Home | Comment & Analysis    Monday 21 November 2005

Ghosts of Rwanda: The Failure of the African Union in Darfur (II)


Ghosts of Rwanda: The Failure of the African Union in Darfur An international abandonment of the "Responsibility to Protect" (Part 2 of 2)

By Eric Reeves

Nov 20, 2005 — Darfur is slipping yet deeper into catastrophe before the very eyes of an unmoved international community. The radical inadequacy of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) daily becomes more grimly apparent. The increasingly desperate security tasks in Darfur---protecting both acutely vulnerable civilian populations and equally vulnerable humanitarian operations---are clearly far beyond the capability of AMIS, now or in the foreseeable future. International willingness to accept these terrible threats to human security in Darfur, as well as the accompanying disingenuous characterization of AMIS abilities, ensures that no adequate or timely protection resources will be provided in Darfur.

We will see, as a consequence, the continuing attenuation of relief efforts, including evacuations, severe travel restrictions in moving humanitarian supplies and personnel, and even the withdrawal of international workers from Darfur. Because insecurity makes it impossible to see an end to the crisis, funding for humanitarian operations is now beginning to wither, with some aid organizations "starting to reduce aid" and "already phasing out their activities"---at the very moment civilians are most vulnerable. An ominous Reuters dispatch ("Donor fatigue threatens aid to Darfur refugees") was recently filed by Opheera McDoom from South Darfur; McDoom is currently unrivaled as a journalist, and witness, in reporting on the crisis in Darfur (see Reuters, November 16, 2005, http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L16570163.htm).

In such a context it is the height of mendacity for US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer, in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to declare: "The African Union effort in Darfur has demonstrated why deployment of African troops is a viable option" (Statement before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Africa Subcommittee, November 17, 2005). This is not simply transparently dishonest: it is dishonesty in expedient service of a desire to forestall meaningful discussion of what is truly required for human security in Darfur.

Frazer’s testimony continues a pattern of State Department dishonesty and expediency in speaking publicly about Darfur. Earlier this year, in an interview that Condoleezza Rice provided to journalists at the Washington Post, the Secretary of State was questioned pointedly about genocide and insecurity in Darfur, and ongoing threats to the civilian populations:

WASHINGTON POST: "How many peacekeepers do you think it would take to stop the genocide in Darfur?"

"SECRETARY RICE: I can’t give a number." (Washington Post, March 25, 2005)

The Washington Post questioner persisted, asking about what at the time was reported as an AU effort to increase its force to 6,000 by August 2005:

WASHINGTON POST: "But hence my question. I mean, if you go to six thousand [AU troops] would that be enough?"

Rice again simply refused to offer a direct answer, only the vaguest of generalizations:

"SECRETARY RICE: Well, [the AU] is a monitoring mechanism that has a chance of making a big difference as even a small monitoring mechanism has made."

Yet again the Washington Post questioner persisted, asking about the deadly consequences of continuing insecurity for humanitarian operations, only to be met again with the refusal to provide a meaningful answer:

"WASHINGTON POST: [Jan Egeland, UN Humanitarian Coordinator] said in December [2004] to the Financial Times that if the deterioration of humanitarian access continued, he could imagine 100,000 people dying a month, which would put the number at about six times the death toll in 2004. Does that sound like a plausible---"

"SECRETARY RICE: I just can’t judge." (Washington Post, March 25, 2005)

This is either the most culpable ignorance, given the US State Department determination of genocide in Darfur---or, as is much more likely, simply an earlier version of Jendayi Frazer’s dishonest effort to forestall meaningful international discussion of the patent inadequacies of the AU in Darfur.

To be sure, discussions within European governments---to the extent they occur at all---are equally dishonest and expedient. Moreover, the AU itself has lost all political courage in confronting Khartoum, and this is the ultimate source of failure on its part. Regional actors such as the Arab League are also eagerly dishonest and expedient, particularly Egypt and Libya. But most conspicuously, we must see that the Western democracies are, in slow-motion, failing Darfur in the same way they failed Rwanda. These vastly powerful nations, which sanctimoniously proclaimed an international "responsibility to protect" only two months ago at the UN World Summit (September 16, 2005), make it clear that genocide in Africa is still not a compelling international issue.

This writer concluded the first part of the present analysis by declaring that even in the ghastly wake of Rwanda, "we have learned nothing" ("Ghosts of Rwanda," Part 1, November 13, 2005, http://www.sudanreeves.org/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=77). Such a bleak assessment hinges upon a refutation of precisely the claim Jendayi Frazer makes: "The African Union effort in Darfur has demonstrated why deployment of African troops is a viable option" in responding to the security crisis in Darfur. Part 1 of this analysis offered a broad account of AU diplomatic, political, and military failures in Darfur.

Accordingly, Part 2 offers here a more fine-grained account of AU military failures, even as it remains mindful of the direct relation between these failures and AU political failures, including: the refusal to confront Khartoum over the regime’s continuing support for its massively destabilizing Janjaweed militia proxies (in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 1556 [July 2004]); the scandalous refusal to move the venue for the next African Union summit (January 2006) from Khartoum; and AU political unwillingness to demand a halt to Khartoum’s obstruction and harassment of AU and humanitarian operations in Darfur.

It is important to note that despite glibly optimistic reports concerning Khartoum’s highly belated agreement to allow the deployment of 105 Canadian armored personnel carriers (APCs) in Darfur (they have languished in Senegal since August), these aging vehicles will have only a limited effect on AU military capacity. Moreover, as Reuters reported on the date of the APCs’ arrival (November 18, 2005), "the APCs were not equipped with machines guns as they arrived." These 12.7mm machine-guns are, besides the vehicles’ sheer armored protection, the most significant military feature of the APCs; they would do a great deal to equalize the firepower which presently overwhelmingly favors Khartoum and the Janjaweed over the AU (which is typically armed only with AK-47s, with very limited firing range).

If these machine-guns have in fact been removed at Khartoum’s insistence, the APCs will be of greatly diminished value, even as these highly fuel-consumptive vehicles will be completely without value if the AU does not secure for them, wherever they are deployed, a full and independent fuel supply. Here it is worth recalling how effectively Khartoum kept the AU’s helicopters grounded by opportunistically denying them fuel throughout summer 2004.

Moreover, any serious assessment of the deteriorating security situation in Darfur---including the escalating and changing nature of the violence---makes all too clear that 105 APCs cannot begin to change the fundamental dynamics of violence threatening approximately 3.5 million conflict-affected Darfuris, spread over a region the size of France. The vehicles are far too few; their age ensures that many will be in need of maintenance at any given time in this extremely harsh environment (and the AU record on vehicle maintenance is quite poor); and there is no guarantee that they will not be the victims of road mines (which abound in Darfur) laid by the various parties.


Daily reports of rapidly escalating and increasingly chaotic violence in Darfur come with steadily greater insistence. Highly credible sources, with direct access to intelligence from the ground, report intense fighting just north of el-Geneina, capital of West Darfur. If this fighting spreads into el-Geneina itself, all humanitarian organizations may be forced to evacuate. Kofi Annan noted in his recent report to the UN Security Council that, "non-essential UN and some international [humanitarian staff] have been relocated [out of el-Geneina]" (Monthly Report of the Secretary-General on Darfur, Section 5, November 16, 2005). Annan also notes that "all roads out of [el-Geneina] are restricted for humanitarian traffic," leaving hundreds of thousands of vulnerable civilians beyond the reach of aid organizations.

Other sources on the ground (including UN officials) report very serious new fighting near the important villages of Gereida and Tulus (south of Nyala, capital of South Darfur). The nature of the fighting remains unclear, as AU investigators have issued superficial, even contradictory accounts; but ominously, much of the violence seems to be resumed in-fighting between the two insurgency movements (the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army and the much smaller Justice and Equality Movement). More than 10,000 civilians are newly displaced according to UN officials (Reuters [el-Fasher], November 18, 2005).

More specifically, the UN reports "fighting took place in Serguela [approximately 100 kilometers south of Nyala] between the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Falata tribe"; the November 15, 2005 UN sit-rep on Darfur/Sudan reports that during one attack, "five SLA members and three Falata were killed. Fighting continued on 6 and 7 November, when about 1,500 armed tribesmen attacked Dar Es Salam, Jamali, Funfo, Tabeldyad, Um Djantara, Um Putrum in Gereida area, burning most of the villages. On 11 November, Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) forces attacked villages near Serguela, during which 62 JEM members are reported to have been killed. Over 10,000 IDPs, mainly from the Massalit tribe, are now seeking refuge at Gereida as a result of the fighting."

The UN has also reported what seems to be increasingly violent in-fighting between Arab militia forces, which are no longer able to sustain themselves with pillaging and looting attacks of vulnerable African villages (UN Sudan/Darfur sit-rep, November 15, 2005). More than 80% of these have already been destroyed, with enormous losses of foodstocks and cattle. The former inhabitants are largely displaced and bereft. As a consequence, the Arab militias are increasingly desperate for food, as well as cattle with which to barter; in some cases they are attempting to make violent claims on lands that have previously been cleared by their scorched-earth tactics.

This violence is accelerating and clearly beyond AU control. It gives every sign of continuing to accelerate during the current harvest season---a harvest, which because of relentless insecurity on the ground, is only a fraction of normal size. Moreover, harvested food will become a target for pillaging, even as crops while still in the ground are being ravaged by the camels and cattle of the Janjaweed, as well as noncombatant nomadic populations that have been denied their traditional migration routes: "There are reports of animals eating crops in the Silea area [West Darfur], where there is a large concentration of nomads with livestock" (UN Sudan/Darfur sit-rep, November 15, 2005).

Despite the increasingly chaotic nature of violence in Darfur, despite the greater incidence of opportunistic banditry and infighting among the combatants, the overall effect of such violence continues to further the genocidal goals that have been evident on the part of Khartoum and the Janjaweed for two and a half years. In a chilling memorandum cited by a new report on the AU from the Brookings Institution/Bern University Project on Internal Displacement (see below),

"a Janjaweed official urges all commanders and security officers in Darfur to ’change the demography of Darfur and make it void of African tribes.’ The document goes on to encourage ’killing burning villages, farms, terrorizing people, confiscating property from members of African tribes and forcing them from Darfur.’" (page 8)

Having so largely succeeded in their goals, Khartoum’s National Islamic Front and its Janjaweed proxies need less and less to engage in direct violent destruction of the targeted ethnic groups; genocide by attrition will now complete the accomplishment of these "demographic" ambitions. This is not to say that large-scale violence, involving all major combatants, has ended. Indeed, Reuters very recently (November 19, 2005) reported on significant military conflict between Khartoum’s regular forces and insurgents in the Jebel Moun area of West Darfur. For a broad overview of recent violence on the part of the Janjaweed and Khartoum’s regular forces in Darfur, see "US State Department Policy on Sudan" by this writer (November 7, 2005, http://www.sudanreeves.org/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=76).


The AU force that continues to stand as the only international response to this avalanche of violence and human destruction is overwhelmed. To understand the nature of AU limitations and failures in deploying to Darfur, we need look carefully at a series of recent analyses:

[1] Refugees International, "No Power to Protect: The African Union Mission in Sudan" (November 2005, http://www.refugeesinternational.org/content/publication); hereafter RI

[2] Brookings Institution/Bern University, "The Protecting of Two Million Internally Displaced: The Successes and Shortcomings of the African Union in Darfur," (November 2005, http://www.brookings.edu/fp/projects/idp/200511_au_darfur.pdf); hereafter BR

[3] International Crisis Group, "The AU’s Mission in Darfur: Bridging the Gaps," (July 6, 2005 http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=3547&l=1); hereafter ICG

The clear implication of these reports in aggregate is that the AU has neither the ability nor the potential capacity---even with substantial transport, logistic, and equipment aid---to protect the vulnerable civilians and humanitarian operations in Darfur. This conclusion must be understood in the context of overwhelming urgency:

"’My warning is the following: if [insecurity] continues to escalate, if it continues to be so dangerous on humanitarian work, we may not be able to sustain our operation for 2.5 million people requiring lifesaving assistance,’ said Jan Egeland, head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. ’It could all end tomorrow---it’s as serious as that,’ he told reporters at UN offices in Geneva." (AP, September 28, 2005)

In the almost two months since Egeland first made this warning, security has continued to deteriorate rapidly. Darfur is out of time. No morally relevant evaluation of AU capacity or potential can be made in terms of what might happen, what might be achieved, what might be deployed months from now: the security crisis is fully upon us now, and it is in terms of present abilities and capacity that the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) must be judged. As UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, recently declared in a brutally frank assessment of security in Darfur, the "AU peace force was hopelessly under-manned, under-equipped, and the world appeared to have lost interest" (Reuters, October 21, 2005). "Everything is getting out of control; [ ] the critical moment is from now to the end of the year. We are close to a moment in which a new major tragedy might occur in Darfur."

Guterres continued:

"Our [humanitarian] staff can barely move. There is no security. What we are witnessing on the ground is a very serious deterioration." (Reuters, October 21, 2005)

"[Guterres warned] that the cease-fire [Darfur] is unraveling, which could lead to a catastrophic increase in deaths in coming weeks and spread instability in sub-Saharan Africa. [ ] ’People are dying, and dying in large numbers.’" (Los Angeles Times, October 23, 2005)

And still the world community accepts the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) as the sole means of protecting civilians and humanitarian workers.


Commentary on the AMIS mandate is often disingenuous, but the facts are readily discernible. AMIS does not have a peacekeeping mandate; it does not have a mandate to protect civilians or humanitarian operations; its Civilian Police component has no independent enforcement authority (it can only monitor and accompany Sudanese police); beyond monitoring a non-existent "cease-fire," the full extent of civilian protection mandated is contained in an October 20, 2004 AU Peace and Security Council Communiqu�:

"[AU forces can] protect civilians whom it encounters under imminent threat and in the immediate vicinity, within resources and capability, it being understood that protection of the civilian population the responsibility of the government of Sudan." (point 7, paragraph 6)

Nothing highlights the shameful political failure of the AU more than its unwillingness to confront Khartoum over this transparently inadequate mandate.


One reason the AU doesn’t demand a more effective mandate is because it fears Khartoum will refuse to allow more troops into Darfur under a stronger mandate, even as the force currently deploying is by all accounts woefully under-sized. As the BR notes all too accurately: "Sudanese officials have adamantly insisted that any increase in troops numbers be allowed only if the mandate does not change" (page 17). This shamefully unpublicized but deeply constraining quid pro quo makes it impossible for the international community to lobby for a more effective mandate: if Khartoum has successfully threatened the AU, silencing any demand for an appropriate mandate, there is little the international community can do without first generating meaningful political resolve on the part of the AU Peace and Security Council. The upshot is that a force radically too small has deployed with a grossly inadequate mandate.

BR reports that "as of October 24, 2005, there were 5,583 military (including 699 military observers) and 1,198 civilian police for a total of 6,781"---almost a thousand personnel short of the 7,731 that the AU agreed in March 2005 to deploy by September 30, 2005 (BR page 16). Further, this is far short of what conventional benchmarks for a peacekeeping force indicate as necessary. Whether using the ratio of "peacekeeping troops to population" or the ratio of "peacekeeping troops to hostile forces," the AMIS force is less than a third of what is required (see various reports at "Protect Darfur," http://www.protectdarfur.co.uk). This is one reason Jan Egeland, head of UN humanitarian operations, has stressed that the force in Darfur "needs to be boosted to three times the strength of the current" force (UN IRIN, September 29, 2005).

BR recommends that the international community "increase immediately the number of troops in Darfur to at least 20,000 and provide the requisite financial and logistical assistance," and that the mandate of the mission be strengthened so that "troops have clear responsibility to protect civilians and Internally Displaced Persons and [ ] humanitarian assistance" (page 53).

BR also recognizes, importantly, that efforts to expand force size using AU resources confront an inevitable roadblock:

"As AMIS expands, along with demands placed on the AU from other peacekeeping operation in South Sudan, Congo, and Somalia, combined with security crises at home (Nigeria, Ethiopia), it will become increasingly difficult to maintain [troop] quality [at higher AMIS force levels]." (page 25)

This decline in troop quality is already clearly in evidence according to a number of military observers.

ICG recommended in July that a force of 12,000-15,000 troops be deployed to Darfur, with a clear civilian protection mandate (ICG page 1). ICG also explicitly recognizes the inadequacies of AMIS and the need for non-AMIS troops, and recommends a NATO "bridging force." Courageously, ICG also recognizes that that if "the Sudanese government does not accept such a mission, NATO and the AU would need to prepare a much larger one to operate in a non-permissive environment" (page 2).

Refugees International recommends that the force in Darfur be brought under the auspices of the UN: "in the future the crisis in Darfur will need to be handled by a UN peace enforcement mission, which can build" on the AU (page ii); RI quotes approvingly in its Executive Summary a senior AU official: "In the long run, the UN will have to take over a peace agreement, with 20-25,000 soldiers" (page ii). It must be noted, however, that nearly all observers believe that bringing the mission under the authority of the UN ("blue-hatting" the mission) will take many months, with little encouragement offered by the pace of deployment in the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Sudan, or by the presence of veto-wielding China on the UN Security Council (which would have to approve any UN mission in Darfur).

Moreover, Darfur peace negotiations in Abuja (Nigeria) show no meaningful progress, and may collapse entirely. The AU’s announcement (November 18, 2005) of a week’s delay in the start of the next negotiating session may, as previously, be the beginning of serial delays. The deep fractures within the SLA/M only grow more paralyzing of the movement and its ability to organize a coherent diplomatic team and set of positions on key issues. In short, Darfur requires not a peacekeeping force, but a large peacemaking force with the equivalent of a robust UN Chapter VII mandate.


As significant in many ways as the grossly inadequate size of AU forces in Darfur is their clear inability to communicate effectively over the vast geographic expanse of the region. For in all ways, AMIS is severely handicapped in its communications abilities, badly reducing force efficiency and effectiveness. Extended excerpts from the RI report (which expand on earlier ICG findings):

"One of AMIS’ biggest weaknesses in terms of skills is in its Command, Control and Communications, and Intelligence (or ’C3I’) functions. Sources in Darfur told RI that AMIS suffers from language and cultural barriers between officers from various countries, confusion in procedures, limited future planning, and ineffective communications systems. Much of this stems from lack of peacekeeping experience. Many Military Observers do not have basic investigatory skills." (page 9)

"AMIS’ communications and communications monitoring equipment, which are crucial to an effective, modern fighting force, are insufficient. While many AMIS vehicles have VHF and HF radios, none of the radios is encrypted for security. Thus any movements or actions by AMIS are easily monitored and tracked by belligerent parties. When RI was driving with a patrol, there were no radios allowing one vehicle to communicate to another. In addition, the more remote bases lack VSAT email systems to facilitate efficient reporting and command and control on a round-the-clock basis. Some lower-level headquarters are forced to read reports out over the radio or hand-write reports and have them driven to their senior-level command each day." (page 15)

While some of these difficulties could be overcome with proper equipment, a great many of the problems suggested here require communications training and improvement in language and electronic communication skills that would take months before truly changing the nature of AMIS operations in Darfur.

The BR military assessment highlights as well some of the key deficiencies in AMIS communications abilities: AMIS lacks "fast warning of imminent attack"; lacks "continuous, all-source, and real-time intelligence"; lacks "ability to distinguish among combatants"; and lacks "flexible command and control of distributed forces" (page 35).

BR also notes that AMIS Civilian Police "suffer from severe communications problems, which, if anything, are worse than AMIS military must endure"; "one AMIS police sector cannot communicate directly with another" (page 20).


The intelligence capabilities of the AU are disastrously weak. Human intelligence, aerial and ground surveillance, intercept capability, and analytic capacity are virtually non-existent. RI notes,

"Even when AMIS does collect valuable information, RI was told by AMIS officers and advisors that there is a lack of suitably trained personnel capable of analyzing this information for intelligence value, which hinders any given commander’s ability to react." (page 10)

Even more bluntly BR notes:

"Lack of planning and establishing an intelligence infrastructure within AMIS meant that there was no routine way to gather and analyze intelligence on either the government forces and their militias or the various rebel groups. Good intelligence is vital in Darfur, yet AMIS’ capacity to gather, analyze and act on information has been very weak. ’The AU does not understand the importance of having an "intelligence cell" and of having good information on the command structure, for example, of the Janjaweed.’ ’AMIS force headquarters is blind when it comes to intelligence,’ according to a former advisor." (page 37)

An appropriate intelligence capacity cannot be "airlifted" to AMIS by NATO or the EU; it cannot be "purchased" along with appropriate equipment. In this crucial arena, AMIS will be crippled so long as it insists on sole control of the mission in Darfur.

Given the dramatic deficiencies in communications and intelligence, as well as acute logistical and transport shortcomings, it is not difficult to see why the International Crisis Group reports in a recent analysis:

"It is common thinking in Brussels [among EU officials] that increased troop numbers in AMIS have been accompanied by declining efficiency. One EU official claimed AMIS is operating at 40 to 50% capacity, while another asserted the mission conducted fewer patrols in September than in April and May when it had a least 2,000 fewer troops." ("The EU/AU Partnership in Darfur," October 25, 2005 [Brussels], page 12, http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?l=1&id=3766)


BR devotes an entire section to the "AU Civilian Police"; it is a painfully revealing indictment of what should be a key part of AMIS, and does much to explain why security in the camps for displaced persons remains so poor. The AU only belatedly,

"realized the importance of stationing competent, well-trained police officers in and near the IDP camps. One UN official familiar with the AU start-up mission said, ’The AU had no clue on police issues. They said there was no major role for police and they never even would have considered a police component if the UN had not recommended it.’ The AU had never had a police component before. They had no operational plan or recruiting criteria. The UN Civilian Police Division in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations offered a concept of operations and guidelines on recruiting, training, logistics and deployment. The UN even shared its roster of African police that had peacekeeping experience, but the AU did not take advantage of this valuable resource."

"AMIS police, who are not armed, arrived slowly and it was only in February 2005 that a significant number started to deploy. Coming from many different countries with different policing traditions, forging a unified team is difficult. The language barrier is significant. [ ] Some experts believe that the quality of the AMIS police is not adequate. Their expertise and experience is not what is required for such a difficult mission. There is little screening of applicants prior to deployment, and according to one police expert, the AU ’has not even developed the desired profile and criteria they are looking for in their police.’" (pages 18-19)


In its eight summary pages (34-42) of AMIS weaknesses, BR touches on many important shortcomings and failures that suggest further why the AMIS cannot protect Darfur’s civilians and humanitarian operations. Even a checklist of topic headings makes for deeply dispiriting reading:

- *"Slow and Cumbersome Command and Control"
- *"High Turnover of Sector Commanders"
- *"Inadequate Planning and Management Capacity"
- *"Logistical Shortcomings"
- *"Absence of Standard Operating Procedures in AMIS’ First Year"
- *"Lack of Rules of Engagement Governing Use of Firearms or Force"
- *"Poor Coordination of Outside Assistance"
- *"Weak Financial Oversight"
- *"Poor Data Management"
- *"Lack of Good Intelligence Information"
- *"Insufficient Coordination between AMIS’ Military and Civilian Police"
- *"Too Close an Alliance between AMIS Civilian Police and Sudan’s Police"
- *"Inadequate Access to Rebel-Controlled Areas"
- *"Limited Patrol Capacity [ ] and No Ability for Night Patrols"
- *"Inconsistent Relationships with NGO’s and UN Agencies"
- *"Problems of Including Sudanese Armed Forces and Rebel Groups in AMIS Investigations" (this shortcoming bears particular attention, since it works to explain why the AU is such an ineffective conduit to the international community about realities on the ground in Darfur---ER)

[six other significant shortcomings are listed by BR]

US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer may argue "the African Union effort in Darfur has demonstrated why deployment of African troops is a viable option" in responding to the crisis in Darfur. But the evidence in these recent and detailed assessments make overwhelmingly clear that such an argument is finally vicious mendacity, serving only the most expedient policy purpose, viz. to ensure that no meaningful discussion of Darfur’s real security needs gains international traction.


To be sure, the AU for its part itself makes such mendacity and disingenuousness all too easy. AU Special Representative to Darfur, Baba Gana Kingibe, recently (August 2005) declared: "We stand or fall in Darfur. If we fail here, nobody is going to look to the AU for a solution to other conflicts on the continent" (BR page 25). It is an irony beyond tragedy that Kingibe speaks more truly than he knows; for one of the greatest costs of AU failure in Darfur will indeed be a terrible loss in credibility for an organization that deserves the strongest possible international support. That the still fledgling AU cannot presently undertake the enormous challenges of human security in Darfur says nothing about its future critical importance as a source of peacekeeping and human protection in Africa.

Still, we must accept that the AU is not ready for the challenges of Darfur, militarily or politically. Indeed, the ominous prospect of an AU summit hosted by Khartoum’s genocidaires calls into question whether the African Union has fully surmounted the political challenges of replacing the corrupt and self-serving Organization of African Unity (OAU).

For its part, the international community may choose to accept honest, well-researched assessments of AU limitations, political and military---or it may accept with Jendayi Frazer the shameful pretense that the AU can somehow avert ongoing genocidal destruction in Darfur.

The choice gives all evidence of having been made; the ghosts of Rwanda continue to stir.

- Eric Reeves
- Smith College
- Northampton, MA 01063
- Tel: 413-585-3326
- Email: ereeves@smith.edu
- Website: www.sudanreeves.org

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