Sudan: The Olympics Become a Weapon


April 26, 2007: Sudan has become diplomatic problem for Sudan. At the moment China remains one of Sudan's most important allies, though it is increasingly a tentative ally. No, China isn't an ally like Iran (which maintains close ties with Sudan) China does buy approximately 60 to 65 percent of Sudan's daily output of oil. China also sells Sudan weapons. China also has soldiers serving with peacekeeping forces in south Sudan. Darfur, however, is straining the economic relationship. China has never been a favorite of Western human rights groups, but often gets something of a pass from these organizations because it isn't the US. However, the plight of refugees in Darfur has made China more of a target. China did play a big role in getting the UN's "hybrid force" plan approved by Sudan. Under pressure from fellow members of the Security Council, China urged Sudan to accept a "phased in peacekeeping force" with UN participation in Darfur. Interestingly enough, one of the big sticks shaken by the human rights groups is a potential boycott of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. China fought long and hard for the Olympics and views the games as a global "coming out party" to show off economic progress in China. The human rights groups are encouraging a boycott if China does not fully support a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur. (Austin Bay)

April 24, 2007: The central government and the new south Sudan regional government are engaged in a legal dispute over oil drilling rights. Oil played a major role in the long south Sudan civil war. In 2005 the south Sudan government gave Ascom (a Moldovan company) a drilling concession. The Sudan government says that Malaysia's Petronas has the drilling rights. The Sudan government argues that Petronas' drilling agreement predates the 2005 peace agreement. How this dispute is resolved will say a lot about the strength of the political relationship between north Sudan and south Sudan.

April 23, 2007: The US called for more UN peacekeepers in Darfur. The new UN draft resolution calls on the force to protect "civilians under threat of physical violence" in Darfur. The US is also reportedly considering recommending an arms embargo on the entire country of Sudan. This comes after the "leak" of UN evidence that Sudan is violating the arms embargo in Darfur.

April 19, 2007: Sudan condemned the "leak" to the New York Times of a UN study that reported the Sudanese government had illegally shipped arms to Darfur. The report also included evidence that Sudan is camouflaging transport aircraft by painting them to look like UN aircraft. The Sudanese objection was typical. It called the revelations phony and said the alleged sources were "enemies of peace and stability in Sudan." The leak clearly dealt Sudan a heavy political blow


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