The regime has a long and deadly history of such suspensions, both in southern Sudan and currently in eastern Sudan
June 28, 2006
Khartoum’s decision to suspend for two days most UN humanitarian operations in Darfur—including the World Health Organization, the UN High Commission for Refugees, the UN Mission in Sudan, and others—had little to do with the reason offered by the regime, viz., UN transporting of Suliman Jamous, the recently rescued Sudan Liberation Movement humanitarian official. Jamous had been imprisoned by the increasingly brutal and tyrannical Minni Minawi, and on securing his release the UN was understandably eager to afford him shelter from re-capture. To be sure, Khartoum’s vicious Military Intelligence was angry that the UN moved Jamous without permission. But the real purpose of suspending UN humanitarian aid had little to do directly with the rescue of a man who has been indispensable to humanitarian operations throughout Darfur. Rather, Khartoum’s action was, in effect, a pointed threat:
“We have the power to shut down humanitarian operations overnight—and completely. The present suspension was simply a warning, a reminder. But if we are pressed, if our most consequential claims of national sovereignty are ignored, if the UN should demand that we accept a force capable of protecting civilians and humanitarians, then we will respond much more severely the next time.”
There should be no doubt about the deadly seriousness of Khartoum’s threat, or about the ghastly history that stands as its guarantor. The National Islamic Front regime, which came to power by military coup 17 years ago this month, has a long and lethal record of humanitarian aid obstruction, harassment, and denial—and has on many occasions directly attacked humanitarian operations and workers (see below). Though we have over the past three years seen much of this barbarous denial of humanitarian aid as a weapon of war in Darfur, it is imperative to recall what the NIF has done previously in southern Sudan, the Nuba Mountains, and is currently undertaking in eastern Sudan.
For example, Manuel Aranda da Silva, UN humanitarian coordinator and deputy special representative of the Secretary-General in Sudan, very recently declared that in addition to paralyzing insecurity in Darfur,
“aid workers had also been stopped from moving in Sudan’s east, where a similar conflict has simmered for a decade. Rebels there complain of neglect by the central government. [ ] ‘We have been denied access to visit refugee camps [in eastern Sudan] and if we cannot have access then we cannot provide assistance,’ Da Silva said. ‘We will not be able to continue in the east if we do not have freedom of movement,’ he added.” He said despite central government assurances that they would implement a freedom of access agreement signed with the world body, [Khartoum-appointed] local authorities in the east were not implementing that deal.” (Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], June 19, 2006)
The people in camps and rural areas in the east—Beja, Rashaida, refugees from Eritrea and Ethiopia—are among the most bereft and endangered people in all of Sudan; global malnutrition rates considerably exceed those in Darfur. And yet as part of its “negotiating strategy” and its increasingly deadly war of attrition, Khartoum’s ruthless leaders are willing to deny these people humanitarian access, this despite explicit promises “that they would implement a freedom of access agreement ” signed with the UN. Those looking to the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Darfur should study carefully Khartoum’s behavior in eastern Sudan.
The UN Integrated Regional Information Networks reported on June 19, 2006:
“UN staff have expressed concern about an apparent aid blockade in the troubled eastern region. In recent days, aid workers had been refused access to the area, despite formal agreements with the Sudanese government allowing them to work in the region, da Silva said. ‘Since the beginning of last week, we have been denied access to visit refugee camps,’ he said. ‘This is a very strange development. If it is not solved very soon, we are going to have enormous problems in these refugee camps in the east.'” [ ]
“Rebels in Sudan’s east have complained that the impoverished region remains underdeveloped due to neglect by the central government. A similar grievance sparked the Darfur rebellion, in which rebels, complaining about political and economic marginalisation, attacked government positions in the region.” (UN IRIN [dateline: Khartoum], June 19, 2006)
Da Silva declares it “very strange” that Khartoum would deny humanitarian access to desperate civilians: it is strange only in a moral sense, not an historical one. Khartoum’s genocidaires have a long record of precisely such denial.
Voice of America also reports from Khartoum:
“Da Silva added that he is equally concerned over an aid blockade in volatile Eastern Sudan. The UN has been refused access to the region by the Sudan government in recent days. ‘When it comes to the east, I am very disappointed,’ he said. ‘Since the beginning of last week, we have been denied access to visit refugee camps. And if we cannot access, then we cannot provide assistance.'” (VOA [dateline: Khartoum], June 19, 2006)
This is indeed the very point of Khartoum’s denial of access—to prevent innocent civilians, viewed as possible supporters of an insurgency movement, from receiving life-sustaining aid.
Agence France Presse recently offered a detailed and particularly well-informed account of the grim realities that to date have been noted by very few observers (June 7, 2006 [dateline: Kassala, eastern Sudan]):
“Helicopter gunships and a humanitarian crisis greet the few Westerners who make it to Kassala, an East Sudan town far from the Darfur region, where analysts say a bad situation could be about to get worse. With international media and aid groups focused on war-torn Darfur in the West, restrictions on journalists and humanitarian workers travelling to the East mean that a crisis in many ways worse than Darfur’s goes largely ignored.”
“The crude mortality rate for this desert region [ ] is almost double that of Darfur. There, 14,000 aid workers have been deployed to cope with the humanitarian crisis, but only a small fraction of that number work in the East, home to yet another Sudanese rebellion. A study carried out last year found that acute malnutrition in the East stood at around 19 percent, well-above the emergency level of 15 percent. In Darfur the figure was less than 12 percent.” [NB: the malnutrition rate again exceeds 15% among many populations in Darfur—ER]
“[Only a few correspondents] manage to make it [to the East,] thanks to World Food Program humanitarian flights. ‘The East is one of the least served areas [of Sudan],’ the International Crisis Group’s Suliman Baldo told reporters. ‘There are a lot of restrictions on [humanitarian organizations] in the East, not like in Darfur.’ ‘The humanitarian needs are not receiving any attention so therefore it’s a bad situation. It definitely needs to be highlighted…the lack of media attention is also responsible.'”
It is quite extraordinary that the deeply informed Suliman Baldo can compare eastern Sudan and Darfur, and assert that access in the latter is relatively “easier”; for of course aid obstruction, harassment, and insecurity define the realities confronting humanitarian efforts in Darfur, as does Khartoum’s recent suspension of UN aid efforts. But humanitarian assessments make clear how successful Khartoum has been in shutting down aid to the people of the East:
“There has been no distribution of ‘non-food items’ [medicine, water purification, shelter, mosquito netting] in four years, and the acquired items scheduled to be distributed are insufficient, according to a June 2006 UN High Commission for Refugees [UNHCR] report on Sudan operations.”
“The [UN] World Food Program has reported a sharp increase in malnutrition rates in eastern Sudan, and malaria cases are expected to rise during the rainy season, which began this month. However, according to UNHCR, ‘the available mosquito nets are not sufficient to be distributed to all needy people (children under five and pregnant women).'”
“‘These people, who have already gone through so much, need more food,’ [UN WFP spokesman Trevor] Rowe said. ‘It’s one thing to survive on the minimum, but it’s another to survive on half of the minimum’ [this is the current ration in eastern Sudan because of funding shortfalls and Khartoum’s refusal to release additional food from its enormous strategic grain reserve—ER]. WFP suspended its food assistance in east Sudan, including for refugees, during the month of May , due to the unsolved travel permit issue and lack of access to the camps,’ according to the UNHCR report.” (Inter Press Service [dateline: Johannesburg], June 20, 2006)
These travel permits, and thus humanitarian access, were denied by Khartoum with the clear purpose of increasing human suffering and destruction among these desperately needy people. This deliberate, vicious obstructionism was recently reported as well by the US Agency for International Development:
“UN Program Suspension in Kassala [Eastern Sudan]: According to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), Sudanese government restrictions on UN movement have led to the suspension of all non-lifesaving UN programs in Kassala State. Local officials have sought to curtail UN activity on the grounds that the [north/south] Comprehensive Peace Agreement [CPA] does not call for any civilian UN activities in the east, only military-related support for the CPA. [Khartoum-appointed] Authorities refuse to recognize the UN unified mission approach and are demanding that UN agencies abide by technical agreements that existed before the establishment of UNMIS [as part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement].” (“Sudan—Complex Emergency,” Situation Report #18, June 16, 2006)
This apparently technical obstructionism has terribly real consequences for desperately needy human beings:
“According to a May 20,  [UN] World Food Program [WFP] report, restricted humanitarian access is limiting food distributions and may prevent WFP from pre-positioning food aid for tens of thousands of Ethiopian and Eritrean refugees in eastern Sudan in advance of the rainy season. WFP reported that due to an impasse over travel permit requirements, [Khartoum-appointed] government officials have denied WFP staff access to sites in 35 separate incidents countrywide between mid-March and mid-May. According to the report, 20 of the incidents occurred in eastern Sudan, resulting in no WFP access to Red Sea State and reduced access in Kassala.” (“Sudan—Complex Emergency,” Situation Report #18, June 16, 2006)
Khartoum is deliberately escalating malnutrition and human mortality in eastern Sudan as part of a war of attrition against the people who are perceived as supporting an insurgency movement (the Eastern Front). But because eastern Sudan has little of the profile that Darfur has achieved, these crimes against humanity continue unabated and unchallenged.
The June 7, 2006 Agence France Presse dispatch also offered an important overview of the background to the crisis in eastern Sudan:
“A recent report by international nongovernmental organizations working in the region said: ‘Eastern Sudan has not been a priority for international and domestic humanitarian and political actors, leaving the population there…extremely under-served.’ Chronic poverty and neglect by the authorities prompted the region’s largest ethnic group, the Beja, to take up arms against Khartoum in 1996, eventually forging an alliance with the much larger, southern-based Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). In 2004, having formed a new alliance with another marginalized minority, the Rashidiya Arabs, to create the Eastern Front, the Beja pledged to step up their attacks from the rebel-held town of Hamesh Koreb, just north of Kassala.”
Eastern Sudan is a tinder-box, and the spark that will set off a new conflagration of human suffering and destruction has been in evidence for many months:
“Now, with the well-armed [southern] Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army [SPLM/A] due to withdraw its forces under the terms of a peace deal it signed with Khartoum early last year, there is a growing fear that government forces will soon move in to wipe out the Eastern Front. Aid workers fear civilians will bear the brunt of any such offensive, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. ‘Increased instability will have an impact on the already fragile humanitarian situation in the region,’ said Barabara Manzi of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.” (AFP, June 7, 2006)
In fact, the SPLM/A has now completely withdrawn from Hamesh Koreb:
“On Sunday, the SPLM/A officially pulled out its forces of Hamishkorieb and handed over the area to the civilian administration of Kassala State Hamishkorieb, about 500km northeast of Khartoum, was the largest town controlled by the SPLM/A in eastern Sudan during the 21-year north-south civil war.” (UN IRIN, June 13, 2006)
And as a particularly well-informed analyst notes of the increasingly ominous military situation:
“‘There has been an increased presence of SAF [regular Sudanese Armed Forces] and PDF [Popular Defence Forces] forces in the region [eastern Sudan], and they are occupying strategic positions.'” (UN IRIN, June 13, 2006)
Even as Khartoum negotiates a “peace agreement” with the Eastern Front rebels in Asmara (Eritrea), it is simultaneously waging war by means of humanitarian obstruction and the assumption of militarily critical positions in eastern Sudan. If war comes, given the proximity of the strategic oil export pipeline and Port Sudan, it will be extraordinarily violent, and civilian casualties will be massive. As Julie Flint concluded in a superbly informed assessment of the crisis in eastern Sudan (The Daily Star [Lebanon], February 7, 2006):
“Any counterinsurgency campaign in eastern Sudan will be run by those who ran the war in Darfur. The security apparatus of the Sudanese state is unchanged. Eastern Sudan is not only a challenge to the international partners who drove through the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, turning a blind eye to the death in Darfur. It is a litmus test for the unity government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement’s ability to make the leopard change its spots. Most importantly, it is life or death for people who have already been patient long enough.” (“The Looming Conflict in Eastern Sudan,” February 7, 2006; http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=5&article_id=22003).
With the SPLM withdrawal from Hamesh Koreb concluded, and with the Movement now thoroughly irrelevant in northern Sudanese policy decisions, the question seems increasingly not “if” but “when” war in eastern Sudan breaks out. Though peace could certainly be achieved in Asmara if there were good faith on Khartoum’s part, there is no evidence of such; instead, we must look squarely at the regime’s unblemished record of reneging on all agreements with all Sudanese parties.
Again, the town of Hamesh Koreb is the most likely flash point for conflict, as the International Crisis Group pointed out in January (“Sudan: Saving Peace in the East,” International Crisis Group, January 5, 2006, http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=3858&l=1). More recently, the IRIN analyst points out that conditions have deteriorated and tensions are running extremely high:
“‘In Hamishkorieb town, there has been no provision of basic services after the activities of the two remaining international aid agencies in the area were suspended [by Khartoum] in January.'”
Such suspension of humanitarian aid, given the number of human lives directly imperiled, demands a robust international response. Instead, there is only weak and too often oblique criticism of Khartoum—criticism that is neither reported prominently nor acted upon. In the absence of a meaningful peace agreement and forceful international pressure, eastern Sudan will explode. Here it hardly helps that the rebel representatives negotiating in Asmara, like those who negotiated the Darfur Peace Agreement with Khartoum in Abuja, are badly divided:
“Another concern was that the representatives of the Beja Congress, who were negotiating with the Sudanese government in the Eritrean capital Asmara, were not necessarily representative of the entire rebel movement, the analyst warned. Other rebel groups, such as the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), which is also active in Darfur, remained outside the negotiations altogether. ‘There are big divisions between the Beja Congress in Port Sudan and the Beja Congress in Asmara and communications within the movement are very poor,’ [the analyst] said. ‘The Sudanese government is very concerned about what is going to happen next, especially with regard to the other armed groups in the area.'” (UN IRIN, June 13, 2006)
Of one thing we may be sure: if war comes, then humanitarian access will be severed altogether, and civilian destruction will be massive. Here, to see how Khartoum has most savagely interdicted and assaulted humanitarian assistance as a weapon of war, we must look to southern Sudan, where as many as 2.5 million people died in the course of 22 years of unspeakable violence and deprivation.
THE WAR ON HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE IN SOUTHERN SUDAN
Many of the weapons used against humanitarian assistance in southern Sudan have been conspicuously in evidence in Darfur, mutatis mutandis. There were during the civil war in the south countless dispatches of the following sort:
“The UN food agency [World Food Program (WFP)] said the Sudanese customs and agriculture authorities had blocked entry of the [5,000 tons of] sorghum for six months for unclear reasons. The WFP said it had communicated to the government its regret at the non-delivery of the sorghum, which it had purchased from Ethiopia with a cash grant from the Norwegian government” (Agence France-Presse, June 17, 2002).
But the reasons weren’t “unclear” at all—merely unspoken by the UN out of perverse deference to Khartoum’s threats: throughout the war the National Islamic Front regime remained determined to use the manipulation of humanitarian aid, including food aid, as a way of furthering its war on civilians and civil society throughout southern Sudan. And the threat of denying humanitarian access altogether was always clearly in play.
Sometimes—as in Darfur—the means were deliberate bureaucratic obstacles to humanitarian aid; other times there were explicit flight denials to areas in critical need (this was a major factor in the horrific famine of 1998 in Bahr el-Ghazal Province). But there was no mistaking the effects of manipulating and attacking humanitarian aid, any more than there are today in eastern Sudan and Darfur. As this writer argued in the Washington Post (July 6, 2002):
“The number is so shockingly large as to defy casual comprehension. We must exercise both moral and statistical imagination to understand the evil represented: 1.7 million human beings, the most recent UN estimate for people in southern Sudan deliberately being denied humanitarian aid by Khartoum’s National Islamic Front regime. Such denial of food and medical assistance, given the distressed condition of so many of these people, is nothing less than a terribly crude but equally effective ‘weapon of mass destruction.'”
This was at a time when the humanitarian organization Action Contre la Faim (ACF) had issued an urgent alarm about the desperate food crisis in the oil regions of Western Upper Nile province, with malnutrition among children in the most affected areas up by 100% from the previous year (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, May 8, 2002). These were also the regions in which aid denials were concentrated.
There can be no re-writing or sanitizing this ghastly history; nor should we doubt the willingness of Khartoum to re-engage in such behavior—again, this is the real meaning of the suspension of UN humanitarian aid in Darfur this past weekend. The lack of a forceful response in southern Sudan has only emboldened the National Islamic Front regime to believe that it may again engage in such deliberate human destruction without risking more than “condemnation”:
“The UN World Food Programme today [April 5, 2002] strongly condemned the decision by the Government of Sudan to deny access of WFP flights to 43 locations in southern Sudan, which will prevent about 1.7 million people from receiving humanitarian assistance.”
“A number of the locations affected by the flight denial [ ] are crucial to reach some of the most vulnerable populations frequently displaced by insecurity. ‘These flight bans can have a devastating impact on entire populations,’ said Judith Lewis, WFP’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa. ‘Extremely debilitated people will be virtually cut off from basic assistance such as food and health care.’ Most of the 43 locations to where flights have been denied are located in areas where the populations are extremely vulnerable due to insecurity and drought. These people rely heavily on relief assistance, and the latest flight denial will result in further displacement of thousands of people.” (WFP press release, April 5, 2002)
Three months later, despite UN “condemnation,” the situation was largely unchanged. And in Darfur today, people are again “extremely debilitated,” and because of previous refusals to confront Khartoum over its actions, the regime has again suspended, if this time briefly, UN humanitarian operations.
Khartoum also violently attacked, on numerous occasions, humanitarian workers and operations; a particularly savage example occurred on February 20, 2002 in the village of Bieh:
“[In] the village of Bieh, in the heart of the oil regions, Khartoum’s helicopter gunships attacked thousands of women and children gathered at a UN World Food Program distribution center. It was broad daylight, the center was well-marked, and there was no military activity anywhere nearby. Yet from a low hover, one of the helicopter gunships directed machine-gun fire and rockets into food-distressed civilians, killing and wounding scores. All this was witnessed by UN personnel so close they could see the faces of the pilot and gunner.” (Eric Reeves, Washington Post, July 6, 2002).
The regional reporting at the time was detailed and unambiguous:
“A Sudanese army helicopter fired five rockets at thousands of civilians at a UN food distribution point, leaving 17 people dead, WFP officials and Sudanese rebels said Thursday. The helicopter gunship hovered over the UN agency’s compound Wednesday in Bieh, 1,000 kilometers south of Khartoum, and fired the rockets at civilians who had gathered to collect food, said Laura Melo, a WFP spokeswoman based in Nairobi, Kenya.”
“The Sudan People’s Liberation Army, the main southern Sudanese rebel group, confirmed the attack and reported 17 people killed, dozens injured, many of them seriously. Melo said two WFP staffers were overseeing the distribution and had counted 17 dead before they were quickly evacuated by plane from Bieh following the attack. Aid workers often use a compound in Bieh to provide aid to civilians suffering from Sudan’s 19-year civil war, which has left more than 2 million people dead from fighting or war-induced
“WFP had notified the Sudanese government of plans to distribute food in Bieh, Melo said. ‘All interventions are cleared ahead of time and this one was also cleared,’ Melo said. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, sent a letter of protest to the Sudanese government Thursday, Melo said.”
“‘Such attacks, deliberately targeting civilians about to receive humanitarian aid, are absolutely and utterly unacceptable,’ WFP chief Catherine Bertini said in a statement. ‘This attack—the second of this kind in less than two weeks—is an intolerable affront to human life and humanitarian work.'” (Associated Press [dateline: Nairobi], February 21, 2002)
“The second of its kind in less than two weeks.” In fact, the aerial assaults on humanitarian operations were much more frequent than suggested at the time by Ms. Bertini. As this writer had earlier reported, again in The Washington Post, attacks, on both civilians and humanitarians, were so systematic, so clearly targeting the survival of the Dinka, the Nuer, and other southern tribal groups, that the actions in aggregate constituted genocide:
“What makes the government’s air war on civilians so destructive is not just the number of people killed and maimed by the shrapnel-loaded bombs. The larger effect of these attacks is terror, and a dispersal of the civilian population. The consequence is much less efficient agricultural production in a land continually stalked by famine. This is all quite deliberate on Khartoum’s part. Civilian destruction and dispersal are the means of ensuring that the opposition military forces in the south are denied food, or the aid of a cohesive society.”
This is precisely the ethnically-targeted counterinsurgency strategy that we have seen in Darfur, and its deployment should surprise no one, given the previous failures of the international community to respond in meaningful fashion to Khartoum’s relentless atrocities:
“To make sure of the genocidal efficacy of the bombing campaign, the Khartoum regime has also escalated its assaults on humanitarian efforts. It is attacking, with much greater frequency, the medical and food relief programs of those trying heroically to save the people of the south from disease and starvation. Many of the hospitals and clinics that have been targeted are run by the world’s finest humanitarian organizations.”
“The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is but one example. Its clinic at Chelkou, in one of the most distressed regions of southern Sudan, was deliberately bombed on July 14 . Reliable sources confirm that there was no military presence near Chelkou. Moreover, as part of its standard protocol, the ICRC had fully apprised the Khartoum regime of its presence in Chelkou and had secured permission. It was bombed anyway.”
“On July 25,  some 200 miles to the southeast in the village of Billing, the Khartoum regime again bombed the Red Cross. Pilots on the ground, who had an approved flight plan from Khartoum, heard the bombers coming and desperately spread out a large Red Cross flag on the ground. It did no good. The bombs fell anyway.” (Washington Post, August 15, 2000)
Months later, Khartoum was still directing assaults against humanitarian operations:
“The International Committee of the Red Cross—the very symbol of neutral, international humanitarian aid—was savagely attacked at its medical base in Chelkou, southern Sudan, on January 12, . The attack was carried out by militia forces allied with the radical National Islamic Front regime that rules from Khartoum. All buildings were destroyed, all expatriate workers withdrawn, villagers have been killed, and the ICRC is deeply concerned about the fate of their Sudanese workers.”
“This act of barbarism by the Khartoum-backed Popular Defense Forces (PDF) completely destroyed the ICRC medical facilities at an important humanitarian site in the southern province of Bahr el-Ghazal. Reuters newswire, as well as extremely reliable sources from the ground, reported the destruction, as well as the likelihood of additional such government-backed attacks on civilians and humanitarian relief.”
“The ICRC medical facility at Chelkou had been the target last year of a brutal bombing attack by the air force of the Khartoum regime. Indeed, ICRC facilities at both Chelkou (Bahr el-Ghazal) and Billing (Western Upper Nile) were targeted by the regime’s bombers. Evidently not content with aerial bombardment, the regime has now loosed its brutal PDF militia on Chelkou as well. This extraordinary escalation of assaults directed against humanitarian organizations bodes extremely ill for other relief efforts in southern regions, and for the hundreds of thousands of Sudanese who depend on such relief.” (Eric Reeves, International Herald Tribune, January 23, 2001)
The implications for Darfur could hardly be clearer.
DARFUR AND THE FUTURE
Suliman Jamous has been widely reported as having rejected the “Darfur Peace Agreement.” There is no evidence of this, only the word of his brutal captor, Minni Minawi—and even Minawi later denied his claim that Jamous was trying to subvert the DPA, as does Jamous himself. Suliman Jamous was imprisoned for refusing to bend to Minawi’s increasingly tyrannical will, and refusing to participate in Minawi’s dangerous exacerbating of ethnic tensions within the insurgency movements. Minawi is ethnically Zaghawa, and divisions between the Zaghawa and other non-Arab and African tribal groups, especially the Fur, are growing at an alarming rate, even within the camps for displaced persons. More and more, the Darfur Peace Agreement seems to be a formula for disaster: the worst of the SLA commanders has made a deal with a regime of genocidaires, who will support him generously, even as his own people increasingly despise him. He may control more guns (though even this grows increasingly doubtful as the military elements of the insurgency continue to fragment), but he cannot make peace in Darfur.
I conclude by correcting a point made in my immediately prior analysis (June 24, 2006): it now appears that Khartoum does have a purported “plan” to disarm the Janjaweed, and was prepared—though only at the very last minute—to present the document in Addis to the African Union on June 23, 2006. But the administrative ineptitude of the AU was on spectacular display, and a chaotic meeting of the “Joint Commission” never effectively convened, and Khartoum’s representatives left after two days, depositing the “plan” with the Sudanese embassy. To this writer’s knowledge, no one has seen Khartoum’s “plan,” so it is impossible to say whether it is at all substantive, or meets any of the planning requirements stipulated by the DPA.
But the weekend suspension of UN humanitarian aid gives us a glimpse of the most powerful weapon of genocidal war now at Khartoum’s disposal, and it is no longer the Janjaweed. As we have seen in eastern Sudan, southern Sudan, and the Nuba Mountains—which endured an unspeakably destructive decade-long humanitarian blockade—there are many ways to wage war on civilians. A shift in strategies may well be in the wind.
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