Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaah,
In the past few weeks, all I have been hearing, especially here on-campus at MIT is, “Genocide in Sudan”… “Divest in Sudan”… “Stop Genocide!”… “Save Darfur” … ad infinitum. Those of us familiar with the conflict in Sudan know that it is primarily a Muslim-Muslim conflict. As such, as a Muslim, it hurts and pains me incredibly to see any of my brothers and sisters suffering, and I would do whatever I can to help my brothers and sisters, as my deen would have me do.
However, recently, perhaps in the last year, we perhaps have all heard about the “Sudan divestment campaign.” (Divestment is the opposite of investment… i.e. those who want to divest in Sudan want to pull out all their funds related to any company in Sudan.) Now, being familiar with the suffering that the sanctions on Iraq caused to the Iraqi people, I was more than skeptical and distrusting of the call for divestment in Sudan as a means to somehow 'stop genocide.' Perhaps what made me even more suspicious was the fact almost the entirety of the pro-divestment campaign is also neo-con and pro-Israel. Why would these people care whatsoever about the situation of our Muslim brethren? Pure natural human concern? If that is truly the case, then why do they single out Sudan, when there are many many other nations (e.g. Iraq… the situation of which was CAUSED by the agendas of these neo-cons) which are going through much more severe humanitarian crises? Why do they care? What are they up to? I think any Muslim who is using his or her brain should be more than suspicious that there are ulterior motives involved. What really worries me is when I see Muslims flocking to politically charged campaigns such as the “Save Darfur” campaign. I am not talking about wonderful Mulsim organizations such as Islamic Relief which are providing humanitarian support to our brothers and sisters there… I am talking about Muslim organizations who, out of some sort of fetish to please their Western masters, are actually supporting political campaigns, such as the divestment campaign, which would very much like to see the US meddle with the affairs of our Ummah. I think the examples of Iraq and Afghanistan are enough for us to know what happens when we allow the kuffar to meddle in our affairs (or “help us”… as some ignorantly claim). Anyways, without rambling further, I will post an article (below) which explains the true motives of those who are pro-divestment in Sudan. The title of this post is taken from the article. May Allāh help our brothers and sisters who are suffering, and may He grant us the wisdom to realize that we are never to turn to kuffar as awliya (supports / protectors). Āmīn. Below is the article:
The Strange Campaign to Strangle Sudan
Beware the Do-Gooders in Body Armor
By JOHN V. WALSH
In Massachusetts as in many other states, there is a “movement” to divest pension funds of their holdings in companies doing business in Sudan, principally in Chinese oil companies there. The ostensible objective is to relieve the sufferings of the people of Darfur, whereas the real purpose seems to lie elsewhere. The campaign in Massachusetts has been spearheaded by State Senator Ed Augustus and by U.S. Congressmen James McGovern and Michael Capuano of Massachusetts.
If you are a state worker, State Senator Ed Augustus, backed by Congressmen McGovern and Capuano, wants to meddle with your pension fund investments for a dubious purpose.
Let me explain with a riddle. There is a country that sits on top of huge oil reserves, it is run by a nasty dictator, Israel regards it as an enemy state, it is Muslim, it is said to harbor “terrorists,” and President Bush expresses hostility toward it. In 2002, that country was Iraq; in 2007 that country is Sudan. And there is a move afoot to take action against Sudan but this time it is being led by the Democratic wing of the War Party. Are the American people about to be suckered into another intervention?
But you may say, is there not a “genocide” going on in the Darfur region of Sudan under the auspices of Sudan's brutal dictator? Interestingly, only President Bush and the U.S. government, label the fighting in Darfur as a “genocide.” The UN and Bishop Desmond Tutu have called it a civil war, which is a very different story. But is there not terrible suffering going on in Darfur? The answer is yes. Perhaps 200,000 have been killed and a million displaced. But this is not the “worst” humanitarian disaster in the world. In fact 650,000 have been killed due to the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq and millions displaced. It is passing strange that President Bush is so concerned about Sudan when he wants to press on in Iraq. And for his part, Congressmen Capuano and McGovern, for all their talk of opposing the war on Iraq refuse to vote to cut off funding as have eight House Democrats and two Republicans in opposition to the war. So why do Bush and Capuano and McGovern not act to curtail the suffering in Iraq by simply leaving?
But you may say, there is real and terrible suffering in Darfur and in fact throughout Sudan. That is undeniably true. And the U.S. should be sending all the humanitarian aid it can to alleviate that suffering. In fact the U.S. could do more. In 2006, there were more deaths from malaria in Sudan and Darfur than from the civil war there. And in large part that is because the only pharmaceutical factory in Sudan, and the one that produced antimalarials at affordable prices was bombed “mistakenly” by the Democrat Bill Clinton in 1998. There has never been an apology by the U.S. for that act which borders on a war crime. And there has never been an offer of restitution. Perhaps Congressmen Capuano and McGovern might introduce a bill to provide funds to rebuild that factory.
Nevertheless there is heart-wrenching suffering in Sudan and Darfur. But here is the awful part. The measure proposed by Senator Augustus will add to that suffering not alleviate it. You see, Augustus is calling for the state pension funds to divest in Sudan, most particularly the Chinese oil companies doing business there. Sudan is already a very, very poor country with much of its population, including the people of Darfur living in poverty. The divestment campaign is designed by its backers to bankrupt Sudan and bring it to its knees, at the same time depriving China, which the neocons perceive as yet another enemy of the U.S., of Sudanese oil. The divestment and sanctions will fall most heavily on the people of the Sudan and because of the trading routes and how they work very heavily on the people of Darfur.
It is also strange that some of the same neocon groups as well as groups associated closely with AIPAC are pushing for this action against Sudan. These are the very groups that pushed us into war with Iraq and advocate war on Iran. For an example, see: www.DivestTerror.org. Is it just a coincidence that this campaign is driving a wedge between African Americans and Arab Americans? Who benefits from that? Finally the U.S. is already involved in neighboring Somalia, using Ethiopian troops as proxies and American Special Forces to oust a Muslim regime that is not to the liking of the administration and the neocons. And here again oil is involved. This is causing awful death and destruction in Somalia in the name of democracy and progress. Is Sudan next?
So one must distinguish between genuine suffering under cruel dictatorships, a terrible reality in Sudan and many other places, and the political uses to which these can be put. We were lied into the war in Iraq partly by the successful way that the neocons played on our good intentions about the benefits of removing an “evil” dictator. Using our good intentions, they led us into a long, cruel and deadly war, which in reality had nothing to do with removing Saddam Hussein. Let us not repeat the same mistake in the Sudan. Yes Congressmen Capuano and McGovern, let us increase humanitarian aid to Darfur. Let us pay reparations for the pharmaceutical plant there. But, Senator Augustus, do not get involved with risky meddling with the hard-earned pensions of the state workers to further increase the suffering in Sudan and Darfur. Hands off the suffering people of Sudan and hands off the state pensions.
John V. Walsh is a long time peace activist and a resident of Cambridge, MA. He can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com.
He urges CounterPunch readers to look back at Conn Hallinan's excellent piece on the same subject in CP, “The Right's Stuff in Africa”.