The Spark

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

American imperialism wants peace … and, above all, the oil

Aug 12, 2002

A new agreement opening the way to the settlement of the bloody civil war in the Sudan was signed on July 20. The two parties attempting to regulate this half-a-century old battle were the dictator of the Sudan and the rebel forces of the Liberation Army of the People of the Sudan that operates in the south of the country.

But behind these parties stands the United States, which far from being concerned about the right of self-determination granted to the southern region, or the separation of church and state proposed in the document, is more concerned about all the oil that lies below ground in this country.

The Sudan, located in East Africa, is an artificial state created at the end of the 19th century by British imperialism. It was created to act as a buffer against French colonial expansion into Africa. The civil war first began in 1955, just one year before independence was established for the Sudan. This civil war erupted when British colonialism tried to impose a Muslim fundamentalist regime on a population in the South of the country that was predominantly Christian, or animist.

A war inflamed by imperialism

If this civil war has continued for so long, it is because the rival forces fighting for power inside the country were supported, on one side or the other, by various imperialist powers. The seizure of power in Khartoum by the current dictator at the end of the 1980s was not only supported by the Muslim fundamentalists, but also by France; while the United States and Great Britain passed both military and financial support through Uganda to the guerillas in the south of the Sudan. Later, the U.S. declared the Sudan a terrorist state because it had at one point harbored Bin Laden. In 1998, the U.S. bombed a pharmaceutical factory there under the pretext that it was producing chemical weapons.

But more recently, American imperialism reestablished its diplomatic relationship to the Sudan: The U.S. no longer considers it to be a terrorist state. And after the Sudan cracked down on its Muslim supporters, the U.S. has even listed it as a country for tourists to visit.

Of course, the fact that the Sudan regime continues to rule by terror against its own population is of no concern to American imperialism. What is important to the U.S. is that the regime has offered to serve as a stabilizing political force in the Horn of Africa.

So, if the United States has changed its politics in relationship to the Sudan, it is not for humanitarian reasons, but for political and economic ones, and above all, for the potential profits to be made off the oil in this region.

Imperialism is above all interested in oil

In fact, since 1999, the Sudan has become an exporter of crude oil with a production capacity that in the next three years could reach 500,000 barrels a day. Its reserves are estimated to be more than three billion barrels! That is what makes this country very attractive to the big American oil companies.

If there can be a political settlement to the conflict in the Sudan (having nothing directly 9to do with the interests of the population) the exploitation of oil in the Sudan can quickly become very profitable, and the benefits can be split between the American oil companies, the military regime in Khartoum and the leaders of the rebellion in the south. These are the reasons, finally, why American imperialism has now decided to intervene in the civil war in the Sudan to calm it, rather than to inflame it as before.