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Monday, 27 August, 2001, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
Is all fair in war?
In their war against the Sudanese government, rebel forces are increasingly targeting oil installations.
In recent weeks pipelines have been blown up, and oil companies' property seized.
The Sudan People's Liberation Army claims that revenue from oil is being used to finance the government's war effort. The government says that it is the ordinary Sudanese who will suffer.
Neighbouring countries, like Kenya, also have a stake, in that they would like to import cheap Sudanese oil.
What do you think? Is it legitimate to attack a country's top revenue-earning industry when fighting a civil war?
This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.
Targeting oil installations is not an ideal way to win or resolve a 18-year old conflict. The Sudanese government has agreed to share revenues with the south, by establishing a unified account for oil revenues overseas that could benefit both North and South. Therefore, sparing the oil installations from war-related cruelties could indicate how seriously committed John Garang is to any sort of future development in Sudan after any comprehensive settlement.
It is every Sudanese hope that John Garang, Omer Al-Bashir and all the concerned parties to the upcoming peace settlement to be serious in the proposed national reconciliation dialogue. The ordinary Sudanese is fed up with all the sorts of destruction and want to lead a normal peaceful life with decent access to the basic human needs. Enough is enough.
Alphonse Osisi, Nigeria
Without oil money the government of Sudan would probably be far more earnest in its peace negotiation. The government of Sudan was the first to bring violence to the oilfields by arming militias to depopulate the area. The inaction of the SPLA to protect the people and assets of Southern Sudan was a valid criticism of the SPLA. The attacks on the oilfields are a part of the responsibility of SPLA in its struggle to obtain power in the context of the Sudanese nation state.
The Government of Sudan is using the oil revenues to escalate the war. The use of the short-range tactical missile in a domestic conflict was unheard of before. The SPLA will restore the hopes and aspiration of the people of Southern Sudan by concentrating on oil field front and stopping the abuse of this resource.
It is high time the western world takes concrete measures to stop the genocide in Sudan, instead of indulging in the oil exploration which is exterminating the people of Southern Sudan.
If anyone says that the oil fields should not be targeted by the Southerners, I will forgive him because he doesn't see the suffering of we Southern Sudanese people, and because he doesn't miss both his parents, brothers and sister in such war, but for me who lost both his parents, brothers, uncles and very close people to me, can say with "HIGH VOICE WITHOUT FEAR" that let the oil fields be the target, as we have been suffering for more than four decades, then why to fear suffering, as all of us were born dead!
I think it is very legitimate to attack a country's top revenue-earning industry when fighting a civil war, as we Southerners has suffered a lot and if we can touch the most effective heart of the radical Islamic government. We need not to hesitate but we have to hit hard, because what is going on in South is not just a mere civil war but a genocide and ethnic cleansing, as the government is waging the war of free land, they do not want we black Africans but they need only the land. So, if we have the chance of hitting the oil field there is no hesitation.
As we have seen civil wars in all parts of the world, things that are believed to be the back bone of the government are being destroyed as a measure to weaken the strength of the blows that the it can deliver against the other party. At this moment oil is the main export of the country that brings tons of currency for the country and an import of tons of weapons, so I don't see any reason why the rebels shouldn't try to cut the oil lines off of the export line.
To Chiedozie, you say that "western hypocrisy is exposed" yet the west has nothing to do with this - no official statements have been made to my knowledge. The fact that one group of Africans is attacking the economic resources of its own country is nothing to do with the west. This clear case of shooting oneself in the foot then blaming someone else may however explain why Africa is in such a mess.
It is up to the SPLA to use any tactic as long as the war continues. This war has gone for a long time now. It is the most forgotten war on this planet. Targeting the oil installations could send a message to the West.
It is high time for both the Government of Sudan and the SPLA to work out a participatory power and wealth sharing agreements monitored by the international bodies, such as the UN and regional bodies such as the African Union or IGAD to say it proper. Sudanese people are very warm and friendly hosting many nationalities in their country and deserve a better tomorrow. Al Bashir and John Grang should work out a fair and just deal for their people to be able to enjoy the new found oil wealth. By the way, the oil is only a new factor of the conflict and stopping doesn't guarantee peace for the southerners. Targeting oil will only hurt more and thus escalate the conflict.
A non violent solution to Sudan's war between the government of Sudan and the SPLA rebels would be admirable. This has however failed time and again resulting to short periods of ceasefire followed by intense fighting.
If the SPLA can take hold of the oil fields, then Omar Al-Bashir and his oppressive regime will re-evaluate their stand against the people of southern Sudan.
If Bush was as focused on international issues as Clinton was; this war would not linger longer. Clinton made sure that the plant for weapons of mass destruction was destroyed. Bush could implore same measures for the plight of the people of south Sudan.
Paul Timotivice, UK
Once again Western hypocrisy is exposed. The West does not really care about people (especially black Africans) enough to hold back their greed.
Discovery of oil in Southern Sudan in 1976 has inflamed the greed of the North. Many observers said that the regime would declare the newly discovered wealth a national property. But instead they issued a decree announcing annexation of the area where the oil was discovered. I believed the SPLA has every right to attack oil installations
Rashed Kwame Annan, Ghana
Oil revenues have always been used for ethnic cleansing and genocidal crimes against the Sudanese people. The oil companies' airstrips are used to facilitate military operations. The oil companies went to the extent of buying weapons for the GOS troops. These facts obviously make the oil installations legitimate war targets for the rebels and incriminate the oil companies for the heinous crimes committed by the GOS.
Abu bakar Kamara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
For any country where the government is not a representative of all tribes, there is bound to be some sort of unrest which will ultimately result in armed conflict. Once the path of destruction has been chosen, then all targets are legitimate for the end result is a destabilisation of the enemy.
The oil in South Sudan is used to improve the economy of North Sudan only. The governments, which have been in power in Sudan, do not care about the people of south Sudan. This has been shown throughout the 45 years of independence. The only way to cripple this government is to destroy its only means of achieving economic stability. Until they accept that the people of South Sudan are entitled to the same rights as their brothers up North, there will be no peace and stability in the Sudan.
The suffering of the Southern Sudanese people is to be stopped even if it requires US intervention.
Where has the International Community been all the time the war has been on. Now that they have something to gain in the name of cheaper oil is when people turn their heads.
It is nonsense to destroy any infrastructure of any kind. First of all the war between SPLA and the Sudanese government has been going on for the last 18-years and Sudan has started exploiting oil 2-years ago. So, how was the war financed for the previous 16-years? But targeting oil is not the solution for the problem in Sudan. It needs a political solution to stop the war in Sudan.
Gatwech Lok, Australia/S. Sudanese
The government of Sudan seems to like settling the conflict by war. Yes, the SPLA have the right to attack the oilfields because it is a war and war stops only when there is final agreement and rights.
Oil: top revenue-earning industry? Earning for whom? The revenue from the oil industry either goes to the pockets of corrupt government officials or used by the GOS to buy arms to kill its own people. As for the ordinary people, all they get is more bombardment, scorched earth, slavery and genocide. Stopping the oil flow is therefore a blessing for the ordinary people of southern Sudan and a duty the SPLA.
Who ever controls the oil in Sudan is the first and last one to have a say regarding the future of the country. It would be a grave mistake for the movement to remove oil production and installations from their prime targets.
It is a legitimate action for SPLA attacking the oil fields. I believe it's the only way to get the world and Sudanese government's attention to the plight and suffering of southern Sudanese people. The Sudanese government should abandon its Sharia law and slaving Christians. Other wise, the war won't stop.
It's clear that the Sudanese government uses oil as one of the weapons to attack the SPLA and the innocent civilian population of the Sudan. Therefore, the SPLA should see to it that it destroys as many as possible of the enemy's men and arsenal, including the oil, which is used as a weapon by the Sudanese government.
Mairi Vuamai, Nimule, South Sudan
The whole principal of war, whether it is civil or conventional, is to make your enemy submit to you. This means destroying him economically as well as militarily. Any modern war is an example of this. And I'm guessing that indeed the oil revenue is being used for arms as is the case in most African countries.
I strongly feel that the oil fields are legitimate targets for the Sudanese rebels. Didn't Nato employ similar tactics in Yugoslavia when it destroyed its economic infrastructure (even cigarette plants!)? What appals me is the willingness of global oil companies to invest in a country that has been responsible for the suffering of millions for so many years in Southern Sudan. Perhaps the oil companies could help by halting their operations until a peaceful solution can be found?
The conflict in Sudan has been going on, on and off since independence. The SPLA is doing the right thing and finally drawing substantial international attention to their cause. I hope the oil hungry world will finally listen and Opec will reconsider any plans of accepting Sudan as member.
Henry Sufa Mpunga, Tanzania
Oil installations should be legitimate targets for military action. The companies involved should understand that while they are looking for profits in this war, we Southerners are seeking nothing but our very survival. Let the oil companies go prospecting for oil back in Canada, Sweden, China and Malaysia. Enough is enough.
When you make an omelette, you have to break eggs. When you are in a war of liberation, you cannot let the colonisers get away with sucking dry the natural resources of your home area.
Attacking oil facilities is fundamental military tactics in any war, especially when the opposition needs the oil to fuel its equipment and the revenue to finance its military forces. If the government of Sudan was distributing the proceeds from its oil resources in anything close to a fair and just way to develop the country, the moral position of the SPLA might be compromised. At present, the Southern resistance seems to hold the moral high ground.
Najim Ani, USA
The SPLA are only hurting their own people. They will cause suffering for the Arabs and Africans living in the region alike.
The economy of the Sudan is largely based on oil. The SPLA can only win the war by disrupting the oil trade that supports and sustains a racist, imperialistic and plundering government. And anyway what will a prosperous economy do for the marginalised Southern Sudanese people? Absolutely nothing!
I think the fact the government of Sudan is using the revenues from oil to finance the war effort does not legimatise the attacks of the SPLA on the oil fields and its employees. However, it is the Western world's responsibility to make sure they set up a programme that makes sure the revenues from oil are not used to finance the war. Let's work to bring together all the people of Sudan - Christian and Moslems.
Baak Wol, South Sudan
The SPLA wasted a lot of time. They shouldn't have allowed
the government to started oil exploitation in the first place.
It has become clear that the government is using oil as a source
of income for financing the war and if that is the case, why can't oil
fields and companies become legitimate targets?
What a silly question to ask in this day and age. For over 60 years now oil has been regarded as the premier strategic target. So if oil revenues are helping your enemy buy arms and kill your people, then by all means attack! You can always re-write history if you win.
The rebels have every right to attack oil installations. They are fighting for their legitimate rights. The oil companies do not care about anything but profit. They take a risk supporting an evil government; they must be ready to pay the cost. The SPLA is not doing enough in terms of hitting oil installations and other government supporters.
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