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Chinese Palliatives and Sudanese Oil - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Russians had a palliative effect on the Iraqis during the 10 years preceding the invasion. They gave former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein a false feeling of security.

He provided temptations to Moscow by giving it many privileges, including Iraq’s oil. The result was that the Russian umbrella did not prevent the Baghdad regime from falling because the balance of power perceived by Saddam was established on a fragile foundation. It is the same scenario that the ruling regime in Khartoum is adopting in its relationship with China, which has petroleum interests and which helped it several times to ease the international resolutions that sought to punish al-Bashir regime for what is happening in the Darfur province. But Sudan has been in sustained anarchy for the past 20 years, and neither Chinese assistance nor oil revenues will help it.

China has limited capabilities in the face of the growing international pressure over the tragedy of the Darfurians. The threats by international organizations to boycott the Olympics in China have succeeded in moving Beijing to pressure Khartoum instead of defending it. The Chinese affirmed that they are trying to make the Sudanese regime understand the consequences of what is happening in the devastated province. The announcement by international film director Steven Spielberg that he is withdrawing from the artistic management of the Olympiad was a protest which made the Chinese realize that the international campaign will deliver a fatal blow to the games which they consider as the most important propaganda for their country since its modern renaissance in the post-Mao stage. Perhaps Sudan is not Iraq, considering that the latter is more important internationally with its oil wealth and its geopolitical position. Nonetheless we are facing the same history to a great extent. Saddam gave up Kurdistan after long obstinacy, while Khartoum relinquished the rule of the South after half a million killed and a bloody military defeat.

Saddam insisted on continuing with his administration of Iraq with the language of defiance–until he lost Baghdad. Khartoum which enjoys new revenues from oil sales feels more secure than at any time in the past. The proof is that it is no longer satisfied with its adventures in Sudan’s provinces and has gone farther to its neighbor Chad, where it conspired to overthrow the ruling regime but failed. Similarly, military regimes in the region like Sudan also feel the external threat against them has receded because of the US failure in Iraq, and have grown more confident that there will be no invasions and no missiles that will attack them, no matter how international anger rises against them. This might be true, but it will encourage the Khartoum regime to commit bigger mistakes, as happened with Saddam, to the extent where it will find it cannot turn back.

Since the current regime took over, Sudan has lived torn apart in view of its adventures between the South and Darfur and now in the east of Sudan and exacerbation of the conflict among the ruling parties themselves. Instead of oil becoming a means for remedying the mistakes of the regime and a road map for reconciliation and reform of the conditions of the Sudanese, the people of Sudan have become today the poorest in the Arab world because their Government channels the oil revenues to finance conflicts from Khartoum, Darfur, Chad and other places.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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