Point of VIEW. |
purely analytical perception...
from page 1
unique cause of famine in Sudan were the large numbers of animals grazing on each
acre of land. Overgrazing and exhaustion of natural resources creates a never-fail
scenario for agricultural disaster. However, if the state of affairs could be
made worse, it soon was; the forests in the north were being burned down to in
an attempt to create new land on which to supply
food for the local populations. This land in turn was also destroyed;
by removing most of the indigenous forage that had been
used to feed livestock, produce the gum Arabic that brought in hard currency and
the fuel that was used by the population for heat and energy,
Sudan through bureaucratic bungling has destroyed what little they had left. Moreover,
in the north, the land that was being cut out
of the forest was never meant for agricultural production as the soils there
are extremely fragile and once the trees were gone the
topsoil blew away like Alice leaving Kansas in the arms of a tornado. Yields
since then have become abysmal
or at times even worse and world agencies predict that
all forests in Northern Sudan will be denuded by the end of the year 2002
according to the world's top experts.
M. Suliman's "Civil War in Sudan: The Impact of Ecological Degradation"
he puts things in absolute perspective. "All the following disastrous factors
have descended on the country within the life-span of one generation:
Micro-and macro-climatic change (the practically continuous Sahel drought
Diminishing and erratic rainfall and accelerating
desertification (the floods and torrential rains of 1988)
Near doubling of population in less than a quarter
of a century
(15.4 million in 1970 to 25.4 million
4. Displacement - Both internal and
external - of some six million
of livestock numbers within 20 years
on a massive scale
civil war in the South, which is now encroaching
west and east
of legal and illegal rain fed mechanized farming
from 0.42m ha (1 m feddans) in 1967 to 7.5 m ha (18m feddans.)
Great Plans, Bad Endings
the Christian-African minority, chaffing at Islamic-Arab rule, started a miniature
uprising, which rapidly spread, creating logistical havoc on food distribution
points set up by numerous relief agencies. (This primarily
bit them in the foot as it was the points that they were using that were destroyed)
Fuel was added to the fire when leaders of the revolution in the south
were able to point to the fact that what little infrastructure that existed in
the country was being constructed in the North. Southern resources were systematically
being diverted and what little still existed when the vicious circle began, soon
diminished to almost nothing at all. In spite of the fact that oil was found in
some abundance in the south, the country's only refineries were for
some strange reason located in the north.
When the people in the South realized that they would not benefit from the black
gold discovered on their lands, they attacked the driller's (Chevron) facilities,
destroying an asset that could ultimately have helped the entire country. But
then again, this is Sudan. Biting the hand that feeds them
is probably the only way some of them can get a meal. And what would you expect
in a country that is the world's longest civil conflict. Inconceivably, the country
received its independence in 1956 and has internal strife for 33 or those 43 years.
magnitude of the aid being supplied the Sudanese is contained in a story in MSNBC
entitled Sudan plods toward another disaster, "The United Nations World Food
Program operates one of the largest humanitarian airdrops in history is Sudan.
In 1998, WFP distributed 116,000 tons of food to 2.4 million people at a cost
of $155 million. This year, (1999), WFP will increase food aid by almost 50 percent.
Monthly deliveries range between 7,000 and 9,000 tons, for now. Five women, each
with a 50 pound bag of maize on their head, trudge down the trail, returning from
an airdrop near Gok Machar. Despite the increase in aid, rations have decreased.
Two households must share one bag. Aid agencies are anxious to see WFP increase
its food deliveries so they can in turn deliver seeds for cultivation before the
strong rains arrive. If seeds are delivered before food aid, people will simply
eat the seeds."
disturbing theme recurred
agricultural potential was by far Sudan’s greatest asset,
warring groups along with soil erosion have destroyed its potential,
the country is large and not surprisingly, oil in substantial quantities was found
there in 1999 by the Greater Nile Oil Project managed by Talisman, a Canadian
exploratory company. Jim Buckee, the CEO of Talisman spoke of the find in almost
mystical terms. He indicated that it had “spectacular potential”, quite a mouthful
for someone out of the usually conservative oil industry. Talisman, a publicly
traded company immediately shot up in price on the news brought great satisfaction
to its stockholders. However, those people had not done their homework and seemed
to think that drilling for oil in Sudan was similar to doing it in the rest of
the world. Oil seems to have a cache that nothing else has, neither gold, diamonds
nor anything. Large oil finds usually bring energy for the country’s infrastructure,
work and money by the gob full. It causes the building of roads, ports, refineries
and all of the necessary infrastructural accoutrements
that are necessary to become a real country that can move the
black gold to the ports.
fact that oil in large quantities was discovered in Sudan was not a one
time miraculous event as the same thing had occurred almost 15-years earlier.
If Talisman had checked its history books, it would have learned that it was the
discovery of oil in the country that triggered the most deadly fighting that had
occurred here in the almost half-century old conflict.
They would have further learned that there is nothing
new under the sun that won’t anger one side or the other
or both. If one of the combatants strikes it rich, it only means that they will
be able to buy more weapons and more soldiers with which to punish their opponents.
Talisman naively thought that because of the elephantine nature of the find that
there would be enough riches left over to satisfy both sides and this in turn
would end the war. Were they ever wrong!
that is hardly the way things work in Sudan. In the area in which the find was
made, there were no less than five different factions warring over who controlled
the territory. And along with them were numerous warlords
that regularly sold their armies to the highest bidder.
Moreover, sanctions that had been placed on Sudan because
of their support of terrorist activities, thus making it literally
impossible to import the necessary tools and equipment necessary to create a petroleum
industry here. Talisman also got a lot of heat
from the folks in Canada that supported human rights. They felt that no country,
which enslaved its own people, ought to benefit from anything and their arguments
were so pervasive that the Canadian Government began an investigation into the
charges. But this was only the start
of the problems that the Greater Nile Oil Project faced.
wasn’t more than ten-minutes after Talisman announced that they had discovered
oil in large quantities and were going to build a pipeline to bring it out than
the Sudan People’s Liberation Army indicated that this was just not going to happen.
So far they have kept their world to the letter by blowing up the pipeline to
Port Sudan three times. Talisman attempted to take the high ground by offering
to build schools and hospitals in the area of the discovery
and bring in all the fresh water
that the people here could ever need for both drinking and planting. While
these are normally considered superb inducements to
normal people, the endless fighting in this country has caused the people to not
believe in creature comforts or their provider. They hearken
to the fact that alll of the benefits that are boasted
about by the relief agencies more often than not come
to naught when the army requisitions these goods by force and then
sells them to the highest bidder. They were convinced that the same thing
would indeed happen with anything that Talisman could provide. Talisman has proven
their good intentions in any number of ways but to no avail, sadly, this oil will
just not get to market as long as present conditions prevail.
years of frustration, Talisman may now be close to throwing in part of the towel.
In spite of not
being directly affected by the proposed American ban on financing anyone doing
business in Sudan, without the American capital markets the company was beginning
to realize that the money raising process could be going nowhere. This reckoning
is coming at a critical time for the company considering the fact that it has
announced that it is able to produce oil at only $2.89 a barrel in Sudan. This
is an excellent price when you look at oil selling over $20 a barrel.
Among others looking longingly at the Talisman project in Sudan
is India's National Oil and Natural Gas Corporation who is bidding as small fortune
for only a 25% stake. However, this sale would take the pressure off Talisman
to raised money in the public arena and for its part, India seems not to give
a damn about public relations. Moreover, from management's viewpoint, Talisman
is a public company in Canada and its shareholders meetings have recently turned
into near riots. "Dr. Buckee made his comments after the company's annual
meeting, which was once again dominated by confrontation with human rights and
religious organizations, as well as representatives of Southern Sudan. They accused
the company and its shareholders of making "blood money" and of aiding
Sudan's government earn revenues from oil it then uses to fund a civil war against
the south. Some even suggested that Dr. Buckee should indicted for war crimes."
(Talisman in talks with India over selling Sudan, Claudia Cattaneo, Financial
Post, Canada, May 2, 2002.)
No Place For Comfort
United States takes a very dim view of anything that goes on in Sudan and is not
at all happy with Canada’s Talisman Oil’s role in that country. Keeping in mind
that it was Sudan that gave comfort and shelter to an international
terrorist, a bomber by the name of bin Laden, the United
States Congress wanted to express their anger in a more fruitful fashion They
called a vote express their outrage at Sudan’s human rights abuses which included
the conscription of child soldiers, the sale of its people into slavery and the
country’s continuing sale of diamonds for war materials. Furthermore and as an
indirect slap at Talisman, they voted 422 to 2 to bar foreign oil companies that
do business in Sudan from raising money in this country or having their securities
listed on American exchanges.
of the reasons behind the slam at foreign oil companies is the fact that many
of the oil companies operating in that country are actually aiding and abetting
the civil rights problems. As Congressman Tom Lantos put it during the lightly
debated bill, “We should not help foreign oil companies who are helping prolong
this bloody slaughter, It is shameful that foreign oil companies could raise money
in the United States and use it to back genocide.” Interestingly enough, as strong
as the measure seems to be, it really has no teeth because every oil company operating
in Sudan is doing so under a separate subsidiary.
Bin Laden's Legacy In Sudan
whatever reason, bin Laden, had to get out of town in a hurry. This was not something
that he had been expecting because he had brought his family to Afghanistan and
had laid down some serious roots. Bin Laden had a lot of money when he arrived
and because the country was so poor he was able to purchase numerous businesses
on the cheap. However, on September 11, 2001, President George Bush of the United
States announced to the world in general but to the Muslim - Arab states in particular,
"You are either with us or against us." Sudan although having leaders
who were for the most part thickheaded, soon got the message and in the ensuing
weeks coughed up 37 Arabs and Africans that they believed had ties to bin Laden.
In the meantime, in their sudden urge to become helpful, they divulged certain
secrets of his strange dealings in that country. We are only now sorting out all
1991, bin Laden arrived in Sudan from Afghanistan where he had been one of the
leaders in that country's fight against the Communists. Having already
warn out his welcome in Saudi Arabia he began moving most of his wealth into Sudan
and started to get involved in various local construction and agricultural projects
while keeping his hand in the terror game by setting up training camps for wanabee
followers. Construction was an industry that he knew rather well as his family
still owned the largest company of that sort in Saudi Arabia.
he brought his basic cadre that were with him in Afghanistan with him along with
all of his wives and children. Moreover, he brought much of the equipment that
he had used in Afghanistan building all of those caves, tunnels and roads. With
some of his money along with this horde of equipment he formed what became the
al-Hijra Construction Company which was to become one of the largest private companies
of that kind in Sudan. However, that was never to be.
in exchange for some of the favors that bin Laden had bestowed upon the North
Sudan leadership and more probably because of his particular capabilities in building
and financing, bin Laden's construction company was soon awarded the construction
job on the brand spanking new 500 mile ultra modern highway that was to stretch
from Khartoum to Port Sudan on the Red Sea without a stoplight. Even bin Laden
should have seen the handwriting on the wall on that one. Government Officials
said that the highway would be called Thaadi or Revolutionary road and would be
an critically import part of the valuable infrastructure that would restart the
rebuilding of the country. However, bin Laden had not read the economic history
of the country and was soon stiffed by the government and at that point was out
a cool $20 million. However, The Sudan Government was not real happy about this
event either as bin Laden was considered to be a distinguished visitor to the
country and had contributed mightily, more important, he still had more money
that they could glom unto but the treasury was bare and the road project went
up in flames. Officials agreed that something had to be done before the place
got a bad name.
recompense for their bad faith, the government offered bin Laden the Khartoum
Tannery which was built as a goodwill gesture for Sudan by the Yugoslavian Government.
The now rundown tannery was hardly worth $20 million and it was not throwing off
any cash flow to speak of, but bin Laden swallowed hard and accepted the bad deal
because that was literally all that was on the table. Most observers put the value
of the tannery at only a tad over a $1 million at best and we are sure that bin
Laden was well aware that he was being fleeced. However, bin Laden at the time
didn't have a lot of countries that could use his services and bit the bullet,
took the tannery and tried to make the best of it. And what was his alternative,
taking the matter to the Hague? You bet.
after the fact visit to the tannery to find out what kind of management bin Laden
provided to the business was arranged for by the Wall Street Journal's Robert
Block who wrote a piece on it called "In the War Against Terrorism, Sudan
Stock a Blow by Fleecing bin Laden." We set the scene and find
Dr. Ibrahim al Rufai Abu el Hassan now managing the tannery. He is asked about
his management abilities and after indicating in no uncertain terms that the man
did not have a concept of what he was doing eventually gets to the point: "It
was lousy management. I don't think they were qualified for this work at all.
His previous peccadilloes were inappropriate improvements and he added poor record
keeping to the mix." He cannot understand why the good doctor couldn't get
to the point on this subject.
the tannery is now back under Sudanese control, so is a lot of construction equipment.
Furthermore it turns out that Osama bin Laden has kept track of his losses in
this country and in talking to Arab newspapers indicated that the experience had
cost him better than $160 million big ones. Moreover, when asked about the Sudan
Government he seems to have closed that door forever by saying, that it was a
"mixture of religion and organized crime." If any one is really looking
for bin Laden, I really don't think that they are going to find him after that
one unless he is six feet under the ground.
Escaping the Bitter Bullet
is most apparent that neither China National Petroleum Corporation of China, Gulf
Petroleum Corporation of Qatar, Lundin Oil Corporation of Sweden, TotalFinaElf
of France, Talisman of Canada nor Nasional Berhad of Malaysia will be effected
in the least. While this congressional grandstanding played
great in front of the voting public at home, these congressmen
were well aware that each and every oil company that was named had a subsidiary
that was located out our reach. In addition, even if these folks were to
pull out entirely, that wouldn’t mean that the flow of oil would be stopped for
one second. I am certain that even given the slight possibility that Sudan did
not have the necessary trained personnel to keep the oil flowing, adequately trained
engineers would be arriving by the droves from Russia, Iraq, Libya and a host
of other countries. Among other firsts, the American Congress leads the world
in useless votes. We would believe that the next country to
step into this breach in a big way will be China.
Mann, Talisman’s spokesman chided the American Congressional vote by saying, “Talisman's
not stop oil production in Sudan. We play a role in trying to improve the situation
there. We’re building clinics and hospitals. The tens of thousands of southern
Sudanese have benefited from clean drinking water, education and medicine directly
because of Talisman being there.” And sad to say, Mr. Mann is indeed correct.
A Canal No Less
the Sudanese Government announced the construction of a canal to drain the Sudd
Marshes of the White Nile. According to the misguided Northern rulers of Sudan,
the drained land could be reclaimed and made suitable for agriculture, the water
could be stored for the irrigation of both the drained area and lands in the drier
north and lastly, any remaining water could be sold to Egypt who would pay dearly
for the resource. Seemed like a decent plan. However, once again, the people in
the south who for good reason did
not believe that they would benefit from these changes, attacked the infrastructure
and destroyed any hope of the project reaching fruition. Once again, they felt
that the major beneficiaries of this project would be those in Northern Sudan,
possibly the Egyptians but certainly not themselves, and they weren’t far wrong
based on history.
An Inequitable Distribution of Labor
the 800 bureaucratic posts held by the British in Sudan when they pulled out,
only four were assigned to the south with the suggestion having been made
that the illiterate of Sudan's "down-under"
were neither mentally or emotionally fit to manage anything but their local dirt
farms and many in the north had even some
questions on that score as to whether they weren't being a tad to optimistic.
On the other hand, those in Southern Sudan could not stomach being
ruled by the very same people that had sold them into slavery and who had belittled
even their mere existence. Local rivalries were not aided by the fact that there
was literally no secondary education in Sudan schools. Propaganda was the only education that many of new generation
of Sudanese ever received; deep-seated prejudices died harder then ever before
because there was no relief from the constant drumming of it into everyone's system.
quickly led to a new government, which suspended whatever constitution existed
in Sudan and dissolved the National Assembly and all political parties. This in
no way palliated the acute hunger pangs of the people, the drive of the revolutionaries
or the felicities of the do gooders around the world. Everyone came to worship
Sudan; here was a place where there was enough misery to go around
and sadists could indeed have their money's worth.
What started out as a uncomplicated battle between the Black Christians
and the Islamic Arabs aided by their Turkish and Slavic mercenaries, soon became
a game of "who can capture the economic high ground and starve the other
side to death". Who can broadcast the most vitriolic propaganda
and who can starve out the most innocent women and children? This had indeed become
a paradise for thugs.
Ending the Cold War Ended Aid
addition, this became a place where these warring partners
were able to bid for assistance from diametrically opposed governments. During
the Cold War, any form of aid was resold to highest bidder, and eventually, when
the Cold War ended, the that form of aid dried up like a prune. Egypt once again
cast envious eyes at the water resources constantly being abused
by their Sudanese neighbors. Worst yet, Islamic militants, seeking to replenish
the beneficence of the cold war years, made a pact with the Iranian Government.
In short order, the Iranians immediately began supplying military equipment that
was far in excess of Sudan's capacity to understand or handle it. Moreover, this
tended to fractionalize the situation even further and English became the language
of choice in the south and Arabic in the north.
organizations such as the World Bank and the IMF came in for their share of blame.
Both organizations were passionate believers in the theory that the Sudanese economy
should be built around potential exports to
the west rather than infrastructure enhancements that would benefit the
masses. Thus, when crops were selected for their export value, little thought
was given to whether this was advantageous for the land or even whether it would
be beneficial for the people. The only thing that these organizations seemed to
realize, was the fact that per-capita income in Sudan was in the toilet and the
only way to flush it out was to begin a campaign aimed at raising export earnings.
This philosophy championed by the World Bank in particular was also unsuccessful
in many other regions of the world where it was practiced but no where did it
cause the absolute loss of life that it did here.
However, to many economists around the world, when
the this game plan was put into motion, it gave the impression of being a workable
idea, but as prices simultaneously plummeted on international commodities, the
plan requiring an ever-greater amount of production just to maintain the status
quo. Moreover, just when things began to look up a tad,
the land started to deteriorate from a combination of
ongoing drought and over-production. Worst
yet, loans to these international organizations could not be repaid and
a greater percentage of gross domestic product had to earmarked for interest on
these borrowings. Sudan tried hard to play catch up,
nevertheless, the people were falling ever further below the poverty level.
As of this writing, unless Sudan receives massive loan forgiveness, the
country's ultimate permanent economic collapse is absolutely
we can look to M. Suliman’s, "Civil War in Sudan: The Impact of Ecological
Degradation" for guidance on what affects just the loans of the World Bank
had upon the country.
is noteworthy that the Mechanized Farming Corporation (MFC), was established in
1968, upon request from the World Bank to secure its first loan for the so-called
supervised sector and to facilitate credit to private farmers.
MFC supervised the expansion of mechanized agriculture into southern Kordofan,
White Nile and Upper Nile Provinces. By 1975, the World Bank provided half of
the total loans for the agricultural sector, specifically for private rain fed
ecological and social stress caused by large-scale mechanized agriculture is well
documented, and can be held responsible for three types of conflict:
between traditional farmers and owners of the big schemes, as documented by Ahmed:
are forced to sell their labor cheaply, pastoral nomads are driven out of the
best areas of their traditional pasture…and agro-pastoralists are forced to abandon
one of two activities and change over to agricultural labor for low wages and
a lower standard of living.
among local people in the vicinity of the schemes, because of scarcity of cultivable
land, obstruction of animal herding routes or in the search for fresh grazing
between the state, as a major backer of the scheme owners, and the small farmers
and pastoralists. This is the most serious of all as the state has often opposed
the spontaneous resettlement of such people when stricken by drought.
World Bank was not alone in helping to create the catastrophe in Sudan. The
International Monetary Fund, (IMF) also came in for more than
its share of the criticism. The IMF literally forced the production of
cotton in Sudan in exchange for an "adjustment program" in which interest
or/and principal would be forgiven in exchange for the adoption of IMF policies.
To some degree this great idea was sort of like robbing Peter
to pay Paul, however, Peter in this case was already bankrupt and had nothing
to give up. Thus, sorghum and wheat suffered and cotton became the cash
crop. Sadly, agricultural production dropped to even more dismal levels than before,
prices declined and the Sudanese had exchanged their heritage for a lot less than
the proverbial bowl of porridge.
Many said, “we can’t either eat or sell the cotton, we were substantially better
before we grew what they called the “Devil’s own crop”.
So, the IMF had turned what began as a dismal situation into a terrible
catastrophe and they literally have become stultified
in not knowing what to do next. These guys historical
seem to know the answers before they create the disaster, but after it has happened,
somehow, they seem to lose their sense of reasoning. Grabbing
victory form the arms of defeat has almost become their motto. A
substantial number of Sudanese deaths from starvation can be directly attributed
to the good thoughts and ideas prescribed as a cure by the IMF. Moreover, as if
to add insult to injury, while the prices of all agricultural products declined
even further, the bottom literally
dropped out of cotton due to global overproduction. Thus the name, “The Devil’s
we can look to M. Sulimans, "Civil War in Sudan: The Impact of Ecological
Degradation" for guidance on what effects just the loans of the World Bank
had upon the country.
"It is noteworthy
that the Mechanized Farming Corporation (MFC), was established in 1968, upon request
from the World Bank to secure its first loan for the so-called supervised sector
and to facilitate credit to private farmers.
The MFC supervised
the expansion of mechanized agriculture into southern Kordofan, White Nile and
Upper Nile Provinces. By 1975, the World Bank provided half of the total loans
for the agricultural sector, specifically for private rain fed mechanized farming.
The ecological and social stress caused by large-scale
mechanized agriculture is well documented, and can be held responsible for three
types of conflict:
between traditional farmers and owners of the big schemes, as documented by Ahmed:
"Cultivators are forced to sell their labor
cheaply, pastoral nomads are driven out of the best areas of their traditional
and agro-pastoralists are forced to abandon one of two activities
and change over to agricultural labor for low wages and a lower standard of living.
Conflict among local people in the vicinity of the schemes,
because of scarcity of cultivable land, obstruction of animal herding routes or
in the search for fresh grazing land.
the state, as a major backer of the scheme owners, and the small farmers and pastoralists.
This is the most serious of all as the state has often opposed the spontaneous
resettlement of such people when stricken by drought.
make matters infinitely worse, hyperinflation gripped the country and almost all
goods have skyrocketed out of reach of the population. Aggravating an already
horrendous situation is the fact that Sudan went to the head of the class in 1990
by being declared "non-cooperative" by the International Monetary Fund.
We are advised that this was the first time a nation was deemed to be non-cooperative
by the socially correct IMF and therefore we would equate non-cooperative to mean
"a country in which liars, crooks and cheats are in charge of the government
and they speak in unison with a forked tongue." Things got even worse in
1992-3 when the IMF upped the anti by threatening to expel Sudan from the fund
altogether for deception. A last minute reprieve was granted when Sudan made some
minor concessions, which it has honored to some degree.
Hyperinflation Raises Its Head
as if not enough had gone wrong, in this biblically, Job-like” country, matters
soon became infinitely worse, hyperinflation gripped Sudan and the price of almost
all goods skyrocketed. A population that didn’t have any money to begin
with, now found even the barest of necessities substantially out of reach.
Aggravating an already horrendous situation was the fact that Sudan had gone to
the head of the class in 1990, by being declared "non-cooperative" by
the International Monetary Fund that had buried them to begin with. I guess we can understand that, the people
of Sudan apparently had enough of that brand of snake
oil and were now of the opinion that the folks at the International Monetary Fund
were really out to get them. While the particular evil motives were unknown, the
folks around these parts had enough of the medicine men parading around as benefactors
and said so. The result of this resulted in Sudan being ostracized. This became
first time in recorded history that a nation
was “deemed to be non-cooperative” by the socially correct IMF. Moreover, bad
things got even worse in 1992-3 when the IMF upped the anti by threatening
to expel Sudan from the fund altogether for deception.
A last minute reprieve was granted when Sudan made some minor concessions,
that to some miniscule degree they have been able to honor.
period though, Sudan's inflation was increasing at an astounding rate 163 percent
a year and the country’s money supply was growing even faster. In order to pay
bills, eventually the Sudanese Government whatever was left
of it, was obliged to get into the printing business,
which soon had the effect of making their currency which had
little value to begin with, totally valueless. In addition, the Government's
policy of continuously borrowing from the central bank to pay salaries and to
finance projects without any thought of repayment or
any attempt to balance the budget was not helping things a
bit. Knowing that something had to be done and yet not have
the slightest idea of what to do next, the government did the best they
could when they jailed more than 50 people and closed eight foreign exchange houses.
This created an even more fearsome disaster than any of the
previous goofups had caused.
Naturally, severe penalties were on imposed on these folks.
A court imposed prison terms ranging from six months to three years for
hard currency brokers and sellers, palliating some people who
were only against these people because they were against everyone. They
had not the slightest inclining of what they were doing and how dependent the
economy had become on them. However, having taken the action, naturally the
government’s public relations mill announced these moves with a flourish and many
people were heartened that the government had at last
taken a step, positive or otherwise. They felt that an movement
was better than the continued stagnation that was being foisted upon them. Unbelievably
none of those arrested was ever charged with anything because of
the simple reason that no one could ever figure
out what crime they committed, yet, liquidity throughout
the country has taken a severe pounding in that these happened to be the only
people ever willing to take a position, one way or the other on the Sudanese currency.
Now there was no one will to buy or sell the stuff. Everyone
became sellers and with no one around to prop up the market now and again, the
axe fell and the currency became worth less than the paper it was printed on.
Now the bureaucrats and the mercenaries could no long be paid. A tragedy had occurred.
say, "another job well done"
News and Views reports that the : "The price increase on fuel announced by
the new Minister of Finance, Abdel Wahab Osman, had sparked widespread outrage
and protests. The price of a gallon of petrol shot up to 2,500 Sudanese Pounds
from 1,700 and Diesel prices went up 60 percent to 1,200 S. P. from 750 pounds.
Petrol has risen six-fold since April 1994, when it was just 400 pounds per gallon.
The new fuel prices were quickly condemned by the pro-government Workers Federation,
which demanded there immediate cancellation or a comparable rise in worker's wages.
The leader of the Farmers Union also denounced the increases and said farmers
would strike unless it was rescinded. Even the members of the newly-elected, National
Assembly expressed their protest and called for the reversal of the decision."
Well at least in the Sudan, everyone seems to be in agreement as to how bad things
Sudan News and Views, then reported the government's position in the foray: "The
Finance Minister told the assembly that the increases are a result of a budget
deficit. He said the deficit had reached 9 billion Sudanese pounds and would rocket
to 200 billion Sudanese pounds at the end of this year if fuel prices were not
increased. He also said his government had subsidized fuel by borrowing from the
Bank of Sudan. This in turn pushed inflation up another 102 percent. He said fuel
prices had to be increased to raise funds to pay the salaries of government employees
and to finance the costs of the civil war in the south. …Turabi sent assembly
members on a long summer break for ten weeks starting from the first of July,
apparently to avert the imminent confrontation."
you were granted a two and a half month vacation with pay, you would be grateful,
would you not? Well, in spite of Sudan's problems these nervy characters demanded
a huge increase in monthly salaries. They had been getting $30 per month, certainly
a fair wage, at least in Sudan, enough to provide the
necessities for their families, but these ungrateful legislators demanded in increase
to the unimaginable figure of $200 per month. For shame. We say look at what civil
servants earn, $7 per month, look at what private sector workers earn $12 per
month and even university professors only get $30. Who do these folks think they
are? To be fair, they are just like bureaucrats everywhere in the civilized world.
soon received the answer to our question of why they needed
this egregious increase, one of the Members of Parliament (MPs) piped up
say that it was dangerous for them to take public transportation because of death
threats and that they had no transportation allowances; "We fear assassination
attempts on our lives in the public transport. (And you couldn't
blame the population for wanting to do these suckers in one bit after what they
had done to the country.} Although Sudan is a "peaceful"
country, it has a strong opposition both at home and abroad. Something should
be done to protect our lives and person as MPs'." Well, we couldn't disagree
more, with rebels in the south and east, millions of exiles that sit in border
countries wasting away in refugee camps while they wait for the war to end, we
wouldn’t want to be an MP.
what about the unfriendly Egyptians
in the east, the American Cruise missiles in the west, in the north Ethiopia
who wanted to fry the whole bunch in boiling oil. Then we have there ever loving
other neighbors the peace loving nations of Eritrea
and Uganda who both in some parts of the countries were still
practicing cannibalism. Incidentally, these are the
front line states, which are currently being supplied literally unlimited
military equipment by the United States, to begin the overthrow of the Khartoum
Government, in the west and the mafia downtown.
Now that Eritrea and Ethiopia may have settled their differences, however,
both of them may want a piece of Sudan and at this point
the CIA may well give it to them.
With Friend Like These, Who Need Enemies?
National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has recently announced that it plans to intensify
its military campaign against the government along Sudan's borders, this group
was formed along by the Beja Congress to plan and carry
out military operation against Sudan in the region under which they have control.
Moreover, elsewhere, The SAF is claiming that it is
now engaged in a war to bring down the government of Sudan and replace it
with forces from Eritrea, a home to other dissident groups have been conducting
regular raids on the Sudan border. Confirming these concerns, the Sudanese government
itself announced that troops from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Uganda were
poised to invade Sudan across its southern and eastern borders while the GOS is
carrying numerous bombing raids in southern Sudan. All these
matters would cause us to take some variance with the position that Sudan
is the safest spot on earth, but from our point of view, if the MPs were to get
their raise, I would think that the people would probably want to rise up and
tar and feather this ungrateful bunch, no wonder the Sudan has so many problems.
A Solution is at Hand
the other hand, the MP's were so distraught over their low pay that it was suggested
by many that all they really wanted to get even with the people who they felt
were disrespecting them and the job they were doing. However, they were not far
from wrong in this thinking. But
a solution was at hand; it was determined after long consideration
that the government should resume the practice of amputating the right
hand of convicted thieves in accordance with Islamic law. They were firmly convinced
that the country's thieves should be held responsible for the trouble in Sudan
and before you could shake a stick, the General Director of Sudanese Prisons indicated
that he was carrying out the edict as fast as was humanly possible under the circumstances,
but there were so many thieves and there were not enough skilled amputators. It
didn’t take long before a call for new amputators went out and the resources were
in spite of this amazing progress in this direction,
the still agitated legislators were
hardly satisfied with what had been accomplished in
terms of a raise vowed more and stronger measures to get their pay scale
increased. It was suggested that the Taliban had some great laws based on Islamic
practices that would really be good for the country and great
for the people at the same time. If everyone became happy again, it then
made sense that they could get a raise in salary. The legislatures started putting
through a series of rules designed to improve everyone's disposition a breakneck
1. In public transport
, woman would be separated from men and must use different entrances.
2. Women may not sit next
3. Buses should display
a verse from the Koran asking Muslims not to look at members of the opposite sex
4. Men and woman will
walk in separate groups on marches
5. At public gatherings, theatres, cinemas,
weddings, parties and picnics, a curtain must divide the men from the women.
6. Men may not watch women
cannot wear tight or short clothes, which expose the body.
8. Co-education in schools
9. In higher education
men and women students must sit apart
10. Women cannot go out after 7 PM except in the
company of their husbands or other close male relatives.
11. Men must have good reason for walking along
streets leading to schools for girls or places where women gather.
12. Card playing is prohibited
13. Women performing Sudanese folk dances
must wear long, loose-fitting costumes.
from our point of view, these are extremely constructive changes and we can see
that a lot of thought went into the creation of this list. We firmly believe that
these types of beneficial changes are going to make the population much more contented
and more responsive to the legislature. With new laws such as those on the books,
there doesn’t seem to be much question that the politicos will soon be seeing
a raise in pay.
It Was Obviously The Fault of the Women
you look much deeper into these new Sudanese adjustments without the proper background
information you could, well draw the wrong conclusions. In spite of how it appears,
this was not strictly a religious decision. It was discovered during a two-day
workshop on law-breaking, held recently in Khartoum, that there was an ever-increasing
crime rate among Sudanese women. Some of the statistics are so staggering that
we will quote exactly from the report, which appeared in Sudan News and Views.
to the director of the federal police, women are involved in drug operations,
financial mismanagement, murder, illegal abortions, looting of cattle, as well
as being involved in tribal conflicts and armed robbery in western Sudan. Police
records for 1995 show that 1,122 people died as a result of crimes committed by
women compared to 900 deaths due to crimes carried out by men.
We are left totally speechless by this report that
is undoubtedly accurate because of the impeccability of its source. However, there
is little question that there are not many people left to blame here for all of
Sudan's problems and when all is lost it is good to blame those of the fairer
fact that women increasingly resort to a life of crime, we believe is primarily
due to the Sudanese authority’s lack of concern for women's rights and
more generally the harsh economic conditions within the country, which drove many
women out of their houses and literally forced them into work as street vendors.
Vendors are often harassed by the police and security forces, which carry out
regular sweeps to physically remove them from the streets. Women vendors in the
streets of Khartoum now reportedly carry knives, axes and sticks to protect themselves
and to use them as weapons against the police who are rigorously trying to prevent
them from earning enough money to feed their starving
to police statistics, there are about “40,000 women who earn their living selling
tea on the streets of Khartoum, and if the authorities continue to prevent them
from working, they are bound to react violently." Under Muslim law, not only
should these women not be working but, in effect they should be in their houses
starving to death, if that is their only recourse under the
law. Earning a living is not constitutionally provided
for the female element in this male oriented society.
it turns out that almost every one of the people that died from those crimes were
the women themselves due to the fact that the crimes the authorities
are talking about are nearly all almost universally abortion, which
is considered against the law in Sudan. As to drug operations, no one was officially
able to inform us as to any women in the country that had ever been convicted
of a drug oriented crime, but bureaucrats were quick to point out that in such
a large nation, this inevitably would occur and that is what
they were referring to in their statement. You certainly would
have a hard time refuting that argument and we would have to defer to their statistics.
Moreover, it appears that in some cases, the “tea women” had not
given purchasers of their products the correct change, sometimes to little and
sometimes to much, certainly indicating that some of these women did not even
know how to count. This is certainly conceivable in a country where the education
of women is far down on the list of government concerns. That
of course is something that we cannot defend at all and is certainly deserving
of a long jail sentence.
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