Symbolic independence

South Sudan is a sparsely populated and largely undeveloped land full of lush savanna, jungle and the famous Sud — a vast collection of swamps that form the source of the Nile River in Sudan.

Until now, South Sudan's largely dispersed and independent tribal groups have been joined together in hopes of defeating a common enemy. But it remains to be seen whether they can actually form a strong enough national identity to garner the political and economic capacity they will need to survive as an independent nation. Especially now, any decline in national unity or collective purpose will weaken the new South Sudan considerably. The disparate groups will especially need such unity if they are to effectively negotiate the oil pipeline stranglehold currently enjoyed by the North.
             
At the end of the day, the logic of two Sudans is hard to fathom. They share so many natural networks: rivers, animal and human migration patterns, and natural resources. The best scenario that could arise from this new period of separation is that each side truly appreciates how much it depends upon the other. The stakes are high for economic cooperation, especially around oil exports, which form the largest share of each economy. South Sudan can neither produce nor export without help from the North. Northern Sudan’s trading prowess and port access is useless without products to sell and distribute.
             
The optimal scenario is that the two countries would eventually develop a pragmatic approach to matters of mutual concern. But for now, good fences will have to suffice. For the South, that means a resolution of the border demarcation in Abyei, the contested, oil-rich region around the North-South border. For the North, it means that the South must largely stay out of the internecine conflicts in Darfur and Southern Kordufan — something that will be difficult for Southerners given the strong ethnic ties and the support they enjoyed from those regions during the independence struggle.