Thursday :: Jul 22, 2004

When East Meets West In The Muddle - Part 2

by pessimist

"He who has the black gold makes the black rules."

[The outrage article continues]

It looks as if Asia has sided with the Arab north. What about European nations?

Petroleum centre wins British certificate of quality

Minister of Energy and Mining Dr Awad Ahmad al-Jaz [has] appreciated the Petroleum Training Centre's winning the Certificate of Quality by the British Standards Institution (BSI), saying that it is a great achievement for the centre. He explained that the British Certificate is a good impetus toward more achievements and promotion of the capabilities in the oil industry in Sudan, explaining that the prize would motivate the workers in the oil field to increase the productivity and to attract more investors.

I guess the Brits can be counted as aligned with the Arabs.

Sudan, Swiss company, others sign oil prospecting agreement

An agreement on oil prospecting and production was signed yesterday at the Ministry of Energy and Mining with a group of [oil] companies including the Swiss company, Cliveden, which has a 37 per cent share; High Tech, with 28 per cent; the [national] Sudanese [oil] company, Sudapet, with 17 per cent share; Khartoum State, with 10 per cent; and the Hejlij Company with 8 per cent share. In a press statement after the signing of the agreement, the minister of energy and mining, Dr Awad Ahmad al-Jaz, said that the presence of the Swiss company Cliveden was going to give a strong impetus in this field.

Add the Swiss to the Arab list.

Austria's OMV says Sudan exit was commercial, not political move

20 years of civil war have continually hampered efforts by oil companies to find and develop oil fields. Austria's OMV sold its undeveloped Sudanese oil assets out of need to raise funds for more near-term projects rather than frustration with the war-torn country's political instability, OMV's vice president of upstream business development Paul Griggs said Wednesday. OMV pulled out of Sudan after selling its two exploration blocks to India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp for $115-mil last September. The blocks were OMV's only assets in Sudan.

Austria won't or can't afford to take that bet anymore.

Romania to take part in its oil industry

Sudan Energy and Mines Minister Minister Awad Ahmed El-Jazz said Friday he wanted to see Romanian oil firms returning to his country. Western firms left Sudan in the 1990's when Islamic fundamentalists came to power. El-Jazz said Sudan would soon sign a cooperation agreement with Romania. "We invite Romania to return and we have received a very positive response from the government and private firms," El-Jazz told reporters after a three-day visit to Romania. The Romanian national oil company Petrol, which built one of Sundan's four refineries in the 1980's, "is interested by our projects," such as building new refineries, the minister said.

Romania has Muslim citizens, but even if it didn't, they are still connected to the north through this agreement. What about France?

Indian OVL eyes French Total's equity in Sudanese Block 5

ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), the overseas arm of state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp, is keen to take French oil firm Total's equity in Block 5 in southern Sudan. "OVL has communicated its intent to take equity of Total, which had suspended its operations in Block 5 due to civil war sometime back," industry sources said. Total, however, suspended operations in 1985.

So much for France. But wait! What's that on the horizon?

US companies express wish to invest in Sudan

The minister of energy and mining, Dr Awad Ahmad al-Jaz, met the Africa director of Total Fina Elf French energy group. The meeting dealt with the bilateral ties and Dr Al-Jaz said Sudan welcomed the return of the French company Total to Sudan.

According to London's Al-Hayyat newspaper, Dr Al-Jaz added that number of US companies had expressed their wish to invest in Sudan.

Poor south Sudan! No French, and No Uncle Sam. Is there one one to rise to the occasion and help that poor land?

Kenya keen to buy Sudanese oil as peace hopes rise

Progress towards ending Sudan's civil war has raised Kenya's hopes of securing cheaper oil from its giant neighbour by dispelling activists' concerns over human rights abuses, Kenya's energy minister said on Monday. Ochilo Ayacko said Kenya had faced objections in the past from pressure groups who called Sudan supplies "blood oil", referring to allegations that a government scorched earth policy has forced thousands of villagers to flee production areas.

Sudan's oil has raised the stakes in the civil war in recent years, further complicating a conflict between the government and southern rebels rooted in factors from ethnicity and religion to ideology and economic divides.

Recent breakthroughs towards ending the 20-year conflict between the government and southern rebels at peace talks in Kenya would remove such concerns, Ayacko said. "We have an invitation to go to Sudan next month, we also have another to go to south Sudan," Ayacko told reporters at a review meeting of progress made in the past year in reforming Kenya's state-owned energy firms. "We are absolutely sure that there will be a peace deal, there's nothing to wait for," he said.

The Khartoum government and southern rebels signed a pact on how to share oil and other resources. Kenya currently imports no oil from Sudan, but has said in the past it hopes to secure cheaper supplies than those from Nigeria or Murban crude from the United Arab Emirates. Ayacko declined to say how much oil Kenya planned to obtain from Sudan, which only began petroleum exports in the late 1990s but has a growing output of more than 250,000 barrels a day.

And here are the Seeds of the Weeds which choked the Peace which that people Needs!

I think that I have demonstrated that the Arab north held all the cards in this deal, and had deals with lots of countries which would keep them on the sidelines. Only Germany and Kenya, so far, have any ties to the south at all. This doesn't bode well, especially when the south makes rash demands such as this:

Sudan rebels demand 60 percent of oil revenue: Egyptian report

Sudan's southern rebels asked for 60 percent of the oil revenue of their country during peace talks with the Khartoum government to end their 20-year civil war, the official Egyptian news agency MENA said Thursday. The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) "demands 60 percent of the oil revenue and 40 percent of government jobs," MENA said, quoting sources close to the negotiations being held in Kenya. MENA also said SPLA leader John Garang had demanded "the positions of governor of the south, a region stretching over 10 states, and of first vice president" with "rights to veto the decisions" of President Omar al-Beshir.

This is a recipe for continued war, and the extremes we've seen to date are not going to ease up until this problem of the north's has been solved once and for all. The East African region can see this, for they have taken steps toward true international cooperation, something Africa desperately needs to develop. My only problem is - this cooperation is only military, the worst of all possible choices for the future, but so important for the present.

East African defence ministers meeting discusses formation of a regional peace force

The first Meeting of Ministers of Defence and Security of the Eastern Africa Region, which constitute the region forming the Eastern Africa Standby Brigade (EASBRIG) was convened at the AU Conference Center yesterday. President Girma Wolde-Giorgis said, "It has become increasingly evident that this collective continental arrangement is the best hope towards achieving our goal of a peaceful Africa. As part of the overall continental security structure, our region should demonstrate its strong commitment to the objectives of the PSC [Peace and Security Council - ed] by redoubling its efforts for the speedy establishment of the Eastern Africa Standby Brigade. The importance of this endeavour is all the more underlined by the need to take proactive measures for acts of genocide to never again occur in Africa," he underscored.

Already, this has emboldened the pro-African forces to stand up to the abuses of the northern government:

AU, Sudan signal differences over Darfur security

The African Union said on Thursday its troops will not stand idly by if civilians are attacked in Sudan's troubled Darfur region but Sudan challenged the statement, saying it alone is responsible for such security.

Darfur dominated a three-day meeting of leaders from 53 African nations, which ended on Thursday, and is seen as a test of the AU's stated resolve to police the continent's conflicts. The AU, trying to win increased Western investment in return for ending wars and despotism and curbing corruption, said 300 soldiers already flagged to go to Darfur to protect 60 unarmed AU monitors would also protect civilians. "These forces that are coming are to protect the observation mission but they cannot remain passive when faced with human rights violations," AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare told reporters after the summit. "We recommend that this force be deployed as quickly as possible and we really hope before the end of the month."

Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said: "Sudan has no problem if you want to send protection forces but it is protection forces to protect the monitors. The protection of civilians is the responsibility of the Sudanese government." After years of tension between nomadic Arab tribes and African farmers, two groups rebelled last year, accusing Khartoum of arming the Arab militias known as the Janjaweed. Sudan's Islamist government denies the charge.

A U.S. State Department official said Washington was still receiving reports that Janjaweed attacks backed by government helicopters remained persistent.

This means war - regional war. All of the excesses of the past 21 years will only magnify if things are allowed to continue on this course. But it looks like something is going on. Somebody isn't pressing as hard as they might:

The AU's Peace and Security Council has urged Khartoum to "neutralise" the Janjaweed and prosecute anyone responsible for bloodshed but said the violence was not genocide, a term used by some human rights groups. The Khartoum government welcomed that finding. Under international law, consensus among U.N. members on the existence of genocide requires them to prepare immediate steps to stop it.

Political analysts said the summit kept the mandate deliberately vague so the Khartoum government did not lose face. "They made a sort of secret compromise here," said an AU official, declining to be identified. The African bloc has consistently supported Khartoum against Western criticism and diplomats said Sudan would be wary of alienating some of its most vocal defenders.

If the locals - the ones who know more about the genocidal actions in the region than anyone - are willing to not call the situation 'genocide', why? What could make them abate their condemnation of the actions of the northern Sudanese government so as to keep the UN out?

Maybe this will explain it:

Africa's oil import bill to soar-Sudan's Bashir

Oil imports to East and southern Africa's COMESA trade bloc are set to rocket to $15 billion this year as world oil prices hit record highs, Sudan's president Omar el Bashir said on Monday. Bashir, outgoing chairman of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), said the 2004 oil bill for the group's 20 member states had shot up from $9 billion in 2003. "This will have far-reaching negative effects on our economies," he told delegates at the organisation's annual summit in the Ugandan capital Kampala. "Coupled with low commodity prices, this will increase some COMESA region countries' debt stock," he said.

"They will now have to borrow more just to service their current debts."

So Money talks and Bluster walks. More people die and no one cares why.

Oil is the drug of choice which numbs all sympathy for the victims and outrage at the oppressors. Getting that fix takes precedence over all else. That oil dose is much more important than human life - especially if that life isn't 'just like us - one of ours'. The poor and oiless should just die off and decrease the surplus impoverished population.

Is that how low we as a race have sunk?

So it appears. But at least someone is trying to do something:

Sudan is getting away with murder

'Where are the Kiplings of today to rouse public opinion?' my anguished colleagues on the Leader page asked yesterday Sudan. "Do we humanitarians care less about Darfur than our imperialist ancestors would have done?" The answer to that second one is: yes.

As for Kipling, if he were around today, he'd be tied up with the big Not In Our Name march with fellow versifiers Harold Pinter and Andrew Motion. Or possibly he'd be preening with Ashley Judd and Rupert Everett and other experts at the big world Aids conference in Bangkok, and getting his photo taken next to an effigy of George W Bush smeared with blood.

Take up the White Man's burden The savage wars of peace Fill full the mouth of famine And bid the sickness cease; And when your goal is nearest The end for others sought, Watch Sloth and heathen Folly Bring all your hope to nought.

Today, British charities are launching a campaign to save Darfur, which they describe as the "world's worst humanitarian crisis". If we were serious about the plight of Sudan, we'd stop using that dully evasive word "humanitarian". It's fine for a hurricane or a drought, but not a genocide.

The world would be a better place if the UN, or the democratic members thereof, declared that thug states forfeit the automatic deference to sovereignty.

One day, historians will wonder why the most militarily advanced nations could do nothing to halt men with machetes and a few rusting rifles.

Apathy knows no boundaries, it seems:

In Sudan crisis, a duty to intervene?

Americans are pained by a crisis more easily deplored than fixed.

Staggering reports from the Darfur region of Sudan - where as many as 1 million Africans could die this year - have increased pressure on people of conscience to respond. To advocate sending troops could alienate both pacifists and supporters of a peace brokered with Khartoum to protect Christians in south Sudan. As always, moral arguments weigh against practical considerations. Can the Janjaweed militia be stopped? Can thousands of refugees be saved before the rainy season? Should the US send more troops to the developing world? Can America afford to battle with yet another Arab state?

Mixed responses even among like-minded groups provide a glimpse of a nation wrestling with a faraway crisis more easily deplored than fixed. On the one hand, daily protests and a series of high-profile arrests illustrate a growing desire for immediate action. On the other, some charitable and church groups stand with the United Nations in so far refusing to speak of "genocide" - because that would compel a no-holds-barred intervention.

But for moral watchdogs who invoke comparisons to the Holocaust, one question looms large: Can a moral people stand by and watch one race eradicate another?

"If you see genocide happening and make speeches saying 'never again,' and then say it is happening again, there's a moral imperative to act," says Hadar Harris, executive director of the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at American University. "But moral imperatives sometimes don't have the same resonance as political interests do."

"No one's going to be voted out of office because a million people were killed."

At least the word about the horrible situation in Sudan is getting out, however slowly and quietly, as this poll indicates:

7 in 10 Americans Say Genocide Must Be Prevented in Sudan

In a new PIPA-Knowledge Networks poll 69% said "If the UN were to determine that genocide is occurring" in the Darfur region of Sudan, then the UN, including the US, should "act to stop the genocide even if it requires military force." Only 19% were opposed and 12% did not give an answer.

Americans are also inclined to believe that genocide is already occurring there. Presented two positions, only 24% endorsed the view that what is occurring in Darfur "is just a civil war between the government and people in a resistant region that happen to be of a different ethnic group." Instead, 56% took the position that what is occurring in Darfur, where "a million black African Darfuris have been driven into the desert by Arab militias who have destroyed their farms and prevented them from receiving relief," is genocide. Twenty percent did not answer.

These are some of the key findings of a PIPA-Knowledge Networks poll conducted July 9-14 with a nationwide sample of 892 American adults (margin of error plus or minus 3.3%).

Partisan differences were modest. Republicans were a bit more likely to say that if the UN determines that genocide is occurring then the UN, including the US, must take action (74% vs. 69%) and to say that the UN should send in a military force to enforce a ceasefire agreement (75% vs. 65%). Democrats, however, were slightly more prone to say that the US should be willing to contribute troops (64% vs. 54%). Steven Kull, director of PIPA comments, "It is quite striking that Americans are as ready as they are to make such commitments when they have so little information about the situation there." A mere 14% said they have heard "a lot" or "some" about the situation in Darfur.

Just over half said they had heard nothing at all.

Thus, with the SCLM in charge of disseminating our information, and the allies of the United States all in the oil bed with the oppressors of the southern Sudanese, and with so many of those who would normally be crying out into the echo chamber in an attempt to fill mental void of the Dittoheads tied up with Iraq and Afghanistan and Palestine, it's no wonder that an out-of-sight, out-of-mind place like the Sudan doesn't mean much to us. It's no wonder we don't hear the call to action, not even when conservatives are doing the calling:

U.S. must act to end Sudanese atrocities

It was the crayon drawings, crude representations of airplanes and helicopters raining fire and death on hapless villagers, that made it all seem real.

These depictions of the horrors being visited on black Africans in the Darfur region of Sudan were eyewitness accounts of children. Rep. Frank Wolf, a Republican who represents Virginia's 10th District, and Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., showed the drawings to journalists at a news conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

The congressman and senator returned last week from a visit to Darfur, where they met with villagers who have fled the violence perpetrated on them by the Sudanese government and its proxies, the Janjaweed militias. Wolf and Brownback heard the same stories over and over from the refugees they met in Darfur: First, planes and helicopters - likely crewed by government forces, not the Arab nomads who make up the Janjaweed - bomb and shoot up the villages, then the militias sweep in and finish the job. Those who survive the attacks flee to overcrowded refugee camps where disease and poor nutrition stalk the weak.

"The Janjaweed are not an independent body, but a tool created by the Sudanese government," Jemera Rone, Sudan researcher for Human Rights Watch's Africa Division, said in a press release Wednesday. "The Security Council must place the responsibility for the crimes against humanity and humanitarian disaster squarely with the Sudanese government."

The congressman and senator also heard countless stories of rape. The rapists' intention, they were told, was not just to terrify and humiliate; it was to create light-skinned babies.

The world cannot stand for a leisurely, half-hearted response to the crisis in Darfur. Rainy season is fast approaching in the region; its arrival will dramatically increase the risk of life-threatening disease among refugees and greatly hinder transport of relief aid. As Wolf and Brownback have warned, if the international community does not take quick, decisive action on Darfur, the next phase of the crisis--its most devastating--will soon begin.

So take that Hummer down to the gas station, and as you fill it up, ask yourself this question:

Hey! Hey! Pump Away! How Many Died Just So You Could Play?

One is too many.

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pessimist :: 9:13 AM :: Comments (0) :: Digg It!