Home | Comment & Analysis    Thursday 5 August 2004

Conflicting Security Concepts: UN Council versus the Sudan Government


By Mahgoub El-Tigani*

August 4, 2004 — Is there some misunderstanding in the Security Council’s decision for the Sudan Government to take immediate security measures to disarm the Janjaweed militias, render effective humanitarian aid to the million victims of the region, and end the DarFur’s Crisis in a month’s period? Despite all rushing announcements by the government about prompt undertakings to maintain security, it is evident confusing statements by a number of senior ministers indicate some serious misconception is taking place in the government’s appreciation of the Council’s decision.

The minister of information and culture Mr. Malik al-Zihawi announced today at the Jeezira T.V. (August 3, 2004) that "the Sudan Government is prepared to share power with all regions, including Darfur. 12,000 security men will be working in Darfur in the next few months. The strategy of the government is based on the implementation of peaceful solutions via negotiation and dialogue, as adopted by the AU. The solution of distributing wealth and power is well under way."

Zihawi further ascertained: "By the Nivasha agreement, every wilaya [region] will have full right to power and wealth. The formulae of the government’s federal unionist system will be applied. The conference of Darfur to which we will invite all citizens of Darfur will guarantee equal share of power and wealth to all regions. The federal system of Sudan grants just distribution of wealth. The rebel groups do not represent the people of Darfur. Nor any armed group will be recognized by government. According to the agreement with the UN and the AU, the government will send a police force to Darfur; rebels should pool in one place; and then disarmament will be enforced."

Apart from the minister’s assurance of his government’s concerns for a quick fix, a major question is: how would the government’s conference succeed in DarFur without inviting all opposition groups of the whole country, not only the government supporters or the janjaweed leaders as is planned by government? How would any peace conference meet a minimum level of success without equally and fully including the rebels of DarFur with the rest of people, indiscriminately? Isn’t the same government nationally and internationally motivated to make peace with the rebels that Mr. Zihawi publicly excluded?

On the other side, the information and culture minister contradicted his other colleague, the minister of agriculture’s earlier announcement (August 2, 2004) that "5,000 regular forces are now working in Darfur." Emphasizing complexity of the crisis, the foreign affairs under secretary al-Khateeb said yesterday: "the solution of the Darfur crisis may take 30 months or 30 years!"

Mr. Khateeb did not care in his statement, however, to assess how much death, displacement, and criminal misappropriation of the DarFur humans, animal wealth, and land are virtually lost every morning. Along with this, the director of the government’s news agency, Dr. Rabi’, moreover affirmed (Jazeera: August 2, 2004) that "90 percent of the crisis is already under control!"

Despite the confusion and the non-accuracy of the state managers about the government’s security forces in DarFur with respect to Mr. al-Zihawi’s "12,000 security force" al-Khalifa "5,000 police force," and the earlier gathered "9,000 janjaweed police converts" commanded by the presidential representative minister of interior ’Abd al-Rahim Hussain, a large number of army troops and security forces are already available in DarFur. The latter are the ones who escalated the armed conflict of DarFur these last years.

These forces are now roaming DarFur with all kinds of weaponry (including air bombers). Undoubtedly, the abundance of these troops increased the intensive interrogation, close surveillance, and the other state security measures against citizens, especially those selectively labeled by the authorities as fifth columnists, outlaws, or simply rebels. This fact alone indicates that the DarFur’s Crisis is not "90 percent under control," as the Sudan News Agency director repeatedly assured in the Arab media.

Many observers asked how much spending the 9,000, 5,000 or 12,000 government regular/janjaweed police convert cost the State Treasury a million dollars a day, exactly as the North-South war spending or more. The millions spent daily (1989-2000s) to finance the Khartoum’s war against the South would have definitely built many schools, hospitals, factories, and farms for the welfare of the South and the rest of the country. The Sudan Government is replicating nowadays the same policy in DarFur. Is that the real aim of the Security Council’s decision?

Sudanese observers reiterate the fact that most of the spending might actually go to the NIF war-mongering contractors and the militia arms’ dealers. Other observers hope that honest army officers and other officials speak loudly against this policy that ravaged the country throughout the 15 years of the NIF-rule. Such officers should work hand in hand with the peace advocates to stop this wasteful expenditure of the Khartoum’s security plans. The millions increasingly spent on security troops and the janjaweed police converts should be transferred to meet the humanitarian and development programs for the victimized people and those displaced at the border to return safely to their homes.

It appears that the UN Security Council’s "security" concept was wrongfully interpreted by the government officials as a form of security that would "bring as many police and security forces" as much as is possible into the DarFur region.

The Security Council’s concept understandably refers to a complex package of safe peace corridors to ensure uninterrupted humanitarian aid, efficient return of the victimized million citizens to their homelands, sufficient compensation of the losses of life, rapes, and misappropriated property, and deserved lawful penalties upon the official or janjaweed wrong doers. This reading of the Council’s concept is consonant with the NDA (including DarFur rebels) opposition groups, the AU, US, EU and all others concerned entities with the DarFur striving for the just peace, humanitarian affairs, and sustainable development.

Isn’t it less costly and best to governance to immediately stop the government expensive security expenditure and the janjaweed authority continuities? The Sudan Government is advised to reallocate enough state monies for humanitarian support and the legal compensations of the victimized citizens of Darfur. It is expedient to call for the National Conference instead of the regime’s piece-meal approach for "a conference in Darfur" without recognition of "the rebels who are taking arms against the government."

In addition to the confusing statements of the government spokespersons and their non-consideration of the humanitarian dimensions of the Crisis, the government’s announced measures are poorly oriented. There is serious doubt in the validity of the regime’s security measures in the absence of regular, updated, follow-up by non-governmental organizations or the international monitors.

Unfortunately, these and other political and economic failures are taking the whole country closer and closer to an international confrontation with the Security Council. Indeed, the NIF army spokesperson already speeded-up such possibility (Jazeera: August 2, 2004), despite rushing assurances by the Cabinet of Ministers the other day to abide-by the Security Council’s decision.

*Member of Sudanese Writers’ Union (in exile) and the president of Sudan Human Rights Organization Cairo-Branch.

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