The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

The return to grace of a dictator

Nov 19, 2001

Only a few years ago Sudan was condemned by the world’s countries, considered a terrorist state, accused of harboring terrorists like Bin Laden, even suffering international sanctions since 1996. Nonetheless, this dictatorship, one of the bloodiest of East Africa, today has been transformed – or at least in the eyes of U.S. and French imperialism. The reason for this reversal: oil.

In a short period of time, the Sudanese military junta and the George Bush administration have become friendlier. The president-dictator, the Sudanese general Omar Hassan El Bechir, brought to power by a coup d’etat in 1989, today cooperates with the White House in the “struggle against terrorism,” inviting even the CIA and the FBI to come to Sudan to carry out investigations. With gestures like this, showing his good will, Sudan has been rewarded. The U.S. opens its armaments industry to it, while Europe has just resumed aid to the country, which was cut off at the beginning of the 1990s. And on September 28, international sanctions were lifted.

What does it matter to imperialism if Sudan is one of the worst dictatorships in East Africa, which has waged a merciless civil war against the Christian population of the south for 18 years. This civil war has led to two million deaths and has driven four to five million people from their homes. What does it matter if the Sudanese army has diverted and pillaged international aid, leaving the population to die of hunger as the result of war and drought? What does it matter if the soldiers forcibly draft children, rape women, burn villages and massacre peasant populations, so long as they leave a free field for the oil multinationals?

What really matters in this affair is that Sudan has become an important oil exporting country. Millions of dollars of oil are now at stake. The Greater Nile Oil Project, made up of a partnership of the oil companies, has opened its oil pipeline of 1,000 miles at a cost of a billion dollars. This pipeline has allowed six oil fields of the Abyei region to send oil up to the refinery and ships at the port of Beshair on the Red Sea. Today thirty oil companies are negotiating with the military junta to exploit oil. The reserves are estimated to be two billion barrels. This oil has a very low cost of production of only $4 a barrel.

This gift of oil essentially profits the oil companies, since the regime reinvests the profits from oil in military equipment which permits the army to perpetuate its murderous offensives to drive the civilian population from the oil zones.

It’s at this murderous price that the big oil companies make the oil flow. It’s called “red oil” due to the blood of the deported and massacred people.