A draft resolution submitted simultaneously to the US house of representatives and the senate calls on the Clinton administration to arm the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), led by John Garang; establish no-fly zones over areas under SPLA control to exclude government aircraft; invite the UN security council to impose an arms-embargo on the Sudanese regime; and to prosecute those responsible for what it claims is an officially-directed slave-trade.
Couched in extremely bellicose, arrogant and anti-Muslim language, the draft resolution asserts that Garang is the only hurdle in the way of a complete take-over of the ‘Christian South’ by the Islamic government in Khartoum. No less than 47 senators have put their names to this ludicrous demand for a virtual declaration of war on a country sapped by 15 years of conflict fuelled by warlords, such as Garang, who are out to plunder, rather than liberate, their people.
The sponsors, led by representative Frank Wolf of Virginia, who is noted for his uncompromising hostility towards the Sudan, managed to push the draft resolution through the Africa subcommittee of the house committee for foreign relations. The senate’s subcommittee on Africa has yet to approve the text before it, and the sponsors are planning to persuade the full house and senate to pass it after the congressional recess.
The language of this infamous project seeks to tar the government and Sudanese Muslims with the brush of terrorism and trade in people - accusing Khartoum of bombing the south of the country not only to wipe out its population but also to make slavery easier to practise. The sinister aim is to revive the old myth - only recently laid to rest - that Muslim and Arab northerners are oppressing and enslaving the Christian population of the south.
In fact animists constitute the largest group in the region, while Muslims out-number Christians. And if any ethnic group there is seeking to oppress the rest, it is the Dinka, which is the biggest and also John Garang’s tribe. This partly explains why several smaller tribes, many of whose members are Christian, have allied themselves with Khartoum against the SPLA.
It is significant that representative Frank Wolf and his anti-Sudan alliance in the senate and house should come up with their criminal project only after the claims of slavery by Christian Solidarity International (CSI), a Swiss-based organization, have been discredited. Pressure on Khartoum has also eased mainly because its hostile pro-US neighbours have become involved in other conflicts and the Sudanese opposition-groups have consequently been reduced into squabbling factions more effective in their bark than their bite.
The CSI, which has spent tens of thousands of dollars buying slaves in the south and west of Sudan to frame Khartoum and northern Muslims, has been accused of encouraging slavery and the importation of arms as by introducing hard currency in a war-torn region. Eritrea and Ethiopia are now locked in war over a border-dispute, with Asmara signing a peace-deal with Khartoum, and Addis Ababa improving relations with its eastern Muslim neighbour. Uganda, Sudan’s southern neighbour and third member of the US-funded alliance against Khartoum (Washington has earmarked $20 million for the purpose) is embroiled in the Congo conflict.
Representative Wolf and two of his colleagues, who were in southern Sudan recently, saw at first hand the unfolding disaster for the US-led attempt to divide the country and have apparently resolved to reverse the situation in typical American fashion: bring out the guns and the fighters and shoot the enemy to oblivion.
But the congressional draft-resolution not only proposes military action; it also calls for economic sanctions. For instance, it proposes an embargo on foreign investment in developing Sudan’s new oil-strikes. Only recently the entire Sudanese leadership went to the sites to celebrate, and Garang vowed to attack oil-installations and pipes.
But one of the most vindictive proposals of the draft-resolution is the one relating to the distribution of humanitarian aid in the south and west of the country. Wolf and his congressional allies, who have apparently never forgiven UNICEF for exposing the CSI’s anti-slavery ploy, are proposing that the UN agencies in the south which coordinate the supply of all humanitarian or relief aid should be told to pack up and go, and that US-controlled agencies should replace them.
They claim that the aim is to ensure aid is not diverted by government officials or forces and reaches only the deserving. But their real purpose is to remove from the war theatre all independent agencies that will resist any application of the humanitarian aid to the rebels’ war-effort, or file independent reports on what is happening there. It was UN agencies on the ground that provided the information that discredited the CSI’s anti-slavery campaign.
The sponsors of the congressional draft resolution which, if passed, will not be binding on the administration do not reportedly expect Clinton to agree to all their proposals. But they hope and expect that he will adopt those relating to the distribution of aid and the expulsion of UN aid-agencies from southern Sudan and other war-theatres.
They know that until the myth of slavery and persecution is restored and the Khartoum regime is thoroughly demonised, the US cannot credibly go and bomb Sudan.
Muslimedia: July 1-15, 1999