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 region’s vast supply of oil. US control of Darfur’s petroleum resources would deliver highly profitable investment opportunities to US firms, and scuttle China’s 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 Sudan’s 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. Bashir’s 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 re-colonized.
His fears can’t 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 there’s a new flashpoint: who will reap the benefits of the region’s 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, we’re expected to believe, can’t 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 federation’s 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 Iraq’s 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 “the pervasive role played by the government of Sudan in Sudan’s petroleum and petrochemical industries.” Washington then declares Sudan’s control of Sudanese petroleum resources to be a threat to “U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.”
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 isn’t 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 Washington’s 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 continent’s 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. It’s 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 Khartoum’s and China’s 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 US’s 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 China’s access to Darfur’s oil, it would not be long before the UN found a reason to disagree with the AU commander’s 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.
6 thoughts on “Will Sudan be Re-Colonized?”
you lost me when you declared that there was no genocide in Darfur, something over the region of 400,000 black Africans have lost their lives. There is no older generation of Darfurians within Darfur or in the diaspora because of systematic killing over time. Failure in that one area renders your argument to be nothing more than rhetoric. And how would you perceive Arab/Chinese economic colonisation of the oil rich terrirory?
completely and utterly agree with your insight into this issue. I think the cloak of humanitarian aid as a disguise for resource theft is something that is wearing thin. iraq, possibly venezuela, and sudan are among some of the poorest countries in the world. i think as a global community we need to stand behind the people of Sudan, particularly of the Darfur region,as they face US imperialism in some of its most sinister forms.
i would also like to add one more comment i guess in the sense that I am Australian, and our government is doing something very similar to East Timor, in the sense that it has been stealing oil from the Timor Sea for almost 30 years..and has recently sent peacekeepers in to try and sort out the “violence” there. there is not a word spoken about it, and tv ads decrying the government’s theft of timor’s oil were promptly pulled off the air. not a great way for promoters of “democracy” to behave is it?
All I know is that Sudan is a colonised country since from 1899 under the Sovereign power of Anglo -Eguptian Sudan .
The so called independence issue like given to independent African countries still has been and is the Monkey trick the Western world spread to the African minds that the African countries are Sovereign . All the African Countries are dancing to the Tune of European Sovereignity still . In otherwards , there is nothing talking of Sudan being on the pathway to recolonisation .
Iam sudanese and I would like to tell you that our nation and its government are very aware of the US attempts.The intervention in the IRAQ and the big lies given as pretext gave our nation a clear picture about how the US goverment of gangsters think.In fact the Sudan Goverment had repeatedly invited all countries and the USA in particular to come for the investment in the oil’s sector of Sudan.It seems that the USA’s companies are very greedy to the extent that they want to occupy the whole oil’s sector of Sudan under false allegations.In that case our people will be ready to fight any such attempts of new colonization.The USA adminstration should know that the will of the people is stronger than any army or arms and the US or its army will not enjoy any rest there.
I just got through reading the copy of your article posted at GlobalResearch.ca and wholly agree with what you say; although I hadn’t yet read much with respect to the AU aspect and am glad that you included this part of the overall picture or situation.
Over the past several months, I have read several articles on African context, two or three very good if not excellent articles by Keith Harmon Snow, one by F. William or William F. Engdahl, and another by Steven da Silva. They are not all on the context of Sudan and its oil rich (enough) Darfur region, but at least two of the articles are, and others relate to perhaps oil resources, in part, but also other natural resources. So they’re all of the basically same theme.
After those articles, in addition to what has been obvious about the present war on Iraq, and, from what I’ve read enough times anyway, also the war on Afghanistan; as well as former USMC Major General Smedley Butler’s book, ‘WAR IS A RACKET'(!!), US imperialism on at least some South American countries being about natural resources, and on and on ….
It is easy to see that your article is yet another excellent piece on the context of Sudan, Darfur region, and the OIL there. As former USMC Major General Smedley Butler wrote, ‘WAR IS A RACKET’.
Anyway, and hoping you don’t mind, I will provide the titles and URLs for the articles I read on the African context.
OIL, and other natural resources:
“Northern Uganda: Hidden War and Massive Suffering. Another White People’s War for Oil”, by Keith Harmon Snow, AllThingsPass.com, May 26 2007, Globalresearch.ca
“China and USA in New Cold War over Africa’s oil riches: Darfur? It’s the Oil, Stupid …”, by F. William Engdahl, May 20 2007, engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net
That was read at GlobalResearch also, except around the fifth paragraph from the end there was an obvious error, where 2008 is referred to in past sense manner. The copy at Engdahl’s website has the correct year, 2006.
“Oil in Darfur? Special Ops in Somalia? The New Old ‘Humanitarian’ Warfare in Africa”, by Keith Harmon Snow, Feb 7 2007, GlobalResearch.ca
RWANDA and the so-called genocide there:
So-called? Yes, and the interview of Keith Snow’s article in part explains two very distinct genocides; namely, a real one, and the one the Western media reported and which is or was myth, non-existent. Hence my use of ‘so-called genocide’, above.
“Revisiting the ‘Rwandan Genocide’: Resurrecting Ghosts, or Exorcising Demons?”, by Steven da Silva, June 1 2007, GlobalResearch.ca
That is about a related war crimes trial in Canada, and with a conclusion that presents the fact that the trial may just be a show trial, rather than an honest, ethical, … trial. I recommend reading the following article, interview first though; definitely. But it’s only recommendation; not an order.
“The Grinding Machine: Terror and Genocide in Rwanda”, by Keith Harmon Snow, Apr 24 2007, TowardFreedom.com
That’s an interview with Paul Rusesabagina, who was inspirer of Hotel Rwanda. And there are references to US or West warring for natural resources referred to in this interview.
Keith Harmon Snow’s website, where his above articles are also found, is the following; and he has a section specifically on African context.
I totally agree with what was written in this article that the motives of all what we see in the media in the west especially in the US is just to support the selfish interest in the resources of Sudan and the last thing their interest in bringing true peace to the people of Darfur. They are feeding their people with same false stories and exagerated numbers. It is true that there is suffer and pain caused by voilence due to miss calculation made by the rebel groups and miss management of the Sudan government on how to settle down this conflict. With all efforts made by Sudan government & African Union to get factions to the table US and it is allies they do their best in not making this happen. They providing Killers with shelter and propoganda even for children in schools by not telling them the truth about why this happening. The problem even human rights group they are sharing in this propoganda!