Sudan’s Seizure of Abyei a Strategy of ‘Extortion’

News coverage of the fighting that erupted this week in Abyei, capital city of the province of the same name that lies on the border between Sudan and South Sudan, has largely blamed the violence on North-South friction over oil fields and undying tensions between ethnic tribes in the area.

But Eric Reeves, a leading Sudan researcher at Smith College in Massachusetts, called the Sudanese army's seizure of Abyei "extortion," and says it is part of a growing strategy by the government in Khartoum to wring financial concessions out of South Sudan ahead of its official independence slated for July 9.

Reeves, who spoke with Trend Lines earlier this week, explained that during the past 35 years, Khartoum has run up roughly $38 billion in external debt to countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, China and the United States. The seizure of Abyei is an attempt to "exert pressure on the government of South Sudan to accept some portion of this massive external debt when the South secedes," he said.

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