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

Technorati tags:


James McGinley said...


It is said that the mark of truly being “crazy” is expecting different results from doing the same thing over and over and…. Ok, we needed to try some new approaches, hoping we could find a new formula for mass social change (stopping Genocide has NEVER been done.); looking for one that would be comfortable, convenient, safe, executed from our computer terminal / phone / TV or office in some combination. The variations we’ve tried are: * Blame (Bush, UN, EU…) , * Emails, letters, postcards…,* Letting the Nonprofits do it, * Divestment. And the results are in. WE ARE NOT, STOPPING THE GENOCIDE!

You mean that the answer for Darfur is the same answer we found for…* Ending the Vietnam War, * Gaining Civil Rights in the US, * Gaining Women the right to Vote in the US, * Ending apartheid in South Africa, * Throwing off the British oppression at our start....?

Yup. No one else, nothing else can stop it, can save 4,000,000 in Concentration Camps in Sudan and Chad. The buck stops with WE-THE-PEOPLE. Let’s stop talking and start - marching, demonstrating, sitting-in, hunger striking….

The next step is September 17th (; BUT, then we need to be ready on SEPTEMBER 18th, 19th… AS LONG AS IT TAKES, WHATEVER IT TAKES.

Jay McGinley,; Day 105 24/7 DC VIGIL; Day 35 HUNGER STRIKE (54 days so far this summer, with breaks); ARRESTED Sept 9th at White House with 29 others from Save Darfur;

BRE said...

Uh, thanks Jay. Hunger strike? Getting arrested in front of the White House? 50 something? Don't I remember you from that big protest rally in Kansas City back in '69? Nah, can't be the same guy. At least these days the cops don't beat you half-to-death with their nightsticks and wash you down with firehoses before dragging you off to jail, like they would often do back in the "good ol' days".

I'm sure that everyone meant well on September 9th by laying down on the sidewalk in front of the White House in Washington D.C. but I'm not so sure that this action made a big difference in America's strategy to handle the crisis in Darfur. Now if the entire U.S. Congress had got arrested...

The U.S. government can't solve this problem by itself and that should be apparent to everyone. And the powerful and diverse organizations that makeup the coalition in the United States and Canada are having very little impact on stimulating equivalent inter-faith communities and organizations in other countries. If I am wrong, please correct me by showing me some solid examples.

"We the people" in this case should not just be a majority of the people in the U.S.A. and our political leaders, it should mean that people around the world and their respective leaders are working hard for the same goals in Darfur. Until we can get that type of global approach going stopping the violence and atrocities taking place in Darfur is just a pipedream.

Readers can learn more about the September 9th sit-in at the White House over at the blog. See the September 13th post "Getting Arrested for Darfur" at:

Anybody else have something to say? Somebody from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, Central or South America, Oceania?

Anonymous said...

Great post, BRE.

I agree with the previous commentator: "Ok, we needed to try some new approaches, hoping we could find a new formula for mass social change"

But I don't think hunger-strikes would help.

BRE does not call for US troops to be deployed, right? I am reluctant to call for German troops to be deployed, because that is wishful thinking, unfortunately.

We need to get the African Union to step up their commitments and solve it. How can we do it?

What incentives to do they need for god's sake?

What incentives do those rebels and the Sudanese government need to make peace?

International Crisis Group - U.S.'S Deadly Errors in Darfur
"John Prendergast in The Philadelphia Inquirer
14 September 2006
writes "The Bush White House has made 10 grievous mistakes that have only made matters worse."

Now we need to look forward and see what we -- US and Europe -- can do better now.

BRE said...

Thanks Jörg for the tip on that new article by John Prendergast of the ICG. I personally find the opinions-editorials and detailed analysis from Dr. John Prendergast along with Dr. Samantha Power and Professor Eric Reeves to be very informative and "to the point".

In this Philadelphia Enquirer piece he just lays it out in clear and straightfoward language that anyone can understand. Don't be so pesimisstic about the AU's efforts to resolve the crisis as they have been very busy in negotiations between the GoS envoys and the various rebel groups to reach a settlement, and they have provided the bulk of the 7,000 troops presently on the ground in Darfur. Let's take a close look at the following points made in Prendergast's 10-step screwup by the folks in Washington D.C. and in Europe's capitals:

The administration's first deadly mistake is that while it helped broker a peace agreement in May, its negotiator left after only one rebel group signed, leaving at least two other rebel groups wanting more detail in the deal. The Khartoum regime is now partnering with the signatory group to launch a major offensive against the nonsignatories, thus deepening the divisions in Darfur.

Second, the United States and its partners did not make explicit in the peace deal the deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping operation to oversee implementation. U.S. officials took verbal promises from Khartoum as sufficient, which the regime has since renounced. Without a U.N. force, Darfurian displaced and refugee populations have no prospect of protection.

The third mistake was not ensuring sufficient international involvement in the dismantling of the deadly Janjaweed militia structures. The task was left to the very entity that arms the Janjaweed, the Khartoum regime. Without real international participation in the dismantling, no displaced Darfurian will ever go home.

Fourth, the United States has politically supported the rebel group that signed the peace deal, including having President Bush meet the group's leader. This faction has since effectively become a government militia that has been responsible for gross human-rights violations.

Fifth, after the senior U.S. official who helped negotiate the partial peace took a job on Wall Street, almost his entire team departed. For these last four critical months, State Department officials have opposed the naming of a presidential envoy to clean up the mess and make Darfur a genuine priority.

Sixth, the United States and Europeans have left the African Union force in Darfur in a state of limbo, not giving it the requisite resources and political support needed to protect the people of Darfur.

Seventh, the United States crafted a U.N. Security Council resolution that authorized targeted sanctions in early 2005, but has since imposed sanctions on only one regime official, a retired air force commander. This leaves Khartoum with the correct impression that there will be no accountability.

Eighth, the United States has not provided information and intelligence to the International Criminal Court as the latter conducts its investigation of the war crimes committed in Darfur. Sharing such material could be a critical part of leverage on Khartoum as it would face the prospect of accelerated indictments of senior officials.

Ninth, the United States invited the security chief of the regime to CIA headquarters in Virginia, thus cementing the relationship with a man believed to be the architect of the ethnic-cleansing campaign in Darfur. This tells Khartoum that as long as they are "with us" in the war on terror, they can continue to pursue what the U.S. president himself has labeled genocide in Darfur.

Tenth, and most recently, the United States continues to offer incentives rather than pressures in its bid to change Khartoum's behavior and induce it to support a U.N. force. An administration official went to Khartoum recently and offered President Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir a meeting with Bush and discussed the possibility of removing some of the U.S.-imposed sanctions. If we have learned anything over the last 15 years, it is this: Being soft on perpetrators of crimes against humanity does little to alter their behavior.

Note that Prendergast makes no mention of the People's Republic of China, the Arab League member states, Pakistan, India, or key African countries that do have or could have a major impact on how the Government of Sudan behaves toward the UN and toward the people of Darfur. That's his major mistake in this editorial, leaving out these key stakeholders and players and not listing their deadly mistakes as well. Maybe everyone will get it together at the 61st UN General Assembly Showdown next week in New York.