05 October 2016

Demonising Salva Kiir and the China Factor in South Sudan

At one time Salva Kiir was a hero in US foreign policy circles. He was the face of the South Sudan project, a long US-backed effort to wrest the southern portions of Sudan and its oil away from the control of Khartoum in the north. The new nation's genesis was a blow both to the Khartoum regime, a regional nemesis of Washington's interests and Beijing which had been heavily invested in the Sudanese oil sector.
The creation of a new state with its capital in Juba was a diplomatic and geostrategic success, a double victory that achieved both regional and global aims.

But then things began to fall apart. The Chinese were not content to just sit by and let this source of oil and investment slip away. Trouble began to brew and Kiir began to work with the Chinese. The whole project was in danger.
Civil War broke out. Some blamed it on tribal factions and internal politics. There was trouble with the Khartoum regime and the particularities of how the oil was to be dealt with. Undoubtedly these issues played a role and could even be said to cast fuel on the fire. But ultimately the struggle represents something of a proxy war. The years of US effort were in jeopardy as the new nation was in danger of being wrested from Washington's sphere. The US began to support Reik Machar but this relationship has been unstable. One moment it looks like there's a way to end the conflict and keep Kiir in power and at that moment Machar is all but cast aside.
But now it would seem he's being backed once more. Or at the very least the best way to understand the situation is to say that Washington wants Kiir out.
And now the media is beginning to play its role. Kiir is being subjected to character assassination and the 'human rights' card is being played. Child Soldiers? You can be sure the US doesn't care if he's toeing the line. But if he's pursuing his own course the masters in Washington and New York will first destroy his character and standing, and then if need be, they'll destroy him personally.
The media is working to turn the international community against him and the groundwork is being laid for his ouster. The media campaign is also a signal to Wall Street and the international business community. How exactly Kiir's removal is to come about is not yet clear.
Salva Kiir knows the US is working against him and he's maneuvering to try and stay in power, even to the point of seeking peace and assistance from his old enemy, Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, another longtime enemy of Washington and friend to Chinese interests.
Kiir's anger is growing and so is the Juba regime's hostility to Washington. These stories aren't getting much attention in the United States but you can be sure they are of great interest to the leadership within Foggy Bottom, the Pentagon and certainly the White House.
Normally these types of incidents would spark outrage and there would be flashy press conferences with loud condemnations. The mainstream news would start to pick up the story and give it a lot of attention to the set the public up for an intervention.
But apparently the time is not yet ripe. The US is still utilising proxies and despite the official protestations regarding the instability... the agenda is being carried out. There's more groundwork to be laid, but Kiir's day will come. The US is keeping score.
There are of course wider implications of this proxy struggle. Uganda, Eritrea, Ethiopia and even Congo are now involved to some degree, playing their pieces in the game and seeking to influence what they can. Each of these nations are also caught up in the larger 'game' that is afoot in Africa. And this game includes China.
The Chinese are beginning to get involved in the Syrian conflict which is in reality but a 'gameboard' for many of the geopolitical struggles of the hour. Sadly for the people in Syria it is no game.
China's troubles in Xinjiang are being fanned by elements at work in the Syrian conflict. Reminiscent of Russia's interest in Chechen elements, Beijing wishes to combat some of these groups (and probably gain intelligence) while still in Syria, before they have the opportunity to move into Central Asia and ultimately across their frontier. The Pan-Turkic movement (often connected to figures like US based cleric Fethullah Gülen) is a vexation to China and undoubtedly they'd like to smash the network far away from their borders.
On a larger level they as much as Moscow want the spread of extremism to stop. It threatens the New Silk Road project and agenda in which China is trying to expand trade and influence into Central Asia and the Middle East.
Washington doesn't want to see this happen and despite official protestations the chaos (to some extent) is actually helping Washington and giving cover to their regional interventions.
Of course if Chinese involvement in Syria is mentioned it is portrayed as aggression and immediately tied in with the conflict in the South China Sea. These stories are being skewed by Western media and the larger context which certainly includes the proxy struggle in South Sudan is being ignored.
Once again the Christians of South Sudan and the larger region are caught up in the conflict. Pawns in a great game, they are commodities to be traded by the wealthy, many of which profess to be their brethren. It's tragic and sick.

1 comment:

  1. This conflict is being obscured. I listened to an hour long BBC programme on South Sudan and 'what went wrong'. It was amazing. They ran their mouths all that time and never actually touched on any of the real issues or the nature of the conflict. In a way I was impressed. It takes some skill to go on that long and conscientiously avoid talking about the topic at hand.