Without swift passage of the Sudan Peace Act, in its House version, American capital will continue to finance the oil-driven destruction of southern Sudan. For example, Malaysia’s state-owned Petroliam Nasional Bhd., more commonly known as Petronas, is the second largest participant in the oil projects of southern Sudan. It is thus massively complicit in the catastrophic human destruction, displacement, and suffering that define oil exploitation in the south. Today, Dow Jones new service reports that Petronas is finalizing a $2 billion bond offering—$1 billion to come from US investors. This means that $1 billion of US capital will be directly available for the financing of further genocidal destruction in the oil fields of southern Sudan. Because the Sudan Peace Act remains stalled in the Senate, new US capital will flow directly into the killing fields of the south.
Eric Reeves [May 14, 2002]
Northampton, MA 01063
There may be no American oil companies in southern Sudan; but without legislative intervention, massive additional American capital will soon be moving into the oil operations of southern Sudan. Malaysia’s Petronas is in the midst of finalizing a bond offering for $2 billion, $1 billion to come from US investors—possibly as much a $1.5 billion. This is capital that Petronas may use however it wishes. Once the capital is secured, there is nothing that meaningfully governs how it will be expended. For whatever end uses may be specified, capital obtained in a bond issue is completely fungible within the corporate coffers.
Petronas is the second largest partner in the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company, the producing consortium that now sends roughly $500 million annually to the National Islamic Front regime in Khartoum. These revenues have funded Khartoum’s huge military build-up, including its ongoing acquisition of deadly helicopter gunships (mainly from Russia). These weapons—including the ferociously destructive HIND-24 helicopter gunship—are Khartoum’s weapon of choice in attacks on civilians, attacks that are continuing at this very moment.
[A new human rights report—“Depopulating Sudan’s Oil Regions”—was issued today by the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan; it confirms yet again, in authoritative detail, the findings of the many previous human rights reports from southern Sudan’s oil regions: that ongoing scorched-earth warfare defines Khartoum’s efforts to clear and “secure” the oil operations and concession areas for companies like Petronas. The report is available from this source upon request.]
The infamous attack on Bieh is worth recalling in the context of Petronas’ present securing of $1 to $1.5 billion in US capital. Bieh is in the very center of concession Block 5a, where Petronas has as its partners Lundin Petroleum (Sweden) and OMV (Austria). In Bieh, on February 20, 2002, Khartoum’s helicopter gunships directed rockets and heavy machine-gun fire into thousands of women and children gathered to collect food from the UN’s World Food Program. Khartoum had been apprised of the food delivery; it was broad daylight and the UN distribution site was well marked; there were no military forces in the area. And still the helicopter gunship fired from point-blank range, killing over 50 and wounding many, many more. All this was witnessed by UN relief workers.
This is what American capital will be funding if the Petronas bond issue is allowed to proceed. Petronas supplies Khartoum with the oil-revenues that make possible its deadly military purchases; Petronas, in turn, expects that it will be rewarded with oil concession areas cleared of all indigenous populations.
According to a Dow Jones newswire report of today (“ASIA DEBT: Petronas May Expand Jumbo Bond Offering”; available upon request), the American firm Morgan Stanley Dean Witter is sole global coordinator for the deal—and joint bookrunner, along with Salomon Smith Barney. So it’s hardly surprising that Wall Street political action committee (PAC) money is flooding the Senate and the White House, opposing the Sudan Peace Act. For the Sudan Peace, in its House version, would prevent precisely this kind of American-led financing of the oil-driven destruction of southern Sudan. Wall Street is presently determined to avert its eyes from the consequences of further capitalizing of companies like Petronas, and is content to look simply at the profits derived from such bond issues.
Americans—if they oppose US capital flowing into the killing fields of southern Sudan’s oil regions—must work energetically to oppose this particular bond issue for Petronas; they should be sure that their investments portfolios do not contain Petronas bonds. But more importantly, they must work to convince Senate leaders that it is intolerable to keep the Sudan Peace Act from proceeding to conference with representatives of the House (we are rapidly approaching the one-year anniversary of the votes on the bill in the House and Senate). Concerned Americans must contact not only the Senate Republican leadership (coordinates below), but the Senate Majority Leader, Tom Daschle (coordinates also below).
For Senator Daschle, as Senate Majority Leader, has most to say about the agenda of the Senate. If some Republicans, and perhaps some Democrats, oppose conferencing the Sudan Peace Act, then Senator (and aspiring Presidential candidate) Daschle must make debating the conferencing motion a Senate priority. Such a motion is a debatable under Senate rules; Senator Daschle must feel the necessary pressure to include this debate in the immediate future of the Senate’s business.
Finally, the White House must also be put on notice that its efforts to impede conferencing of the Sudan Peace Act are not going unnoticed. Though working quietly and behind the scenes, the White House is clearly pressuring Republican Senators not to allow the Sudan Peace to go to conference. It is important to let President Bush know that publicly uttered strong words about Sudan’s suffering are not enough: we must have an effective policy for pressuring Khartoum to negotiate a just peace. This requires the tools provided by the Sudan Peace Act.
The Sudan Peace Act has only a couple more weeks of legislative viability. Some in Congress, and in the White House, are already expediently using the Danforth Report as an excuse for not moving the Sudan Peace Act at all, even though the weak proposal in the Report for oil revenue-sharing has already been categorically rejected by Khartoum. Publicly expressed concern for Sudan, by Senators and the White House, doesn’t yet extend to making the political choices that may offend some on Wall Street, but are morally imperative if we are to respond to Sudan’s agony.
There should be no mistaking the political, financial, or diplomatic realities: unless oil companies operating in Sudan feel significant capital market pressures, they have no incentive to move Khartoum to good faith peace negotiations. They will instead continue to extract their blood-stained profits from the suffering and destruction of southern Sudan. Only the Sudan Peace Act will prevent US capital from becoming complicit in this ghastly state of affairs. Diplomatic pressure on Khartoum will not alone be sufficient to force meaningful participation in a peace process.
This is the very last opportunity to use American capital market leverage for peace in Sudan. In less than a month, given the larger legislative calendar and the looming reality of November elections, there will be no further opportunity for moving the Sudan Peace Act. Americans who care about a just peace in Sudan must act now on the moral imperative to prevent American capital from funding genocide.
Senate Democratic (majority) leadership:
 Senator Tom Daschle, Senate Majority Leader
509 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-3602
Email via website:
Senate Republican (minority) leadership:
 Senator Trent Lott, Senate Minority Leader
487 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-2403
 Senator Don Nickles, Senate Minority Whip
133 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-3602
Email via website:
 President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
The White House Phone Numbers
White House E-Mail Address: for President George W. Bush firstname.lastname@example.org