This looks like a job for AFRICOM.
From the Financial Times: US investor buys Sudanese warlord’s land. (h/t to b, and to b real for his extensive research)
A US businessman backed by former CIA and state department officials says he has secured a vast tract of fertile land in south Sudan from the family of a notorious warlord, in post-colonial Africa’s biggest private land deal. …
… In contrast to land deals between foreign investors and governments, Mr Heilberg is gambling on a warlord’s continuing control of a region where his militia operated in the civil war between Khartoum and south Sudan.
“You have to go to the guns, this is Africa,” Mr Heilberg said by phone from New York.
Jarch Management Group is linked to Jarch Capital, a US investment company that counts on its board former US state department and intelligence officials, including Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador and expert on Africa, who acts as vice-chairman; and Gwyneth Todd, who was an adviser on Middle Eastern and North African affairs at the Pentagon and under former president Bill Clinton at the White House.
Laws on land ownership in south Sudan remain vague, and have yet to be clarified in a planned land act. For this reason, some foreign experts on Sudan as well as officials in the regional government, speaking on condition of anonymity, doubted Mr Heilberg could assert legal rights over such a vast tract of land. …
Mr Heilberg is unconcerned. He believes that several African states, Sudan included, but possibly also Nigeria, Ethiopia and Somalia, are likely to break apart in the next few years, and that the political and legal risks he is taking will be amply rewarded.
Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Somalia, are all primary targets of interest for AFRICOM, all are targeted for “nation building” and for training proxy militaries.
“If you bet right on the shifting of sovereignty then you are on the ground floor. I am constantly looking at the map and looking if there is any value,” he said, adding that he was also in contact with rebels in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, dissidents in Ethiopia and the government of the breakaway state of Somaliland, among others.
This is what is important to remember. As b at Moon of Alabama writes:
An political connected outfit like Jarch will not make such an investment when it is not sure that it can push the U.S. government to protect it.
This looks like work for AFRICOM, and those nation “building” mercenaries employed by the State Department and the Pentagon, the same ones who have done so much for the Iraqi people, and for America’s image in Iraq.
The lease agreement was also described in the Sudan Tribune:
“Jarch has leased approximately 400,000 hectares gross of prime farmland from General Paulino Matip. In addition, Jarch will acquire more farm land within Southern Sudan,” said a statement issued by the investment group.
The statement also noted that Mayom county, where the farmland was leased, contains some mineral resources, for which contracts will be executed by the Government of Southern Sudan in early 2009.
There was another story about this in the Financial Times: Quest to create a new Sudan bread basket.
Unity state does border the White Nile and its flat, arable land could, with billions of dollars of investment in irrigation and roads, be transformed into a world-class bread basket.
Mr. Heilberg has no problem with war, violence, and death.
Mr Matip fought with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement against the northern army before gaining notoriety during one of the bloodiest episodes in Sudan’s civil war, when he switched sides to form his own militia, with backing from parts of his Nuer tribe and the Khartoum regime.
“I am sure Paulino has killed many, but I am sure he did it in protection of his people,” Mr Heilberg says in his defence.
Which is very convenient and, of course, makes everything OK.
Mr Matip’s son Gabriel, who controls the company in which Jarch has bought a majority stake, told the Financial Times that he had negotiated with tribal leaders to secure access to more land.
He said the company also had written agreement for the agricultural development of the land, and other land it may secure in the south of the country, from the ministry of agriculture and forestry in south Sudan.
This means that people, who are likely illiterate, are being cheated out of their traditional lands, lands that have been in their clans and families for centuries. Written contracts backed up by guns and “law” will make that certain. Based on how this works in other places, it will have particularly adverse effects on women, who generally have some economic protections under traditional property practices. When these practices are “westernized”, women lose that traditional protection and get nothing in return.
Now ask yourself why the U.S. is fighting terror in Somalia.
Who might have financed the tanks and other weapons from the Ukraine with destination to South Sudan and captured by Somali pirates?
And who finances the Safe Darfur campaign that wants the U.S. to militarily intervene in Sudan?
Mr. Heilberg, Joe Wilson and the investors who pay them are obviously ruthless about the consequences of their enterprise. But it is certain that this will end in war which will have to be endured by the people living on the fertile land Mr. Heilberg leased.
Why is such behavior still or again considered legal?
AFRICOM was designed for just such purpose. This is the “stabilization” and “nation building” that are more traditionally and more accurately called colonialism and imperialism.
On the Jarch Capital LLC website, with Africa highlighted in red, pictured above, it says: Because it is YOUR Land, YOUR Natural Resources!
Mr. Heilberg shows his true intentions and true contempt for Africans when he says: “You have to go to the guns, this is Africa”
Added May 2009:
New York investment firm mulling more land leases in S. Sudan
16 April 2009
Jarch Management Group, Ltd., a US investment firm, disclosed that it is considering additional opportunities to lease large tracts of farmland in Southern Sudan.
This report follows the announcement in January of a massive lease agreement that prompted some tension within governing circles in Southern Sudan.
In an apparent change of course from oil investing to agriculture, Jarch Management took a 70% interest in the Sudanese company Leac for Agriculture and Investment and leased approximately 400,000 hectares of land claimed by General Paulino Matip, a figure now straddling a deep fissure within the Sudan People’s Liberation Army.
In a statement emailed to Sudan Tribune today the company disclosed that it aims to lease another 400,000 hectares of land by the end of the year.
“Since its January 2009 announcement that it had leased about 400,000 hectares, the Company has had a multitude of offers to buy and lease farmland from around the world,” said a statement from the management of the company.
“However, the Company is focused on frontier African countries and continues to look for opportunities in farmland and other natural resources in these countries. As such, the Company hopes to conclude more deals for more leased farmland. The Company is hopeful that it can lease at least another 400,000 hectares of land by the end of the year.”
South Sudanese law requires that large leases of land be approved by two local government bodies. Accordingly, a January statement from Leac Company noted that the acquisition would include dealings with local land authorities and stressed that “the state and local governments shall have budgets for development because of the cash flows from the agricultural schemes the two companies will operate.”
While U.S. companies are banned from doing business in Sudan, agriculture in Southern Sudan is exempted from sanctions provided that the national government does not have any stake in the business and provided that no imports or exports pass through non-exempt areas.
Jarch Management Group, Ltd, which is registered in the Virgin Islands, is managed by New York investor Philippe Heilberg, commodities traders and former State Department and Central Intelligence Agency officials, among others.