Issue No 24 February 1997
'Sudan News & Views' is an independent electronic Newsletter working to advocate peace, human rights and humanitarian aid for the Sudan.
Editor: Dr. Yasin Miheisi
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In this issue:


The promised government counter-attack to 'liberate every inch of the homeland and drive out the invaders' has not yet materialized, but the rhetoric and preparations continued unabated.
Deputy Coordinator of the PDF said the government has opened 150 camps in Khartoum state to train the mujahideen. But he added that since the people have not responded to the jihad call, they are now rounding up young people at bus stations and other public places.
Having miserably failed to mobilize the civilians to join the PDF, the government had turned to its few remaining friends. Iran, Iraq, Qatar and China are all reported to have provided financial, military and logistical aid to the Sudan government. According to the NDA, a team of 25 Iranian technicians and military experts had arrived in Khartoum to provide help and training. Qatar had sent planeloads of food and clothing to Khartoum. The NDA also reported that in February, a ship loaded with Iraqi weapons from a storage in Yemen arrived in Port Sudan. 'From our sources in Port Sudan, we hear a ship by the name of al-Obied, commanded by Captain Naji Isam Mekki, came from Mukalla (in Yemen) taking arms to Sudan,' the NDA statement said.
'When they were offloading the ship, a bomb exploded and killed Colonel Abu Alama al-Bakhit Hassan and lightly injured Major General Abbas al-Sayed, who is the area commander of Port Sudan', they said. It was reported in Khartoum that the officer was killed during routine testing of weapons. President Bashir traveled to Port Sudan on the day of the blast, which was February 20.
The arms included 600 anti-tank weapons and were just a part of the Iraqi weapons being stored in Yemen, according to the NDA.
NDA sources had also revealed that a private Sudanese airliner had made 14 trips carrying arms and ammunition from Tehran to Khartoum.
The NDA continued its preparations for the expected government counter-attack, by recruiting and training new volunteers and sending them to the front. Sadig al-Mahdi called on his supporters in Sudan to head to the eastern region to join the opposition forces. 'All our youth must emigrate east to contribute to the historic remove the tyrannical regime in Khartoum and achieve just peace', al-Mahdi said.

On the military front, few clashes occurred during the past four weeks. The NDA reported that the alliance forces attacked an army garrison in Khor al-Gana, killing 27 soldiers and taking weapons and ammunition. They later withdrew.
The government, on the other hand, reported a victory. 'The armed forces and the Popular Defence Forces achieved a spectacular victory on the Tigrayan mercenaries and pockets of rebels in Khor al-Gana. They managed to kill over 35 of the enemy forces. We lost three martyrs', government papers said.
Fighting also had been reported in Maban, where SSIM forces, led by Riak Machar himself, tried to uproot SPLA forces, but failed and had to withdraw after suffering heavy losses, according to the SPLA.

On the diplomatic front, Sadig al-Mahdi, had been touring the Middle East and Africa to muster support and overcome Arab fears. Since he fled to Eritrea in December last year, he has visited Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya. It was reported that Kuwait had made a private plane with its crew, all-expenses-paid, at his disposal.

Both Omer al-Bashir and Hassan al-Turabi ruled out any chance of dialogue or reconciliation with the opposition forces, until all captured areas are liberated.


Arakis Energy and its partners had, this month, signed final agreements with the Sudan government for a large oil production and an export pipeline for an estimated $1 billion.
The consortium's other members are China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) with a 40% interest, Petronas with 30% and Sudapet with 5%; all state oil companies owned, respectively, by the governments of China, Malaysia and Sudan. The Chinese will also build a 50,000 barrels a day oil refinery in Khartoum to be operational in 1999.
According to Arakis, bidding for the pipeline project, which will transport 250,00 bpd to the Red Sea, is to start in April and construction by the end of this year, to be completed in mid 1999.

Following on Arakis footsteps, another Canadian company, International Petroleum Corporation (IPC), announced that it had reached an agreement with Petronas to jointly explore and develop oilfields in an area adjacent to Arakis concession. Under the terms of the agreement, IPC and Petronas will jointly assign a 5% interest to Sudapet. The concession (known as Block 5A) covers an area of nearly 30,000 sq. Km, situated in the Muglad basin, and just 30 km from the Unity and Heglig fields operated by Arakis.
The American Occidental Petroleum Corporation was widely speculated to be also negotiating for a concession near the Arakis project.

On March 3, President Bashir officially inaugurated commercial production of the Adar Yale oilfield in Upper Nile state, that was developed by Gulf Petroleum Company (GPC). GPC was set up in Aug. 95, and owned by the Qatar Petroleum Company (60%) and the two Sudanese firms Concorp and National Petroleum Company with 20% each. The field was discovered in 1982, but insecurity (the oilfield was attacked by the SPLA last year, killing and wounding many) and lack of finance were reported to have delayed the development. Initially, 5,000 barrels a day will be transported by truck to Melut, by river barge to Kosti, and by rail to Port Sudan refinery.

This black-gold rush in Sudan, has heightened worries and concerns of many African and Arab countries. It is feared that Sudan would use its newly-found wealth to promote terrorism and destabilize neighbouring countries.
A Canadian inter-church coalition blasted Arakis for moving forward with the project despite Sudan government's 'brutal' record on human rights.
Close at home, all opposition groups are concerned that oil revenues would be used to buy arms to fight the war against them. Sadig Almahdi, leader of the Umma Party and former Prime Minister, John Garang, commander of the SPLA, Lam Akol, commander of the SPLA-United, Abdel Aziz Khalid, commander of the Sudanese Allied Forces (SAF), had all issued warnings to all foreign companies involved in Sudan to pull out or their installations and personnel would be considered legitimate military targets. A recent statement by SAF described Arakis and IPC as 'vultures and merchants of death'. 'They have offered direct help to the fanatics in Khartoum to murder, enslave and oppress our people. As such, they have allied themselves with the enemies of freedom, democracy and peace. They will be treated as enemies', the statement said.

Arakis Chief Executive, John McLeod, said that rebel threats had been a fact of life for his firm over the past two years, but operations had never been attacked and security remained tight. He said he believed Arakis would continue operating even if the Khartoum government was overthrown. 'The likelihood of a rebel overthrow, we feel, is very, very remote', he said.
The site of the oilfields in Al-Muglad area is heavily defended by Arakis's own large security force (said to be white South African mercenaries), the Sudanese army and NIF militia, the PDF. However, opposition forces had occupied and advanced into the eastern region, through which the pipeline to Port Sudan is due to be laid.
In addition to the threats by the resistance movements, local communities in southern Sudan are now demanding that a share of the oil revenue be spent on local development. Even pro-government faction leaders, Riak Machar of SSIM and Kerbino Kwanyn Bol of the SPLA-Bahr el-Ghazal, during their talks with Khartoum, aimed at transforming the political charter signed in April 1996 into a peace agreement, have deadlocked over the oil issue. They demanded that 40% of oil revenues be paid to local councils. The government argued that peace should be established first before issues of development are tackled. This led Kerbino to walk out of the talks which are now suspended.

With international and regional concerns on Sudan's threat to regional peace, and mounting local resistance, any attempts to exploit the oil in Sudan are indeed quite risky and are bound to run into formidable obstacles.


The Security Council held several meetings to discuss imposing an air embargo on Sudan, but reached no immediate conclusion.
The UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, had sent an expert from the Economic Department of the UN to tour Sudan and prepare a report on the negative humanitarian effects of Resolution 1070, after the first report prepared by the UN representative in Khartoum was critisized by many members as inaccurate and relied only on information supplied by the government of Sudan.
The UN expert reported that an air ban on Sudan would impair the capacity of the public health authorities to facilitate patients receiving specialized medical treatment outside the country. The report quoted the Health Minister as saying about 3,000 patients a year receive medical treatment abroad. The report also said domestic air transport could be affected by a ban of flights abroad since the same airlines 'rely on international access for their maintenance and economic viability. A flight ban could have a serious impact on immunization programs nationwide, domestic distribution of drugs and on food production'.
Several council members raised the possibility of imposing an air embargo while allowing for humanitarian exemptions.
Sudanese officials welcomed the UN report and described it as 'positive and fair', and said they believe the SC would not impose the air embargo, due to the disagreement among its members.

The chairman of the NDA, Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani, said in a letter to the UN Secretary-General that the claim by Khartoum that the imposition of the sanctions would harm the Sudanese people was absolutely untrue. He pointed out that Sudan Airway's lack of cargo aircraft belied the claims by the government that its aircraft carried humanitarian supplies. The letter drew attention to the NIF's poor human rights record, and the irrefutable evidence indicating that Sudan Airways was being used to transport the regime's operatives and NIF security agents, and the part the airline played in the assassination attempt on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa in 1995.


[] Sudan and the IMF have reached agreement on an economic program for Sudan, therefore forestalling its expulsion from the organisation. The IMF gave Sudan a reprieve till the end of August, provided Sudan paid its arrears and implemented an acceptable program of economic and financial reform, to be monitored monthly by IMF staff. No details of the agreed economic program were given.
The IMF estimates that Sudan is $1.7 billion on arrears on its loans. It had reduced its monthly installments from $4 million to $250,000, but Sudan still have difficulties keeping up the payments. It was reported by Africa Confidential that Malaysia had paid installments for Sudan last autumn and in late January this year. The transactions had to be disguised since it is against IMF rules for one state to pay another's debts.

[] The United Nations had appealed for $120.8 million to meet the emergency humanitarian needs of an estimated 4.2 million war-affected and displaced persons in Sudan. At present, some 4.2 million people (3.4 million in southern states; 445,000 in the transitional zone and 395,000 in greater Khartoum) will require assistance in the form of medical and health care, basic education and emergency shelter.
Sudan is estimated to have the highest number of internally displaced persons in the world, with as many as 4 million people, 80 per cent of whom are women and children.
The money is to finance 33 projects administered by various UN agencies, such as UNICEF, WFP and WHO.


Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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