Estranged Political Relationships: Demystifying the Root Causes of Violent Conflicts in South Sudan

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The breaking of peace agreements and the subsequent perpetuation of civil war in South Sudan are sustained by the failure to adopt broad interventions addressing the many layers of the conflict. An understanding of the multiple causes of the conflict can form the basis for a successful and durable peace agreement. To investigate why violent conflict persists, semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with 29 major stakeholders, including conflict parties, mediators, eminent South Sudanese personalities, scholars and civil society leaders. The responses were grouped into five major themes: historical conflicts, estranged political relationships, power struggles, resource control and ethnic violence (not included in this article). The results suggest that estranged political relationships, characterized by fear, anger, bitterness, distrust and the urge for revenge, are born out of historical conflicts that remain unresolved. The ensuing power struggles and ethnic violence are motivated by the estranged political relationships between the top leaders. Dealing with their estrangements, therefore, forms the base from which historical conflicts can be addressed towards lasting agreements and sustainable peace in South Sudan.

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Soon after South Sudan achieved independence in 2011, its political landscape grew increasingly volatile. It became almost impossible for international and regional actors to address one crisis before another more serious one erupted. This article combines cultural, political, economic and social factors into a comprehensive framework to explain the role of the political elites in transforming fear and politicized anger into violent and deadly conflicts. The theoretical framework of the security dilemma model is applied to the South Sudanese conflict to demonstrate how it was triggered-and continued to be exacerbated-by the politics of fear. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal African Society. All rights reserved.
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Intractable conflicts pose a great challenge to both humanity and science. The crucial role played by intergroup emotions in conflict dynamics has long been asserted in the field of conflict resolution. Therefore, regulating emotions in order to change attitudes and behaviour towards promoting peace is vital. One way to transform emotions is to use established emotion regulation strategies to change intergroup emotional experiences, and subsequently political positions. However, the use of direct emotion regulation may pose challenges in its application outside the laboratory, and especially among those who lack the motivation to regulate their emotions. Thus we describe recent research in which Indirect Emotion Regulation is used to overcome those very limitations. Here concrete cognitive appraisals are indirectly altered, leading to attitude change by transforming discrete emotions. Discoveries have both theoretical and practical implications regarding emotion regulation in intractable conflicts, thus promoting attitudes so critical for peace making.
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A growing body of research suggests that conflict can be beneficial for groups and organizations (e.g., De Dren & Van De Vliert, 1997). This paper articulates the argument that to be in conflict is to be emotionally activated (Jones, 2000) and utilizes Galtung's (1996) triadic theory of conflict transformation to locate entry points for conflict generation. Application of these ideas is presented through exemplars that demonstrate the utility of addressing emotions directly in the management of organizational conflicts.
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A general inductive approach for analysis of qualitative evaluation data is described. The purposes for using an inductive approach are to (a) condense raw textual data into a brief, summary format; (b) establish clear links between the evaluation or research objectives and the summary findings derived from the raw data; and (c) develop a framework of the underlying structure of experiences or processes that are evident in the raw data. The general inductive approach provides an easily used and systematic set of procedures for analyzing qualitative data that can produce reliable and valid findings. Although the general inductive approach is not as strong as some other analytic strategies for theory or model development, it does provide a simple, straightforward approach for deriving findings in the context of focused evaluation questions. Many evaluators are likely to find using a general inductive approach less complicated than using other approaches to qualitative data analysis.
This article examines how power-sharing institutions might best be designed to stabilize the transition to enduring peace among former adversaries following the negotiated settlement of civil wars. We identify four different forms of power sharing based on whether the intent of the policy is to share or divide power among rivals along its political, territorial, military, or economic dimension. Employing the statistical methodology of survival analysis to examine the 38 civil wars resolved via the process of negotiations between 1945 and 1998, we find that the more dimensions of power sharing among former combatants specified in a peace agreement the higher is the likelihood that peace will endure. We suggest that this relationship obtains because of the unique capacity of power-sharing institutions to foster a sense of security among former enemies and encourage conditions conducive to a self-enforcing peace.
Since mid-December 2013, thousands of people have been killed in armed conflict in South Sudan. The fighting is entrenched in a power struggle between the main political contenders ahead of elections which were scheduled for 2015. This article examines the violence in South Sudan since the North–South war ended with a focus on the consequences of the introduction of electoral politics. Our research contributes to the literature on state-building and peace-building in war-torn societies, by exploring how the extreme levels of violence are linked to three groups of factors. First, the stakes involved in being part of the government are extremely high, since it is the only way to secure political and economic influence. Second, the actors involved in political life are dominated by individuals who held positions within the rebel groups, which increases the risk of political differences turning violent. Third, the institutions important for a legitimate electoral process, and which work to prevent violence, are weak or non-existent.
Just a few years after becoming Africa's newest nation, South Sudan is embroiled in civil war and faces bankruptcy despite its ample oil wealth, thanks to a cynical scramble for the spoils of power.
Ever since power struggles within the Sudan People's Liberation Army split the movement into two warring factions in August 1991, rural Nuer and Dinka communities of the South have been grappling with a deepening regional subculture of ethnicized violence. This article describes political factors that have prolonged this bitter conflict into the present and have contributed to the post-1991 polarization and militarization of Dinka and Nuer ethnic identities. Drawing on parallel field research conducted in Dinka and Nuer regions of South Sudan during 1998 and 1999, the authors show how ordinary civilians have been struggling to understand and cope with this new “war of the [southern] educated [elite].” Among the major themes addressed are: (1) the rapid unraveling of regional codes of warfare ethics since 1991; (2) the transformation of previous patterns of interethnic competition over scarce economic resources into politicized programs of ethnicized violence; (3) mounting public despair over the seeming unwillingness of John Garang and Riek Machar to compromise their personal ambitions for the greater unity of the South; and (4) recent peace initiatives made by Dinka and Nuer chiefs, which have succeeded in reducing interethnic violence, despite the continuing intransigence of some military leaders.
At the time this article was written - autumn 2002 - peace talks were underway between the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the Government of Sudan (GoS) in Machakos, Kenya. For the first time since the outbreak of the conflict nineteen years ago, the July 20th Protocol reached between the belligerents under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) at Machakos raised the possibility of a negotiated resolution of the conflict. Sudan's civil war has been part of the political landscape of Africa for so long, that most people believe it to be intractable. Even more difficult to envisage is an effective government, autonomous or independent, in Southern Sudan. Therefore, it is time to consider the issue of governance in the South, taking into account the administrative and political capacity of the SPLM/A, as well as the challenge posed by a host of rival armed movements loosely grouped under the umbrella of the South Sudan Democratic Front (SSDF), plus a dozen or more tribal militias
This paper aims to identify what is distinctive about conflict transformation theory and practice, as well as to identify its key dimensions. We need such a theory of conflict transformation if we are to have an adequate basis for the analysis of conflicts, as well as for devising appropriate responses to them and evaluating the effects of these responses. The paper argues that such theories need to be continually adjusted in response to the changing nature of conflicts, and that current theories must be adapted in order to take proper account of the globalisation of conflicts and conflict interventions. The first section of the article distinguishes conflict transformation theory from theories of conflict management and conflict resolution. It explores some of the principal conflict transformation approaches in more detail, and then asks whether they add up to a coherent body of theory. Following this, it suggests a shift from theories of conflict to theories of conflict-in-context, arguing that in the context of globalisation our analyses of conflict must give proper consideration to the social, regional and international context. We need to consider both the factors that promote peacebuilding and those that exacerbate conflict at these different levels over an extended time period from before the outbreak of violent conflict to well after its resolution. Within this broader setting, this section thus attempts to extend Galtung's and Azar's theories of conflict formation to theories of conflict transformation. It also proposes a framework of five types of conflict transformation, which should be useful as a basis for planning and assessing interventions in conflicts. The second section of the article discusses current developments in conflict transformation practice as they have occurred in the four principal kinds of practice - that of governmental and intergovernmental representatives, of development agencies, of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and of local parties and groups within the conflict setting. The issues involved in coordinating initiatives between these different groups are also discussed. The final section of the paper discusses conflict transformation as a potential seed for change, requiring change both in the peacebuilder as well as in the society in conflict.
Interest in conflict prevention blossomed throughout the 1990s, and so did the literature on the subject. Moreover, conflict prevention is rapidly becoming a prominent focus of the new global security and global governance agenda with advocacy of preventive policies by international and regional organizations and nongovernmental actors, and the implementation of conflict prevention within many long-term development and post-conflict assistance programs. Nevertheless, the question of how to move from the rhetoric of conflict prevention to one of institutionalized practice still remains the major concern. Following an overview of conflict prevention in historical and contemporary perspective, this article surveys some of the major themes currently found in the literature on conflict prevention. While there are still skeptical views on the viability, legality, and effectiveness of conflict prevention, some significant strides have already been taken in the direction of creating a new normative international climate that permits increasingly the implementation of preventive action.
The death of Dr. John Garang, First Vice President of Sudan, President of Southern Sudan, and Chairman of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/ Army (SPLM/A) in a helicopter crash on 30 July, and the riots that followed, produced doubts about the viability of the 9 January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the prospects of peace processes underway elsewhere in the country. On the surface, this is not surprising because Garang had been the leader of the SPLM/A since its founding in 1983 and for many in Sudan and abroad he virtually personified the struggle of the south. Garang was also the unchallenged focal point during the various peace processes, in particular during the final phase of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) negotiations which were largely reduced to then First Vice President Ali Osman Taha and himself. And more than anyone else on either side of the table, Garang was the biggest beneficiary of the peace process which granted him a virtual hegemonic position in the south and the holding of a strong vice presidency nationally.
We hypothesized that an adaptive form of emotion regulation-cognitive reappraisal-would decrease negative emotion and increase support for conflict-resolution policies. In Study 1, Israeli participants were invited to a laboratory session in which they were randomly assigned to either a cognitive-reappraisal condition or a control condition; they were then presented with anger-inducing information related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Participants in the reappraisal condition were more supportive of conciliatory policies and less supportive of aggressive policies compared with participants in the control condition. In Study 2, we replicated these findings in responses to a real political event (the recent Palestinian bid for United Nations recognition). When assessed 1 week after training, participants trained in cognitive reappraisal showed greater support for conciliatory policies and less support for aggressive policies toward Palestinians compared with participants in a control condition. These effects persisted when participants were reassessed 5 months after training, and at both time points, negative emotion mediated the effects of reappraisal.
Despite stipulations in the Sudan's 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that all ‘other armed groups’ be demobilised by January 2006, the South Sudan Defence Force (SSDF) continued to maintain a significant armed presence in South Sudan. This paper analyses the dynamics of the organisation, the impact of its ongoing presence on the security situation and reconstruction efforts, and attempts by the government of South Sudan to counteract the SSDF from January to August 2006. It argues that the strategies implemented by the government to counter the SSDF were fairly successful in that there was no major return to conflict. However, it concludes that the SSDF's continued presence, while hindered, has the potential to spark a return to civil war.
Southern Sudanese civilian populations have been trapped in a rising tide of ethnicised, South-on-South, military violence ever since leadership struggles within the main southern opposition movement – the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) – split into two warring factions in August 1991. This paper traces the devastating impact of this violence on a particularly volatile and fractured region of contemporary South Sudan: the oil rich heartlands of the Western Upper Nile Province. Foregrounding the historical experiences and grassroots perspectives of Nuer civilian populations in this region, the paper shows how elite competition within the southern military has combined with the political machinations of the national Islamic government in Khartoum to create a wave of inter- and intra-ethnic factional fighting so intense and intractable that many Nuer civilians have come to define it as ‘a curse from God’. Dividing Sudan's seventeen-year-long civil war (1983–present) into four distinct phases, the paper shows how successive forms and patterns of political violence in this region have provoked radical reassessments of the precipitating agents and ultimate meaning of this war on the part of an increasingly demoralised and impoverished Nuer civilian population.
Following extended periods of conflict or repression, political reconciliation is indispensable to the establishment or restoration of democratic relationships and critical to the pursuit of peacemaking globally. In this important new book, Colleen Murphy offers an innovative analysis of the moral problems plaguing political relationships under the strain of civil conflict and repression. Focusing on the unique moral damage that attends the deterioration of political relationships, Murphy identifies the precise kinds of repair and transformation that processes of political reconciliation ought to promote. Building on this analysis, she proposes a normative model of political relationships. A Moral Theory of Political Reconciliation delivers an original account of the failure and restoration of political relationships, which will be of interest to philosophers, social scientists, legal scholars, policy analysts, and all those who are interested in transitional justice, global politics, and democracy.
Constructivism appears to have taken a place in the literature on international relations (IR) theory in direct opposition to realism. Constructivists who claim their methodology is incompatible with realism focus on the association between realism and both materialism and rationalism. Realists who claim their paradigm is incompatible with constructivism focus for the most part on a perceived tendency for constructivists to be idealists or utopians. Neither argument, however, holds up. This essay examines constructivist epistemology and classical realist theory, contending that they are, in fact, compatible; not that constructivism is necessarily realist, but that constructivist research is as compatible with a realist worldview as with any other. Having a realist constructivism could prove useful in IR theory beyond clarifying methodological debates, including helping to specify the relationship between the study of power in international politics and the study of international relations as a social construction.
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