North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Abeyi residents on their own plan to choose between Sudan and South Sudan

28 months after South Sudan became an independent nation from Sudan, a disputed region between the two countries is about to decide on its own future. The Abeyi region is a rather important one for both nations as it is oil rich with implications for future wealth, which is why its status was left to be decided later. That time is tomorrow, Sunday, October 27, 2013.

Abeyi (state, province, prefecture, parish?)is an oil-rich region between Sudan and South Sudan, populated in the main by Ngok Dinka, though pastoralist Misseriya periodically graze their cattle here as well. Map from the BBC

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This map from Africa Confidential, shows the complexity of this small region, with the Sudan government having proposed a smaller boundary, the UN commission establishing a larger boundary, the Misseriya recognized to the north, the Ngok Dinka to the South, a recent series of military conflicts between the two nations in the Heglig oil fields, etc.

However, there is a problem

The referendum is not supported by either Sudan or South Sudan. Sudan, the Islamic Republic to the north wants a negotiated settlement between the two federal entities, while South Sudan says that the Abeyi peoples can't just hold a referendum on their own, rather that any such vote be supported by international monitoring and protocol (to avoid later charges of corruption and fraud). That seems like a rather nice long-term view on the part of South Sudan, even though reports indicate that the Ngok Dinka are likely to vote to join with South Sudan.

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Photo from Al Jazeera showing Dinka cattle herder

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Arab misseriya view the Abeyi region as one which they have some rights to as the region has always been one which they have grazed their cattle in, and consider the region as a "portal" between the Arab north and African south. Photo from Teatree happily admits he has no idea of who actually is a Misseriya or a Dinka in the two specific pictures shown here. Just an educated guess that lighter skin and turbans indicate Arab connections, while darker skin reflects Dinka genes and that cowboy hat is an affectation showing an affinity to South Sudan's cowboy-hat-wearing President Salva Kiir.

Nonetheless, something will happen tomorrow, a strong Dinka vote for union with South Sudan will be on the record regardless of its international acceptance, and we'll see whether the two national governments will heed the vote and move at all on the current boundary status ...

Meanwhile, both Sudan and South Sudan are continuing their efforts to inoculate their citizens against polio which has emerged in scattered pockets along the neighbors' loosely governed border regions. Let's hope that these vaccination programs continue regardless of the outcome of the Abeyi referendum ...

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South Sudan health workers walking into village to provide oral doses of polio vaccine. Photo from

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