Saturday, July 14, 2012

Victory is Ours, Part 3

Before we proceed with our first article, some context on the author may be in order. Gamal Nkrumah is considered a Pan-Africanist, which is generally considered to be someone who would like to see far greater unity among the people of Africa, and often even among people of African descent from around the world, to help end exploitation of Africa and of Africans for the enrichment of non-Africans.

Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser and Libya's Muammar Gaddafi were also considered to be Pan-Africanists; in fact, Gaddafi took active measures to use Libya's oil wealth to promote a united Africa. One article from The Herald (Zimbabwe) points out how, among other things, Gaddafi foiled one method of European exploitation by helping finance an African communications satellite, which cost Africa $400 million to launch, rather than renting European equipment for $500 million per year.

The financial servitude of Africa is addressed in an interview with Dr. Nkrumah, which also serves to provide more insight into Dr. Nkrumah's perspective, and thus to shed further light on his article. His Pan-Africanist viewpoint is evident in the article reviewed here, and is pertinent.

Now for excerpts from The dark side of Sudan by Gamal Nkrumah, dated April 2012.

At a time when policymakers in Khartoum are focussed on the need to feed the starving millions in Sudan -- a country that could easily become the breadbasket of Africa and the Middle East -- and promote investment in the agrarian sector of the economy, funds are funnelled into Sudan's war machine. Sudanese opposition forces are up in arms.


"We would have preferred that the government of President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir adopts a more reconciliatory attitude towards our South Sudanese brothers. His intransigence has led to the division of the country and now his stubbornness and inflexibility will lead to war and devastation," Chairman of Sudan's opposition National Congress Forces (NCF) Farouk Abu Eissa, told Al-Ahram Weekly.

The NCF groups together several moderate opposition parties including the National Umma Party (NUP) and the Popular Congress Party (PCP). The more militant Sudanese Revolutionary Forces (SRF), an umbrella grouping that includes the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) the sister organisation of the ruling SPLM in South Sudan, is especially critical of Khartoum's bellicose mood.

The SRF also incorporate armed opposition groups in Darfur including the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) -- not to be confused with the SPLM and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). Militias loyal to the warlike conglomeration have systematically targeted oil installations. The SRF is especially active in the oil-producing border regions especially in Abyei, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The Sudanese government forces have proved incapable of containing the guerrilla warfare tactics of the SRF.

The article provides good background on the various groups operating in Sudan, and how they relate to each other. Continuing:

The aerial bombardment by Sudan on South Sudanese border oil producing areas such as Bintui and other garrison towns has left thousands of civilians killed, injured and maimed. In both Sudans observers believe the current low-intensity warfare will inevitably leave the young open to extremists.

Whenever intra-tribal tension flares in the war-torn areas authorities in South Sudan watch for political tension in Sudan and vice versa. More than 75 per cent of the oil produced in what was formerly a united Sudan now lies in territories administered by the independent state of South Sudan. The rest of the oil is produced in adjacent disputed border areas such as Abyei. The latest outburst of violence in the vicinity of Heglig, South Kordofan, has caused a commotion in all the surrounding countryside. The Heglig disturbances threaten to evolve into a devastating war between Sudan and South Sudan. Khartoum accused Juba of instigating tribal tensions and warmongering.

Notice the comment about how each side watches the other during times of increased tribal problems.

The article concludes by pointing out South Sudan's President Kiir warning that he would send troops into Abyei - which has since happened, though it was characterized as "hot pursuit" (see The Inter-Sudan War, Part 4) - and an expectation of a real war.

If Khartoum is instigating trouble in the South, that would make sense why the South watches the North whenever there are tribal troubles. Also, that could explain "hot pursuit".

Each country - Sudan and South Sudan - has internal security problems which are to some extent supported by other side; thus, there is definitely a proxy war going on. However, both Sudan and South Sudan have, in turn, to some extent, become proxies for others.

We now review A playground for proxies, June 16, 2012:

Iran and Israel may become more involved in the Sudanese imbroglio

THE governments of Sudan and South Sudan have been enlisting support from Iran and Israel: not a good omen for peace between north and south. In early May the UN Security Council threatened both Sudans with sanctions unless they stopped fighting and began to discuss how to share oil revenues and demarcate their disputed border. But within weeks a Sudanese delegation went to Iran, where the government promised to strengthen economic ties, oil exploration included. Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said that his country and Sudan, both facing international sanctions, were victims of "arrogant powers and enemies of mankind".

Since an Islamist-backed military coup brought Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, to power in 1989, Shia-run Iran has seen Sunni-dominated Sudan as a useful ally in north-east Africa, and has used Sudan's east side as a corridor for weapons to be smuggled into Egypt and on to Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group in the Gaza Strip. Israel bombed Iranian convoys on that route in 2009.

Some generals in Khartoum, Sudan's capital, now appear to want to co-operate even more closely with Iran, aiming at South Sudan. An Iranian surveillance drone crashed in Sudanese territory in March after coming under fire from South Sudanese-backed rebels.

Israel is just as keen to help South Sudan. President Salva Kiir and his defence minister recently visited Israel to discuss—among other things—military co-operation, private security deals and oil. Israeli ties to the southerners go back to the 1960s, when they first received arms and training. More recently Israeli security experts have reportedly been working with South Sudan's revamped military. Some say they are helping to train South Sudanese troops to operate the scores of T-72 battle tanks acquired by the government.

There have been unverified reports in the Israeli press that Iranian weapons seized in a Nigerian port in 2010 were intended to be smuggled through Chad to Sudan and Gaza. In February Israel's ambassador to the UN said that Israel was worried that west Africa had become a hub for Hizbullah, Lebanon's fiercely anti-Israeli, Iranian-backed party-cum-militia. No wonder that peace talks between Sudan and South Sudan are deadlocked.

Some of this was previously addressed at posts here. For example, in Unity and Faith, Part 4, we looked at the weapons being moved through Nigeria. Of course, we also looked at the Iranian heroin being moved through Nigeria - a topic that does not get as much attention elsewhere. ;)

If it turns out that Iran and Israel are getting involved in the Sudans, that turn of events would certainly have broader ramifications.

But that may only be the first layer under the surface. Farther down may indeed be another layer of proxy fighting.

We return to two excerpts that we had skipped from The dark side of Sudan by Gamal Nkrumah, the first near the beginning, and the second at the very end:

The age of hydrocarbons isn't over as far as the two Sudans are concerned. The world's largest oil companies facing the faltering war economies of Sudan are looking to buy growth in other developing countries in Africa. The risks of investing in oil production in Sudan deter all but the most intrepid investors such as the Chinese.


"I personally expect full-fledged war," [said] Mariam Al-Mahdi, opposition politician and daughter of Umma Party leader, the former Sudanese prime minister Sadig Al-Mahdi. She alluded to the analogy that the current border skirmishes are like a preview to a full-scale war between Sudan and South Sudan. A rash of international oil companies is snapping up stakes in the two countries' oil wealth. They have succeeded in whipping up an anti-Sudanese rancour, particularly if the Sudanese opposition's attempts to tame Khartoum go horribly awry.

Notice two things: 1) Sudan, especially its oil, is being exploited by non-Africans; and, 2) the Chinese are high on the list of exploiters.

As we learned in The Inter-Sudan War, Part 5, China receives about 67% of Sudan's oil exports - when Sudan is exporting - and this accounts for 5% of China's oil needs.

I can't help but wonder if a nation potentially hostile to China might be involved here, jeopardizing China's investments and disrupting the flow of oil to China. And, I can think of only one superpower that has been reasonably involved in the Sudans that might wish to see China have problems there.

From China's Oil Supply Dependence by David L. O. Hayward (a retired Australian military officer who has written analytical papers on China's dependence on oil imports and related geographic, political and military considerations), June 18, 2009:

China's economic expansion has placed it on a collision course with global competitors in the market for scarce resources including critical oil and gas supplies. The PRC accounted for nearly 40% of the increase in global oil consumption between 2004 and 2007. In a short period of time, China has evolved from a position as an oil exporter in 1992 to the world's second largest oil importer in May 2008.


China began to suffer from oil supply shortages in 2007. These shortages led to price increases in petrol and diesel of up to 18% in June 2008. In an effort to boost domestic oil production, China has invited foreign investment in its oil infrastructure. With a shortfall of some 160,000 b/d predicted for 2010, China has asked six countries to help fill this gap. The UK, South Korea, Russia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), US and Saudi Arabia have jumped on the bandwagon. Joint venture proposals with CNPC largely relate to the mainland based refining sector and include British Petroleum (BP), South Korea's SK and LG, Russia's Rosneft, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) led investor group, ExxonMobil Corporation, and various Saudi oil enterprises. Even though in 2008 China may be able to ramp up its refinery capacity by approximately 54.5 million tons, there is still the likelihood of a gaping shortfall in oil supply.



Additionally, China has implemented a powerful "oil for guns" programme with Sudan. With the exception of Russia, this country has become China's largest overseas oil investment. CNPC owns 40% of the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company, a consortium that dominates Sudan's oil fields. CNPC has invested more than US$8B in the Sudanese oil sector, including funding for new oil pipelines. Another Chinese company, Sinopec is constructing a 1,500 km pipeline to Port Sudan on the Red Sea. China is also building a new tanker terminal at this port possibly to handle very large crude carrier (VLCC) tankers. Sudan now supplies China with 10% of its total oil imports.


The momentum could be self-perpetuating.

(4.) China sees itself as the leader of a new world economic order, to eventually become the world's leading economy by 2020/30 and to thereby acquire a dominant hegemonic position in world affairs and geopolitics. The country is deliberately posturing itself for future domination of the West.

(5.) Being "cashed up" with some US$1.95 trillion in forex reserves, China possibly will never again have such a golden opportunity to acquire crude oil/gas assets (and other worldwide energy resources) at such a low cost, while the global financial meltdown continues. Effectively, the People's Bank of China is close to becoming the world’s de facto banker and has mounted a serious challenge to the IMF, to the Arab petrodollar and to overseas financial institutions. The artificially induced low value of the Yuan has permitted China to rapidly build up its forex reserves. "Thanks for your US dollar, here's your change expressed in a foreign exchange certificate, as fifty Fens or otherwise." This is a form of "hard currency larceny". How could the West be so naive and allow itself to be financially ambushed in this manner?

(6.) China seeks to buy crude oil/gas (plus other energy resources) as it realizes these valuable commodities are finite and exhaustible. The rate of discovery of new and significant oil reserves is dramatically falling and most existing oil/gas fields have surpassed their peak. The age of easy oil is over, and what remaining oil there is will become increasingly technically difficult to extract.

(7.) China intends to greatly increase its official strategic reserve of oil (and LNG/gas products). The first annual phase of the PRC's strategic petroleum reserve is due to be completed in 2009. The reserve will hold 100 million barrels of oil (m/bo). The second annual phase is planned to hold 200 m/bo. If this annual rate of stockpiling is successful, China will launch successive phases. This may eventually increase net storage capacity to beyond 500 m/bo sometime after 2013. Should this occur the storage volume will be the largest national strategic oil reserve the world has ever known.

Having such a large strategic reserve, to the obvious disadvantage of other world powers, means that China can effectively mount a sustained conventional manpower- abundant military campaign (defensive/offensive) without the need for recourse to limited-theatre nuclear weapons and WMD. The West will be tactically impaired and might have to be the first to use nuclear weapons to impede any Chinese advances/gains.


Of course, as China's demand for oil increases, there is increased competition with other customers to buy the world's oil.

But, as the squeeze gets put on China's oil supply, this opens up the field for investment in China's oil infrastructure, and big American oil companies are among those that would be in the competition to help develop new refineries - ExxonMobil was specifically mentioned.

On the other hand, though, China trades its weapons for oil, supplying Sudan. Sudan is considered by the US Government to be a state sponsor of terrorism, and is the de facto enemy of South Sudan, a nation that has very cordial relations with the United States. In fact, the oil situation has significant geostrategic ramifications for the US, going so far as to help predict who would be first to use nuclear weapons in a Sino-American fight - though Sudan is worth only 5% of China's oil situation.

If the oil flow is cut off from Sudan - and it is - this will negatively impact the Chinese, and could prompt opportunities for investment by American firms to build China's oil infrastructure, while keeping China from making sales of weapons and while keeping China from arming the regime in Khartoum, which is considered hostile to US interests.

That would be a nice package for America, don't you think?

What else is interesting is the close relationship that has developed between China and Iran. From pages 5-7 (pgs 19-21 of 48 as you open the pdf) of China and Iran Economic, Political, and Military Relations, written this year by Scott Harold and Alireza Nader (numbers in superscript refer to footnotes in the original):

To a considerable extent, the Islamic Republic has become dependent on China as the regime's chief diplomatic protector in the face of internal and external pressures. In contrast to Western powers, China is unconcerned with the Iranian regime’s internal behavior. The regime's brutal suppression of the 2009 protest movement and its wider human rights abuses were met with silence from Beijing; China may have even provided active assistance in monitoring and suppressing Iranian opposition forces (through the provision of telecommunications tracking technology and crowd control devices).9


4. Iran's Military Modernization Has Been Facilitated by China

China has aided Iran's efforts to modernize its military hardware and doctrine. As noted previously, the PRC was an essential provider of military hardware during Iran's eight-year struggle with Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Iran's rupture with the United States severely impeded its ability to conduct its war with Iraq, while the Soviet Union and such major Western powers as France supplied Baghdad with military hardware while refusing similar assistance to Iran. Chinese military sales to Iran were often provided indirectly and discreetly through third-party sale/transfers carried out via countries such as North Korea, but they were recognized by Tehran as a critical form of support.10

China not only sold Iran small arms; it also supplied Iran with tactical ballistic and antiship cruise missiles. Indeed, Iran's use of Silkworm missiles against Kuwaiti shipping in 1987 became a significant source of tension between China and the United States.11 China eventually agreed to stop sales of the Silkworm and the more sophisticated C-802 missiles to Iran.12

But instead of directly selling missiles to Iran, China played a crucial role in starting up Iran's indigenous military-industrial sector, greatly helping Iran's military modernization efforts. Chinese design and technology can be seen in many Iranian missile series, from the short-range Oghab and Nazeat missiles to the long-range Shahab 3.13 In addition, Iran has developed its own relatively sophisticated antiship cruise missiles with Chinese help. These include the Nasr, which is reported as being nearly identical to the Chinese C-704. According to some reports, China even helped Iran establish a plant for the manufacture of the Nasr in 2010.14 China is also reported to have provided Iran with advanced antiship mines and fast attack boats.15 The total value of these transfers is difficult to know for certain but has been estimated by some analysts to range from a low of $4 billion to possibly as high as $10 billion.16

Such transfers of weapons and technological know-how have continued despite international sanctions, with one observer reporting allegations that Chinese arms suppliers have agreed to deliver weapon systems with the serial numbers filed off so as to obscure their origin.17 In some cases, China is suspected of transferring ballistic missile technology to Iran via North Korea.18 Even more troubling are allegations that Chinese and Iranian defense cooperation has also extended to covertly developing Iran's chemical weapons program.19

Iran's ballistic missiles and naval capabilities form the core of its military doctrine vis-à-vis the United States. Lacking an advanced air force, Iran aims to project military power through the use of its missile forces, which can be used to deter the United States or retaliate against the United States or its regional allies in the event of a military conflict. Additionally, Iran's naval capabilities can be used to disrupt shipping in the Persian Gulf, potentially inflicting pressure on the United States to end any future military conflict on terms favorable to Iran.

That's a great deal of important support that China is giving Iran: diplomatic cover, arms, technology, economic support in the face of sanctions...

I wonder if all China is getting in return is a dedicated supplier of oil?

The Sudans seem to be supporting militias and armed groups, each in the territory of the other.

However, it appears that Sudan is receiving extensive support from Iran, a fellow Islamic regime; though Sudan is Sunni and Iran is Shi'ite, they seem to have a great deal in common, including common enemies. South Sudan, for its part, seems to be receiving significant assistance from Israel.

Since Iran and Israel are not on the friendliest of terms - indeed, the government in Tehran seldom if ever misses an opportunity to call for Israel's destruction and to assure the world such destruction is coming - the situation between the Sudans could be developing, as addressed in the Economist, as a proxy war.

But I wonder if Iran is not receiving encouragement from China, and Israel from the United States, each to tie the other down, and each to impact the other's sponsor; in other words, the militias and armed groups are proxies of the Sudans, the Sudans are proxies of Iran and Israel, but are Iran and Israel to some extent proxies of China and the US, playing out a "Great Game" in northeast Africa?

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