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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Sudan is Discovered Receiving Arms From Russia and China

History abhors determinism but cannot tolerate chance-

-Bernard de Voto


BULLETIN: China and Russia, Sudan’s former, Cold War military suppliers, are back in the game.

IN THE NEWS TODAY. Amnesty International provides evidence that Chinese and Russian military hardware is being used in Sudan’s campaign against the rebels in Darfur.

LOOKING BACK: Soviet Russian military cooperation with Sudan goes back to 1958. In 1970, after Sudan’s General Nimeri had overthrown Khartoum’s civilian government, he accepted Soviet support in arms and equipment and soon 2,000 Soviet advisers and technicians were in the country. But after Nimeri foiled a Communist coup in 1971, he expelled Soviet personnel and suspended Societ military aid for a year.

In 1977, two developments, Nimeri’s move toward making Sudan into an Islamic state, and the Soviet Union’s support of Sudan’s rival, Ethiopia, contributed to his decision to refuse further aid from Moscow. He then resorted to China as his main supplier of weapons and training. The US, concerned by Russian support of Ethiopia, began its own supply of arms to Khartoum as well. After the US reduced its arms supply in 1983, due to Khartoum’s resumption of its long civil war against the south, China remained, throughout the 1980s, Sudan’s main supplier of arms.

FROM PAST INTO PRESENT: Sudan has proven relatively adept at exploiting international rivalries to its own ends. Although it resisted British rule with violence, Sudan became a beneficiary of Britian’s inclusion of Darfur in colonial Sudan. Upon independence in 1956, Sudan effectively “inherited” Darfur. In the Cold War that followed, Sudan was able to use regional superpower rivalries to obtain military supply from the Soviet Union, the United States, and China. Today, Russia and China, formerly its main Cold War military suppliers, are once again supplying Sudan with arms which it is using in its operations against Darfur. Where Russia’s and China’s interests were previously ideological, today they are economic. China, for example, needs Sudan's oil and gas. And, as was the case in the Cold War, China and Russia are acting against western wishes. During the Cold War, the fight was against Communism. Although the west's main concerns are presently humanitarian, a concern over Sudan's potential support for radical Islam isn't far below th surface. In some senses, the old Cold War alignments haven't changed; only the issues are new.

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