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Yesterday, I blogged about the escalating conflict between North and South Sudan. I may have understated how serious the situation has become. The media is now reporting that Khartoum’s invasion of Abyei town has displaced at least twenty thousand people. Meanwhile, the international community has called on Khartoum President Bashir to relinquish control of Abyei. Thus far, he has ignored it, and Khartoum’s forces appear to be digging-in. There are even media reports that Sudanese regulars are looting UN facilities in Abyei.
As a result, not only has the United States government put on hold plans to normalize relations with Khartoum in return for its cooperation with South Sudan’s independence, but it may withdraw another important carrot extended earlier: a deal to relieve Sudan’s approximately thirty-eight billion U.S. dollars of debt. This is significant considering that Sudan is one of the most heavily indebted countries in sub-Saharan Africa. As the IMF notes, Khartoum will lose significant oil revenues with the South’s secession, meaning that the debt issue may become even more difficult to tackle.