- No one thought it would be rainbows and leprechauns for South Sudan after independence. It’s extremely poor, highly oil-dependent, ethnically diverse, adjacent to countries that are all in the grip of significant internal violence, and likely headed for autocratic rule. You couldn’t imagine a better set of conditions for insurgency.
- Still, the violence in South Sudan is to date several orders of magnitude lower than that experienced before the 2005 peace agreement that ultimately allowed the country to secede from Sudan.
- Perils of generalizing from a single case: what’s really causing the insurgency in South Sudan? The Sudanese government blames “rigged elections” – but civil war research on global datasets shows little or no relationship between democracy and insurgency. The weakness of the South Sudan state and the availability of external funding are probably the dominant factors.
*The phrase comes from a Carcass song. Never mind that the “archaic nescience” theory of ethnic conflict is completely wrong; it’s still a nifty turn of phrase!