The oil may start flowing again between South Sudan and Sudan. The leaders of the two warring countries have reportedly struck a deal on oil production and limited border security after four days of face-to-face talks in Ethiopia.
That's good news for both economies, each devastated by a months long shutdown of oil production, and an encouraging sign for two nations that underwent a nasty divorce only a year and a half ago. Sadly, ending the agony of the people in the disputed border region of South Kordofan wasn't part of this deal.
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir (wanted on war crimes and genocide charges by the International Criminal Court) and his eccentric South Sudanese counterpart, Salva Kiir, have been haggling over the terms of an agreement since South Sudan's independence in July 2011. Disputes over oil – the landlocked South Sudan must ship oil through pipelines to production facilities in Sudan – exploded into repeated clashes between the two armies earlier this summer. The UN security council had cautioned both countries that they'd face sanctions if a deal wasn't hammered out.
The full details of the deal have yet to be released, and initial reports suggest it's far from comprehensive. Aside from an as yet unspecified plan for a demilitarised border zone, it's hard to see how anything in the pact will help the long suffering people of the Nuba mountains in the South Kordofan region. The region is part of predominantly Muslim Sudan, but most of the people identify with the Christian or animist culture of South Sudan. Bashir has carried out a ferocious and largely indiscriminate campaign of bombing and razing villages against the armed South Sudan-aligned rebels in the region, and the villagers who support them. That scorched earth campaign has left hundreds of thousands homeless and starving.
As long as that horror continues, it's difficult to get too enthused over oil deals.
Read more: Learn about the human cost of this conflict.
Sources: BBC, Seattle Times, Avaaz, Reuters, New York Times