The disappointing outcome of the final round of South Sudan peace talks is not a surprise to the people of South Sudan as they were expecting “no deal” or at best a bad peace. With the failure of IGAD mediation, the real question is what to be done to encourage parties to continue pursuing the option of peace instead of war. It is apparent now that war is the only option available to the warring parties. With dry season and apparent military preparation of the warring parties for the dry season, one expects escalation of fighting, particularly around the oilfields areas of Upper Nile and Unity States. There will be more human suffering, displacement and increased food insecure population or even famine if humanitarian access is restricted.
Besides this increased human suffering, the targeted sanctions of UN on individuals obstructing peace will now be enforced. Although these sanctions will target individuals, they will indirectly affect the people of South Sudan if individuals affected hold key positions in the government. However, experience from previous sanctions imposed by UN or USA shows the difficulties in implementing them and in most cases they tend to harm more the normal citizens. A Sudanese diplomat once told me that although Sudan downplayed US sanctions because of its reliance on support from Arab Countries and Islamic countries, yet these sanctions are now biting and may continue to affect Sudan even after such sanctions are lifted. As a land-locked country with bad neighbours, these sanctions of UN are likely to bite now than later, particularly as they target individuals.
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This op-ed was first published in Sudan Tribune on 8 March 2015.