The civil war in the Darfur region of Sudan is escalating. Rebel groups under the banner of the National Redemption Front are increasing attacks on Sudan’s government-led forces.
For over three years, the ongoing war has provided the imperialists with a pretext to justify intervention under the guise
The National Redemption Front is an alliance of rebel groups that refused to sign the Darfur Peace Agreement on May 5, 2006. The main rebel group at the time, the Sudan Liberation Army, and the government signed the deal. The agreement allocated $U.S.30 million in assistance for the region and gave SLA leader, Minni Minawi, a position in Sudan’s government under the president.
Since the agreement was signed, the imperialists have continued to pressure Sudan and pave the way for what they really want—a U.N. “peacekeeping” force in the country.
The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution on Aug. 31 calling for the establishment of a 22,500 strong force of U.N. troops and police officers to replace the African Union force in the Darfur region of Sudan.
The U.N. resolution was drafted and pushed largely by the United States and Britain. Britain was the colonial power ruling Sudan until the country won independence in 1956. It was responsible for splitting the country into northern and southern sections, which helped set the stage for civil war and fighting within the country.
John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, claimed that the Security Council did not need Sudan’s permission to pass the resolution—a clear sign of disdain for Sudan’s sovereignty.
Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, objected to the procedure and U.S.-British chauvinism against Sudan. He recently told the Guardian, “[W]e take exception to not being consulted before the resolution was passed. The U.N. is a membership organization in which members have equal rights and duties. We know it is a theoretical equality, but at least we should have been granted the apparent dignity of being consulted in such a matter of vital importance to our interests.”
The people of Sudan have mounted numerous large protests to denounce the U.N. resolution. At the same time, its government has sought a diplomatic solution to the imperialist threats.
Initially, President Bashir renounced all foreign interference in Sudan’s internal affairs. The imperialist pressure under U.N. cover, however, has forced Sudan to modify its position and permit limited “logistical and material” support.
Bashir told the Guardian, “[W]e have no objection to the AU increasing its troops, strengthening its mandate, or receiving logistical support from the EU, the U.N., or the Arab League for that matter, but this must, of course, be done in consultation with the government of national unity.”
In the interview, Bashir stressed the importance of only allowing African Union troops in the country. He stated, “If this particular provision of the agreement is met, defining the role of the U.N. would be feasible. For instance, we have recently agreed to a request by Kofi Annan, the U.N. secretary-general, to send support from the U.N. to [the African Union mission] in the form of experts, equipment and logistics.”
Sudan wants to keep the imperialists at bay, but the U.S. and British governments are continuing to press for U.N. intervention. They have used a variety of tactics to accomplish this goal.
Numerous imperialist tactics
The United States government has been particularly adamant about pursuing sanctions against the Sudanese government and demonizing it.
On Oct. 13, President Bush signed a new executive order to strengthen sanctions against Sudan. The order condemned what it called Sudan’s violation of human rights, but its most telling language targeted what’s really at stake—control of Sudan’s vast oil and other natural resources.
According to Bush’s order, “The pervasive role played by the government of Sudan in Sudan’s petroleum and petrochemical industries threatens U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.”
Under U.S. imperialism’s logic of conquest and greed, Sudan, a sovereign nation, is a threat to the United States because its government controls its own oil and oil industries. This should reveal the U.S. government’s true intentions to anyone who thinks that the Sudan issue is fundamentally a “human rights” issue.
The executive order is an extension of a 1997 order by then-President Clinton. Clinton used his order to justify bombing a Sudanese pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in 1998. The Al-Shifa plant, which produced 50 percent of the medicine for one of the world’s poorest countries, was completely destroyed, causing untold tens of thousands of deaths from diseases like malaria and tuberculosis in the following years.
Equally telling about the executive order was the supposed tough line it takes with the central government in Khartoum,
The U.S. government backed the anti-government insurgency in the south for decades. The conflict ended in 2005, just as the crisis in Darfur was becoming more acute.
Anti-government rebel groups like the Justice and Equality Movement and Eastern Front have ties to the CIA. They have received funding and critical military support over the years in their bid to unseat the government.
Sudan is a poor country that has been underdeveloped by colonialism and is now under attack by imperialism. Armed groups acting as agents of imperialist powers like France, Britain and the United States are not legitimate national liberation organizations. They are essentially proxies for imperialist interests in the region.
‘The imperialist trap’
As in Iraq, the imperialists are willing to split up Sudan in order to take control of its resources and strategic location. But, this is not their first choice. The imperialists, led by the U.S. government—the strongest imperialist power—would prefer to destabilize the central government in Khartoum and replace it with a pro-imperialist regime.
The proxy rebel groups have their eyes on this prize. The New York Times reported on Oct. 23 that many of the groups, “including Darfur’s rebel groups, have national ambitions and dream not of carving out their own piece of territory but of overthrowing the Arab-led government.”
The conflict in Sudan has been misrepresented in the media as an Arab-African conflict. This is a source of confusion and allows the imperialists to pretend that they are trying to help oppressed African people. This gives their intervention scheme a humanitarian disguise. The roots of the internal division inside of Darfur are not fundamentally ethnic but are rather economic and social. There is a dispute over control of natural resources between nomadic herders and subsistence farmers. The vast majority of people in Darfur, who are characterized in the western media as “Arab,” are Muslim and Black.
Basic conflicts between nomadic hunting and gathering societies and those engaged in agriculture, over land and water issues can be severe. But they alone do not explain the enduring conflict that seems to renew and actually intensify every time the Sudanese government appears to have successfully hammered out a negotiated settlement. This is no accident. The intervention of the United States and other imperialist countries has been a decisive factor in fostering and exacerbating the country’s conflicts.
As the threat of intervention increases, so do the lies spewed by the capitalist media. While the Sudanese government is still a capitalist government with its own contradictions, Sudan is a country oppressed by imperialism.
No one should fall into the trap set by the imperialists. They aim to sew confusion about Sudan by charging the government with “genocide” and getting liberal think-tanks and celebrities to rally behind the cause. This ignores the true facts and context behind the conflict.
They have tried similar ploys with success in Iraq and the former Yugoslavia.
What they leave out is their role as primary antagonists whose overarching goal is to recolonize Sudan and steal its resources.
Sudan must be recognized by revolutionaries and progressives as independent state fighting to maintain its sovereignty. Lending Sudan and its government critical support against imperialism is essential.