Monday, May 15, 2006

A Cruel Joke is Played on Darfur

In this article published by Eric Reeves, he writes that A Cruel Joke is Played on Darfur. This is what a NATO force on the ground could do to stop the genocide:
A robust brigade of NATO-quality troops, ideally (if improbably) operating with a UN mandate, serving as the core of a larger force of approximately 20,000 troops, could immediately change the security dynamic on the ground in ways critical for the almost 4 million human beings now defined by the UN as "conflict-affected" and in need of humanitarian assistance.

Such a force could produce an immediate and complete stand-down of Khartoum’s regular forces, including helicopter gunships. The Janjaweed could be put on notice that they would be destroyed if they assembled in groups larger than a couple of dozen (this would have the effect of "disarming" these brutal militias, since they function as a quasi-military force only when the aggregate in the hundreds or thousands). Camps for displaced persons could be protected from marauding remnants of the Janjaweed and other violent elements. Vital humanitarian corridors and operations could be protected. And there would be sufficient manpower available to start the process of providing security for people as they return to their lands. Crucially, staunching the flow of genocidal violence into an increasingly unstable eastern Chad could also begin.

Yes, there are risks and significant costs to such an operation; it will be neither short nor easy. But the alternative is to survey the current death toll, in excess of 450,000 from all causes, and declare that we are prepared to accept hundreds of thousands of additional deaths in the coming months as we enter the most deadly hunger gap to date (the period between spring planting and fall harvest). Food stocks are critically low, humanitarians continue to evacuate, more than 700,000 people are beyond the reach of all aid efforts in the greater humanitarian theater of Darfur and eastern Chad. This is Rwanda in slow-motion, and the Abuja accord between one faction of the Sudan Liberation Army and Khartoum’s genocidaires provides no guarantees or guarantors that might halt Darfur’s ghastly spectacle.
However, as this article from Sudan Tribune reports, the U.S. bid even to form a U.N. force in Darfur has run into objections from China, Russia, and several African nations:
The U.S. has run into strong resistance in its bid for a Security Council resolution that would give the U.N. immediate control over peacekeepers in Darfur, diplomats said Friday. Objections from China, Russia and several African nations have forced the U.S. to strip out much of the most powerful language of the draft, possibly delaying the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers in the troubled Sudanese region. The retreat is a blow to U.S. President George W. Bush, who had announced Monday that he would seek the new resolution and asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to press for it during a U.N. visit Tuesday.

It was part of several new initiatives from Bush to bring an end to the suffering in Darfur, where violence has killed nearly 200,000 people since 2003. Late last week, Darfur’s government and rebels signed a peace deal at last.

A new draft of the U.S. resolution circulated late Thursday makes several key concessions. For example, it asks only that a U.N. assessment team inspect the A.U. force "with a view to a follow-on United Nations operation in Darfur."

The draft also asks all parties to the Darfur deal, the U.N. and other organizations "to accelerate transition to a United Nations operation."

Sudan’s government has previously refused to allow the assessment team into the country, though officials have suggested the peace deal could ease its concerns.

"The expectation continues that we will have a joint planning team on the ground in Darfur as soon as possible," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. "We would expect the government of Sudan to cooperate fully and let this team do its work."

The African Union forces, which number about 7,200, are now low on funds and have largely been ineffective in stopping atrocities and re-establishing security.

According to the U.N. plan, the force would be bolstered and folded into the command of a U.N. peacekeeping force monitoring a separate peace deal between Sudan’s largely Muslim north and the Christian and animist south.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said Friday he did not think the new draft was "substantially weaker," though he acknowledged several changes had been required.

"I think some things were removed in an effort to reach a broader consensus within the council about what the text would be," Bolton said. "I think we’re very close to bringing it before the council. I hope it will be unanimous but again, we’re prepared to go whether it’s unanimous or not."

But several diplomats said objections remained. They portrayed the latest draft more as a U.S. effort to show progress on Darfur than as a text that will move any closer to a U.N.-led mission there. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the draft publicly.

China and Russia, two veto-wielding members of the council, oppose that even the new draft is written under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, which could make it legally binding and enforceable by sanctions.

The African Union has asked that the council delay voting on the draft until after Monday, when its Peace and Security Council meets to endorse the Darfur peace deal and discuss the possibility of giving the U.N. authority over the A.U. force.

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