Evidence continues to emerge suggesting that Khartoum is not serious about the “four proposals” made by US special envoy John Danforth as a means of moving the Sudan peace process forward. The BBC, citing the Al-Khartoum newspaper (Nov 27), reports that Sudan’s President Beshir is making a travesty of the Danforth “confidence-building” measures, attempting to transform them into a self-serving cease-fire for the oil regions. Beshir also denies Khartoum’s bombing of civilian and humanitarian targets, even as humanitarian aid organizations confirm precisely such savagery. Far from being a source of momentum for peace, the Danforth mission is rapidly in danger of becoming a useful cover for Khartoum’s continued brutality in its conduct of the war. The US does not need to wait until Danforth’s declared January deadline to see these realities—the ugly truth is now readily apparent.
Eric Reeves [November 29, 2001]
Northampton, MA 01063
Al-Khartoum says that President Omar Beshir “had stressed to Danforth that any cease-fire should be accompanied by a cease-fire in the oil areas and areas where the oil pipeline passed through” (excerpts of BBC monitoring attached). In this case, we may be confident that Al-Khartoum is indeed speaking for the National Islamic Front (NIF) leadership: they wish the US to do the work of providing security for the oil production and development projects that fund the NIF war-machine.
For even the scorched-earth methods of Khartoum’s military take resources. The junta would be much happier with the US enforcing a truce that will preserve the status quo in the oil regions, a situation in which the south sees none of the benefits of oil development but has suffered all its brutal consequences: massive human displacement, helicopter gunship and ground assaults on villages, the burning of foodstuffs, the looting or destruction of cattle, the killing of innocent men, women and children.
The Nuba Mountain proposal by Danforth was meant to be one that took an isolated and brutalized region of southern Kordofan province, and allow in humanitarian aid—aid that has been blocked by the NIF for over a decade. Instead, Khartoum is attempting to transform this important, but geographically defined, proposal and make it serve their security needs in the oil regions of Western Upper Nile and presumably even eastern Bahr el-Ghazal province.
In other words, the US is being asked to accomplish diplomatically what the NIF has been seeking militarily, and will no doubt pursue militarily again when any US-brokered cease-fire breaks down. For peace simply cannot come to the oil regions of southern Sudan by means of expedient cease-fires; it will come only as part of a larger, just peace for the people of the south.
We should also ask how trustworthy Khartoum would be in observing a cease-fire in any event. Revealingly, Al-Khartoum reports that Beshir says the NIF will not bomb civilian or humanitarian targets, only military ones. But this is a lie, a shameless and transparent lie. Precisely such bombings occurred the very day on which Beshir spoke. This source reported two days ago that numerous humanitarian aid organizations, and UN security personnel, confirm deliberate bombings at a number of sites in southern Sudan with no military significance whatsoever.
All confirmations were unambiguous: they reported that the Khartoum regime ordered attacks on civilian and humanitarian targets in and near Malual Kon in northern Bahr el-Ghazal province (a refugee center and a major relief site for the UN World Food Program).
UN security sources confirmed that on November 26, six bombs were dropped in Malual Kon, one landing very close to the compound of the International Rescue Committee. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) also reported that their Field Manager in Malual Kon has confirmed that six bombs were dropped on Malual Kon, one landing approximately 150 yards from the IRC compound. They confirm that a Sudanese female civilian was killed, as well as a number of cattle, and that shrapnel and debris from the bomb rained into the IRC compound. In addition, the IRC confirms that shortly before the bombing of Malual Kon, five bombs were dropped on nearby Malual Bai, and that one man was reported killed and one child injured. And significantly, the IRC emphasized that Malual Kon is at least 12 miles from any military presence and that only civilians and humanitarian personnel are present in the area.
Further confirmation came from Tearfund (UK) and personnel of the Diocese of Rumbek, relayed through the Sudan Catholic Information Office.
How much evidence will it take to convince the US that Khartoum is already signaling that it is not about to engage in good-faith peace negotiations? Special Envoy Danforth, whose press conference of November 27 was rambling and ill-informed, does not hold out much hope that there is sufficient US diplomatic resolve to confront Khartoum over these obvious signs of bad faith.
Danforth seems painfully ignorant of the obstacles posed by the Libyan-Egyptian Initiative; he is disconcertingly agnostic about the merits of the Sudan Peace Act (suggesting, incredibly, that it is not really part of his bailiwick); and he also seems willing, indeed eager, to pass on the issue of whether there is moral equivalency between Khartoum and its military opposition in the south. This is all intensely dismaying.
A failure to respond to Khartoum’s efforts to make the American proposals serve their expedient needs; a failure to deal head-on with the issue of southern self-determination; a failure to recognize Khartoum as the overwhelmingly culpable party in the gross human rights abuses of Sudan’s conflict—these failures collectively suggest that there will be precious little to hope for from Senator Danforth.
These unhappy conclusions highlight yet again the importance of American legislative action in the form of the Sudan Peace Act, and its critical provision for capital market sanctions against oil companies operating in Sudan. Absent this pressure, there is simply no evidence to suggest that the Khartoum regime will move toward the peace table in any constructive form.
Source: Al-Khartoum, Khartoum, in Arabic
27 Nov 01/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC
Excerpt from report by Sudanese newspaper Al-Khartoum on 27 November
The president of the republic, Lt-Gen Umar al-Bashir, has given new
details about the government’s response to the four American proposals
submitted by President Bush’s envoy, Senator John Danforth, during his
recent visit to Sudan.
The president said the first American proposal called for a partial
cease-fire in areas in the Nuba Mountains [central Sudan]. However, he
said, the government had expressed reservation at partial cease-fire,
based on similar experiences in Bahr al-Ghazal [southern Sudan] which
had been negative.
The president said they had stressed to Danforth that ***any cease-fire
should be accompanied by a cease-fire in the oil areas and areas where
the oil pipeline passed through.***
The president disclosed that they also informed the envoy of their
commitment not to bomb relief areas. However, they stressed to him that the armed forces would not halt bombing in active theatres of operation.