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Facts and impact of oil on Sudanese domestic and Intl relations

A research paper presented by Ismail S.H. Ziada at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid

Since its independence of Britain and separation from Egypt in 1956, Sudan has enjoyed only 11 years of relative stability and peace.
The oil discoveries in Sudan, in the late 1970’s have additionally aggravated the political and economic situation in Sudan. The oil discoveries played a pivotal role in igniting the second civil war in 1983 and complicated the possibilities for peace between the south and north as it became the central objective for the fighting parties.
This paper investigates the impact of oil on the internal situation in Sudan as well as its impact on Sudan’s international relations. The paper will focus on the role of the main two foreign actors whose policies were and still are very influential within Sudan; China and the United States.

The paper argues that oil has had a catastrophic impact on Sudan. It played a key role in igniting the second civil war in 1983 and complicated the possibilities for peace between the south and north as control over it became the central issue for a settlement of the conflict. The civil war made Sudan vulnerable. Internally it depleted the economy and any prospect for development. In addition it rendered Sudan vulnerable to external imperialist aggressive policies. The civil war and The United States imperialist aggressive policies aimed at controlling Sudan’s natural resource (mainly oil), in fact has put the country on the verge of collapse as a state.

Although the focus of this paper is on the impact of oil, it should be mentioned here that Sudan has many more valuable natural resources apart from oil. Its mineral wealth includes significant reserves of uranium, copper, diamonds, gold, iron ore, mica, silver, talc, tungsten, uranium, and zinc. Sudan’s total land surface amounts to 2.51 million square km. of which about half is cultivable. However, only 170.000 square km. is actually being used for cultivation. Sudan has a strategic position on the Red Sea, with borders with nine countries; Egypt, Libya, Chad, Central Republic of Africa, Democratic republic of Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. The Sudanese potential for development is therefore vast if a situation would arise in which its resources could be fully used for the benefit of the Sudanese people and the development of the country in general. This fact is perceived as a threat to the interests of the United States and its regional allies as it implies the possibility for the emergence of a strong and independent Sudan.

The outline of this paper is as follows. In the first chapter some background information will be provided on Sudan’s oil wealth as well as some details on foreign involvement in the oil exploration and exploitation over the years.
Subsequently, in chapter two, a brief overview will be given on the internal Sudanese developments sine oil exploration was initiated in Sudan.
In chapter three the role of the United States and its policies towards Sudan will be discussed followed by a similar discussion on the Chinese role and policies towards the country in chapter four.
In the conclusion I aim to provide a brief overview and interpretation of the described developments as well as a personal perspective on the possible future of Sudan.

Facts & Impact of Sudan Oil

(kanaanonline.org)