No Blood for Oil – EU Soldiers out of Chad!

France is about to lead an EU military mission to Chad. It is being presented as a "humanitarian" mission. In reality it is part of a conflict between the major imperialist powers, among them China, for control of the country's resources. It is part of a wider picture involving all the major powers fighting for control of Africa's wealth and it is the duty of workers in all countries to oppose this.
© 2006 Dismal World. Some Rights Reserved.
Soldiers of the Sudan People's
Liberation Army (SPLA)

Under the leadership of France 3700 EUFOR troops of the EU plan to go to Chad as soon as possible. The official aim of the mission is to protect refugee camps in the east of the country. In reality a bloody war is taking place in the whole of Chad between rebel forces backed by the Sudanese government and China on the one hand and the government of Chad helped by the French army on the other hand. Last weekend the war even reached the capital of Chad, where heavy fighting took place.

There can be no doubt about the fact that France is connected to the government of her ex-colony Chad. The EUFOR Mission claims it is playing a neutral role in Chad but the French army is directly involved in the fighting by transporting government troops and carrying out aerial reconnaissance. In 2006 the government of Chad could only survive because the French Foreign Legion actively helped to crush the rebel assault on the capital. The President of Chad, Idriss Déby seized power in a coup in 1990 with the help of the French army. France has 2000 soldiers based in Chad and uses the country as her biggest air force base in the Sahara. Officially Chad is a "bourgeois democracy" but according to Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index for 2005 it is the most corrupt country in the world.

Chad Map

It must be made clear to the public that the countries supporting the EUFOR Mission, such as Ireland, Belgium, Sweden, Austria, Rumania and Poland are not doing humanitarian work, but are taking part in a dirty imperialist war. It must also be underlined that three countries taking part in the mission, Ireland, Austria and Sweden are supposed to be "neutral", and are bound by their constitutions not to take part in wars.

It is true that there are 250,000 refugees in Chad that fled from Darfur, the western Province of Sudan and a further 170,000 refugees who fled from different parts of Chad. Reports of the western media give the impression that the refugees from Darfur are people who are deployed by the Janjaweed militias supported by the Sudanese government and China. In reality the refugee catastrophe is the consequence of a civil war in Darfur between the Janjaweed militias on the one hand, and the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) supported by the USA on the other. Both the UN Coordinator for emergency assistance in crisis regions Jan Egeland and Amnesty International are of the opinion that the JEM and the SLA are driving people away from their homes.

The real reason for the so called "refugee catastrophe" is a proxy war between Chinese, US and French imperialism. It is the height of cynicism to use refugees that are the product of foreign intervention as an excuse for a new foreign intervention on the part of French imperialism, backed by the EU. Social democrats, Communists and Trade Unionists of all EU countries must point out that there would be no refugees in the whole of Africa without imperialist interference and foreign intervention.

The real reason for the conflict: A fight for Oil and influence?

The background for this worsening conflict in Sudan and Chad is the race of the imperialist powers for control over the local resources, of important raw materials. Because of the increasing price of oil the oil deposits in the Sahara, which are located very deep, have also become of great interest. 10% of worldwide oil resources are estimated to be found in Africa. Chad started oil production in 2003, which is acting as a magnet for the greed of the various imperialist powers. In 2002 the US declared that because of the increasing instability in the Middle East guaranteeing control over these oil reserves in Africa was a central strategic aim of its foreign policy. Up to 2015 the US aims to get 25% of its oil imports from Africa. The problem is that France and China are also showing a big interest in the future oil wealth in this region.

Janjaweed miltiaman
A Janjaweed miltiaman

The conflict in Chad and Darfur is only a small picture in a giant power race that is taking place in the whole of Africa between the main European imperialist powers, the US, and Chinese imperialism. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and until recently, the conflicts in Africa were dominated by proxy wars between France and the USA. The most brutal of these conflicts were the civil war in Rwanda in 1994 and the Congo War that is also referred to today as the "African World War" that started in 1996. According to the International Rescue Committee 5.4 million people died in this war, more than in any other conflict since the Second World War. We have dealt with these conflicts in more detail in other articles (see below).

Idriss Déby
The president of Chad, Idriss Déby

Now the scenario has changed for two reasons. On the one hand French imperialism has lost almost all its proxy battles against the US and has in reality been forced to capitulate to US imperialism. On the other hand a new strong player is gaining more and more influence in Africa: China. China already imports 30% of its oil from Africa, mainly from Somalia, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan. But this is only a small beginning. Hu Jintau the President of China has visited 17 African states in Africa to reinforce economic, political and military relations. 800 Chinese companies operate in Africa and more than 100,000 Chinese people have moved to Africa in the last few years, many of them in order to become farmers. It is also clear that China is providing military support to African countries and is involved directly in some countries with troops. For example it is estimated that there are 10,000 Chinese soldiers in Sudan who are officially there as "railway building workers". The growing influence of China is the main reason why at the moment the EU and the USA are working together in Africa against the new strong "enemy".

The power race that is currently taking place in Africa is similar to the end of the 19th century when Africa was first divided up between the great powers, and more and more conflicts were developing between the great powers. It is interesting to note that when French and British imperialism came close to a war in Africa this was in Sudan - in 1899 during the so called "Faschoda Crisis". As in the 19th century, it is again in Sudan where Chinese, US and French imperialism have their biggest confrontation. Now the United States is trying to dismember Sudan. They do not only want to break away Darfur but also the Christian South, where the US supported Southern Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) has been fighting for independence for years. This is because Darfur and the Christian South are the regions of Sudan were the oilfields are located.

Socialism or Barbarism

The situation that imperialist intervention has created in Africa since the fall of the Soviet Union can only be described as barbarism. The present level of violent conflict has not been seen since the Second World War. Maybe the most similar situation we can think of in history is the 1618-1648 Thirty Years War in Europe. There is not only war across the whole continent but also a breaking down of economy, society and of whole states described as "failed states" by the bourgeois media. Epidemics and plagues are haunting the continent, and whole regions are being depopulated. A so-called war economy of gangster capitalists and warlords ‑ beyond the control of any state, just like in the painting of the famous Wallenstein in the Thirty Years War ‑ is linked to militias, mercenaries and to the world market, which dominates the continent. Plunder, rape, deployment of troops and war are at the root of a special economic system linked to the world market and to imperialism: the economics of barbarism.

The only force that can end this bloodshed and misery is the working class. The workers of the imperialist countries, of the EU, the USA and of China must fight against the military intervention of their countries in Africa. The working people of Africa, who have shown in big strikes in South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt their potential to struggle, have no choice but to struggle against imperialism and against the corrupt African elites and local stooges of imperialism in order to nationalize natural resources, infrastructure, trade and industry under their own democratic control.

Map of Northeast Africa highlighting
the Darfur region of Sudan.

Only the overthrow of capitalism can prevent Africa from sinking more and more into barbarism. We should raise the slogan of "Not a soldier - not a single cent for the EUFOR-mission". We must demand the immediate end of this military mission and the end of any assistance to the warring parties.

We should raise within the trade unions and socialist/labour/communist parties a campaign to stop the sending of any further troop and the delivery of fresh supplies for the EUFOR troops. Enduring peace, stability and prosperity are not possible under imperialist domination and capitalist exploitation. The nature of the ruling elites of ex-colonial countries like Chad show that no genuine independence is possible unless the workers and the exploited masses take their destinies into their own hands. Genuine independence can only be achieved by destroying the foundations of economic dependence on the imperialist powers. This is only possible through the nationalisation of the natural resources, infrastructure, trade and industry under the democratic control of the African working people.

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