Faith McDonnellAugust 15, 2012
“President Obama: Stop Betraying Darfur!” This is the title of a new petition on Change.Org, sponsored by Act for Sudan, an alliance of American citizen and organization activists and Sudanese US residents who advocate for an end to genocide and mass atrocities in Sudan (full disclosure: IRD is a founding member of the Act for Sudan alliance). If you agree that President Obama’s actions are betraying not only Darfur, but all of Sudan’s marginalized people groups, please go to the petition now to sign it and share it with all of your friends and contacts on email and social media.
The strongly worded petition letter begins, “I am appalled by your Administration’s hypocritical and deadly Sudan policy. At the same time as the genocidal Sudan regime is sponsoring renewed attacks on defenseless Darfuri men, women and children confined in displacement camps, the US government is helping to raise money on the regime’s behalf. This money is blood money that will most certainly help support further atrocities.”
Reminding Obama of his promised commitment to stop genocide in Darfur by repeating to him his own words, the petition letter says, “In 2007, as a candidate for the U.S presidency you said, “When you see a genocide in Rwanda, Bosnia or in Darfur, that is a stain on all of us, that’s a stain on our souls…We can’t say ‘never again’ and then allow it to happen again, and as a president of the United States I don’t intend to abandon people or turn a blind eye to slaughter.” The petition letter challenges, “So why are you now turning a blind eye to slaughter? Twenty-three years of history has proven that the Khartoum regime, led by a man indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide, should be made an international outcast, not its beneficiary.”
At the same time as the genocidal Sudan regime is sponsoring renewed attacks on defenseless Darfuri men, women, and children…
In recent days the people of both North and South Darfur in western Sudan have been under intense attack by the Government of Sudan. The regime in Khartoum has increased its aerial bombardment campaign, killing and displacing more civilians. Radio Dabanga reported that bombings continued for four consecutive days in East Jebel Marra, North Darfur. One of these attacks killed three children, two ten year-olds and one eleven-year old, and wounded four more. One may assume that there are more bombers with time on their hands since they have done their dirty work in the Nuba Mountains, where those Nuba that have survived the bombs, but not been able to flee from the region, are hiding in mountain caves cut off from food by the Khartoum regime.
Pro-government militias have also attacked and looted IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps and humanitarian organizations in Darfur. According to Radio Dabanga, at least 70,000 people have fled these camps as a result. International humanitarian organizations and the camp leaders have declared a state of emergency. The Khartoum regime has also cracked down on protestors. On July 31, dozens of student demonstrators were gunned down in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, by Khartoum’s security forces using machine guns and artillery. The African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) in Kampala, Uganda, reported 12 dead and over 80 injured.
If the rumblings of resistance in Sudan were treated like those in Egypt and Libya, President Obama would have been on the telephone to Sudan President Omar Hassan al Bashir already, telling him to step down. There would probably have been Tomahawk cruise missile attacks on Bashir’s opulent palace on the Nile. But remarkably, rather than holding Khartoum accountable for its continued human rights violations, the Obama Administration is rewarding the perpetrators of genocide by helping secure financial aid for them from other countries. Not only that, they are putting unreasonable pressure on those who resist Khartoum’s hegemony, including the sovereign nation of the Republic of South Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army – Northern Sector that is fighting against the Sudan Armed Forces.
The US government is helping to raise money on the regime’s behalf…
How is the US government helping to raise money on the regime’s behalf? The US has played a major role in pressuring the Republic of South Sudan to accommodate Khartoum’s utterly unreasonable demands on an oil deal. It has also urged other countries to relieve Sudan’s debt, even though the United States still has economic sanctions in place on Sudan (and these are perilously close to being waived, unless we continue to put pressure on the Obama Administration).
South Sudan stopped oil production in February 2012 after three months of receiving no revenues from Khartoum. According to Pagan Amum, South Sudan’s lead negotiator at the African Union mediated talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Government of Sudan’s unreasonable demands began as soon as South Sudan became an independent country in July 2011. At a briefing at the Institute on Religion and Democracy, Amum explained that South Sudan offered the Government of Sudan $2.6 billion over a three year period in “transitional assistance for loss of oil revenue (since the oil now belongs to South Sudan).” Khartoum rejected the offer and demanded $10 billion, more than 100 percent of the lost revenue. South Sudan then raised the amount to $5.2 billion, and Khartoum demanded $15 billion. In addition, Khartoum demanded as much as $36 per barrel of crude in transit fees. Amum explained that most transit fees are less than $1.00 per barrel. For example, Chad pays 41 cents to Cameroon. South Sudan offered 69 cents per barrel, far above what other countries pay for transit fees. It was rejected by Khartoum.
Sudan expert and activist Professor Eric Reeves commented on Khartoum’s continuing “extortion and misappropriation”:
Khartoum has imposed this massive transit fee—without even a remote parallel anywhere else in the oil-transport world—and applied it retroactively to all oil that the South has shipped to the terminal at Port Sudan on the Red Sea. Here it is important to recall that the regime’s machinations have been multiple and complex: they include seven years of manipulating figures for oil revenues and production, costing the South hundreds of millions of dollars; over-pumping wells in the South in ways inconsistent with maximum lifetime production; drilling horizontally from northern wells into reserves in the South—and the list goes on. Most recently Reuters reports that Khartoum is selling Southern crude at a steep $14 per barrel discount as a way of accelerating purchase.
When South Sudan refused its demands, Khartoum began some misappropriations in earnest, taking South Sudan’s oil by force. For three months, from November 2011 to January 2012, Amum says that Khartoum took control of South Sudan’s oil that was piped to Port Sudan on the Red Sea for export. The regime stopped South Sudan’s clients from receiving the oil that had been promised to them and already paid for, in some cases, and stole the oil. Reeves quoted Reuters’ report that President Salva Kiir of South Sudan indicated that Sudan had taken $815 million worth of oil. Sudan’s Foreign Minister, Ali Ahmed Karti, told Reuters that Sudan was “entitled to seize the oil to compensate for transit fees.” Brazenly, Khartoum also constructed a tie-in pipeline to divert 120,000 barrels of oil per day directly to their refineries in Khartoum. This was some 75 percent of South Sudan’s daily oil output.
After three months of not receiving any revenues from Khartoum and having the regime flagrantly stealing oil, South Sudan finally stopped the oil production and the economies of both countries were ground to a halt. Though some, including the US State Department, have accused South Sudan of acting in a cavalier fashion, the Government of South Sudan deliberated long and hard on this action, knowing that there would be angry reactions not just from Khartoum, but from the US government, oil partner China, and much of the rest of the international community.
Frankly, the US government is treating South Sudan in an appallingly condescending manner that it would never dream of using on the Islamist regime in Khartoum. On August 3, 2012, The Washinton Post reported on US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s trip to Juba, the capital of South Sudan, in an article entitled “Clinton offers stern advice in South Sudan, a country US helped create.” Clinton told South Sudan President Salva Kiir to “make lasting peace and an oil deal with Sudan.” She threatened sanctions on both countries, if “fighting continues.” Clinton did not explain how it was possible to make “lasting peace” with a regime that considers you “an insect government,” and wants to Islamize and Arabize you against your will – unless by “peace,” you really mean submission (under the Shariah). Nor did she provide justification for why both countries should be under sanctions if one country is responsible for the fighting, and has been for three decades.
Like the United Nations, the Obama Administration is no longer even attempting to disguise the way it treats the genocidal regime of an indicted war criminal, Omar Hassan al Bashir, as morally equivalent to the secularly democratic and religious freedom-based government in South Sudan or to Khartoum’s many victims from Darfur, Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile, eastern Sudan’s Beja people, far northern Nubia, and elsewhere. According to the WP piece, Clinton reportedly told Kiir, “A percentage of something is better than a percentage of nothing.” One wonders if Khartoum has ever heard that particular advice from the United States.
It was pressure from China on Khartoum as well as US pressure on South Sudan that seemed to responsible for the news on Saturday, August 4, 2012 that the two countries had reached an agreement on the oil. According to the August 7, 2012 Financial Times, “Pagan Amum, South Sudan’s lead negotiator at the African Union mediated talks in Addis Ababa- Ethiopia told the press on Saturday that Sudan agreed to take an average of US $9.48 per barrel for the landlocked country to export its oil through Port Sudan.” Again, the going rate for oil transit fees is less than $1.00 per barrel.
But the drama was not over. The FT reported that although South Sudan has agreed to pay “fees equivalent to $9.48 per barrel of oil for the use of export infrastructure in Sudan,” and to “transfer $3.028 billion to Khartoum to plug part of the financing gap resulting from its secession from the north last year,” Khartoum is still “short of another $3bn – over three and a half years – that it is seeking in compensation for the loss of revenues” (from the oil that it has always stolen from the South and whose proceeds have always been used to prosecute the genocidal jihad against Darfur, the South, the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile, and other regions). Since the US is unable to dole out the funds to Khartoum, as we still have sanctions against it as a terrorist country, the article says that the US wants China and Arab states to help out poor, impoverished Khartoum and that the US would “waive sanctions affecting dollar transfers.”
It would not seem that Khartoum should be in dire financial straits. Recently the regime made a deal with Iran to establish eight factories in eastern Sudan. They have also sold Beja land to Arab investors, sold the island of “Mqsm” to a Saudi investor for $11 billion, and continues to reap revenue from the sale to French companies of gold and other precious metals in eastern Sudan. And even if Khartoum was in danger of economic collapse, shouldn’t the US government be working with the (real) opposition movements in Sudan to help prepare for a transition to a true representative democratic secular government rather than propping up a regime that is still vicious in its death throes? What hold does Khartoum have on the US government?
Khartoum has also indicated that in order to comply with the oil deal with South Sudan that it wants sanctions lifted. The FT piece explained that “Washington would not be in a position to lift sanctions until there was progress in resolving the separate conflicts in Darfur and elsewhere.” So instead, “Khartoum insisted the US do its part by encouraging other states to contribute. . . If the US doesn’t grant waivers it can make life difficult for the Kuwaitis and Qataris,” two of Sudan’s main Arab allies.
Alarmingly, Sudanese chief economic negotiator, Sabir Hassan, told the FT that “the whole thing hinges on a security agreement.” Heard as it meant to be heard by ignorant Western ears, “security” sounds like an extremely reasonable condition. But, as Reeves has pointed out, this is really “an attempt to re-define what is happening in South Kordofan.” He continues:
The regime would have interlocutors accept that the rebellion concentrated in the Nuba Mountains is substantially supported by Juba and is thus a “security” threat that must be dealt with first. In fact, the people of the Nuba Mountains face mass starvation as Khartoum continues to refuse all access to international humanitarian relief efforts. This refusal is part of a military strategy of extermination. If Khartoum successfully re-defines present realities in South Kordofan, and Blue Nile, as “security” threats to the regime’s power, and on this basis continues to deny all humanitarian relief, hundreds of thousands of people will die following next fall’s now doomed harvest.
Although the Obama Administration seems now to be headed in the direction of capitulation and obeisance to Khartoum, it should hold no illusions that Khartoum would then keep its part of the devil’s bargain. It never has before. Why should it start now? In fact, all the US efforts at behavior modification for the Islamist regime have done have been to convince it that it can continue to wage a racist, genocidal war against its own people with impunity.
It is small, but it is consolation, that Sudan activists can say that their own attempts at behavior modification on the forging of a US Sudan policy have revealed to the US government that it cannot continue this “hypocritical and deadly Sudan policy” with impunity. Both those activists who believed President Obama would bring hope and change to Darfur and those who had no such illusions are unwilling to accept the current US policy of rewarding genocide in Sudan, and the above petition is just the beginning. Global and national security implications of continuing co-dependence with the Islamist regime add another level of urgency to this already morally-devastating dilemma.
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