When Smith College's Dr Eric
Reeves demands an end to the Sudanese oil project, his poorly-informed
campaign attempting to interfere with economic investment
in Sudan brings him into direct conflict with the other
countries within the Horn of Africa region. Reeves has,
for example, in the past challenged the following comment
made by one of the petroleum companies involved in Sudan
that "[i]ncreasingly, Sudan is becoming a relative source
of regional stability". (1) With an unbounded arrogance
unsupported by reality, not only does Dr Reeves apparently
believe that he knows what is in the best interests of the
Sudanese people, but that he also knows more about Sudan,
and its involvement regionally, than the governments and
peoples of the Horn of Africa.
Dr Reeves' claims about events within Sudan
have already been devastated His allegations that the Sudanese
government has displaced all the population around the oil
fields, "orchestrating a ferocious scorched-earth policy
in the area of the oil fields and pipelines" (2), including,
for example, claims in July 1999, that "[h]uge swaths of
land around the oil fields and pipelines are presently cleared
of all human life and sustenance" (3) were comprehensively
disproved by satellite images taken of the areas in question
and scientifically analyses by Geoffrey John Oxlee, one
of Britain's leading experts in the field, and a former
head of the United Kingdom Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence
Centre Mr Oxlee stated: "there is no evidence of appreciable
human migration from any of the seven sites examined." (4)
To the contrary, he further stated that analysis revealed
that "once the sites were developed, then people did come
into the area, and in fact it looked as if people developed
around the oil sites rather than going away from it." (5)
Dr Reeves' claims about Sudan within its region
are similarly easily disproved. Possibly as a result of
prejudice or simple naivety, Dr Reeves chooses to ignore
the simple fact that Sudan by any measure has become a source
of regional stability economically and politically. All
Dr Reeves need have done was follow some of the international
news agency reports on Sudan in recent months. Given that
Dr Reeves claims to have approached Sudan "with the eyes
of a professional researcher", claiming "[l]ong hours and
days of assiduous reading, archival retrieval, and real-time
communications with Sudan experts in and out of government"
(6) his inability to find relevant material is puzzling.
He has either not been professional enough to find searingly
relevant Sudan articles published by first-class international
news agencies such as Reuters and Agence France Presse,
or he has seen them and has not had the intellectual courage
to address material contradicting his thesis. Dr Reeves'
credibility as a commentator has already been extensively
questioned in "The Return of the 'Ugly American': Eric Reeves
and Sudan". (7) His partisan myopia with regard to Sudan,
and its position regionally, is once more clear for all
Dr Reeves seems to have missed the Agence
France Presse report in February 2000 headlined "Sudan Heading
for Improved Ties with Neighbours". (8) Sudan has, over
the past three years, emerged as an economic and political
leader of its region. This has culminated in its hosting
of the Eighth Heads of State summit of the regional Intergovernmental
Authority on Development (IGAD) body in November 2000. Sudanese
President Omer al-Bashir was elected Chairman of the Assembly
of Heads of State and Government of IGAD at the November
meeting. IGAD comprises seven eastern and central African
countries, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan, Uganda
and Somalia. In addition, on 12 February 2001 President
al-Bashir was also elected Chairman of the Community of
Sahel-Saharan States (COMESSA or CEN-SAD). COMESSA is a
body which brings together sixteen north African states.
Its members are Sudan, Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco, Chad, Eritrea,
Tunisia, Libya, Somalia, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Central African
Republic, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad. The Secretary General
of the Organisation of African Unity, Salim Ahmed Salim,
also attended the COMESSA summit. (9)
Sudan additionally plays a central role in
another regional African grouping, the Common Market for
Eastern and Southern Africa. It has additionally been at
the forefront of establishing a free-trade area under the
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
transport and communication ministers met,
for example, in Khartoum in October 2000 to address crucial
issues such as the implementation of regional air, road
and railway transport. (10)
Sudan's relations with Egypt are at their
best since the 1980s. (11) The two countries have established
a very constructive regional relationship. Until Sudanese
independence in 1956, Egypt and Sudan had essentially been
one country. Egypt still looks on Sudan as its hinterland,
and has long been concerned about the unity of its neighbour.
(12) The Egyptian foreign minister, Amr Moussa, has stated:
"There's now an openness in Sudan's government. It is prepared
to listen and negotiate and reach a vision for a new Sudan
that accepts all opposition factions." (13)
The warmth of Egyptian-Sudanese relations
were summed up by the Egyptian foreign minister on the occasion
of President Bashir's state visit to Egypt in 1999: Moussa
stated that "Egypt sees al-Bashir as the head of the Sudanese
state and as a representative of his country". Egypt and
Sudan were bound up, he said, by "eternal, special, historical,
and future relations". (14) The Egyptian Assistant Foreign
Minister, Mustafa al-Feqi, has also stated that Egypt and
Sudan have reached agreement on economic, trade, industrial,
agricultural, cultural and consular cooperation. Egypt has
dropped the requirement of an entry visa for Sudanese travelling
to Egypt. (15) It has vigorously thrown itself into finding
a peaceful solution to the Sudanese conflict, outlining
plan designed to secure a comprehensive political
settlement of the Sudanese conflict. This peace initiative
called for a permanent cease-fire, and a national peace
conference. Sudan immediately accepted the Egyptian-Libyan
proposals. (16) Feqi also stated with regard to the Libyan-Egyptian
"We are launching this mediatory initiative
on consent by the legitimate government and the northern
and southern opposition...I believe that if they sit down
together at the negotiating table, the two sides will certainly
reach agreement." (17)
Sudan and Egypt have also formed a joint business
council, made up of 40 members (20 from each side) to encourage
private investment and trade exchanges between the two countries.
Sudanese-Ethiopian relations are also very
warm. In May 2001, Sudan and Ethiopia signed economic and
political cooperation agreements including the envisaged
establishment of a free trade area between the two countries.
(19) It was also announced in November 2000 that Sudan will
be exporting oil to Ethiopia, and that an oil pipeline linking
the two countries was being considered. (20) In December
1999, Ethiopia and Sudan agreed to open to traffic the road
linking Azezo, Metema and Gedarif. Some 118 of the 175 kilometre
road linking the Ethiopian-Sudanese border to Gedarif has
already been completed, as has 50 of the 187 kilometre road
from Azezo to Metema. (21) March 2000 Sudan and Ethiopia
stated that their countries' ties were "now much stronger"
than they were in early 1990s. The two governments announced
that they had signed agreements on cooperation in political,
security, trade, roads, communications, agriculture and
other spheres. (22) Work also began in May 2000 on the Doka-Gallabat
road link between Sudan and Ethiopia. (23) Additionally,
plans have now been made to link Sudan and Ethiopia by rail.
(24) The railway will link Port Sudan on Sudan's Red Sea
coast with Ethiopia's southern-most town of Moyale. (25)
Sudan's relationship with Eritrea has also
normalised. In January 2000, Eritrea and Sudan resumed diplomatic
relations with each other. (26) In October 2000, the Presidents
of Sudan and Eritrea pledged bilateral cooperation in political,
security, economic and cultural fields. (27)
And, in May 2001 Sudan and Uganda announced
the restoration of diplomatic relations after a six year
It is a matter of record that Sudan has worked
hard to address conflicts within the region. The Sudanese
government mediated during the Eritrean-Ethiopian conflict,
and the new President of Somalia has publicly thanked Sudan
for the role it has played in rebuilding Somalia and supporting
peace and stability within that country. (29)
It is clear that Sudan has established a leadership
role for itself within its region. For Sudan to be at the
heart of regional groupings such as COMESSA, COMESA and
IGAD clearly underlines the role it is playing in securing
political and economic stability within northern and eastern
Africa. Political moderation and common sense have triumphed
over failed American attempts at regional destabilisation.
Several years of building up closer political, diplomatic
and economic relationships with its neighbours have resulted
in Sudan's presidency of IGAD and COMESSA and its close
involvement within COMESA. It is also evident that the Organisation
of African Unity, as well as most of the international community,
have noted the changes within Sudan, and Sudan's new relationships
regionally. This leadership role has been a success for
Sudanese and regional diplomacy.
The picture of Sudan as a destabilising influence
that distant commentators such as Eric Reeves seek to present
is in stark contrast to the reality. Sudan has become a
source of regional stability. The very economic boom that
has accompanied oil production in Sudan also serves to economically
stabilise the region. Yet this is the very stability that
Dr Reeves has sought to undermine. The obscenity of a well-fed,
middle-class white academic arrogantly stating that poor
black and brown Africans should not be able to develop their
economy, either nationally or regionally, and that they
should continue to live in poverty and famine, is all too
1 Eric Reeves, 'Who is involved...?', 14 February 2001,
Web Posted on Sudan-L@listserv.cc.emory.edu at 17:27:55
2 'Investors Fuel Humanitarian Crisis in Sudan', 'The Catholic
New Times', Toronto, 31 October 1999.
3 Eric Reeves, 'Silence on Sudan', 'The Chicago Tribune',
29 July 1999.
4 'Talisman Energy Says Study Disproves Sudan Allegations',
Dow Jones Newswire, 18 April 2001.
5 'Talisman Fights Back on Sudan Displacement Claims Releases
Aerial Images', The Financial Post, (Canada), 19 April 2001.
6 Statement by Dr Eric Reeves before the U.S. Commission
on International Religious Freedom, Washington-DC, 15 February
2000 available at http://www.uscirf.gov/hearings/15feb00/professor_reeves.htm
7 'The Return of the "Ugly American": Eric Reeves and Sudan',
European-Sudanese Public Affairs Council, London, November
8 'Sudan Heading for Improved Ties with Neighbours', News
Article by Agence France Presse on 21 February 2000.
9 'African Officials in Khartoum for Sahel-Sahara Meet',
News Article by Deutsche Press Agentur on 10 February 2001
at 18:21:00 EST.
10 'Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa Ministers
Head for Sudan', Times of Zambia, 18 October 2000.
11 'Sudan Heading for Improved Ties with Neighbours', News
Article by Agence France Presse on 21 February 2000. See
also See, for example, 'Kuwait-Sudan End Decade of Enmity
With Summit', News Article by Reuters on 14 February 2000
at 14:23:35; and Sudan's Beshir to Make First Visit to Kuwait,
Saudi Arabia Since Gulf War', News Article by Agence France
Press on 13 February 2000. 12 See, for example, statements
by Osama El-Baz, political adviser to Egyptian president
Hosni Mubarak: 'El-Baz: Sudan is the Strategic Depth of
Egypt', News Article by ArabicNews.com on 14 September 1999;
'Egypt Reiterates Backing for Sudan's Territorial Integrity',
News Article by Xinhua on 22 December 1999 at 20:22:38.
13 'Focus - Egypt's Moussa in Sudan to Discuss Peace',
News Article by Reuters on 4 January 2000 at 14:02:46.
14 'Egypt Hails Sudanese President's Visit', News Article
by Xinhua on 22 December 1999 at 20:24:41.
15 'Sudano-Egyptian Cooperation, Sudanese Reconciliation',
News Article by Agence France Presse on 20 May 2000.
16 See, 'Report: Sudan Accepts Egyptian-Libyan Peace Plan',
News Article by Associated Press on 24 August 1999 at 10:10:00;
'Sudan "Willing" to Enter Peace Talks, Newspaper Says',
News Article by Agence France Presse on 21 August 1999 at
11:32:43; 'War-Torn Sudan Takes Step Towards National Dialogue',
News Article by Reuters on 21 August 1999 at 11:35:11.
17 'Sudano-Egyptian Cooperation, Sudanese Reconciliation',
News Article by Agence France Presse on 20 May 2000.
18 'Sudanese, Egyptian Businesses Form Joint Council',
News Article by Panafrican News Agency on 24 November 2000.
19 'Ethiopia and Sudan Sign Cooperation Agreement', News
Article by Associated Press on 3 May 2001 2001 at 12:10:39
20 'Sudan Set to Begin Oil Export to Ethiopia', News Article
by PANA on 4 November 2000.
21 'Ethiopia, Sudan Agree to Open Roads', Addis Tribune,
Addis Ababa, 31 December 1999.
22 'Sudan, Ethiopia Say They Have Normalised Relations',
News Article by Agence France Press on 5 March 2000 at 15:14:30.
23 'Work Starts on Sudan-Ethiopia Road Link', News Article
by PANA on 21 May 2000.
24 'Ethiopia, Sudan to be Linked by Rail', News Article
by XINHUA on 8 January 2001.
25 'Railway Linking Port Sudan, Moyale in Pipeline', News
Article by PANA on 9 January 2001.
26 See, 'Sudan, Eritrea Resume Diplomatic Relations', News
Article by Panafrican News Agency on 4 January 2000.
27 'Sudan, Eritrea Pledge Bilateral Cooperation', News
Article by Agence France Presse on 5 October 2000 at 00:45:16
28 'Uganda and Sudan to Restore Diplomatic Relations',
News Article by Agence France Presse on 12 May 2001 at 09:39:52
29 'Somalia President Praises Sudan's Role in Supporting
Peace', Sudan TV, Omdurman, in Arabic on 4 December 2000
at 17:00 GMT.