The winter of Bashir’s discontent
by Keith Harmon Snow
After some weeks of back and forth discussions and me revisiting notes and photos to see what I had, I sent them an email at the definitive moment, when they were hoping to receive a brief “dossier” about the specific case – which they said “had generated a lot of interest” at the ICC – and I shared my uncertainty about the ethics of collaborating with an “International Criminal Court” that was only indicting Black Africans.
I indicated my concern for the witness “Sandrine,” a young girl discussed in my story who named names of commanders, dates of executions, and who herself used a machete in an ethnic massacre and was raped by militiamen. I noted that witnesses identified for the Rwandan Tribunal (ICTR) had been murdered or mysteriously disappeared and noted my awareness of the injustice of the tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda and the disconcerting trajectory of the ICC.
I told them I couldn’t in good conscience help them, it seemed, until the ICC arrested some of the white-collar war criminals running loose around the world. It was the right decision, in light of the recent ICC indictments against another Black man, and an Arab at that. It was a very stupid career move, someone else remarked.
On March 4, 2009, the ICC prosecutors announced that they were at last issuing the long threatened but first ever indictments against a sitting head of state, Omar al-Bashir, the Arab president of Sudan. Meanwhile, Somali “pirates” off East Africa recently freed a Ukrainian ship with a Panamanian registration, a Ukrainian crew and flag of Belize: The freighter carried tanks, rockets and munitions destined for Darfur, and it is owned by an Israeli “businessman” and reputed Mossad operative named Vadim Alperin.
It is difficult to make sense of the war in Darfur – especially when people see it as a one-sided “genocide” of Arabs against Blacks that is being committed by the Bashir “regime” – but such is the establishment propaganda. The real story is much more expansive, more complex, and it revolves around some relatively unknown but shady characters. What follows is a short and imperfect summary of some of the deeper geopolitical realities behind the struggle for Sudan.
The politics of war crimes
First note that the ICC can now be viewed as a tool of hegemonic U.S. foreign policy, where the weapons deployed by the U.S. and its allies include the accusations of, and indictments for, human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity. To understand this, we can ask why no white man has yet been charged with these or other offenses at the ICC – which now holds five Black African “warlords” and seeks to incarcerate and bring to trial another Black man, also an Arab, Omar Bashir.
Following on the heals of the announcement that the ICC handed down seven war crimes charges against al-Bashir, a story broadcast over all the Western media system and into every American living room by day’s end, President al-Bashir ordered the expulsion of 10 international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Darfur under the pretense of being purely “humanitarian” organizations.
What has not anywhere in the English press been reported is that the United States of America has just stepped up its ongoing war for control of Sudan and her resources: petroleum, copper, gold, uranium, fertile plantation lands for sugar and gum Arabic – essential to Coke, Pepsi and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. This war has been playing out on the ground in Darfur through so-called “humanitarian” NGOs, private military companies, “peacekeeping” operations and covert military operations backed by the U.S. and its closest allies.
However, the U.S. war for Sudan has always revolved around “humanitarian” operations – purportedly neutral and presumably concerned only about protecting innocent human lives – that often provide cover for clandestine destabilizing activities and interventions.
Americans need to recognize that the administration of President Barack Obama has begun to step up war for control of Sudan in keeping with the permanent warfare agenda of both Republicans and Democrats. The current destabilization of Sudan mirrors the illegal covert guerrilla war carried out in Rwanda – also launched and supplied from Uganda – from October 1990 to July 1994. The Rwandan Defense Forces (then called the Rwandan Patriotic Army) led by Major Gen. Paul Kagame achieved the U.S. objective of a coup d’etat in Rwanda through that campaign, and President Kagame has been a key interlocutor in the covert warfare underway in Darfur, Sudan.
During the presidency of George W. Bush, the U.S. government was involved with the intelligence apparatus of the Government of Sudan (GoS). At the same time, other U.S. political and corporate factions were pressing for a declaration of genocide against the GoS.
Now, given the shift of power and the appointment of top Clinton officials formerly involved in covert operations in Rwanda, Uganda, Congo and Sudan during the Clinton years, pressure has been applied to heighten the campaign to destabilize the GoS, portrayed as a “terrorist” Arab regime, but an entity operating outside the U.S.-controlled banking system. The former campaign saw overt military action with the U.S. military missile attacks against the Al-Shifa Pharmaceutical factory in Sudan (1998): This was an international war crime by the Clinton administration and it involved officials now in power.
The complex geopolitical struggle to control Sudan manifests through the flashpoint war for Darfur and it involves such diverse factions as the Lord’s Resistance Army, backed by Khartoum, which is also connected to the wars in the Congo and northern Uganda. Chad is involved, Eritrea and Ethiopia, Germany, the Central African Republic, Libya, France, Israel, China, Taiwan, South Africa and Rwanda.
There are U.S. special forces on the ground in the frontline states of Chad, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and the big questions are: 1) How many of the killings are being committed by U.S. proxy forces and blamed on al-Bashir and the GoS? And 2) who funds, arms and trains the rebel insurgents?
United States Agency for International Devastation
Rebels? Insurgents? The drumbeat of Western propaganda portrays the conflict as a one-sided affair: a “genocidal counter-insurgency by the GoS” – in the words of Eric Reeves – versus the good Samaritans of the “humanitarian” NGO community … and throw in a few (non-descript) rebels.
“Sudan ordered at least 10 humanitarian groups expelled from Darfur on Wednesday after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the country’s president,” wrote Associated Press reporter Ellen M. Lederer. “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the action ‘represents a serious setback to lifesaving operations in Darfur’ and urged Sudan to reverse its decision, U.N. deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.”
However, when Ban Ki-moon met with Rwandan strongman Paul Kagame recently, he never called for Kagame’s arrest, no matter the findings of two international courts of law that have issued indictments against top RPA officials. Instead Ban Ki-moon praised Kagame and called for African countries to hunt down and arrest Hutu people purportedly involved in the now specious “genocide” in Rwanda in 1994.
The non-governmental aid groups ordered out of Darfur by President al-Bashir on March 4 were Oxfam, CARE, MSF-Holland, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, the Norwegian Refugee Council, the International Rescue Committee, Action Contre la Faim, Solidarites and CHF International.
Large “humanitarian” NGOs (and “conservation” NGOs) operate as de facto multinational corporations revolving around massive private profits and human suffering. In places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Darfur these NGOs also provide infrastructure, logistical and intelligence collaboration that supports U.S. military and government agendas in the region. Most are aligned with big foundations, corporate sponsors and USAID – itself a close and long-time partner for interventions with Africom and the Pentagon.
Refugees and displaced populations are strategic tools of statecraft and foreign policy just as “humanitarian” NGOs consistently use food as a weapon and populations as human shields. The history of the U.S. covert war in South Sudan is rich with examples of the SPLA and its “humanitarian” partners, especially Christian “charities,” committing such war crimes and crimes against humanity. (See: Keith Harmon Snow, “Oil in Darfur? Special Ops in Somalia?” Global Research, Feb. 7, 2007.)
CARE International has received funding from Lockheed Martin Corp., the world’s largest and most secretive producer of weapons of mass destruction, and both CARE and Save the Children are tied up with weapons and extractive industries in other ways. A peak at the board of directors of Save the Children makes it clear why the U.S. media is so devoid of truth about Darfur.
Similarly, the International Rescue Committee does not work with refugees, per se, but serves as a policy and pressure group involved in funneling private profits from the West back to the West. The IRC has also been cited for involvement in military operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and it has deep ties to people like Henry Kissinger.
The AID (read: misery) industry in Sudan was by the mid-1990s the largest so-called “humanitarian” enterprise on the planet, Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) – a form of managed inequality and a temporary and mobile economy of white privilege, adventurism and, of course, good will (sic). The misery industry shifted its focus from South Sudan to Darfur after a pseudo peace “treaty” was organized to end the decades old war between the SPLA and GoS; the U.S. and Israel backed the SPLA from 1990 onward and continue to do so at present. The result of more than 12 years of illegal U.S. covert low-intensity warfare in Sudan resulted in the creation of the independent and sovereign state of South Sudan in circa 2005 – a state dominated by Jewish and Christian faith-based interests and Western multinational corporations.
Much of the AID infrastructure in Sudan has at one time or another been used as a weapon through the use of human shields, food deliveries to refugee populations inseparable from insurgents and shipments of weapons by “humanitarian” NGOs. This is both incidental and deliberate policy. Christian “relief” NGOs played a huge role in supporting the covert Western insurgency in South Sudan. One notable “humanitarian” NGO involved in weapons deliveries was the Norwegian People’s Aid (known affectionately in the field as the Norwegian People’s Army).
In Darfur, Sudan, the U.S. government agenda is to win control of natural resources and lever the Arab government into a corner and, at last, establish a more “friendly” government that will suit the corporate interests of the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and Israel.
Several major think tanks – read: propaganda, lobbying and pressure – behind the destabilization of Sudan include the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, Center for American Progress, Center for Security Policy, International Rescue Committee and International Crisis Group. Individuals from seemingly diverse positions of the political and ideological spectrum run these organizations, which are ultra-nationalist capitalist organizations bent on global military-economic domination.
The former Clinton officials most heavily focused on the destabilization of Sudan include Susan Rice, Madeleine Albright, Roger Winter, Prudence Bushnell, Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, Anthony Lake and John Prendergast. Carr Center for Human Rights co-founder Samantha Power, now on the Obama National Security Council, has helped to whitewash clandestine U.S. involvement in Sudan.
John Prendergast has continued to peddle disinformation disguised as policy and human rights concerns through the International Crisis Group (ICG) and through its many clone organizations like ENOUGH, ONE and RAISE HOPE FOR CONGO. Prendergast has been a pivotal agent behind the hijacking of U.S. public concern and action through the disingenuous – and discredited – SAVE DARFUR movement.
Other notable agents of disinformation on Sudan include Alex de Waal and Smith College Professor Eric Reeves. It is through these and other conduits to the corporate U.S. media that the story of “genocide” in Sudan is cast as an Africa-Arab affair devoid of Western interests.
In 1992, human rights researchers Rakiya Omaar and Alex de Waal established the London-based NGO African Rights. In August 1995, African Rights published “Rwanda: Death, Despair and Defiance,” one of many pivotal “human rights” reports that falsely represented events in Rwanda, set the stage for victor’s justice at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, and began the process of dehumanizing millions of Hutu people and protecting the true terrorists: Yoweri Museveni, Paul Kagame, the Rwandan Patriotic Army and their Western backers.
The man for a new Sudan
The pivotal intelligence asset working on the ground in Sudan to destabilize and overthrow the Government of Sudan (GoS) is Roger Winter – profiled very disingenuously in the seven-page New York Times Magazine feature story of June 15, 2008.
“When Roger Winter’s single-engine Cessna Caravan touched down near the Sudanese town of Abyei on Easter morning, a crowd of desperate men swamped the plane,” Griswold wrote. “Some came running over the rough red airstrip. Others crammed into a microbus that barreled toward the 65-year-old Winter as he climbed down the plane’s silver ladder. Some Sudanese call Winter ‘uncle’; others call him ‘commander.’”
Winter’s special post at the State Department was created specifically for him and his “work” in Sudan. Why do Sudanese people in South Sudan call Roger Winter “commander”?
Roger Winter is the primary conduit for the ongoing covert destabilization of Sudan. His operations are run primarily out of Uganda, with the terrorist government of Yoweri Museveni providing support through the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) alliance with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).
The SPLA is the de facto backbone of the Sudan Liberation Army, one of the main so-called “rebel” factions involved in Darfur; the Pentagon provides military and logistics support to the SPLA via Uganda through unknown channels, but most likely involving the nearby Pentagon client states of Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Chad and Eritrea.
The primary Ugandan agents supporting the U.S. war in Darfur have always been, and remain, Brigadier Gen. James Kazini, a nephew of Ugandan dictator Museveni and the chief of staff of the Ugandan People’s Defense Forces (UPDF); Gen. Salim Saleh, half-brother of Museveni; and President Yoweri Museveni himself.
One of the main protagonists in the Darfur conflict is the current military regime in Rwanda, whose troops have been involved in Darfur under the guise of an “independent” and “peacekeeping” operation under the African Union “peacekeeping” umbrella – backed by NATO and private military companies.
Little known and widely misunderstood is the role of the United States and its proxies, the UPDF and the RPA, in committing massive crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide during the Rwandan conflagration, 1990 to 1994. Prior to the RPA invasion of Rwanda (from Uganda) in October 1990, the RPA and Rwandan Tutsi Diaspora had publications like Impuruza, published in the United States between 1984 and 1994 – when the RPA achieved the coup d’etat against Rwandan President Habyarimana.
Tutsi refugees joined Roger Winter, who was at the time the director of the United States Committee for Refugees, to help fund the publication. The editor, Alexander Kimenyi, is a Rwandan national and a professor at California State University. Like most RPA publications, Impuruza circulated clandestinely in Rwanda amongst Hutu and Tutsi elite and it peddled a genocidal ideology against Hutu people.
The Association of Banyarwanda in Diaspora USA, assisted by Roger Winter, organized the International Conference on the Status of Banyarwanda (Tutsi) Refugees in Washington, D.C., in 1988, and this is where a military solution to the Tutsi problem was chosen. The U.S. Committee for Refugees reportedly provided accommodation and transportation.
The devil came in a helicopter
Roger Winter was one of the primary architects of the RPA guerrilla war, organized from Washington in 1989, that has led to the loss of more than 10 or 12 million lives in the Great Lakes of Africa since 1990. Winter acted as a spokesman for the RPF and their allies, and he appeared as a guest on major U.S. television networks such as PBS and CNN. New Yorker writer Philip Gourevitch and Roger Winter made contacts on behalf of the RPA with American media, particularly the Washington Post, New York Times and Time magazine.
Roger Winter moved through Rwanda during the RPA invasion and worked the front lines of the covert war as a key Pentagon and U.S. State Department asset in collaboration with the Kagame RPA operation of terror. From 1990 to 1994, Winter traveled back and forth from the RPA controlled zone to Washington, D.C., where he briefed and coordinated activities and support with U.S. military, intelligence and government officials.
Roger Winter is also a staunch supporter of U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, one of the leading U.S. Democrats who was pressing for action to “stop genocide” in Darfur, Sudan. Payne sponsored the Darfur Genocide Accountability Act and he was arrested in June 2001, along with John Eibner, director of Christian Solidarity International, for protesting against the GoS.
Christian Solidarity International has a very subversive relationship to “peace” and “religion” in Sudan, and they have been one of the frontrunner organizations peddling the accusations of slavery by the al-Bashir government, in particular; a highly contested and controversial issue generally inflated and manipulated by fundamentalist Jewish and Christian NGOs and missionary organizations, like Christian Solidarity International, Samaritan’s Purse, Servant’s Heart and Freedom Quest International, that operate in Sudan.
“Roger Winter was the chief logistic boss for [RPA] Tutsis as early as mid-1990,” says Ugandan human rights expert Remigius Kintu, “and until their victory in 1994 they were operating from 1717 Massachusetts Aven. N.W. in Washington, D.C. Roger Winter told a [name deleted] South Sudanese exile at the time : ‘I have now stabilized Rwanda and will turn my full attention to Sudan.’ Winter subsequently closed up shop in Rwanda and based himself in Kampala working on Sudan. A few years later, Darfur exploded and with Winter’s manipulations, Rwanda was the first to send troops into that troubled area. From my sources, the Rwanda Defense Forces [working under the African Union umbrella] have killed civilians and brought in their media experts to pile the blame on Sudanese government troops.”
This is exactly what the Kagame and Museveni terror apparatus has done in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Much of the terror operations of the UPDF/RPF in Rwanda in the 1990s were covered up by Human Rights Watch experts Alison Des Forges (d. February 2009) and Timothy Longman, associate professor of Africana Studies and Political Science at Vassar College.
Similarly, throughout the long war in South Sudan, and now in Darfur, the atrocities committed by the U.S.-backed factions were and are downplayed, dismissed or ignored, while those committed by competing factions are amplified and spotlighted. Also, following the pattern of UPDF and RPA criminal activities – such as massacres committed under disguise and/or attributed to the “enemy” – for which there is now a long history of documentation, and given the lack of any true independent evaluation, there is no telling who actually committed the massacres always blamed on the GoS or “Janjaweed” militias.
One Sudanese professional from the South told me recently that it was not the government of Sudan but rather the UPDF and SPLA who were arming the Janjaweed – the so-called Arab militias accused of wanton killing in an Arab-against-Black genocide. (This Arab-on-Black genocide has been widely discredited.)
Professor Timothy Longman and Alison Des Forges co-produced the fat treatise on “genocide” in Rwanda, “Leave None to Tell the Story,” published in 1999. Longman and Des Forges produced numerous documents – based on field investigations in Congo (Zaire), Rwanda and Burundi from 1995 to 2008 – touted as independent and unbiased human rights reports but always skewed by hidden interests. Both Longman and Des Forges had relationships with the U.S. Department of State, National Security Council and Pentagon, both were regular consultants with USAID and they certainly worked with Roger Winter, the Pentagon’s secret weapon in Sudan.
The MV Faina is registered in Belize, owned by a company registered in Panama and piloted by Ukrainians. The MV Faina carried 33 Soviet T-72 battle tanks, grenade-launchers, anti-aircraft guns and ammunition en route to Mombasa, Kenya, the Pentagon’s primary base on the east coast of Africa.
The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet monitored the Ukrainian ship during the four-month standoff, with the MV Faina pinned down by at least six U.S. and four European warships. The ship’s owner is Israeli national Vadim Alperin (alias Vadim Oltrena Alperin), said to be a Mossad agent involved with clandestine activities through offshore front companies and money laundering. The ship was unloaded in Mombasa on Feb. 12, and the weapons are destined for Juba, South Sudan.
There are reports that weaponry also included tank munitions heads sporting deadly depleted uranium and that the final recipients are the Israeli-backed Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) “rebels” in Darfur. Sudan has previously accused Israel of supporting “rebels” in the Darfur war. International arms syndicates and dealers routinely transfer “Soviet-era” arms for international organized crime, including covert military operations involving proxy militias and national governments in Sudan, Uganda, Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda.
Keith Harmon Snow is a frequent contributor to Op-Ed News, where this article first appeared. To learn more, visit his website, All Things Pass, and Friends of the Congo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.