Sudan and South Sudan: Ever on the brink


An image grab taken from footage obtained by AFP shows Sudanese troops celebrating next to a burned military vehicle on March 29, 2012, one day after recapturing Sudan's southern oil center of Heglig following fighting with South Sudanese forces along the border. Southern troops had taken the Heglig oil field, parts of which are claimed by both countries, but Sudanese forces later retook the field. Both sides vowed to step back from the brink of all out war after three days of border violence including air strikes and tank battles.



NAIROBI, Kenya — The Sudans are the epitome of bad neighbors.

Recent military attacks, accusations, counter-accusations and heated rhetoric traded between the South Sudan capital of Juba and the Sudan capital Khartoum make Ethiopia-Eritrea relations look positively friendly.

And yet the forecast war never comes, not really.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Sudan President Omar al-Bashir were supposed to be meeting in the southern capital on Tuesday to discuss citizenship, oil, money and border issues but a flare up in fighting last week — with a couple of aerial bombardments from the north and a ground assault from the south —
scuppered that plan.

The recent hostilities have centered on oil fields on either side of the disputed border and are continuing, with each side blaming the other.

The diplomatic brinkmanship has been pushed to suicidal lengths with South Sudan cutting of oil to the north strangling both economies.

Neither can afford a full-blown war, nor do they want it.

Discussions between the two Sudans continue in Addis Ababa with negotiators standing in for the presidents themselves.

Expect no resolution, but don't expect war either.