Summary: There is oil in Darfur. The Sudanese government is using the same tactics to evict millions of Darfuri as they used in the South a decade ago. They are using Chinese money to finance their operations. The US is attempting to create international pressure against the Al-Bashir government by calling Darfur a ‘genocide.’ The US is also financing the Chadian government to the west of Sudan. The Chadian government is financing Dafuri rebels. The Chinese and the US are fighting a proxy battle for Darfur, an area with potentially vast oil reserves, at the expense of millions of Darfuris.
In 2005, Reuters published an article entitled: Oil Discover adds new twist to Darfur.
“Sudan announced in April that its ABCO corporation… had begun drilling for oil in Darfur, where preliminary studies showed there were “abundant” quantities of oil. The news has prompted some humanitarian experts to wonder whether oil could be guiding Khartoum’s actions in Darfur, where a scorched-earth policy against rebels’ communities has left tens of thousands dead and forced at least 2 million from their homes.”
This is one of two mainstream media articles I found that mention Oil and Darfur in the same sentence. The other was in this BBC article. Once again, the mainstream press has neglected to inform us of WTF is going on. Darfur is, in fact, another narrative consistent with the rest of Sudanese oil history.
In 1974, Chevron was granted large oil concessions in southern Sudan. They discovered oil in that region in 1978 and began developing the fields. Unfortunately for Chevron and the ruling elite in Khartoum, the southern Sudanese weren’t willing to give away their oil wealth. In 1984, rebels from the south attacked a Chevron facility and the company suspended operations. This all happened within the context of a number of rebel groups in the south using violence to pressure the central government to give them more autonomy. In 1992, Chevron sold their oil operations to a Sudanese corporation.
The central government outsourced much of the conflict to militia groups in the south just as they have with the Janjaweed in Darfur. They financed a lot of this conflict with money from Chinese, Canadian and Swiss oil companies. Recently, the Chinese have purchased most of the oil rights in Sudan from other companies.
The Human Rights Watch report titled: Sudan: Oil Companies Complicit in Rights Abuses, published on November 25, 2003, explains the tactics used by the government in the south. The following is from a HRW press release publicizing that report:
“In addition to its regular army, the government has deployed militant Islamist militias to prosecute the war, and has armed southern factions in a policy of ethnic manipulation and destabilization… The Sudanese government has used the oil money in conducting scorched-earth campaigns to drive hundreds of thousands of farmers and pastoralists from their homes atop the oil fields. These civilians have not been compensated nor relocated peacefully-far from it. Instead, government forces have looted their cattle and grain, and destroyed their homes and villages, killed and injured their relatives, and even prevented emergency relief agencies from bringing any assistance to them.”
This is a report from Southern Sudan! Not Darfur! They are using the same tactics but no one is talking about why.
The probability of oil in the Darfur region is high because proven reserves exist immediately south and west of Darfur. Pipelines have also been built to bring oil from the region to the coast. The presence of oil in Darfur would also explain why the Sudanese government takes the risk of enraging the international community by utilizing difficult to control militias to terrorize their own people. America is mounting an international campaign to label Darfur a ‘genocide’ because they seek to oust the pro-China, Al-Bashir administration.
American relations with the the al-Bashir administration were doomed from the start because America had supported the former Sudanese administrations that had been overthrown by Al-Bashir in June of 1989. Al-Bashir strengthened the Islamic foundation of Sudan, enacting Sharia law and, over time, realigned Sudanese economic development behind Chinese rather than American interests. The State Department also alleges that the Sudanese government has a relationship with Al-Qaeda13 and other fundamentalist Islamic organizations so it is clear that al-Bashir’s administration will never be subservient to American interests.
The Bush administration wants regime change in Sudan more than they want peace in Darfur and they’re putting their money where their mouth is.
The US relationship with Chad to the west of Darfur is almost never reported by the mainstream media. The US supports the Chadian government (they have oil) and Chad is financing rebel groups in Darfur who are fighting all the way to Khartoum. In fact, on May 12, a rebel group called the JEM with connections to Chad invaded Khartoum. This is a massive story because its the first time Darfuri rebels brought the battle to the capital but since it doesn’t fit with the mainstream media narrative of defenseless Darfuris being targeted indiscriminately by Arabs, no one is talking much about it.
The Chinese and the US are fighting a proxy battle for oil at the expense of millions of Darfuris. If we want to stop the conflict in Darfur, we need to hear the real story. The mainstream media, once again, has created a circus out of Darfur instead of contextualizing the conflict.
For the best report I’ve even seen on Darfur, check out VBS TV’s report entitled Inside Sudan.
The following are my sources:
Rolandsen, Oystein W. African Guerillas: The Jajawiid and Government Militias. London: Lynne Rienner. 2007
UN Sudan NIG: The History And Origins Of The Current Conflict In Darfur
Washington Post: Moon, Dan Ki. A Climate Culprit In Darfur. Saturday, June 16, 2007; Page A15
Annan welcomes extension of African Union mission in Darfur
Reuters: Oil discovery adds new twist to Darfur tragedy http://www.alertnet.org/thefacts/reliefresources/111885496661.htm
BBC: Head-to-head: Darfur situation
Human Rights Watch
New York Times: Scorched-Earth Strategy Returns to Darfur. Published: March 2, 2008.
Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1998 Overview of State-Sponsored Terrorism
Washington Post: U.S. Calls Killings In Sudan Genocide: Khartoum and Arab Militias Are Responsible, Powell
Says. Friday, September 10, 2004; Page A01 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A8364-2004Sep9.html