Geopolitical concerns behind UN intervention in Darfur


Richard Moore

       "The Sudanese government has granted oil concessions
        throughout Darfur and other parts of the country, eager to
        extend beyond its present oilfields where the output is now
        peaking. To put such potential oil wealth under UN
        supervision and open to exploitation by Western governments
        rather than China is a key consideration behind the proposed
        peacekeeping intervention."

WSW provides with a good analysis. One element of the story, however, is not 
mentioned... This intervention in Darfur is part of a pattern of moves intended 
to move us toward a one-world government, under the auspices of an 
elite-controlled UN. This pattern involves destabilizing third-world governments
in various ways, getting the public stirred up about the ensuing suffering, and 
then sending in the UN cavalry for 'peacekeeping'. By calling it peacekeeping 
instead of imperialism, Western populations are manipulated into supporting this

Darfur is of particular significance, as it involves UN intervention in the 
absence of a peace treaty among the local rivals. This underscores the fact that
the UN comes in these days with heavy weapons, not as a peacekeeper but as a 


Original source URL:

WSWS : News & Analysis : Africa
Geopolitical concerns behind United Nations intervention in Darfur
By Chris Talbot
7 August 2007

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The United Nations Security Council has unanimously agreed on a resolution to 
send a joint UN-African Union (AU) force to the Darfur region of Sudan. Proposed
as the world¹s largest peacekeeping force, there will be 20,000 troops that will
incorporate the present 7,000 AU force already in Darfur plus 6,000 police. It 
will be deployed under Chapter 7 of the UN¹s Charter empowering it to use 
military force to protect civilians and aid workers. The first troops are due to
be sent in October, but full deployment will probably take much longer.

Most of the efforts in pushing through the resolution appear to have come from 
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who 
have both used the Darfur issue since taking office to boost their humanitarian 
credentials. It has also enabled them to assure President George Bush of their 
support. Speaking at the UN after the resolution was passed, Brown personally 
thanked Bush ³for his leadership on Darfur.²

There is certainly a worsening humanitarian disaster in Darfur‹a recent UN 
report stated that more than half a million people out of a total of 4.2 million
affected were cut off from humanitarian aid. But the driving force behind the 
proposed intervention is the interest of the United States and the Western 
powers in taking more control over this strategic region and its oil wealth.

It is intended that most of the troops in the peacekeeping force will be 
African, but there will be a single UN chain of command giving Western 
governments control over operations. The current AU force has suffered from lack
of funding by the West and has remained small and ineffective because it was not
under their direct control.

France has already volunteered to send troops. The conflict in Darfur has spread
into neighbouring Chad and the Central African Republic, where France has troops
in place already and is supporting unpopular regimes against rebel forces (see 
³The new Sarkozy government hosts conference on Darfur²).

Britain and France, with the agreement of Washington, dropped a demand for 
³further measures² against the Sudanese government and rebel forces for failing 
to cooperate. According to diplomats, a more ³conciliatory text² was adopted to 
make sure that China did not veto the resolution in the Security Council and 
that African countries were kept onside. China buys most of Sudan¹s oil exports 
and supplies it with arms, and has previously opposed US and British proposals 
directed at the Sudan regime. China has now supported the UN intervention, 
apparently concerned that the 2008 Beijing Olympics would be targeted by 

Pressure from organisations such as the Save Darfur Coalition‹with widespread 
support in the US‹has played a role in getting China to agree to a peacekeeping 
force. They involve thousands of young people genuinely moved by the plight of 
the suffering refugees in Darfur. However, the simplistic view put forward by 
the campaign¹s organisers that the problem is merely one of the Khartoum regime 
backing Arab Janjaweed militias against the rest of the population has served to
distract attention from the fundamental issue and has been used to legitimise a 
military intervention by the major powers.

Darfur is just one tragic outcome of the imperialist domination of the African 
continent. It is also naïve in the extreme to imagine that the Bush 
administration, responsible for war crimes in Iraq, could be persuaded to carry 
out humanitarian measures in Sudan.

The Sudanese regime‹and countless other oppressive regimes in developing 
countries that are not at present singled out for US disapproval‹thrives under 
an imperialist system that has seen billions of dollars in debt relief exported 
to Western banks under International Monetary Fund auspices and huge profits 
made from mineral extraction by multinational corporations, but with the vast 
majority of the population forced to live in abject poverty. Whatever 
anti-Western rhetoric is used for popular consumption, a vital role is played by
such brutal governments as that in Khartoum in maintaining the status quo.

Whilst the Bush administration has applied sanctions to the Sudanese regime and 
publicised the use of the term ³genocide² in relation to Darfur, it has combined
this pressure with tacit support for the regime, using its intelligence service 
for a source of information and even covert operations (see ³CIA uses Sudanese 
intelligence in Iraq²).

Unlike the previous Clinton administration, which gave Sudan a pariah status, 
Bush negotiated a peace between the Khartoum regime and the Southern rebels, the
Sudan People¹s Liberation Movement (SPLM), in 2005, the so-called Comprehensive 
Peace Agreement (CPA), bringing the longest civil war in Africa to an end. There
are currently some 10,000 UN peacekeepers deployed in maintaining this 
agreement. Chief among the considerations in Washington was that in a 
power-sharing arrangement the SPLM would be able to take some of Sudan¹s oil 
wealth and open up possibilities for Western companies as opposed to China.

Given these considerations, the US did not want a UN intervention in Darfur‹in 
fact, Darfur was deliberately kept off the agenda in the CPA negotiations and 
the Sudanese regime was allowed to pursue its long-standing policy of using 
local militias to kill and drive out villagers. This did not stop the US moving 
pious resolutions at the UN on Darfur, knowing that they would be vetoed by 
China and Russia.

It may be that there has now been a shift in policy, and the balance has shifted
towards those sections of the US ruling elite, especially in the Democratic 
Party, who are demanding a military intervention. Apart from conflicts within 
the US administration, there are a number of possible reasons for this that 
relate to Sudan.

Firstly, the conflict in Darfur itself has become increasing complex and 
violent. The UN peacekeeping intervention has been heralded without any peace 
agreement in place. In May of last year, under the auspices of the United States
and Britain, an agreement was reached between the Sudanese government and one of
the Darfur rebel movements, but the two other movements rejected it, leading to 
its collapse.

Instead of the conflict taking place between these rebels and the 
government-backed Arab Janjaweed militia, much of the fighting this year has 
been between rival Arab groups. There are now more than 12 different rebel 
groups, some of them with links to the Chad government, which is increasingly 
involved in the conflict. These groups have now been invited to talks in Arusha,

One prominent rebel leader, Abdel Wahed Mohamed el-Nur of the Sudan Liberation 
Movement, has refused to attend. Another leader, Suleiman Jamous, is prevented 
from leaving Khartoum by the government. It seems unlikely that any meaningful 
peace agreement can be reached in the immediate future.

Secondly, the north-south CPA deal is unravelling and it is possible that 
conflict between Khartoum and the SPLM could recommence. The Sudanese government
was supposed to pull its troops out of southern areas in July. According to the 
International Crisis Group¹s latest report, this failed to happen in the 
oil-producing regions. The ICG also notes that the payments from Khartoum to the
regional government in the south, supposedly its share of the oil wealth, are 
steadily decreasing.

Thirdly, the Sudan regime itself is increasingly unstable. With huge disparities
of wealth between government circles that benefit from the oil wealth and the 
rest of the population, it is increasingly losing any base of support. As well 
as Darfur, there are less-publicised conflicts or potential conflicts in several
other parts of the country, the far North, Eastern Sudan and the Kordofan 

Whatever the machinations within American ruling circles, the chief concern of 
the US and Western governments is how to halt the growing Chinese involvement in
Sudan as well as much of Africa. Unlike the International Monetary Fund‹backed 
by the United States‹China has not placed demands on African governments that 
they accede to free market policies of ³good governance² before being granted 
loans or access to finance. It has also invested in a range of infrastructure 
projects and assiduously courted African leaders, avoiding the routine and 
hypocritical references to human rights issues made by the West.

As one recent book put it: ³For western politicians and policymakers, China¹s 
growing profile in the African oil business is more than just a commercial 
threat to western businesses. In particular, Beijing¹s growing reliance on 
African oil has put it on a collision course with US political priorities for 
the continent. A growing chorus of voices in Washington‹from congressmen to 
newspaper commentators‹has been complaining about China¹s willingness to do 
business in countries the United States is trying to pressure or isolate.² *

The Sudanese government has granted oil concessions throughout Darfur and other 
parts of the country, eager to extend beyond its present oilfields where the 
output is now peaking. To put such potential oil wealth under UN supervision and
open to exploitation by Western governments rather than China is a key 
consideration behind the proposed peacekeeping intervention.

* Untapped: The Scramble for Africa¹s Oil by John Ghazvinian, Harcourt, 2007.

See Also:
Iraq and Darfur: the politics of war crimes
[9 February 2007]

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