by Staff Reporter
May 28, 2013 (TSR) – Sudanese President Omar al- Bashir threatened with a final warning to cut South Sudan’s oil exports for the international market through Sudan’s pipelines if South Sudan continued supporting the rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in South Kordofan, Sudan.
Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) rebels fighting in war-torn South Kordofan and Blue Nile states — former comrades of the South who fought together in Sudan’s 1983-2005 civil war — as well as in Darfur.
Al- Bashir adressed a crowd gathered on Monday in Khartoum following the liberation of Abu Karshula in South Kordofan from the rebels of the Revolutionary Front saying “If there is any support from South Sudan to the rebels in Darfur, South Kordofan or Blue Nile, we will close the pipelines forever.”
Bashir is referring to the pipeline that carries oil from South Sudan to ports on Sudan’s Red Sea coast. South Sudan only restarted oil production in April to end a shutdown of more than a year following bitter arguments with Khartoum.
Referring to to the agreements between the two countries Al- Bashir said those agreements did not only contain oil exportation but also not supporting the rebels of the Revolutionary Front which is fighting the government in Sudan’s South Kordofan State.
“Any violation against any part of these agreements will cancel them all,” said al-Bashir.
Juba denies that it supports the rebels but Khartoum’s renewed accusations threaten to derail a series of key deals to normalise relations between the former civil war foes.
“We agreed that there is a new environment of dialogue… we don’t want to go back to square one,” South Sudan’s Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin said, criticising Bashir for his public threats.
“There are channels to discuss this, we don’t think that you should go on a public forum and say all these things.”
Both Juba and the SPLM-N have repeatedly said the rebels are not supported by or operate in South Sudan, despite Sudan’s regular accusations.
Earlier this month Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti met with president Salva Kiir in Juba telling him that they have evidences that some circles in his government continue to support the rebels.
He further transmitted a demand from Bashir asking to allow the Sudanese troops to chase them inside the South Sudanese territory and to close some business offices in Juba allegedly importing military logistics for the rebel groups.
But president Kiir announced that he had rejected these requests as the deployment of joint patrols with the cooperation of a UN force permits to monitor the common border according to local reports.
South Sudan split from Sudan in July 2011, following an overwhelming referendum vote for independence under a peace deal that ended a two decades long civil war.
The new country separated with roughly 75 percent of the 470,000 barrels per day of crude produced by the formerly unified nation, but all refineries and export pipelines are in Sudan.
Clashes along the border broke out in early 2012, but in March this year the deals were finally settled to resume the oil flows and implement a series of pacts to normalise relations.
Sudan and South Sudan have recently agreed to resume exportation of South Sudan’s oil through Sudan’s pipelines as part of the implementation of a cooperation agreements signed in Ethiopia in 2012. But the deals had lain dormant as Khartoum pushed for guarantees that South Sudan would not back rebels in Sudan.
Oil is key to the impoverished economies of both nations. Theoretically both countries need each other; however the two nations are locked in dangerous game of brinkmanship.
Both Sudan and South Sudan rely heavily on oil revenues to finance their economies. 75 % of the oil lies in the South. However the pipelines, refineries, and port for shipment are in the North. In January 2012, the dispute over oil reached a crisis point when South Sudan halted oil production, after accusing Sudan of stealing its shipments. Sudan started to confiscate shipments, claiming that the shipments would make up for unpaid transit fees. Sudan demanded transit fees far exceed its actual costs.
Observers agree that mistrust will continue to prevail between the two countries unless the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile is peacefully settled.