October 16, 2003
Despite the continuing press of events in Sudan’s peace process, despite the clear prospect that a peace agreement will soon be reached, the Bush administration still refuses to confront honestly the vast near-term needs for transitional aid in Sudan. Nor has the administration publicly guaranteed its support for the creation and funding of a fully viable UN peacekeeping and, if necessary, peace-enforcing operation for post-war Sudan. In particular, the administration has not sent a clear signal that it will seek the critical Chapter VII authority necessary (under the UN Charter) for the kind of international military presence that will be essential in the immediate wake of a cease-fire, at least if this cease-fire has not been preceded by a disarming of Khartoum’s southern militias.
The lack of budgetary commitment comes even as the Congress debates an enormous supplemental budget request that would designate tens of billions of dollars for Iraq and Afghanistan—but with nothing for Sudan. This is terribly short-sighted, for a failure to respond to Sudan’s urgent needs now will likely insure that peace has little chance of taking hold in this torn land. History will show such present lack of commitment to be both foolishly expensive in the long term and deeply immoral in its consequences for Sudanese civilians.
Though the language of the supplemental foreign operations bill in the House of Representatives contains language that might commit some monies to Sudan, this commitment is exceedingly tightly hedged with conditions, and it is shared with Liberia. And though the funding is defined as “assistance to respond to or prevent unforeseen complex foreign crises,” the $100 million in this House request clearly cannot begin to meet the present requirements of either Liberia or Sudan.
But even if the House bill passes, the only specific designation of any monies for Sudan may be lost in a House-Senate conference on the bill (the Senate version of the bill makes no mention whatsoever of Sudan). Moreover, it is quite unclear how the explicitly restrictive provisions of the supplemental bill might attenuate aid to Sudan by virtue of Presidential discretion. One stipulation in the House bill, for example, states that:
“funds appropriated under this heading may be made available only pursuant to a determination by the President, after consultation with the appropriate Congressional Committees, that it is in the national interest and essential to efforts to reduce international terrorism.” (page 26, Supplemental Foreign Operations bill, “International Disaster and Famine Assistance”)
This hardly sounds like the enabling language for the urgent tasks that will confront southern Sudan especially in the immediate wake of a peace agreement. Indeed, it is essential to note that there is in the supplemental bill not a single explicit request from the Bush administration for funding for Sudan, either for peacekeeping/peace-enforcement or for transitional aid. This is so despite the explicit and recent promise by the administration that “there will be [for Sudan] a large peace dividend for reconstruction and development” (see below).
Hundreds of thousands of people internally displaced by the war, a tremendous number of them from the squalid camps around Khartoum, will be moving back to their homelands once a peace agreement is reached. Reliable estimates suggest that as many as 1 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees will be moving back to southern Sudan in the first half year following a peace agreement. These people, many with only the most meager of possessions, will be returning to a part of the country that has been brutally ravaged by war for twenty years, and that has never seen a fair appropriation of Sudanese wealth for economic development, education, or basic infrastructure requirements. The oil regions of Upper Nile Province in particular have seen terrible scorched-earth warfare for a number of years, and will be especially inhospitable to returning indigenous people.
Of course the funding of transitional assistance for Sudan is not an exclusively American responsibility. But recent reports that the European Union has committed 400 million Euros for transitional aid and reconstruction in southern Sudan suggest a minimal benchmark for the US in its own commitment to Sudan (see East African Standard, October 7, 2003). Moreover, since the time-frame for this European aid is unspecified, and since aid programming by the Europeans is notoriously slow, the urgency of a commensurate and timely commitment by the US is all the more important. Whatever the lingering disagreements between the US and some European nations over the war in Iraq, and over post-war governance and reconstruction, Sudan must not be held hostage to or made the victim of such disagreements.
For too often Sudan has been put precisely in the middle of unrelated foreign policy issues, conflicts, and rivalries. This is a painful reality that extends from the era of Cold War proxy states to the current diplomatic blackmail by which Egypt uses its leverage in the Middle East peace process to influence US policy toward Sudan. Sudan’s suffering and its vast needs must be acknowledged and responded to on their own terms—not those of a narrowly self-interested geopolitical calculus.
Other countries should also acknowledge their large obligations to Sudan as well—particularly those that have chosen to benefit from oil extraction in the very midst of unspeakable carnage, destruction, and displacement. Canada has a chance to redeem, in part, the terrible legacy created by the presence of Talisman Energy (Calgary) in southern Sudan. Talisman’s partners in the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company—the state-owned and -run oil companies of Malaysia and China—should also recognize that they have profited directly from the policies of scorched-earth warfare that have created the cordon sanitaire within which they conduct their operations. To be sure, such responsibility is extremely unlikely to be shouldered by these two non-democratic governments with no record of concern for human rights; but the obligation could not be clearer.
The same is true for India, which has recently entered the arena of oil development in Sudan by way of acquiring Talisman’s stake and by means of other investments (likely including a new pipeline project). Just today The Times of India reports that “ONGC Videsh, the subsidiary of ONGC, is set to sign agreements for acquiring Block 5A and 5B in Sudan with an estimated investment of $135 millions, [ONGC Chairman and Managing Director Subir] Raha said and added that in Block 5A the equity will be 26 per cent while in 5B it will be 24.5 per cent” (October 16, 2003). Block 5a has seen some of the most destructive fighting of the last several years, especially concentrated along the oil road south of Bentiu. The heavy militarization of this road, and the attendant human displacement, murder, and use of rape as a weapon of war, cannot be unknown to India—only judged insufficiently consequential.
If India has indeed decided to become a major part of oil development projects that have been the source of incalculable human suffering and destruction in southern Sudan, then the Indian government should be prepared to shoulder some of the costs of reconstruction in this part of Sudan. Deutsche Presse Agentur reports that “Indian president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam is to pay a three-day visit to Sudan beginning October 20 [a foreign affairs spokesman said Friday]. The visit will focus mainly on Indian investment in Sudan’s oil industry but Kalam is also due to meet Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir” (dpa, October 10, 2003). But such a meeting should focus both on the need for a just and sustainable peace for Sudan as well as the obligations that come with oil development in this ravaged part of Sudan.
Indeed, even on grounds of narrow self-interest—which is likely all that can be expected of an Indian government that approved an entry into Sudan’s oil sector in the first place—India should see the importance of doing its part for peace and reconstruction. Block 5b, though immensely promising, is presently completely beyond the reach of development because of security limitations. And in the event that peace does not take hold in Sudan, Block 5a will likely be the focus of some of the most intense fighting of renewed war.
What will be needed to sustain a just peace for Sudan? What kinds of transitional aid must be funded? What are the requirements for peacekeeping and perhaps peace-enforcement? And just how much planning has been done by the US and others involved in the Sudan peace process? These are immensely complicated questions, and not susceptible of full or easy answers. What we can be most sure of is that planning is not nearly far enough along and has not been allowed to consider, in fully funded terms, the full array of even the most pressing needs in Sudan.
 Transitional aid.
It is difficult to overstate the vastness of problems associated with the movement of hundreds of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees back to their homelands in southern Sudan. If we assume, as any morally reasonable caution dictates we must, that as many as 1 million people will be returning to the south, and if we survey the soul-destroying aftermath of twenty years of war in this part of Sudan, then the urgency and scale of required transitional aid should be transparent.
What must be done? The US Agency for International Development (AID) has provided a superb overview in one of the few government documents about Sudan that is truly required reading: “The Sudan Interim Strategic Plan, 2004-06” (available at: www.usaid.gov/locations/sub-saharan_africa/sudan/sudan_isp.pdf). Articulating as its central goal establishing the “foundation…for a just and durable peace with broad participation of the Sudanese people,” this extensive report lays out the key areas in which transitional aid will be essential—offering headings for key objectives, with particular needs organized under these rubrics.
One heading is “Increased Use of Health, Water and Sanitation Services and Practices.” This will entail “increased use of health, water and sanitation services and practices”; “increased access to high-impact services”; “increase Sudanese capacity, particularly women’s, to deliver and manage health services”; “improved access to safe water and sanitation.” Another heading speaks to establishing a “Foundation for Economic Recovery.” This entails responding to the “food security needs of vulnerable communities”; “market support programs and services introduced and expanded”; “transparent policymaking and processes encouraged.” And yet other headings are “Improved Equitable Access to Quality Education” and “More Responsive and Participatory Governance.”
As more particular context for these goals, especially those of “economic recovery,” we should keep in mind the agricultural base of micro-economies throughout southern Sudan, and understand that this means in large measure economies in which cattle have always been of central importance. The re-stocking of herds is essential, as is the timely provision of veterinary inoculation against prevalent diseases. So, too, is the provision of agricultural implements, a tremendous number of which have been destroyed in the war.
In the area of health care, we should recall how deeply compromised even emergency humanitarian medical assistance has become over recent years of war. Despite the agreement that created Operation Lifeline Sudan in 1989—at the time a precedent-setting arrangement for humanitarian
access—health facilities and delivery capacity has been seriously diminished in recent years. A telling and extensive account of the disastrous fate of emergency health care in Western Upper Nile—most of it directly related to oil development—has been provided by Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF): “Violence, Health, and Access to Aid in Unity State/Western Upper Nile” (MSF, April 2002; available at www.doctorswithoutborders.org/publications/reports/2002/sudan_04-2002.pdf).
The urgent need for very significantly increased sources of potable water, especially in Western Upper Nile, yet again highlights the tremendous pressures that will be exerted by the return of hundreds of thousands of IDPs and refugees—many having originally fled the most ravaged areas of southern Sudan. It is to these areas that they will be seeking to return.
All of these represent key needs if southern Sudan is to withstand the serious challenges that will inevitably confront any peace agreement. For a signed agreement will not in itself insure anything—will not in and of itself bring stability and a full military stand-down, by all parties, in this part of the country. Peace has a realistic chance in Sudan only with a full commitment to support, on a transitional basis, these essential areas of development and reconstruction endeavor.
 Peace Support Operations.
Recent reports on a request to the UN Security Council by Britain and the US would seem to suggest that the peace support operation for Sudan in the wake of a peace agreement will, properly, be under UN auspices (Reuters, October 9 and 10, 2003). If so, then the US should commit now, publicly, to its portion (27%) of what may be very significant expenses for peacekeeping or peace-enforcing operations. Certainly if the southern militia forces allied with Khartoum have not been disarmed prior to a cease-fire, then a significantly more expensive peace-enforcing operation will be required.
This military reality is clearly suggested in comments from UN officials on operations in support of a Sudan peace agreement: “U.N. officials anticipated that plans might call for several thousand troops and several hundred military observers” (Reuters, October 10, 2003). Certainly whether the task is peacekeeping or peace-enforcing, it makes neither moral nor financial sense to shortchange the peace support operation, and the US should say as much now.
This is especially clear in light of a troubling and confusingly translated account of statements made recently by NIF Presidential Peace Advisor Ghazi Saleh el-din Atabani. The UN’s Daily Press Review for Sudan (October 13, 2003) cites Sudan Vision (Khartoum) as a source for Ghazi’s disturbing comments:
“Responding to a question, the Presidential Peace Advisor said peace keeping forces in Sudan is not necessary, indicating that the experience of the cease-fire agreement at the Nuba Mountains proved that existence of forces to monitor the cease-fire is to provide guarantee on the commitment of the two parties to the agreement. He stressed that the draft that some countries plan to present at the Security Council does not include dispatching international peace keeping forces to Sudan, but rather deals with support to Sudan’s peace project and providing IGAD with guarantees for implementation of the peace agreement.”
Though the meaning of these sentences individually is not entirely clear, and though at least one seems self-contradictory, the overall force of the comments is unmistakable: the National Islamic Front regime is testing the waters for a possible reneging on its explicit commitment in the agreement on security arrangements (Naivasha, Kenya; September 25, 2003):
“The parties agree to an ***internationally monitored*** ceasefire which shall come into effect from the date of signature of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Details of the Ceasefire Agreement shall be worked out by the two parties together with the IGAD mediators and international experts.” (emphasis added)
If an “internationally monitored ceasefire” is to have any chance of success, it must be understood clearly and unambiguously as entailing the presence of international forces, whether for peacekeeping or peace-enforcing. Ghazi’s denial of such entailment should be regarded as a serious challenge to the integrity of the Naivasha security arrangements agreement. In turn, the real task now for the international community is to plan, without compromise or timidity, for whatever peace support operation will be necessary in the extraordinarily difficult circumstances that will obtain in any post-war Sudan.
There are no doubt several possible plans that might be successful; all will be expensive, given the nature of the task. But in anticipation of the possibility that the southern militias will not be disarmed prior to a cease-fire coming into force, a UN Chapter VII mandate should be sought now by the US, the UK, and Norway (the “troika”). A Chapter VII mandate authorizes the measured use of force in the case of resistance to the implementation of a UN resolution (the basis for any peace support operation). It clearly permits the deployment of combat forces (Article 42 of the UN Charter), and allows for the possible interference with national sovereignty (we may reasonably anticipate that Khartoum will sooner or later play its “national sovereignty card” if the regime is determined to resist a peace-enforcing deployment).
What would a peace-enforcing operation look like? In the opinion of one military expert with extensive military experience in southern Sudan, a peace-enforcing operation would be most effective if it deployed two forces. One would be an observer mission, the second would be a highly mobile reaction force that could respond with sufficient military power to any breach of the ceasefire agreement, including breaches by the militias. Khartoum has long supplied, armed, and controlled many of these militia forces—forces which, unless disarmed, give the regime a potent, long-term military tool for destabilizing the south even after a peace agreement.
Realistically, then, an adequate UN peace-enforcing operation must have extremely good communications capability, and must be accompanied by at least a brigade-sized reaction force, spread between several strategic locations. This reaction force should have full and unstinting helicopter transport capability and the weaponry that insures that those who might violate the ceasefire are facing an intimidating military response. Since it is most likely that ceasefire violations would be initiated by Khartoum-allied militias, Khartoum must even now be seriously pressured to stop supplying these militias, and to begin the difficult process of disarming them.
Ideally, of course, the disarming of the militias would be an essential part of any peace agreement and would precede the initiation of a full cease-fire. If this is not possible, then the militias themselves must be given direct and unambiguous notice that they will face dire military consequences if they violate the ceasefire. It is also very important that both the observer and military reaction components of the peace support operation have advisors familiar with the leaders of the various militias, their fighting dispositions, and their political ambitions.
Obviously none of this is cheap or easy. On the contrary, insuring that a just peace for Sudan can be sustained will be as difficult as the arduous negotiations that now seem likely to produce a peace agreement. The international community must accept that Khartoum has gone this far down the road of negotiations only because it must—because of domestic demands for peace, military pressure from the insurrection in Darfur, and because of unusually concerted international attention to Sudan’s civil war. With more than a little encouragement from recent diplomatic history, Khartoum has held out until it was simply not possible to hold out any longer. And even now, the very serious difficulties in resumed negotiations on the three contested areas (Abyei, the Nuba Mountains, and Southern Blue Nile) suggest that an agreement is far from certain (if nonetheless increasingly likely because of the consequences Khartoum will face if it fails to follow through on the breakthrough Naivasha security arrangements agreement).
Sustaining peace in Sudan will likely be as much about overcoming the obstacles Khartoum puts up as about positive efforts at reconstruction and development. Only the most relentless pressure on the NIF regime, only the clearest signaling of consequences for failing to honor the terms of this peace agreement, can work to make the expenditures of wealth and power truly meaningful in southern Sudan and the other marginalized areas.
The battle is only half won with a peace agreement; if the stuggle for peace is not completed, then we may be sure that there will be a relentless slide back toward war.
It is time for the world to complement diplomatic efforts with those of reconstruction and a fully effective plan for peace support operations. It is time in particular for the US to make good on the promise made in recent Congressional testimony by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner:
“[The United States] stands ready to support reconstruction and development in post-war Sudan.. .. [If peace comes] there will be a large peace dividend for reconstruction and development if, but only if there is peace.” (Testimony before the House of Representatives, International Relations Committee, May 13, 2003)
Nothing in the present budgetary requests by the Bush administration begins to suggest that these promises are being kept in a meaningful way. There could be no crueler fate for Sudan than to see a peace agreement wither because it was not supported financially at the critical moment of transition from peace to war. The massive commitments to reconstruction in post-war Iraq and Afghanistan, coming to tens of billions of dollars, amply demonstrate our capacity for helping Sudan. If the United States reneges on its promises, if it refuses to accept the most compelling moral challenge presented by Sudan’s transitional needs, then it will share deeply in the blame for any renewed war.
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