Carnage & Crisis Aversion in the Sudan

Sudan: West Promoting War, Israel Providing Arms, Bankers Peddling “Human Rights”

Nile Bowie


May 8, 2012  

the United Nations’ recent approval of Resolution 2046 threatening the
nations of Sudan and South Sudan with sanctions [1], the success of
international attempts at conflict aversion in the region appear to be
in question. Hostilities between the two nations have climaxed since
South Sudanese forces captured the region of Heglig, an oil-producing
site 70 kilometers into Sudanese territory [2]. South Sudanese forces
have also maintained a presence in the long disputed border region of
Abyei in Southern Kordofan, where Juba has recently vowed to withdraw
its personnel from [3]. Although Khartoum has agreed to comply with the
United Nations resolution, it has vowed to continue military operations
against South Sudan’s troops as long as they remain within the territory
of Sudan, “Sudan has declared its commitment to a United Nations
resolution calling for an end to military operations, but the other
side’s troops still remain on our territory; they have occupied two
districts and have not stopped their hostile actions” [4]. 

As Juba denies Khartoum’s
claims of occupying Sudanese territory, South Sudan’s newly released official
map includes the Heglig region and six areas that are “contested and occupied”
by Khartoum [5]. Amid the escalating regional tension, China has recently
offered South Sudan an $8 billion development package set to allocate funds for
road construction, hydropower, infrastructure and agricultural projects
following South Sudanese President Salva Kiir’s visit to Beijing [6]. China has
traditionally been a key partner to the government in Khartoum, but has
steadily increased its influence in South Sudan since its independence in 2011,
primarily through investments via state-owned Chinese oil companies China
National Petroleum and Sinopec. As inflation rates in Sudan reportedly
rise to 21% following increased military expenditure since clashes erupted with
Juba in late March 2012 [7], China’s extensive economic engagement in the
region offers the leverage needed to potentially play the role of a mediator in
the Sudanese conflict.  

The emergence of South
Sudan as an independent state came at a heavy price for Khartoum, as an
estimated 85% of the country’s oil production came under Juba’s control.
Although South Sudan holds a majority of oil reserves, Juba has relied on the
Greater Nile Oil Pipeline for its oil exports, a pipeline operated by the China
National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) extending to Port Sudan on the Red Sea
via Khartoum [8]. Under a barrage of economic sanctions, Khartoum sought to implement oil transit fees for the use of the Greater
Nile Oil Pipeline, by charging Juba around $36 per
Juba holds over $11 billion in oil
transit debt and
has refused the figures proposed by Khartoum, prompting
Juba to suspend its oil production [9]. Juba has accused its northern neighbor of launching air
strikes on its territories, while both sides also accuse each other of backing
rebel militia, claims that Khartoum has denied [10]. Following the fiery
rhetoric espoused by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir describing Juba’s ruling
Sudan People’s Liberation Movement as “insects,” Bashir now concedes, “We
look with wisdom and foresight to well-established relations between us and the
people of South Sudan” [11].

As a climate of
uncertainty persists beneath irresponsibly bellicose exchanges, the
implementation of a campaign to unseat Omar al-Bashir and bring down the
government in Khartoum has long been underway. A recent Op-Ed published in The
New York Times by Dr. Gérard Prunier entitled “In Sudan, Give War a Chance
reflects a predominately Western political school of thought which favors the
prospect of full scale war to bring about regime change in Sudan. Prunier
laments, “The international community has called for a cease-fire and peace
talks, but the return of violence is not necessarily a bad thing,” before concluding
“an all-out civil war in Sudan may be the best way to permanently oust Mr.
Bashir and minimize casualties” [12]. Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir is the first
sitting head of state to be charged with genocide by the International Criminal
Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity conducted in Sudan’s western Darfur
region; ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo accuses
Bashir of keeping millions of refugees in an environment resembling a “gigantic
Auschwitz” [13].

Violence and infighting in
Sudan has traditionally been a product of tension along ethnic lines, more so
than religious differences. Although the modern Sudanese state has been divided
along ethno-religious lines with the religiously Islamic and ethnically Arab
government in Khartoum split from the ethnically African and religiously
Christian government in Juba, tribal minorities such as the ethnically African
and religiously Islamic Fur and Zaghawa groups in Sudan’s western Darfur region
have long demanded reparations for the
marginalization they’ve experienced from Khartoum [14]
. In a recent
report issued by Amnesty International entitled “Sudan: No End to Violence in Darfur,” the organization attributes China, former
Soviet Union countries and Belarus for selling arms to the Government of Sudan.
Amnesty International’s report omits any mention of Israel, who has reportedly
provided heavy military logistical support to the Justice and Equality Movement
(JEM), Darfur’s most powerful armed rebel group [15].

Although the United
Nations does not recognize the conduct of the Sudanese government in Darfur as
“genocide” [16], mass media campaigns publicizing the alleged violence in Sudan
have been embraced by celebrity personalities such as George Clooney. TIME
magazine warns of the increased prospects for genocide in South Kordofan’s Nuba
Mountains region, as rebels affiliated with South Sudan’s ex-rebel militia, the
Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) take up arms against Khartoum once again
[17]. Clooney has recently partnered with John Prendergast of The Enough
Project to produce a promotional video depicting ethnic Nuba villagers
displaying English language placards calling for the establishment of a “No-Fly
Zone” and the prosecution of Omar al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court
[18]. The Enough Project was co-founded by US
State Department Distinguished Service Award recipient John Prendergast and launched in 2007 under the Center for American Progress
[19], an organization sponsored by billionaire investor George Soros and
Lewis of Progressive, a Fortune 500 insurance company, among others [20]. John
Podesta, who heads the Podesta Group, a Washington lobbying firm representing
the interests of weapon-manufacturers Lockheed Martin and oil conglomerates
such as British Petroleum [21], also chairs the Center for American Progress

In 2006, the Sudanese
government barred 20,000 UN troops from running peacekeeping operations in
Darfur, as then-Presidential Advisor Mustafa Osman
Ismail argued that the UN mandate’s goal was the implementation of “regime
in Khartoum [23]. The sources of weaponry and covert
assistance received by rebel groups in Sudan are rarely a subject of
speculation among religious and political organizations who have long supported
the international campaign to pressure Sudan. In 2007, the
American Jewish World Service and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum launched a
“Save Darfur”
coalition, which gained the support of adherents to
intervention in Iraq, such as right-wing evangelical Christian groups and major
organizational affiliates of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee
(AIPAC) [24]. According to The Jerusalem Post, the Save Darfur coalition
launched a high-profile advertising campaign that included full-page newspaper
ads, television spots and billboards calling for the imposition of a no-fly
zone over Darfur with financial assistance the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan,
United Jewish Communities, UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Council
for Public Affairs [25]. 

While the blame for
violence in Sudan is laid squarely on Khartoum’s shoulders, Israeli-led foreign
elements have contributed to the training, financing, and arming of rebel
militias and forces opposed to the Sudanese government within Sudan. Since
1969, Israel has reportedly trained recruits, shipped weapons, and offered
support to South Sudanese SPLA rebels [26]. Prior to South Sudan’s independence,
Israel relied primarily on a flight route to Entebbe,
Uganda to supply SPLA with weapons [27], however Tel Aviv now
missiles, military equipment, and even mercenaries to Juba quite openly [28].
As Israel covertly operates in East Africa immune from international criticism
following their bombing of Sudanese convoys in 2009 [29], the influence of
Israeli think tanks such as The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political
Studies (IASPS) toward the creation of AFRICOM, the US Africa Command, remains
a significant indication of the foreign policy directives being taken by Tel
Aviv and Washington in Africa [30].

The Sudan exists as
sub-Saharan Africa’s third largest oil producer with over
6.6 billion barrels of proven oil reserves [31]; an estimated
85% of
those reserves have been ordained to Juba, in the
Republic of South Sudan [32]. 
As China exists
as Sudan’s largest trading partner by purchasing
40% of Sudan’s oil with the excess majority largely designated to Asian
markets [33], reordering and monopolizing Sudan’s vast oil fields and mineral
wealth is the capital incentive behind t
he unwavering support for the
secession of South Sudan shown by US, EU, and Israeli officials. Members of the
Sudanese opposition and various rebel separatist groups often visit Tel Aviv,
Sudan’s main SPLA opposition even opened an office
in Israel to promote its “
policies and
vision” in the region [34]. In
reflection of
Israel’s active support for the Southern
opposition, South Sudanese citizens were seen waving Israeli flags during their
Independence celebrations in July 2011 [35]. For the likely guarantee of
support, the South Sudanese government in Juba
applied for IMF
membership in April 2011 before it had even
officially gained independence from Sudan [36].


As Israel and Washington
offer their support to the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in Darfur and
various rebel militias opposed to the Sudanese government, China’s interests in
the region come under direct attack from these very rebel groups, most prominently
in JEM’s October 2007 attack on the Greater Nile Petroleum Company in Defra,
Kordofan [37]. The World Bank has recently warned
that South Sudan may collapse by its two-year anniversary, due to the
ramifications of halting production of at least 75% of the regional oil in
frustration with Khartoum’s claims on oil-transit debt and revenue [
Apparently, authorities in Juba are either unprepared politically for
independence or lacking the appropriate guidance to effectively manage its
internal affairs. In a recent meeting between Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping
and Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti, China urged the warring
neighbors to settle their differences and negotiate [39].

As China would prefer to
align with its traditional approach of non-interventionist diplomacy, Beijing
has an opportunity to exploit its influence in the region to not only further
its own interests, but to defer criticism from parties loyal to Washington who
credit China with sponsoring bloodshed through its business interests [40] and
political positions [41]. By pursuing the role of a mediator, China can
preserve its interests by overseeing negotiations on trade regulations,
citizens rights, demarcation and territory status between the neighboring
Sudans’. As Juba depends on oil exports for 98% of its income [42], it must
negotiate with Khartoum to settle its debts and agree on a mutual per-barrel
fee for its use of the Greater Nile Oil
Pipeline, as construction of a new pipeline from oil
fields in South Sudan to a theoretical end point at the Kenyan port of Mombasa
would take years to construct. While the current US Vice President Joseph Biden
once called on the US to exert military force against Sudan [43], it remains
crucial for the leaders of both Sudanese nation states to come to an agreement
regarding the status of the Heglig region and other disputed areas claimed by
both sides, lest peacekeeping forces internationally administer these contested

Any attempts at imposing
an arms embargo throughout the Sudan would be entirely disregarded by both
sides, which are already adequately armed. While attempts to rally public
support behind Western intervention in Sudan rely on emphasizing the human
rights violations of Khartoum, claims of 6,000 people being slaughtered by
Gaddafi used to justify NATO intervention in Libya remain unverified [44].
Given the distinct ethno-religious differences of South Sudanese society and
long history of striving for autonomy, their existence as a nation state is
warranted. It is irresponsible to deny both Khartoum’s unwarranted and brutal
treatment of civilians within its territory and the US-Israeli policy of
inflaming national and regional antagonisms in Sudan by arming rebel militias,
to the benefit of corporations seeking to control and develop oil fields and
mineral deposits. 

While the allied powers in
Washington and Tel Aviv would prefer to advocate aggressive policy to ensure
against the survival of the regime in Khartoum, the institutional influence of
Russia and China in the UNSC provides an opportunity for emerging powers to
exert an alternative model of non-aggressive crisis aversion. China may thinly
support future economic sanctions on the Sudans in hesitation to involve itself
in the domestic issues of other nations, however Beijing could best exercise
its influence by urging Khartoum to meet with tribal leaders to guarantee a
ceasefire and develop a true federal system that would allow for local
autonomy. As the Sudanese leadership in Khartoum projects itself as an Islamic
nation, it should recall the final great address of the Islamic Prophet at
Mount Arafat, who called for the rejection of social distinctions based on
ethnicity and color.


[1] U.N. Resolution Threatens Sanctions
Against Sudan and South Sudan
, The New York Times, May 3, 2012

[2] Sudan mobilises army over seizure of
oilfield by South Sudan
, The Guardian, April 11, 2012

[3] South Sudan police to withdraw from
, Sudan Tribune, April 29, 2012

[4] Sudan refuses to stop fighting with South Sudan,
Russia Today, May 5, 2012

[5] New official S. Sudan map to include disputed border
, Russia Today, May 5, 2012

[6] China ‘offers South Sudan $8bn for
, Al Jazeera, April 29, 2012

[7] Sudan inflation up by 21% in Q1 2012,
Sudan Tribune, May 4, 2012

[8] Focus on diplomacy and Sudan,
APS Diplomat News Service, August 15, 2008

[9] Sudan inflation up by 21% in Q1 2012,
Sudan Tribune, May 4, 2012

[10] Bashir says wants warm relations with
South Sudanese
, Chicago Tribune, May 6, 2012

[11] Ibid

[12] In Sudan, Give War a Chance,
The New York Times, May 4, 2012

[13] Omar al-Bashir charged with Darfur
, The Guardian, July 10,

[14] The Peoples of Darfur,
Cultural Survival, 2010

[15] Sudan: Israel arming Darfur rebels,
PressTV, February 2, 2009

[16] U.N. report: Darfur not genocide,
CNN, February 1, 2005

[17] Darfur Redux: Is ‘Ethnic Cleansing’
Occurring in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains?
TIME, June 14, 2011

[18] George Clooney Witnesses War Crimes
in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains
, Enough Project, March 14, 2012

[19] About Us, Enough Project, 2012

[20] John Podesta, Shepherd of a
Government in Exile
, The New York Times, November 6, 2008

[21] Hired Guns: The City’s 50 Top
, Washingtonian, June 1, 2007

[22] John Podesta, Center
for American Progress, 2012

[23] Sudan says AU can stay in Darfur but
not under UN
, Sudan Tribune, September 4, 2006

[24] Darfur Advocacy Group Undergoes a
, The New York Times, June 2, 2007

[25] US Jews leading Darfur rally planning,
The Jerusalem Post, April 27, 2006

[26] Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA),
Global Security, 2012

[27] Israeli weapons ‘bound for rebels’ in
southern Sudan: Arms may be destined for SPLA fight against Khartoum
The Independent, March 19, 1994

[28] Report: Israelis arming South Sudan
with missiles
, YNet News, April 5, 2012

[29] U.S. Officials say Israel Struck
, The New York Times, March 26, 2009

[30] AFRICOM: Control of Africa,
VoltaireNet, 2012

[31] BP Statistical Review of World Energy,
British Petroleum, June, 2008

[32] The secession of South Sudan,
Tehran Times, July 11, 2011

[33] Oil for China, Guns for Darfur,
BusinessWeek, March 14, 2008

[34] Sudan’s SPLM reportedly opens an
office in Israel – statement
, Sudan Tribune, March 5, 2008

[35] Israeli Flags at South Sudan
Independence Celebrations
, Al Jazeera, July 9, 2011

[36] South Sudan formally applies for IMF
, Sudan Tribune, April 21, 2011

[37] Darfur rebels spurn Chinese force,
BBC, November 2007

[38] South Sudan Experiment Headed Toward
, OilPrice, May 08, 2012

[39] China / Politics   Xi
pushes for Sudanese talks
, China Daily, February 29, 2012

[40] China defends arms sales to Sudan,
BBC, February 22, 2008

[41] Hillary Clinton lambastes ‘travesty’
of UN veto on Syria
, MSNBC, February 5, 2012

[42] Juba could face blackout in days –
, Sudan Tribune, March 29, 2012

[43] Biden calls for military force in Darfur,
MSNBC, April 11, 2007

[44] Israel and Libya: Preparing Africa
for the “Clash of Civilizations,”
Centre for Research on
Globalization, October 11, 2011