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Arms race, uneasy peace in Sudan

In the south, the parliament voted to double its budget to cover military spending, and the north spent 20 percent of its budget on the military.

Tentative peace: Three years after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement ended 21 years of civil war, the former southern militia had a military parade in July.

Peter Martell/AFP/ Getty/Newscom

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Although the Arab-dominated government of Sudan and the semiautonomous region of Southern Sudan have been at peace for three years, there are signs that both sides are stepping up the pace of a cold war-style arms race.

In September, pirates off the coast of Somalia hijacked a shipment of Russian tanks reportedly destined for Southern Sudan. A month later Sudanese authorities seized an Ethiopian cargo plane they say was carrying ammunition and light armament in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. Later in October, Sudan recalled its ambassadors from Kenya and Ethiopia because the two nations were allegedly shipping arms to the south.

After a 21-year civil war, both the north and the south Sudan are not only reluctant to disarm, but reports indicate that both sides are actively preparing for the possibility of a renewed outbreak of fighting. Decades of conflict have left many in the north and the south unable to fully trust one another, leaving many analysts wondering if the current peace will endure.

"This arms race has been going on for some time, with each side anticipating the worst," says Alex de Waal, a program director at the New York-based Social Science Research Council and a world-renowned expert on Sudan.


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