Category Archives: Oil

South Sudan working with Japan on New Oil Pipeline

According to an article in the Sudan Tribune, Japan and specifically the Toyota Corporation will work with South Sudan to construct and oil pipeline through Kenya. If the project comes to fruition, it would radically alter the dynamic in play now. Sudan faces sanctions and numerous other limits to its income. Transit fees collected from South Sudan for oil shipped through its pipeline to Port Sudan constitute a major source of income that among other things allows the government to pay its security forces and purchase weaponry.

The simple fact is that the more that oil flows through Port Sudan, the more blood will flow in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur.

Fighting, as Sudan does, is expensive and the oil revenue is essential to maintaining the fight. Of course, building the new pipeline will take years, not weeks or months, and the suffering in the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile, and Darfur will continue.

Meanwhile, the more that Sudan works with Iran with Iran providing the Khartoum Regime both income and weaponry, the more that other nations will be willing to work with the rebel groups and to support South Sudan in its disputes with the north. With every attempt to subdue the Sudanese Revolutionary Forces that fails and results in both the death of soldiers fighting only for a paycheck and in the capture of additional military assets to be used by the SRF against the state, the situation worsens for Sudan. With every child who dies of starvation in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, the more well motivated and committed rebel troops there will be fighting against the Khartoum Regime. The strategic situation for Sudan is not a good one now and if the oil pipeline is actually developed through Kenya, it may prove to be the coup de grace against the Khartoum Regime.

All of this is yet far off, however. There is much work to do now to save innocents lives threatened by the hands of the genocidaires in Sudan.

Americans Exerted “Extreme Presure”

According to South Sudan’s Chief Negotiator, Pagan Amum:

It is true that the Government of South Sudan and the negotiating team, including myself personally as a chief negotiator were subjected to extreme pressure from the Americans, British, the Norwegians…and they were forcing us to give away the resources of South Sudan.

This is according to an article in the Sudan Tribune. Amum further accused the international community of siding against South Sudan on borders as well as oil. The South Sudanese Chief Negotiator continued saying that:

They were telling us…if Khartoum is taking your oil, let them take it. Continue to pump the oil. [But] When we told them the people of South Sudan have the right to own their resources and if Khartoum is taking their oil, then we will stop the flow, they said no, no.

Worse, the deal has now turned South Sudan into a major donor to Khartoum. South Sudan’s Vice President, Riek Machar, stated that the deal ” has unfortunately left a huge gap of oil revenues lost to Khartoum.” According to Vice President Machar:

South Sudan will continue to lose 17% of its total oil revenues every year for the next three and a half years.


South Sudan will also lose $4.97 billion of debt relief which Khartoum owed South Sudan, but is now pardoned per the agreement. There will also be an additional cash grant of $3.03 billion to be paid by South Sudan to Khartoum to improve on its economy.

Thus, it appears to be the case that the genocidal actions of the Khartoum regime are totally irrelevant and that the international community, including the United States government, is working hard to support the continued strength of the murderous and tyrannical Khartoum regime by ensuring needing cash flows while negotiating against the interests of the democratic and free nation of South Sudan. If Pagan Amum and Riek Machar’s statements are remotely trustworthy, IN-justice has been served.

A Sickeningly Happy Smile

I don’t know about you, but I feel sick when I look at the picture of Omar Bashir’s beaming smile as he shakes hands with Salva Kiir. Bashir looks like a child who has just been told that if he shakes this man’s hand, he gets to go to Disney World. I can’t help but wonder how either man could smile at the other, much less beaming like that. Bashir is a war criminal.

Then again, looking at the situation in which both men find themselves, if they have made any progress toward an oil transfer agreement, how they can smile might actually be understandable. South Sudan’s economy is in a shambles and is only deteriorating faster as the days pass and oil does not flow. Without oil flowing, right now South Sudan is closer to becoming a failed state than prospering one. Salva Kiir is in jeopardy of becoming the leader who ran South Sudan out of business.

But Sudan is not much better off. It’s economy is in a free fall and subsidies which were essential in placating the masses so that they would not rise up against the Khartoum Regime have had to be removed. There are mass protests in the streets. Foreign governments and investors would not think about investing in Sudan or even loaning it money. In addition to the protests, rebel groups in the west, south, and east all are challenging it and the ones in the south are fighting, fairly successfully, for control over the last oil reserves the nation possesses. Opposition parties have gained enough momentum to publicly challenge the ruling party and there is for the first time in a long time, a reasonable hope for regime change.

Thus, the smile, that sickeningly happy smile.

Peace and a renewed flow of oil solve the major problems that both men face. Sudan needs it badly. South Sudan is probably in as good a negotiating position as it could hope for. Khartoum can’t afford to delay the opening of the spigot. So, a tentative agreement that allows the oil to flow.

“We’ll deal with the border region later. No one attack the other. We both need the money.” That is the obvious discussion. Mutual butt-saving.

In South Sudan, Salva Kiir will be able to fulfill promises for his suffering people and things will dramatically improve. Peace will bring massive investment and growth. The economy in the South could boom. The people will be vastly better off in the short run especially. Kiir’s butt saved.

But this will certainly put a damper on change in Sudan. The Khartoum Regime will strengthen. The inevitable collapse will not merely be delayed for a bit, but perhaps it will no longer be inevitable at all. Bashir’s butt saved.

The return of subsidies will quell demonstrations. In Darfur, the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and Eastern Sudan, there will be a newly strengthened Sudanese Armed Forces and police presence. Opposition leaders will suddenly become silent, at least the ones who do not go missing. Things could get a lot worse.

I know that it is a stretch to read to much into the smile of a consummate liar, but I just get the feeling that he’s not lying. Bashir seems genuinely happy. That makes me sick.

All Things Being Equal, There Is No Morality

It is becoming more and more the norm that newspapers and editorials present “both sides” of any and every issue. To be considered unbiased, it seems that one must invariably find fault with each side of a dispute and to present both sides as equally responsible for any problems. The logic is that one side cannot be correct or right. They only have one opinion, one view. The other side’s view must be equally valid or they would agree with the first side. This makes no sense. It is an abdication of journalistic ethics to make no effort to determine right or wrong, truth or lies. Yet it is the new standard.

Ask both sides. Print both views.

The latest in this trend of politically correct moral equivalency may be found in a recent New York Times editorial about Sudan and South Sudan. The Times Editorial Board wrote:

South Sudan, along with Sudan, created this crisis, and they have the means to fix it.

The two sides fought a civil war that killed more than two million people before a peace deal in 2005. In the past year, they barely avoided a return to all-out conflict. Violence continues in Darfur and in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, a rebel-held area where the Khartoum government is trying to bomb and starve the people into submission. Thousands have been displaced.

It is difficult to see how South Sudan created the crisis by stopping the flow of oil that was providing an endless supply of money for Sudan to use to buy weaponry from Iran with which it has been using to bomb the border region, including into South Sudanese territory, and to commit genocide first in Darfur and now in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. Was there no conflict ongoing before South Sudan stopped the flow of oil in January, much less when it went into Heglig in March and April? In fact, I think it safe to say that there were many attacks ongoing by the Sudan Armed Forces in the border region prior to South Sudan’s military response in Heglig.

Here’s an article about the Sudan Airforce bombing Jau in Unity State in South Sudan on February 14.

Here’s one about the bombing of Western Bahr-al-Ghazal state in January.

Then of course there is the bombardment of South Sudan friendly civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile which is ongoing, but began long before the flow of oil was shut off from the south or any South Sudanese troops set foot in Heglig. Satellite Sentinel’s report from January of 2012 details similar events for months prior. One could potentially make the argument that defending civilians against genocide is a good reason to conduct military operations, but the international community has made it pretty clear that the people are on their own and that South Sudan cannot offer official help. “Genocide away,” I guess. “Never again” are words for commemorations rather than policies.

But more to the point, how can one forget the bombing of Yida Refugee Camp in Unity State in South Sudan on November 10th, 2011?  The Times must believe that Sudan’s bombing of the refugee camp must have been justified in anticipation by several months of South Sudan’s future military action or else it would be difficult to argue that “South Sudan created this crisis,” even limiting the “crisis” in question to the past year alone. Moral equivalency cannot possibly allow for Sudan to be the obvious aggressor even when its leadership is wanted for genocide by the International Criminal Court!

This all said, while restoring the flow of oil through Sudan will bring money into the South Sudanese economy, it also will provide Sudan with a much needed influx of capital with which to fund its military and police activities, harming the possibility of regime change in Sudan and prolonging the ongoing crisis of oppression caused by the Khartoum Regime for decades now.

The Economic Crisis in Sudan and Revolution

This week, Sudan offered to admit humanitarian aid into South Kordofan and Blue Nile under certain (unacceptable) conditions, including only allowing organizations approved by the regime to distribute the aid. The conditions for the admittance of aid offered by the Sudanese are clearly both a delaying tactic and a barely veiled attempt to weaken the position of the SPLM-North and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) which have been able not only to hold off the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) but to soundly defeat them on the field of battle.

The Khartoum Regime is facing a slew of crises that are building upon one another.

First, the independence of South Sudan took with it the vast majority of the oil resources.

Second, the battle of Heglig resulted in two major losses for Sudan, even after South Sudan returned control of Heglig to Sudan. The flow of oil out of Heglig from Sudanese sources was greatly reduced due to damage to the installation there and the flow of oil through the pipeline from South Sudan was completely shut off, virtually eliminating the two primary sources of income for Sudan. This has led directly to an even bigger problem.

Third, the resulting economic crisis is forcing changes that do significant damage to the ability of the Khartoum regime to maintain power.

  • It can no longer provide subsidies for gasoline and food that keep the populace happy. It has already eliminated the gasoline subsidy and may be forced to lessen or eliminate food subsidies as well as a result of pressure on the prices due to hyper inflation. It is one thing to offer $2 worth of bread for $1 and something entirely other to offer $10 worth of bread for $1. As the real price increases, the subsidy becomes untenable.
  • It can no longer borrow large sums of money even from China because the fear of hyper inflation is so great that nations are concerned that the loans would not be repaid at all or would be paid back at pennies on the dollar. Without oil flowing through the pipeline, Sudan can’t borrow money.
  • It can no longer support the bureaucracy necessary to maintain a police state. The cost of maintaining a fighting force substantial enough to hold off rebel groups on multiple fronts, maintain a deterring presence on the South Sudanese border in disputed territories, and maintain control in the streets in the center of the country is immense. As the need for police support in the interior of the nation increases, the Khartoum Regime will have no choice but to abandon the periphery or offer significant compromises to the internal opposition groups.

The implications of this choice are profound. The regime has a choice of how to weaken, but not to avoid weakening. It can try to maintain some control by ceding some power to the internal opposition, hoping to quell rioting, or it can risk a complete collapse by defending the periphery while continuing to fight in the center as well. The choice would appear obvious except for one problem.

No matter who will run the country in the near future, there will be overriding economic problems. Let us imagine for a moment that the regime would collapse and the SRF would take over the entire country after a major fight. The nation, emerging from this conflict, would have extremely limited financial resources and millions of people facing food insecurity. The oil industry would take time to build up. The new government would need to devote substantial resources to maintaining security and much of the Arab wealth would flee the country in fear of the new regime. Sudan could become a failed state in rapid fashion with a resulting humanitarian crisis dwarfing the current problems facing the nation.

While there is hope for positive change in Sudan and the revolts occurring right now are a good sign that it might happen. Things could easily take a turn for the worse. This is a regime that has committed genocide already. To imagine that it could not use extreme violence against protesters would be delusional.

The best case scenario at this point would be for the Khartoum regime to willingly go into exile while a regime that includes the SRF, if not one led by the SRF, would work with willing parties in Khartoum to create a peaceful transition of power that allows for immediate and  massive international investment in Sudan and in the border region of South Sudan, enabling the rapid growth of oil related income for the two nations.

Let us hope for a peaceful transition of power that leads to rapid economic growth. Anything else may not be enough for hundreds of thousands of people in Sudan and South Sudan who are already struggling to survive.

What is Wrong with the UNSC Plan

It appears that Russia is willing to support the resolution proposed by the United States in UN Security Council that calls upon both Sudan and South Sudan to cease hostilities. The resolution has no specific penalties for failure to comply though it is assumed that penalties will include sanctions imposed by the African Union and potentially enforced by the UN. According to the article in the Sudan Tribune:

UNSC’s intervention was requested by the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) which issued a communiqué last week saying that Khartoum and Juba must reach a deal on post-independence issues within three months including oil, border demarcation, citizenship and Abyei.

This would be great. It just has no chance of happening. Is there any possible chance that Sudan would agree that Heglig should be called Panthou and be a part of South Sudan? Any chance? Might South Sudan be forced to admit the reverse? Possibly, but unlikely. More important are the AU plan’s immediate goals:

  1. Immediately cease hostilities – within 24 hours
  2. Unconditionally withdraw troops from disputed areas
  3. Cease harboring or supporting rebel groups fighting against the other nation
  4. Cease issuing hostile propaganda and making inflammatory statements to the media

I can see the first and the last of these occurring to some extent while each side negotiates with the UNSC and AU.

The second and third, however, are going to be much more difficult. Sudan would need to withdraw from many areas including Heglig which it just reoccupied and which is vital to its economy. Is Sudan likely to withdraw from Heglig? No. It is actually more likely that Heglig will be considered an undisputed part of Sudan by much of the international community and therefore no penalty will be forthcoming.

As for ceasing to harbor or support rebel groups, it will be impossible to confirm compliance. If these groups continue to act on their own, the appropriate governments will be accused of supporting them regardless of whether or not they actually offer material or any other type of support. In addition, remember that the rebel groups in the south of Sudan are fighting for freedom against a genocidal government. The UN as an organization is supposed to support democracy. Yes, I know that this is farcical at this point, but to have an official policy that mandates that people combating genocide are not to be supported is at best wrong and at worst cruel and inhumane.

A further problem, and not a minor one at all, is that the AU proposal does not address the famine issues, the ethnic cleansing issues, or the genocide issues. It pretends that “citizenship” includes those. It does not. Only an official sanction of ethnic cleansing by the United Nations could justify calling the citizenship of all Christians in Sudan into question.

Frighteningly, the United States at the helm of UNSC has put forth a proposal that does not directly address the crisis for the population of the southern states of Sudan. The proposal only sees state actors, abandoning the suffering people in the south to the whim of Sudan as a sovereign state. This, in my mind, is an appalling abdication of the role of America in the world and the supposed role of the United Nations. Do not get me wrong. I have no conception that the UN has ever been effective at preventing ethnic cleansing and genocide or that the United States should be expected, based upon past history, to help. I have written about this very topic on this website recently. I merely hope that the United States would change the historical pattern that allows genocidal regimes to act without impediment for years on end while the world cries in horror.

In the meantime, while the UN works on bringing Sudan and South Sudan to the negotiating table, Sudan will starve and slaughter tens of thousands of people in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. We need action against Sudan, not talk about action. We need to Help Nuba!

When Kiir Goes to China

With his country in the midst of renewed fighting with Sudan, the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, went on a trip. He did not go on vacation, nor did he go to Washington or Jerusalem to visit South Sudan’s historical best friends. Salva Kiir went to Beijing to meet with China’s President, Hu Jintao. Because of the presence of a significant amount of oil in South Sudan, China is a strategic partner. However, because China also must maintain friendships with allies of Sudan, if not with the Khartoum government itself–also an oil supplier–it is not in a position to help Juba act against Khartoum. In fact, China has been the primary supporter of “Shut up and go to your rooms!” the UN Security Council’s policy on the conflict, basically telling Sudan and South Sudan to ignore their conflict, stop fighting, and let the oil flow. What South Sudan needs is for China to support sanctions on Khartoum, but that is unlikely to happen. Right now, the best that can happen is for China to oppose sanctioning both sides of the conflict and for it to invest in developing the oil resources of South Sudan in the long term.