The National Islamic Front exports targeted ethnic destruction to Chad
March 1, 2006
Even as security conditions for civilians and humanitarian operations in Darfur continue to deteriorate, the lack of international resolve in responding to massive, ethnically targeted human destruction throughout this vast region has never been more conspicuously on display. Khartoum’s overwhelmingly dominant National Islamic Front (NIF) has, with growing confidence, aggressively rejected a UN peacekeeping force (itself only a distant and almost certainly inadequate means of protection); the African Union (AU) appears to be reconsidering its commitment—“in principle”—to a UN handover of the Darfur mission; and at the UN Security Council, an entirely predictable obstruction of meaningful action on Darfur by veto-wielding China and Russia demonstrates just how little diplomatic preparation and commitment accompanied the US assumption of the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of February. At the same time, as Human Rights Watch has reported with terrifying authority, genocidal violence is now being exported wholesale to neighboring Chad by Khartoum and its Janjaweed militia allies.
In an extraordinarily brazen show of contempt, various senior officials of the NIF-dominated “Government of National Unity” have threatened the UN deployment of peacekeepers that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has described as “inevitable.” These threats takes various forms—some more oblique than others; but they collectively make clear that Khartoum is prepared to insist that the radically inadequate AU monitoring force remain the sole source of civilian and humanitarian protection in Darfur, as well as along the chaotically violent Chad/Darfur border, where conflict threatens to put many more hundreds of thousands of civilians beyond the reach of humanitarian assistance.
Associated Press reports (February 28, 2006) that Khartoum’s justice minister, Mohamed Ali Al Mardhi,
“warned on Monday that UN peacekeepers could be at risk if they were deployed to its conflict-wracked Darfur region. According to reports, justice minister Mohamed Ali Al Mardhi told the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Sudan, that it would be difficult to provide protection for such forces.”
More bluntly, NIF President Omar el-Bashir,
“warned Darfur would become a ‘graveyard’ for any foreign military contingent entering the region against Khartoum’s will, newspapers reported on Sunday. ‘We are strongly opposed to any foreign intervention in Sudan and Darfur will be a graveyard for any foreign troops venturing to enter,’ [el-Bashir said]. His comments came amid stepped-up efforts by the international community to send UN peacekeeping forces to war-torn Darfur in place of AU troops, which have failed to quell the three-year-old bloodshed.” (Agence France Presse, February 26, 2006)
AFP reports that “Beshir was also dismissive of the AU, which has hinted it would not oppose its own replacement by a UN contingent in Darfur. ‘The AU forces can leave the country if they believe that they have failed to carry out their duties,’ Beshir said.”
These comments reveal clearly that NIF contempt extends not only to the UN and its so far ineffectual effort to authorize a peacekeeping mission, but to the AU force, which despite its manifest and ultimately crippling shortcomings, has at least put troops in the field in an effort to diminish the scale of ongoing genocide. That Bashir speaks so flippantly about the AU withdrawing its mission is entirely in character with the attitudes of a genocidaire—someone who has nothing but racial/ethnic contempt for the people his army has sought to destroy with the aid of its murderous Janjaweed militia proxy.
It is thus particularly unfortunate on such an occasion that in characteristic fashion, UN special representative for Sudan Jan Pronk has confused the issues with his peculiar blend of ineptness and disingenuousness. Speaking at a UN news conference in New York, Pronk declared that:
“many Sudanese in Khartoum feared fighters from al-Qaeda would stream into the country, like they did in Iraq, if a UN force took over in Darfur, especially if it had Western contingents. ‘There is intelligence information that there are people in Khartoum who were not in Khartoum before,’ Pronk said, in reference to al-Qaeda. [ ] Pronk said Sudan had sent delegations ‘to many countries in the world’ to argue that the UN should not enter Darfur and the AU should stay.” (Reuters, February 28, 2006)
But what Pronk fails to note is that if there are indeed al-Qaeda elements in Khartoum (“people in Khartoum who were not in Khartoum before”), it is because the National Islamic Front has permitted them to be there, and almost certainly encouraged them to be there. The NIF hosted Osama bin Laden from 1991-1996—the formative years for al-Qaeda. And even when bin Laden departed for Afghanistan in 1996, extremely close ties were preserved through, and after, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Khartoum’s ruthlessly efficient Mukhabarat certainly knows the whereabouts in Sudan of terrorist elements; and any decision to allow them to remain is a deliberate, carefully calibrated threat directed against the possibility of a UN peacekeeping force, and more generally the international community. Khartoum is willing, in short, to use the threat of terrorism—which it can certainly control—as a means of forestalling international actions that might halt genocide.
If the international community yields to this threat, it will become a precedent well noted in other quarters in Africa and elsewhere around the world.
Certainly if Pronk is right—that the NIF has “sent delegations ‘to many countries in the world’ to argue that the UN should not enter Darfur and the AU should stay”—then this should put an end to those arguing that resistance to a UN force by Khartoum is simply preparatory bluster, the public staking out of a position from which it will later retreat when it secures as many concessions as possible about the terms of deployment (the NIF is most likely to object to any deployment under Chapter VII of the UN Charter—an essential element, providing for a peacemaking, not simply peacekeeping, mandate). Rather, the evidence strongly suggests that Khartoum feels it can prevail outright, and force the international community to continue to accept a bankrupt, demoralized, and increasingly embattled AU mission as the sole source of human security in Darfur.
Inaction at the UN can only bolster Khartoum’s confidence. Not only was the US unable to use its Presidency of the Security Council during the month of February to secure an authorizing resolution for deployment of a UN force to Darfur (contingent upon the AU’s formal hand-off of the mission to the UN), but sanctions have still not been imposed on those officials within the NIF that a UN panel of experts determined should be punished under the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1591 (March 2005—a year ago). These include Major General Saleh Abdallah Gosh, head of the National Security and Intelligence Service; Elzubier Bashir Taha, Minister of the Interior; Major General Abdel Rahmin Mohamed Hussein, former Minister of the Interior and current Defense Minister; Major General Ismat Zain al-Din, Director of Operations for the Sudanese Armed Forces in Khartoum (where Darfur military actions are planned). NIF President and Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshal Omar el-Bashir, is also named for “possible future designation,” although the logic of his current exclusion—given his relation to those who are explicitly designated—is incomprehensible.
While there may be confident talk from Britain about sanctions being imposed on these men—judged directly responsible for obstructing the peace process for Darfur—Associated Press reports from the UN in New York that (quite unsurprisingly), “Qatar, China, and Russia were strongly opposed [to imposing sanctions], council diplomats said. Qatar is the only Arab member of the council, China is a major buyer of Sudanese oil, and Russia traditionally opposes sanctions” (February 28, 2006). It should be added that the Arab League as a whole supports Khartoum’s intransigence, and indeed will be holding its next summit in Khartoum this very month; that Russia has an extremely lucrative arms trade with Khartoum, including sale of its most advanced combat aircraft; and that China doesn’t simply “buy” oil from the Khartoum regime: it is the dominant player in oil development in southern Sudan, and sees Sudan as its premier source of off-shore oil.
It is thoroughly unclear upon what British confidence is based—or why Khartoum will be unable to cleave insistently to the view expressed by its charge d’affaires at the UN, Yasir Abdelsalam: “‘You cannot criminalize the leadership’ [of the NIF in Khartoum]” (Washington Post, February 23, 2006). Does Abdelsalam mean that the diplomatic commitments do not exist at the UN to overcome the veto threat of China and Russia? Then he appears to be correct. Does Abdelsalam mean that he and other members of the NIF regard themselves as above international law—and thus in a position to stonewall the investigation of the International Criminal Court? Certainly they do. Does he mean that Khartoum can continue to flout with impunity UN Security Council resolutions, including the sanctions provision of Resolution 1591 (March 2005) and the “demand” by Resolution 1556 (July 30, 2004) that Khartoum disarm the Janjaweed and bring its leaders to justice? Again, he is of course right.
But does Abdelsalam also mean that the genocidal actions, and the ongoing obstruction of the peace process by senior NIF officials, cannot be declared by their proper names? Then of course he is clearly in error. Moreover, as a recent report from Human Rights Watch makes authoritatively clear, NIF-orchestrated genocidal destruction is now being exported to Chad on a wholesale basis.
GROWING CATASTROPHE IN CHAD: A GENOCIDAL REPRISE
“Darfur Bleeds: Recent Cross-Border Violence in Chad” (February 2006, http://hrw.org/backgrounder/africa/chad0206/) offers a terrifying picture of growing violence and anarchy on both sides of the 800-mile border between Chad and Darfur, with potentially catastrophic consequences for humanitarian operations, and for many hundreds of thousands of desperate civilians on both sides of the border. This courageous document deserves the closest attention from those who regard genocide in Darfur as deplorable but ultimately a matter of “tribal war” in western Sudan (as US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick would have it). This document should also be read by those such as US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer who would minimize the significance of the violence that has escalated steadily since September 2005 (“[Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer] cautioned against dwelling too much on the current level of violence [in Darfur]”—Washington Post, November 4, 2005).
From the HRW executive summary:
“The crisis in Darfur, Sudan, which has been trickling into Chad for the better part of three years, is now bleeding freely across the border. A counterinsurgency carried out by the Sudanese government and its militias against rebel groups in Darfur, characterized by war crimes and ‘ethnic cleansing,’ has forcibly displaced almost two million civilians in Darfur and another 220,000 people who have fled across the border into Chad. The same ethnic ‘Janjaweed’ militias that have committed systematic abuses in Darfur have staged cross-border raids into Chad, attacking Darfurian refugees and Chadian villagers alike, seizing their livestock and killing those who resist. The government of Sudan is actively exporting the Darfur crisis to its neighbor by providing material support to Janjaweed militias and by failing to disarm or control them, by backing Chadian rebel groups that it allows to operate from bases in Darfur, and by deploying its own armed forces across the border into Chad.”
What Human Rights Watch calls “ethnic cleansing” reflects an unfortunate unwillingness by this distinguished human rights organization to consider the implications of its own findings, which make clear that there is abundant evidence of “genocidal intent” in the very command structure of Khartoum’s military, intelligence, and political hierarchy (see my analysis of HRW’s deeply misguided claim that determining whether the Khartoum regime has had “genocidal intent” “requires access to government documents and to those in the leadership who planned and coordinated the campaign in Darfur,” http://www.sudanreeves.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=533&page=1).
But certainly for current developments in Chad, Human Rights Watch is persuasive in finding that,
“attacks on Chadian civilians accelerated dramatically in the wake of a December 2005 assault on Adr, in eastern Chad, by Chadian rebels with bases in Darfur and supported by the government of Sudan.”
This support for Chadian rebels by the “government of Sudan”—by the National Islamic Front security cabal—portends major instability, which may easily spread throughout the region, involving Libya, the Central African Republic, southern Sudan, and potentially other parts of Africa. Ominously, the weak and corrupt government of Chadian President Idris Deby responded militarily to the Khartoum-backed threat by consolidating its limited armed forces along the border region, thereby exposing large civilian populations:
“Although the Chadian rebels were not targeting Chadian civilians, the December attack, combined with a wave of Chadian military defections to Chadian rebel groups based in Darfur, had the consequence of prompting the Chadian army to redeploy its forces, leaving long stretches of the border with Sudan undefended. Janjaweed militias exploited this gap, staging raids into eastern Chad with increasing frequency and complete impunity.”
“The Janjaweed raiding parties have targeted villages in Chad and willfully killed Chadian civilians, in particular those from the Masalit and Dajo ethnic groups (non-Arab cross-border tribes that have also been the targets of Janjaweed attacks in Darfur). Due to the attacks in Chad, civilians have been forced from their homes, and their few possessions, mostly livestock, have been looted. People living along the Chad-Sudan border, already among the world’s poorest, have little access to national or international humanitarian assistance. On some occasions, the Janjaweed attacks appear to be coordinated with those of the Chadian rebels. On other occasions, Janjaweed militias have carried out attacks inside Chad accompanied by Sudanese army troops with helicopter gunship support.”
That Janjaweed militia forces “have carried out attacks inside Chad accompanied by Sudanese army troops with helicopter gunship support” fully internationalizes the catastrophe in Darfur and makes clear just how spectacularly incompetent the UN’s Pronk is in declaring that “it was uncertain who was giving orders to support [the Janjaweed] militarily” (Reuters [dateline: United Nations, New York], February 28, 2006). Indeed, as Human Rights Watch has earlier established (“Entrenching Impunity: Government Responsibility for International Crimes in Darfur,” December 2005 at http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2005/12/09/sudan12186.htm):
“Since early 2003, the leadership in Khartoum has relied on civilian administration, the Sudanese military and Janjaweed militias to implement a counterinsurgency policy that deliberately and systematically targeted civilians in violation of international law. Ultimate responsibility for the creation and coordination of the policy lies in Khartoum, with the highest levels of the Sudanese leadership, including President Omar El Bashir, Vice-President Ali Osman Taha, and key national ministers and security chiefs.”
“The Sudanese government is extremely hierarchical in many respects, and functions through a tight network of ruling party insiders. Although further investigation to establish the details of the involvement of key national officials is necessary, the role of top Sudanese officials in coordinating the ‘ethnic cleansing’ campaign is evident when the major offensives are analyzed. Even clearer is the pivotal role of President El Bashir himself, whose public statements were precursors to the call to arms and peaks in the violence, and no doubt echoed the private directives given to the civilian administration, military, and security services.”
This is the regime that the international community refuses to confront, refuses to sanction, and whose genocidal assault on the non-Arab or African tribal populations of Darfur and eastern Chad the world is allowing to proceed unimpeded. The AU is powerless to stop escalating violence, though this has not prevented the AU from hesitating at the critical moment in passing authority for civilian protection to the UN. While we must rely on the expedient and confused Mr. Pronk for too many details, Reuters reports him as saying, “‘We do not know if AU will confirm its own earlier decision,’ [Pronk] said. AU foreign ministers were to meet on Friday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to decide on the transition, agreed to earlier in principle, but they postponed the session on Tuesday for a week” (February 28, 2006). Khartoum—with strong support from the Arab League, especially Egypt and Libya—is seeking by various means to discourage the AU from going ahead with its decision “in principle” to hand over the Darfur mission to the UN. The week delay suggests that the regime is making progress in Addis Ababa and in various AU capitals.
ON THE GROUND
A UN News Center dispatch (February 28, 2006) reminds us that the crisis in Darfur continues not simply in West Darfur and eastern Chad, but elsewhere as well:
“Since fighting flared a week ago in North Darfur, a large number of villages have been attacked and burned, markets have been looted and people displaced. The UN Mission in Sudan has also said that clashes between the Sudan Armed Forces and rebel Sudan Liberation Army have continued. Speaking today, Pronk also said that 300 people had been killed in one area of South Darfur since December by attackers riding horses and camels and backed up by military vehicles.”
Of course mortality in Darfur is rarely considered with sufficient care, and we can have no real idea of what data or area the incompetent Mr. Pronk has chosen to highlight with this particular figure of 300 dead. But overall mortality in the Darfur conflict, from all causes, very likely exceeds 400,000 (see my “DARFUR MORTALITY UPDATE: August 31, 2005; Current data for total mortality from violence, malnutrition, and disease,” http://www.sudanreeves.org/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=67).
To be sure, press and wire reports in the main continue to base their mortality figure for the Darfur genocide on a UN figure of 180,000, promulgated a year ago (March 2005), which at the time did not include violent mortality but rather represented deaths mainly from disease and malnutrition in camps for displaced persons (the figure was calculated in March 2005, simply by the multiplying 18 previous months of the crisis by a mortality rate of 10,000/month—a rate deriving from a September 2004 UN World Health Organization study of mortality from disease and malnutrition in accessible camp populations throughout Darfur).
Beyond this figure of 180,000—which a subsequent WHO-overseen mortality study (June 2005) suggests has grown by over 50,000 during the past year—we must assess violent mortality over more than three years of enormously destructive conflict. Extant data strongly suggest that such violent mortality is well in excess of 200,000. This is the implication of comprehensive data compiled by the Coalition for International Justice (CIJ) (“Documenting Atrocities in Darfur,” based upon almost 1,200 carefully conducted interviews at various locations along the Chad/Darfur border in August 2004, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/36028.htm). Though not as comprehensive, more recent data from Physicians for Human Rights are strongly corroborative of CIJ findings. In “Darfur: Assault on Survival” (January 2006, http://www.phrusa.org/research/sudan/news_2006-01-11.html), PHR presents (on the basis of well-constructed interviews of carefully selected individuals in three representative locations) a shocking finding:
“Prior to the attacks the 46 men and women PHR interviewed had a total of 558 people in their households. Of these, 141 were ‘confirmed dead’—their deaths were witnessed or their bodies found—while 251 were ‘killed or missing’—meaning their whereabouts were unknown. The average household size [defined as ‘people who eat out of the same pot’] before the attacks was 12.1; after it was 6.7.”
This represents violent mortality of 45% for the family populations interviewed. We needn’t believe that the population sample in the report is statistically representative to see that huge areas of Darfur have suffered enormous violent human destruction—perhaps well in excess of the 200,000 suggested by the August 2004 CIJ data.
UN DARFUR HUMANITARIAN PROFILE NO. 22
Representing conditions as of January 1, 2006 (two months ago), the UN’s most recent Darfur Humanitarian Profile (No. 22) offers some sobering statistics defining what has become largely “genocide by attrition” for much of Darfur:
 “The total number of affected people in Darfur increased by 49% with respect to a year ago, to reach 3.6 million in December 2005.”
This number has certainly grown with recent Janjaweed attacks and displacements (especially in the Mershing and Shearia areas of South Darfur), as well as with ongoing humanitarian withdrawals.
 “Particularly worrying was the continued deliberate destruction of farmland by nomadic groups and their grazing herds. The risk continues that many Darfurians will join the ranks of displaced persons in camps and provisional settlements, and that no significant returns will take place in 2006.”
If the displaced populations cannot return to their lands, this ensures that agricultural production in Darfur will remain largely at a standstill.
 “Chart 2 [page 4 of DHP 22] shows the trend of the affected population accessible according to UN security standards since April 2004. On January 1, 2006, UN accessibility dropped again from 77% the previous month to 72%, well below the achievements of the second half of 2004 and the first nine months of 2005.”
West Darfur is rightly highlighted by DHP 22. But there is continuing attenuation of humanitarian reach in the other Darfur states as well; DHP 22 highlights not only fighting in “the Jebel Moon and Masteri/Kongo Haraza [areas] temporarily forcing the withdrawal of International Nongovernmental Organizations (INGOs),” but “militia attacks on Tawilla in North Darfur have similarly forced INGOs working in the area to temporarily relocate their staff.”
Many evacuations give clear evidence of not being “temporary,” and security has continued to deteriorate badly since the terminus date of January 1, 2006.
 “The widespread climate of insecurity in December had a significant negative impact on the ability of the humanitarian community to access the people in need. Solutions have been found to continue assisting the affected populations, including the bringing in of helicopters and private trucking companies, but being costly, these solutions are untenable over the long run.”
Tragically, the “long run” is what will determine whether hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings live or die. And in this “long run,” these untenably expensive delivery means—dictated entirely by insecurity—will be halted.
 While rightly celebrating the extraordinary, life-saving humanitarian achievements from July 2004 through 2005, DHP 22 ominously declares:
“The question now is whether these achievements can be safeguarded in 2006. With no political solution in sight and the conflict slipping further into chaos, and with a possible donor fatigue translating into shortages of funding and staffing of the humanitarian organizations, the gains made in 2005 may well be reversed. Despite the favorable weather conditions, and despite the fact that crops have been harvested [from a highly limited spring 2005 planting, and after massive destruction of crops and cropland—ER], over 2.7 million people were still in need of external food aid in December. World Food Program current stocks in Darfur and those heading to Darfur will meet requirements until mid-April. Shortages of some non-cereal commodities will start immediately afterwards, and major [food] pipeline breaks will start in May. Food needs to be pre-positioned between now and June to ensure that the population’s needs are covered during the rainy season (July to September), which also coincides with the hunger gap, when needs are greatest.”
The significance of a “major break” in the food “pipeline” (defining the course of movement of food from point of origin outside Sudan to the point of delivery in Darfur) cannot be overstated. These people have, overwhelmingly, lost all their food reserves, all their cattle, all their resources. And insecurity prevents their deploying superb coping skills normally available in times of drought and scare food.
Accelerating insecurity and further humanitarian withdrawals and evacuations argue that human destruction in Darfur on its greatest scale may only now be looming. Despite these conspicuous and terrifying realities, the international community continues to defer to Khartoum, even as the regime exports these realities to eastern Chad, with the clear potential for expanded fighting in Darfur. As Human Rights Watch notes:
“For Darfur, what this situation [along the Chad/Darfur border] could mean is that its conflict will become more difficult to resolve as more actors are drawn in from its unstable neighbor, with their own agendas. The Janjaweed, moving with Sudanese government help into Chad, will expand their power and resource base, and their alliance with Chadian rebels will strengthen both. Even more fighting in Darfur may result if a Chadian civil war is brought, once again, inside Darfur.”
AND YET FURTHER DESCENT
There is still no evidence that the international community is prepared to intervene in a timely and urgent fashion to halt genocide in Darfur. Despite posturing by various Bush administration officials, and apparently strong words from the President and his UN ambassador, there is no substantial commitment or willingness to expend the political and diplomatic capital necessary to move effectively at the UN Security Council or in Brussels. Indeed, the US State Department is prepared to engage in outright mendacity in explaining US policy on intervention in Darfur. State Department Spokesman Adam Ereli recently declared to the press: “But let’s remember, the AU was never intended to be an open-ended force. And it was always envisioned that there would be a transition to something else” (transcript of February 21, 2006 briefing).
This is a lie. Last July, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared in Senegal:
“The African Union has the lead in [responding to the Darfur crisis]; we have tried to help and will continue to try to help, but I think Africans believe this is a conflict best resolved on the ground by Africans.” (Agence France Presse [dateline: Dakar, Senegal], July 20, 2005)
“African solutions for African problems”—the mantra of too many within the AU, and clearly the most expedient course of action for the US. But such statements directly contradict the claim by the State Department that “it was always envisioned that there would be a transition to something else” besides the AU force in Darfur. More recently, Assistant Secretary of State Frazer declared to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (November 2005): “The AU effort in Darfur has demonstrated why deployment of African troops is a viable option” (transcript, November 17, 2005).
The effort to create a sense that there has somehow long been a US plan for enhancing civilian and humanitarian protection in Darfur is an expedient distortion of what has clearly been a willingness to leave security entirely to the AU, long after it was evident that the AU did not begin to have the manpower, logistics, communications, transport, administrative, or intelligences resources required for this daunting mission.
Of course the governments of Europe have been just as disingenuous and expedient about AU capacity and abilities, even as the current funding crisis for the AU mission in Darfur is much more a function of decisions made in Brussels than in Washington.
What is notable here is that even if the moral case for humanitarian intervention in Darfur falls on deaf ears in Washington and Brussels, even if we accept that anguished declarations of “never again” are mere rhetorical contrivance, there is a compelling geostrategic case to be made for intervention. James Forsyth makes just this case in “Realism and Darfur” (The New Republic, March 1, 2006, http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=w060227&s=forsyth030106). Directed at “foreign policy realists,” Forsyth’s argument intelligently highlights the dangerous consequences of ignoring Chinese economic activities in Africa and its political support for corrupt and evil regimes on the continent (the US must “thwart the rise of [China,] its strategic competitor in Africa”). He speaks about the unhappy political effects “if the Khartoum government succeeds in completing the Darfur genocide”: “other African pariahs will marvel at the benefits of coming under the Chinese umbrella.”
But Forsyth’s arguments are simply inadequate to compel the urgency appropriate to a crisis in which hundreds of thousands of human lives may soon be lost. “Realism,” as Forsyth deploys the term, cannot generate the near-term political and diplomatic force necessary to compel China’s acceptance of an appropriate military force to protect civilians and humanitarians in Darfur. For only the deployment of Western troops and resources, with NATO as the only realistic option, can forestall the massive human destruction that is clearly impending.
We may be guided here by the excessively dim light of Jan Pronk’s assessment of a NATO deployment (“a recipe for disaster”—Deutsche Presse Agentur, February 28, 2006); we may thus choose to consign the people of Darfur to months of transition from the present radically inadequate AU force to a UN force that won’t arrive until perhaps January 2007. But the precarious grip on existence that defines the lives of far too many of the more than 3.6 million people now conflict-affected and in need of humanitarian assistance is tenuous in the extreme—and grows daily more so.
Exported genocidal violence in eastern Chad, as well as ongoing conflict in Darfur itself; complete lack of effective pressure on Khartoum; increasingly compromised security for humanitarian operations; donor fatigue; serious breaks in the food pipe-line; and paralyzing seasonal rains that will begin in less than four months, with little sign that sufficient food and other critical supplies will be pre-positioned, especially in West Darfur: These are the undeniable realities.
Forsyth is certainly right to ask that we—“realists” and “moralists”—consider the consequences if “the Khartoum government succeeds in completing the Darfur genocide.” For that “success” looms ever closer.
Northampton, MA 01063