Jump to navigation

Published 23rd March 2001

Vol 42 No 6


Opening new fronts in the oil war

Petrodollars are financing Khartoum's diplomacy and its war against the south

The Khartoum regime's drive to become a major oil producer is systematically killing Sudan's southern citizens and and destroying their homes. Backed by Western and Asian companies, this is proceeding apace, despite a growing but ineffectual chorus of international condemnation. Khartoum's current dry-season offensive is distinguished from others by an intense focus on oil, as the National Islamic Front government fights to extend the investors' grip on installations and concessions, and its own grip on power. (Though the NIF now calls itself the 'National Congress', with Hassan Abdullah el Turabi's 'Popular National Congress' as the 'opposition', Sudanese still call the whole thing the 'Jebha' (Front), including 'El Turabi's faction', AC Vol 41 No 4). The Western oil companies, if not the Asian ones, are working overtime on their images. Talisman, lead company in the consortium now pumping out some 200,000 barrels per day (bpd), is Canada's largest independent energy supplier. It has hired United States' public relations firm Hill and Knowlton (once champion of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International) and has created a social responsibility unit to demonstrate its good intentions. Now it has launched a newsletter, 'HOPE', which proclaims how Sudan pipeline project staff get human rights training, and parades an upcoming ethical audit. A casual reader might infer that Talisman is more interested in building schools and clinics than in extracting oil in a war zone.

A stake in the oil war

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

View site

Foreign companies benefitting from the oil bonanza include: The pipeline: built by the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), the line consists half of Chinese pipe, half of...

Slow, slow

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

View site

Western powers like Joseph Kabila but that doesn't mean a quick peace

Peace on the ground is no nearer in Congo-Kinshasa since Laurent-Désiré Kabila's murder on 16 January but the diplomats are smiling more (AC Vol 41 No 4). Son and suc...

Jumping Jammeh

Corruption and vote-rigging draw attention to the President's election plans

It is easy to break Western precepts of good governance and still haul in international aid. President Yahya Jammeh's regime shows how. In December, the International Monetary Fund...

Third time unlucky

The President's plan to stand again divides the nation and his party

President Frederick Chiluba's bid for a third term is in trouble, with three quarrelling factions in the ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy (AC Vol 41 No 24). The ultra-loya...



A discreet row has blown up about a newly launched intelligence agency - Ukukhula Security Services - which draws much of its expertise from a group of apartheid-era spies from Ori...

Rose thou art sick

The position of Civil Service chief Richard Leakey is threatened by court proceedings alleging that he unconstitutionally intervened in a fraud case against the Dutch Bank ABN-Amro...

Meles the winner

It's been a tough few weeks for Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Eritrean intransigence over the United Nations' Temporary Security Zone between the two armies has delayed implementati...

Whose masquerade?

The presidential election has turned to farce since two leading candidates pulled out of the second round of voting claiming fraud. President Mathieu Kérékou emerged ...