Nucleus of a Germ

BAD OLDESLOE/JUBA (Own Report) |

BAD OLDESLOE/JUBA (Own Report) The foreign ministers of the European Union demand, under threat of sanctions in case of refusal, that Sudan disarm Arab militias. With that the EU follows the demands by the German government which seeks to increase German influence in Sudan with its Darfur policy. In the meantime, the designated autonomous South Sudanese government which is backed by Berlin's anti-Khartoum policy, has awarded the contract for a railroad line worth billions to the German company (Thormaehlen Schweisstechnik - Welding Engineering). A representative of the company confirmed to the editors that the project, carried out by the Germans, serves the development of huge, newly discovered natural resources in the South of Sudan, and is considered a nucleus of a future East African free trade zone. This will cause conflict with the oil interests of the Chinese People's Republic.

Taking the Initiative

Berlin succeeded with its efforts in the Darfur crisis to expand German influence in Sudan vis-à-vis the Anglo-American powers. The peace negotiations between the central government in Khartoum and the Southern Sudanese rebel organization SPLM/A (Sudanese People's Liberation Movement/Army), which have been taking place since June 2002 in Kenya, had initially been influenced by the United States and the former colonial power Great Britain. 1)The German government demands decisive action against Khartoum and has dominated the direction of the international debate in the Darfur crisis for months. 2)Critics noted that Kerstin Mueller, of the Foreign Office, openly considered action by German military forces in Sudan in late December of 2003. Shortly afterwards, at the beginning of 2004, Thormaehlen Schweisstechnik began to negotiate the construction of the railroad line between the Southern Sudanese city of Juba and the Kenyan port city Mombasa.

Against China

With the award of the rail road project, the German company prevailed over a Chinese one which also had applied for the construction of this transportation link. 3)The People's Republic of China has, for quite some time, sought to secure its growing need for energy with independent development of natural oil resources. Presently, Chinese companies are participating in the exploration of Sudanese oil fields and had taken part in the construction of a pipeline to the northern Sudanese Port Sudan, which is now being threatened with a bypass. The German foreign minister negotiated intensively with the Chinese government about the Darfur crisis during his recent visit to the Chinese capital. However, Beijing still refuses to agree to sanctions against Khartoum in the UN Security Council.

Connection

During a conversation with this editor, the representative of Thormaehlen explained that in the region of the South Sudanese civil war immense oil resources were discovered during the past five years along with extensive minerals (gold, diamonds) which, because of the fighting, could not be developed. According to most recent estimates it could be the second largest deposit in the world. ,,For two and one half years"a transport connection from Sudan's South to Kenya for the removal of raw materials, in order to avoid crossing ,,Arab-Islamic territory"in the north of Sudan is under discussion. The representative of the company confirms that the recently awarded railroad line Juba-Mombasa shall establish the ,,connection with the western oriented world". The German company states that in addition ,,there will surely be the continuation of a pipeline into the South".

Becoming Indispensable

In the meantime the plans for the railroad advance. The project is not only to open up oil fields but also to connect Southern Sudan with Kenya and Uganda, thus serving the creation of a western oriented economic region in East Africa. Thormaehlen Schweisstechnik explains to this editor that the plans - which began originally with 2,500 kilometers of tracks - now include 4,100 kilometers and ,,that this is only the beginning."Numerous additional projects (shipping on the Nile, telecommunication, etc.) are planned. ,,Most of those assume that North and South Sudan will separate"according to the company which is in direct negotiations with the Kenyan government and the leadership of SPLM/A. Thus, South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda plan a ,,free trade zone based on the European model". The German company plays a central role in this case: ,,Nothing can be accomplished without the railroad"according to Thormaehlen. The Kenyan press writes that this project lends itself ,,to changing the political and geographical landscape of the continent."

1) Sudan: Oelfirmen verstossen gegen Menschenrechte; www.hrw.org
2) See also earlier article Extensive Mineral Resources
3) German Consortium to Build Sh230b Railway; The East African Standard 19.07.2004