Since the start of this blog in 2006 both Montenegro and Kosovo have become independent. Now it is the Republic of South Sudan's turn. At 12:01 am, July 9th local time (9:01 UTM, July 8th) the new republic came into being from Sudan, a country which it fought a brutal 22 year civil war with. This is the first map change in Africa since Zaire renamed itself back to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1997. It is also the first sovereignty change in Africa since Walvis Bay was transferred in 1994 from South Africa to Namibia.
Now the new country faces many challenges. Already it has had several micro-civil wars between various tribes and military leaders. United Nations peacekeepers planned to be rushed in to keep order but they face many challenges including a returning refugee crisis, poor internal controls, and no one quite knowing the final borders of South Sudan.
The last problem has manifested itself in the form of a shooting war. The Abyei region, jointly administered by Sudan and the southern regional government, was due to have a referendum on whether it would join South Sudan. The Sudanese government, however, dissolved the joint administration and cancelled the vote. The state of South Kordofan, which Abyei is a part of, attempted to unilaterally join South Sudan. This has started a war which the south stayed neutral in and even agreed not to take South Kordofan.
While I have been wrong before on geopolitical predictions I estimate within two years a moderate-to-serious civil war will occur in South Sudan.
South Sudan: Truly a sub-Saharan African Country
The Republic of South Sudan has truly seceded from Sudan. The Republic of Sudan models itself as an Arab, Islamic state in Northern (Arab-culture) Africa. South Sudan is ethnically black African, it's flag use sub-Saharan (non-Arab) colors and style, and the flag even has the Star of Bethlehem on it representing its Christian nature as a unifying factor.
Where on the Map
|Your maps are out of date. Map from The Economist.|
Currently Google Maps, Bing Maps, and Yahoo Maps do not have South Sudan on the map. I will report as soon as possible when the first one of these big three update their maps. (Update: OpenStreetMap beat everyone)
South Sudan will most probably have an easy time being recognized by all countries. Sudan itself is willingly giving it away and all five members of the United Nations Security Council have stated they will recognize South Sudan. This is greatly different from Kosovo, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. All these unilaterally declared independence without the consent of the losing country. Many other countries are worried about making a prescient for other want-to-be breakaway states.
What's in a Name?
Several names were debated for the new republic. Names like Kush recalled Biblical geography while others like Nileland were geographically based. Much like West Virginia, however, the name of South Sudan was chosen for simplicity sake.