Suspicion over U.S mission in Sudan
By Hassan Isilow
There have been mixed reactions from regional experts regarding U.S president, Barack Obama’s decision to send five American military officers to South Sudan.
“I believe the United States is sending its troops to southern Sudan in order to protect its oil interests, because china is already there,” Professor Hassan Hajji Ali of the University of Khartoum told me in a Radio interview.
He said the U.S has strategic interests in the region. “Last year President Obama offered to send 100 American soldiers to Uganda where they would help the government there fight the Lord’s Resistance Army guerrilla group which has been operating in northern Uganda for over 2 decades.” The academic said although the U.S mission is still suspicious; he believes the Americans might want to help South Sudan fight against the North should another territorial dispute a rise. The United States strongly supported South Sudan’s drive for independence, creating speculation that the super power might be interested in exploiting the countries oil and other natural resources.
“I suspect the United States could be planning to attack Khartoum so as to cause a regime change,” said Journalist Ali Bashir, adding: “You know the United States has always looked for a way to get rid of President Omar Al-Bashir, but the people of Northern Sudan will oppose this American imperialism.” The comment comes as the White House this week announced that five U.S officers will join the United Nations mission in the capital of Juba to focus on strategic planning and operations. They are not expected to engage in combat operations, but will be armed for personal protection.
Obama issued a memorandum Tuesday declaring that the U.S officers could not be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court during their deployment because South Sudan is not a party to the ICC. The first of the small group of U.S. forces is expected to depart for South Sudan later this week. The Pentagon said there were no plans to expand the U.S. contribution to the U.N. mission.
Since gaining independence in July, South Sudan has been beset by internal conflict. Aid groups estimate that 60,000 people have been affected by recent outbreaks of violence, and the UN says tens of thousands have fled their homes and are in urgent need of high-nutritional food, clean water, health care and shelter.
Violence also has simmered on the new border with Sudan. The two countries have not yet agreed to terms to share the region’s oil wealth. In response to the violence, Obama issued a separate memorandum last week giving the U.S. the ability to send weapons and defense assistance to South Sudan. The Obama administration also has authorized American investment in South Sudan’s oil sector.
Additional reporting AP: