Princeton Lyman, the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan for the Obama administration, provides a trenchant back-story to the birth of South Sudan in an essay in the inaugural issue of The Cairo Review of Global Affairs. Lyman, better known as an Africa expert for the Council on Foreign Relations and an editor of an excellent volume on US-Africa relations, writes with special passion and pith about the improbable end to the Sudanese north-south civil war and the birth this summer of the new nation of South Sudan. Among his more significant insights: the looming problem of Sudan’s Abyei region, which was left out of the partition deal between north and south. “The people of Abyei understandably feel angry and abandoned,” Lyman writes. Yet Lyman suggests that grievance may not be enough to force Abyei onto an already-crowded pan-Sudanese political agenda. “Abyei is not a large region and, contrary to media descriptions of it being “oil rich,” its oil output is relatively insignificant,” Lyman insists. A political solution, he says, proved impossible in the run-up to South Sudan’s birth and stability in Abyei remains elusive – a potential flash-point worth understanding better.
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