Bending to the will of Khartoum’s brutal National Islamic Front (National Congress Party) regime, African Union leaders are engaged in a process of eviscerating whatever potential may have existed for the force authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 1769 (July 31, 2007). As it did in defying UN Security Council Resolution 1706 (August 31, 2006), Khartoum has apparently ensured that any force deploying to Darfur will be little more than an enlarged version of the present African Union mission in Darfur, known as AMIS (African Union Mission in Sudan). We are seeing, in short, an updated version of the “African Union-Plus,” first proposed following the rapid collapse of international support for Resolution 1706. Leading the way in abandoning any commitment to the UN resolution was Jan Pronk, then-Secretary General Kofi Annan’s incompetent special representative for Sudan. Out of Pronk’s insistence that the only option was augmenting the AU, the notion of an “African Union-Plus” was born, leading by a tortuous diplomatic path to the misconceived and ominously unprecedented AU/UN “hybrid” force, first promulgated at a “High Level Consultation on the Situation in Darfur” (Addis Ababa, November 2006).
This AU/UN “hybrid” force will inherit nearly all the weaknesses of AMIS and relatively few of the strengths that might have come from a true UN operation. Key command-and-control issues have yet to be resolved and are already creating embarrassing problems around the appointment of the deputy commander for this unprecedented combined force. Troubling issues regarding training, equipment, inter-operability (the cohesion of units from different countries and military traditions), critical skills sets, and the overall qualifications of potential troops and civilian police have been highlighted by a number of informed commentators.
The crisis of military capability emerged fully in a politically expedient announcement by African Union Commissioner Alpha Oumar Konar: “I can confirm today that we have received sufficient commitments from African countries that we will not have to resort to non-African forces” (Associated Press [dateline: Khartoum], August 12, 2007). This announcement came in the immediate wake of a meeting between Konar and National Islamic Front (National Congress Party) President Omar al-Bashir, and no doubt was tailored to please al-Bashir and his brutal security cabal. But by excluding non-African forces from the mission, Konar has effectively denied this embryonic force the personnel whose skills are critical to any truly successful effort to protect civilians and humanitarians. In light of this statement, it becomes much more unlikely that non-African countries will volunteer their personnel—and much more likely that any such offers will be rejected by Khartoum on the basis of Konar’s preemptive announcement.
This is the price Konar and others in the African Union are willing to pay to avoid a confrontation with Khartoum and the risk of creating within the AU a split among Saharan and sub-Saharan African countries. In short, with visions of personal grandeur attendant, Konar has decided that the political preservation of the AU, as he sees it, is more important than providing adequate protection to the people of Darfur. Despite the conspicuous inability of the AU to provide remotely adequate force levels for its current mission in Somalia, or even to reach previously authorized force levels for the current Darfur mission, Konar has declared that for the massive “hybrid” mission in Darfur (26,000 troops and civilian police, as well as a substantial civilian component), the AU “will not have to resort to non-African forces.” This has been greeted with universal skepticism by military experts, as well as policy and human rights groups. Even African nations are publicly demurring. Darfuris in particular, both within the rebel movements and among the civilian populations in camps for Internally Displaced Persons and refugees, are adamant about the need for Western forces; their disillusionment with the African Union can hardly be overstated, even as their voices and demands are so rarely considered.
In an effort to blunt the categorical nature of Konar’s untenable claim, “hybrid” mission head Rodolphe Adada recently asserted:
“‘Many African countries are ready to contribute troops and the pledges are very high, but they have to meet the standards of the United Nations,’ Adada told reporters in el-Fasher, capital of North Darfur state late on Wednesday [August 15, 2007].” (Reuters [dateline: el-Fasher], August 16, 2007)
The Reuters dispatch went on to note that:
“UN officials have said some African units may not have adequate equipment, especially armoured vehicles, to be part of the joint mission. Peacekeepers are generally expected to bring their own weapons and equipment.”
Further limitations to AU deployment, and the quality of current AU contributions to the mission in Darfur, have been widely discussed. See, for example, the testimony of Mark Malan of Refugees International before the Africa Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, August 1, 2007 at http://foreign.senate.gov/testimony/2007/MalanTestimony070801.pdf:
“It is not simply troop numbers that are lacking: the AU mission in Darfur has revealed that the AU suffers from a lack of strategic management capacity; has no effective mechanisms for operational level mission management; has insufficient logistic support and ability to manage logistics; lacks capacity in communication and information systems; and is totally dependent on external partners for technical advice and support.”
What is tragically clear is that the world community has already waited far too long in responding to Darfur’s unsurpassably urgent security crisis, and that even an expeditious deployment of a truly international force would take months. But relying exclusively on the African Union extends this unconscionably dilatory time-frame by many more months, even as the needs are critical right now. A full year after the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1706—authorizing “rapid” deployment of 22,500 civilian police and troops under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter—fewer than 200 UN technical personnel have actually deployed as part of the so-called “light support package” that is to provide minimal preparation for the anticipated “hybrid” force. There is no appreciable deployment of the “heavy support package,” which has been designed to enable a large follow-on force as well as modestly augment the abilities of a crumbling AU force. The international community has squandered twelve months, during which time human suffering and destruction have proceeded apace within Darfur’s conflict-affected population of some 4.2 million civilians (with another population of 700,000 affected civilians in Eastern Chad, according to the latest figures from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).
KHARTOUM: UNTROUBLED, UNCOOPERATIVE, UNCONSTRAINED
Even so, there is no evidence that Khartoum will now allow for expedited deployment of desperately needed security forces with passage of Resolution 1769—also under Chapter 7 authority, though with a mandate significantly weaker and less ambitious than that of Resolution 1706. Indeed, Khartoum shows no signs of responding to international consensus about Darfur.
Here it is also revealing that the regime continues to defy the International Criminal Court, indeed has appointed a now-indicted orchestrator of numerous massacres in West Darfur, Ahmed Haroun, as “minister of state for humanitarian affairs” (see excellent dispatch by Maggie Farley of the Los Angeles Times [dateline: el-Fasher; August 5, 2007], “Darfur war crimes suspect has free rein,” at http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-harun5aug05,0,7234603.story?coll=la-home-center).
Khartoum has also—in a gesture of menacing warning—summarily expelled two senior Western diplomats (from Canada and the European Commission), giving clear indication that it will tolerate no criticism from foreign countries represented in Sudan (Associated Press [dateline: Khartoum], August 23, 2007). The US mission in Sudan was recently informed by Khartoum’s Foreign Ministry that the regime had decided to impose highly constraining measures for “all high ranking visits.”
The regime also brazenly dismisses all human rights reporting from abroad. Of the recent and authoritatively documented report from the Geneva-based UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the terrible sexual violence in the Deribat region of Jebel Marra (December 2006), involving Khartoum’s regular military forces, Khartoum’s Justice Minister Mohamed Ali al-Mardi declared (August 23, 2007):
“‘This is a false report and it is clear to us that the [UN] human rights commissioner [Louise Arbour] does not care about her credibility,’ Sudanese Justice Minister Mohamed Ali al-Mardi told The Associated Press on Thursday [August 23, 2007]. Al-Mardi criticized the UN for impugning his country’s reputation, saying ‘we no longer care for such reports that target Sudan and that lack credibility and responsibility.'” (Associated Press [dateline: Khartoum], August 23, 2007)
The August 20, 2007 report from the UN High Commission for Human Rights (“Women abducted, raped, and kept as sex slaves following the December 2006 attacks on Deribat,” at http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EVOD-76AHFN?OpenDocument) found—on the basis of a very substantial investigation and a “significant number of interviews,” “conducted independently,” with “individual testimony by each witness [ ] systematically corroborated” by UN human rights officers—that:
“The attacks on Deribat and eight other villages in East Jebel Marra, South Darfur [occurred] in late December 2006. The villages were attacked by Government [of Sudan] and allied militias on land and by air. Local sources reported 36 civilian deaths.”
“Witnesses estimated their [the attackers’] number at several hundred,” and that “approximately 50 women and many children were forcibly taken to the wadi (stream) [between Kutur and Deribat].”
“The abducted women were systematically raped.”
“Some women were beaten by their abductors and they were exposed to the traumatic scenes of rape. ‘They often watched what happened to their mothers,’ according to one witness.”
“This pattern of mass abduction which reportedly started at the beginning of the conflict in 2003/2004 still seems to be occurring. The African Union has no presence in Jebel Marra.”
In response, Peter Takirambudde, Africa Director of Human Rights Watch, has declared that,
“‘Civilians under attack today can’t wait for the hybrid force,’ said Takirambudde. ‘Better patrols to protect women and more human rights monitors are needed now.'” (Human Rights Watch press release [New York], August 22, 2007)
But Takirambudde says nothing about how to provide “better patrols” now, or how to convince Khartoum to accept more human rights monitors “now.” Truly urgent pressure for deployment of adequate protection and monitoring forces in Darfur has been much too long in coming from too many advocacy quarters, and this has contributed to a grim status quo, one that the increasingly notional “hybrid” UN/AU force gives no sign of changing for many months, and perhaps never. Khartoum has continued to assert its claims of “national sovereignty” in ways that may make a successful deployment impossible, or simply too easy to paralyze. Land acquisition, water and fuel supplies, air routes, and a host of other logistical and material problems present themselves in ways that Khartoum is confident it can control, no matter what the consequences for Darfuri civilians.
In another sign of contempt for the international community, Khartoum continues—despite the presence of the AU, and despite explicit prohibitions in previous UN Security Council Resolutions—to introduce significant new quantities of weapons into Darfur. Amnesty International reports:
“Amnesty International today [August 23, 2007] released new photographs showing that the Sudanese government is continuing to deploy offensive military equipment in Darfur despite the UN arms embargo and peace agreements.”
“‘The Sudanese government is still deploying weapons into Darfur in breathtaking defiance of the UN arms embargo and Darfur peace agreements. Once again Amnesty International calls on the UN Security Council to act decisively to ensure the embargo is effectively enforced, including by the placement of UN observers at all ports of entry in Sudan and Darfur,’ said Brian Wood, Amnesty International’s Arms Control Research Manager.”
“The photographs, sent to Amnesty International and the International Peace Information Service in Antwerp by eyewitnesses in Darfur, reinforce evidence provided in Amnesty International’s May 2007 report ‘Sudan: Arms continuing to fuel serious human rights violations in Darfur.’ Taken in July at El Geneina airport in Darfur, the new photographs show:
“Containers being offloaded by Sudanese army soldiers from an Antonov aircraft onto military trucks at the military apron of El Geneina airport. The Russian-supplied Antonov 12 freighter aircraft with registration number ST-ASA is listed as operated by Azza Transport, itself under investigation by the UN Panel of Experts on the Sudan arms embargo for arms transfers into Darfur (photograph 1). A Russian-supplied Mi-17 military helicopter (registration number 534) belonging to the Sudanese Air Force at El Geneina (photograph 2). Russia signed a deal to supply at least 15 such helicopters for delivery in 2005 and 2006. A Russian-supplied Mi-24 attack helicopter with registration number 928 redeployed to El Geneina airport from Nyala, Darfur (photograph 3). Russia supplied 12 such attack helicopters to Sudan in 2005.”
“Aerial attacks by the Government of Sudan on civilians in Darfur continue, with the UN reporting air attacks in North Darfur at the end of June . Thousands of displaced villagers have fled the Jebel Moon/Sirba area in West Darfur after renewed attacks on areas under control of armed opposition groups by government of Sudan forces supported by Janjawid. Local people said that helicopters brought in arms to the government and Janjawid forces.”
“In South Darfur a Sudanese government Antonov aircraft carried out bombing raids following a 2 August  attack by the opposition Justice and Equality Movement on the town of Adila, targeting villages and water points. Since then there have been a number of Sudanese government Antonov bombing raids on Ta’alba, near the town of Adila, and on 13 August  the villages of Habib Suleiman and Fataha were bombed. An Antonov capable of such raids was reportedly transferred from Russia to Sudan in September 2006.”
(Amnesty International, “Sudan: New photographs show further breach of UN arms embargo on Darfur,” AI Index: AFR 54/045/2007 (Public)
News Service No: 161, at http://news.amnesty.org.au/comments/new_photographs_show_further_breach_of_un_arms_embargo_on_darfur/).
Khartoum has not abandoned its genocidal military ambitions, as these authoritatively detailed incidents clearly reveal. Notably, both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, key human rights organizations that have been slow to push with sufficient vigor for urgent deployment of the requisite protection forces to Darfur, are now finding their voices:
[Amnesty International, August 1, 2007, New York]:
“Amnesty International today welcomed the unanimous UN Security Council vote to send a strengthened African Union-United Nations peacekeeping force to Darfur but called for urgent deployment, effective resources to support the deployment and the full support of the Sudanese government. [ ] ‘While we welcome the passage of Resolution 1769, the truth is that Darfur can wait no longer for help. The region desperately needs a protective force now to prevent more killings.'”
“‘World leaders must guard against efforts by Sudan to obstruct the peacekeeping force from taking effect,’ [Amnesty International/USA President Larry] Cox said. ‘And they must give us assurances that the force will be established and on the ground as swiftly as possible. To do otherwise, will only sentence many more Darfuris to the horrors we have witnessed for four years now. ‘”
“As swiftly as possible” in the context of exclusively AU personnel seems an entirely inappropriate phrase. And that Khartoum will “obstruct the peacekeeping force” we must take as a given: the question is what effective methods of “guarding against” such predictable behavior Amnesty has in mind. To date the organization has been conspicuously silent.
“While passage of the resolution gives some long-awaited hope to millions of Darfuris, it is now essential that UN member states provide the resources necessary to swiftly deploy an effective force with a strong human rights component, Amnesty International said. This must include the capacity and authority to monitor and investigate human rights violations, including all cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence, and to report publicly on all human rights abuses.”
“Deployed in a region awash with arms, the United Nations must also ensure the forces can oversee the disarmament and demobilization of government-supported Janjawid militia. The new resolution only allows the force to monitor ‘whether any arms or related material are present in Darfur’ and urgently needs to be strengthened.”
Of course there has been no strengthening of the mandate for the “hybrid” force; on the contrary, all too predictably Khartoum has begun to send signals that it will work hard to restrict the mandate of the force as much as possible. This is the significance of recent comments by General Majzoub Rahama:
“General Majzoub Rahamah, the officer in charge of international relations at the defense ministry, said that the military personnel in the [UN/AU] hybrid operation do not have the right to protect civilians. He further said that this force has the right to act under chapter 7 only in the case of self-defense.” (Sudan Tribune, August 19, 2007)
And yet of course protecting civilians, and the humanitarian operations upon which some 4.2 million conflict-affected human beings now depend, is the essential task of the “hybrid” mission. An assertion that the Chapter 7 mandate of Resolution 1769 extends only to self-defense makes a ghastly mockery of the entire UN effort. Moreover, without significantly increased security, humanitarian organizations remain poised to withdraw or evacuate their personnel. Since the signing of the ill-conceived Darfur Peace Agreement (Abuja, Nigeria; May 5, 2006), insecurity has very significantly increased, with the effect that areas inaccessible or with only very limited humanitarian access have quadrupled in size. The number of people beyond reach of humanitarian assistance has varied from 500,000 to 1 million during this period. Were the weakened populations of Darfur to lose all access to humanitarian aid, if several large-scale security incidents occurred involving expatriate workers and compelled evacuations, hundreds of thousands would die.
Human Rights Watch, also belated in finding a suitably urgent and forceful voice in calling for civilian protection, declares tactfully in a letter to Konar and Jean-Marie Guehenno, head of UN peacekeeping operations (August 16, 2007):
“Human Rights Watch welcomes the news that African governments have responded so rapidly to the call for troops for the hybrid force. However, the statement that these pledges mean the operation ‘would not need to resort to non-African troops’ raises a number of substantial concerns. In our view, fielding the most capable force in the shortest time possible must be your overriding objective.” [ ]
In order for the UN/AU “hybrid” force…
…to deliver on its promise—and its mandate—to protect civilians in Darfur, it will need experienced commanders, qualified engineers, and technical specialists, as well as massive logistical support. The hybrid operation must also have rapid response capabilities in each sector to protect civilians in imminent danger. The force will also require a civilian contingent, including police, who are experienced in dealing with human rights, sexual violence, and the rule of law.”
But such “rapid response capabilities” are woefully insufficient within the AU, as are trained civilian police, which Human Rights Watch rightly notes is an essential element of the deployment, though one that has received little discussion recently. As this writer has argued in some detail, expedited deployment of civilian police to the most insecure camp areas, with adequate military protection, should be the highest priority for the “hybrid” force (see http://www.sudanreeves.org/Article176.html). There is no evidence that this is being contemplated or that the current upsurge in violent attacks on the camps (see below) can be controlled by any contemplated deployment of force in the near- to mid-term. Indeed, while the African Union is weak in many key areas, the lack of trained civilian police stands out as one of the very most consequential.
The absence of a civilian police presence in nearly all camps, including the largest, has generated a violent and volatile atmosphere. The camps are awash with weapons, and there is a growing rebel presence, both for recruitment and as an escape from the battlefield. To gain a sense of what the newest “battle front” in Khartoum’s genocidal counter-insurgency war may be like, we should look at the very recent the assault on the massive Kalma camp for some 90,000 displaced persons, outside Nyala (South Darfur). Early reports are incomplete but ominous, and deeply threatening of any possible peace process:
“A leading Darfur rebel faction said Wednesday [August 22, 2007] it was ‘reassessing’ its commitment to an internationally-sponsored peace initiative in the light of recent raids by Sudanese government forces. On Monday [August 21, 2007] night, government of Sudan forces attacked Kalma camp (in South Darfur) with some 35 Land Cruisers and 1,500 troops, said Nouri Abdalla, a spokesman for the Sudan Liberation Movement faction of Ahmed Abdel Shafi. ‘Five people were killed in the raid, two of them were children and around 40 rebels were arrested,’ he told AFP by phone from Kampala. The casualties could not immediately be independently verified.” (Agence France-Presse [dateline: Nairobi], August 22, 2007)
The UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reports from Khartoum (August 22, 2007):
“[Kalma camp IDP spokesman] Abu Sharad told IRIN from Kalma camp in South Darfur [ ] said 2,800 police, army and border intelligence officers surrounded the camp, which hosts an estimated 90,000 people. ‘They arrested 30 IDPs, burnt down 12 shelters and looted 175 others,’ he added.”
Here we should recall another attack on a camp for displaced persons in the Jebel Moon area of West Darfur. The UN High Commission for Human Rights reported on November 3, 2006 (“Attack on Villages around the Jebel Moon Area”) that,
“In the morning of 29 October 2006, hundreds of armed men in green camouflage uniforms, described by the local people as ‘janjaweed,’ launched a brutal attack against several villages and one IDP camp south and west of Jebel Moon area in West Darfur. The attack resulted in approximately 50 civilian deaths. A the very least, the attacks demonstrated the [Government of] Sudan’s continue failure to disarm militia in Darfur, and at worst its use of militia forces that target civilians.”
“Eyewitness testimony and list provide by the communities indicate that the majority killed were young male children and elderly men. According to information gathered, 26 children were killed; of those 21 were under the age of ten.”
Not only did a nearby Khartoum army base not respond, the UN report found “troubling indications that Sudanese military personnel may have participated in the attacks, based on descriptions of some of the attackers.” Further, there are strong indications that the targeting of males was genocidal in nature. The UN reports that the population of the attacked villages “is mainly of African origin.” One chilling narrative recorded makes clear the motive of the killings was to prevent African male children from becoming adults:
“Four children escaped in a group and ran under a tree for protection. An attacker came and shot at them, killing one of the children. Another group of three children (5, 7, and 9 years old) were running in a line. The five-year-old fell down and was shot dead. Another one of the boys stopped and told the attacker, ‘you killed this child, please let me go.’ The attackers said, ‘If we let you go you will grow up. I will not let you go.’ Then the attackers shot the boy. A woman had a four-year-old baby and it was pulled from her and shot dead in front of her.”
A LONG HISTORY OF BAD FAITH
The most basic error in confronting Khartoum, and the fundamental reason that genocide continues in Darfur, is international failure or refusal to understand perceptions from the perspective of a regime that is in full-on survivalist mode. These canny, ruthless survivalists—all of whom fully understand that they would face multiple life sentences if ever brought to justice in The Hague—simply will not yield to any but the most concerted, robust international pressure, both economic and diplomatic. It has no intention of allowing a truly consensual environment for deployment of any version of the “hybrid” force. Its first effort has been to ensure that there will be no adequate complement of skilled international troops to make up for the inevitable shortfalls in African troops and civilian police; the second effort will be to obstruct, harass, and gratuitously burden those African forces that do deploy. This has in fact been the history of AMIS since it first deployed to Darfur in a cease-fire monitoring role more than three years ago.
The lack of international pressure, particularly from China, convinces Khartoum that the price to pay for sustaining a grim genocide by attrition in Darfur and eastern Chad is simply not great enough. There is no credible threat of UN sanctions because of China’s opposition, nor is there any way to bring pressure to bear on the oil sector that China dominates and which has become the economic life-line of the regime. China also refuses to offer honest assessments of the Darfur crisis in its official pronouncements, and takes no cognizance of the extensive human rights reporting to date. But even the European Union has failed to find the political will to impose sanctions on the Khartoum-dominate economy. For their part, the Arab League as well as the countries of the Organization of Islamic Conference provide unqualified economic and diplomatic support to Khartoum.
To gain a sense of how canny and brazen Khartoum can be in its obstructionist ways, it will be useful to review briefly how much reneging and bad faith has come in the wake of the regime’s signing of the north/south Comprehensive Peace Agreement (January 9, 2005). A series of increasingly dire and all too authoritative warnings have been issued recently about the fate of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), and how dangerously likely a renewed north/south war has become. My own travels in Southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains in January 2003, including innumerable conversations with civil society leaders as well as commanders and senior officials in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement, left me with one overwhelming conclusion: if war does resume in Southern Sudan, it will be the most destructive phase of a civil war that first began in 1955, the year before Sudanese independence. Well over 3 million people have died of war-related causes over the past half century.
THREATS TO THE COMPREHENSIVE PEACE AGREEMENT (CPA)
Khartoum’s bad faith in adhering to the terms and protocols of the CPA has long been in evidence (see my extended analysis of September 24, 2005, “The Slow Collapse of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement for South Sudan,” at http://www.sudanreeves.org/Article70.html). But a recent report from the International Crisis Group provides a useful overview of current issues, many of which have festered for over two years.
The ICG report (“A Strategy for Comprehensive Peace in Sudan,” July 26, 2007, Brussels/Nairobi, at http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=4961&l=1) argues, optimistically, that:
“[The CPA] contains the detailed provisions and schedule for governmental reforms and a democratisation process leading to national elections in 2009 which can be the building blocks for peacemaking in Darfur and elsewhere.”
But there is a more telling and pessimistic follow-up to this account of what the CPA offers:
“[The CPA] is in danger of collapse due to government [of Sudan] sabotage and international neglect, the latter a cruel irony in that preoccupation to conclude the CPA negotiations led to initial reluctance to address the developing Darfur crisis in 2003-2004.”
“[International] cooperation needs to be expanded to prioritise core elements of the CPA, but growing problems with that agreement are receiving little attention, even though peace in Darfur and elsewhere can only be build on its foundation. The first major implementation deadline—withdrawal of [Khartoum’s] Sudan armed Forces (SAF) from the South by July 9 —was missed without an international response.”
This highly consequential failure to meet the deadline for withdrawal was also noted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his most recent report on the CPA, but his response has been mere exhortation. While Ban indicates that “at least 3,600 troops remain, mostly in Upper Nile state,” highly reliable sources report that the number is much larger—particularly if we consider the paramilitary forces that make up the category of “other armed groups” noted explicitly in the security protocol of the CPA. These Khartoum-allied militia forces are often simply extensions of the regime’s regular military forces, and are paid and supplied by Khartoum (these “other armed groups” were long ago to have been absorbed into either the SAF or southern Sudan People’s Liberation Army).
The ICG report notes that while both the SPLA and SAF missed the July 9, 2007 deadline, the deeply consequential violation is that of Khartoum:
“Only 66.5 per cent [of Sudan Armed Forces] redeployed on time, according to the UN Mission in Sudan. The SAF and SPLA recommitted to the withdrawal at a recent Joint Defense Board meeting, but the SAF is keeping large forces in the areas of Bentiu, Faloj, and Heglig, which may lead to insecurity there.”
Nor is it happenstance that Khartoum’s heavy concentration of military forces violating the terms of the CPA is in Upper Nile Province: this is the oil-rich part of Sudan, and its seizure would be the primary strategic goal in any resumed war. Both Western and Eastern Upper Nile, the areas of operation for the production and development consortia dominated by the Chinese, are among the most likely flash points for renewed conflict. As if to underscore this danger, heavy fighting in the Central Upper Nile town of Malakal (November 2006) could easily have escalated rapidly without restraint shown by the SPLA.
Another extremely dangerous flash point is the Abyei region of northern Bahr el-Ghazal Province, whose border proved the most troublesome of the final issues negotiated in the CPA. The issue was ultimately referred to a distinguished international panel for arbitration, and the “final and binding” arbitration report was submitted to Khartoum by the Abyei Boundary Commission in July 2005–over two years ago. And yet it has been peremptorily rejected by President al-Bashir, and Abyei continues to operate without civil administration, without recognized borders, and with no adequate interlocutors for humanitarian organizations operating in the region (which again is within one of the rich oil concession blocks).
At the same time, Khartoum refuses to establish a functioning and adequately funded north/south boundary commission, one that will demarcate the oil regions and thus determine the oil revenues that are due to the floundering and radically under-funded Government of South Sudan. Hundreds of millions of dollars for critically needed development and government operating expenses have been denied the south, as the Khartoum-controlled Finance Ministry and the Ministry of Mining and Energy refuse to open the books on oil revenues or provide any of the accounting transparency necessary for confidence-building.
Despite the rapidly approaching elections of 2009, Khartoum also refuses to fund the census that is critical for the integrity of these elections. Ultimately, Khartoum is bent on forestalling the scheduled self-determination referendum for the people of the south, scheduled for 2011—a referendum that will have as one of its options secession by the south.
As the ICG report accurately notes of the machinations already in evidence (and not simply in southern Sudan):
“While free and fair elections may worry the National Congress Party [National Islamic Front], it would welcome quick and dirty ones with a pre-arranged outcome. The [NCP] controls the financial resources and state machinery necessary to manipulate electoral outcomes. Khartoum’s constant backtracking and foot-dragging on the Darfur process seem designed to perpetuate the region’s instability and so preclude its genuine participation in the 2009 elections.”
There has been no meaningful power-sharing per the terms and spirit of the CPA, and many southerners are abandoning any effort to participate in national governance in Khartoum, finding themselves constantly marginalized and undercut by a well-entrenched civil administration and regime-controlled bureaucracy, and a threatening security service that is totally controlled by the National Islamic Front. Moreover, taking the Foreign Ministry was a deeply misguided decision by the SPLM, and the choice of Lam Akol as Foreign Minister an unmitigated disaster. Lam has done nothing but ingratiate himself to Khartoum’s gnocidaires, simply parroting the party line—on Darfur and all other issues where the SPLM might have had a voice of restraint.
Importantly, the ICG report (which declares that “a subsequent Crisis Group report will assess CPA implementation in greater depth”) also highlights potential points of conflict in northern Sudan, both in Kordofan and in the far north, where environmentally and economically irresponsible dam projects on the Nile have brought Nubian and other affected populations to the brink of armed response to the violence and injustice they have experienced. Eastern Sudan also remains a terribly poor and marginalized region of Sudan, and the weak peace agreement between Khartoum and the so-called Eastern Front (the Beja Congress and the Rashaida Free Lions) could easily fall apart, depending on the actions of bordering Eritrea.
The dispiriting but all too accurate conclusion of the ICG report focuses on the ease with which Khartoum has been able to undermine or ignore the CPA, and to continue its ruthless arrogation of national wealth and power, with few or no consequences imposed by the international community:
“Peace in Sudan is being frustrated on all fronts by the NCP [National Islamic Front] regime, which views the transformation of the country as a threat to its survival. Obstacles to CPA implementation continue to grow, and a collapse of the agreement is a real possibility. [International attention has been so focused on Darfur] that CPA implementation—the bedrock for peaceful transformation in the country—is being ignored.”
“The CPA’s collapse would mean return to large-scale war in much of Sudan. Since the Khartoum-SPLA war ended in 2005, both sides have been rearming and preparing for resumption of hostilities.”
All evidence suggests that this re-armament is severely asymmetrical, with Khartoum able to use vast oil revenues for large acquisitions of advanced weapons.
The larger threat is of a much more chaotic and inclusive civil war in Sudan, with catastrophic consequences for the country itself and the region (including Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda):
“Unlike the last war, this one would probably not be limited to the South, Abyei, the Nuba Mountains, and Southern Blue Nile. It could easily connect with the conflict in Darfur and spread to other disaffected areas of the North, leading to Sudan’s first truly national civil war. The impact on at least all nine neighboring countries would be devastating. The threat is very real and requires an urgent international response.”
DARFUR IN EXTREMIS
Even following the persuasive logic of the ICG report in arguing for re-invigorated international commitment to the CPA and its full implementation, the situation in Darfur is so critical, so fraught with danger, that a response cannot be held hostage—either to CPA implementation or to a new ad hoc “Darfur Peace Agreement.”
Indeed, a new “Darfur Peace Agreement” is precisely what Khartoum will not agree to negotiate. Lost amidst the welter of diplomatic gatherings in Paris and Tripoli and Addis Ababa, and the exceedingly modest success of the rebel conference in Arusha (Tanzania) in early August, is Khartoum’s continuing insistence that it will not re-negotiate the terms of the disastrous Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) negotiated last year in Abuja, Nigeria (May 5, 2006). As Gerard Prunier has pointedly observed:
“The Sudanese government, meanwhile, stated categorically that the whole point of the meeting [in Arusha] was simply to get the non-signatories [rebels not signing the DPA] to adhere to the agreement and that the agreement would, under no circumstances, be renegotiated. Since the [rebel] participants all agreed that the [DPA] was a dead proposition, this was not an auspicious beginning.” (“Buying time in Darfur,” Mail and Guardian [South Africa], August 22, 2007)
Prunier’s view is supported by the assessment of the UN diplomat in charge of the Darfur file, Jan Eliasson: “Eliasson said the government [of Sudan] has made it clear that it would not allow ‘a renegotiation of the Darfur Peace Agreement'” (Associated Press [dateline: Khartoum], August 7, 2007).
In short, there is presently a vast chasm between the negotiating starting points of the rebel groups and Khartoum, one that will not be bridged—if at all—without months of effective diplomacy. The rebels may or may not achieve a sufficiently united front to present an effective negotiating team. But rebel unity will hardly compel Khartoum to surrender what it rightly believes is the enormous success of the DPA, particularly the agreement’s failure to specify any meaningful guarantors for regional security arrangements. Moreover, matters as critical as the disarmament of the Janjaweed are essentially left to Khartoum by the DPA. Since the regime has flouted every demand and reneged on every promise concerning the Janjaweed for over three years, this glaring lacuna in the security arrangements implies an absurd optimism.
Time is not on the side of Darfur, and there are many signs that large-scale conflict could resume, either in the camps or on the sites of land that is being claimed by Arab groups from Niger and Chad. The Independent (UK) reported on July 14, 2007:
“Arabs from Chad and Niger are crossing into Darfur in ‘unprecedented’ numbers, prompting claims that the Sudanese government is trying systematically to repopulate the war- ravaged region. An internal UN report, obtained by The Independent, shows that up to 30,000 Arabs have crossed the border in the past two months. Most arrived with all their belongings and large flocks. They were greeted by Sudanese Arabs who took them to empty villages cleared by government and janjaweed forces.”
“One UN official said the process ‘appeared to have been well planned.’ The official continued: ‘This movement is very large. We have not seen such numbers come into west Darfur before.'” [ ]
“‘Most have been relocated by Sudanese Arabs to former villages of IDPs (internally displaced people) and more or less invited to stay there,’ said the UN official [from the UN High Commission for Refugees]. The arrivals have been issued with official Sudanese identity cards and awarded citizenship, and analysts say that by encouraging Arabs from Chad, Niger and other parts of Sudan to move to Darfur the Sudanese government is making it ‘virtually impossible’ for displaced people to return home.”
The Independent also notes that these demographic ambitions could spark extremely dangerous new violence:
“If Khartoum is moving Arabs from abroad to replace them, diplomats fear that Darfur rebels may try to remove them forcibly. ‘It could be quite explosive,’ said one western diplomat. ‘It is a very serious situation.'”
More recently, a dispatch from Tulus (West Darfur) by Edmund Sanders of the Los Angeles Times (August 12, 2007) reports in a similar vein:
“Over the last six months, nearly 30,000 Chadian Arabs have crossed into Sudan, many of them settling on land owned by Darfur’s pastoral tribes that have been driven into displacement camps, aid groups say. This migration has quickly become the latest obstacle to peace in western Sudan, drawing the attention of international observers and protests from those displaced from Darfur, who accuse the Sudanese government of orchestrating an ‘Arabization’ scheme by repopulating their burned-out villages with foreigners.”
The “Arabization” of Darfur is a means of consolidating previous genocidal destruction, but cannot be separated from the savage electoral politics of the National Islamic Front regime.
“‘This is a government plot to give our land to Chadian Arabs,’ said Mohammed Abakar Mohammed Adam, 27, a farmer from the village of Bechabecha, which he said was abandoned after armed nomadic tribes known as janjaweed, widely believed to be backed by the government, attacked in 2003. But in recent months, Chadian newcomers have begun building homes atop the remains.” [ ]
“International humanitarian groups worry that disputes over the land might re-ignite violence in western Darfur and lead to further delays in resolving the region’s massive displacement crisis, with more than 2 million people driven from their homes. ‘The mere presence of people on this land will make it more difficult for [displaced persons] to return home,’ said Ita Schuette, head of the Habillah branch of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the world body’s refugee agency, which has been monitoring the influx.”
“Tensions have been heightened by rumors that some Chadians have been offered Sudanese identification cards or papers to help them establish citizenship. One Darfur hospital was reportedly asked to forge 100 birth certificates, according to a UN official. In another reported case, Chadians were allegedly photographed for ID cards in the city of Foro Burunga [very near the Chad/Darfur border].” (Los Angeles Times [dateline: Tulus, West Darfur], August 12, 2007)
[A forthcoming analysis will analyze in detail the proposed EU deployment of military forces to Eastern Chad—its potential, its risks, and its implications for humanitarian aid on both sides of the Chad/Darfur border.]
Humanitarian indicators are also showing worrying trends, especially in the area of malnutrition. For example, the most recent “Darfur Nutrition Update,” Issue 9 (DNU-9) from UNICEF (covering the period May-June 2007) contains a number of ominous findings from the six sites surveyed (the report is available at http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/SJHG-75NA95?OpenDocument). Perhaps most significantly, DNU-9 finds that “Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates exceeded the emergency threshold of 15 percent (ranging from 17.2 to 30.4 percent) in all six [sites surveyed].”
“Mortality rates in two surveys (Otash Camp and Kass in South Darfur) were above alert levels for both under-5 [year-olds] and crude mortality [for the entire population]. The primary identified cause of death were reported as diarrhoea (watery and bloody) and Acute Respiratory Infection.”
“Admissions into Therapeutic Feeding Centres across Great Darfur continue to increase, almost doubling compared to the last two months and higher than those reported during the same period in 2006.”
Despite this increase in admission to therapeutic feeding centers, Khartoum, with obscene cruelty, blocked delivery of therapeutic milk, directly contributing to morbidity and mortality in children. DNU-9 notes:
“The Federal Ministry of Health’s global ban on the use of F100 and F75 therapeutic milk, following concerns about the quality of stocks in Khartoum, must also be noted. The ban was not systematically applied but reports were received of increased diarrhoeal disease where therapeutic milks were not being used, as this required the use of alternatives that increased exposure to water-borne diseases.”
This deliberate and groundless obstruction of therapeutic milk continues a long pattern on Khartoum’s part of blocking both food and medical supplies from timely delivery.
Some of the specific site data from the DNU-9 survey are highly alarming:
Kebkabiya in North Darfur registered a Global Acute Malnutrition Rate (GAM) of 27 percent of the population (Kebkabiya has registered a straight-line increase in GAM over the past two years). In Abu Shouk and Al Salaam camps the rate was 30.4 percent of the total population.
In Kass town, the morality rate for children under five was reported as 4.42/10,000/day. In the course of a month, for an under-five population of 10,000, this represents approximately 120 excess deaths. 10,000 may well represent the under-five population of the Kass area (whose overall population now includes both IDPs and residents). 120 very young children dying needlessly every month, in one location in South Darfur. While global mortality rates are impossible to establish in the absence of more comprehensive data, such UNICEF findings should give sharp pause to those content with a total monthly excess mortality, for all ages and all regions in Darfur, of 200—the figure offered by Time Magazine Africa correspondent Sam Dealey in a New York Times opinion piece (August 12, 2007).
WHAT WILL BE THE FUTURE OF THESE CHILDREN?
What will happen to the children of Kass, and to the many hundreds of thousands of other children in the many scores of camps and towns under relentlessly violent siege? What will their lives look like in the absence of any rebuilding of their families’ agricultural lives and livelihoods? What are the chances that these children will be educated? have access to primary medical care? escape the warehousing environments of the camps in which they languish, still subject to hunger, violence, and disease? By virtue of its acquiescing in the formation of an increasingly AU-defined “hybrid” mission, the international community has left answers to these questions to the likes of Alpha Oumar Konar and Omar al-Bashir and Nafi Ali Nafi, the especially vicious National Islamic Front thug now controlling the Darfur file.
The stakes could not be higher. For as great a failure as the AU force has been to date—and despite the fact that many of its soldiers have served with courage and distinction, if hopelessly under-manned and under-equipped—this failure will pale next to that of the looming operation whose only clear connection to the UN will be funding by the international organization. But at $2 billion per year, such an operation is consuming an enormous amount of the resources available for peacekeeping throughout Africa and the rest of the world. Will the AU make effective use of this funding? The history of AMIS is the opposite of encouraging, and yet pridefulness on the part of some African leaders and political expediency in confronting the Khartoum regime seem an irresistible mix.
Of course many in Africa are well aware of the perils of failure in Darfur—both for Darfuris and for the African Union of the future. We are exactly a year beyond UN Security Council passage of Resolution 1706, which in the face of rejection by Khartoum has been completely inconsequential in providing security for Darfuri civilians and humanitarian workers. Given Khartoum’s grudging and prevaricating “acceptance” of Resolution 1769, and a continuing unwillingness by the international community to compel real acceptance, the new African Union mission in Darfur may well be a failure of historic proportions.