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an elderly Nuer survivor described to a journalist how some one thousand soldiers appeared following a pre-dawn aerial strafing of the village, in what he deemed was retaliation for the SPLA attack: “What happened is, the jallaba just walked into the village and opened fire, so everybody just ran.” When he emerged from hiding, he found his hut burned and at least one hundred people, about a tenth of the village’s population, dead. The northern soldiers shot his brother, caused many family members to disappear, razed Toyrat, and drove him and the other survivors away. Two of his children died of diarrhea and pneumonia as they fled before the family reached a refugee village near Nasir, 250 miles east of their home. “The jallaba [Arabs] are wanting the oil,” he said. “If the jallaba go away from there, we shall be rich.”193 A young Leek Nuer said he decided to join the rebels because his family and people were displaced by the Arabs in 1990: “Why do people disturb those who do not have guns?... Our place was close to the oil, near Yoinyang, to the west of Yoinyang,” not far from Bentiu. They were displaced by soldiers, not by the muraheleen: “The soldiers were looking for oil.”194 SPLM/A Split; Riek Machar Heads Breakaway Faction, 1991 In 1991, the SPLM/A was greatly weakened by the departure of three commanders and their troops, following an unsuccessful attempt to depose John Garang from SPLM/A leadership.
192 Jallaba is an Arabic term for merchant, trader, or importer; in nineteenth and twentieth century Sudan it applied to itinerant petty merchants. In southern Sudan it has the additional (historical) meaning of slave trader, and applies generally to all northern Sudanese. Jallabiya refers to their typical robe of white cotton.
193 Scroggins, “Sudan: Waiting for Majaa Reet Goach.” The interviewee also told the journalist, “The jallaba want us to move away from there. The oil was found that time by the white people. But it was not functioning well. The jallaba, he is fighting for the oil. He cannot leave the oil there. That is why he is fighting people there. And we also know the oil is ours. That is why there is heavy fighting.” Scroggins, Human Rights Watch telephone interview, Atlanta, May 15, 2000.
194 Former combatant, interview, August 3, 2000.
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and Gordon Kong Chuol of Nasir, Eastern Jikany (in Anyanya II before joining the SPLM/A in 1988).195 John Garang, who remained in command of the SPLM/A, was Dinka. Many of the troops following Riek Machar and Gordon Kong were Nuer, and the split in SPLM/A ranks was perceived as falling along Nuer-Dinka lines.
Following the coup attempt, both sides committed summary executions of soldiers and officers who happened to be in the wrong place, or of the wrong ethnicity, at the wrong time: i.e., Dinka soldiers were killed in territory controlled by the Nuer breakaway faction and Nuer were killed in mainstream SPLM/A territory.196 The dissidents under Riek Machar formed a separatist southern rebel movement initially known as the SPLM/A-Nasir. Its stated goal was independence for the south, rather than the united, socialist Sudan sought by John Garang. By virtue of the 1991 split, Riek Machar became a key player with regard to the oilfields in his home region. His rebel forces claimed all the rural land of Western Upper Nile, excepting the few garrison towns. He nominally controlled even the Bul Nuer area where Paulino Matiep was based; Paulino Matiep joined the breakaway faction because its goal was independence, also the goal of Anyanya II. While this turn of events, along with many others in the war, may seem illogical given Paulino Matiep’s previous relationship with the government, a partial explanation probably lies in the Sudanese government’s covert support for the breakaway faction, pursuant to its policy of ethnic divide and conquer.
195 The third commander, Dr. Lam Akol, is Shilluk. He has written about his experiences inside the SPLM/A in Dr. Lam Akol, SPLM/SPLA: Inside an African Revolution (Khartoum: Khartoum University Press, 2001).
196 See Nyaba, The Politics of Liberation in South Sudan, p. 94. Nyaba blames the breakaway faction for initiating these summary executions and the attacks on civilians that followed.
Neither the Riek Machar faction nor the Paulino Matiep militia ever attacked the Sudanese government.The clashes between Riek Machar’s forces and the SPLA, however, were frequent, bloody, and unsparing of civilians. The ethnic division was probably sealed in late 1991 by the “Bor massacre.”197 Each side was capable of quick guerrilla strikes against the other’s forces and civilian population. Each knew the terrain and could move quickly on foot. In 1993, the fighting between them so seriously affected the civilian population that it triggered a famine in the “Hunger Triangle” of Upper Nile.198 The Nuer-Dinka fighting on the West Bank of the Nile did not cease until the Wunlit West Bank Nuer and Dinka People-to-People Peace and Reconciliation Conference of 1999 (below).
After the split, traditional southern rules of warfare that were supposed to spare women and children were disregarded.199 Unfortunately for the civilians, the southern leadership (John Garang and Riek Machar) on both sides “reached for the ‘ethnic’ card—and from there the conflict spiraled downwards into numerous independent warlords (many armed by Khartoum), each preying upon one another’s civilian populations.”200 “Traditional” Nuer-Dinka clashes included only the young men who raided cattle, and fought with spears, with fights lasting no more than a few days. Retaliation by the loser would occur when the time 197 The Riek Machar faction and Nuer armed civilians (the White Army) conducted a massive series of raids into Dinka Bor County in Upper Nile, massacring about 2,000 civilians in the course of looting hundreds of thousands of cattle in 1991. Independent interviews at the time suggested that the raiders may have been partly inspired by perceived favoritism of the relief community, which was believed to be allocating more food to the Dinka than the Nuer. Douglas H. Johnson, The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil Wars (Oxford: James Currey, 2003), pp. 94-99.
198 Human Rights Watch/Africa, Civilian Devastation: Abuses by All Parties to the War in Southern Sudan (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1994), p. 146. The triangle was formed by the villages Ayod, Waat, and Kongor, all in Upper Nile on the Dinka/Nuer border on the East Bank of the Nile. The first two villages are Nuer, the third Dinka.
199 Jok Madut Jok and Sharon E. Hutchinson, “Sudan’s Prolonged Civil War and the Militarization of Nuer and Dinka Ethnic Identities” (Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, and University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1999), pp. 10-11. By some estimates this fighting, until it was brought to a close, was more deadly than the SPLA-Sudanese government fighting. Ibid.
200 Jok and Hutchinson, “Sudan’s Prolonged Civil War,” p. 6.
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was right, or the parties would reach a truce or settlement through their chiefs and sometimes through their prophets. From 1991, however, the bitterness caused by the killing of women and children led civilians on each side in the Nuer-Dinka border war to ask their armed men for support. 201 But once the rebel military forces were engaged in the local conflicts, it became very difficult to work out a truce between the chiefs.202 The latter had no jurisdiction over the rebels, who did not agree that they should pay compensation, the customary manner of settlement for homicide, raiding of cattle, and other damages.
The Riek Machar breakaway faction was supplied with arms and equipment by the Sudanese government from 1991 on, although it denied so at the time.203 The Riek Machar forces never attacked the government’s forces from 1991 until 1999. In 1993, according to one report, the government was negotiating with the Riek Machar group about the sharing of oil revenues, but no agreement was reached.204 By 1996, the Riek Machar forces had signed a political agreement with the government that provided for a southern referendum on its political future to be held four years from an indeterminate date, holding open the possibility of independence for the south. This 1996 agreement was a marriage of convenience, although tenuous. It was enough, however, to open the door to oil development.
201 Jok and Hutchinson, “Sudan’s Prolonged Civil War,” pp. 10-12. In fact, women and children had been killed in some Nuer-Dinka clashes long before 1991. But these tactics were not considered fair, and they were not the norm.
202 The subordination of the chiefs to the military had begun in the 1930s. D. H. Johnson, email, April 30, 2001.
203 Nyaba, The Politics of Liberation, p. 3. A RASS official said that they only received arms from the government from 1991-93.
RASS official, August 2000 (anonymity requested).
204 According to the Indian Ocean Newsletter, Khartoum sought 100 percent of the revenues for ten years and Cmdr. Lam Akol, representing the Riek Machar faction, proposed a 50-50 split of oil revenues for two years. No agreement on oil revenues was reached with this faction. “Sudan: Significant Air Crash,” Indian Ocean Newsletter (Paris), September 11, 1993.
Overview In 1992, Arakis Energy Corporation, a Canadian oil company, with its partner State Petroleum acquired Blocks 1, 2 and 4 of the much larger concession that had belonged to Chevron. Yet, although it succeeded in making several new oil discoveries and beginning shipments of crude oil to a domestic refinery, Arakis was never able to raise enough capital to finance the project on its own; it was charged with insider trading and failing to disclose material facts during an illusory funding scheme in 1995.
In April 1996, Riek Machar and another rebel commander signed a Political Charter with Khartoum, formally abandoning the rebel movement. This agreement neutralized the rebel forces in Western Upper Nile/Unity State that might have threatened the Arakis oilfields.
In December 1996, Arakis sold a 75 percent interest in its project to three state-owned oil companies (from China, Malaysia, and Sudan), with which it formed a consortium called the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC). In March 1997, GNPOC agreed to build a 1,540-kilometer pipeline from the oilfields to a marine export terminal on the Red Sea. Pipeline construction began in 1998 and involved a Chinese subcontractor and several European companies. The pipeline and the export terminal were to be owned by GNPOC.
In April 1997 the Sudanese government entered into the Khartoum Peace Agreement with Riek Machar’s forces and several other smaller rebel factions, but not the SPLM/A. Riek Machar was appointed president of the Southern States Coordinating Council (SSCC), to govern the south, and also headed a new army (SSDF) created from the former rebel armies that signed the Khartoum Peace Agreement. Paulino Matiep, who had joined his Anyanya II forces with Riek Machar’s breakaway faction
in 1991, was promoted to major general in the Sudanese army in 1998 and his militia, directly supplied by the government, was given a name: South Sudan Unity Movement/Army (SSUM/A).205 Forced population displacement in Western Upper Nile/Unity State started up again in 1992, with the sale of the concession to Arakis, and heated up further in 1996-97, with the signing of the Political Charter and the Khartoum Peace Agreement. The government launched muraheleen/army offensives that displaced thousands of civilians, particularly from the areas around the mostly Dinka villages of Pariang and in Ruweng County in general, in and near the Arakis oilfields. Insecurity and Sudanese government flight bans hindered humanitarian organzations’ operations in the area.
Relations with the U.S. worsened during the Arakis period. In 1993, the U.S. State Department designated Sudan as a country that supported terrorists, and U.S. President Clinton on November 3, 1997 signed an executive order imposing economic sanctions on any U.S. person doing business with Sudan.
Arakis Energy’s Struggle to Develop the Oilfields
Early Problems for Arakis, 1992-93 The Islamist-military government that took power in 1989 was determined to develop Sudan’s oil potential. In 1992, it prevailed upon Chevron to sell its rights in the concession.206 On June 15, 1992, eight years after suspending its operations in southern Sudan, Chevron sold its 42-million-acre (170,000square-kilometer) concession for an estimated U.S. $ 23 million to a private Sudanese oil company, 205 Hereinafter the SSUM/A will be referred to as the Paulino Matiep militia, in order to limit the use of acronyms.
206 Robert DiNardo, “Private Sudan Co. Buys Chevron Stake,” Platt’s Oilgram News (New York), June 16, 1992.
Concorp International.207 Concorp then sold off the exploration and production blocks to different companies. On December 7, 1992, the small Canadian company Arakis Energy Corporation announced that it had formed a partnership with State Petroleum Corporation, also based in Vancouver,208 and that the partnership had acquired Blocks 1, 2, and 4 of the Chevron concession from Concorp. 209 James Terrence Alexander, then chief executive officer of Arakis, called the project “the opportunity of a lifetime for a company like Arakis” because it could bring about its transformation from a small to a mid-sized, independent oil company.210 But the deal raised concerns from the press and the industry.