Monday, September 04, 2006

Sudan: Is the Khartoum regime moving for the final solution in Darfur?

A few weeks ago (Aug 24th) I left a comment re: Darfur at the Berlin-based Atlantic Review blog authored by my buddy Jörg Wolf and two other Fulbright Scholar alumni. The blog focuses on news and issues affecting German-U.S. bilateral relations and we (the expert readers) often get off subject over at Jörg’s place but the Atlantic Review team is very tolerant. The AR post is titled “The Evolution of Resurging German Power” and below is an excerpt from one of my comments to Jörg’s post:

“What I am hinting at in my previous comment is that none of us, especially EU nations and the Arab League countries, China, Pakistan, and a long list of other nations can say a damn thing about assisting the people of Darfur and southern Sudan. It is already too late, the ethnic cleansing and rampage of murder and rape and other atrocities against these people has reached the end game to the tune of perhaps 500,000 lives. The final death toll will be much higher because Darfurians will die of disease and
illness and neglect for years to come just as over 4 million Congolese have since their 2nd civil war of 1998. Millions of people in Darfur are displaced from their homes and villages living in the worst conditions imaginable and under constant threat of rape and death while the regime in Khartoum leads the international community around on a leash of inaction and fear threatening a wider Jihad than we are facing now in much of the Middle East and at the Horn of Africa (Somalia).”

“What can any of us say to the people of Darfur or do on their behalf now that will make a difference in their lives? It is too late. Never again has happened yet again and we let it happen without doing anything to stop it. The United States government has been calling for harsh sanctions and military intervention since 2003-2004 but it has fallen on deaf ears both at the U.N. and in Brussels and Strasbourg. Darfur should be of very special signifigance (and shame) to the people of Germany, and I think you know why.
Berlin could have done a lot more than offer military troop transport and paltry financial assistance to the African Union mission to Darfur, but to date it hasn't and Germany's policy toward Sudan will not change in the near future. After all, Sudan is a potentially lucrative source of oil and natural gas to nearby Europe. Being an African-American, I have an especially bitter fire in my gut re: the atrocities carried out in southern Sudan and in Darfur at the hands of an "Arabized" Islamic black elite in Khartoum and the Janjaweed militias. Amre Moussa of the Arab League was right, the Gates of Hell have been opened and will not be easily closed again.”
Although Jörg and I disagree on several issues re: U.S.-German relations, on the matter of Darfur we stand shoulder-to-shoulder. We are both outraged about the crisis in Darfur and in southern Sudan and deeply disappointed and confused that our respective governments and other nations around the globe have not stepped-in to help provide the necessary security for the people of Darfur and the many organizations who are desperately trying to help alleviate some of their suffering. Jörg writes about this in his November 2005 post “Genocide: U.S. calls for more sanctions against Sudan, but Germany sees business” and his May 01, 2006 post “Rallies to help Darfur across the United States. And in Germany?

Admittedly, many of us around the world who say we care about this crisis have tended to wash our hands of this complicated and seemingly hopeless situation. Darfur is seldom a headlines story in the international press or a breaking-news story in TV news today; it’s easy to move the suffering in Darfur and the rest of Sudan to the backburner while we concentrate on a cornucopia of misery and war and danger from other parts of the globe. This is what the murderous regime in Khartoum has been counting on, that we would look away and try to forget.

This week the GoS (Government of Sudan) has decided to move for the end game, the final solution to their problem with the black Africans occupying the valuable land over the oil and gas fields of western Sudan, in Darfur. News reports from several international media outlets report that Khartoum has begun a new offensive in Darfur, sending in more than 10,000 well-armed troops and national police to cleanse the province of rebel militias and their supporters. Various experts on the crisis and international NGO’s have dreaded this very action, warning for months and months that such a move by the GoS is simply a ploy to help the regime exert total control over the lives of millions of IDPs living in the squalid conditions of refugee camps and millions more Darfurians who do not have any shelter or safety at all. The end game scenario in Darfur has arrived, and the “international community” is poised to repeat the failures of Rwanda and The Balkans and the DR Congo yet again. What will we tell the people of Darfur when it is over, the ones that survive? That we are sorry???

Below I've listed some of the latest news articles about Darfur and Sudan. Over the next days I will post again about this crisis and list reports, press releases, and online multimedia presentations about Darfur that might help all of us decide what we can do, and what we want and demand our governments, the UN, and the Government of Sudan to do about Darfur___ and do it in a damn hurry. If the UN and the "international community" can get 15,000 troops into Lebanon so fast, then they can get troops into Darfur just as fast. Time for the desperate people of Darfur has run out.


UPDATE September 5th:

More and more bloggers around the globe are picking up on the plight of the people of Darfur after this latest outrage from Khartoum. Jörg sent me an email with a link to a heated discussion over at the European Tribune post What Now for Darfur?. Here is an excerpt from the comments thread for that post (ref: comment by Metatone 4.00/2):

What can be done? Well, we could engage in some "liberal hawking" and stage a NATO invasion. But, the killer is not winning the invasion, but what happens next. Short of setting up a separate state, it's hard to see how an invasion will solve the friction between the central government of Sudan and those in this southern area. And do we have the political capital and goodwill to go and create a new country after an invasion? Or indeed the strategic reserve of troops to do it whilst holding down commitments in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon (plus minor engagements elsewhere)?

I think not.


Which is easy to type when you don't live in Darfur, but I don't see any good solutions. I'd like to see a much stronger diplomatic effort, but I think it will fail because China has no interest in recognizing the rights of minorities (c.f Tibet) and besides neither China nor Russia have many reasons to trust the West, it seems at the moment.


Thanks for all the comments below folks and a special welcome to the new iAbolish blog author Sarah. See the iAbolish.org website for their feature AASG on the Ground: Sudan. iAbolish is part of the AASG (American anti-Slavery Group).

I smell smoke, don't you? Perhaps bloggers worldwide really can build enough momentum in the blogosphere and the media to Stop al-Bashir.

Latest news about Darfur and the UN-AU Peacekeeping Crisis

The Head Heeb
Catch-22 in Darfur - Aug 31, 2006

Washington Post
Darfur Rebels Say Government on Attack – Sep 03, 2006
Obama Visits Sudanese Refugees in Chad – Sep 02, 2006
Sudan President Claims West Conspiracy – Aug 29, 2006

BBC News
Sudan wants peacekeepers to leave - Sep 04, 2006
Darfur tests international resolve – Sep 04, 2006

Times Online (U.K.)
Darfur villages burn as army tramples on UN peace plan – Sep 03, 2006

Reuters
Sudan says AU can stay in Darfur but not under UN – Sep 04, 2006
Russia criticizes hasty UN resolution on Darfur – Sep 04, 2006
UN’s Sudan peacekeeping could cost 1.7 billion a year – Sep 01, 2006
UN votes for UN force in Darfur; Sudan says “no” – Aug 31, 2006

The Standard (Kenya)
The voice of reason in Sudan peace negotiations – Sep 03, 2006

China’s Peoples Daily – Aug 31, 2006
China calls for comprehensive, lasting peace in Sudan’s Darfur region


Global Day for Darfur – September 17, 2006
A coalition of humanitarian organizations from the U.S. and U.K. are organizing a global day of action worldwide to support the people of Darfur. Please help them by visiting their website and signing the petition to call for U.N. action in Darfur.


Source: Day for Darfur coalition (
www.dayfordarfur.org)

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16 comments:

Adam said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you. Rwanda was the great shame of the UN, the US, the UK and the world media and yet here we are again about to repeat our mistakes, with a painful impotency.

And no-one seems to care either!!

I'm not sure how to do trackbacks, but I've blogged my concerns at
www.adamwestbrook.co.uk

Black River Eagle said...

My new visitor, Adam, has a good post about the Darfur crisis also. I encourage my readers to check it out. Below is my response to Adam's post and I think there may be a good idea in there. The world's best bloggers and the media need to gang-up on Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and his regime in Khartoum in such a way that world opinion becomes totally outraged, demanding immediate change to Sudan's policies and actions in Darfur.

"Thanks Adam for stopping by my place and leaving a comment on my most recent post about the Darfur crisis. Your post is informative and well-written also. Maybe someone should organize a Global Blogathon for Darfur ASAP so that the world's best bloggers and writers can get the Call for Action Now out to the people who have the power to do something. It might just bring the murderous regime in Khartoum (and their many supporters) to their knees!"

Joerg said...

"a Global Blogathon for Darfur ASAP"

Good idea. That would be the blogospheric support for the Darfur Day. I'll see what I can do. If we are lucky it will spread on the blogosphere.

iAbolish said...

Hi Bill,

Thanks for your comment, and for the heads-up on Technorati.

There's a fantastic San Francisco Chronicle piece about the failure of Darfur activist groups and Western governments to take effective action against the government in Khartoum that ran on Sunday. It's still available on the SF Chronicle's website here:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2006/09/03/ING0TKT56V1.DTL

We'll be blogging some further commentary later today over at iAbolish...

Best,

Sarah @ iAbolish

Joerg said...

One the one hand creating more awareness is good.
On the other hand there is already a lot of awareness, but awareness is not enough.

I think most or all of our readers want to see an end to the Darfur crisis.

But what is the solution?
What kind of action are we advocating?

Rapid deployment of UN troops without approval from Khartoum?
UN Mandate (Chapter VII) to disarm the Janjaweed? Bomb the Sudanese army? Regime change?
What kind of military committment would be needed for that?
Are we prepared to deal with attempts of "ethnic cleansing in reverse", if a UN force does regime change?

What realistic and fast course of action shall we advocate?

What are the Darfur experts suggesting?

Black River Eagle said...

Jörg, take a look at that San Francisco Chronicle op-ed piece by John Molino, founder of the Darfur Pledge, that Sarah has recommended. Morino's article titled "Darfur activists are much too polite about genocide" is a hammer and a wake-up call for activists and concerned citizens the world over re: what we should do next about Darfur.

Basically, Morlino is saying that it is time to "take off the gloves and raise Hell", hit the streets and put some real pressure on our national and international leaders to bring an end to the violence in Darfur and southern Sudan. Read it, he makes some very good points in that article.

Thanks for the Heads Up on the SF Chronicle piece, Sarah. Again, good luck with you new blog.

Black River Eagle said...

Oooops! That's MORLINO. John Morlino. M-O-R-L-I-N-O.

Drima @ The Sudanese Thinker said...

Hi there, great post you've here. It's so good to see so many people caring about the plight of my people.

It pains me to say that we're on the verge of a disaster.

I appreciate what you said and I agree with it all but there's another side to it that very very few people are aware of.

Consent or no consent, there will still be war. A military solution might work but only in the short term. In the long term, Sudan could possibly turn into another Iraq. Either way, we can't sit back and watch this disaster happen.

I'll be dropping by again for sure.

Joergq said...

I have read that article.
The author says the activists should be tougher in their campaigns, but he does not say what the activists should ask their governments to do.

What should the international community do?
Bomb Khartoum? Then what?

Try to disarm the Janjaweed? How many troops do you need for that?

Regime change?

Are we prepared to deal with attempts of "ethnic cleansing in reverse", if a UN force does regime change?

Save heavens?

What realistic and fast course of action shall we advocate?

What are the Darfur and military experts suggesting?

I will write about Darfur soon, but I would also mention some suggestions by the experts.

And what do you think of Drima's concerns?

Black River Eagle said...

To Jörg @ The Atlantic Review:

Below is my comment (cross-posted) to the September 6th post at Drima's blog titled "Omar al-Bashir and the NCP: Dragging America & the West into a Hostage Situation". John Morlino's article at the SF Chronicle (ref: iAbolish blog links) is directed at an American audience in an election year. Morlino is no expert on Sudan or Darfur, nor does he pretend to be. Bombing Khartoum??? Who's suggesting that we bomb Khartoum and invade Western Sudan... and who do you mean by "We"?? However, a naval blockade to cutoff the country's oil exports/arms imports and establishing a No-Fly & Drive Zone over the Darfur region ain't a bad idea. EU and AU troops of course, no Americans. The U.S. has a serious "image and credibility problem" in the region.

To Drima @ The Sudanese Thinker:
http://www.sudanesethinker.com/

First of all Drima I want to thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment re: my latest post on Sudan (Darfur). Do a search at the blog and you will see that I have written a great deal more about the crisis in Darfur, especially in the years 2004-2005.

Second, it is really great to see a Sudanese blogger joining us here in the blogosphere. I will do my best to stop by as often as possible to checkout your work here. It is especially interesting to discover a Sudanese blogger who lives and studies in Malaysia, a country with a thriving blogger community and some of the world's best known blog authors.

Re: General Omar al-Bahsir and the present Khartoum regime

You can drop the phrase "international community" in your references to parties who are actively involved in trying to find solutions for the crisis in Darfur unless you are referring to the handful of international agencies and governments that have been in there from the start attempting to assist the people of Darfur and work with the GoS and the various militia groups to come to a peace agreement that works for everyone. The vast majority of the world's governments and inter-governmental bodies have for the most part remained silent, offered only rhetoric and meaningless gestures, or are actively involved in supporting the GoS in their campaign of ridding Darfur of the troublesome residents who have put up some resistance to Khartoum's policies of ethnic cleansing and of course the millions of innocent people who were simply trying to scratchout a decent living on the parched earth of Western Sudan.

The United States government and more importantly the people of the United States have taken the lead since 2003 in pressuring the GoS and its supporters to back-off those suffering women and children in Darfur, followed closely by the government of the U.K. and perhaps a dozen or so other countries and the relevant U.N. agencies and the A.U. President Omar al-Bashir and the NCP have lost all credibility on the international stage of multi-lateral and bi-lateral relations and are in great danger that their biggest supporters (China, Russia, the Arab League, etc.) will turn against them to save their own hides (economically & politically speaking). That is where we are today in my opinion and not the reverse as you suggest in this post about America & the West being in a "hostage situation".

I'm certain the al-Bahsir is seeing spooks and spies and enemies behind every bush at the moment, not realizing that his greatest enemy has always been his distorted vision for the future of Sudan that clearly favors prospertiy for the very few at the cost (in lives and treasure) of the many. Once enough people inside Sudan and within the Sudanese diaspora come to this realization, the walls of power will collapse on top of Bashir and his regime.

The question is, are we (the so-called international community) willing to sacrifice even more lives in Darfur and the south of Sudan by continuing to do next-to-nothing to stop the killing and rapes and pillaging, or should we give the process (regime implosion in Khartoum) a little push? Remember, the international community allowed the Sudanese Civil Wars to rage for more than two decades. What's a few more months and years to wait before any substantial action is taken in Darfur?

Adam said...

A global blogathon sounds like a great idea! We need to get people talking and caring about what's going on.

There's also a good blog at http://hellonearth.wordpress.com which is putting up some excellent stuff.

I've also dug up some of my old radio broadcasts on the situation and stuck them on my page.

Thanks again for checking out my blog!
Adam

Joerg said...

@ Black River Eagle

"Bombing Khartoum??? Who's suggesting that we bomb Khartoum and invade Western Sudan... and who do you mean by "We"??"

Nobody in particular.
I am just bothered by the thousands of advocacy folks, who say "Do something", "Stop the genocide", but they don't make any specific suggestions.

"However, a naval blockade"

For land locked Sudan?

Black River Eagle said...

Thanks for the additional info Adam. I'll checkout that new blog "Hell on Earth" as you suggested and will also check back at your blog regularly.

@Jörg:

I believe many around the world share your frustration with the "We gotta do something! We gotta do something!" approach to the crisis. I'm tired of it too.

The first thing that needs to be done is to get that new UN Resolution 1706 up and running ASAP, with or without Khartoum's consent. A huge increase in well-trained and well-armed troops need to be on the ground ASAP, in and around those camps, to protect the people of Darfur. Whether they are UN peacekeepers, NATO, U.S. military, or whatever at this point really doesn't matter. What is totally unacceptable is the massive increase in GoS military forces and police and militia in the region that has taken place in the past few weeks. We already know what their mandate is: increase the death & destruction until there is total submission of the survivors to the Khartoum regime's brutal rule.

BTW: Sudan is not a land-locked country. Double check the maps over at the University of Texas libraries or at the ReliefWeb site.

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/sudan.html

A blockade of Port Sudan would of course would be considered an act of war against the regime and the supporters of the regime across the country. It would cutoff the demand-supply chain of oil for cash and weapons that continues to prop-up Bahsir's government. The Chinese and Russians would be absolutely livid with rage, as would other countries depending on that oil to fuel their economic growth.

A naval blockade would certainly be an attention-getter forcing certain stakeholders and players to get serious about finding a resolution to the crisis, OR it could be the trigger to increased violence against the people in the Darfur region and in the south of the country. In other words, the whole region could explode again into wider cross-border conflicts and open warfare.

Therefore, it is most likely an option that is presently NOT on the table for consideration by any government, NATO, or the UN.

Joerg said...

"BTW: Sudan is not a land-locked country."

Dammnit. That was embarrassing. I really thought Eritrea would fill the coastline till Egypt. Shame on me.

My apologies.

Black River Eagle said...

That's O.K., it's hard trying to remember the geography of a continent as large as Africa. I bet you that very few readers can name all 54 countries in Africa and identify them on a map... or is that 55 countries if you include the self-declared Republic of Somaliland?

Nonetheless, the University of Texas-Austin Perry Casteneda Library map collection has really beefed-up their Sudan maps database since that last time I visited. Some other interesting maps in the collection are those showing confirmed damaged and destroyed villages across the Darfur region, and the 2001 map of Sudan oil and gas concession holders. There appears to be only one major pipeline connecting the oil fields in the south to Port Sudan. Hmmmm, that's interesting.

Joerg said...

I had learned the names of all African countries their capitals and their location on a map in 8th grade. Apparently I forgot more than I thought.