Array of amoral governments and rebel groups: Beijing is a key villain in Darfur's tragedy - Russia is also to blame
David Blair recently visited Darfur where he witnessed the aftermath of a Janjaweed raid that displaced 55,000 people a fortnight ago. In today's article he says Darfur bleeds in the great scramble for Sudan's oil:
"Every village has been wrecked, burned or abandoned and every inch of the vast African plain is devoid of life. For mile after mile, there are no people. The huts they once inhabited are blackened shells. The fields they once worked are empty. There will be no harvest this year, just as there has been no harvest since the outbreak of war. Then, amid desolation and solitude, it becomes brutally obvious where the people are. Kalma refugee camp, with 96,000 inhabitants, teems with life. These are the survivors of the carnage, now reduced to living in shacks made of plastic sheets with "UNHCR" stamped on them.Set an example by facing moral responsibility
There are 1.8 million refugees in Darfur and another 200,000 in neighbouring Chad. The unpalatable truth is that they have fallen victim to unscrupulous regimes around the world. During the Cold War, they would have been caught between the two superpowers. Today, China, Russia and a host of African countries are the authors of this tragedy - though primary responsibility must rest with Sudan's regime. ...
Beijing is a key villain in Darfur's tragedy. Russia is also to blame."
David Blair thinks what can be done about it is this:
"First, we must give more aid. Aid agencies are scaling down operations because donations are drying up. Secondly, we must send a fully fledged UN peacekeeping force, with a robust mandate and proper logistical support.Cynical games keep the insurgency alive and fuels the war
But these are only palliatives. We must also face our own moral responsibility. Every time the Janjaweed destroy a village, they shame Britain, America and every country that sat in the council chamber and voted for all those UN resolutions without any apparent intention of enforcing their grand phrases."
Also note he says the Darfur rebels are just as bad as the Janjaweed:
"Amid all the justified outrage over the Janjaweed, Darfur's rebels have escaped much of the blame they deserve. They are just as brutal as the Arab militias. Wrecked villages, all destroyed by the rebels, litter parts of Darfur. The insurgents get their guns from Chad, Libya and Eritrea, which have long-standing grievances against Khartoum. They arm Darfur's rebels as a convenient means of retaliation. This cynical game keeps the insurgency alive and fuels the war.- - -
Anyone who helps China with energy is a friend
Note, I found this excerpt while looking for factoids showing how much China depends on Sudan for its oil requirements. David Blair quotes the dependency as being 7%. He may be right, I thought it had increased to 20%.
From the Washington Post July 13, 2005 Big Shift in China's Oil Policy by Peter S Goodman:
"No matter if it's rogue's oil or a friend's oil, we don't care," said an energy adviser to the central government who spoke on the condition he not be identified, citing the threat of government disciplinary action. "Human rights? We don't care. We care about oil. Whether Iran would have nuclear weapons or not is not our business. America cares, but Iran is not our neighbor. Anyone who helps China with energy is a friend."The reason I have posted the excerpt is to say I believe Western companies should be doing business with countries like the Sudan as it may enable them to help locals and give them more leverage with the UN Security Council.
Labels: David Blair