Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

Lords of the Tribes

The Real Roots of the Conflict in South Sudan

Today, there is still no end in sight to the civil war raging in South Sudan. In March, I traveled there, speaking with the country’s leaders and citizens about the Southern crisis and learning about the three divergent narratives circulating in Juba these days that attempt to explain its roots: a failure to build a functioning state, myopic leadership, and northern Sudanese interference. But these accounts, while insightful, are incomplete. The current conflict is much more complex and discontent began to stir in the region long before violence erupted in 2013. In fact, the beginnings of the war can be traced …

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