Sudan: More Death From Above

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May 14, 2007: Oil is 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.

 

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