War in the Sudan?

As if the people don't have enough trouble.

Sudan and South Sudan appear to be heading for war. If so, more refugees, more starvation, and more massacres will probably be the result.


Sudanese war planes bombed a market in the capital of South Sudan's oil-producing Unity State on Monday, residents and officials said, an attack the southern army called a declaration of war.

Sudan denied carrying out any air raids but its President Omar Hassan al-Bashir ramped up the political tension by ruling out a return to negotiations with the South, saying its government only understood "the language of the gun".

A Reuters journalist saw aircraft dropping two bombs near a bridge linking two areas of Unity's capital Bentiu, although it was not possible to verify the planes' affiliation. He saw market stalls ablaze and the body of one child.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's press office issued a statement saying he "condemns the aerial bombardment on South Sudan by Sudanese Armed Forces and calls on the Government of Sudan to cease all hostilities immediately."

Weeks of border fighting have brought the neighbors closer to a full-blown war than at any time since South Sudan split from Sudan as an independent country in July.

The two territories went their separate ways last year without settling a list of bitter disputes over the position of their shared border, the ownership of key territories and how much the landlocked South should pay to transport its oil through Sudan.

The disputes have already halted nearly all the oil production that underpins both struggling economies.

"Bashir is declaring war on South Sudan. It's something obvious," southern army (SPLA) spokesman Philip Aguer said after the Bentiu bombing.

It will take a year or two to rebuild the oil industry infrastructure so the economies of both countries are likely to remain comotose for at least that long. Promised western aid will almost certainly be halted until the two countries can agree on the outstanding issues that have precipitated this latest round of violence.

In short, war is going to make things worse, but not much. And that's only because it can't get much worse than it already is in Sudan.