Home | Comment & Analysis    Tuesday 25 September 2007

Darfur Remains Adrift: A skeptical assessment of UN resolution 1769 (1)

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More than 50 days after the culminating UN Security Council resolution
to provide security for civilians and humanitarians in Darfur, there are
more reasons than ever to doubt it will succeed (Part 1 of 2)

Eric Reeves

September 24, 2007 — The chances for effective deployment of civilian police and
well-trained military forces to Darfur continue to be compromised by
excessive international accommodation of the National Islamic Front
(National Congress Party) regime in Khartoum. A key actor forcing this
compromised diplomatic response to massive ongoing atrocity crimes, as
well as to the continuing threat of humanitarian collapse, is the
African Union---and most particularly African Union Commissioner Alpha
Oumar Konaré. If there is to be any chance for expeditious and
meaningful deployment of the force specified by UN Security Council
Resolution 1769, then there must be very near term and consequential
pressure on both Khartoum and Addis Ababa. The latter serves as
headquarters for the still-nascent African organization that is fast
squandering its meager political and military credibility in Darfur.

Moreover, it remains the case that China has only begun to use its
singularly powerful leverage with Khartoum to produce changes in the
regime’s military behavior on the ground in Darfur, and to adopt a
reasonable negotiating posture. This is so despite glib optimism in
some reporting quarters on the “genocide Olympics” campaign, which
despite significant successes in compelling China’s attention has yet
to exert enough pressure to force the needed changes in diplomatic,
political, and economic policies toward Sudan. Nor can this stubborn
fact be changed simply with expedient assertions that somehow Beijing
has been especially helpful on Darfur. Here, Ban Ki-moon, head of UN
peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno, US Special Envoy for Sudan Andrew
Natsios, British officials, and others are all guilty. They would
encourage the international community to believe what is so far
conspicuously and mainly an international public relations effort is
actually a major Chinese policy change toward Sudan.

But the grim geopolitical facts cannot be so easily rhetorically
airbrushed. For those not governed by expediency, it should be clear
that Beijing has made no effort to moderate Khartoum’s consistently
grotesque understatement and misrepresentations of the humanitarian
situation in Darfur. Indeed, Beijing’s envoy for Darfur, Liu Guijin,
declared at a media briefing following his May trip to Darfur that, “I
didn’t see a desperate scenario of people dying of hunger." Rather, Liu
said, “the people in Darfur thanked him for the Chinese government’s
help in building dams and providing water supply equipment.” Such a
brutally callous assessment of the Darfur catastrophe of course echoes
Khartoum’s own perverse accounts of the humanitarian crisis: that it
has been overblown by Western humanitarian organizations for funding
purposes; that only 9,000 people have died in the course of four and a
half years of massive genocidal violence and displacement; that rape
does not exist because (according to NIF President al-Bashir) “it is
not in Sudanese culture”; that Darfur advocacy efforts are a Jewish
conspiracy; and that if there is any problem in Darfur, it is no more
serious than normal inter-tribal fighting following a long drought.

Complementary accounts, similar to Ambassador Liu’s, have emanated
regularly from the Foreign Ministry in Beijing.

Just as consequentially, Beijing continues to insulate the Khartoum
regime from pressure to respond to key demands and requirements made
previously by the UN Security Council. Beijing has consistently and
insistently ruled out the possibility of sanctions as a coercive tool,
even in the face of Khartoum’s obdurate defiance of the international
community. Thus at various points over the past three-plus years, the
Security Council has passed a range of resolutions (sometimes with China
abstaining) only to see specific demands and requirements brazenly
ignored or flouted by Khartoum. This must serve as the primary context
in which to assess the chances for successful deployment of the force
specified in UN Security Council Resolution 1769.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF BAD FAITH

On July 3, 2004 the National Islamic Front (NIF) regime signed in
Khartoum a joint communiqué with then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan,
promising to “immediately start to disarm the Janjaweed and other
armed outlaw groups” (Joint Communiqué, Khartoum, July 3, 2004).
Shortly afterwards, UN Security Council Resolution 1556 (July 30, 2004)
“demanded” that the regime disarm the Janjaweed and “apprehend and
bring to justice Janjaweed leaders and their associates who have incited
and carried out human rights and international humanitarian law
violations and other atrocities” (UN Security Council Resolution 1556,
paragraph 6, July 30, 2004). These promises and “demands” have
meant nothing.

Subsequent to Resolution 1556, Annan’s Special Representative for
Sudan, Jan Pronk, negotiated a disastrous “safe areas” agreement on
August 5, 2004. Pronk’s ill-conceived “Plan of Action” was
excoriated by human rights organizations, and quietly dropped by the UN
the following month. But as part of this “Plan of Action,” Khartoum
was to provide a list of Janjaweed leaders to the UN. The regime of
course again reneged. Nor did these génocidaires provide any
information on the "arrest or disarmament of Janjaweed and other armed
groups," per the terms of Security Council Resolution 1564 (September
18, 2004).

Khartoum also committed to disarming the Janjaweed in the ill-conceived
and disastrously consummated Darfur Peace Agreement (May 2006); yet
again, this meant nothing on the ground in Darfur, and the Janjaweed, as
well as other paramilitary forces into which they have been recycled,
continue to wreak vast civilian havoc.

On March 29, 2005, UN Security Council Resolution 1591 imposed a
comprehensive arms embargo on all parties to the conflict in Darfur,
including the Khartoum regime. But as Amnesty International and the UN
Panel of Experts on Darfur have conclusively shown, Khartoum continues
to violate the embargo, directing a large and destabilizing weapons flow
into Darfur that benefits not only the Janjaweed, but other paramilitary
and security forces serving as proxies for Khartoum’s regular Sudan
Armed Forces (SAF). In its September 2006 report on Darfur, the UN
Panel of Experts found that,

“In spite of the clear understanding of its obligations under
Security Council resolution 1591 (2005), at the time of writing this
report [August 31, 2006], the Government of the Sudan still had not
requested approval from the Committee to move weapons, ammunition or
other military equipment into Darfur, thereby knowingly violating the
provisions of the resolution [1591].” (Introductory Summary)

The Panel of Experts also found:

“The [UN] Panel [of Experts] has credible information that the
Government of the Sudan continues to support the Janjaweed through the
provision of weapons and vehicles. The Janjaweed/armed militias appear
to have upgraded their modus operandi from horses, camels and AK-47s to
land cruisers, pickup trucks and rocket-propelled grenades. Reliable
sources indicate that the Janjaweed continue to be subsumed into the
Popular Defense Force in greater numbers than those indicated in the
previous reports of the Panel. Their continued access to ammunition and
weapons is evident in their ability to coordinate with the Sudanese
armed forces in perpetrating attacks on villages and to engage in armed
conflict with rebel groups.” (Report of the UN Panel of Experts,
August 31, 2006, paragraph 76)

Both Amnesty International and the UN Panel of Experts have also
provided conclusive photographic evidence that Khartoum paints its
military aircraft in a white color that seeks to mimic the color of UN
and African Union aircraft. This egregious violation of international
law not only puts UN and AU aircraft at risk, but as Human Rights Watch
has recently reported, “People in desperate need of aid may flee from
humanitarian flights if they cannot distinguish them from [disguised]
government military aircraft” (“Darfur 2007: Chaos by Design,”
September 2007, page 14, at http://hrw.org/reports/2007/sudan0907/).

CHINA: THE KEY ENABLER OF KHARTOUM’S GENOCIDAL COUNTER-INSURGENCY

It is crucial that we see clearly China’s central role in enabling
Khartoum to treat UN Security Council resolutions with such complete
contempt. Again, China---a veto-wielding member of the Security
Council---rejects categorically the possibility of imposing any form of
sanctions on Khartoum, and worked to ensure that Resolution 1769
contained no such threat (on China’s role, see Human Rights Watch,
“Darfur 2007: Chaos by Design,” page 71). This in turn works to
deny a diffident international community the opportunity to impose
meaningful consequences in the certain event of the regime’s attempt
to sabotage the UN/AU “hybrid” force authorized by 1769. Beijing
has been insistent and uncompromising in its refusal to countenance even
the possibility of sanctions against Khartoum. Nothing does more to
assure these canny, ruthless survivalists that they still control the
terms of deployment for any international force in Darfur.

Chinese behavior around the drafting of Resolution 1769 also included
deferring to Khartoum’s insistence that the mandate of the deploying
“hybrid” force be crucially limited: the force will not able to
disarm combatants using weapons introduced into the Darfur theater in
violation of previous UN Security Council resolutions, even if these
combatants are threatening to attack civilians. Here we should recall
that UN Security Council Resolution 1706 (August 31, 2007) explicitly
authorized that the proposed force be able...

“to seize or collect, as appropriate, arms or related materials whose
presence in Darfur is in violations of the Agreements and the measure
imposed by paragraphs 7 and 8 of Resolution 1556 [July 30, 2004].”
(Resolution 1706, paragraph 12)

This mandate enjoyed Chapter 7 authority. A similar mandate was
included in the original draft of Resolution 1769, but Khartoum objected
strenuously to the provision concerning disarmament. China in turn was
instrumental in stripping out this key provision, thus paralyzing the
“hybrid” UN/AU force in any number of readily imaginable
circumstances. This consequential weakening of Resolution 1769 has been
far too little remarked.

Compounding the armaments crisis in Darfur, Beijing refuses to commit
to a broad arms embargo for Khartoum and all of Sudan, even as it knows
that arms shipments to Khartoum are certainly destined for Darfur in
violation of Resolution 1561. As Amnesty International has noted in its
important report of May 2007 (“Sudan: Arms continuing to fuel serious
human rights violations in Darfur,” May 8, 2007),

“Arms, ammunition and related equipment are still being transferred
to Darfur in the west of Sudan for military operations in which
extremely serious violations and abuse of human rights and international
humanitarian law are committed by the Sudanese government, the
government-backed Janjawid militias and armed opposition groups.”

“This report describes the arming process and its effects on the
people of Darfur and neighbouring eastern Chad, many of whom have been
forcibly displaced. It provides details of violations of the United
Nations arms embargo on Darfur that occurred during January to March
2007. Amongst other things, it shows how the Government of Sudan
violates the UN arms embargo and disguises some of its military
logistics operations in Darfur, and what arms supplied to Sudan from
China and Russia---two Permanent Members of the Security Council---have
been used for violations of the Security Council’s own mandatory arms
embargo.” (full report at
http://web.amnesty.org/pages/sdn-080507-news-eng)

[See also Amnesty International, “Sudan: New photographs show further
breach of UN arms embargo on Darfur,” August 24, 2007,
http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engAFR540452007?open&of=eng-SDN]

PROSPECTS FOR AND THREATS TO 1769 DEPLOYMENT

The September 21, 2007 meeting of international actors at the UN in New
York provides a telling snapshot of various attitudes toward deployment
of the 26,000 civilian police and military troops, as well as the 5,000
civilian personnel, that make up the “hybrid” UN/African Union force
authorized by Resolution 1769. We can learn much about the prospects
for, and threats to, deployment of this force by attending carefully to
the positions---articulated and implied---on such key issues as the
composition of the force, critical deficits in personnel and resources
almost a month after the deadline (August 31, 2007) for commitments to
the force, command-and-control (chain of command) issues, unresolved
issues of mandate, and the likelihood of still further slippage in the
schedule for deployment.

All of this should have a bearing on our understanding of Khartoum’s
strategy for delaying, weakening, and finally paralyzing the force once
it deploys. This strategy is comprehensive, already debilitating, and
certain to be resourceful and unyielding, no matter what the
consequences for civilians and humanitarians in Darfur. Only
fundamental shifts in international attitudes towards the National
Islamic Front regime---particularly on the part of China---can forestall
Khartoum’s ultimate success in sustaining a violent chaos and
consequent genocide by attrition.

Time is not on the side of the people of Darfur; humanitarian
indicators are extremely worrisome, particular those for malnutrition.
Conditions in the camps for displaced persons are more violent, more
unstable, and more likely to precipitate violence that will preclude
humanitarian access and which may lead to full-scale assaults by
Khartoum’s regular forces or Janjaweed militia allies. Humanitarian
access is already badly curtailed, both to the camps and to rural areas.
And insecurity threatening aid organizations has become intolerable.
Just today [September 24, 2007], the large and critically important
humanitarian organization Oxfam indicated that it was on the threshold
of withdrawing from Darfur:

“Oxfam could withdraw from Darfur if security worsens, its country
director said on Monday, amid reports of 10 attacks in the past four
days in Sudan’s violent and remote west. [ ] ‘It’s certainly a strong
possibility that if things get any worse Oxfam would have to
withdraw,’ the British aid agency’s country director Caroline
Nursey told Reuters. ‘Oxfam is operating at the limits of what it can
tolerate as an organisation. In most circumstances if the security
situation were as bad as it is in Darfur we would withdraw.’”
(Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], September 24, 2007)

In this context it is particularly distressing to see how assiduously
Ban Ki-moon has cultivated a mechanical optimism in commenting on
Darfur. Ban, who in July declared that he discerned “credible and
considerable progress” in ending the Darfur catastrophe, followed suit
earlier this month after his meeting with NIF President Omar al-Bashir:

“Ban emerged from his meeting with [ ] al-Bashir with an upbeat tone.
‘We have taken a big step toward our shared goal of bringing peace to
Darfur and looking forward to the long-term development of Sudan,’ Ban
said at a news conference. ‘We are at a new beginning. Let us seize
this moment together.’” (Associated Press [dateline: Khartoum],
September 6, 2007)

Even prior to this meeting in Khartoum, Ban declared in an interview
with an Italian newspaper that “Bashir had promised him cooperation in
a weekend [September 1-2, 2007] telephone conversation. ‘[Bashir] told
me he will do everything to help the [UN/AU “hybrid”] mission
logistically,’ [Ban] said.” (Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], September
3, 2007)

Most recently and preposterously, speaking on CNN television, Ban
declared,

“he had been assured by Sudan’s President Omar al-Beshir that the aid
for the millions of suffering people in the war-torn region would flow
smoothly. ‘He will faithfully comply with all of the Security Council
resolutions and his government’s own commitment,’ Ban said. ‘We will
be very vigilant in urging him and in monitoring the implementation of
his commitment.’” (Agence France-Presse [dateline: UN/New York],
September 20, 2007)

It would seem Ban is an exceedingly poor student of Khartoum’s long
history of bad faith, reneging, and mendacity. His confidence in
al-Bashir’s commitment to a “new beginning,” and to provide all
necessary logistical assistance to the mission, is dangerously fatuous
and ignores the ruthless survivalism that governs every decision and
statement made by the NIF regime. Moreover, Ban’s ill-informed
comments work to diminish the urgency of deployment of the “hybrid”
force. During his very brief trip to el-Fasher, Ban declared---despite
all evidence to the contrary---that “security [in Darfur] was
improving” (Associated Press [dateline: el-Fasher, North Darfur],
September 5, 2007).

In fact, just days later the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) declared that, “over 240,000 people have
been newly displaced or re-displaced in 2007.” A report prepared by
OCHA, along with other UN agencies and nongovernmental humanitarian
organizations, found that, “insecurity was complicating efforts to
respond to the needs of the newly internally displaced persons (IDPs)
and the delivery of assistance to millions of people depending on aid.
‘During August, the humanitarian situation in Darfur has
deteriorated,’ said the report, the ‘Sudan Humanitarian Overview.’
It added that attacks against humanitarian staff continued throughout
the month.” (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks [dateline:
Khartoum], September 18, 2007).

Moreover, the optimistic Ban would soon be compelled by events to speak
about Khartoum’s military savagery in Darfur (UN News Service,
September 12, 2007, “Secretary-General alarmed by deadly air, ground
attack on South Darfur town”):

“Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed deep concern at the
Sudanese Government’s ‘brutal aerial and ground attack’ on a South
Darfur town that has left at least 25 civilians dead and took place just
days after the United Nations chief visited the war-torn region.”

Offensive military flights of all sorts are explicitly prohibited by UN
Security Council Resolution 1591---but yet again this prohibition has
meant nothing to the Khartoum regime.

Amnesty International has recently reported:

“Aerial attacks by the Government of Sudan on civilians in Darfur
continue, with the UN reporting air attacks in North Darfur at the end
of June [2007]. Thousands of displaced villagers have fled the Jebel
Moon/Sirba area in West Darfur after renewed attacks on areas under
control of armed opposition groups by government of Sudan forces
supported by Janjawid. Local people said that helicopters brought in
arms to the government and Janjawid forces. In South Darfur a Sudanese
government Antonov aircraft carried out bombing raids following a 2
August [2007] attack by the opposition Justice and Equality Movement on
the town of Adila, targeting villages and water points. Since then there
have been a number of Sudanese government Antonov bombing raids on
Ta’alba, near the town of Adila, and on 13 August [2007] the
villages of Habib Suleiman and Fataha were bombed.” (Amnesty
International, August 24, 2007, News Service No. 161)

In its own very recent report, Human Rights Watch chose to highlight
another such attack, this on the village of Um Rai:

“One of the most notorious [of Khartoum’s] bombing campaigns of
2007 occurred in and round the village Um Rai between April 19 and 29.
Government helicopter gunships and Antonov aircraft attacked the village
and killed and would civilians and destroyed property and livestock. A
school filled with some children was hit, injuring several of them. Two
civilians adults were also killed in the attack. Both the UN
secretary-general and the high commissioner for human rights condemned
the bombings as indiscriminate because they failed to distinguish
between military targets and civilians.” (“Darfur 2007: Chaos by
Design,” page 37).

The title of the Human Rights Watch report contains a critical truth
that has been deliberately downplayed by commentators such as Julie
Flint and Alex de Waal (see their Washington Post op/ed, “In Darfur,
From Genocide to Anarchy,” August 28, 2007): for the “chaos” that
certainly characterizes current violence in Darfur is indeed by
design---it represents Khartoum’s deliberate effort to extend its
genocidal counter-insurgency by other means. As Human Rights Watch puts
the matter:

“The government [in Khartoum] continues to stoke the chaos and, in
some areas, exploit intercommunal tensions that escalate into open
hostilities, apparently in an effort to ‘divide and rule’ and
maintain military and political dominance over the region.” (page 6)

“[The abusive policies and practices that contribute to civilian
insecurity include] deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on civilians,
continuing support for abusive militia/Janjaweed and the failure to
disarm them, obstructing the deployment and work of the [African Union
mission in Darfur] peacekeepers and humanitarian workers, failing to
address the culture of impunity (including by failing to abolish laws
providing immunity or otherwise strengthen the justice system), and
refusing to cooperate with the International Criminal Court, and
allowing the consolidation of ethnic cleansing through land use and
occupation.” (page 6)

This “consolidation of ethnic cleansing” has been reported
consistently for many months, but most recently has taken the ominous
form of Arab groups from Chad, Niger, and other regions of Sudan
settling on the lands of displaced African farmers and herders. This,
as many diplomats and observers on the ground have noted, is an
explosive development, one that could easily lead to a new and sustained
round of violence. UN Special Envoy Jan Eliasson recently declared that
because “many of the villages [in Darfur] are being reoccupied by
people who do not own that land…this is like a ticking time-bomb’”
(United Press International [dateline: Khartoum], September 4, 2007).
Flint and de Waal make no mention of this deeply ominous and threatening
development.

John Prendergast and Colin Thomas-Jensen of the ENOUGH Project also
articulate Human Rights Watch’s argument about Khartoum’s purposes
in orchestrating ongoing violence, and in appropriately strenuous
terms:

“The Darfur [that Flint and de Waal] melodramatically describe---a
“murky world of tribes-in-arms and warlords who serve the highest
bidder”---is precisely what the architects of genocide in Khartoum had
in mind when, beginning in mid-2003, Sudan’s government set forth to
destroy and displace the civilian support base for Darfur’s rebel
groups. The promotion of anarchy and inter-communal (or, popularly,
“inter-tribal”) fighting is part and parcel of Khartoum’s
genocidal counter-insurgency campaign. The conditions in Darfur and
eastern Chad today are not evidence of an end to genocide and the onset
of an entirely new and different war---they are the echoes of
genocide.” (“Echoes of Genocide in Darfur and Eastern Chad,”
September 6, 2007, at
http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2007/09/echoes_of_genocide.html)

But if none of this analysis or assessment figures in the
pronouncements of Ban Ki-moon, the responses and declarations of other
key actors at the UN meeting on September 21, 2007 do much to suggest
why the “hybrid” force offers no near-term promise of security to
the people of Darfur. What follows are synopses of the critical issues
facing the force authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 1769, all
highlighted in one way or another at Friday’s UN gathering:

COMPOSITION OF THE “HYBRID” FORCE

There are many reasons to worry about the make-up of the “hybrid”
UN/AU force, particular the insistence by both Khartoum and the African
Union that there are more than enough contributions from African nations
and that contributions from non-African nations (such as Thailand,
Uruguay, and Norway) are unnecessary. But the AU has already fashioned
a dismaying history of failing to make good on its offers of personnel
and resources. The AU has missed every deployment deadline for force
enhancement in Darfur since first deploying in summer 2004. Although it
is currently authorized to have more than 7,000 troops, civilian police,
and other personnel on the ground, Agence France-Presse reports
([dateline: Khartoum], that the AU has deployed only “5,915 men out of
the 7,000 authorised.” The AU committed to provide some 8,000
peacekeepers for Somalia last January; so far, only about 1,600 Ugandans
have deployed. Jane’s Defense news (August 17, 2007) notes not only
the shortfall in Somalia but that the AU “was not able to provide the
troops for the 5,000-strong force in Burundi.”

It is thus arrogant and morally unconscionable for the AU to object to
non-African contributions to the “hybrid” force, denying a role for
traditional UN troop-contributing countries. Reuters reports from the
UN (September 19, 2007):

“Diplomats at the UN speaking on condition of anonymity told Reuters
this week that the AU is objecting to much needed non-African infantry
soldiers as part of the hybrid force.”

Two days later Reuters again reported:

“Not enough countries have contributed to the peacekeeping force in
Darfur and the African Union is blocking some of those who have,
diplomats said on the eve of a high-level meeting on Sudan on Friday
[September 21, 2007].”

In short, the African Union has capitulated to Khartoum’s demand that
there be no non-African personnel, even if the mission in Darfur is
badly compromised. Khartoum’s ghastly Foreign Minister Lam Akol
figured prominently in the debate as reported by the New York Times
([dateline: UN/New York], September 21, 2007):

“The participants [at the UN meeting] also witnessed a dispute over
the composition of the force that Sudan was insisting must be
all-African but others were saying must have some non-African elements
if it was to meet United Nations standards. ‘We don’t need them,’
Lam Akol, Sudan’s foreign minister, said when asked about troops
offered by Thailand and Uruguay, countries that traditionally supply
trained peacekeepers for United Nations missions. ‘There are enough
African troops,’ he added, saying that Africans had already promised
almost twice the number needed.”

But of course this is yet another lie from Lam Akol. AU commitments in
sheer numbers may exceed the 26,000 civilian police and soldiers
required for the “hybrid” mission, but most of these
“contributions” don’t begin to meet UN peacekeeping standards
or have the requisite equipment (some early AU troops deploying to
Darfur arrived in this extremely hot and difficult region without
boots). Again, the AU’s failure to deploy even authorized forces in
timely fashion, over the course of more than three years on the ground
in Darfur, tells us much too much about future deployment of African
personnel. The example of Somalia is equally dispiriting in what it
reveals of AU capabilities.

There can be little doubt about the deadly game of capitulation that
African Union Commissioner Alpha Oumar Konaré is playing with the lives
of Darfuri civilians, and with the lives of humanitarians seeking to aid
these vulnerable people amidst intolerable insecurity:

“While African nations have offered enough infantry troops for the
force of up to 26,000 troops and police, some of them are without proper
equipment. Consequently UN officials, speaking on condition of
anonymity, said that soldiers would have to be found from other nations.
But Konaré had raised objections to some units, including those offered
by Norway, Uruguay and Thailand.” (Reuters [dateline: UN/New York],
September 21, 2007)

In order to accommodate Khartoum’s terms for force deployment---and
despite the explicitly “hybrid” (UN/AU) nature of the force
authorized by Resolution 1769---Konaré and the AU are prepared to yield
to a regime of génocidaires on the composition of the force, which is to
be essentially African in character, but with clear provision for
well-equipped and well-trained non-African personnel as well. Egypt---a
member of the African Union and the dominant player in the Arab League,
particularly on Sudan-related issues---was equally unhelpful at the UN
meeting:

“[The] Egyptian government has brought its support to the rejection
of the non-African troops in the peacekeeping force to be deployed in
Darfur within the UN-AU Hybrid Operation. Egyptian Foreign Minister
Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that the African continent can provide the
required numbers to complete the formation of the hybrid force to be
deployed in Darfur without having to resort to forces from outside
Africa.” (The Sudan Tribune, citing MENA [Middle East News Agency],
September 22, 2007)

The same dispatch notes:

“During the high level meeting on Darfur, the composition of the
peacekeeping force has revealed splits over the deployment of
non-African troops; Sudan, backed by the AU, had turned down infantry
from Thailand and Uruguay. Khartoum even rejected an engineering unit
from Norway, although it [had] pledged to allow non-African units for
specialized tasks.”

The importance of non-African technical, engineering, logistical, and
transport personnel has been repeatedly underscored. Perhaps the
greatest need is for trained civilian police, which are in particularly
short supply in Africa, even as they are critical to the success of the
“hybrid” mission, and should indeed be deployed on an expedited
basis to the camps and humanitarian sites that are most acutely
threatened (see my analysis of this urgent need at
http://www.sudanreeves.org/Article176.html). Voices making clear
the various particular needs of the mission are numerous:

“Jean-Marie Guehenno, the UN undersecretary-general for peacekeeping,
said earlier this week the force still needs specialized helicopter,
transport and logistical units.” (Reuters [dateline: UN/New York],
September 21, 2007)

European nations have in the main not stepped forward; but as the
example of Khartoum’s rejection of a Norwegian engineering unit
suggests, there is good reason to be suspicious of how “consensual”
an environment the deploying “hybrid” force will find. But the
obligation of European countries is to volunteer the needed forces and
challenge Khartoum’s resistance to deployment:

“European nations have yet to deliver on pledges to contribute troops
to a UN force to be deployed next year in Sudan’s troubled Darfur
region, the head of UN peace missions said in an interview Wednesday.
‘For the time being, there haven’t been many European offers, said
Jean-Marie Guehenno in an interview to Le Monde newspaper. ‘Some are
still thinking about it. The Nordic countries [including Norway] are
ready to take part. But we have not had any concrete offers for
engineering units to dig wells for example, nor for transport,’
[Guehenno] said. ‘This is not good for the force.’” [ ]

“‘What worries me the most is the lack of tactical transport,
trucks, helicopters,’ Guehenno said. He also said the UN will have
trouble meeting targets for an estimated 6,000-strong police force.”
(Agence France Presse [dateline: Paris], September 19, 2007)

The UN’s chief police officer in Sudan, Police Commissioner Kai
Vittrup, recently declared:

“‘I would say to Member States that they have to realize that the
police are an essential part of any peacekeeping operation. The big
countries should contribute much, much more but because of national
diversity it’s very important that the small countries like my own
[Denmark] participate because many small streams create in the end a
river.’ ‘It’s very important to get experienced officers for the
higher positions. Officers who have operational or administrative
experience and especially who have the will to lead, to be
leaders.’” (UN News Service, September 12, 2007)

Again, the African Union is conspicuously without large numbers of the
required civilian police who will make the most immediate difference to
security on the ground in Darfur.

Romeo Dallaire, UN force commander during the Rwandan genocide, has
also been explicit about what must be demanded by the force commander
for the UN/AU “hybrid” force (the acronym is “UNAMID”:
UN/African Union Mission in Darfur):

“It is beyond dispute [ ] that African states themselves simply
cannot provide nearly 20,000 qualified troops (nor enough police).
UNAMID needs attack helicopters, engineers, big cargo lorries,
communications and other capabilities that African states also cannot
provide.” (Open letter from Romeo Dallaire to UNAMID commander General
Martin Agwai, September 16, 2007 [Global Day for Darfur])

In fact, recognition of these basic military and logistical facts is
built into both the explicit and attendant language for Resolution 1769.
US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad was simply re-stating what has
governed international thinking since the July 31, 2007 passage of the
resolution:

“‘We understand that the character of the force has to be African
but (it’s) a UN-AU force,’ with UN member states footing the bill.
‘It has been understood from the beginning that there will be
complementary non-African forces and capabilities available to
complement the predominantly African character of the force,’
Khalilzad said.” (Reuters [dateline: UN/New York], September 21,
2007)

Khartoum’s evident effort to renege on the terms of Resolution 1769
is certainly in character. What is dismaying is that the African Union,
and Egypt, seem determined to assist the regime in its efforts,
including an effort to reduce further the mandate of UNAMID.

WHAT IS THE MANDATE OF THE UN/AU “HYBRID” FORCE?

While Resolution 1769 was stripped, with critical Chinese assistance,
of a mandate to disarm combatants---even those carrying weapons
introduced into Darfur in violation of a UN arms embargo---the mandate
of the UNAMID force to protect civilians and humanitarians could not be
more explicit:

“Acting Under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations:

[a] [the Security Council] decides that UNAMID is authorized to take
the necessary action, in the areas of deployment of its forces and as it
deems within its capabilities, in order to:

[i] protect its personnel, facilities, installations, and equipment,
and to ensure the security and freedom of movement of its own personnel
and humanitarian workers,

[ii] support early and effective implementation of the Darfur Peace
Agreement, prevent the disruption of its implementation and armed
attacks, and protect civilians, without prejudice to the responsibility
of the Government of Sudan.” (UN Security Council Resolution 1769,
July 31, 2007)

General Dallaire provides an apt comment on what can be observed almost
two months later:

“Even since the enactment of Resolution 1769, we have seen ample
indications that the Sudanese government will at every turn seek to
impose a minimalist reading of the UNAMID mandate. The government has
already signalled that it will try to restrict the non-African role in
the mission as much as it can and prolong the internal divisions and
growing chaos which undermine efforts to end the fighting and provide
humanitarian aid to all in need.” (open letter to General Agwai,
September 16, 2007)

Perhaps General Dallaire had in mind comments by Khartoum’s General
Majzoub Rahamah, the officer in charge of international relations at the
Defense Ministry:

“[General Rahamah] said that the military personnel in the [UN/AU]
hybrid operation do not have the right to protect civilians. He further
said that this force has the right to act under chapter 7 only in the
case of self-defense.” (Sudan Tribune, August 19, 2007)

We are likely to see many more such efforts by Khartoum to curtail the
mandate of the “hybrid” force, trading heavily on specious use of
the phrase “without prejudice to the responsibility of the Government
of Sudan” in the language of Resolution 1769. These efforts will be
consistent with the cynicism recently reported by the Los Angeles Times
([dateline: Nyala, South Darfur], September 21, 2007):

“Off-the-record discussions with Sudanese officials hint at the
cynicism behind the cooperation. The UN won’t be able to recruit enough
troops, they predict. And if the troops do come through, there is still
the matter of obtaining land for bases in a place where every acre is
contested, and finding food and water in a place where both are in short
supply.”

Of course the UN won’t be able to recruit enough qualified troops
because of Khartoum’s energetic efforts to insist that they come only
from African countries. And the logistical squeeze that Khartoum has
exerted on the AU force in Darfur shows just how adept the regime is in
making Darfur’s already daunting logistical difficulties almost
insurmountable. It is all well and good for the UN and AU to have
stressed,

“‘the critical importance of receiving sustained support from the
government of Sudan on operational issues, including the land for the
building of UNAMID (the joint UN-AU force) camps, provision of airport
landing rights for heavy aircraft, clearance for night flights, an
agreement to drill for water, and full freedom of movement for the
operation.’” (Agence France-Presse [dateline: UN/New York],
September 21, 2007)

But again, as the African Union mission in Darfur (the initial core of
the UNAMID force) has discovered, to its immense frustration and with
debilitating consequences, Khartoum has no intention of offering
“sustained support” on any of these critical fronts. Rather, the
regime will certainly attempt to trade access to Darfur in return for a
curtailing of UNAMID’s mandate.

COMMAND AND CONTROL

Issues of command-and-control, the precise chain of command for the
UNAMID force, have been consistently finessed at the UN, chiefly in an
effort to avoid a confrontation with the African Union, which pridefully
insists that it must head the chain of command for this UN/AU “hybrid
force.” And unsurprisingly, the language of Resolution 1769 continues
to be ambiguous:

“[the Security Council] decides that there will be unity of command
and control which, in accordance with basic principles of peacekeeping,
means a single chain of command, further decides that command and
control structure and backstopping will be provided by the United
Nations, and, in this context, recalls the conclusions of the Addis
Ababa high level consultation on the situation in Darfur of 16 November
[2006].”

So, who is in charge? What does UN “backstopping” really mean?
Where does the authority of the UNAMID field commander, General Martin
Agwai, end? And where does the authority of the UN Department of
Peacekeeping Operations begin? Does General Agwai report to Addis Ababa
or New York? To whom does he turn for support in his decision-making?

These are critical questions and they figure prominently in General
Dallaire’s open letter to Agwai---indeed, it is the first issue
Dallaire raises:

“First: I urge you to insist both to New York and to Addis Ababa that
they clarify, in the most practical terms and as fast as possible, the
chain of command and reporting for the mission. Resolution 1769 is vague
on command and control. It did not precisely resolve the well-known
disagreement between Khartoum, which insists on essentially AU command,
and many other member states, that demand UN command and control as the
only guarantor of effectiveness.”

Resolution 1769 perpetuates a problem that has long been in evidence
but for which there is no diplomatic will to seek resolution. Last June
the New York Times reported:

“The original accord [between the UN and the AU], which had been
endorsed by the [UN] Security Council, gave clear ultimate command to
the United Nations. But the African Union raised objections and asked
for ‘clarifications’ in the text. The new language, in a revised
version delivered to the Security Council and the African Union’s
Peace and Security Council, eliminates the reference and leaves vague
how power will be divided. A senior United Nations official who briefed
reporters on condition of anonymity said the indeterminate phrasing was
aimed at satisfying the Security Council that there was enough United
Nations leadership to persuade troop-contributing countries to provide
the necessary soldiers and equipment, and to convince the African Union
and Sudan that there was enough African input at the top.” ([UN/New
York], June 6, 2007)

It would appear that little has changed in the intervening three and a
half months.

CEASE-FIRE? WHAT CEASE-FIRE?

Ban Ki-moon supposedly secured a cease-fire agreement from Khartoum
during his early September trip to the region. But of course these were
merely more words from the regime, and Ban quickly found himself
confronted by extreme military violence, as the UN News Service reported
on September 12, 2007 (“Secretary-General alarmed by deadly air,
ground attack on South Darfur town”):

“Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed deep concern at the
Sudanese Government’s ‘brutal aerial and ground attack’ on a South
Darfur town that has left at least 25 civilians dead and took place just
days after the United Nations chief visited the war-torn region.”

Six days later, the UN Secretary General told a news conference that
“he was ‘very much concerned’ at the recurrence of violence in
Darfur. In a statement Monday [September 10, 2007], Ban said he was
‘alarmed’ that the reported attacks took place after the Sudanese
government said in a joint communiqué during his recent visit that it
was committed to a ceasefire in the run-up to the new negotiations.”
(Associated Press [dateline: UN/New York], September 18, 2007)

The African Union mission observers in Darfur declared more bluntly:

“‘Given the critical stage of the peace process, the forthcoming
negotiations in Libya and the commitments made by all parties to uphold
the ceasefire, the nature, scale and timing of these attacks [including
assaults by helicopter gunships] is astonishing.’” (UN News Service,
September 11, 2007)

In the joint communiqué, which clearly meant a great deal more to
Secretary-General Ban than to the National Islamic Front regime,
Khartoum pledged "to contribute positively to a secure environment for
the negotiations, fulfilling its commitment to a full cessation of
hostilities in Darfur, and agreed upon ceasefire."

Shamelessly, NIF President al-Bashir tried to change the time-frame for
the cease-fire during his trip to Italy and the Vatican---from the
signing of the joint communiqué to the convening of peace talks in Libya
on October 27, 2007:

“Sudan’s president on Friday [September 14, 2007] met with the pope
and Italy’s premier, and offered to declare a cease-fire with Darfur
rebels to coincide with the start of UN-backed peace talks next
month.” (Associated Press [dateline: Rome], September 14, 2007)

Ban Ki-moon may have thought he had a cease-fire agreement, but yet
again he has succeeded only in proving his painful credulity in dealing
with the Khartoum regime. Moreover, as Suleiman Marjan, an important
and reliable rebel (G-19) commander in North Darfur noted in an
interview with The Sudan Tribune (September 14, 2007):

“Al-Bashir’s pledge [in Rome] is an acknowledgement that he is not
currently committed to the ceasefire agreement despite past statements
saying otherwise.”

Marjan also noted that the NIF “pledge implies that al-Bashir will
not adhere to the ceasefire agreement with those who refuse to
participate in the Tripoli talks.”

Such a reading is almost certainly accurate, and if Khartoum has been
utterly indiscriminate in its attacks on civilians and combatants, it
will be just as indiscriminate in attacking non-signatory participants
and non-participants. In short, any future military action can be
justified as directed at those who do not attend the Tripoli talks.
Unfortunately, this list likely includes at the Justice and Equality
Movement, the SLA faction led by Ahmed Abdel Shafi (an especially
important commander), and Abdel Wahid el-Nur, founder of the SLA/M and
the rebel leader with greatest following in the camps for displaced
persons, especially among the Fur, his own tribe and the largest ethnic
group in Darfur.

Here it must be said unequivocally that rebel fractiousness and
irresponsible violence does more and more to betray the very people of
Darfur they claim to represent. But it must never be forgotten---as US
envoy Andrew Natsios is ever more expediently inclined to do---that
rebel disunity has been encouraged in every conceivable way by Khartoum,
that divide-and-rule strategies are the regime’s stock-in-trade,
having been honed to perfection during almost two decades of tyrannical
rule. These strategies will continued to be deployed relentlessly, both
in peace talks and in the use of military proxies in Darfur. Since of
these proxies are not “party” to any cease-fire commitment, we may
be sure that even if aerial assaults are halted (and they have not
been), and even if Khartoum’s regular forces (the Sudan Armed Forces
[SAF]) are temporarily reined in, there will be many instruments to
stoke the fires of ethnic violence, and not only in Darfur but Eastern
Chad as well.

THE UN/AU “HYBRID” FORCE---AND THE VOICES OF DARFURIS

Part 2 of this two-part analysis will look in detail at the highly
limited prospects for peace talks scheduled to begin at the end of
October in Libya, as well as offer an update on the fate of the UNAMID
force. This assessment will be in the context of the conspicuous, and
all too revealing, silence on the part of the international community in
the face of desperate appeals from International Criminal Court
prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo. Ocampo is seeking to ensure that justice
for Darfuris is not sacrificed on the altar of an expedient peace with
the National Islamic Front, a regime whose “humanitarian affairs
minister”---Ahmed Haroun---is one of those whom the ICC has indicted
for massive atrocity crimes in Darfur. Ocampo very recently declared
that he also has evidence that Haroun has “played a key role” in
escalating violence around camps for displaced persons (Reuters,
[dateline: UN/New York], September 20, 2007).

I will also include an updated overview of the humanitarian situation
on the ground, including key humanitarian indicators, security
conditions, as well as the fallout from the outrageous expulsion by
Khartoum of CARE head of country operations, Paul Barker. I will also
look at recent dangerous developments in Chad, as well as prospects
during the impending dry season for possible deployment of a European
Union force of up to 4,000 troops and civilian police (for a recent and
very suggestive historical overview, see Gerard Prunier’s “The
Darfur-Chad Civil Wars,” September 10, 2007 at
http://www.agoravox.com/article.php3?id_article=6760). Finally, I
will again focus on the rapidly growing danger that the north/south
“Comprehensive Peace Agreement” (CPA) will collapse, leading to
country-wide civil war in Sudan.

But too often excluded from discussions of policy, peace negotiations,
and issues of rebel factional presence are the voices of Darfuris in the
camps for displaced persons. They desperately need and deserve
adequate representation—in all discussions of peace and security.
Though reported in scattered fashion, these voices form the coda for
Part 1 of this analysis. If they are not heard, and heeded, it is
impossible that rebel commanders, or Darfuri leaders in the diaspora,
will serve the cause of Darfur in effective fashion. Herewith a brief
concluding compendium:

[1] From Otash displaced persons camp, near Nyala, South Darfur:

“‘There is no representative for us there [at the scheduled Libyan
peace talks]. No one came and consulted us. If some of us were present
at the talks it would help them succeed, [said] Al-Bashir Al-Nagi, a
local community leader. He predicted the planned talks, as construed,
are ‘not going to succeed. They will fail like the last ones.’”

“Several Darfur sheikhs made similar pleas to visiting British
Foreign Office Minister for Africa Mark Malloch Brown on Tuesday as they
gathered in a small hut at the Otash displaced persons camp in south
Darfur to air grievances.”

Of Abdel Wahid el-Nur, the SLM leader currently living in Paris, Otash
resident Amina Mohamed Ahmed said, “‘Negotiations are important but
we are tired of Abdel Wahed.’” (Reuters [dateline: Otash Camp],
September 12, 2007)

[2] From Djabal refugee camp, Eastern Chad:

“While refugees were united in their support for a UN mission [in
Darfur], all were adamant that they wanted only Western troops. ‘We
don’t want African troops, we only want UN soldiers,’ said Amna Adam
Khamis, a 70-year-old refugee. ‘We can’t trust AU troops as they
are the same as the government of Sudan. I am optimistic, but if they
are African I am pessimistic.’” (Reuters [dateline: Djabal Refugee
Camp, Eastern Chad], August 17, 2007)

AU Commissioner Alpha Oumar Konaré has done far too much to justify
Amna Adam Khamis’ pessimism.

[3] From Zalengei, West Darfur:

“[Abdel Wahid el-Nur’s] supporters in Zalengei [the birthplace of
el-Nur] and the surrounding camps agree on [the critical need for]
security. But they said el-Nur should attend talks. ‘We want the
international forces to come and disarm the militias but at the same
time we want Abdel Wahed to go to negotiate,’ said Omda Zachariah
Yahya Jamous, a tribal leader from the Hassa Hissa camp outside
Zalengei.”

“‘I call on Abdel Wahed to join the peace process,’ said Ibrahim
Ahmed, from an environmental group in Darfur. ‘He has to unify his
position with the other factions. There should not be three sides but
one to sit face to face with the government,’ he added.” (Reuters
[dateline: Zalengei, West Darfur], August 28, 2007)

Is Abdel Wahid el-Nur truly listening to the people of Darfur?

[4] But of course most voices are not so explicit in their commentary
on issues of representation, or peace, or the specifics of security
needed. They are simply desperate pleas for protection. UNICEF
ambassador Mia Farrow, on returning from her seventh visit to the
Darfur/Eastern Chad region, records in The Independent (August 26, 2007)
some of what she heard:

“Strong women in frail voices described their gang rapes; some were
abducted and assaulted continuously over many weeks. ‘No one came to
help me,’ they said, as they showed me the brandings carved into their
bodies, and tendons sliced and how they hobble now. ‘Tell people what
is happening here’ implored one victim, Halima. Three of her five
children had been killed. ‘Tell them we will all die. Tell them we
need help.’”

We must hope that voices such as Halima’s haunt relentlessly those
who are grudging or diffident in their contributions to the force that
should deploy rapidly to Darfur.

[5] And then there are the voices bearing only quiet, but
overwhelmingly powerful tales of suffering and destruction. These are
countless, and no choice can represent the range of what Darfuri people
have endured. But the recent Human Rights Watch report (“Darfur 2007:
Chaos by Design”) has not only a terrible suggestiveness in its title;
it has one narrative account that suggests, through the eyes of 13- or
14-year-old Taha, just what atrocities the National Islamic Front regime
has been allowed to commit, and what international cowardice and
expediency have wrought over the past four years and more:

“In the afternoon we returned from school and saw the planes. We
were all looking, not imagining about bombing. Then they began the
bombing. The first bomb landed in our garden, then four bombs at once
in the garden. The bombs killed six people, including a young boy, a
boy carried by his mother, and a girl. In another place in the garden a
woman was carrying her baby son---she was killed, not him. Now my
nights are hard because I feel frightened. We became homeless. I
cannot forget the bad images of the burning house and fleeing at night
because our village was burned....”

There are men in Khartoum who order these aerial assaults on civilian
targets, knowing full well the consequences. These men know that there
are countless “Tahas” in Darfur, and yet they continue to bomb
villages and gardens, children and mothers. This isn’t aberrant
behavior for the men of the Khartoum regime: this is behavior entirely
in keeping with the genocidal logic that governs their actions in
Darfur---and on the world stage.

The men in Khartoum commit such atrocities because they are convinced
that ultimately they will face no meaningful consequences. The men in
Khartoum are convinced that if there were ever a “peace agreement”
for Darfur, another “peace agreement,” that it would no more binding
than the last one, that there would be no greater international will to
see its terms adhered to. The génocidaires in Khartoum have had ample
opportunity to take the measure of such actors as the United Nations and
the African Union, as well as such world powers as China, the United
States, the countries of Europe, Canada, Japan, the countries of Latin
America, and so many other members of the “international community.”
The men in Khartoum now realize that there is no “responsibility to
protect” the “Tahas” of the world---certainly not if they are
poor, black, Muslim, and residing over no valuable exportable
resources.

It has long been clear that, following Rwanda, Darfur was the test
case---our “second chance.” Taha tells us that again, yet again, we
have failed. Will this failure be mitigated by Resolution 1769? Will
villages and civilians and humanitarians be protected from the chaotic
violence that is Khartoum’s current weapon of genocidal destruction?
The past four years and more give exceedingly little encouragement.

* Eric Reeves is author of A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide. He can be reached at ereeves@smith.edu. www.sudanreeves.org



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