Surging South Sudan Violence Could Quickly Escalate Into Full-Scale War

President, VP Order Forces to Stop Fighting, to Little Effect

Still reeling from an extremely ugly civil war from from December 2013 – August 2015, South Sudan could quickly be staring down the barrel of another such war, with the exact same factions, as fighting between supporters of President Kiir and Vice President Machar is again scaling up.

The latest round of fighting began Thursday, in and around the capital city of Juba. By the end of Sunday, over 300 people had been confirmed killed, with no end in sight. International officials are warning this could easily escalate into another civil war.

This war is lining up as almost a mirror copy of the last one, with forces from both sides advancing on Juba, and the ethnicities that back the respective leaders quickly joining in, fearing the other side could overrun them.

Both Kiir and Machar have issued statements ordering their respective factions to stop fighting, though the fighting seems to be picking up irrespective of this, with no sign that last August’s war-ending deal has any real meaning.

If this continues, South Sudan could find itself in its second major civil war in its five year history. The UN is lashing the situation as a case of “failed leadership,” but they don’t appear to have any real idea how to end the fighting either.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.