Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tactics in a fragmenting Darfur

A(nother) ominous development in Darfur: the Justice and Equality Movement, a rebel group, has attacked a Chinese oil facility and taken two hostages.

The Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) say they want China to withdraw its support for the Sudanese government.

"The oil revenue is not coming for the benefit of the people of Sudan, but to kill our people in Darfur," Jem field commander Abdel Aziz el-Nur Ashr told the BBC's Network Africa programme. "All the people of Darfur believe that China is a partner for this genocidal government in Khartoum," he said.

He has a point: China’s investment in Sudan is in principle neutral towards and in practice supportive of the al-Bashir government’s brutality in Darfur. But such crude, aggressive threats are more likely to backfire.

China has been sticking its fingers into a lot of African pies in recent years, giving loans and trade deals to resource-rich countries without banging on about human rights and good governance in the way that Western governments and international institutions do. This means they’ve built up a network of client states, many of which are repressive to varying degrees.

The Chinese cannot possibly risk sending a message to any dissident groups in these countries that they can be scared off with a bit of violence. This means that they will have to resist – and be seen to resist – this threat from the JEM. In this context, any pressure China put on the Sudanese government in the near future could be seen as a capitulation. So it becomes that bit trickier for the Security Council to take a united tough line against al-Bashir, who continues to throw up objections to the deployment of the UN force that’s due in January.

Either the JEM are politically inept, or they’re trying to bolster their position in advance of future negotiations – or they’re just pillaging under the guise of ‘resistance’. They, along with several other rebel groups, are boycotting talks that are scheduled for this weekend.

The Darfuri factions (and the government-allied Janjaweed) have become increasingly fragmented, as many local leaders vie for status and spoils – making a workable resolution all the harder to find.


Anonymous said...

The African people must come to realize all the good that Western countries have done for them throughout their history.

The rebels in Darfur have finally realized that Western oil workers are never kidnapped in places like Nigeria, Angola or anywhere else Western companies work in Africa.

Nigeria and Equatorial Gineua are the best example of how their lives could be different if they allign themselves with the West. Both countries are set to join the 1st world in a couple of years as a result of American policies.

Look at how much Saudi Arabia changed as a result of all the pressure put on by America. When Bush threatened to forbid the Suadis to stop selling oil in dollars, the Suadis immediately cleaned up their human rights abuses and now women are among the freest in the world.

Look at Latin America. For all the talk from the far Left Liberals about our policies in Latin America during the 80's, the results of American policies and interventions are nothing short of spectacular.

Andre said...

China has always had great allies in repressive regimes. Such regimes might depend on China's political support - and China depends on them for various resources in order to ensure that their economy keeps on growing.

China’s investment in Sudan is in principle neutral towards and in practice supportive of the al-Bashir government’s brutality in Darfur

That's a very good point you make - personally, I find economic support to equal political support too.

Quite frankly, the more time passes, the more fragmented local groups and international groups get; the messier the final outcome will be