Why is such an inter-imperialist rivalry concentrated in a single country like Sudan?
Written by: Parti Communiste du Togo on 23 August 2023
(We are internationalists and want to know about and to support people's fights for liberation and socialism around the globe. Struggles in Africa have additional importance for us now that we have such a large African diaspora embedded in the ranks of AUstralian workers. This analysis from the Communist Party of Togo on the situatio in Sudan is of great assistance in helping us to understand events there - eds.)
PCTogo 15 August 2023
"If the capitalists divide the world among themselves, it is not because of their particular villainy, but because the degree of concentration already attained compels them to follow this path in order to make profits."
This quotation is the basis for the ideas developed by the Russian revolutionary LENIN in his work "Imperialism as the Highest Stage of Capitalism". In this work, LENIN explains, on the basis of precise economic facts, that the capitalism of the 19th century was characterized by the export of goods (...) and that when this capitalist system reaches its imperialist stage, the export of capital will predominate, starting from the industrialized countries, which will divide the world among themselves through colonial domination.
This short summary clearly shows that LENIN's ideas are still relevant and instructive to recognize and understand the predatory and economic war that is taking place before our eyes! And this fierce competition that exacerbates the centuries-old rivalries between the imperialist powers on the African continent, especially in Sudan.
• Sudan is the second largest country in Africa in terms of area, and its geographic location is one of the main factors behind its political instability. The country is located in a key strategic region for the various imperialist poles, which are fiercely fighting to strengthen their influence while protecting their economic interests by any means necessary. On the map of the continent, it is located between the Red Sea, the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. Sudan also borders countries such as South Sudan, Somalia and Libya.
• On the economic level. The agricultural question is of paramount importance in Sudan. As in most neocolonies in Africa, the land does not belong to the peasants. It is in the hands of foreign corporations and semi-feudal or capitalist landowners. In Sudan, the UNITED ARAB EMIRATES and SAUDI-ARABIA have gotten their hands on more than 500,000 hectares of agricultural land. Of this vast area, 12,000 hectares are exclusively for the cultivation of livestock feed destined for the Gulf States and the Middle East. This seizure of land by the oil monarchies is a real brake on the industrialization of the country.
• Also in the economic sphere: besides the exploitation of gas, oil, and gold, the bourgeois experts cite, "About 12% of world trade passes through the Suez Canal and 10% through Bab El-Mandeb. By 2050, the GDP of the Red Sea region is expected to rise to $6.1 trillion and the volume of trade to about $4.7 trillion." Another economic fact reported to us by "Ecofin Agency": Perseus Mining, an Australian group, had announced in January 2022 that it would acquire a stake in Orca Gold, the owner of Sudan's Block 14 gold project. (...) Under the agreement with the Canadian company, Perseus must pay CAD 198 million ($155 million) to acquire the 85% stake it does not already hold. Together with the 17 million Canadian dollars paid to join the company, this consideration increases the value of Orca to 215 million Canadian dollars ($168.5 million).
• In this relentless economic war between different capitalist groups, we also find the Moroccan group MANAGEM, which is present in nine countries in Africa. In particular, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Mali and Burkina-Faso. The Moroccan group is developing various projects in the gold sector. In Sudan, MANAGEM has a partnership with the Chinese company WANBAO MINING. The aim of this partnership is to develop a gold project in block 15 of the Gabgaba mine. The aim is to produce almost 5 tons of gold per year in the medium term. To this end, 250 million US dollars have been invested in the modernization of the production facilities.
• In summary, the Sudanese economy is geared to the systematic export of raw materials and agricultural products to the world market, which means a considerable transfer of value, in plain language: an overexploitation of the country for the benefit of industrialized countries.
• Given all this fierce economic competition on Sudanese soil, it is understandable that U.S. imperialism grasped the ouster of autocrat Bechir early on as an opportunity to improve its relations with the coup plotters and the transitional government. HAMDOK and its government had received $700 million in emergency financial assistance from the U.S. government and substantial financial support from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in particular. All of these direct or indirect financial interventions by the U.S. government served no philanthropic purpose. Rather, they served to devalue the Sudanese pound against the dollar and subsequently open the Sudanese market to U.S. companies and multinational corporations.
• The EU bloc and German imperialism in Sudan. The state visit of German President FRANK WALTER STEINMEIR in February 2020, when the people's struggle against the coup plotters was at its peak, was a great symbol of German imperialism trying to gain an advantage over its British and American rivals three years ago. Although Germany is among the three countries (China and Qatar) that invest the most in Sudan, its diplomacy in the Red Sea region and the Middle East remains discreet. It goes without saying that this discretion is basically just a maneuver to conceal the incessant activities of its military industry in this region of the African continent.
• In fact, the German government has repeatedly signed gigantic arms contracts with regional powers that intervene in Sudan. SAUDI-ARABIA, the UNITED EMIRATES and EGYPT have formed an alliance to sabotage the popular struggle by strongly supporting the coup plotters. Today, these three countries, which are customers of German arms factories, are supporting opposing camps in this reactionary civil war. Egypt is an ally of General ABDEL FATTAH AL BURHAN. The country led by the tyrant AL SISI was able to acquire in Germany various war material (surface-to-air defense guns and missiles, four U-209 submarines and four Meko corvettes) worth more than 3 billion euros. For the last eight months, OLAF SCHOLZ and the heads of the arms industry have decided to lift sanctions against SAUDI-ARABIA and the UNITED ARAB EMIRATES in connection with the import of weapons from the countries of the EU. Thus, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is intervening in Sudan, is allowed to buy spare parts and weapons for TYPHON and TOMADO fighter aircraft from the German defense industry for a total value of 36.1 billion euros. The trade press also reports the sale of six A400M tactical transport aircraft to the UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, the contract for which has not yet been confirmed. These regional powers include Qatar, which had already ordered 165 million euros worth of armaments from the German defense industry in 2019. Parallel to the intervention of its arms industry in the Horn of Africa and with the Gulf monarchies, German imperialism had mobilized its notorious "Team Europe", which includes the EU institutions and states, to provide an enormous 770 million euros in development aid.
• For their part, PUTIN and his oligarchs make no secret of their goals. RUSSIA has positioned itself as the main arms supplier to the Sudanese government. In 2019, Sudan became the second largest buyer of Russian arms in Africa. Sudan's rich and valuable natural resources remain a lucrative business that attracts Russian businessmen. The continent's third-largest gold producer, the nebulous paramilitary group Wagner, has continuously participated in the looting through Yevgeny Prigoshine's company M Invest and its subsidiary Meroe Gold, which set up shop in Sudan in 2017. Most of the mines are in the hands of FSR of HAMDAN DOGOLO alias HEMETTI. Meroe Gold, the so-called subsidiary openly collaborates with ASWAR, a company run by Sudanese military intelligence. Despite an alleged economic embargo against RUSSIA, the Sudanese gold industry is secretly strengthening the Russian economy during the military confrontation with the NATO bloc in UKRAINE. But this is not all! In addition to the training of officers by Russian instructors, there are also Russian experts in the Sudanese military apparatus who secure communications for the General Staff of General ABDEL FATTAH AL BURHAN and analyze emails, information websites and social networks. In addition to these military experts, it is necessary to mention the construction of a Russian military base in Port Sudan near the Red Sea. According to some military experts, the Russian military base can house more than 300 troops and nuclear-powered warships. The main goal of this naval base is to cut off the way to the American and French fleets escorting Iranian and Syrian oil shipments.
• Although China and Russia have conflicting interests on the African continent, the two emerging powers in Sudan agree on one thing: unrestricted control and exploitation of the country's natural resources. Thus, in 2020, the Chinese government signed an agreement with Sudan. This economic agreement gives Chinese companies the unrestricted right to explore and mine gold, chromite, black sand, marble and cobalt in Sudan's subsoil, which is full of them. In addition to natural resources, Chinese companies are also active in agriculture, industry, construction, transportation, and energy. In the energy sector, the international press reported that ʺ China, through its national company China National Nuclear, was involved in the construction of a nuclear reactor ʺ and the Merowe Dam, located 350 km north of Khartoum. The power of the dam is 1250 kW.It is the second largest dam on the Nile. From another economic register, it is learned that the total loans granted by Sudan to the Chinese government for energy projects are estimated at more than US$5 billion. Today, Chinese investments amount to more than $20 billion. The least that can be said is that all these investments by the Chinese capitalists confirm that Sudan has been at a standstill for several years! This is the reason why the Chinese government cynically has two irons in the fire since the beginning of this ultra-reactionary civil war, namely: as long as business is stable and positive, the better - of the two fascists - will win!
• Businessman Oktay Ercan, the undisputed head of Barer Holding, now stands alone in representing Turkey's political and economic ambitions in Sudan. Barer Holding includes various business sectors such as mining, aviation, livestock, and military and ballistic textiles. In addition to the activities of his famous holding company, Oktay Ercan had established another international company called SUR (International Investisment Group), of course for the purposes of the cause in Sudan. Strangely enough, there are shareholders in the SUR company who cooperate with the Sudanese army in the production of military textiles, a large, lucrative sector. In addition, there are various investments in infrastructure on the Red Sea and, most notably, the construction of a new airport 40 km from Khartoum. Qatar, Turkey's ally in Sudan, has also invested 4 billion euros in infrastructure.
• In the military field, the German defense industry had supplied battle tanks "Leopard" and technical assistance in the construction of six submarines U-214 in Turkey. Since 2014, Turkey has conducted several military maneuvers in Sudan, and there are Turkish buildings in the port Sudan near the Red Sea. The Turkish press reports Erdogan's ambitions in Africa: ʺ Turkey's ambitions in East Africa are not limited to Sudan and the Red Sea. Turkey has built its largest foreign naval base in Somalia, at a cost of nearly $50 million, with the goal of training thousands of Somali and Turkish soldiers.ʺ
• In this political, economic and military war between predatory powers ruling Sudan, Erdogan's Turkey visibly appears as a weak link, because since the fall of autocrat Béchir, who was a strong ally of Turkey, the balance of power has changed with new actors taking over. To prepare their revenge, the former regime's henchmen fled to Turkey to unite, organize, and prepare to take back power in Sudan. This struggle for the return of Béchir's men further exacerbates the political contradictions between the army and the paramilitaries. All of this is at the heart of this reactionary civil war.
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