South Sudan vies over Arab League status

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Arab League members at the 28th Arab League Summit in Amman, Jordan on 29 March 2017

The Republic of South Sudan has officially requested to be a member of the Arab league, Khaleej Online reported yesterday.

“The application will be presented to the Arab league Council at the level of foreign ministers in its 149th session at the headquarters of the General Secretariat of the League (in Cairo)”, a diplomatic source said.

The application insinuates that South Sudan is seeking an end to the ongoing conflict through political leverage from the Arab League.

The US government was the primary force behind South Sudan’s secession following a referendum in 2011. The US previously supported the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), which eventually transitioned into the government yet conflict rages on today with some 50,000 people killed since December 2013, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

If South Sudan succeeds it will be the 23rd country to join the Arab League. Its neighbours Djibouti and Somalia have already been members for some years. The use of Arabic language is one of the official requirements for being recognised as an Arab state. But this comes as a major quandary, as the majority of its population is largely Christian, and there may be opposition to adopting an Arab outlook politically.

The US has taken a peripheral approach to Sudan since, by not directly being involved in mediation over the internal dynamics. Yet it seeks to impose sanctions on both sides of the conflict.

Despite being an oil rich country, the ongoing conflict in Sudan has disabled the development of its economy and infrastructure. According to the BBC, only 15 per cent of its citizens owns a mobile phone.

The Arab League meeting will also discuss Israel’s adventurous interests in Africa, and the agenda for the future Arab summit set to take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.