George Snedeker snedeker at
Sun Sep 9 18:40:11 MDT 2001

Sudan and Oil

By John Alan

For over 18 years a brutal civil war has been fought in
Sudan between the ruling Arabic speaking Muslims of the
north and the indigenous Black Sudanese living in the south.
The most recent economic reason for this conflict was the
unilateral decision, of the ruling northern Sudanese
government in Khartoum to sell concessions to Western and
Asian oil corporations to drill for oil in Sudan.

Nature had placed Sudan's rich crude petroleum areas in
southern Sudan. To validate its agreement with multinational
oil corporations, the Khartoum regime sent in troops to
clear and protect those areas from any opposition by
southern Sudanese. According to a recent Amnesty
International report, the Arabic Khartoum regime has used
ground attacks, helicopter gunships and indiscriminate
high-altitude bombardment to clear the local population from
oil rich areas.

This massive displacement of the local population was
followed in the last decade by the deployment of additional
weaponry and forces, specifically drafted to protect the oil
fields. The military tactics of the government's security
force destroyed harvests and looted livestock as it occupied
the area to prevent the return of the displaced population.
This scorched earth policy has caused the death of more than
2 million people and has uprooted another 4.4 million, many
of whom may die from famine.

There is a long list of multinational oil corporations now
holding oil drilling concessions in Sudan. Among the major
ones we find the Great Nile Petroleum and Oil Corporation
(GNPOC) with a concession to drill for oil in two areas.
GNPOC's main partner is the China National Petroleum
Corporation (CNPC), owned by the People's Republic of China.
The CNPC owns a 40% share in this project. Other major
shareholders are the Malaysian state-owned Petronas which
has a 30% stake in Canada's Talisman Energy, and Sudapet,
the national petroleum company of Sudan, which has a 5%

The above is only a small list of corporations now
benefiting from drilling for oil in Sudan. More information
about their interlocking share holdings and the selling of
their stock on Wall Street can be found in the Amnesty
International On-Line Report (June 23, 2001.)

It is also public knowledge that Khartoum's take from oil
concessions is $500 million annually. This will climb
steeply, once the oil corporations have recovered their
risk. This will undoubtedly tip the war in the favor of the
Khartoum government. It has given that government the
ability to garrison the main roads and the oil fields armed
to the teeth with tanks and helicopters to fight the
People's Liberation Army in Southern Sudan.

Another appalling thing about Sudan's war, is its racist
dimension. This can't be ignored. On one side is Arab
authoritarian power and on the other side are sub-Saharan
African masses fighting for freedom.

Eric Reeves, in an article for the June issue of THE NATION,
put this race division on the table when he wrote: "The
National Islamic Front looks to the Islamic and Arabic world
for culture and racial identity. Moreover its view of the
Nilotic and Equatorian peoples of the south is animated by a
vicious racism. The most common term of designation in
Arabic is ABID, which translates almost exactly as 'n----r.'
Such attitudes do much to explain why Khartoum has actively
abetted a modern slave trade, directed against racially
'African' people of the South."

The above depiction of Arabs in Sudan as racist in no way
means that Arabs are inherently racist, but, like the racist
European, they become racist in the process of exploitation
of African labor and natural resources. What Sudan tells us
today is that the inherent drive of capitalism to accumulate
an infinite amount of capital, if left unchecked, can lead
to genocide. In other words, racism is a manifestation of
the utter subordination and the alienation of labor in the
process of capital accumulation.

Sudan also tells us, as Raya Dunayevskaya wrote in 1973,
"that political independence does not mean economic
dependence has ended, but on the contrary, the ugly head of
neo-imperialism then first appears. Yet equally crucial were
the new divisions that arose between the leaders and the led
once national independence was achieved. At the same time
new divisions also arose between Arab leadership and the
'uneducated masses.' Whether we look at Zanzibar, which did
succeed in overthrowing its Arab rulers, or to the southern
Sudan, which had not, the need remained the same: a second

Today, oil and more oil is the "ugly head" of
neo-imperialism. To get new sources of oil animates a large
part of the planning and the politics of the George W. Bush
administration. Overcoming that retrogression is the task
for revolutionaries in this country as we confront our own
unfinished revolution and new forms of exploitation and

Copyright (c) 2001 News & Letters. All Rights Reserved.

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