Welcome. This is James Corbett of The Corbett Report with your Sunday Update from The Centre for Research on Globalization at globalresearch.ca for this 17th day of July, 2011. And now for the real news.
The world welcomed a new nation to the international community last week as South Sudan officially became its own country. Obtaining independence from Sudan on July 9th, the Republic of South Sudan became the 193rd member state of the United Nations in a general assembly vote earlier this week and Africa’s first new country since Eritrea became an independent state in 1993.
So far, coverage of the story in the western establishment media has unproblematically portrayed the creation of South Sudan as the hard-won fruit of a valiant and spontaneous liberation movement among the southern, mainly Christian and animist population,who have been engaged in a decades-long struggle against the mostly Arab north, where embattled President Omar al-Bashir has been broadly criticized for his rule. He was indicted last year by the International Criminal Court for genocide in the Darfur region.
However, critics and independent journalists note that Sudan has long been the victim of outside interference by western powers with financial interests in the vast resource wealth of the region. They allege that mainstream western press about South Sudan has gone out of its way to find human interest angles in the story that are conspicuously free of historical context or geopolitical analysis.
Britain’s Telegraph newspaper ran a story on Tuesday noting that “South Sudan will be able to take part in the London 2012 Olympics but face a race against time to do so under their own flag.”
The Daily Star out of Lebanon ran an entire article devoted to how a wildlife preserve hopes to attract more tourists now that the south is its own country.
The Washington Post posted a feature story about Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng traveling to South Sudan to host the country’s first post-independence basketball clinic.
The New York Times ran a lengthy report about South Sudan’s independence celebrations, providing great detail about the festivities, the personal experiences of random Sudanese, and a lengthy list of the foreign dignitaries in attendance. But, as independent journalist Russ Baker notes in an essay criticizing such reporting, the Times does not even mention the question of South Sudan’s primary resource until the 24th paragraph of their article, when they note:
“Negotiators have yet to agree on a formula to split the revenue from the south’s oilfields, which have kept the economies of both southern and northern Sudan afloat.”
The effect of these reports are to downplay one of the central questions behind the decades-long strife in the region, and obscure what many are alleging is a history of western interventionism in the name of the region’s strategic, mineral and economic interests.
Only ever mentioned as a backdrop to the hostilities that have been the hallmark of the Sudan in recent years, oil accounts for between 70% and 90% of the region’s exports. Sudan is the third largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa, and according to a 2008 BP Statistical Energy Survey, it had proven oil reserves of over 6.6 billion barrels at the end of 2007. Now, as much as 85% of those reserves are believed to lie in the newly-created Republic of South Sudan, reserves whose fate are now in question as the region’s treaties and agreements are rewritten by a new government.
Throughout the 1990s, China has invested massively in the region’s oil deposits, including the construction of a 1000 kilometer long pipeline to pump Sudanese oil to Chinese ships anchored in the Red Sea. By the time of separation, China had become Sudan’s largest trading partner, buying 40% of Sudan’s oil.
But with the creation of the new government in the South, that looks set to change. The South Sudanese central bank has been formally cleared from the US sanctions that prevent American businesses from dealing with the Sudanese central bank. Just this week, the new South Sudanese government announced that they have launched a joint venture with Glencore, the world’s laragest commodities training company, to develop the country’s vast oil wealth.
As long-time observers of the region are now noting, these latest moves belie the fact that all of the western attention on this region over the past decades, including economic, financial, military and even humanitarian interest in Darfur, have been tied to the vast potential wealth of the country, and the creation of a new, Western friendly government was the geopolitical endgame all along.
To learn more about the story behind the story of the creation of South Sudan, The Corbett Report talked last week to Keith Harmon Snow, a writer, photographer, humanitarian campaigner and award-winning journalist who has been writing about western interventionism in Sudan for several years.
Allegations that foreign interest in the Sudan was geared toward the establishment of a western-friendly government in the region appear to be vindicated by developments since the creation of the new state.
During independence celebrations, South Sudanese revellers were seen to be carrying Israeli flags, a reflection of Israel’s active support for the South in opposition to the Arab government in Khartoum throughout the period of civil strife. Now, Israel has officially recognized the government of South Sudan in its capital, Juba, and Juba has reciprocated by saying it wants to help Israel in forging a middle east peace deal.
The South Sudan government also launched its own currency this week, the South Sudanese pound, which was printed in Germany and flown into the country yesterday. As a testament to the willignness of the South Sudanese to subject themselves to the economic subjugation of the western-led international financial order, the government in Juba applied for IMF membership back in April, before it had even officially gained independence from Sudan, a country with which the IMF has historically had a rocky relationship.
Now, as tensions flare up once again between Sudan and South Sudan over control of disputed, oil-rich areas of the region which are still in a territorial grey zone, and as UN peacekeeping forces flood into the region to ostensibly make sure those tensions do not fly out of control, look for the establishment media to continue to provide contextless, fact-free reporting on issues of no significance whatsoever and to unwaveringly side with the western-friendly South over the Chinese-friendly North in every dispute over resources.