Even in Finally Speaking About Jebel Marra (Darfur), the International Community Prevaricates
Eric Reeves | June 21, 2018 | https://wp.me/p45rOG-2fI
I have written very recently of the ongoing silence on the part of the international community in responding to the horrific, ethnically-targeted violence that continues in much of Jebel Marra and East Jebel Marra, Darfur:
“The World is Silent as Khartoum Continues Its Genocidal Assault on Civilians in Jebel Marra, Darfur,” June 19, 2018 | https://wp.me/p45rOG-2fB
Coincidentally, this very same day, the “Troika” (Britain, Norway, and the U.S.) issued a statement that, while welcome amidst the general silence, was nonetheless appalling in its misrepresentations. Two such misrepresentations deserve particular attention, as does a striking omission.
 The number of newly displaced in greater Jebel Marra:
How many people have been newly displaced in the greater Jebel Marra area of Darfur? The UN has a long and shameful history of playing games with displacement numbers, although on this occasion the UN OCHA figure cited by the “Troika” is honestly presented by OCHA as a total of newly displaced who have actually reached camps where they can be counted:
“[The] number [of 8,900 newly displaced] includes 3,645 new internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Otash IDP camp near Nyala town and 2,279 new IDPs in Marshang IDP camps, as verified by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). There are an additional 4,000 people who are yet to be verified in Kass and Belle El Sereif.”
But the Troika offers no explanation or qualification of the figure it uses in its June 19, 2018 statement and is thus profoundly misleading, speaking simply of “the displacement of nearly 9,000 people”:
“[The Troika] condemns the ongoing clashes between the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) and Government of Sudan forces as well as inter-tribal violence in the Jebel Marra region of Darfur. The civilian population continues to bear the brunt of this unnecessary violence, which has led to the burning down of villages, causing high numbers of civilian injury and death, and the displacement of nearly 9,000 people.” (Sudan: The Troika Condemns Continued Clashes in Jebel Marra, Darfur, Washington, DC, June 19, 2018)
It is especially notable, in light of this clear misrepresentation of a much greater total population of displaced, to read the figure cited by International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in her June 20, 2018 statement to the UN Security Council:
- These clashes, combined with attacks on multiple villages in Jebel Marra, have reportedly led approximately 80,000 persons to flee the Jebel Marra region and become internally displaced persons (“IDPs”). The Office is also concerned by reported aerial bombardments in the Jebel Marra area at the end of May, which resulted in additional IDPs.
We don’t know just how many have been displaced in greater Jebel Marra by fighting over the past few months; we do know that a great many people have not been included in the Troika figure of “almost 9,000,” and for this not to be acknowledged frankly is reprehensible. Radio Dabanga, which has provided a great many photographs of people living in caves and in the most rudimentary of circumstances—clearly beyond any humanitarian reach or assessment—uses an estimate of 50,000 newly displaced. But whatever the number, given the scale of attacks by Khartoum’s regular and militia forces—and the use of indiscriminate artillery shelling in civilian areas—we know it must be measured in the tens of thousands.
[Overall displacement from the Darfur genocide remains approximately 3 million human beings: some 2.7 million displaced in Darfur itself and more than 300,000 surviving as refugees in eastern Chad.]
 Moral equivalence between the actions of the Khartoum regime and its forces and those of the rebel faction known as Sudan Liberation Army/Abdel Wahid (al-Nur) (SLA/AW):
The international community has a long and expedient history of speaking in ways that suggest a “moral equivalence” between the genocidal Khartoum regime and rebel movements in marginalized regions of Sudan. It must be understood first that such “equivalence” is always regarded as a victory by Khartoum’s génocidaires: it ensures that no particular or asymmetric pressures will be brought upon it if “both parties” are morally culpable in comparable ways. The National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime—during its 29 years of tyranny following the June 1989 military coup that brought it to power—long ago sized up the international community and has been able to see through empty bluster and meaningless threats of consequences, especially in the context of morally equivocating declarations (i.e., the context for the Troika’s vacuous threat to “sanction” recalcitrant parties).
Darfur over the past fifteen years is the ultimate example. The International Criminal Court arrest warrants for President al-Bashir, former Defense Minister Hussein, State Minister of the Interior Ahmed Haroun, and others have been held in contempt by the regime, and al-Bashir travels the world freely—a fact noted in detail by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in her June 20, 2018 address to the UN Security Council, the same body that originally referred crimes in Darfur to the ICC over a decade ago (March 2005).
Below is a parsing of the Radio Dabanga dispatch announcing the “moral equivalence” indulged by the Troika two days ago:
- US, UK and Norway condemn ongoing clashes in Darfur danger zone | Radio Dabanga, June 19, 2018 LONDON / NEW YORK / OSLO
The Troika country members condemn the ongoing clashes between the SLM-AW rebels and Sudan’s army and militias in the Jebel Marra region. It “has led to the burning down of villages, causing high numbers of civilian injury and death, and the displacement of nearly 9,000 people.”
[The implicit claim here that the forces of SLA/Abdel Wahid al-Nur and the military forces of the Khartoum regime are equally responsible for the violence and massive destruction of recent months is despicably inaccurate. In the interests of preserving diplomatic “even-handedness,” the “Troika” refuses to articulate the most basic truth: the regular forces and militia allies of the Khartoum regime are the ones directly attacking villages and civilians, displacing many more than OCHA acknowledges. Khartoum’s forces are relentlessly raping women and girls, and those forces—using various mans (including the cutting down of mature fruit trees)—are transparently trying to make returns impossible for those who have been displaced over fifteen years of genocidal counter-insurgency, deliberately targeting—as is the case in Jebel Marra—the non-Arab/African populations of Darfur.
However irresponsible one judges Abdel Wahid al-Nur—and his commanders in the field—to be in refusing to negotiate “peace,” one has only to look at the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD, July 2011) to see how completely the international community is prepared to sell out Darfuri civil society in the interests of a completely factitious and meaningless peace agreement. The failure of the DDPD is not lost on those who fight on, and is a signal example of how expedient peace agreements can be worse than no agreement. Khartoum of course cleaves strenuously to the DDPD as the only basis for “peace negotiations,” thereby preserving the inept diplomatic status quo—ER]
Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States released a statement today, saying that the civilian population in Darfur’s Jebel Marra “continues to bear the brunt of this unnecessary violence.
[This is the very embodiment of what I would insist is an assertion of “moral equivalence” between rebel fighters and Khartoum’s génocidaires—ER]
Only one side in the fighting in Jebel Marra cuts down mature fruit trees as a means of making permanent the demographic changes that have long been Khartoum’s genocidal goal in Darfur
“It is unacceptable that the government of Sudan has repeatedly prevented the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and humanitarian actors from accessing the areas of conflict and displaced populations. The Troika strongly urges the government of Sudan to immediately provide unfettered access to both UNAMID and humanitarian actors.”
[A notable moment of “asymmetric criticism” amidst general moral equivocation—ER]
The Troika adds that both the inaction of the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW) and Khartoum in stopping the violence undermines “efforts to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict.”
[This paragraph, however, reverts fully to a reprehensible moral equivalence—ER]
The SLM-AW has been reluctant to engage in any Darfur and Sudan peace processes, which “obstructs the achievement of sustainable peace in Darfur and unnecessarily prolongs civilian suffering.” Khartoum’s actions in military operations also undermine…
[“also undermine…”? As if Khartoum is not the primary obstacle to peace? What destructive nonsense!–ER]
…efforts to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict, the Troika said.
“There can be no military solution to the conflict in Darfur and the international community should consider imposing sanctions against those who continue to act as spoilers.” The Troika calls on all parties to the conflict to immediately cease all military engagement and hostilities, allow unfettered humanitarian access, and to meaningfully engage with the African Union High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) led peace process in order to reach a permanent ceasefire.
 The only forces hindering humanitarian access are those of Khartoum; the rebels actively call for humanitarian assistance. The Troika’s “call[ing] on all parties to the conflict to immediately cease all military engagement and hostilities, allow unfettered humanitarian access” clearly attempts to suggest otherwise. But it is Khartoum that has denied humanitarian access to large parts of greater Jebel Marra and East Jebel Marra for years—this is not a new tactic—ER]
 The Troika says nothing about the nine years of abject failure by the African Union High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), which has achieved nothing. And in its serial failures, it has left the door wide open for the grossly misguided and ineffective DDPD, an “agreement” that has failed in every possible way. To leave the peace process in the hands of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) and its feckless, corrupt leader Thabo Mbeki is in effect to disengage from meaningful participation in the peace process—ER]
Shelter in caves
The statement comes a day after Radio Dabanga published video and photos of people who have been newly displaced in Jebel Marra. Together with tens of thousands of other people, they have been forced to flee their homes in eastern and southern Jebel Marra in the past four months. An activist interviewed displaced families living in the open in southeast Jebel Marra.
Since early March, Sudanese army troops and allied paramilitaries are attempting to eliminate the last strongholds of the Sudan Liberation Movement under the leadership of Abdelwahid El Nur in the mountainous region.
An unknown number of villages in the area of Feina, Libei, Sawani, Katur, and Sabun El Fagur were plundered and set on fire. In early April, activists told Radio Dabanga that an estimated 50,000 people fled the fighting and militia attacks on their villages.
 No mention is made by the Troika of the consequences of an impending, massive further drawdown of UNAMID—this in addition to last year’s radical reductions of 44 percent of military personnel and 30 percent of police personnel. The Troika’s calling on the Khartoum regime to allow unfettered access to UNAMID, as well as humanitarian personnel, seems like a grim joke after more than 10 years of denials of such access, access formally embodied in the Status of Forces Agreement signed by Khartoum, the UN, and AU in January 2008 as UNAMID began deployment.
Below is my recent commentary on what this year’s reductions imply and entail:
The Final Abandonment of Darfur Formally Ratified by UN and African Union
Eric Reeves | June 12, 2018
With dishonesty and gross expediency, the UN and African Union have chosen to abandon the people of Darfur, particularly the 3 million people displaced internally or as refugees in eastern Chad. Their decision ignores massive evidence of ongoing violence against civilians—reported primarily by Radio Dabanga, using sources on the ground—and rests ultimately on the completely discredited Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, signed in July 2011 with no effect or positive changes whatsoever.
A recent and important documentary asks of Darfur the question that has now been definitively answered—“Did Evil Win?”
- UN, AU propose closure of UNAMID sites in Darfur except for Jebel Marra | Sudan Tribune, June 11, 2018 (WASHINGTON)
UN Peacekeeping Chief, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Monday proposed to close all the UNMAID sites in Darfur region expect the greater Jebel Marra area and to increase peacebuilding and development. Lacroix made his proposal during a briefing on an African Union-United Nations report on the strategic review of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur. He said the mission needs to be adapted to Darfur current realities.
[Lacroix in fact ignores a great deal about these “current realities,” particularly the realities of massive, continuing displacement, assaults on non-Arab/African villages and civilians, failure to provide restitution of violently expropriated farmlands, or any prospect of justice for those who have suffered so much over the past fifteen years—ER]
Based on the idea that the security situation is relatively stable…
[This is a disgracefully inaccurate assessment see | https://wp.me/p45rOG-2fs – ER]
…he said the peacekeeping should be focused in the site of continued conflict in Jebel Marra while the capabilities of the UN agencies, funds and programmes should serve to consolidate the fragile stability in the rest of Darfur.
[This “fragile stability” is a product of Lacroix’s expediently wishful imagination—a commodity that UNAMID heads of Mission, as well as UN DPKO, have shown ample capacity for over more than a decade of feckless ineptitude and cowardice—ER]
“The area of operations would be reduced to 13 team sites in the greater Jebel Marra and the Mission headquarters moving from El Fasher to Zalingei, Central Darfur.” Lacroix proposed. The 13 sites of peacekeeping in Jebel Marra have been identified in the report as Kutum, Saraf Omra, Kabkabiyah, Tawilah, Sortony and Shangil Tobaya (North Darfur), Zalingei, Nertiti and Golo (Central Darfur) and Kalma, Kass, Menawashei and Khor Abeche (South Darfur). Further, the super camp in El Fasher will be transformed into a logistics hub.
[Many areas that have seen recent, intense violence—e.g., Gireida, South Darfur—are to be abandoned to Khartoum’s militia forces, including Khartoum’s notorious Rapid Support Forces. This is unconscionable and will result in massive civilian mortality and suffering—ER]