Taking Sides: Imperialist Campaign Against Sudan Continues
By Thomas Anthony Davies
Another chapter in the fight for Sudan was opened in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, as two of three phases in another United Nations/African Union peace process have been completed. Leaders from around the world, including all 15 UN Security Council members, joined together once again to address the issue of “peace in Darfur”. Unlike usual, they chose to include the Sudanese government, and had also invited all the major rebel groups in Sudan’s Darfur region. What did they accomplish?
Nothing, is the consensus among most observers. Six of the many Darfur rebel groups who were supposed to be principal participants in negotiations with the Sudanese government refused to attend. Among those publicly boycotting the talks was the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a major military power in the region. Another was the largest faction of the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA).
Concretely what this means is that the option for a negotiated solution becomes smaller and smaller, and many of the “rebel groups” have a responsibility for this. This becomes even more crucial as the UN attempts to push ahead with a 26,000 strong military force.
Why is the blame for this forced military solution heaved entirely on the shoulders of the Sudanese government by the UN, US, and UK? “They come to blame us. It’s very much unfair,” Sudan’s UN Ambassador Abdalmahomood Abdalhaleem told reporters. Sudan has already agreed to resolution 1769 authorizing 26,000 UN troops to take over from the 8,000 beleaguered African Union forces currently in the country. It is consistent in engaging in international negotiations, while continuing to insist on the “African character” of the force stipulated in resolution 1769.
Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno blamed Sudan for not facilitating the acquisition of land and flight operations rights for UN aircraft, but then admitted that the UN still lacked the vehicles to perform many operations. This includes one heavy and one medium transport unit (18 helicopters) and one light tactical helicopter unit (six helicopters). In addition, a pledge for a reconnaissance company had been withdrawn, and he suggested they might “borrow” from other peacekeeping operations.
Despite some mention of the necessity of the rebel groups’ participation in negotiations, the UN’s focus has clearly been on getting the additional hardware for the military operation, or increasing troop levels to “compensate” for their absence.
Grounds for Suspicion
Following the second Libyan meeting, Justice and Equality Movement leader Khalil Ibrahim threatened 135 Chinese engineers and medical workers who had entered the country under resolution 1769, “I am not saying I will attack them. I will not say I will not attack them. What I am saying is that they are taking our oil for blood." His justification is China’s growing economic links in Sudan, which have risen 124 percent in the first half of this year compared to 2006.
Does he not remember the US’ huge investments in oil fields in Sudan? In 1981, the US corporation Chevron and the dictatorship of Sudanese President Jaafar al-Nimeiri (1964-1984) formed the White Nile Petroleum Corporation to oversee oil production in the South. The US had little to say about human rights violations at that point, until Chevron suspended its southern Sudan operations in 1985, obviously underestimating their profitability.
Many Sudanese also died of totally preventable and treatable diseases because of a US cruise missile attack ordered by President Bill Clinton against the El Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum on August 20, 1998. The plant provided 60 percent of the available medicine in Sudan.
Why does JEM have so little to say about the US, UK, and Canada’s involvement in all of this? These same countries who are playing principle roles in getting troops on the ground in Sudan, are the same countries which were responsible for getting troops on the ground in the current bloody and vicious occupations in the resource-rich Middle East. Where does he think the term “oil for blood” came from? Certainly not from 135 Chinese engineers and medical workers.
Whose Side Are You On?
On October 23rd, JEM kidnapped five Chinese oil workers, and have followed this with the December 11th attack on another oil field in the Kordofan region.
Whether they or the five other groups which boycotted the UN/AU peace talks will acknowledge it – by making negotiations impossible and attacking China their actions coincide with the imperialist campaign to invade Sudan and overtake the country. According to figures from the Investment Ministry, foreign investment in Sudan has quadrupled since 1996 to about $2.3 billion last year, and the US, UK, and Canada have been missing out for longer than they can stand.
This is not, and has never been, an issue of supporting the government of Sudan. This is not, and has never been, an issue of denying the huge human crisis in Darfur. This is not an issue of ideology. This is an issue of humanity. This is an issue of seeing clearly what has happened to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, and Sudan’s neighbor Somalia after interventions orchestrated by the same countries which push for a military force in Sudan. “Democracy”, “Peacekeeping”, “The War on Terrorism” – have any of these justifications ever been real? Even a brief look at Sudanese history will show that what is real is their capacity to fight and to develop their own society. This is the right of all oppressed people, one which we must all defend.
US/UN HANDS OFF SUDAN!
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