Friday, September 29, 2006

New York: As U.S. pressure on Sudan grows top UN officials stab Darfur in the back

In an amazing turn of events two top UN officials recently have expressed reservations about sending in UN peacekeepers to Darfur effectively retreating on the demands put forth in the UN Security Council Resolution 1706 and backstabbing global efforts to get security forces into the Sudan in order to protect millions of displaced refugees. According to a news article at BBC News online Jan Pronk, UN Special Envoy to Sudan has stated that the UN should abandon efforts to send in a UN peacekeeping force and instead increase funding to the African Union mission. In a statement to the Associated Press Professor Johannes Pieter Pronk said,

"The international community should instead push for the African Union's mission to be prolonged and reinforced," Mr Pronk is quoted as saying. He said the AU force's mandate should be extended indefinitely to ensure relief continued to reach Darfur's refugees. Mr Pronk is quoted as saying he was certain Khartoum would allow the AU force to stay on in Darfur. World leaders, he said, must guarantee more funds for the AU so it can carry out necessary peacekeeping work. "Otherwise, we're shooting ourselves in the foot each time," he said. "Our first priority must be to help the people of Darfur."

In a further shocking development, outgoing
UN Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown (chief of staff for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annanas) has lashed out at the U.S. and U.K. governments in an attempt to lay blame for the UN’s failures in Darfur at the feet of President George W. Bush and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair. During an exclusive interview with the U.K. newspaper The Independent Mark Malloch Brown claims,

Nowhere are the new limitations of US power today more exposed than over Darfur, where Washington has used the word "genocide" to condemn the scorched earth policies of the Sudanese government against the people of Darfur and the rebel groups who hide among them. But, says Malloch Brown, in their outrage the US and the UK are, "out there alone and it's counter-productive almost".

"Sudan doesn't see a united international community. It doesn't see its oil customers [China and Russia] or its neighbours in that front row. And that allows it to characterise themselves as the victims of the next crusade after Iraq and Afghanistan. So Tony Blair and George Bush need to get beyond this posturing and grandstanding. The megaphone diplomacy coming out of Washington and London: 'you damn well are going to let the UN deploy and if you don't beware the consequences' isn't plausible. The Sudanese know we don't have troops to go in against a hostile Khartoum government; if Sudan opposes us there's no peace to keep anyway; you're in there to fight a war. It's just not a credible threat."

What is needed instead is two things: "a carefully-modulated set of incentives and sanctions which Sudan needs to understand" and a diplomatic coalition to back them.

Khartoum wants four things: "the normalisation of their relations with the US, UK and others; an opportunity to deploy their new oil wealth and exercise global diplomatic and economic influence; a UN deployment that will increase their authority as the national government of Sudan and not undermine it; and a way of handling the International Criminal Court indictments laid against members of the Khartoum government which they all feel very threatened by. Those are the kind of issues which the Sudanese need to hear a positive message on.

"But in the other pocket there need to be the sanctions. And those pluses and minuses need to be echoed not just by a group of Western leaders but by a much broader cross-section of countries that Sudan respects and trusts. That's what we're now trying to orchestrate. We've been working very hard on getting China to be part of the next set of diplomatic demarches to put pressure on the Sudanese. We're working on how can we bring the major states within the Arab League and the African Union more into frontline diplomacy."

Meantime, he says, the West could do with matching its moral indignation with cash. The food aid pipeline to three million hungry people in Darfur is still $300m short of what is needed. And the African Union peacekeeping forces in the region - inadequate but the only game in town - isn't properly financed till the end of the year. Western governments, he says, "have really taken their eye off the ball on this".

There you have it from the U.K.’s very own
Mouth of the South, Mark Malloch Brown, a rat leaving a sinking ship if ever there was one. Brown is obviously more interested in saving his tarnished legacy at the United Nations than saving lives in Darfur, a mission where he and his UN colleagues have failed miserably. Did I mention that Mark Malloch Brown is a son of Africa, born 1953 in the British Colony of Southern Rhodesia?

Meanwhile, back in the United States of America and from various corners around the globe pressure on the Government of Sudan and its cadre of international backers (
the Arab League, China, Russia, etc.) has been steadily building. From the pages of the New York Times (a full page ad) to the halls of the U.S. Congress, from the Canadian capital of Ottawa to the Norwegian capital Oslo, politicians and civic leaders and ordinary world citizens are demanding action on the crisis in Darfur with or without the permission of the Khartoum regime. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has recently thrown down the gauntlet at the feet of Sudan President Omar al-Bashir (aka Omar the Butcher) according to a September 27th Voice of America news report:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday Sudanese authorities will be held responsible and "bear the consequences" if they continue undermining efforts to reinforce peacekeeping operations in Darfur. In a Washington speech, she said the Khartoum government is at a crossroads in its future relations with the United States and the rest of the international community.

State Department officials billed the speech to the
Africa Society as a major address on Sudan. And the message to the policy group included some of the strongest language to date about implications for the Khartoum government if it continues to reject the upgrade of the African Union observer mission in Darfur into a full-fledged U.N. peacekeeping operation.

The U.S. State Department VOA news article goes on to say:

She called on the Khartoum government to "immediately and unconditionally" accept a U.N. peacekeeping force in Darfur, as called for in a Security Council resolution at the end of August.
Rice said the Khartoum government, which has refused the U.N. force as a violation of its sovereignty, faces what she termed a "clear and consequential decision" and a choice between cooperation and confrontation.

She said it if chooses cooperation and welcomes the U.N. force into Darfur it will find a "dedicated partner" in the Bush administration. But she said if remains defiant on the peacekeeping issue, it will be headed for international isolation.

"If the Sudanese government chooses confrontation, if it continues waging war against its own citizens, challenging the African Union, undermining the peacekeeping force, and threatening the international community, then the regime in Khartoum will be held responsible, and it alone will bear the consequences of its action," she said. "The international community must make clear to the leaders of Sudan that this is the choice they face."

Two days after Secretary Rice’s speech before the Africa Society U.S. lawmakers from the
Congressional Black Caucus held discussions over Darfur with diplomats and ambassadors from 11 Arab and Muslim African countries and with the People’s Republic of China ambassador to the United States Zhou Wenzhong. VOA News reported on the meeting between U.S. African-American lawmakers and the Arab League’s diplomatic corps in Washington D.C. and I quote:

In what some described as tough discussions, members of the Congressional Black Caucus spent more than an hour behind closed doors with ambassadors and diplomats from Arab countries.
Attending, according to congressional aides, were Egypt's ambassador to the United States,
Nabil Fahmy, and the Arab League ambassador to the U.S., Hussein Hassouna. Also, diplomats from 10 other countries, including Jordan, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Mauritania, Morocco, Djibouti, Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia [were in attendance at the meeting].

Donald Payne, a New Jersey Democrat told VOA the lawmakers had, in his words, "drawn our line in the sand" regarding the need for urgent Arab government pressure on the Khartoum government to allow a 20,000-strong U.N. force into Darfur: "We reiterated our feeling that the Arab League has the power, and the authority, and the relationship with the government of Sudan to move [Sudan president] Bashir. If anyone can do it, they can and we asked them to go back to their capitals, (send) a message to their capitals, send a message to Bashir that he has to change his ways," he said.

Payne said he and others were "not diplomatic" in delivering a message that Khartoum's objections to a U.N. force may ultimately not prevent a U.N. force from deploying to Darfur. He adds there was a clear difference of opinion on the issue of Sudanese sovereignty, cited by Khartoum and the Arab League as a barrier to a U.N. force. "The support the Arab League gives to Sudan reflects I think as much in its policies for good as it may be for inaction, and what we are saying in this meeting, very affirmatively and very strongly, [is] we want an active Arab League, actively and aggressively approaching the Khartoum government that they have to change because people are dying," said
Sheila Jackson Lee (Democrat – Texas), who was among lawmakers participating in the meeting.

Note: links to external online resources in articles above have been added by author

Hmmmm. I like Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice’s approach better than Pronk & Brown’s backsliding tactics for conflict resolution. How about you, my readers? Should the UN make another worthless deal with Omar al-Bashir on Darfur, or should the U.S. & Co. offer him a deal he can’t refuse?


UN News
UN Security Council Resolution 1706 (full text and press release)
Security Council hears proposal to revive 'nearly dead' Darfur peace plan (SC/8833)

VOA News – 09/27-29/06 - text, audio and video
Rice Warns Sudan of ‘Consequences’ for Refusing Darfur Force
U.S. Lawmakers Press Arab Governments, China on Darfur

BBC News online
UN must drop Darfur peace effort – 09/29/06

The Independent online (U.K.)
Exclusive interview: In defence of the United Nations – 09/29/06

U.K. Guardian newspaper online – 01/12/05
Meet Kofi Annan’s right-hand man (profile of Mark Malloch Brown)

Congressional Black Caucus of the 109th U.S. Congress
Congressional Black Caucus – Wikipedia

CBS 60 Minutes – Yahoo! News Online Special – 09/24/06
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on 60 Minutes
Video segments, exclusive interviews, and viewer comments

PBS Frontline
Interview with Egypt ambassador to the U.S. Nabil Fahmy – Sep 2001

Diplomatic Traffic
Profile on Arab League Ambassador to the U.S. Dr. Hussein Hassouna
Arab League: We are trying to restore trust with the United States

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

World: Pope Benedict XVI Under Fire - Africans, Americans, & Germans Speakout

Global Voices Online (a Harvard Law School - Berkman Center for Internet and Society project) has a roundup post on the controversy in the Muslim world over Pope Benedict XVI's reading of a 14th Century text. GVO's citizen editor Ndesanjo Macha highlights in his post Africa's Reactions to the Pope's Remarks what some of the African bloggers from both sides of the aisle (Christian and Muslim) have to say. Following is my comment left at that GVO post which pretty much sums up my feelings about all of this worldwide nonsense:

”Great roundup on a very controversial subject. In my opinion, Pope Benedict XVI has clarified his position on this subject (3 times+) and should go about the business of taking care of his flock. It is outrageous that so many religious leaders, theologians, and world leaders would take offence that a text from a 14th Century document was read aloud at the German University in Regensburg by a Roman Catholic Pope. I am certain that within the halls of institutions and mosques and political offices within the Islamic world much worse has been said and done re: Christians and Jews down through the centuries. All major religions of the world can point to a violent and inhumane past”… and their respective followers today should bow their heads in shame and prayer for forgiveness.

Get a grip on yourselves! Damn!

Sorry Pope Benedict, but this kind of stuff can get a good Christian to cussin'... if not worse. What's next? Do we all have to go out and buy a suit of armour, swords and scimitars, war horses and camels, kiss the wife and kids goodbye as we march off to free the City of Jerusalem from the Infidels?

Update Sep 21st:

In following links to blogs posting on this subject via the German news magazine Spiegel International Online (see below) I discovered an interesting roundup post by an American mom titled The Pope's Speech and Why It Matters to Non-Catholics. One of the commentors at The Common Room points readers to an article written by a former student of Pope Benedict XVI at Universität Regensburg, a Father Joseph D. Fessio S.J. (Doctorate in Theology, Regensburg University 1975). In Father Joseph's article "Is Dialogue with Islam Possible?" he states the following:

In the main body of the lecture, Benedict criticizes attempts in the West to "dehellenize" Christianity: the rejection of the rational component of faith (the sola fides of the 16th century reformers); the reduction of reason to the merely empirical or historical (modern exegesis and modern science); a multiculturalism which regards the union of faith and reason as merely one possible form of inculturation of the faith. All this is a Western self-critique.

But as the starting point of his lecture, Benedict takes a 14th century dialogue between the Byzantine Emperor and a learned Muslim to focus on the central question of the entire lecture: whether God is Logos. The Emperor's objection to Islam is Mohammed's "command to spread by the sword the faith he preached". The emperor asserts that this is not in accordance with right reason, and "not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature". Benedict points to this as "the decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion".

It is at this point in the lecture that Benedict makes a statement which cannot be avoided or evaded if there is ever to be any dialogue between Christianity and Islam that is more than empty words and diplomatic gestures. For the Emperor, God's rationality is "self-evident". But for Muslim teaching, according to the editor of the book from which Benedict has been quoting, "God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality".

Benedict has struck bedrock. This is the challenge to Islam. This is the issue that lies beneath all the rest. If God is above reason in this way, then it is useless to employ rational arguments against (or for) forced conversion, terrorism, or Sharia law, which calls for the execution of Muslim converts to Christianity. If God wills it, it is beyond discussion.

The entire text (translated) of the lecture by Pope Benedict XVI can be found in the resources I have listed for readers below.

German press reports on the Pope's remarks controversy
Spiegel Online International (German news magazine, English edition)

Muslims Angered by Pope’s Remarks – 09/15/06

The Pope’s Lecture at the University of Regensburg (translated) – 09/12/06

Popes Apology Rejected by Some, Accepted by Others – 09/18/06

Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, the Pope – Who’s Next? by Claus Christian Malzahn – 09/18/06

Spiegel interview with German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble – 09/20/06
“We have no relationship to our diverse Muslim Society”

Spiegel Photo Gallery – Don’t miss
the “Pope on Fire” Muslim anger photo album

Der Speigel Online (Original German language version, for the purist)

Papst Contra Mohammed – Glaubenskampf um den Islam, die Vernufnt und die Gewalt
Heft Nr. 38/2006

The Catholic Press

Ignatius Insight - Is Dialogue with Islam Possible? by Father Joseph Fessio - 09/18/06

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

World: Global Day for Darfur in Full Swing

The Global Day for Darfur is today. A million voices from around the world have begun to speak as One Voice. People everywhere are pleading “Send in the UN Peacekeepers to Darfur ASAP”. There have been rallies in Moscow and Montreal, memorials in Abuja and Kigali, candlelight vigils in Phnom Pen (Cambodia), protests from Paris to Madrid, prayers in London, and a huge event is taking place in New York City’s Central Park as I write. According to the event organizers, more than 32 cities around the world will be participating. I won’t waste your time today with a lot of words of my own, but want to share with you some blog posts and press articles and video news that highlight the Global Day for Darfur and the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

Global Day for Darfur website website – Prayers for Darfur blog post

Amnesty International - Global Day for Darfur site

Suffer the Little Children - A beautiful poem for the women and children of Darfur by African blogger Mshairi (London)

Black Looks – a look at what’s happening in Spain on the Global Day for Darfur

The Independent (U.K.)
Bush hints at use of force in Darfur – Sep 17, 2006
Day for Darfur inspires protests in 32 countries – Sep 16, 2006

The Sunday Times
A Blind Eye to Genocide by Bishop Desmond Tutu – Sep 17, 2006

The Sudan Tribune
Sudanese First Vice-President Supports UN Troops in Darfur – Sep 16, 2006

Der Spiegel (International edition – English)
Escalating Violence: France calls for action on Darfur – Sep 15, 2006

BBC News
Blair criticizes Sudan on Darfur – Sep 16, 2006
U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair's letter to EU leaders – Sep 17, 2006

CNN – Activists around the world focus on Darfur – Sep 17, 2006

CNN Inside Africa with Femi Oke – Sep 16-17, 2006 program
Transcript of interview with Rev. Dr. Gloria White Hammond ( and Omar Ismail (Darfur Peace and Development Foundation)

Note: the SaveDarfur coalition of more than 170 inter-faith organizations and foundations is a key organizer for the Global Day for Darfur. During the interview with Femi Oke Dr. Gloria Hammond described the Government of Sudan and President Omar al-Bashir as perpetrators of a “serial genocide, referencing government aggressions for more than 20 years against the people of Southern Sudan, the Nuba Mountains, and the Darfur region.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sudan: International pressure ratcheting up over Darfur

There are only 4 days to go before the Global Day for Darfur rallies kickoff in cities across the globe. It is time for the world’s bloggers to speakout in order to make our voices heard loud and clear in Khartoum, at the UN, and in capitals around the world. Can the blogosphere raise a million voices in four days on behalf of the people of Darfur? If you have a voice, use it damnit! The people in Darfur need your help desperately.

As the 61st Session of the UN General Assembly gets underway in New York the Crisis in Darfur, Sudan is sitting right at the top of the agenda. According to this report from the CSM online there is a showdown looming between the Khartoum regime (GoS) and the international community (the UN member states):

Pressure ratchets up over Darfur (click on headline for related articles)
A deadline is raising tensions and stakes in a UN-Khartoum showdown.

By Howard LaFranchi – Christian Science Monitor - Sep 13, 2006

With time running out on the African Union's peacekeeping force in Darfur, the United Nations may find out if the international community has the ability to stop renewed genocide.

A decade after the world looked on as hundreds of thousands of people died in Rwanda and Bosnia, Sudan's region of Darfur is emerging as a test of whether the world can do better this time. Key governments are pressing Sudanese authorities in Khartoum to accept an extension of the African Union force's mandate that runs out at the end of the month. Such a move, international leaders hope, would give time for a more sizable UN force, already approved by the Security Council, to prepare and deploy.

But Khartoum so far shows no signs of giving in to international pressure, instead lambasting foreign intervention as neocolonialism, and commencing an offensive to take on rebel forces in the region.

The showdown, which is likely to run into next week's UN General Assembly opening session here, is shaping up as a signature 21st- century battle pitting national sovereignty against international authority and an expanding sense of humanity's right to protection.

At a Security Council session focused on the Darfur conflict Monday, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the first casualty of a failure to intervene would be the people of Darfur - 200,000 of which have already been killed or allowed to starve to death. "But the government itself will also suffer if it fails in its sacred responsibility to protect its own people," Mr. Annan said.

In the unusually forceful speech, he also said, "The humanitarian gains of the last two years [in Darfur] are being rolled back." Emphasizing that "my voice alone will not convince the government" in Khartoum to call off its offensive and accept a renewed and fortified international presence, Annan urged all Council members to "rise to the occasion."

The United States has been leaning on the Sudanese government to accept the UN force. Last month, Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer was kept waiting for days in Khartoum by President Omar al-Bashir, who claimed he was too busy with other matters. He finally received her, only to rebuff the American plea.

President Bush has upped the ante, offering to meet with Mr. Bashir when both leaders are expected to attend next week's General Assembly debate. But Bashir may not be anxious to meet a leader who two years ago accused his regime of genocide in Darfur, analysts say.

Since then, the international community has accepted the characterization of the violence in Darfur as genocide.

While Bashir may not be open to Western pressure, he does appear to pay closer attention to regional leaders, some UN officials say, which is why they say Annan places such strong emphasis on "the neighborhood" getting involved.

Indeed, many leaders are counting on the efforts of Egypt, which was instrumental in gaining Khartoum's acceptance of the African Union force. Egyptian officials say they believe agreement with Sudan can still be achieved, but they do not favor imposition of an international force.

"We agree that this is an international emergency that must be addressed, but we see that over the long term it will be much more beneficial to everyone to have people cooperating," says Egypt's ambassador to Washington, Nabil Fahmy.

Egypt is "sensitive" to Sudan's concerns about its sovereignty, but Ambassador Fahmy adds that Khartoum's acceptance of the African Union force is also something the international community can build on. And as a country with soldiers already in Darfur, Egypt is keen to see an international presence remain there. "Not having a force at all is not a useful formula," Fahmy says.

Yet with the clock ticking, more voices are calling for the UN to send a force even if Khartoum does not accept it. Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona and former Sen. Bob Dole said in an opinion piece in The Washington Post Sunday that the Bush administration should press the UN to draw up such contingency plans.

Africa specialists say there is little mystery as to what will happen in Darfur if the African Union force leaves with no international replacement. "This would create a very serious security vacuum, and a security vacuum the [Sudanese] government is very eager to fill," says Suliman Baldo, director of the Africa program of the International Crisis Group in New York.

Khartoum is already bombing civilian targets in Darfur, he says, while preparing to send in more than 25,000 troops to wipe out rebels who are not party to a negotiated peace accord, he adds.

That is not a scenario that Annan wishes to see play out as he prepares to leave his post at the end of the year, aides say. They add that Annan believes the world has made progress on humanitarian issues over the past decade, but that Darfur could be its undoing.

"One of the ideas he has promoted is that a government has the responsibility to protect its people," according to one UN official who spoke on condition of anonymity. "But if a government can't or is unwilling to do that, then other countries have the moral responsibility to step in."

The international community can begin by enforcing steps it has already taken against the Sudanese government, Mr. Baldo says. "The world community should immediately enforce the targeted sanctions the Security Council has already approved," he says. "If they don't do that, then the humanitarian disaster is what will unfold."

Note: Corrections to the original CSM article (ref: Suliman Valdo = Suliman Baldo) have been made and links to additional online resources have been added to assist my readers. Article has been re-published here in its entirety, which is not quite legal. Don’t try this at home kids.


International Crisis Group – Darfur Campaign site
Recent Press Op-eds and Editiorials by ICG staff members and associates

The U.N.’s Darfur Moment – Tom Paine Sep 06, 2006

To halt Sudan’s atrocities, follow the money – IHT Aug 22, 2006

Die zweite Phase der Vertreibung – Die Tageszeitung (Germany) Jul 17, 2006

Confronting the atrocities in Darfur – Presentation by Nick Grono, Vice-President of the International Crisis Group, to the Panel on the Challenges of Fighting Crimes against Humanity at the Crans Montana Forum, Monaco, 23 June 2006

Rescue Darfur Now – The Washington Post Sep 10, 2006
Opinion article by U.S. Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Dole spelling out a 6-part plan of action for the U.S.A. on Darfur

UN Sudan Information Gateway – info for the humanitarian community in Sudan
UN News - Text of speech by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan before the UN Security Council meeting of September 11, 2006 on Darfur

UN News – Security Council expands mandate of UN mission in Sudan to include Darfur, adopting Resoulution 1706

U.S. Asst. Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Fraser’s official press briefing on the August 2006 trip to Khartoum, Sudan - ReliefWeb Aug 31, 2006

Asst. Secretary of State Jendayi Fraser remarks to the Center for Strategic and International Studies “Consolidating Peace in Sudan” – Jun 05, 2006

U.S. Department of State - UN Resolution 1706 (Sudan) text

Yale Law Journal – The Responsibility to Protect: The UN World Summit and the Question of Unilateralism by Alicia L. Bannon (Note: PDF file download)

Wikipedia – UN World Summit 2005 (see “Responsibility to Protect” references)

Insight TV – Living with Refugees - a Sorious Samura documentary about a family driven out of Darfur and their life in the IDP camps along the Sudan-Chad border region

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Monday, September 11, 2006

U.S.A.: September 11th Attacks, Five Years On

I think that many of us around the world remember what we were doing on that fateful day in September 2001 that (may have) changed our world forever. I was here in Germany and had received a phone call shortly after 1500 CET from a BA operations center that something terrible had happened in New York City, that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers, “could I confirm via CNN what was going on?” I immediately brought-up video on both CNNI and BBC World to watch the Breaking News Story unfold before my eyes, by then the South Tower of the World Trade Center was also in flames and the news networks (all) were repeatedly replaying the video scenes of the jetliner crashing into and through the top floors of the WTC. Smoke and fire everywhere.

Although the reporters and newscasters on all channels were still speculating on whether the spectacle was either a terrible accident or an attack, I remember that I understood almost instantly what it was that I was seeing, what was happening to the people of New York City, and I remember that at that moment all of the strength seemed to leave my body and my legs felt like collapsing under the weight of my grief… people were being attacked (militarily) on American soil.

After confirming what I had been witnessing and hearing from the CNN and BBC and German news channels to the party on the phone and wishing them luck and Godspeed in dealing with the 10’s of thousands of frightened airline passengers that would be affected by these terrible events, I hung up. Then it struck me, Panic & Fear. Not for my own safety, but for my children, where were my children? My son and daughter lived and studied at university in New York City. Where were my kids!!!??? It was clear that this catastrophe was going to stress the communications infrastructure of NYC, America, and the world to its limits and it was going to happen real fast. I started dialing telephone numbers, tears rolling down my face, praying to God that they would be O.K., asking God to spare them from those infernos in lower Manhattan, praying to God to bless the people who had already perished in the flames aboard the aircraft and at the WTC and the Pentagon, “please God let them be alive, let them be there when I can get through…”

Twenty attempts to reach NYC by phone, thirty attempts without any success, and finally after countless desperate tries to reach my kids (big kids, mind you) by phone, someone picked up on the other end. It was my son, he was somewhat panicked and in shock but he was O.K. My baby, my daughter, was also O.K. They had been spared, they were safe, and we exchanged “I love you’s” and hung up so that others may use those precious telephone lines to America and to New York City. I thank God everyday for His mercy upon my loved ones on that fateful day. Thousands of other people from many, many countries were not so fortunate as I, and I grieve every year on this day for the loved ones that they have lost in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.

I do not like talking to people about this day, September 11th 2001. This is the first time that I have written about my experience on 9/11 publicly. It is nothing special when you read about the stories shared by others, but to hear those words from my son “Hello Dad, we’re O.K. We are safe” were the most beautiful words I have ever heard in my life, ever.

In the past five years there has been too much suffering and death and horror here on Earth, there have been lot’s of 9/11’s for far too many innocent victims and their families right around the world. Too many desperate calls and frantic searches for loved ones ending without those precious words “I’m O.K., we are O.K., thank God.” In the past 5 years, too many of us have come to feel that humankind has lost its way, as if we are all wandering in the wilderness. The time has come that we all deeply reflect on where do we go from here. How do we get out of this manmade mess and together build a better world for all?

I made promises to my God on that fateful day, and said prayers for guidance and forgiveness. I intend to keep my pact with God, ‘til the end of my days. This is how I shall always remember September 11th.

The CS Monitor has a very good article written by Peter Grier and Mark Rice-Oxley commemorating the 5th Anniversary of the September 11th Attacks. Below is an excerpt from the lead paragraphs of the story (
complete article here):

from the September 11, 2006 edition of the Christian Science Monitor

Five years after 9/11: a shifted view of the world
The winners and losers that are still churning the world's politics.
Peter Grier and Mark Rice-Oxley


Old allies have become wary of one another, if not openly suspicious. Sensing inattention, small rogue nations may have decided it is time to make trouble. Two wars have begun, and their ends do not yet appear in sight. Less noticed, a quiet empire continues to rise in the East.

The world today is a very different place from the way it was on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

In one sense that statement is obvious. Five years is a long time in geopolitics. The world turns, whatever terrorists do.

But half a decade on, it also seems clear that Al Qaeda's attacks and the US response have helped move the metaphorical tectonic plates of the globe.

Besides direct effects, such as the toppling of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the reverberations from 9/11 may include a new general organizing principle for international affairs.

The cold war was about the Western and communist blocs, and their values, conflicts, and internal cracks. The current period is about the US and the Islamic world - their mutual suspicions and occasional cooperation, and the wedge Al Qaeda has tried to drive between them.

"Five years in, it is now clear that the 9/11 attacks created a new dynamic for global politics, and thus American foreign policy, centering around the changed relationship between a state and a religion," argues Peter Singer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington.

(Read the complete article at the CS Monitor online)

CNN Special Report: 9/11 Five Years Later, Life After the Attacks

CNN Pipeline is streaming CNN's television coverage of September 11, 2001, in real time as it happened that day, free. Also, host Richard Lui is at Ground Zero in New York for free live coverage of commemoration events. (Note: turn-off your pop-up blocker in order to see the CNN Pipeline 9/11 preview video. Available free only on Sep 11, 2006 until midnight EDST.)

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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 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

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 (

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