Soon after South Sudan achieved independence in 2011, its political landscape grew increasingly volatile. It became almost impossible for international and regional actors to address one crisis before another more serious one erupted. This article combines cultural, political, economic and social factors into a comprehensive framework to explain the role of the political elites in transforming fear and politicized anger into violent and deadly conflicts. The theoretical framework of the security dilemma model is applied to the South Sudanese conflict to demonstrate how it was triggered—and continued to be exacerbated—by the politics of fear.