South Sudan Army Turns Over A New Leaf By Wanting To Assist Somalia’s Weak Government

August 17, 2011  |  

by Cynthia Wright

Soon after joining the African Union, the controversial South Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) went under a complete reconstruction in order to become a more modern and conventional army. Afterwards, the reformed militia plans to contribute to the peacekeeping missions of the United Nations and the African Union. At the same time, an offering such as this can be seen as two-fold being that the offering of troops to peacekeeping missions happens to be a good way for some countries to earn more foreign currency.

Army spokesman Philip Aguer released a statement late on Monday, where he detailed that the SPLA would soon be ready to go anywhere and help out as much as possible.

Even though, the UN has several peacekeeping missions around the world, the AU chips in to handle the missions in Somali and Sudan’s Darfur region. The South Sudan’s army would be a welcome contribution to the AU and Somalia with the SPLA averaging around 180,000 fighters. Yet, Aguer has also stated that the sending of South Sudanese troops is not “an immediate possibility.”

Sadly, for Somalia, that reasoning has been nothing new with few African nations willing to contribute troops to the 9,000 AU force permeating their country. With Somalia being upfront with needing 20,000 troops in order to detain the Islamist, group, al-Shabab, what will happen still remains a mystery.

Being that, Al-Shabab – a devout Islamic group with ties to al-Qaeda currently controls a large portion of south and central Somalia (which happens to include those locations adversely affected by the drought) – the situation is already in dire straits.

At the same time, South Sudan’s foreign officer, Deng Alor Kuol admitted that the new state was more than willing to lend a hand despite what others might think.

“It is part of our responsibility to help our Somali brothers and sisters to achieve peace,” Kuol told the BBC’s Focus on Africa program.

Last year, the UN Security Council approved 12,000 AU troops to enter Somalia, even though the AU specified that they needed 20,000. Even with that, there has been no word on whether that request will ever be fully granted. With Somalia being one of the few countries willing to lend support with Malawi and Nigeria both failing to fulfill obligations due to not wanting to be dragged into the long-standing Somalia and al-Shabab feud. With how it stands today, all the troops deployed in Somalia are made up from citizens of Uganda and Burundi.

Unfortunately, the issues surrounding Somalia seem to be ever growing, being that the country has been without a stable central government since the Siad Barre regime failure in 1991. Now that the country lacks sufficient military care, along with handling a severe famine since June, there appears to be no end in sight.

Cynthia Wright is an avid lover of all things geeky. When she isn’t freelancing, she can be found on her blog BGA Life and on Twitter at @cynisright.

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