The chances for effective deployment of civilian police and well-trained military forces to Darfur continue to be compromised by excessive international accommodation of the National Islamic Front (National Congress Party) regime in Khartoum. A key actor forcing this compromised diplomatic response to massive ongoing atrocity crimes, as well as to the continuing threat of humanitarian collapse, is the African Union—and most particularly African Union Commissioner Alpha Oumar Konar. If there is to be any chance for expeditious and meaningful deployment of the force specified by UN Security Council Resolution 1769, then there must be very near term and consequential pressure on both Khartoum and Addis Ababa. The latter serves as headquarters for the still-nascent African organization that is fast squandering its meager political and military credibility in Darfur.
Moreover, it remains the case that China has only begun to use its singularly powerful leverage with Khartoum to produce changes in the regime’s military behavior on the ground in Darfur, and to adopt a reasonable negotiating posture. This is so despite glib optimism in some reporting quarters on the “genocide Olympics” campaign, which despite significant successes in compelling China’s attention has yet to exert enough pressure to force the needed changes in diplomatic, political, and economic policies toward Sudan. Nor can this stubborn fact be changed simply with expedient assertions that somehow Beijing has been especially helpful on Darfur. Here, Ban Ki-moon, head of UN peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno, US Special Envoy for Sudan Andrew Natsios, British officials, and others are all guilty. They would encourage the international community to believe what is so far conspicuously and mainly an international public relations effort is actually a major Chinese policy change toward Sudan.
But the grim geopolitical facts cannot be so easily rhetorically airbrushed. For those not governed by expediency, it should be clear that Beijing has made no effort to moderate Khartoum’s consistently grotesque understatement and misrepresentations of the humanitarian situation in Darfur. Indeed, Beijing’s envoy for Darfur, Liu Guijin, declared at a media briefing following his May trip to Darfur that, “I didn’t see a desperate scenario of people dying of hunger.” Rather, Liu said, “the people in Darfur thanked him for the Chinese government’s help in building dams and providing water supply equipment.” Such a brutally callous assessment of the Darfur catastrophe of course echoes Khartoum’s own perverse accounts of the humanitarian crisis: that it has been overblown by Western humanitarian organizations for funding purposes; that only 9,000 people have died in the course of four and a half years of massive genocidal violence and displacement; that rape does not exist because (according to NIF President al-Bashir) “it is not in Sudanese culture”; that Darfur advocacy efforts are a Jewish conspiracy; and that if there is any problem in Darfur, it is no more serious than normal inter-tribal fighting following a long drought.
Complementary accounts, similar to Ambassador Liu’s, have emanated regularly from the Foreign Ministry in Beijing.
Just as consequentially, Beijing continues to insulate the Khartoum regime from pressure to respond to key demands and requirements made previously by the UN Security Council. Beijing has consistently and insistently ruled out the possibility of sanctions as a coercive tool, even in the face of Khartoum’s obdurate defiance of the international community. Thus at various points over the past three-plus years, the Security Council has passed a range of resolutions (sometimes with China abstaining) only to see specific demands and requirements brazenly ignored or flouted by Khartoum. This must serve as the primary context in which to assess the chances for successful deployment of the force specified in UN Security Council Resolution 1769.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF BAD FAITH
On July 3, 2004 the National Islamic Front (NIF) regime signed in Khartoum a joint communiqu with then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan, promising to “immediately start to disarm the Janjaweed and other armed outlaw groups” (Joint Communiqu, Khartoum, July 3, 2004). Shortly afterwards, UN Security Council Resolution 1556 (July 30, 2004) “demanded” that the regime disarm the Janjaweed and “apprehend and bring to justice Janjaweed leaders and their associates who have incited and carried out human rights and international humanitarian law violations and other atrocities” (UN Security Council Resolution 1556, paragraph 6, July 30, 2004). These promises and “demands” have meant nothing.
Subsequent to Resolution 1556, Annan’s Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, negotiated a disastrous “safe areas” agreement on August 5, 2004. Pronk’s ill-conceived “Plan of Action” was excoriated by human rights organizations, and quietly dropped by the UN the following month. But as part of this “Plan of Action,” Khartoum was to provide a list of Janjaweed leaders to the UN. The regime of course again reneged. Nor did these gnocidaires provide any information on the “arrest or disarmament of Janjaweed and other armed groups,” per the terms of Security Council Resolution 1564 (September 18, 2004).
Khartoum also committed to disarming the Janjaweed in the ill-conceived and disastrously consummated Darfur Peace Agreement (May 2006); yet again, this meant nothing on the ground in Darfur, and the Janjaweed, as well as other paramilitary forces into which they have been recycled, continue to wreak vast civilian havoc.
On March 29, 2005, UN Security Council Resolution 1591 imposed a comprehensive arms embargo on all parties to the conflict in Darfur, including the Khartoum regime. But as Amnesty International and the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur have conclusively shown, Khartoum continues to violate the embargo, directing a large and destabilizing weapons flow into Darfur that benefits not only the Janjaweed, but other paramilitary and security forces serving as proxies for Khartoum’s regular Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). In its September 2006 report on Darfur, the UN Panel of Experts found that,
“In spite of the clear understanding of its obligations under Security Council resolution 1591 (2005), at the time of writing this report [August 31, 2006], the Government of the Sudan still had not requested approval from the Committee to move weapons, ammunition or other military equipment into Darfur, thereby knowingly violating the provisions of the resolution .” (Introductory Summary)
The Panel of Experts also found:
“The [UN] Panel [of Experts] has credible information that the Government of the Sudan continues to support the Janjaweed through the provision of weapons and vehicles. The Janjaweed/armed militias appear to have upgraded their modus operandi from horses, camels and AK-47s to land cruisers, pickup trucks and rocket-propelled grenades. Reliable sources indicate that the Janjaweed continue to be subsumed into the Popular Defense Force in greater numbers than those indicated in the previous reports of the Panel. Their continued access to ammunition and weapons is evident in their ability to coordinate with the Sudanese armed forces in perpetrating attacks on villages and to engage in armed conflict with rebel groups.” (Report of the UN Panel of Experts, August 31, 2006, paragraph 76)
Both Amnesty International and the UN Panel of Experts have also provided conclusive photographic evidence that Khartoum paints its military aircraft in a white color that seeks to mimic the color of UN and African Union aircraft. This egregious violation of international law not only puts UN and AU aircraft at risk, but as Human Rights Watch has recently reported, “People in desperate need of aid may flee from humanitarian flights if they cannot distinguish them from [disguised] government military aircraft” (“Darfur 2007: Chaos by Design,” September 2007, page 14, at http://hrw.org/reports/2007/sudan0907/).
CHINA: THE KEY ENABLER OF KHARTOUM’S GENOCIDAL COUNTER-INSURGENCY
It is crucial that we see clearly China’s central role in enabling Khartoum to treat UN Security Council resolutions with such complete contempt. Again, China—a veto-wielding member of the Security Council—rejects categorically the possibility of imposing any form of sanctions on Khartoum, and worked to ensure that Resolution 1769 contained no such threat (on China’s role, see Human Rights Watch, “Darfur 2007: Chaos by Design,” page 71). This in turn works to deny a diffident international community the opportunity to impose meaningful consequences in the certain event of the regime’s attempt to sabotage the UN/AU “hybrid” force authorized by 1769. Beijing has been insistent and uncompromising in its refusal to countenance even the possibility of sanctions against Khartoum. Nothing does more to assure these canny, ruthless survivalists that they still control the terms of deployment for any international force in Darfur.
Chinese behavior around the drafting of Resolution 1769 also included deferring to Khartoum’s insistence that the mandate of the deploying “hybrid” force be crucially limited: the force will not able to disarm combatants using weapons introduced into the Darfur theater in violation of previous UN Security Council resolutions, even if these combatants are threatening to attack civilians. Here we should recall that UN Security Council Resolution 1706 (August 31, 2007) explicitly authorized that the proposed force be able…
“to seize or collect, as appropriate, arms or related materials whose presence in Darfur is in violations of the Agreements and the measure imposed by paragraphs 7 and 8 of Resolution 1556 [July 30, 2004].” (Resolution 1706, paragraph 12)
This mandate enjoyed Chapter 7 authority. A similar mandate was included in the original draft of Resolution 1769, but Khartoum objected strenuously to the provision concerning disarmament. China in turn was instrumental in stripping out this key provision, thus paralyzing the “hybrid” UN/AU force in any number of readily imaginable circumstances. This consequential weakening of Resolution 1769 has been far too little remarked.
Compounding the armaments crisis in Darfur, Beijing refuses to commit to a broad arms embargo for Khartoum and all of Sudan, even as it knows that arms shipments to Khartoum are certainly destined for Darfur in violation of Resolution 1561. As Amnesty International has noted in its important report of May 2007 (“Sudan: Arms continuing to fuel serious human rights violations in Darfur,” May 8, 2007),
“Arms, ammunition and related equipment are still being transferred to Darfur in the west of Sudan for military operations in which extremely serious violations and abuse of human rights and international humanitarian law are committed by the Sudanese government, the government-backed Janjawid militias and armed opposition groups.”
“This report describes the arming process and its effects on the people of Darfur and neighbouring eastern Chad, many of whom have been forcibly displaced. It provides details of violations of the United Nations arms embargo on Darfur that occurred during January to March 2007. Amongst other things, it shows how the Government of Sudan violates the UN arms embargo and disguises some of its military logistics operations in Darfur, and what arms supplied to Sudan from China and Russia—two Permanent Members of the Security Council—have been used for violations of the Security Council’s own mandatory arms embargo.” (full report at http://web.amnesty.org/pages/sdn-080507-news-eng)
[See also Amnesty International, “Sudan: New photographs show further breach of UN arms embargo on Darfur,” August 24, 2007,
PROSPECTS FOR AND THREATS TO 1769 DEPLOYMENT
The September 21, 2007 meeting of international actors at the UN in New York provides a telling snapshot of various attitudes toward deployment of the 26,000 civilian police and military troops, as well as the 5,000 civilian personnel, that make up the “hybrid” UN/African Union force authorized by Resolution 1769. We can learn much about the prospects for, and threats to, deployment of this force by attending carefully to the positions—articulated and implied—on such key issues as the composition of the force, critical deficits in personnel and resources almost a month after the deadline (August 31, 2007) for commitments to the force, command-and-control (chain of command) issues, unresolved issues of mandate, and the likelihood of still further slippage in the schedule for deployment.
All of this should have a bearing on our understanding of Khartoum’s strategy for delaying, weakening, and finally paralyzing the force once it deploys. This strategy is comprehensive, already debilitating, and certain to be resourceful and unyielding, no matter what the consequences for civilians and humanitarians in Darfur. Only fundamental shifts in international attitudes towards the National Islamic Front regime—particularly on the part of China—can forestall Khartoum’s ultimate success in sustaining a violent chaos and consequent genocide by attrition.
Time is not on the side of the people of Darfur; humanitarian indicators are extremely worrisome, particular those for malnutrition. Conditions in the camps for displaced persons are more violent, more unstable, and more likely to precipitate violence that will preclude humanitarian access and which may lead to full-scale assaults by Khartoum’s regular forces or Janjaweed militia allies. Humanitarian access is already badly curtailed, both to the camps and to rural areas. And insecurity threatening aid organizations has become intolerable. Just today [September 24, 2007], the large and critically important humanitarian organization Oxfam indicated that it was on the threshold of withdrawing from Darfur:
“Oxfam could withdraw from Darfur if security worsens, its country director said on Monday, amid reports of 10 attacks in the past four days in Sudan’s violent and remote west. [ ] ‘It’s certainly a strong possibility that if things get any worse Oxfam would have to withdraw,’ the British aid agency’s country director Caroline Nursey told Reuters. ‘Oxfam is operating at the limits of what it can tolerate as an organisation. In most circumstances if the security situation were as bad as it is in Darfur we would withdraw.'” (Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], September 24, 2007)
In this context it is particularly distressing to see how assiduously Ban Ki-moon has cultivated a mechanical optimism in commenting on Darfur. Ban, who in July declared that he discerned “credible and considerable progress” in ending the Darfur catastrophe, followed suit earlier this month after his meeting with NIF President Omar al-Bashir:
“Ban emerged from his meeting with [ ] al-Bashir with an upbeat tone. ‘We have taken a big step toward our shared goal of bringing peace to Darfur and looking forward to the long-term development of Sudan,’ Ban said at a news conference. ‘We are at a new beginning. Let us seize this moment together.'” (Associated Press [dateline: Khartoum], September 6, 2007)
Even prior to this meeting in Khartoum, Ban declared in an interview with an Italian newspaper that “Bashir had promised him cooperation in a weekend [September 1-2, 2007] telephone conversation. ‘[Bashir] told me he will do everything to help the [UN/AU “hybrid”] mission logistically,’ [Ban] said.” (Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], September 3, 2007)
Most recently and preposterously, speaking on CNN television, Ban declared,
“he had been assured by Sudan’s President Omar al-Beshir that the aid for the millions of suffering people in the war-torn region would flow smoothly. ‘He will faithfully comply with all of the Security Council resolutions and his government’s own commitment,’ Ban said. ‘We will be very vigilant in urging him and in monitoring the implementation of his commitment.'” (Agence France-Presse [dateline: UN/New York], September 20, 2007)
It would seem Ban is an exceedingly poor student of Khartoum’s long history of bad faith, reneging, and mendacity. His confidence in al-Bashir’s commitment to a “new beginning,” and to provide all necessary logistical assistance to the mission, is dangerously fatuous and ignores the ruthless survivalism that governs every decision and statement made by the NIF regime. Moreover, Ban’s ill-informed comments work to diminish the urgency of deployment of the “hybrid” force. During his very brief trip to el-Fasher, Ban declared—despite all evidence to the contrary—that “security [in Darfur] was improving” (Associated Press [dateline: el-Fasher, North Darfur], September 5, 2007).
In fact, just days later the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) declared that, “over 240,000 people have been newly displaced or re-displaced in 2007.” A report prepared by OCHA, along with other UN agencies and nongovernmental humanitarian organizations, found that, “insecurity was complicating efforts to respond to the needs of the newly internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the delivery of assistance to millions of people depending on aid. ‘During August, the humanitarian situation in Darfur has deteriorated,’ said the report, the ‘Sudan Humanitarian Overview.’ It added that attacks against humanitarian staff continued throughout the month.” (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks [dateline: Khartoum], September 18, 2007).
Moreover, the optimistic Ban would soon be compelled by events to speak about Khartoum’s military savagery in Darfur (UN News Service, September 12, 2007, “Secretary-General alarmed by deadly air, ground attack on South Darfur town”):
“Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed deep concern at the Sudanese Government’s ‘brutal aerial and ground attack’ on a South Darfur town that has left at least 25 civilians dead and took place just days after the United Nations chief visited the war-torn region.”
Offensive military flights of all sorts are explicitly prohibited by UN Security Council Resolution 1591—but yet again this prohibition has meant nothing to the Khartoum regime.
Amnesty International has recently reported:
“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.” (Amnesty International, August 24, 2007, News Service No. 161)
In its own very recent report, Human Rights Watch chose to highlight another such attack, this on the village of Um Rai:
“One of the most notorious [of Khartoum’s] bombing campaigns of 2007 occurred in and round the village Um Rai between April 19 and 29. Government helicopter gunships and Antonov aircraft attacked the village and killed and would civilians and destroyed property and livestock. A school filled with some children was hit, injuring several of them. Two civilians adults were also killed in the attack. Both the UN secretary-general and the high commissioner for human rights condemned the bombings as indiscriminate because they failed to distinguish between military targets and civilians.” (“Darfur 2007: Chaos by Design,” page 37).
The title of the Human Rights Watch report contains a critical truth that has been deliberately downplayed by commentators such as Julie Flint and Alex de Waal (see their Washington Post op/ed, “In Darfur, From Genocide to Anarchy,” August 28, 2007): for the “chaos” that certainly characterizes current violence in Darfur is indeed by design—it represents Khartoum’s deliberate effort to extend its genocidal counter-insurgency by other means. As Human Rights Watch puts the matter:
“The government [in Khartoum] continues to stoke the chaos and, in some areas, exploit intercommunal tensions that escalate into open hostilities, apparently in an effort to ‘divide and rule’ and maintain military and political dominance over the region.” (page 6)
“[The abusive policies and practices that contribute to civilian insecurity include] deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on civilians, continuing support for abusive militia/Janjaweed and the failure to disarm them, obstructing the deployment and work of the [African Union mission in Darfur] peacekeepers and humanitarian workers, failing to address the culture of impunity (including by failing to abolish laws providing immunity or otherwise strengthen the justice system), and refusing to cooperate with the International Criminal Court, and allowing the consolidation of ethnic cleansing through land use and occupation.” (page 6)
This “consolidation of ethnic cleansing” has been reported consistently for many months, but most recently has taken the ominous form of Arab groups from Chad, Niger, and other regions of Sudan settling on the lands of displaced African farmers and herders. This, as many diplomats and observers on the ground have noted, is an explosive development, one that could easily lead to a new and sustained round of violence. UN Special Envoy Jan Eliasson recently declared that because “many of the villages [in Darfur] are being reoccupied by people who do not own that landthis is like a ticking time-bomb'” (United Press International [dateline: Khartoum], September 4, 2007). Flint and de Waal make no mention of this deeply ominous and threatening development.
John Prendergast and Colin Thomas-Jensen of the ENOUGH Project also articulate Human Rights Watch’s argument about Khartoum’s purposes in orchestrating ongoing violence, and in appropriately strenuous terms:
“The Darfur [that Flint and de Waal] melodramatically describe—a “murky world of tribes-in-arms and warlords who serve the highest bidder”—is precisely what the architects of genocide in Khartoum had in mind when, beginning in mid-2003, Sudan’s government set forth to destroy and displace the civilian support base for Darfur’s rebel groups. The promotion of anarchy and inter-communal (or, popularly, “inter-tribal”) fighting is part and parcel of Khartoum’s genocidal counter-insurgency campaign. The conditions in Darfur and eastern Chad today are not evidence of an end to genocide and the onset of an entirely new and different war—they are the echoes of genocide.” (“Echoes of Genocide in Darfur and Eastern Chad,” September 6, 2007, at http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2007/09/echoes_of_genocide.html)
But if none of this analysis or assessment figures in the pronouncements of Ban Ki-moon, the responses and declarations of other key actors at the UN meeting on September 21, 2007 do much to suggest why the “hybrid” force offers no near-term promise of security to the people of Darfur. What follows are synopses of the critical issues facing the force authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 1769, all highlighted in one way or another at Friday’s UN gathering:
COMPOSITION OF THE “HYBRID” FORCE
There are many reasons to worry about the make-up of the “hybrid” UN/AU force, particular the insistence by both Khartoum and the African Union that there are more than enough contributions from African nations and that contributions from non-African nations (such as Thailand, Uruguay, and Norway) are unnecessary. But the AU has already fashioned a dismaying history of failing to make good on its offers of personnel and resources. The AU has missed every deployment deadline for force enhancement in Darfur since first deploying in summer 2004. Although it is currently authorized to have more than 7,000 troops, civilian police, and other personnel on the ground, Agence France-Presse reports ([dateline: Khartoum], that the AU has deployed only “5,915 men out of the 7,000 authorised.” The AU committed to provide some 8,000 peacekeepers for Somalia last January; so far, only about 1,600 Ugandans have deployed. Jane’s Defense news (August 17, 2007) notes not only the shortfall in Somalia but that the AU “was not able to provide the troops for the 5,000-strong force in Burundi.”
It is thus arrogant and morally unconscionable for the AU to object to non-African contributions to the “hybrid” force, denying a role for traditional UN troop-contributing countries. Reuters reports from the UN (September 19, 2007):
“Diplomats at the UN speaking on condition of anonymity told Reuters this week that the AU is objecting to much needed non-African infantry soldiers as part of the hybrid force.”
Two days later Reuters again reported:
“Not enough countries have contributed to the peacekeeping force in Darfur and the African Union is blocking some of those who have, diplomats said on the eve of a high-level meeting on Sudan on Friday [September 21, 2007].”
In short, the African Union has capitulated to Khartoum’s demand that there be no non-African personnel, even if the mission in Darfur is badly compromised. Khartoum’s ghastly Foreign Minister Lam Akol figured prominently in the debate as reported by the New York Times ([dateline: UN/New York], September 21, 2007):
“The participants [at the UN meeting] also witnessed a dispute over the composition of the force that Sudan was insisting must be all-African but others were saying must have some non-African elements if it was to meet United Nations standards. ‘We don’t need them,’ Lam Akol, Sudan’s foreign minister, said when asked about troops offered by Thailand and Uruguay, countries that traditionally supply trained peacekeepers for United Nations missions. ‘There are enough African troops,’ he added, saying that Africans had already promised almost twice the number needed.”
But of course this is yet another lie from Lam Akol. AU commitments in sheer numbers may exceed the 26,000 civilian police and soldiers required for the “hybrid” mission, but most of these “contributions” don’t begin to meet UN peacekeeping standards or have the requisite equipment (some early AU troops deploying to Darfur arrived in this extremely hot and difficult region without boots). Again, the AU’s failure to deploy even authorized forces in timely fashion, over the course of more than three years on the ground in Darfur, tells us much too much about future deployment of African personnel. The example of Somalia is equally dispiriting in what it reveals of AU capabilities.
There can be little doubt about the deadly game of capitulation that African Union Commissioner Alpha Oumar Konar is playing with the lives of Darfuri civilians, and with the lives of humanitarians seeking to aid these vulnerable people amidst intolerable insecurity:
“While African nations have offered enough infantry troops for the force of up to 26,000 troops and police, some of them are without proper equipment. Consequently UN officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that soldiers would have to be found from other nations. But Konar had raised objections to some units, including those offered by Norway, Uruguay and Thailand.” (Reuters [dateline: UN/New York], September 21, 2007)
In order to accommodate Khartoum’s terms for force deployment—and despite the explicitly “hybrid” (UN/AU) nature of the force authorized by Resolution 1769—Konar and the AU are prepared to yield to a regime of gnocidaires on the composition of the force, which is to be essentially African in character, but with clear provision for well-equipped and well-trained non-African personnel as well. Egypt—a member of the African Union and the dominant player in the Arab League, particularly on Sudan-related issues—was equally unhelpful at the UN meeting:
“[The] Egyptian government has brought its support to the rejection of the non-African troops in the peacekeeping force to be deployed in Darfur within the UN-AU Hybrid Operation. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that the African continent can provide the required numbers to complete the formation of the hybrid force to be deployed in Darfur without having to resort to forces from outside Africa.” (The Sudan Tribune, citing MENA [Middle East News Agency], September 22, 2007)
The same dispatch notes:
“During the high level meeting on Darfur, the composition of the peacekeeping force has revealed splits over the deployment of non-African troops; Sudan, backed by the AU, had turned down infantry from Thailand and Uruguay. Khartoum even rejected an engineering unit from Norway, although it [had] pledged to allow non-African units for specialized tasks.”
The importance of non-African technical, engineering, logistical, and transport personnel has been repeatedly underscored. Perhaps the greatest need is for trained civilian police, which are in particularly short supply in Africa, even as they are critical to the success of the “hybrid” mission, and should indeed be deployed on an expedited basis to the camps and humanitarian sites that are most acutely threatened (see my analysis of this urgent need at http://www.sudanreeves.org/Article176.html). Voices making clear the various particular needs of the mission are numerous:
“Jean-Marie Guehenno, the UN undersecretary-general for peacekeeping, said earlier this week the force still needs specialized helicopter, transport and logistical units.” (Reuters [dateline: UN/New York], September 21, 2007)
European nations have in the main not stepped forward; but as the example of Khartoum’s rejection of a Norwegian engineering unit suggests, there is good reason to be suspicious of how “consensual” an environment the deploying “hybrid” force will find. But the obligation of European countries is to volunteer the needed forces and challenge Khartoum’s resistance to deployment:
“European nations have yet to deliver on pledges to contribute troops to a UN force to be deployed next year in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region, the head of UN peace missions said in an interview Wednesday. ‘For the time being, there haven’t been many European offers, said Jean-Marie Guehenno in an interview to Le Monde newspaper. ‘Some are still thinking about it. The Nordic countries [including Norway] are ready to take part. But we have not had any concrete offers for engineering units to dig wells for example, nor for transport,’ [Guehenno] said. ‘This is not good for the force.'” [ ]
“‘What worries me the most is the lack of tactical transport, trucks, helicopters,’ Guehenno said. He also said the UN will have trouble meeting targets for an estimated 6,000-strong police force.” (Agence France Presse [dateline: Paris], September 19, 2007)
The UN’s chief police officer in Sudan, Police Commissioner Kai Vittrup, recently declared:
“‘I would say to Member States that they have to realize that the police are an essential part of any peacekeeping operation. The big countries should contribute much, much more but because of national diversity it’s very important that the small countries like my own [Denmark] participate because many small streams create in the end a river.’ ‘It’s very important to get experienced officers for the higher positions. Officers who have operational or administrative experience and especially who have the will to lead, to be leaders.'” (UN News Service, September 12, 2007)
Again, the African Union is conspicuously without large numbers of the required civilian police who will make the most immediate difference to security on the ground in Darfur.
Romeo Dallaire, UN force commander during the Rwandan genocide, has also been explicit about what must be demanded by the force commander for the UN/AU “hybrid” force (the acronym is “UNAMID”: UN/African Union Mission in Darfur):
“It is beyond dispute [ ] that African states themselves simply cannot provide nearly 20,000 qualified troops (nor enough police). UNAMID needs attack helicopters, engineers, big cargo lorries, communications and other capabilities that African states also cannot provide.” (Open letter from Romeo Dallaire to UNAMID commander General Martin Agwai, September 16, 2007 [Global Day for Darfur])
In fact, recognition of these basic military and logistical facts is built into both the explicit and attendant language for Resolution 1769. US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad was simply re-stating what has governed international thinking since the July 31, 2007 passage of the resolution:
“‘We understand that the character of the force has to be African but (it’s) a UN-AU force,’ with UN member states footing the bill. ‘It has been understood from the beginning that there will be complementary non-African forces and capabilities available to complement the predominantly African character of the force,’ Khalilzad said.” (Reuters [dateline: UN/New York], September 21, 2007)
Khartoum’s evident effort to renege on the terms of Resolution 1769 is certainly in character. What is dismaying is that the African Union, and Egypt, seem determined to assist the regime in its efforts, including an effort to reduce further the mandate of UNAMID.
WHAT IS THE MANDATE OF THE UN/AU “HYBRID” FORCE?
While Resolution 1769 was stripped, with critical Chinese assistance, of a mandate to disarm combatants—even those carrying weapons introduced into Darfur in violation of a UN arms embargo—the mandate of the UNAMID force to protect civilians and humanitarians could not be more explicit:
“Acting Under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations:
[a] [the Security Council] decides that UNAMID is authorized to take the necessary action, in the areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities, in order to:
[i] protect its personnel, facilities, installations, and equipment, and to ensure the security and freedom of movement of its own personnel and humanitarian workers,
[ii] support early and effective implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement, prevent the disruption of its implementation and armed attacks, and protect civilians, without prejudice to the responsibility of the Government of Sudan.” (UN Security Council Resolution 1769, July 31, 2007)
General Dallaire provides an apt comment on what can be observed almost two months later:
“Even since the enactment of Resolution 1769, we have seen ample indications that the Sudanese government will at every turn seek to impose a minimalist reading of the UNAMID mandate. The government has already signalled that it will try to restrict the non-African role in the mission as much as it can and prolong the internal divisions and growing chaos which undermine efforts to end the fighting and provide humanitarian aid to all in need.” (open letter to General Agwai, September 16, 2007)
Perhaps General Dallaire had in mind comments by Khartoum’s General Majzoub Rahamah, the officer in charge of international relations at the Defense Ministry:
“[General Rahamah] 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)
We are likely to see many more such efforts by Khartoum to curtail the mandate of the “hybrid” force, trading heavily on specious use of the phrase “without prejudice to the responsibility of the Government of Sudan” in the language of Resolution 1769. These efforts will be consistent with the cynicism recently reported by the Los Angeles Times ([dateline: Nyala, South Darfur], September 21, 2007):
“Off-the-record discussions with Sudanese officials hint at the cynicism behind the cooperation. The UN won’t be able to recruit enough troops, they predict. And if the troops do come through, there is still the matter of obtaining land for bases in a place where every acre is contested, and finding food and water in a place where both are in short supply.”
Of course the UN won’t be able to recruit enough qualified troops because of Khartoum’s energetic efforts to insist that they come only from African countries. And the logistical squeeze that Khartoum has exerted on the AU force in Darfur shows just how adept the regime is in making Darfur’s already daunting logistical difficulties almost insurmountable. It is all well and good for the UN and AU to have stressed,
“‘the critical importance of receiving sustained support from the government of Sudan on operational issues, including the land for the building of UNAMID (the joint UN-AU force) camps, provision of airport landing rights for heavy aircraft, clearance for night flights, an agreement to drill for water, and full freedom of movement for the operation.'” (Agence France-Presse [dateline: UN/New York], September 21, 2007)
But again, as the African Union mission in Darfur (the initial core of the UNAMID force) has discovered, to its immense frustration and with debilitating consequences, Khartoum has no intention of offering “sustained support” on any of these critical fronts. Rather, the regime will certainly attempt to trade access to Darfur in return for a curtailing of UNAMID’s mandate.
COMMAND AND CONTROL
Issues of command-and-control, the precise chain of command for the UNAMID force, have been consistently finessed at the UN, chiefly in an effort to avoid a confrontation with the African Union, which pridefully insists that it must head the chain of command for this UN/AU “hybrid force.” And unsurprisingly, the language of Resolution 1769 continues to be ambiguous:
“[the Security Council] decides that there will be unity of command and control which, in accordance with basic principles of peacekeeping, means a single chain of command, further decides that command and control structure and backstopping will be provided by the United Nations, and, in this context, recalls the conclusions of the Addis Ababa high level consultation on the situation in Darfur of 16 November .”
So, who is in charge? What does UN “backstopping” really mean? Where does the authority of the UNAMID field commander, General Martin Agwai, end? And where does the authority of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations begin? Does General Agwai report to Addis Ababa or New York? To whom does he turn for support in his decision-making?
These are critical questions and they figure prominently in General Dallaire’s open letter to Agwai—indeed, it is the first issue Dallaire raises:
“First: I urge you to insist both to New York and to Addis Ababa that they clarify, in the most practical terms and as fast as possible, the chain of command and reporting for the mission. Resolution 1769 is vague on command and control. It did not precisely resolve the well-known disagreement between Khartoum, which insists on essentially AU command, and many other member states, that demand UN command and control as the only guarantor of effectiveness.”
Resolution 1769 perpetuates a problem that has long been in evidence but for which there is no diplomatic will to seek resolution. Last June the New York Times reported:
“The original accord [between the UN and the AU], which had been endorsed by the [UN] Security Council, gave clear ultimate command to the United Nations. But the African Union raised objections and asked for ‘clarifications’ in the text. The new language, in a revised version delivered to the Security Council and the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, eliminates the reference and leaves vague how power will be divided. A senior United Nations official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity said the indeterminate phrasing was aimed at satisfying the Security Council that there was enough United Nations leadership to persuade troop-contributing countries to provide the necessary soldiers and equipment, and to convince the African Union and Sudan that there was enough African input at the top.” ([UN/New York], June 6, 2007)
It would appear that little has changed in the intervening three and a half months.
CEASE-FIRE? WHAT CEASE-FIRE?
Ban Ki-moon supposedly secured a cease-fire agreement from Khartoum during his early September trip to the region. But of course these were merely more words from the regime, and Ban quickly found himself confronted by extreme military violence, as the UN News Service reported on September 12, 2007 (“Secretary-General alarmed by deadly air, ground attack on South Darfur town”):
“Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed deep concern at the Sudanese Government’s ‘brutal aerial and ground attack’ on a South Darfur town that has left at least 25 civilians dead and took place just days after the United Nations chief visited the war-torn region.”
Six days later, the UN Secretary General told a news conference that “he was ‘very much concerned’ at the recurrence of violence in Darfur. In a statement Monday [September 10, 2007], Ban said he was ‘alarmed’ that the reported attacks took place after the Sudanese government said in a joint communiqu during his recent visit that it was committed to a ceasefire in the run-up to the new negotiations.” (Associated Press [dateline: UN/New York], September 18, 2007)
The African Union mission observers in Darfur declared more bluntly:
“‘Given the critical stage of the peace process, the forthcoming negotiations in Libya and the commitments made by all parties to uphold the ceasefire, the nature, scale and timing of these attacks [including assaults by helicopter gunships] is astonishing.'” (UN News Service, September 11, 2007)
In the joint communiqu, which clearly meant a great deal more to Secretary-General Ban than to the National Islamic Front regime, Khartoum pledged “to contribute positively to a secure environment for the negotiations, fulfilling its commitment to a full cessation of hostilities in Darfur, and agreed upon ceasefire.”
Shamelessly, NIF President al-Bashir tried to change the time-frame for the cease-fire during his trip to Italy and the Vatican—from the signing of the joint communiqu to the convening of peace talks in Libya on October 27, 2007:
“Sudan’s president on Friday [September 14, 2007] met with the pope and Italy’s premier, and offered to declare a cease-fire with Darfur rebels to coincide with the start of UN-backed peace talks next month.” (Associated Press [dateline: Rome], September 14, 2007)
Ban Ki-moon may have thought he had a cease-fire agreement, but yet again he has succeeded only in proving his painful credulity in dealing with the Khartoum regime. Moreover, as Suleiman Marjan, an important and reliable rebel (G-19) commander in North Darfur noted in an interview with The Sudan Tribune (September 14, 2007):
“Al-Bashir’s pledge [in Rome] is an acknowledgement that he is not currently committed to the ceasefire agreement despite past statements saying otherwise.”
Marjan also noted that the NIF “pledge implies that al-Bashir will not adhere to the ceasefire agreement with those who refuse to participate in the Tripoli talks.”
Such a reading is almost certainly accurate, and if Khartoum has been utterly indiscriminate in its attacks on civilians and combatants, it will be just as indiscriminate in attacking non-signatory participants and non-participants. In short, any future military action can be justified as directed at those who do not attend the Tripoli talks. Unfortunately, this list likely includes at the Justice and Equality Movement, the SLA faction led by Ahmed Abdel Shafi (an especially important commander), and Abdel Wahid el-Nur, founder of the SLA/M and the rebel leader with greatest following in the camps for displaced persons, especially among the Fur, his own tribe and the largest ethnic group in Darfur.
Here it must be said unequivocally that rebel fractiousness and irresponsible violence does more and more to betray the very people of Darfur they claim to represent. But it must never be forgotten—as US envoy Andrew Natsios is ever more expediently inclined to do—that rebel disunity has been encouraged in every conceivable way by Khartoum, that divide-and-rule strategies are the regime’s stock-in-trade, having been honed to perfection during almost two decades of tyrannical rule. These strategies will continued to be deployed relentlessly, both in peace talks and in the use of military proxies in Darfur. Since of these proxies are not “party” to any cease-fire commitment, we may be sure that even if aerial assaults are halted (and they have not been), and even if Khartoum’s regular forces (the Sudan Armed Forces [SAF]) are temporarily reined in, there will be many instruments to stoke the fires of ethnic violence, and not only in Darfur but Eastern Chad as well.
THE UN/AU “HYBRID” FORCE—AND THE VOICES OF DARFURIS
Part 2 of this two-part analysis will look in detail at the highly limited prospects for peace talks scheduled to begin at the end of October in Libya, as well as offer an update on the fate of the UNAMID force. This assessment will be in the context of the conspicuous, and all too revealing, silence on the part of the international community in the face of desperate appeals from International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo. Ocampo is seeking to ensure that justice for Darfuris is not sacrificed on the altar of an expedient peace with the National Islamic Front, a regime whose “humanitarian affairs minister”—Ahmed Haroun—is one of those whom the ICC has indicted for massive atrocity crimes in Darfur. Ocampo very recently declared that he also has evidence that Haroun has “played a key role” in escalating violence around camps for displaced persons (Reuters, [dateline: UN/New York], September 20, 2007).
I will also include an updated overview of the humanitarian situation on the ground, including key humanitarian indicators, security conditions, as well as the fallout from the outrageous expulsion by Khartoum of CARE head of country operations, Paul Barker. I will also look at recent dangerous developments in Chad, as well as prospects during the impending dry season for possible deployment of a European Union force of up to 4,000 troops and civilian police (for a recent and very suggestive historical overview, see Gerard Prunier’s “The Darfur-Chad Civil Wars,” September 10, 2007 at http://www.agoravox.com/article.php3?id_article=6760). Finally, I will again focus on the rapidly growing danger that the north/south “Comprehensive Peace Agreement” (CPA) will collapse, leading to country-wide civil war in Sudan.
But too often excluded from discussions of policy, peace negotiations, and issues of rebel factional presence are the voices of Darfuris in the camps for displaced persons. They desperately need and deserve adequate representation–in all discussions of peace and security. Though reported in scattered fashion, these voices form the coda for Part 1 of this analysis. If they are not heard, and heeded, it is impossible that rebel commanders, or Darfuri leaders in the diaspora, will serve the cause of Darfur in effective fashion. Herewith a brief concluding compendium:
 From Otash displaced persons camp, near Nyala, South Darfur:
“‘There is no representative for us there [at the scheduled Libyan peace talks]. No one came and consulted us. If some of us were present at the talks it would help them succeed, [said] Al-Bashir Al-Nagi, a local community leader. He predicted the planned talks, as construed, are ‘not going to succeed. They will fail like the last ones.'”
“Several Darfur sheikhs made similar pleas to visiting British Foreign Office Minister for Africa Mark Malloch Brown on Tuesday as they gathered in a small hut at the Otash displaced persons camp in south Darfur to air grievances.”
Of Abdel Wahid el-Nur, the SLM leader currently living in Paris, Otash resident Amina Mohamed Ahmed said, “‘Negotiations are important but we are tired of Abdel Wahed.'” (Reuters [dateline: Otash Camp], September 12, 2007)
 From Djabal refugee camp, Eastern Chad:
“While refugees were united in their support for a UN mission [in Darfur], all were adamant that they wanted only Western troops. ‘We don’t want African troops, we only want UN soldiers,’ said Amna Adam Khamis, a 70-year-old refugee. ‘We can’t trust AU troops as they are the same as the government of Sudan. I am optimistic, but if they are African I am pessimistic.'” (Reuters [dateline: Djabal Refugee Camp, Eastern Chad], August 17, 2007)
AU Commissioner Alpha Oumar Konar has done far too much to justify Amna Adam Khamis’ pessimism.
 From Zalengei, West Darfur:
“[Abdel Wahid el-Nur’s] supporters in Zalengei [the birthplace of el-Nur] and the surrounding camps agree on [the critical need for] security. But they said el-Nur should attend talks. ‘We want the international forces to come and disarm the militias but at the same time we want Abdel Wahed to go to negotiate,’ said Omda Zachariah Yahya Jamous, a tribal leader from the Hassa Hissa camp outside Zalengei.”
“‘I call on Abdel Wahed to join the peace process,’ said Ibrahim Ahmed, from an environmental group in Darfur. ‘He has to unify his position with the other factions. There should not be three sides but one to sit face to face with the government,’ he added.” (Reuters [dateline: Zalengei, West Darfur], August 28, 2007)
Is Abdel Wahid el-Nur truly listening to the people of Darfur?
 But of course most voices are not so explicit in their commentary on issues of representation, or peace, or the specifics of security needed. They are simply desperate pleas for protection. UNICEF ambassador Mia Farrow, on returning from her seventh visit to the Darfur/Eastern Chad region, records in The Independent (August 26, 2007) some of what she heard:
“Strong women in frail voices described their gang rapes; some were abducted and assaulted continuously over many weeks. ‘No one came to help me,’ they said, as they showed me the brandings carved into their bodies, and tendons sliced and how they hobble now. ‘Tell people what is happening here’ implored one victim, Halima. Three of her five children had been killed. ‘Tell them we will all die. Tell them we need help.'”
We must hope that voices such as Halima’s haunt relentlessly those who are grudging or diffident in their contributions to the force that should deploy rapidly to Darfur.
 And then there are the voices bearing only quiet, but overwhelmingly powerful tales of suffering and destruction. These are countless, and no choice can represent the range of what Darfuri people have endured. But the recent Human Rights Watch report (“Darfur 2007: Chaos by Design”) has not only a terrible suggestiveness in its title; it has one narrative account that suggests, through the eyes of 13- or 14-year-old Taha, just what atrocities the National Islamic Front regime has been allowed to commit, and what international cowardice and expediency have wrought over the past four years and more:
“In the afternoon we returned from school and saw the planes. We were all looking, not imagining about bombing. Then they began the bombing. The first bomb landed in our garden, then four bombs at once in the garden. The bombs killed six people, including a young boy, a boy carried by his mother, and a girl. In another place in the garden a woman was carrying her baby son—she was killed, not him. Now my nights are hard because I feel frightened. We became homeless. I cannot forget the bad images of the burning house and fleeing at night because our village was burned….”
There are men in Khartoum who order these aerial assaults on civilian targets, knowing full well the consequences. These men know that there are countless “Tahas” in Darfur, and yet they continue to bomb villages and gardens, children and mothers. This isn’t aberrant behavior for the men of the Khartoum regime: this is behavior entirely in keeping with the genocidal logic that governs their actions in Darfur—and on the world stage.
The men in Khartoum commit such atrocities because they are convinced that ultimately they will face no meaningful consequences. The men in Khartoum are convinced that if there were ever a “peace agreement” for Darfur, another “peace agreement,” that it would no more binding than the last one, that there would be no greater international will to see its terms adhered to. The gnocidaires in Khartoum have had ample opportunity to take the measure of such actors as the United Nations and the African Union, as well as such world powers as China, the United States, the countries of Europe, Canada, Japan, the countries of Latin America, and so many other members of the “international community.” The men in Khartoum now realize that there is no “responsibility to protect” the “Tahas” of the world—certainly not if they are poor, black, Muslim, and residing over no valuable exportable resources.
It has long been clear that, following Rwanda, Darfur was the test case—our “second chance.” Taha tells us that again, yet again, we have failed. Will this failure be mitigated by Resolution 1769? Will villages and civilians and humanitarians be protected from the chaotic violence that is Khartoum’s current weapon of genocidal destruction? The past four years and more give exceedingly little encouragement.