The division of Sudan, which until very recently was still a united country, and the separation of South Sudan from it (with the capital of Juba) is a project that has received active support from Berlin. And not just political support, but programmes to create government agencies and an administrative apparatus in the newly established state. It has been reported that international lawyers from the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg were involved in creating the constitution of South Sudan, that the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation has invited Sudanese separatists to Germany, that various German ministries have provided South Sudanese authorities with consulting services, and that German soldiers have been in South Sudan since 2005.
Berlin’s interest in this turbulent, far-off African country is motivated by both economic and geostrategic considerations. Three quarters of Sudan’s oil reserves are located in South Sudan, and the country has borders with Kenya and Uganda – countries that are generally regarded to be pro-Western. Khartoum, meanwhile, occupied an anti-Western position, for which it seems to have paid the price of the country’s partition. You may recall that South Sudanese President Salva Kiir’s first visit was to Tel-Aviv, where he met with the Israeli president, as well as the heads of Israel’s foreign and defence ministries. Subjects under discussion included economic cooperation between Juba and Tel-Aviv, and the opening of a South Sudanese embassy in Israel. Israel’s political and economic presence in East Africa is traditionally strong. Relations between Germany and Israel are collaborative in every way. Uganda and Kenya have always been in Tel-Aviv’s field of vision, since presence in the former meant control over a strategically important position in East Africa, and in the latter ensured transit from Israel to the Indian Ocean. It also enabled Israel to have a backdoor influence on the politics of its enemies among North Africa’s Muslim states – Egypt, Sudan and others.
A rapprochement between South Sudan and the East African Community, which is also being regarded as a united project of the pro-Western faction, is now in the interests of both Uganda and Kenya. A close cooperation between Juba and the East African Community will bind South Sudan with Kenya and Uganda in a number of ways, while closer relations with an oil-rich region is also arousing genuine interest in these two countries. Juba, unlike Khartoum, does not have access to the sea to transport its oil to the international market.
Kenya has agreed to let South Sudan use its own ports for the transportation of oil. Furthermore, back in 2005, Kenya announced its intention to open a consulate in South Sudan in order to attract Kenyan companies to South Sudan’s oil market. Military cooperation between Juba and Nairobi is also gaining momentum. The stakes are so high that the Kenyan government has repeatedly expressed its willingness to begin training several thousand South Sudanese police officers, and the Ugandan air force has subjected the positions of those supporting former South Sudanese Vice-President Riek Machar to bombing campaigns (although Kampala denies this). Machar is a member of the Nuer ethnic group, while South Sudanese President Salva Kiir is a member of the Dinka ethnic group. There is a long-standing conflict between these two South Sudanese ethnic groups which emerged fully as soon as Juba obtained its independence from Khartoum.
Berlin’s policy regarding Sudan should generally be in keeping with the policies of Washington and London, namely: the partition of a formerly united country and the separation of South Sudan should not just mean the separation of a large area with considerable strategic importance from Khartoum, but also a change in the ownership of a significant part of Sudan’s oil resources. In this instance, the interests of Germany, the US and Great Britain are the same – these Western powers are eager to «protect» East Africa from penetration by China… Today, more than half of Sudan’s oil is being exported to the People’s Republic of China, and Chinese workers and engineers in Sudan are no longer an uncommon sight.
Cooperation between Beijing and Khartoum does not just involve oil, but arms as well. China supplies Sudan with tanks, aircraft, and artillery equipment. The international isolation of Khartoum initiated by three leading Western states (the US, Great Britain and Germany) has pushed Sudan even closer to Beijing, but this does not mean that Beijing is not looking for ways to cooperate with the South Sudanese authorities. It is important for the West to make sure that the oil contracts in South Sudan bypass the Chinese. Despite the fact that Western companies managed to be the first to entrench themselves in South Sudan’s oil market, China’s presence there is becoming increasingly more noticeable.
It must be admitted that Khartoum gave the West a number of reasons to intervene during the conflict, carrying out policies of Arabisation and Islamisation in South Sudanese provinces inhabited by Christians. Washington, London and Berlin are now positioning themselves as fighters for the rights of the South Sudanese population. In truth, however, prolonged interethnic conflicts are tearing apart many African countries, and far from all of these have been awarded the «good fortune» of becoming an object of concern for Western proponents of democracy. South Sudan was «lucky» because it has oil.
Berlin’s awareness of East Africa is not a new trend in Germany’s foreign policy, but a long-forgotten old one. At the end of the 19th century, German East Africa included Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. Today, these countries are members of the pro-Western East African Community, whose zone of influence is expected to pull in South Sudan.
However, German experts are not sure whether it is worth Berlin interfering in events in this part of the world. South Sudan is quickly sinking into the abyss of an intertribal war. There is no guarantee that the conflict will not spread to neighbouring countries, with the whole of East Africa plunging into an abyss of drawn-out armed conflicts.