Released August 7, 2004
The Wisdom Fund, P. O. Box 2723, Arlington, VA 22202
Website: -- Press Contact: Enver Masud

Sudan, Oil, and the Darfur Crisis

Are the U.S. and Britain seeking a pretext for intervention in order to take advantage of Sudan's oil?

by Enver Masud

The situation in Darfur is tragic, but it is not genocide - oil may be the real target of those seeking military intervention.

According to Alex de Waal, the "world authority" on Sudan,

Characterising the Darfur war as 'Arabs' versus 'Africans' obscures the reality. Darfur's Arabs are black, indigenous, African and Muslim - just like Darfur's non-Arabs . . . Until recently, Darfurians used the term 'Arab' in its ancient sense of 'bedouin'. These Arabic-speaking nomads are distinct from the inheritors of the Arab culture of the Nile and the Fertile Crescent.

'Arabism' in Darfur is a political ideology, recently imported, after Colonel Gadaffi nurtured dreams of an 'Arab belt' across Africa, and recruited Chadian Arabs, Darfurians and west African Tuaregs to spearhead his invasion of Chad in the 1980s. He failed, but the legacy of arms, militia organisation and Arab supremacist ideology lives on. (The Observer, July 25, 2004)

Sudan's 40 million population is 70% Sunni Muslim, 25% indigenous beliefs, and 5% Christian. Sudan's African Muslims killing African Muslims in tribal warfare is tragic, but cannot correctly be described as genocide - the systematic destruction by the government of Sudan of a national, racial, ethnic, or religious group.

Tensions in Darfur, in western Sudan, have existed since the 1970s. Forced by drought and scarce resources, the nomadic cattle herders in the north ventured into lands populated by the more settled communities in the south.

Renewed fighting broke out at the very moment when a peace agreement was about to be signed which would have ended 21 years of conflict between the government of Sudan, and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in southern Sudan.

Darfur's tribes rebelled against the government complaining that the Sudan government had failed to develop the area. It is alleged that the rebels, aware of the terms of the proposed peace agreement between the government of Sudan and the SPLA, hoped to strike a favorable deal for themselves.

Southern Darfur, like southern Sudan, is rich in oil. The Chinese National Petroleum Corporation holds the large oil concession in southern Darfur. Chinese soldiers are alleged to be protecting Chinese oil interests. (Why did USAID prepare this map?)

It is also alleged that the rebels in southern Darfur are getting weapons from outside Sudan. "UN observers say they have better weapons than the Sudanese army, and are receiving supplies by air," according to Crescent International (UK).

The government of Sudan, after agreeing with UN Secretary General Kofi Anan to a 90-day period to end the conflict, was given 30 days under a UN resolution pushed through by the U.S. and Britain.

Sudan, largely undeveloped, and barely emerging from colonial oppression, has been given a virtually impossible task of pacifying an area the size of France. This may be the pretext for yet another U.S.-British intervention for oil.

In 1996, the U.S. sent nearly $20 million in surplus U.S. military equipment to Ethiopia, Eritrea and Uganda to topple the government of Sudan (The Washington Post, November 10, 1996), and it would appear that the U.S. and Britain are now competing with China, Sudan's largest trading partner, for Sudan's oil.

What Sudan, and Darfur in particular, need now are humanitarian assistance - not avarice masquerading as altruism.

Meanwhile, the international community remains largely silent about Uganda.

There the Lord's Resistance Army has killed tens of thousands of people, often mutilating their bodies, displaced more than 1.6 million people in northern Uganda, kidnapped thousands of children, forced many to become soldiers or sex slaves. (Voice of America, July 29, 2004)

Karl Vick, "Ripping Off Slave 'Redeemers'," Washington Post, February 26, 2002

"China's Involvement in Sudan: Arms and Oil," Human Rights Watch, November 2003

"Darfur, Sudan: African Muslim vs. African Muslim," The Wisdom Fund, April 3, 2004

[n Sudan, . . . more than 30 armed groups fight against the central administration. . . . there are reports that some of the groups are supported by Israel, European countries, and the US.--Cumali Onal, "Oil Underlies Darfur Tragedy," Zaman Daily, July 6, 2004]

Nima Elbagir, Sudan Says to Accept African Forces, No Peacekeepers," Reuters, August 7, 2004

Sam Dealey, "Misreading The Truth In Sudan," New York Times, August 8, 2004

"Arab League backs Sudan on Darfur," BBC, August 9, 2004

Norm Dixon, "Crisis in Sudan: Oil Profits Behind West's Tears for Darfur," CounterPunch, August 9, 2004

[Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail . . . said government estimates did not exceed 5,000 dead, including 486 police--Marcin Grajewski, "EU sees no genocide in Darfur," Reuters, August 9, 2004]

Julio Godoy, "U.S. and France Begin a Great Game in Africa," Inter Press Service, August 11, 2004

Kim Sengupta, "The mystery of Mirair and the official answers that do not add up ," Independent, August 12, 2004

["The Americans and the British want to use this as an excuse to occupy our country, just as they have done in Iraq. Like Iraq, we have oil. "--Kim Sengupta, "We are victims too, say Darfur's Arab refugees," Independent, August 13, 2004]

[The White House has been currying favour with Christian militants and blacks by intensifying hostility to the isolated Khartoum regime, . . .

CIA has reportedly supplied arms and money to Darfur's rebels. Washington recently developed interest in Chad, which has oil and gas deposits. . . .

The worst of Darfur's crisis appears over. Let humanitarian groups do their work. Continuing U.S. attempts to overthrow Sudan's government are only making things worse. Allow Africa to solve its own problems.-- Eric Margolis, "Tread softly in Sudan," Toronto Sun, August 15, 2004]

[Across the world tens of millions of people are at risk from famine, disease and natural disasters, without anyone taking much notice.--Sophie Arie and Jason Burke, "Who Cares?," The Observer, August 15, 2004]

Peter Hallward, "Enough imperial crusades: The alternative to armed intervention in Darfur is not passive resignation, but support for an African Union-led solution," Guardian, August 18, 2004

Anne Penketh, "Sudan admits aiding Arab militias," Independent, August 21, 2004

George Monbiot, "Africans have good reason to be suspicious of British involvement in their affairs," Guardian, August 31, 2004

"Dispute Over Disarming of Rebels in Sudan," AFP, September 5, 2004

[The SLA . . . claimed its first major victory last year in the stunning capture of the town of El Fasher. The rebels killed 75 government soldiers, stole weapons and destroyed four helicopter gunships and two Antonov aircraft, government officials said. A second, smaller rebel group called the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) joined the fight against the government.

The government in Khartoum reacted to the defeat by arming the Janjaweed to assist the army.--Emily Wax, " Sudan's Ragtag Rebels," Washington Post, September 7, 2004]

"Sudan Says U.N. Measure Will Worsen Violence," Associated Press, September 20, 2004

Somini Sengupta, "Sudan Official Calls Darfur a 'Smoke Screen' for Plotters," New York Times, September 29, 2004

[Sudan has agreed to the deployment of some 3,500 extra African troops in its war-torn region of Darfur.--"Thousands more troops for Darfur," BBC News, October 1, 2004]

Peter Beaumont, "US 'hyping' Darfur genocide fears," Guardian, October 3, 2004

Marcy Lacey, "Sudan Agrees to Resume Peace Talks With Rebels in Its South," New York Times, October 8, 2004

[A failure in Sudan could severely damage China's shaky efforts to become a global player in the oil business. When Saddam Hussein was overthrown, China lost a key partner. Recently, two pipelines to import oil from Kazakhstan and Russia have been dogged by unexpected delays and problems.

Securing long-term supplies of oil, natural gas, iron ore, copper and other vital minerals has become the top priority for China, and it is investing everywhere. One new project is a 600-mile, $2bn pipeline from Burma's deepwater port of Sittwe, which will follow a projected railway line to China's south-western province of Yunnan. Another is the development of Gwadar Port in Pakistan, which China hopes to use to ship oil and gas from the Gulf. A pipeline to Xinjiang over the Karakoram Pass will follow.--Jasper Becker, "China fights UN sanctions on Sudan to safeguard oil," Independent, October 15, 2004]

[Since 1986, the Lord's Resistance Army has waged a brutal insurgency in northern Uganda, targeting civilians and abducting children for use as fighters, labourers or sex slaves.

. . . donations to the relief efforts in Darfur were around 120m short of what was needed, and that the international community needed to provide more logistical support to the African Union in the deployment of forces in the conflict area.--" Northern Uganda 'world's biggest neglected crisis'," Associated Press, October 22, 2004]

[. . . importing 6 percent of its oil from Sudan, almost 60 percent of Sudan's oil output.--Drew Thompson, "Disaccord on Sudan could poison China-U.S. ties," International Herald Tribune, November 18, 2004]

"Sudan leaders sign historic deal," BBC, November 18, 2004

Frida Berrigan, "Peace in Sudan: Good News for People or Oil Companies," Sudan Tribune, January 15, 2005

[According to a book published by the Dayan Institute for Middle East and Africa Studies called "Israel and the Sudanese Liberation Movement," Israel adopted a strategy which they called 'pulling the limbs then cutting them off.' What this policy entailed was the building of bridges with minority groups, pulling them out of the nationalist context and then 'encouraging' them to separate.

Tel Aviv hoped that this strategy would inevitably weaken the Arab world, break it down and threaten its interests at the same time. In order for this strategy to work, Mossad agents opened lines of communication and connections with the Kurds in Iraq, Maronites in Lebanon and Southerners in Sudan.--"Israel's hand in Sudan's past and future," Yemen Observer, January 15, 2005]

Warren Hoge, "U.S. Lobbies UN on Darfur and International Court," New York Times, January 29, 2005

Mark Turner, "Sudan killings in Darfur not genocide, says UN report," Financial Times, February 1, 2005

Meera Selva, "Sudan ordered death squads, says warlord," Independent, March 3, 2005

Warren Hoge, "Unpaid Aid Pledges Endanger Sudan Peace Pact, U.N. Says," New York Times, March 7, 2005

[An average of 10,000 people have died each month over the past year-and-a-half from disease and other preventable causes--"UN's Darfur death estimate soars," BBC, March 14, 2005]

Abraham McLaughlin, "Africa to world: We can handle war justice ourselves," Christian Science Monitor, March 18, 2005

[While there is no direct connection between the conflicts in the south and the west, the United States, a principal promoter of the accord, and the United Nations have expressed the hope that the January signing will serve to speed peacemaking in Darfur--Warren Hoge, "10,000 Peacekeepers to Be Sent to Sudan, U.N. Council Decides," New York Times, March 25, 2005]

[. . . exempted nationals of countries not party to the ICC from prosecution by any other court than their own, provided they are on a UN mission in Sudan.--Mark Turner, "Darfur atrocities to be referred to ICC," Financial Times, April 1, 2005]

[Sudan is refusing to hand any of its citizens over preferring local justice.--"Hague takes on Darfur war crimes," BBC, April 5, 2005]

Ken Silverstein, "Official Pariah Sudan Valuable to America's War on Terrorism," Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2005

Gillian Lusk, "The Sudan & The Darfur," Covert Action Quarterly, Spring 2005

[In response to a rebellion by two local armed groups, Sudan's government attacked civilians with helicopter gunships and armed a local militia to raze villages.--Editorial: "Darfur's Real Problem," Washington Post, June 3, 2005]

David Leigh and Adrian Gatton, "Briton named as buyer of Darfur oil rights," Guardian, June 10, 2005

Anne Penketh, "White House described Darfur as 'genocide' to please Christian right," Independent, July 2, 2005

[A French diplomatic source said Khartoum supports FUC leader Mahamat Nour Abdelkerim with a view to toppling Deby, who is accused of supporting a rebellion in Sudan's Darfur region against the Khartoum government.--"Sudan openly supports Chad rebels," Sudan Tribune, April 19, 2006]

Anne Penketh, "As the genocide in Darfur goes on, chaos and killing spread to Sudan's neighbours," Independent, April 21, 2006

[Nearly everyone is Muslim . . . Everyone is black . . . It's all about politics . . . This conflict is international . . . The "genocide" label made it worse--Emily Wax, "5 Truths About Darfur," Washington Post, April 23, 2006]

"THINK ABOUT YOUR ACTIONS," Embassy of the Sudan, April 27, 2006

[After Sudan achieved its formal independence from Britain in 1956, the country went through a period of internal struggles. Beginning in the 1970s Sudan began moving in a radical Islamic direction, rejecting the neocolonial relations that the United States and other European powers wanted to impose.

A well-organized and well-financed rebellion in southern Sudan began soon after. The United States supported the south financially, politically and militarily . . .

Two competing armed movements-the Sudanese Liberation Army and the Movement for Justice and Equality-won some early victories against the Sudanese Army. These two armed movements maintained their logistic and training bases in the eastern part of Chad, near the border with Darfur.

Once the rebellion in Darfur began, the Sudanese government set up counter-militias, called Jinjaweed, recruited from nomadic ethnic groups in Darfur who mainly speak Arabic. The Sudanese Liberation Army and the Movement for Justice and Equality recruited from ethnic groups in Darfur who don't use Arabic. . . .

The U.S. want to get President Deby out and a new president in who relies on it, not France.--"Oil Is Behind Struggle in Darfur," Workers World, April 27, 2006]

[ . . . the coalition, which has presented itself as "an alliance of over 130 diverse faith-based, humanitarian, and human rights organization" was actually begun exclusively as an initiative of the American Jewish community. . . . after an inquiry from The Washington Post, Sudan Sunrise changed its Web site to eliminate references to efforts to convert the people of Darfur. Previously, it said it was engaged in "one on one, lifestyle evangelism to Darfurian Muslims living in refugee camps in eastern Chad" and appealed for money to "bring the kingdom of God to an area of Sudan where the light of Jesus rarely shines."--Yoshie Furuhashi, "'Save Darfur': Evangelicals and Establishment Jews," MRZine, April 28, 2006]

[The arrests were expected. Lantos' office issued a news release about them in advance.--"Congressman Lantos Arrested At D.C. Darfur Protest," MSNBC, April 28, 2006]

Leonard Doyle, "Sudan accepts Darfur peace deal but rebels dig in for concessions," Independent, May 1, 2006

[If we really want to help Africa, we'll stay out of their internal political affairs, start granting more visas from that continent, and get over our own sense of moral superiority that lets us imagine we can somehow uplift the entire world to the level of a typical American suburb.--Justin Raimondo, "What About Darfur? The case against intervention,", May 1, 2006]

[The Darfur rebels took up arms against Sudan's Arab-dominated government in 2003, protesting about years of marginalisation and neglect.--Xan Rice, "Rebels sign Darfur peace deal after two years of talks: Smaller armed groups hold out for better terms," Guardian, May 6, 2006]

[As author Tony Black has detailed, the invasion of Rwanda by a U.S.-backed Tutsi army from Uganda, which we call the "Rwandan Genocide," did not happen because "we" in the West were not there. It happened because we were there. To use the conflict in Rwanda, precipitated by thirty years of Western involvement following the "post-colonial" period, to justify intervention into countries like the Sudan is disingenuous at best. . . .

To keep Sudan in a perpetual state of war, the U.S. makes sure at least one rebel group is on the move while another is engaged in peace talks. The recent round of "Save Darfur" demonstrations have taken place during a time of negotiations between government and rebel groups, and are designed to further destabilize the country. Yoshie Furuhashi explains, "The timing of the [April 30] rally was perfect, designed to coincide -- and scuttle -- the Abuja peace negotiations between the rebels and Khartoum brokered by the African Union, whose deadline is midnight today. And sure enough, the rebels rejected the peace deal." The U.S. needs rebel groups to win bigger victories, if it is to reverse China's current advantageous position in Sudan.--Brendan Stone, "The Logic of 'Humanitarian Intervention': Neocolonial tool serving geopolitical interests,", May 13, 2006]

Xan Rice, "Darfur's rebel forces turn on each other," Guardian, May 17, 2006

[International mediators were shamefaced. They had presented the plan as take it or leave it, to compel Khartoum's acceptance. But now the ostensible representatives of the victims were balking. Embarrassed American officials were forced to ask Sudan for further concessions beyond the ultimatum that it had already accepted.

It helps explain why violence originally broke out in Darfur, how the Save Darfur movement unintentionally poured fuel on the fire, and what can be done to stanch genocidal violence in Sudan and elsewhere.--Alan J. Kuperman, "Strategic Victimhood in Sudan," New York Times, May 31, 2006]

[It is believed to have oil reserves rivaling those of Saudi Arabia.--Sara Flounders, "The U.S. Role in Darfur, Sudan," International Action Center, June 6, 2006]

["The root causes of the Darfur conflict are the doing of the Jewish organizations who financed this armed rebellion," Jalaladin said.--Edith M. Lederer, "Tribal Leaders Reject U.N. Force in Darfur, Threaten 'Holy War'," Associated Press, June 10, 2006]

[But how do you disarm a phantom army whose sponsors and leaders deny its existence? And exactly who are the janjaweed - and is it within the government's power to disarm them?--Lydia Polgreen, "In Darfur, attempting to disarm a phantom army," New York Times, June 11, 2006]

[The complex grievances that set farmers against nomads was covered with a simplistic template of Arab versus African--Jonathan Steele, "The last thing Darfur needs is western troops: The rebels, not Khartoum, scuppered this year's peace deal," Guardian, September 19, 2006]

Steve Mbogo, "Oil Disputes Raise Tension among Southern Sudan Factions," World Politics Watch, September 26, 2006

Eric A. Posner, "The Humanitarian War Myth," Washington Post, October 1, 2006

[For the first time in more than two years, rebels fighting the government for more autonomy are making brazen, direct and successful attacks on soldiers, and are declaring that all previous cease-fires are no longer in effect.--Lydia Polgreen, "Grim New Turn May Harden Darfur Conflict," New York Times, October 23, 2006]

[Khartoum denies backing the rebels, and in turn accuses Chad of backing rebels in the war-torn Darfur region.--"Sudan 'is arming rebels' in Chad," BBC News, October 25, 2006

Craig Timberg, "Sudan's Leader Agrees to 60-Day Cease-Fire in Darfur," Washington Post, January 11, 2007

[The violence in Darfur is usually attributed to ethnic hatred. But global warming may be primarily to blame.--Stephan Faris, "The Real Roots of Darfur," Atlantic Monthly, April 2007]

Robert Menard and Stephen Smith, "Darfur needs peace, not peacekeepers," Los Angeles Times, April 14, 2007

David Rieff, "The Darfur deception," Los Angeles Times, October 7, 2007

Copyright © 2004 The Wisdom Fund - Provided that it is not edited, and author name, organization, and web address ( are included, this article may be printed in newspapers and magazines, and displayed on the Internet.
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