The Spark

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

Darfur, Sudan:
The population victim of its government and of the great powers

Sep 13, 2004

On September 9, Secretary of State Colin Powell announced that genocide was going on in Sudan. He said that economic sanctions might be necessary and called for a settlement of the rebellion in Darfur, in the west of the country, which has continued since 2003.

What b.s.

In Sudan, like other parts of Africa, new sources of oil and other resources have been discovered. The various imperialist powers have, in turn, either encouraged the development of rebellions against the central governments in various countries or aided the central government to put them down, depending on which way they thought was easier for putting their hands on Sudan's riches. Sometimes, one imperialist country supported rebels, while another supported the central government.

In Darfur, a rebellion has grown. Over the last 18 months, military confrontations there have led to tens of thousands of deaths and more than a million refugees. The Sudanese government has armed and supported the Janjaweed militias who are rampaging through the region.

Darfur includes different populations: on the one hand, so-called "Arab" tribes herding livestock, although Arabic is spoken only by a minority; and on the other hand, black African farmers. Conflicts between livestock raisers, who seek water and pasture, with peasants, who protect their harvests, aren't new. In the past, these conflicts were settled in a more or less friendly manner, but now with drought, the population explosion and the total neglect in which the government has left the region, the conflict between the two groups is more severe.

The government in the capital Khartoum has played on ethnic rivalries in its attempt to end the rebellion. Its planes bomb villages, while the Arab militias finish the destruction by pillaging, raping and murdering the population. Rebel movements have brought together "African" tribes who oppose both the violence of the Janjaweed militias and from the Sudanese army.

The big powers today are talking about a "humanitarian" intervention. The French government cites its "aid" to refugees from its troops stationed in neighboring Chad. The British Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jack Straw, came to a Sudanese refugee camp to show the concern of British and international opinion.

In reality, these countries, which ruined Africa during and after the colonial period, maintain troops in Africa only for the purpose of guarding their interests and keeping an eye on competitors, like the United States.

For some time now, the U.S. has had a growing military presence in Africa. The U.S. put heavy pressure on the Sudanese government to end an earlier war with rebels in the south of the country. Though not everything is settled, the government agreed to divide some government positions and resources, especially oil, with the rebels.

In southern Sudan, oil wells were what provoked this "international" interest in restoring order in the region. From the Congo to South Africa, from Angola to Nigeria, the region is packed with mineral riches like oil. The ways to get it must be made "secure," so, in 2003, Washington intervened in a coup d'etat in Sao Tomé and Principe. U.S. oil companies then obtained the rights to explore for oil in the Gulf of Guinea. With the possibility of a Chad-Sudan oil pipeline, it's no wonder the governments of the imperialist powers now are involved in defending the areas where their corporations are hunting for wealth.

While the different imperialist powers talk about genocide and humanitarian missions, they're busy trying to figure how to use the situation to put their own oil companies into Sudan, ahead of their competitors.