known regional destabilizing hegemon believed to have engendered multiple regional conflicts such as the Congo DRC and Rwandan conflicts among others. The Ugandan government under President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is known to have soar relations with most of African countries in the region and especially with Sudan and Congo DRC as the former tries to impose himself as a regional leader.
The government of south Sudan established relations with the Chinese authorities with the purpose of soliciting financial assistance as well as to be supply by the Chinese with weapons as the country is heading toward downward spiral of economic collapse and an endless internal conflict. They also established relations with the Russian federation and went as far as extending an invitation to President Vladimir Putin of Russia to visit Juba but this Invitation was later turned down and had never materialized. These moves by the government of south Sudan ultimately compromised their relations with the west especially its bilateral relations with the United States who were the main architects of the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA), the backers of independence of south Sudan and the main development partners since 2005.
In September 2012, the two presidents of the Republics of Sudan and south Sudan signed the twelve cooperation pacts which were anticipated to usher in a period of détente following a sever relations that had characterized the two states following the country split. However, these agreements were short live and could not change the status quo as south Sudan government suddenly invited Uganda–a bitter enemy of the republic of Sudan to bring into south Sudan its military known as Ugandan Defense Force UPDF to protect the country leadership from losing power in the aftermath of the war that had flared up in the country capital Juba in late 2013. Moreover, south Sudan government invited the Sudanese rebel movements to fight alongside its forces in its war with the SPLA/M IO promising them with a lot of cash and other war dividends as well as supplying them with military logistics that would enable them fight the government in Khartoum.
Finally, faced with a looming economic sanctions and arm embargo and following the dismissal of its version of events of an attempted coup as the main cause of the current conflict, the regime in Juba is falling out with the countries of the region and even beyond as far as the western hemisphere citing neglect by these countries who according to them should support them during their difficult times. Today the regime is at a collision course with troika countries ie (United States, United Kingdom and Norway) the so called friends of IGAD and rumors had it that the regime went as far as planning to sever relations with those countries.
The correct foreign policy decisions that would have been taken:
If the government of south Sudan were to apply the rational model in making their decisions by weighing the benefits and costs of each decision, they would have not opted for Uganda relationship instead of Sudan where south Sudanese much of the economic survival depends at least for the time being. The money that the government in Juba obtains from the oil trade flowing through the Sudanese territory which accounts to 98% of the country GDP cannot be found from Uganda rather it is the republic of Uganda which is the main beneficiary in its bilateral relations with the republic of south Sudan.
On the other hand, to harbor the Sudanese rebels inside south Sudan territory and supply them with weapons to fight the government of Sudan that have just help the south become independence and which is the main economic life line for the south Sudanese people due to the pipeline that currently transport the country oil is a decision that diplomatically makes no sense at all. If you weigh the benefits of the military assistance obtain from Uganda with the economic interest from Sudan you will undoubtedly go for the economic interest because right now the oil is the backbone of the country economy while the military assistance from Ugandan siphon these money out of the country.
Lastly, the relationships of south Sudan with the Chinese and Russians at the expense of the west does not give any incentive to the south. After all the Chinese are just interested in oil investment where their giant oil corporations benefits from the oil sector investment in south Sudan not to mention the Russians who seem to be so distance from Africa in general leave alone south Sudan. The Russians have no trade link nor any other interest be it political, economic, cultural or otherwise with south Sudan, and therefore to dump the west that had propped up this nation from its cradle is not only a decision detrimental to the national interest of the south Sudanese people, but it also justifies complete ignorance from part of the regime with the diplomatic realities of this volatile world.
Judging from the actions taken by the government of the republic of south Sudan in its dealing with foreign policy issues, you would clearly understand that these decisions were taken without following sound diplomatic procedures and ultimately leading to decisions that were not well informed. Obviously, to risk a diplomatic war with the west, the south Sudanese government is absolutely playing with fire that they will not be able to extinguish once its gather momentum. According to the realists’ school of thought, the notion of self help where “might makes right” is still very much at play in the international politics so long as states wield enormous power. While cooperation between states sometimes exists, yet states have various diplomatic cards at their disposal which they can use as a remedy depending on the diplomatic situation at hand. It is therefore imperative that South Sudan government adjust its diplomatic standing among the community of nations; otherwise it will be branded as antagonists that do not follow the standard norms by refusing to play by the diplomatic rules of the game.
You can reached me at PuiYak@outlook.com