The recent massacre of civilians in Muhajiriya (South Darfur)—by Khartoum’s regular military forces and its Janjaweed militia allies—represents, in its vicious human destruction, the most conspicuous consequence of ongoing international acquiescence before the genocidal ambitions of the National Islamic Front regime. Muhajiriya also represents the kind of organized, regime-sponsored violence that the UN/African Union (“Hybrid”) Mission deploying to Darfur, per UN Security Council Resolution 1769 (July 31, 2007), must be prepared to confront. While it has become fashionable, indeed de rigueur, in reporting on Darfur to emphasize the complexity of the conflict, the fracturing of the rebel movements, and to make ever more insistent comparisons with violence in Somalia, Muhajiriya serves as a sharp reminder that the current chaos isn’t accidental. It is, as a recent Human Rights Watch report emphasizes, “Chaos by Design” (“Darfur 2007: Chaos by Design,” September 2007 at http://hrw.org/reports/2007/sudan0907/). As it has for many years, stretching back to the second north/south conflict (1983-2005), Khartoum has sown division, engaged in divide-and-rule tactics, and exploited ethnic tensions at every moment of opportunity. The regime’s successes are nothing less than stunning.
To be sure, the tactics in Darfur have been accommodated to the particular nature of the counter-insurgency war currently being fought (see especially Human Rights Watch, “Chaos by Design,” pages 6, 22, 34, 38, 41-43, 45, 51, 53-54). But news reporting on the “complexity” of the Darfur crisis would be much more insightful if given an appropriate context, particularly in attending to the largest conclusion reached by Human Rights Watch:
“The government [of Sudan] continues to stoke the chaos [in Darfur] 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.” (HRW, page 6)
Certainly the current character of conflict, and Khartoum’s successes in creating a chaos that threatens both civilians and humanitarians, should not obscure the savage brutality and bluntness of purpose on the part of this regime, exemplified in the attack on Muhajiriya. A host of accounts from civilian witnesses in this small, ethnically African town make all too clear what began around noon on October 8, 2007. The New York Times, with a Nairobi dateline, but also notice that a reporter in Darfur contributed to the story, offers the following grim details (October 16, 2007):
“[W]itnesses described government [of Sudan] troops and their allied militias killing more than 30 civilians, slitting the throats of several men praying at a mosque and shooting a 5-year-old boy in the back as he tried to run away. According to several residents of Muhagiriya, a small town in southern Darfur, two columns of uniformed government troops, along with dozens of militiamen not in uniform, surrounded the town around noon on October 8  and stormed the market. Muhagiriya was a stronghold of one of Darfur’s many rebel factions, but witnesses said there were few rebels there at the time and that government forces turned their guns—and knives—on civilians.”
“Ayoub Jalal, a mechanic, said his father was praying at a mosque when soldiers burst in. ‘They dragged my father and the others out of the mosque and slashed their throats,’ said Mr. Jalal, who was interviewed by telephone.” [ ]
“‘The youngest child, a 5-year-old boy, I knew well,’ said Sultan Marko Niaw, a tribal elder, who also spoke by phone. He said the boy’s name was Guran Avium: ‘A soldier had shot him in the back.'”
“The viciousness of the attack, as described by the witnesses and corroborated by humanitarian organizations working in the area, seemed reminiscent of the early days of the conflict in Darfur, when government troops and allied militias slaughtered thousands of civilians, according to human rights groups.” [ ]
“Thousands of people have fled Muhagiriya and are now camped around a small African Union peacekeeping base for protection. Humanitarian officials fear they could be attacked again. ‘We are deeply concerned for their safety,’ said James Smith, chief executive of the Aegis Trust, a British anti-genocide group working in the region. He said that villagers in Muhagiriya ‘confirmed to us that government and janjaweed forces deliberately attacked unarmed civilians,’ referring to the Arab militias that are aligned with the government.”
“Solidarits, a French aid organization that distributes food in the area, said three Sudanese aid workers were killed in the attack. In a report, it also said that ‘many people are wounded and need medical assistance. Many houses and shops have been looted. Many families lost everything.’ In separate interviews, several residents said they watched soldiers cart away their property in government trucks. The United Nations sent an assessment team to Muhagiriya last week to take photographs of the destruction and interview villagers about the attack. ‘All the IDPs,’ internally displaced persons, ‘believe it was a joint government-militia operation,’ said Radhia Achouri, a United Nations spokesperson.” (New York Times [dateline: Nairobi], October 16, 2007; additional reporting by an anonymous journalist on the ground in Darfur)
Additional reporting comes from Agence France-Presse ([dateline: Khartoum], October 11, 2007):
“[The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) said that ‘residents [of Muhajiriya] reportedly fled to neighboring villages and the surrounding areas, leaving the town, which had a population estimated at 20,000 inhabitants, completely deserted.'” [ ]
“In New York, the medical humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres [Doctors Without Borders] said it had evacuated a team of 16 aid workers from Muhajiriya. [ ] MSF said it runs the only hospital in the town, and that the ‘evacuation of its team means people are urgently in need of medical care.’ It said that, prior to the attack, 43 people were in-patients, including pregnant women about to deliver, 15 children with severe pneumonia and an unspecified number of malnournished children at a feeding centre. It added that another some 39 wounded people on the outskirts of Muhajariya were seeking refuge.”
The UN’s office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has estimated that approximately 45,000 internally displaced people were being assisted in and around Muhajiriya; they, too, are now without protection or humanitarian services.
Amnesty International and the African Union have both reported on Khartoum’s use of aerial military assets in the attack on Muhajiriya:
“Amnesty International said the attack [on Muhajiriya] was supported by an Antonov, which had been painted in white UN colours. Since 2005, Sudan has been prohibited from offensive flights over Darfur and has been criticised for painting aircraft white, [Amnesty] said.” (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks [IRIN] [dateline: Nairobi], October 10, 2007)
“Sudanese government planes bombed the town of Muhajiriya in Darfur on Monday [October 8, 2007], according to the commander of the 7,000-strong African Union force. General Martin Luther Agwai told the BBC in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, that at least 24 people were injured in the attack on Muhajiriya. ‘The town was bombed,’ he said, ‘and only the Sudanese government forces have aircraft.'” (BBC, October 9, 2007)
Nor was Khartoum’s brutally destructive attack on Muhajiriya the only savagery of its kind. Haskanita in North Darfur was completely burned to the ground by the regime and its Janjaweed militia. Haskanita is the town close to the AU outpost attacked and overrun by rebel elements in late September; Khartoum chose to make this completely unjustified rebel attack the pretext for the mass killing of civilians and for burning to the ground all buildings in Haskanita itself—after the town came fully under Khartoum’s military control in the wake of the rebel attack on the AU:
“A joint UN/AU inspection team, which visited Haskanita on Saturday [October 7, 2007], said: ‘The town, which is under the control of the government [of Sudan], was completely burned down, except for a few buildings.’ It added Haskanita’s market had been looted and most of the town’s civilian population had fled. Just a handful of townspeople had returned to scavenge for food and water.”
“Suleiman Jamous of the Darfur rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) Unity faction, told Reuters a large number of people had been killed in the town. Rebels leaders said on Friday at least 100 people had been killed. Jamous, who blamed the government for the destruction of the settlement, added: ‘All the villages near Haskanita have evacuated either to the bush or nearby towns. They evacuated their villages after they heard what happened to Haskanita.'” (Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], October 7, 2007)
Suleiman Jamous is without question the most trustworthy of rebel leaders.
Although the UN would not officially assign responsibility for the destruction of Haskanita town, a UN official speaking on condition of anonymity was explicit:
“A UN official who had just inspected the North Darfur town [of Haskanita] said Sunday [October 7, 2007] more than 15,000 civilians were fleeing the area. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the town was destroyed by the Sudanese army and its allied janjaweed militias of nomad Arabs. An Associated Press reporter saw Haskanita intact last weekend just as the army was taking control following the suspected rebel attack [on the AU base near Haskanita].” (Associated Press [dateline: Khartoum], October 7, 2007)
These are examples of very recent violence; much more violence goes unreported by an African Union mission that too often defers to Khartoum’s wishes or simply doesn’t make public its findings. The AU-overseen Ceasefire Commission is completely dysfunctional.
But elsewhere in Darfur, Khartoum’s regular and military forces have been active, and we catch glimpses from human rights groups, courageous humanitarian sources, and news dispatches from the very few journalists the regime allows into Darfur. Amnesty International has recently reported that Khartoum is massing its forces near at least six towns in North Darfur, including Tine, Kornoy, Baru and Kutum, and warned that “the northern areas of Darfur are currently in the cross-hairs of the Sudanese armed forces and that further deadly attacks are imminent” (Amnesty International press release, October 9, 2007, at http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAFR540612007). A great percentage of the weapons used in this military build-up have entered Darfur in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1591 (March 2005), as reported yet again by the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur (October 3, 2007 Report to the UN Security Council):
“The Panel of Experts has established that violations of the arms embargo continued, both by the Government of Sudan and non-State armed groups.” (page 3)
Just as notable was Khartoum’s open contempt for Resolution 1591, as reported by the UN Panel of Experts:
“As stated in previous reports of the Panel, in spite of the clear understanding of its obligations under Security Council resolution 1591 (2005), at the time of writing the present report, the Government of Sudan had not submitted any requests for approval to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to that resolution to enable the movement of weapons, ammunition or other military equipment into Darfur, thereby knowingly violating the provisions of the resolution.” (page 3)
“thereby knowingly violating the provisions of the [UN Security Council] resolution”this is a defining intransigence.
The UN Panel of Experts on Darfur also found that,
“From September 2006 to June 2007, the Government of the Sudan conducted offensive military overflights in Darfur, which included aerial bombardments by Antonov aircraft, aerial attacks by Mi-24 attack helicopters and the use of air assets for military surveillance. Sixty-six aerial attacks were reported during that period.”
UN Security Council Resolution 1591 explicitly demanded that Khartoum “immediately cease conducting offensive military flights in and over the Darfur region” (paragraph 6).
Bombing attacks have occurred frequently since June 2007, including in the very recent attack on Muhajiriya.
In assessing Khartoum’s commitment to a possible cease-fire in Darfur, or the terms of a possible peace agreement, these contemptuous, flagrant, and unconcealed violations of the terms of a UN Security Council resolution should figure prominently. And yet international expediency will almost certainly triumph over any willingness to confront this obdurate regime over its bad faith, which has been continuously in evidence for the past 18 years. Such expediency certainly does most to explain why after almost five years of genocidal destruction in Darfur, the world continues to watch, and to move politically, diplomatically, and militarily—if at all—within an obscenely accommodating time-frame.
RESPONDING TO GENOCIDE IN DARFUR: A VERY SHORT HISTORY OF A GRIMLY EXPANDING FAILURE
Those who have for years opposed military deployment to protect Darfuri civilians, as well as the humanitarian operations upon which some 4.2 million Darfuris now depend for survival, are especially given to emphasizing the “complexity” of the Darfur catastrophe. They typically fail to acknowledge that resistance to military deployment, over the course of more than three and a half years, has meant accepting ongoing campaigns of ethnically-targeted violence, as well as highly compromised living conditions, that have destroyed hundreds of thousands of human beings (see my April 2006 mortality assessment at http://www.sudanreeves.org/Article102.html). UN figures indicate that more than 2.5 million civilians have been displaced internally or into Chad, most losing everything. Leslie Lefkow, a highly regarded Darfur researcher for Human Rights Watch, recently noted that, “there was definitely a lost opportunity for a robust intervention in 2004, when the situation was clearer in terms of the number and nature of the armed groups” (New York Times [dateline: Nairobi], October 14, 2007). This writer argued in December 2003 and again in the conclusion to a Washington Post opinion essay (February 25, 2004),
“Khartoum has so far refused to rein in its Arab militias; has refused to enter into meaningful peace talks with the insurgency groups; and most disturbingly, refuses to grant unfettered humanitarian access. The international community has been slow to react to Darfur’s catastrophe and has yet to move with sufficient urgency and commitment. A credible peace forum must rapidly be created. Immediate plans for humanitarian intervention should begin. The alternative is to allow tens of thousands of civilians to die in the weeks and months ahead in what will be continuing genocidal destruction.”
These words are tragically as true today as they were more than three and a half years ago. The failure of my analysis was in anticipating “weeks and months” of continuing unanswered genocidal destruction rather than the years that have actually intervened—and thus anticipating “tens of thousands” rather than the hundreds of thousands of deaths that have actually occurred.
But current discussions of humanitarian intervention to protect civilians are too often dominated by those whose earlier opposition to intervention must now be justified in the context of the ghastly consequences of international failure to halt genocide during these horrific years. Alex de Waal and Julie Flint are among the most prominent of those who have put their considerable knowledge of Darfur in service of arguments against deployment of a force with a mandate to protect civilians and humanitarians. Indeed, in the case of de Waal this has led to a perverse refusal to accept even that the purpose of such intervention is civilian protection. Rather, in notorious words, de Waal caricatures the push for urgent deployment of such force as a “salvation delusion,” and argues elsewhere that “there is no such thing as humanitarian intervention” (http://www.globalpolicy.org/empire/humanint/2007/0321nosuchthing.htm):
“Military intervention won’t stop the killing. Those who are clamouring for troops to fight their way into Darfur are suffering from a salvation delusion. It’s a simple reality that UN troops can’t stop an ongoing war, and their record at protecting civilians is far from perfect.” (“I will not sign,” London Review of Books, Nov 30, 2006)
These sentences offer only disingenuous half-truths, and a deeply distorting conflation. “Stopping an ongoing war” and “protecting civilians” are two different tasks, two very different ambitions; if the former is clearly beyond the capacity of the deploying UN/AU “hybrid” force, that doesn’t mean that civilian protection—and the protection of humanitarian workers—is impossible. Of course protecting civilians is a great deal easier after a war has been stopped; but to declare such protection in Darfur impossible because fighting continues is to say that a genocidal regime can always insulate itself from the consequences of its actions by ensuring enough violence. By this logic, the international community was right to abandon Lt. General Romeo Dallaire in Rwanda, to ignore his desperate plea for the 5,000 troops he thought could halt the violent carnage that would ultimately claim some 800,000 lives.
Security in Darfur will be inadequate no matter what force deploys, given the lack of urgency and moral commitment defining current international responses. But there are certainly better and worse security environments for humanitarian efforts that alone sustain millions of lives. Here we should recall the explicit warnings from humanitarians over the past 15 months and more. In his August 2006 briefing of the UN Security Council, former UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland declared:
“Our entire humanitarian operation in Darfur—the only lifeline for more than three million people—is presently at risk. We need immediate action on the political front to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe with massive loss of life. If the humanitarian operation were to collapse, we could see hundreds of thousands of deaths. In short, we may end up with a man-made catastrophe of an unprecedented scale in Darfur.”
Several months later, all fourteen UN humanitarian organizations operating in Darfur signed an unprecedented open letter (January 18, 2007), declaring that insecurity had reached intolerable levels:
“In the face of growing insecurity and danger to communities and aid workers, the UN and its humanitarian partners have effectively been holding the line for the survival and protection of millions. That line cannot be held much longer.” [ ]
“Nor can we accept the violence increasingly directed against humanitarian workers. Twelve relief workers have been killed in the past six months—more than in the previous two years combined. Their loss has had direct consequences on the Darfur humanitarian operations.” [ ]
“If this situation continues, the humanitarian operation and welfare of the population it aims to support will be irreversibly jeopardised. [ ]
“The humanitarian community cannot indefinitely assure the survival of the population in Darfur if insecurity continues. [ ] Solid guarantees for the safety of civilians and humanitarian workers [are] urgently needed.”
The next week, this letter from UN humanitarian organizations was followed by a very similar one from six distinguished nongovernmental humanitarian organizations.
[The present: A survey of very recent developments clearly suggests that despite these desperate pleas, the security situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate. Last week (October 8, 2007) the UN made a decision to withdraw its non-essential personnel from Nyala, capital of South Darfur and the humanitarian hub for all of Darfur. This was done under cover of the Eid holiday. In an October 17, 2007 press release, the UN World Food Program reported that three of its drivers had been shot to death in South Darfur. In late September 2007, the relief agency World Vision scaled back its operations in South Darfur after its staff suffered three attacks within a week, putting all non-essential staff on leave, with only approximately 85 of its staff of 325 (international and national) remaining; the organization feeds 500,000 people and runs clinics and nutrition centers. Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres, the only medical relief organization in Muhajiriya, has withdrawn. So too has Solidarits, which provided water, sanitation, and food to the town’s residents; a Solidarits worker was killed in Khartoum’s assault of last week. On October 10, 2007 ACT-Caritas announced that it has relocated a number of international staff from South Darfur to Khartoum.
Associated Press provided in late September a grim overview ([dateline: Nyala, South Darfur], September 27, 2007):
“Attacks on humanitarian workers in Darfur rose 150 percent from June 2006 to June 2007, the UN says. This calendar year alone, more than 100 aid workers were kidnapped and 66 assaulted or raped, while over 60 aid convoys were ambushed and 100 vehicles hijacked, the UN says. The pace of attacks appears to be picking up throughout Darfur. Since last week, a dozen cars carrying aid workers have been ambushed and their passengers robbed, three aid workers were kidnapped, and a half-ton of food was looted in a refugee camp, the United Nations says.”
A Sudan program director for an international aid organization active in Darfur reports very recently that, “more than one major humanitarian international nongovernmental organization in Darfur has faced losses of key staff because of Khartoum’s [punitive bureaucratic] actions.” Authoritative security analyses by humanitarian organizations point to increasingly brutal forms of torture directed again aid workers, and emphasize that there is a high likelihood of attacks against any organization, including destruction of assets and serious injury to international and especially national staff. The Sudan country director for the humanitarian organization CARE International was expelled by Khartoum for communicating, internally, precisely such a security assessment. A spokesman for Oxfam International declared (Voice of America [dateline: Washington, DC], October 9, 2007) that, “the fighting between the [rebel] factions ‘are having a negative effect on aid workers’ morale and confidencestaffs are very frustrated. They are very demoralized. [ ] They’re not able to do the work the came to do because of security problems.'”
And in an extremely ominous development, that may portend the extension of war into the camps for displaced persons, Reuters reports today ([dateline: Khartoum], October 19, 2007):
“Government-backed militias have attacked a refugee camp over the past three days, killing six people and injuring 14 during their search for rebels from Sudan’s Darfur region, witnesses said on Friday. The United Nations confirmed there had been shooting in the Kalma camp [housing some 90,000 displaced persons] outside Nyala town, capital of South Darfur, over the past two days, but could not say who was involved. ‘The government sent militias into the camp and they were looking for six people they wanted to arrest,’ said camp resident, Abu Sherati, who added that around 50 shacks had been burned down.”]
IS THE DEMAND FOR PROTECTION A “DELUSION”?
Can it be so difficult to discern what humanitarian organizations were seeking last January with their urgent plea for “solid guarantees for the safety of civilians and humanitarian workers”? Although unable for political reasons to be fully explicit, there can be no doubt that that theirs was a desperate request for precisely the sort of force ridiculed by de Waal as a “salvation delusion.”
Moreover, it is important to be honest about the larger political context for any force deploying to Darfur to protect civilians and humanitarians. Certainly by the time de Waal published his piece in The London Review of Books (November 30, 2006), the issue of non-consensual deployment of force to Darfur was a dead letter, as de Waal well knew. His introduction of the issue served only to obscure the basic conflation that defines his argument: a claim about “troops fighting their way into Darfur” has, and had, nothing to do with the options that were seriously entertained by the only nations militarily capable of mounting non-consensual intervention, for whatever purposes. It was certainly not what humanitarian organizations, desperate for improved security, were calling for—or could ever call for, given their mandates and terms of operation.
To be sure, some had argued that our moral, legal, and institutional obligations to prevent genocide and other atrocity crimes obliged non-consensual deployment. (This obligation, this “responsibility to protect,” was unanimously accepted by the UN World Summit of September 2005 [paragraph 139]—and was framed specifically so as to supersede claims of national sovereignty in the event of genocide, “ethnic cleansing,” and crimes against humanity.) A joint letter of September 13, 2006, from “eighteen international human rights, humanitarian, and conflict-prevention organizations,” “condemn[ed] the recent violence launched by the Government of Sudan in North Darfur and call[ed] for stepped up diplomatic pressure and for the rapid deployment of a robust UN peacekeeping force.”
The letter also called on the international community,
“to significantly intensify diplomatic efforts with the Government of Sudan while concurrently planning for the rapid deployment of an adequately funded and well-equipped UN force to protect the people of Darfur regardless of the acquiescence of the Sudanese Government.”
Signatories included Amnesty International/USA, Physicians for Human Rights, Refugees International, Aegis Trust (UK), Africa Action, Sudanese Organization Against Torture (SOAT), Human Rights First, Urgence Darfour (France), Genocide Watch, and the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, among others. (See full text of statement at Physicians for Human Rights website, http://www.phrusa.org/research/sudan/news_2006-09-13.html)
This writer had earlier argued in the Washington Post (September 3, 2006) that in the context of hundreds of thousands of lives clearly at risk,
“If the world fails to intervene in Darfur, with or without the consent of Sudan’s government, the fleeting ideal of an international ‘responsibility to protect’ civilians at the most acute risk will have collapsed—another consequential casualty of Darfur’s genocide.” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/01/AR2006090101453.html?sub=new)
But discussion of such intervention had no traction within the various international political arenas of consequence, and the only real issue was moral clarity about obligations in the face of genocide proceeding before our very eyes. For “there were no secrets [in Darfur],” as Mukesh Kapila, former UN humanitarian coordinator for Sudan, had declared in March 2004:
“The only difference between Rwanda and Darfur now is the numbers involved. [The slaughter in Darfur] is more than just a conflict, it is an organised attempt to do away with a group of people. [ ] I was present in Rwanda at the time of the genocide, and I’ve seen many other situations around the world and I am totally shocked at what is going on in Darfur.”
And despite claims by Khartoum in early February 2004 to have brought the situation in Darfur under “total military control,” Kapila insisted that:
“The pattern of organised attacks on civilians and villages, abductions, killings and organised rapes by militias is getting worse by the day and could deteriorate even further. One can see how the situation might develop without prompt [action]…all the warning signs are there.”
Of course there has been no “prompt action,” and Kapila’s ominous premonition about what “might develop” has come fully to pass.
It has not been for lack of full knowledge that the international community has failed to act; an excessively fractious rebel movement could serve as no excuse for inaction when the international community first became fully aware of the scale of Darfur’s genocide. The failure to act—then and now—has derived directly from a refusal to expend Western lives, or more than a very modest amount of Western treasure, in halting massive, violent, unambiguously ethnically-targeted human destruction. To say otherwise now is to engage in self-exculpatory history-writing: the world failed Darfur in 2004, and has subsequently failed in a wide range of ways, just as it failed Rwanda in 1993-94.
By deliberately misrepresenting the ambitions of those arguing for intervention, even for non-consensual intervention, Flint, de Waal and others have enjoyed a perverse success, helping to convince international actors with the power to intervene that they are right to remain inert, except for strenuous exercises in unctuous hand-wringing. And of course now, surveying the environment into which the force finally, belatedly authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 1769 must deploy, it is indeed difficult not to see the myriad difficulties and obstacles to civilian and humanitarian protection.
But in the end, the delayed international commitment to deploy the force originally authorized by Resolution 1706 (August 2006) has only given such arguments as de Waal’s the features of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The disastrous Darfur Peace Agreement (May 2006), far from bringing peace or security to Darfur, only ensured that violence would escalate and that the fragmentation of the rebel movement would dramatically accelerate. Indeed, the perverse irony of accommodation is that those such as de Waal and others in the international community who have acquiesced in Khartoum’s cynical insistence on the badly flawed DPA are the ones engaging in the real “salvation delusion.” And the chaotic violence that we see today, which accelerated most dramatically in the immediate wake of the DPA, is the legacy of their expediency and their credulity in accepting Khartoum’s commitment to any set of security arrangements.
For of course the DPA left security issues, preeminently the disarming of the Janjaweed, in the hands of the very men in Khartoum who had used these brutal militias for years to attack non-Arab or African tribal populations. Despite their nominal commitments in the DPA, these very same men have continued to arm the Janjaweed ever more heavily (see, for example, reports by the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur—especially the August 2006 report and the very recent October 2007 report, at http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/smallarms/2007/1010panelsudan.htm). And these are the very same men, the same gnocidaires who ordered the massacre in Muhajiriya, and the destruction of Haskanita, and who are responsible for the destruction of thousands of other African villages, hamlets, and towns.
Was it wisdom or expediency, in fashioning the security protocols for the DPA, that led to such a consequential decision concerning the neutralizing of the Janjaweed? Here we should recall that Khartoum first promised, as it has many times since, to disarm the Janjaweed on July 3, 2004 in a Joint Communiqu signed in Khartoum by the regime and then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Why did de Waal and others believe that the DPA would produce in the regime a different, more compliant attitude? The Janjaweed remained, and continue even now, to be the most potent instrument of genocidal destruction (if often re-cycled into other paramilitary forces). Indeed, as de Waal notes in his book with Flint, the ambitions of the Janjaweed were articulated all too clearly in a directive from the most notorious of the militia leaders, Musa Hilal: “Change the demography of Darfur and empty it of African tribes.” As de Waal and Flint also note, Hilal’s particularly telling instructions were sent not only to his own forces but to no fewer than three of Khartoum’s ruthlessly efficient “intelligence services” (“Darfur: A Short History of a Long War,” 2005, page 39).
We should also recall that the UN Security Council “demanded” that the Janjaweed be disarmed and its leaders brought to justice in Resolution 1556 (July 30, 2004). Instead, the only Janjaweed leader to be indicted by the International Criminal Court (per the authority of UN Security Council Resolution 1593, March 2005), the notorious Ali Kushyb, was recently released by Khartoum’s Ministry of Justice for “lack of evidence,” despite ICC lead prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s insistence that he has an extraordinary volume of evidence.
Ahmed Haroun, Khartoum’s current humanitarian affairs minister, was also indicted by the ICC for atrocity crimes in Darfur. For his behavior, Haroun was recently appointed by Khartoum to investigate precisely such atrocity crimes, including in Darfur. Moreno-Ocampo has been reduced to strenuous public pleading for justice and accountability, particularly in the case of Haroun. But this is finally desperation on Moreno-Ocampo’s part. He is of course right to condemn the silence over justice issues in recent reports by current Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. But this silence is simply more of an entirely predictable expediency from the UN and an international community that has no stomach to confront Khartoum’s gnocidaires. The price of admission for the UN/AU “hybrid” force authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 1769 is accommodating Khartoum’s claims of national sovereignty, and its continued contempt for the ICC, and its clear determination to control the terms of deployment of the “hybrid” force. Shamefully, this price has been willingly accepted (see below for an assessment of the specifics of current 1769 deployment).
The National Islamic Front security cabal has exacted similar expediency from the international community in responding to the long-festering crisis in Southern Sudan. For despite considerable diplomatic investment in the north/south peace effort, the world has for more than two and a half years turned a largely blind eye to developments in the South. This is so even as Khartoum has made ever clearer its determination not to be bound by the terms of the January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. This relentless bad faith, by a regime that maintains a stranglehold on Sudanese national wealth and power despite the existence of a nominal “Government of National Unity (GNU),” recently provoked the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) to withdraw from this tyrannical relationship and insist on a number of concrete commitments before returning.
The SPLM demanded no more than what is explicitly stipulated in the CPA. But with the international community evidently unable to attend simultaneously to two intertwining Sudanese crises, Khartoum has rightly calculated that for all the diplomatic investment in securing the CPA, there would be no international will to see through its implementation. This portends a catastrophic return to war. For ultimately the goal of the regime is to collapse the CPA at an auspicious moment, and deny the people of Southern Sudan the self-determination referendum that is the cornerstone of the CPA. This canniness in reneging on agreements has been replicated in Khartoum’s response to the nominal requirements of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), as well as to the various demands made of the regime, including explicit demands by the United Nations Security Council.
JUDGING THE NATIONAL ISLAMIC FRONT BY CPA COMPLIANCE
What happens if we assume that the same regime slated to negotiate with Darfur’s rebels in Libya later this month is the same regime that agreed to the various protocols in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)? What happens if we look at the explicit language of the CPA, the terms of agreement specifically ratified by signatories for the National Islamic Front regime and the SPLM on January 9, 2005, in Nairobi, Kenya? What reason is there for believing that any agreement for Darfur will mean more to Khartoum than the agreement with the southern SPLM?
Key issues in the CPA can be grouped as power-sharing, wealth-sharing, security arrangements, and border demarcation. Other issues, such as the badly lagging census—undermined by Khartoum’s refusal to fund or properly organize this critical electoral effort—usually relate directly to one of these four categories. Thus if there is to be equitable power-sharing in Sudan, by means of the 2009 national elections explicitly contemplated in the CPA, then there must be a well-funded census, conforming to the specific needs of demographic assessment in a country as racially, ethnically, religiously, and geographically diverse as Sudan.
But in its October 11, 2007 Communiqu concerning Khartoum’s failure to implement the CPA, the SPLM speaks all too fully and eloquently for itself in pointing out the multiple instances of reneging and refusal to move forward with the explicit terms of the CPA. It is a devastating and comprehensive indictment of Khartoum’s bad faith, all supported fully, at every point, by the language of the CPA, thus providing the necessary context for understanding what the regime intends when it signs agreements:
“The SPLM Interim Political Bureau noted with abundant evidence that some elements within the National Congress Party (NCP) [the National Islamic Front] behave as if they want to absolve themselves from their commitments under the CPA. The main objective of the CPA and the Interim National Constitution is to create a middle ground in which all parties compete freely within the bounds of that Constitution. Attempts to retain pre-CPA laws and institutions undermine that objective. This attitude is neither conducive to the effective implementation of the CPA nor to genuine partnership.”
“During the last two years, there were repeated declarations by the NCP to the media and foreign visitors that 90% of the CPA has been implemented. This cannot be dismissed as a statistical error. Indeed, it becomes a question of good faith when the contested issues are ones on whose resolution peace may either stand or fall. Those issues include non-implementation of critical aspects of the Agreement, or acts that either offend the Agreement or violate the Interim National Constitution. Some of those actions also make a mockery of partnership or of the democratic transformation envisaged in the CPA.”
“At the top of the issues relating to the implementation of the Agreement stand the following:
 Abyei Protocol, especially non-acceptance of Abyei Boundary Commission (ABC) Report [July 2005] by the NCP and its continued frustration of all the efforts to implement the Protocol. [Abyei was the last contentious issue supposedly resolved by the CPA; Khartoum’s refusal to accept the findings of the ABC ensures that the region remains extremely volatile, and the most likely flashpoint for renewed north/south conflict—ER]
 Security Arrangements, especially as they relate to:
*Failure to redeploy Sudan Armed Forces [Khartoum’s regular military forces] out of Southern Sudan and Abyei;
*New deployments of Sudan Armed Forces south of 1956 borders, e.g. Khafia Kenji, Hufrat Al Nihas;
*Continuation of support for militia groups;
*Failure to reduce troops to peace time levels in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States by 9th July 2007;
*Failure to integrate, train and equip the Joint Integrated Units [the JIU’s were to have been the primary source of security in regions where both SAF and SPLA troops are present—ER];
*Continuation of presence of the so-called oil protection forces in the oil fields in Southern Sudan;
 Lack of transparency in oil sector management and marketing.
*Lack of implementation of National Reconciliation and Healing as part of peace building process as per provisions of the CPA and Interim National Constitution;
*Lack of implementation of CPA provisions relating to harmonizing the Pre-CPA parties administrations, resulting in existing tension in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States;
*Inadequate funding of North/South Border Committee resulting in delay of border demarcation;
*Failure to effect the reshuffle in the Government of National Unity as presented by Chairman of the SPLM. [Khartoum has for months refused to accept the right of the SPLM, fully explicit in the CPA, to determine its own representation in the government, including the ministerial positions. The effort to remove the despicable Lam Akol from the position of Foreign Minister was pointedly rejected by NIF President Omar al-Bashir until faced with the suspension of SPLM participation in the GONU—ER];
 As regards to persistent actions offensive to the CPA and Interim National Constitution by the NCP component of the Government of National Unity, we register the following:
*Unlawful detention by Khartoum law enforcement agencies of citizens, including SPLM cadres and members without regard to the rights of those citizens inherent in the Constitution. Of note, are the recent raids on the premises in Khartoum of the SPLM and SPLA/JDB contingent drawn from SPLA coupled with the unacceptable desecration of the photograph of our National Hero, John Garang de Mabior. In addition, the banning of peaceful demonstrations by political forces, detention without trial of opposition leaders, censorship of the press, public statements by senior police officers on highly politicized issues which is tantamount to indiscipline and open defiance by the Minister of Interior to the CPA and the INC regarding the lines of demarcation between national and state Police powers; [ ]
*Frustration of legal procedures by the Minister of Justice, and his partisan and high-handed handling of cases related to non-NCP members, including the SPLM.
*Political influence on the Judiciary in handling cases against the non-NCP members, contrary to Article 123 (2) of the Interim National Constitution that calls for the independence of the Judiciary;
*Harassment and expulsion of diplomats including the Special Representative of UN Secretary-General without consulting the SPLM, the major partner, and the uncalled for statements by NCP ministers against International Organizations and foreign leaders in a way that negatively impacts on Sudan’s foreign policy; [ ]
*Persistent attempts to frustrate the Assessment and Evaluation Commission and render it ineffectual, despite its crucial role in overseeing the implementation of the CPA as an INDEPENDENT body as per the provisions of the Machakos Protocol. These include intimidation and curtailment of free movement of its members; particularly its Chairman, Ambassador Tom Vraalsen.” [ ]
This massive and fully justified indictment of Khartoum’s bad faith provides the inevitable context for assessing Khartoum’s nominal commitment to permit deployment of the UN/AU “hybrid” force.
DEPLOYMENT OF THE UN/AU “HYBRID” FORCE: CURRENT STATUS
Even modest attention to the current status of the force authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 1769 (July 31, 2007) should be the occasion for considerable alarm. Seventy-nine days after authorization, the UN/African Union Mission in Sudan (UNAMID) is troublingly belated, has already encountered serious resistance from Khartoum, and faces a potentially crippling failure by militarily capable Western nations to provide key force elements, in particular tactical and transport helicopters, as well as significant ground transport resources. Moreover, the issue of which troop-contributing nations will be accepted by Khartoum continues to exacerbate planning problems.
Khartoum’s present efforts at obstruction are partly reflected in UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s bland noting that “the United Nations is continuing its efforts with the Government of the Sudan to resolve the outstanding issues pertaining to land agreements, use of heavy aircraft, and permission to conduct night flying throughout all three Darfur States” (October 8, 2007 Report of the Secretary General to the Security Council on deployment of the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur).
The Report continues:
“The implementation timeline for UNAMID is being delayed owing to the challenges encountered in efforts to obtain land for the construction of UNAMID offices and accommodation in Darfur, as well as delays in obtaining feedback regarding the list of troop-contributing countries submitted to the Government of Sudan. It is of critical importance that the Government extend the support and cooperation necessary to resolve the issues pertaining to land, landing rights for UN aircraft and the finalization of the list of troop-contributing countries.
But as the UN News Center reports (October 8, 2007):
“the mission does not yet have agreement for the land needed to facilitate the deployment of the heavy support package, a transition phase between the current AU mission and UNAMID.”
Without adequate allocation of land and water resources, deployment will be impossible. Significant delays are already creeping into a deployment schedule that is marked by only nebulous benchmarks:
“Known as UNAMID, the UN/African Mission in Darfur is scheduled to have its management, command and control structures in place by this month. And by the end of December, it was expected to take over operations from AMIS, which has been in Darfur since 2004.” (Inter Press Service [dateline: United Nations/New York], October 2, 2007)
It is also too easy to imagine these benchmarks being fulfilled by symbolic gestures rather than meaningful changes in the force on the ground. Indeed, General Martin Agwai of Nigeria, the designated UNAMID force commander, recently declared that “there would be at most 8,000 troops in Darfur by January —only 1,000 more than the current force: ‘Facing the reality, how many African countries can provide troops that can fully sustain themselves here [in Darfur]?'” (Associated Press [dateline: el-Fasher, North Darfur], October 2, 2007)
Agwai asks the right question here—and the obvious answer is, “exceedingly few.” This is the price being paid for a “hybrid” force that is “predominantly African” in make-up.
The ability to fly at night is also critical and yet Khartoum is evidently balking, even as it has imposed gratuitous and restrictive curfews on the presently deployed African Union mission in Darfur. Khartoum has also consistently denied fuel for AU aircraft: last year the Washington Post ([dateline: Gereida, South Darfur], September 14, 2006) reported:
“This week, the government [of Sudan] seized a tanker full of African Union jet fuel in El Fasher and used it to fill its own military aircraft, African Union sources said, speaking on condition their names not be published.”
At the same time, the New York Times reported:
“At the airstrip next to the headquarters of the African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur in El Fasher [North Darfur], the first job of the day for the workers who keep the mission’s helicopters running is to check how much jet fuel is missing. Some days it is just dozens of gallons. Sometimes it is hundreds. At sundown, African Union soldiers must turn over control of the airstrip to the Sudanese government, whose troops guard the airfield all night. In the morning, the fuel is gone, according to senior African Union officials and airfield workers.” (New York Times [dateline: Tawilla, North Darfur], September 8, 2006)
There is no change of character within the Khartoum regime, no greater willingness to accommodate the critically needed security force in Darfur. Negotiations over night flights (critical for 24-hour medical evacuations required by a number of countries), land use, aviation landing rights, fuel supplies, troop composition—all will be ongoing issues, and will provide the means for continual delays and attrition.
But just as significant as these problems is the refusal of militarily capable nations to provide key aviation and ground-haul resources. Head of UN Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guehenno has repeatedly declared that,
“the peacekeeping mission needs at least 24 helicopters: 18 transport helicopters and eight tactical helicopters. Darfur is a big place with a scattered population. ‘If we want to ensure the protection of civilians, we need mobility and firepower,’ [Guehenno] said. Asked about a timeline for deployment, in what is considered a militarily volatile environment, Guehenno said it will take several months into 2008 ‘to reach full capacity.’ ‘If we do not have force enablers by early 2008,’ including well-equipped infantry battalions, ‘I will be concerned.'” (Inter Press Service [dateline UN/New York], October 8, 2007)
The US and European countries—including the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and the Benelux countries—have all failed to commit these resources, including the two companies of heavy ground transport:
“[UN DPKO] said the force, which will replace the existing, overwhelmed AU force of 7,000 troops, still lacked 24 transport and attack helicopters and two transportation companies that UN officials say would best be supplied by developed states. Western diplomats say NATO and other militarily advanced countries are already heavily committed elsewhere, such as in Afghanistan, but also have concerns about the command-and-control of the Darfur force, known as UNAMID.” (Reuters [dateline: UN/New York], October 11, 2007)
Of such delays and shirking, a hopelessly compromised force will be fashioned.
Yet the dilatory schedule seemed of no concern to US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte in a press conference at the UN (September 21, 2007):
“[The US is] hopeful that [UNAMID] can be deployed sometime by the spring of next year because it’s an absolutely crucial ingredient of establishing the kind of stability that is going to permit the implementation of the other aspects of the Darfur peace agreement.”
Of course there is no “Darfur peace agreement” other than the disaster negotiated in Abuja, and only the dimmest prospect that a better agreement will be negotiated in Libya later this month. But dismayingly the US State Department seems untroubled by the glaring shortcomings of the Abuja agreement. Indeed, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer—an embarrassment to diplomacy and the personification of Bush administration incompetence in dealing with Sudan—declared in recent Congressional testimony (October 3, 2007) that “the Darfur Peace Agreement is a fair agreement which addresses the core grievances of the people of Darfur.” This is extreme disingenuousness—on issues of compensation, reconstruction, power-sharing, and above all on security (there are no credible guarantors of security provisions in the DPA; see my assessment in The New Republic, “Why Abuja Won’t Save Darfur,” May 10, 2006 at http://www.sudanreeves.org/Sections-article565-p1.html).
But disingenuousness is a lot cheaper than honestly confronting the military demands of a force to protect civilians endangered by what President Bush just last month described at the UN as continuing genocide in Darfur. The Washington Post reports:
“UN officials said Guehenno and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will begin contacting heads of states and senior officials in Africa, Europe and elsewhere that possess advanced helicopters. The United States has made clear it will not provide the helicopters.” (Washington Post [dateline: UN/New York], October 10, 2007)
If the US will not help to provide the required helicopters—either directly or through grants or loans to countries with trained pilots—it is simply impossible to credit public comments such as those of Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte: “[the UNAMIS force] is an absolutely crucial ingredient of establishing the kind of stability that is going to permit the implementation of the other aspects of the Darfur peace agreement.”
THE PROSPECTS FOR PEACE AND THE LIBYAN NEGOTIATIONS
There is an entirely unjustified claim by commentators such as de Waal and Flint to have recognized, uniquely, that a political settlement is indispensable to any meaningful peace or any truly adequate level of security in Darfur. But no one who follows Darfur closely imagines it to be otherwise. The excesses of some American and international advocacy efforts to simplify Darfur finally do little to obscure this basic truth, even for those feckless Western nations that speak so passionately about the agony of Darfur while investing so little in efforts to halt it.
But this fundamental truth about the need for a peace agreement must still accommodate the realities of the NIF regime, and here de Waal and Flint have precious little of value to offer in suggesting how Khartoum can be pressured to participate with the good faith that was so clearly lacking in both negotiating and implementing the Abuja agreement. On present diplomatic terms, the Libyan talks seem headed for an immediate stalemate, with Khartoum cleaving insistently to the Abuja agreement, even as the rebel movements, particularly the less representative Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), have in mind something much closer to the north/south CPA. But there is considerable support for this negotiating starting point from factions within the SLA/M as well. Moreover, there is some indication that Suleiman Jamous is enjoying at least partial success in moving SLA rebels under a common banner:
“Suleiman Jamous, a leading figure in SLA-Unity, told Reuters: ‘We are trying to get the Sudan Liberation Army back under one banner if possible. We are contacting field commanders across the region.’ He said fighting units previously loyal to other SLA faction leaders including [Abdel Wahid] el-Nur and Ahmed Abdel Shafie had joined the new unified group. Jamous also claimed a number of defections from the SLA faction run by Minni Arcua Minnawi—the only rebel leader to sign up to a failed peace agreement with Sudan in 2006.” (Reuters [dateline: Juba, South Sudan], October 15, 2007)
For the talks to succeed, however, the voices of those in the camps for displaced persons, those suffering on the ground, must be afforded a much more significant role in the negotiations. Here Laurie Nathan is precisely right to insist that there has been far too little effort by the AU and the UN to represent the conflict-affected civilian populations of Darfur:
“[Currently, it appears that the AU/UN mediators will draw from their consultations with Darfur’s non-rebel groups to bring their positions into the talks in Libya. Some experts say this will not produce a process that is inclusive enough.] ‘It is completely disingenuous to imagine that you can satisfy people who want their voices heard by acting as a proxy on their behalf when the stakes are survival,’ says Laurie Nathan, a research fellow at the University of Cape Town who was a member of the AU mediation team during the Abuja peace talks.” (Council on Foreign Relations backgrounder on Darfur, October 11, 2007)
The venue for the talks—Muamar Ghadaffi’s hometown of Sirte, Libya—is hardly auspicious for such civilian participation, particularly when we consider the destructive role Libya under Ghadaffi has played for decades in both eastern Chad and Darfur, with complete contempt for Darfuri civilian lives reflected in Libya’s arming of various militia and insurgency groups on both sides of the border, with murderous consequences. Many of the current Janjaweed forces in Darfur were in fact first armed by Ghadaffi years prior to the outbreak of major hostilities in Darfur. But despite explicit advice, from extremely well-informed human rights and humanitarian experts, against accepting an anticipated recommendation of Libya as a negotiating venue, Ban Ki-moon accepted with unthinking alacrity precisely this recommendation from NIF President Omar al-Bashir in September.
Such ignorant stubbornness on Ban’s part comports all too well with the painfully familiar declaration from his special envoy for Darfur, Jan Eliasson, that this is the “moment of truth” for the rebels in Darfur (Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], October 11, 2007). For of course the phrase “moment of truth” has been dutifully hauled out on any number of occasions in the past four years. But it will be a “moment of truth” for Darfur only if the international community commits meaningfully to pressuring Khartoum, which has an unerring nose for expediency and sanctimonious declarations that are hollow at the core.
Khartoum will be persuaded that the international community is serious only if deployment of the force authorized by Resolution 1769 is clearly under UN command, and that obstructionism by the regime will be met with harshly punishing sanctions. The Chapter 7 authority of the resolution should be used to maximum effect, with the clear threat of a willingness to use military force against any armed elements that impede deployment or operations of the authorized force. Selection of the components of the deploying force must rest squarely with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations; Jean-Marie Guehenno, head of UN DPKO, should insist that the AU have only an advisory role in the final selection of troops and civilian police. Critically, the militarily capable Western nations that have been scandalously laggard in providing key transport, logistical, and aviation resources must be urgently forthcoming. Civilian police and military observers should be deployed on a highly expedited basis to the most insecure and volatile areas, with adequate military protection.
On the political front, China must be convinced to cease protecting its client state from real diplomatic pressure; here advocacy efforts focusing on Beijing’s hosting of the 2008 Summer Olympics have been much more effective than Western governments. European nations must be prepared to suspend diplomatic relations in the event that Khartoum cleaves to its obstructionist ways, and should also be prepared to impose economic sanctions as robust as those of the US.
There are certainly no shortcuts to peace, and a meaningful agreement will take considerable time. The basic truth is offered by David Mozersky of the International Crisis Group:
“[Calls for patience and reduced expectations are nearly universal.] ‘This is not going to be a quick and easy peace process,’ says Mozersky. ‘The peacemaking strategy must reflect the reality on the ground.'” (Council on Foreign Relations backgrounder on Darfur, October 11, 2007)
But this is no reason not to push for much more rapid deployment of UNAMID, particularly civilian police (where the AU is weakest) and military observers. For of course the “reality on the ground” has only deteriorated for the past three and a half years, and particularly since the signing of the DPA in May 2006—certainly in the challenges presented to deployment of military forces to protect civilians and humanitarians. And the situation gives every sign of deteriorating further in the absence of much more rapid deployment of a protection force.
Here again we should bear in mind the essential point made by Human Rights Watch’s Darfur researcher Leslie Lefkow: “there was definitely a lost opportunity for a robust intervention in 2004, when the situation was clearer in terms of the number and nature of the armed groups” (New York Times [dateline: Nairobi], October 14, 2007).
In the shameful interim, Khartoum has ensured that the conditions on the ground in Darfur are as poorly conducive to peacemaking in Libya as to deployment of the UNAMID force in Darfur itself. For of course the status quo ensures that this barbaric regime triumphs by means of a terrible genocide by attrition. And unless there is an immediate effort to accelerate protection for Darfur, we will look back three years hence in the same way Lefkow now reflects on conditions obtaining in 2004.