Is it Darfur’s final chance???

30 Nov

As security worsens in Darfur, the U.N. humanitarian chief claiming the situation is worse now than eight months ago, and with the government of Sudan continuing to present obstacles to aid, things are looking bleak for Darfur. An attitude of “we’ve done all we can” is appearing in some corridors.

Eric Reeves writes of Darfur’s final chance.

Article Source: Guardian Unlimited

On Monday, UN under-secretary for peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guéhenno raised the terrifying prospect that the UN-authorised peacekeeping force for Darfur may well have to be aborted because of obstructionism on the part of the Khartoum regime. Guéhenno declared that because of Khartoum’s actions we are fast approaching a moment in which members of the UN security council will have to ask a critical question:

Do we move ahead with the deployment of a force that will not make a difference, that will not have the capability to defend itself and that carries the risk of humiliation of the security council and the United Nations and tragic failure for the people of Darfur?

The question, of course, answers itself. Privately, Guéhenno and other UN officials suggest an even gloomier picture of a mission that has already largely collapsed and is far behind on deployment benchmarks.

To be sure, the unprecedented UN/African Union “hybrid” mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has been badly compromised by the refusal of militarily capable nations of the world to provide the two dozen transport and tactical helicopters required, at a bare minimum, for security and protection operations in Darfur. Not a single Nato country has offered even one helicopter. Sadly, this serves as too accurate a measure of the real concern for Darfur on the part of those whose rhetoric has been most fulsome. But it is brazen obduracy on the part of the Khartoum regime that has created the deepest threat that the people of Darfur will be left entirely without protection, and that humanitarian operations will have to be suspended throughout the region. The UN estimates that 4.2 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance.

Of course Khartoum’s obduracy has long been in evidence. Four months after the security council authorised the present peace support operation to Darfur under Resolution 1769, and 15 months after a previous security council resolution authorised a similar operation, Khartoum is still objecting to the UN/AU-proposed roster of countries that are to provide troops, civilian police and engineering and medical units. Khartoum refuses to grant landing rights to heavy transport aircraft or allow night flights (critical for both civilian protection and medivac needs). It refuses to grant adequate access to the Port of Sudan or expedited off-loading of equipment there. And it refuses to grant adequate land or water rights in the arid Darfur region.

What will follow from a UN decision to abort UNAMID? Utter catastrophe. The exceedingly weak, under-manned, and under-resourced African Union mission in Darfur will collapse entirely. This badly demoralised force is barely functioning now and is simply trying to hold on until December 31 2007, when the AU mission is supposed to be incorporated into UNAMID under UN auspices. But given Khartoum’s obstructionism, this transfer will be at best symbolic: there may be UN auspices but no meaningful deployment of UN troops or resources. And as soon as it becomes clear that a meaningful UNAMID is not deploying, African nations will quickly withdraw their troops, which have already endured an unconscionable number of casualties, most at the hands of rebel groups that resent AU impotence on the ground and political accommodation of Khartoum’s génocidaires by AU leaders. This will leave no protection forces of any kind, for civilians or humanitarians

Last January humanitarian organisations made clear they felt they had reached the furthest extreme of tolerable insecurity. One open letter came from a group of six distinguished nongovernmental organisations; another open letter came from all 14 UN operational humanitarian organisations in Darfur, including Unicef and the World Food Programme. No UN humanitarian operation had previously issued such a clear and public warning of impending collapse. These organisations, too, have been holding on with the hope that the UN would finally provide protection for them and the civilians they so courageously serve. If they are disappointed in their hopes, they will leave; an already intolerable situation will rapidly collapse into anarchy.

With no international presence – by the UN, by the AU or by international aid organisations – there will be nothing to constrain Khartoum or the rebels or the various armed elements and bandits that contribute so much to present insecurity. Confrontations between Khartoum’s armed forces, including its Janjaweed militia allies, and camps for displaced persons are likely to escalate quickly, and may become a series of pitched battles. Khartoum is likely to use its Antonov bombers and helicopter gun ships in such battles, ensuring massively disproportionate civilian casualties in and around some 200 camps.

It is intolerable that the international community seems prepared to accept what will be cataclysmic human destruction. There can hardly be any doubt that the UNAMID force is badly conceived, has an ambiguous command-and-control structure, and is excessively reliant on African nations that cannot provide adequate numbers of fully-equipped, self-sufficient troops and civilian police per UN standards. The hybrid nature of the mission was itself a poorly calculated concession to Khartoum in the wake of the regime’s defiance of the previous UN resolution authorising force to Darfur, Resolution 1706, passed on August 31 2006.

But UNAMID is now the only arrow in the quiver: there is no other force on the horizon, no other means for protecting civilians and humanitarians. If Nato nations aren’t prepared to provide the 24 helicopters the UN mission requires, they are hardly likely to participate in or provide resources for any non-consensual deployment of force to Darfur, a nightmarishly difficult logistical and military undertaking in any event.

UNAMID must succeed. If it does not, the only question is only how long it will be before Darfur slides into cataclysmic destruction, with no means of halting that slide. This is the stark choice before the international community: is it prepared to see UNAMID fail, or will it rally the resources and exert the pressure on Khartoum, both of which are both critical to UNAMID’s success?

The UN secretary-general and under-secretary for peacekeeping should send public, individual letters to every militarily capable nation within the world body, asking why it cannot provide at least one of the required helicopters. The public should make explicit demands of their governments, especially countries that possess significant amounts of military equipment, like the required helicopters: the US, the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa and India.

But again, the larger problem, and thus the larger task, is to exert sufficient pressure on Khartoum to end its obstructionist ways. The key here is China, widely recognised – including within the UN’s political offices – as having unrivalled leverage with the National Islamic Front (National Congress Party) regime. China alone of the major powers can demand of Khartoum (if no doubt behind closed doors) that the broad campaign to stall and ultimately eviscerate UNAMID must end. And yet, a well-placed UN official recently told me that it is the consensus at Turtle Bay that China was becoming more, not less, supportive of Khartoum’s intransigence. After a brief but apparently successful Darfur public relations campaign, Beijing has evidently decided that it may resume its uncritical support of all decisions made by the NIF regime, no matter what the consequences for the people of Darfur.

Either this changes, or there is no chance that Khartoum will be moved by other actors. In turn, this obliges nations like Germany, France, the US, and the UK to use the very considerable leverage deriving from their individual bilateral relations with Beijing to push China to act. Currently, all four of these major Western powers have moved Darfur to the third- or even fourth-tier in bilateral relations. Germany and France seem much more concerned about trade relations with China than Darfur, despite the tough talk coming from Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy. The UK under Gordon Brown seems adrift after years of vacuous rhetoric from Tony Blair’s government. And the US places Taiwan, North Korea, Iran, trade and international terrorism far, far above any professed concern for Darfur. Again, civil society must play the key role of demanding that China, vulnerably exposed host of the 2008 Olympic Games, be pushed hard to use its massive influence with Khartoum to change the regime’s behaviour.

It’s a long shot. But the odds against protecting the people of Darfur become greater every day, and we are now at the tipping point. Urgency is the essential watchword: we have only days or weeks before allowing events to be set in motion that will see many hundreds of thousands of people die.

You can get all of Eric Reeves web feeds at comment is free


One response to “Is it Darfur’s final chance???

  1. Jay Janson

    December 2, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    Keep thinking that the American public would respond with increased generosity if it was aware of its citizen complicity in the early CIA fostering of rebelious war in Southern Sudan after oil was discoved there. (my article IS on the ‘Operation Sudan of SaveDafur” web site)

    “Early CIA Involvement in Darfur Has Gone Unreported” HistoryNewsNetwork

    I once worked on a documentary for an anniversary of the African Development Bank and although never was in Darfur, I was close enough to the Sudan border in Ethiopian and Kenya and have a spot in my heart for the magnificent people of this region. I just knocked out this article when I remembered, (I’m well into my 70s) of U.S. backing the rebels was never being factored in.
    By the way, I wonder and ask you as someone more conversant on the Sudan than I, whether or not the U.S. is still actively supporting the rebellion{s}, either materially or diplomatically, either openly or secretly. sentimentally, morally and/or spiritually.?
    Appreciativly in advance should you have time to read my article below and comment,
    Jay Janson

    While there is great sorrow and indignation over the suffering and loss of life in the Sudan, early U.S. involvement in the war goes unmentioned. Instead, the U.S. leads an effort to condemn China for buying Sudan’s oil. For years the U.S. had paid for war in hopes to arrange for some eventual control of the oil discovered in Darfur, (all well once well reported in the New York Times). The human crises receives modest financial aid from a U.S. government, silently protected from any embarrassment of acknowledging a prime complicity in fomenting war in Darfur.

    HistoryNewNetwork, George Mason University republished the folloing from:

    “Early CIA Involvement in Darfur Has Gone Unreported” HNN Darfur

    republished as well by Global Research, Operation Sudan of SaveDafur, UK IndyMedia, Ethiopian News, FreeThoughtManifesto, Islamic Forum, Countercurrents, Nicholas D. Kristof, Schema-Root news, jcturner23’s reviews, NewsTrust,News Search Tracker, alfatomega, Newsvine, Digg, Netscape, Boreal Access, Newswire, Tailrank, Congo Music News, Zaire,, Darfur News from Google, and sundry other sites from the original in OpEdNews, January 23, 2007

    There has been a glaring omission in the U.S. media presentation of the Darfur tragedy. The compassion demonstrated, mostly in words, until recently, has not been accompanied by a recognition of U.S. complicity, or at least involvement, in the war which has led to the enormous suffering and loss of life that has been taking place in Darfur for many years.

    In 1978 oil was discovered in Southern Sudan. Rebellious war began five years later and was led by John Garang, who had taken military training at infamous Fort Benning, Georgia. “The US government decided, in 1996, to send nearly $20 million of military equipment through the ‘front-line’ states of Ethiopia, Eritrea and Uganda to help the Sudanese opposition overthrow the Khartoum regime.” [Federation of American Scientists]

    Between 1983 and the peace agreement signed in January 2005, Sudan’s civil war took nearly two million lives and left millions more displaced. Garang became a First Vice President of Sudan as part of the peace agreement in 2005. From 1983, “war and famine-related effects resulted in more than 4 million people displaced and, according to rebel estimates, more than 2 million deaths over a period of two decades.”
    [CIA Fact Book -entry Sudan]

    The BBC obituary of John Garang, who died in a plane crash shortly afterward, describes him as having “varied from Marxism to drawing support from Christian fundamentalists in the US.” “There was always confusion on central issues such as whether the Sudan People’s Liberation Army was fighting for independence for southern Sudan or merely more autonomy. Friends and foes alike found the SPLA’s human rights record in southern Sudan and Mr Garang’s style of governance disturbing.” Gill Lusk – deputy editor of Africa Confidential and a Sudan specialist who interviewed the ex-guerrilla leader several times over the years was quoted by BBC, “John Garang did not tolerate dissent and anyone who disagreed with him was either imprisoned or killed.”

    CIA use of tough guys like Garang in Sudan, Savimbi in Angola, Mobutu in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), had been reported, even in mass media, though certainly not featured or criticized, but presently, this is of course buried away from public awareness and meant to be forgotten, as commercial media focuses on presenting the U.S. wars of today in a heroic light. It has traditionally been the chore of progressive, alternate and independent journalism to see that their deathly deeds supported by U.S. citizens tax dollars are not forgotten, ultimately not accepted and past Congresses and Presidents held responsible, even in retrospect, when not in real time.

    Oil and business interests remain paramount and although Sudan is on the U.S. Government’s state sponsors of terrorism list, the United States alternately praises its cooperation in tracking suspect individuals or scolds about the Janjaweed in Darfur. National Public Radio on May 2, 2005 had Los Angeles Times writer Ken Silverstein talk about his article “highlighting strong ties between the U.S. and Sudanese intelligence services, despite the Bush administration’s criticism of human-rights violation in the Sudan.” Title was “Sudan, CIA Forge Close Ties, Despite Rights Abuses.” Nicholas Kristof, of The New York Times, won a 2006 Pulitzer Prize for “his having alerted this nation and the world to these massive crimes against humanity. He made six dangerous trips to Darfur to report names and faces of victims of the genocide for which President Bush had long before indicted the government of Sudan to the world’s indifference.” [Reuters] But last November saw the opening of a new U.S. consulate in Juba the capital of the Southern region. (Maybe consider this an example of “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!” especially where oil is involved.)

    The point is there is human suffering at mammoth level proportions. Humanitarian activists are trying to pry open the purse strings of an administration and congress willing to spend billions upon billions to get people killed and keep them in their place, namely, at our feet. Reminding Congress of what needs to be atoned for because of past policies of supporting war and human destruction could eventually make present policies of war intolerable. Americans are presently not exactly conscious stricken about dead and maimed Iraqis and Afghans, for commercial media always keeps of most of the human particulars of war crimes modestly out of sight, dramatizing much lesser losses and suffering of American military personal abroad.

    Darfur made the headlines again because a governor of presidential timber was building up his foreign policy credentials. Meanwhile we are going to continue to see newsreels of our mass media depressing us with scenes of starving children, basically as testimony of how evil another Islamic nation’s government is, so we can feel good – and want to purchase the products needing the advertising – which pays for the entertainment/news programs – which keep viewers in the dark about THEIR contribution to the suffering brought upon those people all the way over there in Africa.

    Just try to put 4 and 2 million of anything into perspective. We are talking about an equivalent to the sets of eyes of half the population of Manhattan. Imagine one of us, whether a precious child ,a handsome man, a beautiful women, – to the tune of, (dirge of), one times four million, half of us dead. Sorry! It has no impact right? We realize that, remembering the words of Joseph Stalin (of all people), “One man’s death is a tragedy, a thousand, is a statistic.” There is absolutely no way we can whip up enough anguish to match a total of four million displaced and two million dead Sudanese, unless we could be of a mind and heart with Martin Luther King dealing with three million dead Vietnamese, also as in this case, over on the other side of the world, far from our living rooms – “So it is that those of us who are yet determined that “America will be” are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.” (MLK, 1967, “Beyond Vietnam”)

    This writer remembers reading newspapers articles about the U.S. backing the Southern Sudan rebellion way back then. If we had supported a side that wound up winning, we would be bragging about our having supported ‘freedom fighters’. But we just threw a lot of money and outdated weapons at a John Garang in the Sudan, as we did with Jonas Savimbi in Angola, to the ultimate destruction of millions of people, and they LOST! Like we did in Vietnam, and half-way lost in Korea, and now are mid-way losing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Jesus! Calculating the chances of an investment in human life and money coming to a fruition of sorts – that is certainly the job of any intelligence gathering agency! What we have had is an Agency using its gathered intelligence to do unintelligent things because, as our Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote more than a hundred and twenty-five years ago, “Things are in the saddle and ride herd over men” (trampling others under foot, we might add)

    The European Union is under pressure from inside to assure that a United Nations force of 20,000 men will be sent to Darfur as required by Security Council resolution 1706, and to threaten sanctions in order to halt a war the U.S. was originally interested to see begun.

    The U.N. Security Council will receive a list from the International Criminal Court of those Sudanese officials who could be charged with war crimes. The list is expected include some members of rebel organizations among Sudanese government officials and Janjaweed militias. There assuredly will be no names on the list of non-Sudanese officials of nations which were known to have involved themselves in this Sudanese civil war contrary to accepted provisions and obligations of U.N. membership. But we can know that the responsibility for war, slaughter, rape and theft in Sudan extends beyond the leaders of those murderously wielding guns and swords.

    It will be good if outside influence will now be focused on peace, but citizens best be vigilant of their nation’s foreign policy intentions. The world has heard many protestations that oil is not a reason for war, but blood and oil has been known to mix.
    ————————– end of article——————-

    That now the U.S. use its economic power humanely, to promote peace in the Sudan and give generously to help war victims.

    in brotherhood,
    Jay Janson

    Published on 5 Jul 2004 by Zaman Daily. Archived on 5 Jul 2004.
    Oil Underlies Darfur Tragedy
    by Cumali Onal

    The fighting in Sudan’s Darfur region, which is being reported in the world press as ‘ethnic cleansing’ and a ‘humanitarian crisis’, reportedly stems from attempts to gain control over the oil resources in the region, claim Arab sources.

    These Arab sources find it interesting that such skirmishes occurred when a peace agreement that would have brought an end to 21 years of north-south conflict was about to be signed. The sources point out that oil fields have recently been discovered in Darfur.


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