Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sudan Remains Defiant Amid Western Destabilization Efforts

Sudan Maintains Defiance Amid Western Destabilization Campaigns

Attacks by Darfur rebels sparks crisis in relations with Chad

by Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor
Pan-African News Wire

A political and military accord signed between the Sudanese government of Omar al-Beshir and Chadian President Idriss Deby in January was dissolved in the aftermath of an attack by a Darfur rebel group on May 10. The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) carried out an assault in Omdurman resulting in the deaths of approximately 200 people.

Although this attack against one of the major cities in Sudan
has focused attention on whether the neighboring western-backed and oil-rich Chadian regime of Idriss Deby was behind the act of aggression, the role of the international oil industry with its major players based in the United States have formidable reasons for wanting to see the government in Sudan overthrown.

American-based multi-national firms have not been allowed to exploit the rapidly emerging oil industry in Sudan. For over a decade now, US corporations have been barred from extracting oil in Sudan. 80% of the oil concessions in the country are granted to partnerships between the Sudanese government and the People's Republic of China. Other concessions are held by local interests in parternship with Arab and middle-eastern naitons.

This economic decision on the part of Sudan results from a foreign policy orientation that is independent of the American military efforts in Africa and the Middle-East. In 1990-91, the Sudanese government refused to support the American war against Iraq over the issue of former President Saddam Hussein's intervention in Kuwait. The current occupation of Iraq beginning in 2003 has not been supported by Sudan.

Chad Under Pressure From Western Influence

Consequently, when looking at the hostile US State Department posture toward Sudan, the oil factor must be taken into consideration. Chad, which is a former French colony, is also a large producer of oil. However, the government of Idriss Deby has much closer ties both politically and economically to France, particularly under the pro-American President Nicolas Sarkozy. A recent attempt to unseat Deby by the United Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD) would have been victorious if the French military, which has a permanent presence in the country, had not stepped in to shore up the government.

In response to the effort on the part of France to salvage the Deby government, a group of Europeans posing as a charitable organization calling itself Zoe's Ark, who had been convicted of attempting to kidnap dozens of Chadian children in order to sell them to people in their home countries, were released by the authorities and allowed to return to France.

The European nationals from France and other countries were questioned after their arrest prior to a public trial and conviction. They stated that their motivation was to transport children from the Darfur region of Sudan, which is currently undergoing civil conflict, to adoption agencies in France so they could permanently be placed in homes in Europe. Yet, according to news reports emanating from Chad, most of the children were not from Darfur and they had been taken without abiding by the laws of Chad governing adoption.

The uncovering of this plot to kidnap African children in Chad sparked outrage inside the country and lead to the mobilization of thousands of peole who protested the actions of the Zoe's Ark charitable agency. Nonetheless, the government in Chad was beholden to France because of its precarious political position and the relative strength of the UFDD opposition forces.

The Sudanese region of Darfur is located in the west of the country bordering Chad. The government of Omar al-Bashir has accused Chadian President Deby of supporting the rebel movements in Darfur. The Darfur rebels have gained the sympathy and support of various right-wing political interests in the United States and Europe. Some of these groups have sponsored documentary films, photographic displays, rallies and even legislation which encourage the intervention of the United States and other imperialist countries in the internal affairs of Sudan.

Behind the political campaign against Sudan

Just last year a new documentary film entitled: "The Devil on Horseback" premiered throughout the United States. The film was based on photographs taken by a US Marine captain who had visited the country as a military consultant to the African Union, which has had an observer mission in the country for several years.

This film portrays the civil conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan as a systematic campaign by the el-Bashir government to carry out genocide against the inhabitants of this region. The film does not mention the historical legacy of British colonialism which systematically divided Sudan so that the country could be subjagated for over a half-century. The origins of both the civil wars in the south of the country and Darfur in the west, are rooted in the legacy of the divide-rule policy imposed by the British when it defeated the early resistance movements during the late 19th century.

The documentary highlights the suffering of the people in Darfur in an effort to provoke a public outcry in the United States demanding immediate military intervention to weaken the authority of the central government in Sudan and to establish a permanent western presence in the country in the Darfur region bordering Chad.

Another manifestation of the so-called "Save Darfur movement" is the drafting and promotion of legislation on a local and state level which seeks to divest pension funds from corporations that engage in commerce with Sudan. Since there is limited trade between the United States and Sudan, such legislation is clearly promoted for its propaganda value which advances the notion that the government should be changed based upon allegations of genocide against the people of Darfur.

In addition, these right-wing elements falsely characterize the civil conflict in Darfur as a racial one between what they describe as Arabs in the North and Blacks in the Darfur region in the West. This attempt to racialize the conflict is deliberately aimed at discouraging African-Americans and anti-racist constituencies in the United States from organizing any effort to defend the Sudanese people from western military intervention.

Most historians of Sudan say that there are no fundamental racial divisions between the peoples of this vast central African country. The majority of people in both the northern region, where the capital is located and Darfur, in the west, are Muslims. For centuries the various ethnic groups have intermarried and shared cultural and relgious traits.

In the state of Michigan legislation was introduced during 2007 that would mandate the immediate withdrawal of public pensions funds from businesses that conduct trade with both Sudan and Iran as well as impose sanctions against any company that had Sudanese investors or stakeholders.

The twin bills entitled the "Public Retirement Systems: Divestiture of Investments Related to Sudan and Iran (House Bill 4903 and 4854) were sponsored by Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith a Democrat and Marty Knollenberg, a Republican. The bill introduced by Smith is against Sudan and the one sponsored by Knollenberg is directed toward Iran.

A legislative analysis issued by the Michigan House Fiscal Agency describes the bills as "amending the Public Employee Retirement System Investment Act (MCL 38.1133c and 1133d) to require a retirement system to engage in a number of activities related to assests invested in companies with certain kinds of business relationships with Sudan and Iran. The bill ultimately could, under certain condition, require a retirement system to sell, redeem, divest, or withdraw all publicly traded securities of a company actively involved with the Sudan or Iran over a 15-month period."

This same document points out the bill "would apply to retirement systems under the Michigan Legislative Retirement Act, the State Police Retirement Act, the Judges Retirement Act, the State Employees Retirement Act, and the Public School Employees Retirement Act." These public pension systems hold billions of dollars in employee contributions which are heavily invested in private corporations.

Although these bills have not been passed by the Michigan State Senate and signed by the Governor and therefore are not law, they still represent a hostile act against the peoples of Sudan and Iran. They seek to create an atmosphere where people in the United States could be influenced and convinced to support a military interventionist policy toward both Sudan and Iran, two oil producing nations targeted by the Bush administration for regime change.

The Sudanese people must decide their own future

It is important that anti-imperialist forces in the United States and internationally understand what is at stake in Sudan. The Bush administration as well as other previous American leaders have coveted the oil, agricultural and other mineral wealth of this African country. It is this imperative that drives the propaganda and other acts of military aggression against not only Sudan but many other geo-political regions throughout Africa and the so-called developing world.

The people of Sudan must be allowed to resolve their own internal struggles aimed at forging unity and national development. It should not be up to the United States or the former colonial power of Britain to set the moral tone for what is acceptable in Sudan.

Sudan has a tremendous history of maintaining independence through both political and military efforts. They heroically fought the British during the 19th century before eventually falling under the yoke of colonialism for many decades.

Today the Sudanese people are resisting imperialist efforts to topple their government, seize and exploit the natural resources of the country and to place western military forces in the Darfur region which would serve as buffer zone between French imperialist influence in Chad and an encroaching American and British destabilization campaign in the rest of the country. People who oppose imperialism in all its shapes and forms must support of the Sudanese in their struggle against political domination and economic exploitation.

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