The Real Exploiter of People's Agony
Allegations made in a Washington Post editorial on Monday, November 15, "Exploiting Sudan's Agony," were both bizarre and peculiar. The writer of the article fiercely protested many countries' attempts to further their profits from Sudanese oil by overlooking the human rights' violations committed by "the Islamic dictatorship in Khartoum," as the article put it.
The writer's opening statement was short and straightforward: "Few government's are bloodier than Sudan's." A list of allegations followed, emphasizing why such a conclusion was made. According to the writer's understanding of the conflict, Sudan's bloodshed was simply caused by the north's quest to forcefully impose Sharia law on the non-Islamic south.
The editorial's immature analysis of reasons behind the bloody conflict (which has claimed the lives of 1.5 million since 1983) was not meant to prove the north's cruelty -- for that is a given in the article -- but to protest the West's indifference to the plight of Sudanese. He accused France, Canada and the European Union, among others, of exploiting Sudan's oil resources.
What was even more interesting is the following statement: "The Islamic government in Khartoum routinely abuses human rights ... Yet not everybody supports the United States' embargo of Sudan." As much as I would like to avoid personal remarks in respect to the writer's political background, I am tempted to conclude that the writer is either grossly misinformed on his countries' role in violently exploiting other nations' resources, or intentionally disregarding such a fact.
A relatively short distance from Sudan, the Untied States' craving for oil has so far claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have died under a most savage bombardment and the imposition of strangling sanctions. The role played by the United States in the Arabian Gulf before and following the Gulf War tells of the inhuman approach that the United States is willing to employ in order for its "oil reserve" to be protected.
It is likely that some or many countries are normalizing their relations with the Sudanese government for self-serving interests. I would also agree with the Post article which suggested that the newly completed pipeline, promising wealth for the Sudanese government, might have inspired a few countries to break the isolation formed around Sudan. Although self-seeking motivations manifest negative notions, they should not be bluntly rejected. Why?
Let us agree with the claim that Canada, for example, is interfering in the destructive Sudanese civil war to conduct oil-related ventures in Sudan. It is unfair to conclude that the Canadian approach should draw the same negative reaction as that of the United States government. In early November, Canada introduced an initiative to end the 16-year-old war in Sudan, and invited both Sudanese rebels to directly negotiate with the Khartoum government on Canadian soil. Sudanese Foreign Minister, Mustafa Osman, declared his acceptance of the Canadian proposal and said that he is willing to meet directly with John Garang, the leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), in Ottawa. The opposition however refused.
In late October, U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright met with rebel leader John Garang in Nairobi. Instead of welcoming the ceaseless Egyptian-Libyan efforts to end the civil war and Sudanese factional quarrels, she bashed the efforts and bluntly rejected them. Instead, Albright endorsed the process sponsored by a seven-nation African group known as IGAD (Inter-Governmental Authority for Development). The U.S. backing of IGAD's efforts continues regardless of the latter's failure to move one step on the path to a peaceful settlement.
If economic prosperity succeeds in energizing a peaceful settlement, why should anyone who is genuinely concerned for the plight of the agonized people disapprove of it? The writer expressed that his country is truly concerned for the fate of the Sudanese, yet he failed to record the steps taken by his government to implement its "humanitarian policy." The bombing of a pharmaceutical company last year, and embargoing a nation that has very little means to survive, is a political tactic aimed at intensifying the tragedy rather than containing it.
Perhaps "few governments are bloodier than Sudan" the writer alleged. Journalistic integrity forces me, however, to point out that one of those "few" is the writer's own government which he supports wholeheartedly, the United States.