May 14, 2007:
Sudan's most economically important and politically critical product. In 2006 Sudan produced approximately 320,000
barrels a day. China bought an average of 99,000 barrels a day - which is no
surprise, except that previously numerous sources had reported that China
bought from 50 to 60 percent of Sudan's production. That is about 30 percent of
Sudan's production, which still makes China a major importer of Sudanese oil.
Japan averaged 124,000 barrels a day, or approximately 38 percent. Together China
and Japan buy 68 percent (two-thirds) of Sudan's oil. What's interesting is
that Japan has for the most part escaped the international pressure China has
experienced. There are several reasons for that. One is China's position on the
UN Security Council. China is a permanent member of the Security Council and
wields a veto. That means China can more directly affect UN deployment
(positively or negatively) of a peacekeeping force in Darfur. A second reason:
China supplies Sudan with weapons and military equipment. In 2005 Sudan is
believed to have imported $83 million in weapons from China and about $35
million from Russia. While that may not look like a lot of money if you compare
that to the US Defense budget, $83 million can buy a lot of ammunition for
small arms and mortars. Darfur is a war of displacement, leading to death from
exposure, starvation, and disease - that's how most of the killing gets done.
Displace people from their homes and they die from exposure to the elements.
Separated from their farms and food stocks, they begin to starve. When people
starve they weaken and disease strikes more easily. In Darfur small arms
carried by janjaweed militias start the process of displacement. (Austin Bay)
May 13, 2007: There have
been more air attacks by the Sudan Air
Force against civilian targets near the town of El Fasher (North Darfur state).
Those attacks were indiscriminate and did not distinguish between military and
civilian targets. Most of the attacks
took place from April 19 to 29. The attacks were carried out by helicopters and
Antonov transports rigged as bombers. The report said the attacks killed many
civilians and livestock. Killing livestock may not be incidental. Killing
cattle denies the Darfur villagers a food resource. A helicopter-delivered aerial rocket attack in
the village of Um Rai hit a school and
wounded 170 students. Two civilians died in that attack.
May 11, 2007: The Sudan
Peoples Liberation Movement began as the political wing of the Sudan Peoples
Liberation Army (SPLA). The SPLA was the main guerrilla force in Sudan's long
"southern civil war." The Comprehensive Peace Agreement of January 2005 gave
south Sudan a great deal of autonomy and the SPLM is acting increasingly like
something of a separate governmental. The SPLM is now offering to broker peace
talks between the Sudan government in Khartoum and Darfur rebel groups. The
SPLM has made this offer before but it is looking real negotiations will emerge
from the process.
May 11, 2007: China has
appointed a "special envoy" to Sudan. The special envoy is a response to
criticism China has received for its relationship with the Sudan government.
China has also agreed to help the UN peacekeeping "reinforcement" of the
African Union's (AU) peacekeeping effort in Darfur. China will provide 275
military engineers to that force.