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August 2000 - Current Index Complete Index This Month     MiddleEast.Org 8/28/00
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MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 28 August 2000:
   The Muslim government in Khartoum has been brutally supressing the southern Sudanese for many years now.  Estimates are that more than 2 million Sudanese, mostly Christians and non-Muslims who live in the south of the country, have been killed in the past 20 years!
   Recently Canada and China, for reasons of oil supply and financial greed, have begun to help the government in Khartoum.  The Canadians are mostly interested in making money, copying the Americans.  The Chinese have oil as well as geopolitical considerations in mind -- they are making an end-run entry into the region with aspirations for neo-superpower status down the road.  The Russians are involved as well.
   Amazingly, Sudan has been nominated by the African group of states for "the African seat" on the U.N. Security Council -- just one more sign how unprincipled and shameful today's U.N. has become.  After so many years of cynical manipulation by the U.S. everyone else it seems is becoming super cynical as well.
   These two stories from the Telegraph in England tell part of the story of what is going on in African's largest country where an orgy of bloodletting is being fueled  by foreigners, this time the U.S. not in the lead -- for reasons of its own of course, certainly not because of concern for a decent respect for human rights!

                     CHINA PUTS 700,000 TROOPS ON SUDAN ALERT
                    By Christina Lamb, Diplomatic Correspondent

[Telegraph, UK, 28 August]
TENS of thousands of Chinese troops and prisoners forced to work as
security guards have been moved into Sudan.
Col Johnny Garang: the SPLA has recently advanced to within 10 miles of the
oilfields in the Upper Nile region.

They have been sent in preparation for a big offensive against southern
rebels to try to bring to an end one of Africa's longest-running conflicts,
according to Western counter-terrorism officials.The Chinese have been
brought in by aircraft and ship, ostensibly to guard Sudan's increasingly
productive oilfields in which the China National Petroleum Corporation is a
leading partner.

Col Johnny Garang's Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) has managed in
recent weeks to advance within 10 miles of the oilfields in the Upper Nile
region, causing the country's Islamic regime to activate emergency plans
drawn up with allies whose interests in the oil project are directly under

These plans aim to crush the rebels from the mainly Christian and animist
south and bring to an end the 17-year civil war that has cost an estimated
two million lives. Since oil production began last year arms have been
arriving from Libya, Qatar and China. The ruling National Islamic Front (NIF)
is spending £300 million a year of its oil revenues on weapons, according to
western intelligence sources.

The NIF denies this charge but last month Gen Mohamed Osman Yassin, the
Sudanese army spokesman, told student conscripts that "thanks to our growing
oil industry" Sudan is now "manufacturing ammunition, mortars, tanks and
armoured personnel carriers". The SPLA captured a group of Chinese in an
attack last week.

An internal document from the Sudanese military said that as many as 700,000
Chinese security personnel were available for action. Three flights a week
have been taking the Chinese into Sudan since work on the oilfields started
three years ago. Diplomats in Khartoum, however, cast doubt on the numbers.

Baroness Caroline Cox, the leading human rights campaigner who has just
returned from Sudan where she helped to free 353 slaves captured by NIF
soldiers, yesterday accused western governments of turning a blind eye to
what is going on because of their own economic interests in the oil.

She warned: "If with foreign help the NIF regime crushes all opposition we
will have entrenched in the heart of Africa a militant Islamist regime aimed
at spreading terrorism throughout the continent. It's unbelievably serious
for the future of democracy in Africa and could happen in the next few weeks.."

She was particularly critical of the British Government. Last month it
welcomed the Sudanese foreign minister on a visit even although Sudan is
still technically under United Nations sanctions that ban such visits, and
officially is still regarded as a pariah state. She said: "The British
Government has developed a complete cosy relationship to a regime which is
raping, bombing and taking its people into slavery. It doesn't fit at all
with our so-called ethical foreign policy, and there is no question the shift
has come because of the oil."

Two British companies have won contracts to build pumping stations on the
1,000-mile pipeline from the Heglig oilfield, in the war-torn south, to the
Red Sea. British oil companies have also discussed investing in the Sudanese
oil industry, described in a Department of Trade and Industry pamphlet this
year as "a tremendous opportunity".

The Canadian multi-national Talisman Energy, the main backer of the pipeline
with the Chinese and Malaysians national oil companies, has faced public
outcry over its involvement. Reports that thousands of civilians have been
killed and driven from their homes in order to secure the oilfields have led
North American consumers to boycott petrol stations, and pension funds to
sell shares.

There has been so much criticism that America imposed economic sanctions on
Sudan's oil enterprise. The mission was told that Talisman's contractual
obligation more or less provides that the oilfield facilities can be used for
military purposes. A UN rapporteur told the mission: "If oil companies don't
know what's going on they're not looking over the fences of their compounds."

As fighting has escalated in recent months, the NIF has stepped up attacks on
civilian targets. Yesterday Washington condemned the raids on civilian and
relief targets including schools, hospitals and feeding stations. According
to the SPLA, five such attacks took place last week, making it impossible for
agencies to deliver aid.

A Western aid worker in southern Sudan said: "Everyone knows what is going
on. We've all seen the Chinese being brought in and can only pray about
what's going to happen next."


               By W F Deedes in Western Upper Nile, Sudan

[Telegraph, 28 March 2000]
SUDAN'S forgotten war, in which two million have died and four million have
been internally displaced, has been cruelly reignited by conflict around the
oilfields of Upper Nile.

With grim satisfaction, the local commander of "rebel" forces showed me the
instrument panel of a Russian helicopter gunship recently shot down by his
men. It symbolised, he claimed, the terror campaign being waged by Sudanese
forces against the local population in defence of Sudan's burgeoning
oilfields. After travelling around the Western Upper Nile region for a few
days, I can report that the claim has substance.

In these oilfields, Talisman Energy Inc, Canada's largest independent oil and
gas company, owns 25 per cent of five oil blocks in the Heglig-Pariang area
of South Kordofan and western Upper Nile. It has been in the business since
August 1998. The other principal participants are Malaysia and China. To
secure the increasingly productive oilfields from attack countless civilians
have been killed and thousands more have been driven from their homes.

Disturbed by criticism of Canada's place in all this, Lloyd Axworthy, its
Foreign Minister, recently sent a mission to Sudan to assess the situation.
Its report, completed last month, seems to confirm assertions by United
Nations rapporteurs that oil is prolonging Sudan's agony.

The war in the Sudan is Africa's longest-running conflict, pitting the
Islamic government in Khartoum against the south's mainly Christian rebel
movement. After some 40 years of intermittent fighting a truce has failed to
bring a lasting peace.

Concern about oilfield security "has brought displacement, pacification and
insecurity to the eastern part of Unity State/Western Upper Nile", the
Canadian report concludes. It has intensified fighting not just between the
government and "rebels", but also among the Southerners themselves, "which
has magnified human suffering".

The mission was told that Talisman's contractual obligation more or less
provides that the oilfield facilities can be used for military purposes.
Talisman's version is that these are "defensive purposes". It is an
embarrassing situation for Canada as the atmosphere in the region is
poisonous. Not only has there been killing and massive displacement around
here, there have also been many abductions of women and children.

"Abduction" is the word preferred by the UN, required by the government of
Sudan, and used in the Canadian mission's report, for slavery. The UN
Children's Fund told me that Christian Solidarity International freed 2,035
slaves in July, bringing to 11,000 the total number freed since 1995. CSI pay
£35 to Arab middlemen who buy the slaves back from their masters in the north.

Many, including Unicef, are critical of CSI's transactions, reckoning that
they fuel the slave trade. There are believed to be a further 15,000 women
and children in this form of captivity. I felt intense pity for the displaced
people I met, homeless, hungry, in wretched condition, many of their small
children in poor health. I felt also astonishment that a country of Canada's
standing should be entangled in such a denial of human rights.

As a local official from Nhialdiu, the first village I visited, had observed
to Canada's mission: "Civilians, cattle, children have been killed, homes
burned. We don't think we are included in the human rights of the world."
Even relief flights run by Operation Lifeline Sudan have been banned in the
area since last summer.

What, one then wondered, has been the attitude of Talisman to all this? Dr
James Buckee, the British-born president and chief executive of Talisman,
wrote to reassure Mr Axworthy: "Corporate ethics has always been a strong
internal priority at Talisman." The mind reels.

But the Canadian mission reports a UN rapporteur as saying: "If oil companies
don't know what's going on, they're not looking over the fences of their
compounds." At first, Talisman's line was that the oilfield area has never
known permanent habitation due to flooding. Later the line changed. The
mission reports: "For Talisman, so very much seems to be explained as 'merely
an inter-tribal problem'.

"But displacement has gone on and is still going on, and in Ruweng County
(where the population is half what it was) it is hard to deny that
displacement is now, and has been for some time, because of oil."

Mr Axworthy has promised financial assistance for a local body dealing with
slavery, better monitoring of the human rights situation, and a new office in
Khartoum to assist the peace process. He also urges Talisman to put its house
in order. It seems unlikely that matters will end there. For very big stakes
are attached to these oilfields. Since the oil began to flow to Port Sudan
last August, the economic outlook for Khartoum has been transformed.

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