Is Sudan being re-Colonized?


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

June 14, 2007
Will Sudan be Re-Colonized?
By Stephen Gowans

The United States is maneuvering to introduce a UN peacekeeping force into 
Darfur, as a first step to securing control of the region¹s vast supply of oil. 
US control of Darfur¹s petroleum resources would deliver highly profitable 
investment opportunities to US firms, and scuttle China¹s investment in the 
region, thereby slowing the rise of a strategic competitor whose continued 
industrial growth depends on secure access to foreign oil. Washington is using 
highly exaggerated charges of genocide as a justification for a UN intervention 
it would dominate, while at the same time opposing a workable peacekeeping plan 
acceptable to the Sudanese government that would see the current African Union 
mission in Darfur expand.

While Sudan¹s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is often presented as obstinately 
opposing the introduction of peacekeepers into Darfur, Sudan has already 
accepted an AU force, urges the strengthening of the current AU mission, but 
opposes its replacement by Western troops. Bashir¹s fear is that a Western 
military presence will become permanent, and that Sudan ‹ the first country 
south of the Sahara to gain independence ‹ will be the first country to be 

His fears can¹t be dismissed.

There is no shortage of turmoil in Darfur for Western trouble-makers to exploit.
Conflicts over water and grazing land have raged for decades between sedentary 
farmers and nomadic tribes. And now there¹s a new flashpoint: who will reap the 
benefits of the region¹s new found oil resources?

In other places, the practice of the United States, Britain, Germany and other 
Western powers has been to inflame tensions within countries whose resources and
cheap labor make them attractive targets for economic take-over, or whose public
policies block or impose conditions on foreign investment and trade. The turmoil
is often used as a pretext for intervention. While the real reasons for 
intervention are inextricably bound up with profit-making opportunities, the 
stated reasons are invariably presented as being related to selfless 
humanitarianism. This was as true of the Nazis, who said they were intervening 
militarily in countries across Europe to rescue oppressed German minorities and 
to save the continent from communism, as it is of the United States today, 
which, we¹re expected to believe, can¹t afford to provide healthcare to all its 
citizens, but can spend countless billions on wars to deliver democracy and 
freedom to non-citizens half way across the globe.

Consider Yugoslavia. There the United States and Germany encouraged 
secessionism, and then used the ensuing conflicts as justification to establish 
a permanent NATO military presence, followed by the sell-off of the dismembered 
federation¹s publicly- and socially-owned assets. While the secessionist 
conflicts were real, the consequences were often grossly exaggerated to justify 
intervention on humanitarian grounds. The tens of thousands of bodies NATO 
spokesmen warned would be found scattered throughout Kosovo after the 1999 
78-day NATO terror bombing campaign ‹ like the weapons of mass destruction used 
to justify another war ­ were never found. Heaps of bodies thrown to the bottom 
of the Trepca mines, like Iraq¹s banned weapons, were inventions.

True to form, Washington declares the conflict in Darfur to be a genocide 
(another invention), a finding that compels international action, but Washington
quietly reveals its true motivations in an executive order to strengthen 
sanctions on Sudan, which cites ³the pervasive role played by the government of 
Sudan in Sudan¹s petroleum and petrochemical industries.² Washington then 
declares Sudan¹s control of Sudanese petroleum resources to be a threat to ³U.S.
national security and foreign policy interests.²

Two realities suggest that it is US foreign policy interests (which is to say, 
the interests of the banks, corporations and hereditary capitalist families 
which dominate policy-making in Washington), and not genocide, that shapes US 
policy on Sudan.

First, while there has unquestionably been a large number of violent deaths in 
Darfur, there has never been a genocide. This is not to say that Khartoum isn¹t 
guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. It may be just as securely 
ensconced in the club of war criminal countries as the US, Britain and Israel. 
But on the matter of genocide, the UN Commission on Darfur was quite clear: 
there has been no genocide in Darfur, notwithstanding Washington¹s allegations. 
What there has been is a disproportionate response by Khartoum to attacks by 
rebel groups on police stations and government buildings, and while that 
response has targeted entire groups, it has not been aimed at eliminating them.

The response of the public in the West ­ one based on uncritical acceptance of 
the genocide alarm raised by a notoriously untruthful Bush administration ­ 
speaks volumes about the power of Western governments, the media and ruling 
class foundations and think-tanks to selectively galvanize support for 
interventions in some countries, while effacing all recognition of comparable or
greater levels of violent conflict and avoidable tragedy elsewhere. The number 
of violent deaths in Darfur (in the hundreds of thousands) is modest by the 
standards of other African conflicts. Fighting has claimed four million lives in
the Congo since 1998. Were there ever Save Congo marches, as there were Save 
Darfur marches worldwide last September? Some 600,000 Iraqis are dead as a 
result of the US and British invasion of Iraq. The UN High Commissioner for 
Refugees says 3.7 million Iraqis are displaced, the largest refugee crisis since
800,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from ex-Mandate Palestine by 
Zionist forces in 1948. There will be no US or British-sponsored Save Iraq or 
al-Awda campaigns.

Second, Washington has systematically undermined the peacekeeping efforts of the
African Union in Darfur. The AU force was raised by funds provided by the US and
EU. Washington and the Europeans had struck a deal with the African Union a 
decade ago to underwrite interventions in the continent¹s hot spots by African 
troops, but their promises have never been completely delivered upon. Midway 
through 2006, Washington announced funding would be withdrawn for the AU force 
in Darfur and that a stronger UN force needed to take its place. The AU force, 
it was lamented, had too few troops to be effective. A stronger UN force was 
needed. But if so, why had the US and EU not spent the money necessary to 
maintain an effective AU force in the first place? And why not spend the money 
that would go to building a larger UN force on strengthening the existing AU 
force? This would be acceptable to the Sudanese government. It¹s happy to 
endorse a bulked-up AU force, but is frightened a UN force, made up of Western 
troops, will be used to bring about regime change and force Sudan back under a 
Western colonial heel.

A chess match is now been played out between pro-intervention members of the 
Security Council (the US and Britain), those opposed (China), and Khartoum, 
whose approval is required before UN troops can be deployed. From Khartoum¹s and
China¹s point of view, an outright rejection of a UN mission is undesirable 
because it could hand Washington and London a pretext to assemble a coalition of
the willing to invade Sudan. Both countries, then, have an interest in 
compromising on a UN peacekeeping mission, so long as it is held in check by 
significant AU participation. The US and Britain, on the other hand, are angling
to give UN authorities as much influence as possible. These considerations can 
be seen in a tentative June 12 deal which would see the creation of a new 
peacekeeping force made up mostly of African troops, with an AU commander given 
operational authority, while overall authority resides with the UN. The AU 
commander would make decisions on the ground but UN authorities could over-ride 
his decisions if they disagreed. Considering the US¹s history of trying to 
change the Sudanese government, its defining of Sudanese state control of the 
oil industry as a threat to US foreign policy interests, and its strategic 
interest in sabotaging China¹s access to Darfur¹s oil, it would not be long 
before the UN found a reason to disagree with the AU commander¹s decision, and 
assumed full control of the mission.

There is indeed a very real risk that Sudan could be brought back under Western 
colonial domination, with a UN peacekeeping force setting the stage. The 
ideology of humanitarian intervention will, as has always been the case when 
imperialist powers seek to use force to advance the interests of their economic 
elites, provide the pretext.

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