By an odd coincidence, this popped up in the news last week:
An international tribunal redefined the borders of a disputed oil-rich region between north and south Sudan on Wednesday. The ruling seeks to defuse a thorny issue in the 2005 peace agreement ending one of Africa’s longest civil wars by splitting the contested zone between the two sides.
The new ruling includes important concessions for both sides, giving the government in the north control of the region’s richest oil fields, but consolidating control of the remaining region under the Ngok Dinka, an ethnic group loyal to southern Sudan and likely to vote to join it in a coming referendum.
Okay, so. Previously, a conflict in South Sudan was very, very likely in 2011. That's because the folks who negotiated a peace settlement foolishly agreed to hold a separate vote for Abiye Province, which is mostly inhabited by the pro-Southern Ngok Dinka but which includes the region's richest oil fields. The North was not going to let this go without a fight.
The new settlement divides the province so that most of the oil is on one side, and most of the Ngok Dinka are on the other. It's an imperfect division, but it might be enough to prevent a war.
Nobody has been paying much attention to South Sudan. Hell, I had only the vaguest idea of the place before I went next door to Uganda. So it seemed all too plausible that it might be allowed to drift into another war. Now, maybe not -- 2011 will still be very tricky, but it's no longer a certain date with violence and chaos. The dog might not bark. That's encouraging.