Sudan Splits


by Chris Bodenner

According to official results released yesterday, nearly 99% of voters in Southern Sudan opted for secession last month. Elizabeth Dickinson reads the reaction of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir:

Why all the conciliatory talk? After all, this is the same Bashir who many analysts feared would cancel the referendum -- or reject its results -- pushing the country back to the brink of civil war. What gives? 

In short, all the carrots that U.S. diplomats are offering the Sudanese president seem to be working.

Among the prizes for Khartoum are a U.S. promise to remove Sudan from its list of terrorism-supporting states and a possible visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to the Sudan Tribune. Earlier this month, U.S. State Department officials also signaled that they would be ready to begin normalization following Sudan's acceptance of the vote.

That's great news for the south; as FP contributor Maggie Fick recently explained, normalization with Washington holds great appeal for Bashir -- in fact, it's a big part of his international agenda. So he's likely to yield to U.S. pressure if it pays off. Bashir's speech [Monday] gets Southern Sudan over one big hurdle toward declaring independence, which it is expected to formally do this July.

But Yglesias sees dark clouds in the distance:

The punchline here, sadly, is that normalization is a carrot that can really only be deployed once and so if we use it on behalf of Southern Sudan, our leverage over Darfur runs very thin.

(Photo: A Sudanese man stands and shouts with joy as Sudan's governing body declares the final results of the southern Sudan's independence referendum in Khartoum on February 7, 2011. Southerners voted overwhelming in favour of secession, with nearly 99% of the vote, against a backdrop of acclaim for the process from international monitoring and observing bodies. By Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images)