Diplomacy is in wanting when it comes to the crisis in Sudan. Reports of clashes between the two flanks of Sudan are quite unfortunate.
Moreover, the delaying tactics that the newly created South Sudan is adopting for entering into a meaningful dialogue with Khartoum makes the scenario quite messy. Alleged airstrikes from the North across the no-man’s land in the South are being cited as the reason for cancelling the planned direct talks. But what makes matter worse is the insistence on the part of South Sudan that it would get back to the table only under the auspicious of the African Union. This is a blow to the level of confidence and cordiality that both had nurtured since their velvet divorce a year ago. And, moreover, it derails the understanding over a host of issues from border demarcation to amicable distribution of resources. This is no time for Khartoum and Juba to raises their stakes, especially taking into account the fact that their standoff had cost more than a million lives in the impoverished region over the last two decades. The point that this annulment of talks will miss the August 2 deadline set by the United Nations is a worrisome factor, and this is where diplomacy should triumph over brinkmanship.
The impasse has pitched many of the neighbouring African states in an uncomfortable position, and the buck inadvertently once again stops at the door of South African President Jacob Zuma. His personal meddling has been a source of strength in normalising relations between the two adversaries — an aspect acknowledged and admired by both. The need of the hour is to make Juba realise that resumption of talks as scheduled in Addis Ababa would only strengthen its case, and all the tricky issues, including that of an alleged aggressive attitude from Khartoum could be dealt with in an interactive manner. Furthering the blame game will not achieve anything, and that too in the continent of Africa, where there are not many takers. The West and the United States, irrespective of Africa’s geopolitical sensitivities, do not hold a brief for Sudan and its concerns. The delegations from Khartoum and Juba in Ethiopia should get back to the table and sort out their sovereignty and security concerns.