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George Clooney to Senate Committee: Engage With China Over Sudan

Clooney says unrest in Sudan is driving up oil prices all around the globe

George Clooney called Omar al-Bashir one of "the greatest war ciminals of this century by far," adding that the situation affects not only Sudan but U.S. domestic policy.

Speaking Wednesday morning to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Clooney — who just returned from an eight-day trip to the Nuba Mountains in eastern Sudan — said the Khartoum government of indicted war criminal al-Bashir is attempting a kind of ethnic cleansing.

And, he said, it is having a drastic impact on gas prices. The only way to get any meaningful leverage in the situation was to appeal to the international pocketbook, especially China’s, he said.

South Sudan has the oil, while North Sudan has the pipelines and refinery capacity. South Sudan shut off its oil production in late January in a retaliatory move against its Northern neighbor.

As a result, China lost 6 percent of its oil supply, which drove up oil prices around the globe.

What’s more, said Clooney, China invested $20-billion in South Sudan oil infrastructure from which it is now getting nothing.

Clooney said, “Take this moment to engage with China,” by sending a high-level envoy.

He himself had tried to gently shame Beijing into doing more for Sudan before the 2008 Olympics, but that didn’t work.

Cloonely suggested “tightening the noose around Khartoum,” by targeting its bank accounts, similar to what occurred to various despots in the Arab Spring. “Make Khartoum a very lonely place,” the actor said.

A longtime activist on Sudan issues, Clooney said the population there is subject to daily indiscriminate bombings from the air. He witnessed children filled with shrapnel, and a 9-year-old boy who had his hands blown off. They have taken to hiding in caves.

He played a video that he made with John Prendergast, founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project. In one scene the actor stands over a dead body splayed out on the arid ground.

“How man bodies before the Nuba Mountains become the next Darfur,” he asks in the voiceover.”

Clooney noted that he was away for the “Stop Kony” video phenomenon but suggested that social media is a good way to keep light on these issues, especially when the public may be suffering from “misery fatigue.”