glparramatta glparramatta at greenleft.org.au
Mon Aug 30 01:19:39 MDT 2004

I find it disturbing that the just struggle of the southern Sudanese 
people can be dismissed so lightly by some on the left as merely the 
antics of imperialist agents.

Here's some background that appeared in Green Left Weekly in 1997. 
Please note how the US backed Khartoum's war on the south until the 1990s.


It also seems the just struggle of the Darfuris to be part of a 
democratic and equitible Sudan is being painted in much the same light 
by some on the left. This, I think, stems from a flawed analysis of the 
situation in Sudan.

In fact, both Washington and Sudan agree that the Darfur rebellion must 
be ended. But they disagree over the means. Khartoum wants to crush them 
by any means necessary, while US imperialism wants them bought off with 
some crumbs from Sudan's oil wealth.

Washington *did nothing* to prevent the Khartoum-sponsored slaughter in 
western Sudan for more than year because it was prepared to see if 
Khartoum's strategy would work, as long as it was done quietly.

Washington's priority since Bush came to power was to see the peace deal 
between the SPLA and Khartoum inked, which would allow it to lift US 
sanctions and allow US oil corporations to return to Sudan to share in a 
potential oil profit bonanza. But when the killing in Darfur became 
impossible to ignore, and began to *threaten* the north-south deal, 
Washington and Europe suddenly stepped in to pressure Khartoum to rein 
in its proxy militia, the janjaweed.

Both Khartoum and Washington want to come to an arrangement with each 
other, much as Libya's Gaddafi has just done. The argy-bargy around 
Darfur is all about settling the terms on which that arrangement is to 
be based. Washington does not want an Iraq-style invasion of Sudan.



Louis Proyect wrote:
> David Quarter wrote:
>> FACT: America has actively funded a terrorist rebel militia in the
>> South, known as the "Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA)," to fight
>> against the Sudanese government and spread disenchantment in the south
>> against the government in the north. 
> I see. Before the USA stepped in to "spread disenchantment in the 
> south," everything was hunky-dory. This sort of thing is an 
> embarrassment to the radical movement.
> After independence in 1956, Khartoum's government tended to reflect the 
> strong Arab nationalist dynamic that was at work throughout North Africa 
> and the Middle East. When mixed with a "modernizing" sensibility of 
> intellectuals and technocrats of a leftwing or CP background in the 
> government, the net result was a mixture of paternalism and progressive 
> attitudes directed toward the sub-Saharan sections of the country. 
> Instead of sending Christian missionaries into the south as the British 
> had done, they sent in Islamic preachers, opened Koranic schools and 
> made Arabic mandatory. Such national and religious chauvinism led to the 
> first revolt, which was led by the Anyanya, a guerrilla group who took 
> their name from snake venom obtained by grinding up cobra heads.
> If you want to get a different take on how Muslims fucked over Animist 
> peoples, see "Ceddo" by Ousmene Sembene, the great Senegalese director.
> In "Ceddo", the Animist-worshipping serfs of a small village in 19th 
> century Senegal are miserably oppressed by organized religion--mainly 
> Islam--and by their feudal overlords. Although the structures are much 
> more modest than those found in any feudal society (Islamic services are 
> held on the open ground bounded by pebbles), the bonds enforced by 
> custom are the same. The ceddo, or commoners, must pay tribute to their 
> King in the form of firewood bundles. An Islamic caste also takes 
> tribute in the form of slaves, who are exchanged for guns or cloth in a 
> general store run by a white man. To round out the microcosm of feudal 
> society, there is a single white Catholic priest who is barely tolerated 
> by the Moslems.
> This mixture of ethnic, class and religious oppression *predates* the 
> CIA and Western interference. Remnants of Africa's past are *reinforced* 
> by imperialism, but the ruling classes in Sudan, Ethiopia, Nigeria and 
> elsewhere have refused to attack the material foundations of privilege. 
> If Marxism cannot put a distance between itself and this kind of rotten 
> social system, it has nothing to say to the African people.

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