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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Sudan: Updates

Sudan: Updates
Date distributed (ymd): 011031
Document reposted by APIC

Africa Policy Electronic Distribution List: an information service provided by AFRICA ACTION (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Find more information for action for Africa at

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: East Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+ +security/peace+ +US policy focus+


This posting contains (1) excerpts from a newly released report on the impact of oil on conflict in Sudan, based on investigative work by Georgette Gagnon and John Ryle and funded by Canadian and British non-governmental organizations, and (2) excerpts from an article from the Foreign Policy in Focus project, analyzing changes in U.S. policy towards Sudan following the September 11 attacks.

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Report of an Investigation into Oil Development, Conflict and Displacement in Western Upper Nile, Sudan

October 2001

[excerpts from summary; full text at]

Commissioning Agencies: Canadian Auto Workers Union; Steelworkers Humanity Fund; The Simons Foundation; United Church of Canada, Division of World Outreach; World Vision, Canada



This report documents and places into context an intensification of armed attacks on civilians in key areas of Sudan's contested oil region in Western Upper Nile during 2000 and 2001. The attacks were carried out by Government of Sudan (GoS) forces and local progovernment militias and by rebel forces of, or aligned with, the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Sudan Peoples' Democratic Front / Defence Force (SPDF). A significant new development in the period 2000-2001 is a higher number of direct attacks on civilians by the armed forces of the Government of Sudan.

The report concentrates on the operational area of the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC), the oil consortium that comprises the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), Petronas Carigali (the national petroleum company of Malaysia, or its subsidiary Petronas Carigali Overseas Sudan Berhad), Sudapet (the Sudan state petroleum company) and Canada's Talisman Energy (Talisman). ...

Control of the oil region of Sudan is contested between the government and several rival non-government groups. Most of the rural areas in the GNPOC concession have been outside the control of the Government of Sudan since the start of the current civil war in 1983. These areas have been intermittently controlled and administered by two rebel movements, the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) (under the overall command of Dr. John Garang de Mabior) and the former South Sudan Independence Movement/Army - SSIM/A - (under Dr Riek Machar Teny). Today, control of the non-government areas of the concession is divided between the SPLM/A and commanders aligned with the Sudan Peoples' Democratic Front/Defence Force (SPDF), a successor movement to the SSIM/A.

For a short period in the late 1990s, a peace agreement between the Government of Sudan and Riek Machar's SSIM/A allowed for the extension of government authority into some of the rural areas of the concession, enabling expansion of oil development and completion of the pipeline from the oil fields north to Port Sudan. SSIA forces had joined the government and were formed into the South Sudan Defence Force (SSDF). The collapse of this peace agreement in 2000, the growing conflict between Government of Sudan forces and the former SSDF/SSIA forces, now regrouped as the Sudan Peoples' Defence Forces (SPDF), and the increased presence of the SPLA in the area have apparently prompted a modification of the government's military strategy. The new strategy in Western Upper Nile, this report suggests, is both more violent and more territorially focused, involving coordinated attacks on civilian settlements in which aerial bombardment and raids by helicopter gunships are followed by ground attacks from government-backed militias and government troops. These ground forces burn villages and crops, loot livestock and kill and abduct people - mainly women and children.

The increased intensity of the attacks, and the increased importance of oil in the war economy, have provoked attacks on oil installations by anti-government forces and further intensification of military activity on all sides. Pro-government and anti-government forces in conflict with one another have burned and looted villages in all areas of Western Upper Nile.

The known involvement of oil companies in the conflict extends to the documented use of their facilities by Government of Sudan armed forces. The oil companies are therefore, knowingly or unknowingly, involved in a government counter-insurgency strategy that involves the forced displacement of local people from rural areas of the concession.

Following the finding by the Canadian Assessment Mission to Sudan (the Harker mission) in December 1999 that helicopter gunships and Antonov bombers of the Government of Sudan had armed and re-fueled at Heglig and from there attacked civilians, Talisman acknowledged formally that its Heglig airstrip had been used for military purposes. (Heglig is a government garrison town that is the center of Talisman's oil operations in Sudan.) In January 2000, the company stated that it had received undertakings from the Government of Sudan that military use of the Heglig airstrip would be limited to defensive purposes. However, in its Corporate Social Responsibility Report released in April 2001, Talisman conceded that in spite of what it described as its advocacy efforts regarding the use of oil infrastructure for offensive military purposes, "there were at least four instances of non-defensive usage of the Heglig airstrip in 2000."

The present investigation concludes that the incidence of military usage has been considerably higher and that it has continued. The pattern of military usage is one of intentional targeting by gunships of settlements - without regard to whether they are occupied by civilians or combatants - in non-government controlled areas in and around the concession. ...

The investigation has determined that at least two of the government's helicopter gunships have been based at the oil facilities in Heglig. Defecting soldiers from the Government of Sudan army base in Heglig and civilian victims of gunship attacks testified to the investigators that gunships had flown regular sorties from Heglig to attack civilian settlements.

The investigators obtained eyewitness accounts from people attacked by gunships in non-government controlled areas of the concession throughout 2000 and 2001. These eyewitnesses identified flight patterns of the attacking helicopters that indicated they came from and returned to Heglig and other oil facilities in the concession.

The incidence of other human rights violations in and around the concession area escalated in 2000 and early 2001. The investigation documents a range of abuses connected with forced displacement of the inhabitants of the area. Defecting soldiers from the Government of Sudan's military base at Heglig testified that they had been ordered to participate in ground attacks on non-government controlled settlements around Pariang (a government-controlled garrison town in the concession). ...

There were also a significant number of attacks and counterattacks on settlements by armed groups aligned with the SPLA/M, and by those aligned with the SPDF, the successor movement to the SSIM/A. (Since mid-2000, some of the latter have been supplied with ammunition from the government garrison in Bentiu.) Attacks, such as the attack in February 2001 on Nyal, a UN relief hub and SPDF command center, by Peter Gatdet Yaka, a commander aligned with the SPLA, have been documented in other reports, most comprehensively by Human Rights Watch ...

Forced displacement from Western Upper Nile connected to oil development continued unabated in 2000 and early 2001. This continuing process of displacement has repeatedly interrupted the agricultural cycle and reduced livestock numbers, bringing the inhabitants of some areas close to destitution. ...

In spite of claims to the contrary in oil company reports, this investigation, while unable to gain access to governmentcontrolled areas of oil development and following numerous
enquiries, is not aware of any evidence that significant economic or other benefits from oil development are accruing to indigenous communities in Western Upper Nile. There is no independent verification of claims that the Government of Sudan is using oil revenues to assist the civilian population in Talisman's concession (or in Southern Sudan in general). ...

Oil revenues do correlate, however, with visible increases in government military expenditure. For example, the Government of Sudan recently established, with Chinese assistance, three new factories for the manufacture of arms and ammunition near Khartoum. ... The new, intensified and more geographically focused nature of government military strategy is also, as argued in this report, clearly linked to oil development. ...

The investigation finds that oil development in Upper Nile has exacerbated civil conflict and assisted the war aims of the Government of Sudan, facilitating violations of human rights by government forces and government-backed forces. Talisman's claim that it serves as a positive influence on the Government of Sudan and its policies is not supported by the findings of the investigation; the evidence suggests that the company has been unable to achieve such constructive engagement. ...

The displacement of the rural population, the oil-company sponsored relief and development projects and oil development itself all contribute to a counter-insurgency strategy that has been consistently pursued by the Government of Sudan in the areas of South Sudan that border the government-controlled North. Western Upper Nile is one of these areas. Oil companies operating there are part of this government strategy, whether they like it or not.

The report concludes that there is, among other urgent issues, a pressing need to establish long-term, international, independent, large-scale, expert, on-the-ground, field-based monitoring of the effects of the war and oil development. ,,,

In the present circumstances, oil development and the associated presence of foreign oil companies in Sudan is damaging to the people of the oil areas. For their part, the companies effectively assist the Government of Sudan war effort, thus exacerbating the suffering of the inhabitants of the oil area and making the prospect of peace more unlikely. Only a radical change in their relation to the government could provide any justification for the oil companies' continued presence in Sudan. ...

As the oil company most vocal in its claims for the benefits of oil development, Talisman, despite its vaunted commitment to human rights and good neighbourliness in its area of operation, has neither instituted nor encouraged the establishment of an independent, expert, long-term, field-based monitoring regime. In the absence of such a regime, the self-proclaimed attempts by oil companies and government agencies to mitigate the damaging impact of oil development cannot be adequately measured or assessed. ...

Foreign Policy in Focus (

U.S.-Sudan Terrorism Ties Spell Disaster for Anti-Khartoum Activists

By Jim Lobe

(Jim Lobe is a contributing editor with Foreign Policy In Focus, online at, and an editor with Inter Press Service in Washington, DC.)

[Excerpts only: full text at:]

September 25, 2001

When President George W. Bush announced his "war" against terrorism, activists who have lobbied hard to persuade Congress to impose far-reaching sanctions against Sudan's National Islamic Front (NIF) government for what they say is "genocidal" repression against the South thought victory was theirs at last. Not only had the NIF hosted the prime suspect, Osama bin Laden, from 1991 to 1996, but the State Department only last April, in its annual report on terrorism, said Khartoum was still being "used as a safe haven of various groups, including associates of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda organization."

"Sudan must be seen as an essential piece of the (terrorism) puzzle," said Nina Shea, a member of the quasi-governmental U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom shortly after Bush's announcement.

Citing Bush's pledge to "make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbored them," Shea said the NIF fit the latter target to a tee.

It now appears, however, that the activists' calculation was wrong, and that, in the brutal logic of the new antiterrorist Realpolitik, Sudan may yet absolve itself in Washington's eyes by being among the first and the most enthusiastic of countries enlisting in Bush's new crusade.

Senior U.S. officials have said Khartoum has "opened their files" to U.S. intelligence agencies and appear prepared to hand over at least two or three of some 26 people in whom Washington is particularly interested.

"If you take the 11th of September as the beginning of the new world order, they've signaled they want to be on the right side," said one official. "They're opening the files, and, in a couple of cases, they've give us more than we asked for."

Already, the administration, working with Republican leaders, has acted to shelve the Sudan Peace Act, the House of Representatives version of which would prevent foreign companies with investments in Sudan's energy sector from selling stock on U.S. exchanges, indefinitely. Congressional aides believe the Act, which passed the Senate in a less stringent form, is probably dead for the year.

Some analysts believe the administration may go much further. "I wouldn't be surprised if they started relaxing sanctions imposed by the Clinton administration," said one congressional aide. "They're very enthusiastic about the kind of offers they're getting from Khartoum."

Anti-NIF activists--spanning the Christian Right, black churches, the Congressional Black Caucus, labor unions, and major human rights groups--have been stunned by the sudden turn of events....

Yet it may be an early signal of what Bush's war on terrorism may mean, at least for much of the Islamic world: the subordination of human and minority rights, among many other issues which nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) have spent years lobbying for, to the war against terrorism. ...

A new factor in the war [in Sudan] has emerged in the last two years as foreign companies have begun pumping oil from the south. These operations are currently earning the NIF some 500 million dollars a year, much of which has been devoted to the acquisition of new weapons, including helicopter gunships, which have reportedly been used to pursue what human rights groups have called "scorched-earth" tactics against local populations living or near drilling and exploration sites.

A construction company owned by Bin Laden built the main road used by the military and foreign oil companies to extend their reach southward, according to published reports.

The Clinton administration imposed tough economic sanctions against Sudan when it listed Khartoum as a state sponsor of terrorism for the first time in 1993. In 1995, it accused Khartoum of involvement in the attempted assassination of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa and cosponsored a UN resolution that imposed additional diplomatic sanctions.

Largely as a result of U.S. pressure, Bin Laden left Sudan for Afghanistan in 1996 but, after the U.S. embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998, Washington fired cruise missiles at a pharmaceutical plant in which bin Laden allegedly had an interest. Washington charged that it was being used to produce chemical weapons.

Since the Bush administration took power last January, its rhetoric against Khartoum has been harsh. ...

While the rhetoric has been tough, the actual policy has followed some of the recommendations made by a task force put together by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) last February. In contrast to recommendations from activists to impose additional sanctions on the NIF, it urged Bush to work closely with European countries, which have pursued a policy of engagement with Khartoum, in the interests of ending the war as soon as possible.

At the same time, the administration vowed to strongly oppose the capital market sanctions in the Sudan Peace Act, which was approved virtually unanimously by the House last June. These included a ban on foreign oil companies being listed on U.S. stock exchanges and a requirement that all companies disclose any business interests they have in Sudan with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The latter provision was included in the Senate version of the bill. ...

As the coalition, bolstered by addition of the AFL-CIO, mobilized its forces behind the capital market sanctions in advance of the convening in early September of a conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions, the administration took new steps to reassure the anti-Khartoum forces that it was on their side.

At a White House Rose Garden ceremony September 6, Bush, who once again harshly denounced the NIF, named former Republican Senator and ordained Episcopalian minister John Danforth as his special envoy to help negotiate peace in Sudan and "get this issue solved once and for all."

At the same time, however, the administration quietly agreed to Egypt's request to lift the UN sanctions against Sudan. Washington, which had sent Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation personnel into Sudan to test Khartoum's willingness to cooperate on terrorism since last summer, decided to abstain when the Security Council was to have taken up the matter September 14.

Five days after the Rose Garden ceremony, the hijacked commercial jetliners hit the World Trade Center towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.

Sudan immediately denounced the attacks and promised to open its files to the CIA-FBI team, according to senior officials. "They immediately started shouting down all the rat holes that they had nothing to do with it," said one. "So we decided to push harder on an open door."

U.S. and Sudanese diplomats quickly reached a "gentleman's agreement" to put off indefinitely the vote on lifting the UN sanctions "until the dust settles," according to knowledgeable sources. Washington's bilateral sanctions remain in effect, but Congressional analysts believe these also may be eased soon, as Khartoum provides more intelligence and possible logistic support for Washington in its new war. Meanwhile, the war in the south continues.

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by Africa Action (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Africa Action's information services provide accessible information and analysis in order to promote U.S. and international policies toward Africa that advance economic, political and social justice and the full spectrum of human rights.

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