US and British imperialism have ruined Sudan    

‘If the south goes there will be no more Sudan’ – Malik Agar, Sudan Revolutionary Front ‘rebel’ leader and former governor of Blue Nile state, 2009.

On 28 October 2015, President Obama extended US sanctions on Sudan for the 18th consecutive year as part of a strategy to maintain Sudan in political and economic isolation. Its aim has been to break Sudan up into smaller bite-size chunks so as to deny vital energy resources to strategic rival China, Sudan’s main trade partner. South Sudan, a creation of imperialism which broke away in 2011 has descended into war barely three years after it was formed. The imperialists do not want South Sudan to collapse entirely, and are determined to keep it as a thorn in the side of Sudan regardless of the human cost.

In 1982, Sudan was the top recipient of US aid in sub-Saharan Africa. The US wanted to sever Sudan’s ties with Gaddafi’s Libya, counter Soviet influence in the country and prise Sudan out of the non-aligned movement. There has been continuous civil war in Sudan since independence in 1956, apart from a 10-year gap between 1972 and 1982. Its origins go back to the British colonial occupation and its deliberate divide-and-rule strategy: the north and south were governed as two separate administrations to encourage separate identities. The British imperialists ‘developed’ the north and ignored the south.

After a military coup brought General Omar al Bashir to power in June 1989, USAID suspended its ‘non-humanitarian aid’. The blockade was progressively tightened in the 1990s after Sudan supported Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. In August 1993, Sudan was designated a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’.  Sudan gave refuge to Osama Bin Laden and other Islamic fundamentalist groups until 1996. In November 1997, President Clinton imposed sanctions on the country and in August 1998 authorised the bombing of the al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory on the pretext it was a chemical weapons factory.  It was sub-Saharan Africa's largest pharmaceutical plant, the only source of drugs that were lifelines to hundreds of thousands of people. Following the 9/11 attack in  September 2001, the US according General Wesley Clark, put Sudan on a list of ‘seven countries [the US] was going to take out in five years … Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran’.

Sudan is believed to hold Africa’s largest unexploited oil reserves. Asian countries, especially China, have been the main beneficiaries of oil exploitation which began in 1997. The unilateral withdrawal of US capital left the way open for Russian and Chinese capital which built a local arms industry and Sudan’s oil infrastructure.

To deny oil supplies to China, the US, France, and Britain and their local allies began an armed rebellion in west Sudan (Darfur) in February 2003. The ‘rebels’ then split into 30 infighting factions, much to the chagrin of the imperialists who had armed them. The imperialists used Israel in an attempt to unify the rebels. The Darfur war has cost the lives of over 300,000 people and displaced around 2.5 million people. Most victims of Darfur’s civil war died of starvation, malnutrition and preventable diseases. The imperialists constantly urged the Darfur ‘rebels’ behind the scenes not to agree to any proposals put forward by Sudan in rounds of negotiations that have become meaningless.

The constant behind-the-scenes machinations of the imperialists culminated with the secession in July 2011 of South Sudan, which took with it oil revenues that exceeded $7bn annually. Sudan lost 75% of its oil revenue as a consequence, 46% of public treasury revenues and 80% of foreign currency earnings. With state expenditure ($10.2bn) exceeding income ($8.1bn), Sudan has been forced to adopt austerity policies and to cancel subsidies on fuel, wheat and strategic goods. The IMF has supported this. This has inevitably led to social explosions and deadly protests such as those in September-October 2013 which were brutally repressed by the government with 210 people killed. Sudan’s economic problems are in essence political.

With Sudan’s economy buckling, the imperialists hoped that South Sudan would finish off the job. It hasn’t quite happened that way. A political crisis when South Sudan President Salva Kiir tried to consolidate his power by dissolving decision-making organs led to an explosion of violence in December 2013. Tens of thousands of people have died, 1.64 million people are internally displaced, and another 628,000 have fled into neighbouring countries, while over 4.6 million people (more than a third of the population) face starvation. In April 2014, the US froze military aid and the EU imposed an arms embargo. Eight ‘ceasefire’ agreements have failed so far to achieve peace.

The UN in March 2015 reported that South Sudanese soldiers and their allied militias killed civilians, kidnapped and raped women and girls, burned down and destroyed villages and forced some 100,000 people to flee their homes. Some people were burned alive in their homes. The ‘rebels’ have also carried out similar crimes. Israel has been training soldiers in South Sudan and selling the country arms, making it complicit in the war crimes. Israeli ‘transport aircraft land at the airport in South Sudan every day’ unloading arms and mercenaries (Al-Monitor.com). Up to 300 British troops are to be sent to South Sudan and Somalia under the pretext of ‘training, engineering, and mentoring’.

The economic blockade on Sudan did not end with South Sudan’s secession, and now violent conflicts have erupted in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in the southern part of the country. Whatever the motivation of these new ‘rebels’, it is clear that they are being used to further the imperialist’s agenda of regime change. In response Sudan is looking for new allies for investment. Iraq is to build an oil refinery in Bor port. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is to invest $10 billion in agricultural land. Saudi Arabia is the destination for the largest number of Sudanese migrant workers, followed by Kuwait, Qatar and UAE. In exchange, Sudan has sent 900 troops to support Saudi Arabia’s bombing and occupation of Yemen. Canada, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Nigeria have recently started exploration in new Sudanese oil fields.

Imperialist interference has underdeveloped Sudan and as a consequence the country is steadily disintegrating. With so much bloodshed, displacement and destruction, Sudan’s future looks bleak unless the the US and British imperialists are ejected from the region.

Imperialism and Sudan: same oil story / FRFI 181 Oct / Nov 2004

FRFI 181 October/ November 2004

Imperialism and Sudan: same oil story

The civil war in oil-rich Darfur, simmering since 1985, escalated into tragedy for millions of people from February 2003 onwards. The conflict is estimated to have killed between 55,000 and 100,000 people and driven up to 1.5 million people from their land. 110,000 people have sought refuge in neighbouring Chad. Whatever is behind the attacks on the people in Darfur, the imperialists, aided by a vapid media and complicit aid agencies, made their own plans long ago, and they did not include averting a humanitarian disaster, preventing genocide or ‘providing security for Darfur’s people’. Just as they did at the end of the 19th century in the rush for gold and diamonds, in a renewed competitive rush to plunder the oppressed nations of the world for their natural resources, especially oil, the imperialists are intent on neo-colonising and controlling Africa’s vast resources. Charles Chinweizu reports.


According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Sudanese military and government-backed militia (Janjaweed, of Arab descent) have been indiscriminately bombing civilians, destroying villages and conducting brutal raids against African ethnic groups, including routine rape of women and girls and abduction of children. The internal conflict is posed as ethnic strife when the real driving force for the violence which is victimising millions of poor people is the ownership and control of Sudan’s oil. Sudan does not manufacture helicopter gunships or fighter bombers – they have been supplied covertly by the US (or directly via clients Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Egypt), Russia and China. Fighting against the government in the south, including in Darfur, are the Islamist Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the ‘secular radicals’ of the Darfur Liberation Front (now renamed the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M). The rebels are well armed, mobile, have good intelligence and claim to have popular support. Behind these armed groups are the funds, arms and training provided by Israel, the US, Britain and France who act through neighbouring states.

Kleptomaniacs eye Africa
Africa is enormously rich in the raw materials that imperialism is dependent on, and the parasites are jostling into position for monopolisation, not just of the continent’s oil and natural gas supplies, but also of its metal and diamond reserves. Africa’s riches include manganese (for steel production), cobalt and chrome (also used in steel manufacture, particularly in aeronautics), vanadium, gold, tungsten, antimony, uranium (for nuclear technology), fluorspar, industrial diamonds and germanium (for semi-conductor electronics manufacture). Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC, formerly Zaire) possess 50% of the world’s cobalt reserves. 98% of world chrome reserves are in Zimbabwe and South Africa. 90% of world reserves of transition metals in the platinum group (palladium, platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, osmium and iridium, used extensively in the pharmaceutical/chemical industries) are in South Africa. Coltan (also known as columbite and a key component in electronic devices such as PlayStations, laptops and mobile phones) is a precious ore found almost exclusively in DRC.

Sudan is wealthy in mineral resources such as gold, uranium and chromium, and discovered vast untapped natural gas and oil reserves perhaps as large as Saudi Arabia’s in 1978. Sudan only began exporting oil in October 2000, mostly to China. Containment of China, especially its energy supplies, has long been a key policy ambition of the US. African oil reserves are estimated at 100 billion barrels or 10% of world reserves. Output has increased by 36% in 10 years compared with 16% for the rest of the world. Sub-Saharan Africa already produces more (4m barrels/day) than Venezuela, Iran and Mexico combined, and is the source of approximately 20% of US oil imports, expected to rise to 25% by 2015. Additionally, vast untapped reserves (estimated at 24 billion barrels) were discovered in the Gulf of Guinea archipelago in 1994-95. This is shared by São Tomé and Principe, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, DRC, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville and Nigeria – all oil producers.

Inter-imperialist rivalries
As the strongest imperialist nation, control of this strategically important region can help the US to stay ahead of its European rivals. With continuing resistance to US imperialism in the Middle East led by the Palestinians and Iraqis, the US needs Africa’s riches to ensure its economic survival. African oil is of ‘national strategic interest’ to the US as it ‘tends to be of high quality and low in sulphur, giving it a growing market share for refining centres on the east coast of the US’ (US Vice President, Dick Cheney, May 2002). It takes about two weeks to transport this oil from Africa to the US compared with six weeks for oil from the Gulf. The US aims to control key markets in energy and other strategic resources, to establish unimpeded transport of raw materials to the US by military force if necessary.

A key Pentagon strategy is to station thousands of rapid deployment and semi-permanent troops in and around the horn of Africa (Somalia, Sudan, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia) and throughout West Africa. Two oil routes are at the centre of US plans: the Chad-Cameroon pipeline in the west, and Sudan’s Hegleig-Port Sudan (Red Sea) pipeline. Chad, a French neo-colony, also has oil, and there is talk of building a pipeline from Chad to Sudan. France has announced it will deploy 200 troops, previously ‘training Chadian forces in peacekeeping duties’ to ‘secure the Chadian side of the border’ with Sudan. In May 2003, a permanent US command base with 2,000 troops was established at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, a desert country with no apparent resources or strategic importance except for its position near the Sudanese pipeline. It juts out into a small maritime zone through which 25% of all world oil production passes.

Equatorial Guinea is among Africa’s five biggest oil producers. In 2002 it was revealed that two-thirds of its oil concessions had been awarded to US companies with close ties to the Bush administration. Keen not to be left out, in March 2004 Britain and Spain funded a failed coup attempt, led by racist, apartheid-era thugs with links to the CIA, MI6, the Thatcher family and Texan oil operators (see page 4). Britain is now a net importer of natural gas and oil and sections of the British establishment freely admit that this is the real reason they have courted Libya and invaded Iraq.

Since the defeat of the US incursion into Somalia 1992-94, the US has put in place a number of training programmes for African army officers. These are co-ordinated by the US Army’s European command (US-Eucom). Techniques learned from US operations in Latin America and Vietnam and Laos are passed on to African armies. Recent visits to Africa by President Bush, Colin Powell and US-Eucom deputy commander General Wald are intended to further bind African states to US imperial power.

Racism and the Darfur crisis
On 30 July 2004, the UN Security Council adopted US-drafted resolution 1556, calling on Sudan to ‘end the fighting’ in Darfur, or face ‘economic and diplomatic measures’ in this ‘the world’s worst humanitarian crisis’. Sudan was given 30 days to ‘rein in’ and ‘disarm the Janjaweed Arab militia’ blamed for terrorising the people in an ‘orgy of murder, mutilation, burning and rape’ (The Independent, 8 August). The Sudanese government, despite numerous reports to the contrary, claimed the real casualty figure from Darfur’s civil war ‘doesn’t exceed 5,000’, but said it would comply.

The 30-day deadline was simply a prelude to the inevitable. On 9 September, US Secretary of State Colin Powell declared the situation in Darfur amounted to ‘genocide’. Foreign Office minister Chris Mullins agreed ‘it may well be genocide’ although it ‘hasn’t been demonstrated yet’. Indeed, Pieter Feith, an adviser to the EU’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana, had found ‘no evidence of genocide’ after a trip to western Sudan. Nonetheless, Britain and the US are pushing the UN Security Council for an international commission to investigate, and a second UN resolution calling for punitive measures including sanctions against Sudan’s ‘petroleum sector’. The EU has already imposed sanctions and is calling for a greater presence of ‘military observers’ from the African Union (AU).

While this global manoeuvring goes on, most victims of Darfur’s civil war will die of starvation, malnutrition and diseases such as cholera, malaria, hepatitis and diarrhoeal and respiratory diseases. None of the US’s ‘generous aid’ was intended to help the 2.2 million black Africans who died of AIDS or the three million who contracted HIV in 2003 alone. USAID administrator Andrew Natsios claimed there was no point providing anti-AIDS medication as ‘Africans don’t know what western time is’. Despite the fact that most of those in need of medicines live in Africa, only 1% of the world’s drug market is based in Africa. This racism, that denies essential medicines to black Africans, passes without mention, but the racism we are supposed to notice is the politically useful one of Arabs against blacks. Racism is in fact the culture of imperialism: ‘anti-terror’ raids, hijab bans, Islamophobia and racial discrimination at every level of society in the US and Britain.

What the people of Darfur need are not more imperialist troops or their proxies, but an end to the system that denies them medicines, funds both sides in wars, fosters divisions and racism, trains and arms terrorists and torturers, and supports slavery – all for profit. They need the destruction of imperialism.

Material for this article was drawn from various sources, including: Hanns W. Maull, Raw Materials, Energy and Western Security, 1984, Macmillan; Noam Chomsky, American Power and the New Mandarins, 1969, Pantheon Books (Random House); Jean-Christophe Servant, ‘The new Gulf oil states’, Le Monde Diplomatique, 8 January 2003; Jamie Wilson et al. The Guardian, 26 August and 10 September 2004; Declan Walsh, The Independent, 16 March 2004; Paul Lashmar, The Independent, 14 March 2004; Pierre Abramovici, ‘United States: the new scramble for Africa’ Le Monde Diplomatique, 8 July 2004.

Darfur Imperialists vie for Sudan’s oil / FRFI 203 Jun / Jul 2008

FRFI 203 June / July 2008

Darfur Imperialists vie for Sudan’s oil

Since February 2003 civil war has raged in oil-rich Sudan’s western region of Darfur. As well as being sub-Saharan Africa’s third largest oil producer, Sudan is believed to hold Africa’s largest unexploited oil reserves. Sudan is also strategically placed near the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa. Sudan’s oil industry is dominated by Asian countries such as Malaysia, India and China. French and British oil majors are small-time players and the US non-existent due to self-imposed sanctions.

Fuelling the war are the imperialist nations Britain, France and the US, thwarting all attempts at a peaceful resolution in favour of a militaristic solution. Having failed to get UN backing for a joint NATO-African Union force of 26,000 troops into Darfur, France led an EU force of 3,700 soldiers into eastern Chad in February 2008, under the pretext of ‘protecting refugees’. Their aim is to get their hands on Sudan’s oil and other resources, so choking off the supply of a vital raw material to their strategic rival, China. Understandable concern at the suffering in Darfur is being used by the imperialists to further their ambitions for the region.  Meanwhile, the suffering in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, where over 6 million have died since 1998 and 1,200 die daily, is ignored – why? The answer is that imperialism is in the Congo using the state’s feebleness and the country’s chaos to loot its mineral riches.

War in Darfur
When the war began it was between the government of Sudan and the ‘Darfur rebels’ of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Islamist Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). These rebels have split into over 30 infighting factions, much to the chagrin of the British, French and US imperialists who have armed, trained and funded them. The imperialists have been using Israel to attempt to unify the rebels under the name of the Revolutionary Forces for West Sudan. The Deputy Chief of Israeli Intelligence, David Kimsha, has played a key role in organising training in the Al Nagab desert in Palestine. Darfur has become both a cause celebre and a political tool for the Zionists, conforming to their racist anti-Arab ideology.

Over 2.15 million people are internally displaced in Darfur and some 200,000 have fled to neighbouring Chad. According to the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), present in Darfur since 2004, over 131,000 people may have died there in 2003-2005. The UN said that about 200 people were dying every month in 2006. Most of the deaths result from starvation, malnutrition and diseases which are preventable. MSF says that a fifth, some 25,000 people, have died violent deaths. To promote their interventionist aims the imperialists exaggerate the numbers who have been raped and killed.

The British shed many crocodile tears over the suffering in Darfur but were keen to arrest and detain 80 Darfuri asylum seekers in dawn raids in Britain in March 2007. Lawyers initially obtained an injunction preventing any deportations; however the government appealed and a few Darfuris were deported.

The attempt to pose Darfur’s conflict in simplistic terms of Arab versus African is false. It is pushed by groups with dubious political links and backgrounds such as the Zionist front group, the Aegis Trust, and The Independent. Policy Director for the Aegis Trust is Labour ex-minister Stephen Twigg. It is led by brothers Stephen and James Smith, who run the Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre in Nottingham. They have led the propaganda campaign for military intervention in Darfur. They must not succeed. Hands off Darfur! No war for oil!


Charles Chinweizu

Nicki Jameson