South Sudan’s Army Will Make or Break the Country

The ongoing civil war in South Sudan wasn’t started by a fringe rebel group in a far-flung part of the country. It began at the heart of the army, in the barracks of the presidential guard.Can one of the world’s youngest countries reform its volatile armed forces … before it’s too late?Tension between different political factions within the ruling Sudan’s People Liberation Movement ran high after president Salva Kiir fired his deputy Riek Machar in July 2013. Bitter political rivals, Kiir and Machar are also widely perceived as champions for their respective ethnic groups, the Dinka and Nuer.The political conflict escalated into a military one on Dec. 15, when Kiir ordered his troops to disarm the pro-Machar, Nuer elements of the presidential guard, whom Kiir believed were plotting a coup. Fighting erupted between the Nuer and Dinka elements and quickly spread throughout the capital Juba.In a matter of days, the armed forces of the new country split along factional lines.That South Sudan — and especially its army — could disintegrate so rapidly only two years after its independence is a testament to the dramatic consequences of its original sin, the complete neglect of any substantial reform of its armed forces.

Read the rest: South Sudan’s Army Will Make or Break the Country — Medium.