Israel’s long-term investment has paid off. South Sudan fits into a renewed periphery strategy that includes Cyprus, Kurds, Berbers, and (one day) a post-Islamist Iran. South Sudan offers access to natural resources (especially oil). Its role in Nile River water negotiations offers leverage vis-à-vis Egypt. Beyond practical benefits, the new republic represents an inspiring example of a non-Muslim population’s resisting Islamic imperialism through its integrity, persistence, and dedication. In this sense, the birth of South Sudan echoes that of Israel.
If Kiir’s Jerusalem visit is truly to mark a milestone, South Sudan must travel the long path from dirt-poor international protectorate with feeble institutions to modernity and genuine independence. This path requires the leadership not to exploit the new state’s resources nor dream of creating a “New Sudan” by conquering Khartoum, but to lay the foundations for successful statehood.
For the Israelis and other Westerners, this means both helping with agriculture, health, and education and urging the administration in the capital city of Juba to stay focused on defense and development while avoiding wars of choice. A successful South Sudan could eventually become a regional power and a stalwart ally not just of Israel but of the West.
— Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum and Taube Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.