Recent massive civilian displacement and destruction in West Darfur, orchestrated by the National Islamic Front regime in Khartoum, has been amply chronicled by UN and nongovernmental humanitarian organizations, as well as by journalists on the ground (see especially an excellent overview by Lydia Polgreen of the New York Times, “Scorched-Earth Strategy Returns to Darfur” [dateline: Suleia, West Darfur], March 2, 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/02/world/africa/02darfur.html?em&ex=1204693200&en=d7ed1f3a93bc9c6f&ei=5087%0A. See also my two recent analyses of this brutal campaign at
http://www.sudanreeves.org/Article205.html and http://www.sudanreeves.org/Article204.html). Hundreds have been killed or died as a result of the violence and subsequent flight. Some 60,000 people have been newly displaced, more than 13,000 of these into a highly insecure region of Eastern Chad. Some 20,000 civilians are effectively trapped in the mountainous Jebel Moun region to the east of the initial assaults, and are prey to Khartoum’s ongoing bombing attacks, as well as ground attacks by regular army forces and Janjaweed militias.
The ethnically-targeted destruction against the Erenga and Massaleit people of the region bears all the hallmarks of previous genocidal attacks against civilians, particularly in the years 2003-2004, though never ceasing entirely (and diminishing only because the vast majority of all African villages had been destroyed). A UN assessment team in the towns and villages north of el-Geneina, capital of West Darfur, found that, “in addition to the burning of homes,schools, clinics, water systems and aid agencies’ compounds had either been looted or destroyed” (Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], March 3, 2008). The UN News Center (March 3, 2008) also speaks of the UN assessment team finding that “in the towns of Sirba and Sileah many homes were burned and health clinics, schools, water systems, and aid agency compounds had been either looted or destroyed.” Such systematic, comprehensive, ethnically-targeted destruction is genocidal in character.
The New York Times’ Polgreen, reporting on the “brutal, three-pronged attacks [ ] involving close coordination of air power, army troops and Arab militias” that defined the most violent phase of the genocide, gives a grim on-the-ground account of Khartoum’s resumption of these barbaric tactics:
“Aid workers, diplomats and analysts say the return of such attacks is an ominous sign that the fighting in Darfur, which has grown more complex and confusing as it has stretched on for five years, is entering a new and deadly phase—one in which the government is planning a scorched-earth campaign against the rebel groups fighting here as efforts to find a negotiated peace founder. The government has carried out a series of coordinated attacks in recent weeks, using air power, ground forces and, according to witnesses and peacekeepers stationed in the area, the janjaweed, as their allied militias are known here.” (New York Times [dateline: Suleia, West Darfur], March 2, 2008).
Water sources are again a prime target in the destruction of livelihoods. Just as wells and water bore-holes have in the past been systematically bombed or poisoned with human and animal corpses, those now returning following Khartoum’s campaign of civilian destruction (in this case in the town of Sirba) have “new problems”:
“Two of five water pumps and the main water loading system had been destroyed. Women seeking water from less clean sources were attacked by marauders still nearby. Some were raped.” (Reuters [dateline: Sirba], February 22, 2008).
Nor were humanitarian facilities spared: “‘A lot of [nongovernmental humanitarian organizations] and humanitarian compounds were raided and a number of the NGOs also had their staff members killed,’ [UN humanitarian coordinator for Sudan Ameerah Haq] said” (Agence France-Presse [dateline: Khartoum], March 3, 2008).
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) offered a public statement on February 18, 2008 outlining the scale of destruction wrought by Khartoum’s ground and air forces, along with its Janjaweed militia allies, as well as the extent of civilian displacement and suffering in the corridor north of el-Geneina:
“Rapid assessments have revealed severe consequences from the violence for some 160,000 civilians in the northern corridor connecting El Geneina and Kulbus, including the 20,000 currently at risk in Jebel Moun. The civilian population has experienced widespread displacement, property damage, and significant trauma and loss of life. Approximately 57,000 civilians were displaced due to the offensive. Along with countless homes, many compounds of non-governmental organizations have been looted or destroyed. Thousands of civilians have arrived in already overstretched IDP camps near El Geneina or across the border into neighbouring Chad.”
IMPLICATIONS OF THE WEST DARFUR MILITARY CAMPAIGN
The question the international community must ask itself is at once obvious and fundamental to any resolution of the Darfur conflict: What gives Khartoum the confidence to engage in the worst sort of atrocity crimes before the very eyes of the international community? What convinces this regime that it may continue to defy numerous UN Security Council resolutions, as well as the nominal authority of the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), authorized by Security Council Resolution 1769 in July 2007? Why have exhortations from the UN Secretary-General, UN humanitarian organizations, and distinguished human rights organizations been so utterly inconsequential? This in turn forces the corollary question: Why have various powerful members of the international community refused to speak out forcefully against Khartoum’s actions, knowing that their silence will be construed as acquiescence?
[These questions could, and should, be asked in the context of Khartoum’s evident use of the Abyei crisis in southern Sudan as a pretext for resumed north/south civil war, a war that will quickly engulf all of Sudan, with catastrophic consequences for the people of Sudan and the region as a whole. See, for example, a very recent UN dispatch, http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EVOD-7CDJ7D?OpenDocument, a superb column by Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times (“A Genocide Foretold,” February 28, 2008), http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/28/opinion/28kristof.html?em&ex=1204347600&en=77af6a414e7439a1&ei=5087%0A], and a detailed study from the ENOUGH Project by Roger Winter and John Prendergast (“Abyei: Sudan’s ‘Kashmir,'” http://www.enoughproject.org/abyei).]
Although the history of Sudan during the past 19 years of National Islamic Front tyranny yields various explanations of the regime’s defiance, and involves many actors, nothing does more to account for the extraordinary confidence of Khartoum in resuming large-scale genocidal destruction than the unrivaled diplomatic, military, and economic support that comes from China. Even support from the Arab League, and from altogether too many countries in Africa, can’t work to explain the regime’s brazen contempt for international law and international institutions. Without protection from China, in various forms, Khartoum would have long since faced the distinct possibility of consequential punitive actions.
To be sure, the relation between recent violence in Darfur and the complex military and political realities across the border in Chad does much to account for the timing of the current West Darfur offensive (see a superb account by Jerome Tubiana, “Echo Effects: Chadian Instability and the Darfur Conflict,” Small Arms Survey, February 2008, http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/files/portal/spotlight/sudan/sudan_publications.html). But only the strongest possible insulation from international pressure, of the sort repeatedly provided by Beijing at the Security Council, can account for the obdurate defiance shown by Khartoum, not only in resuming its genocidal counter-insurgency military campaign, but in contemptuously ignoring a raft of UN Security Council resolutions (see below). Again, this does nothing to mitigate the failure of countries such as the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, African countries, Latin American countries, the Benelux countries, and many others: the voices of these countries have been all too silent, or exceedingly tepid, in responding to massive violations of international humanitarian law. But it is China that has singular influence with the regime by virtue of its unstinting and critically important economic, political, and military support.
CHINA’S DARFUR PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGN IN HIGH GEAR
Conscious that the image of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing has already been seriously damaged by advocacy efforts highlighting China’s role in sustaining the Darfur genocide, China is energetically engaged in a propaganda campaign to recast itself as a “friend of Darfur.” The primary instruments of this propaganda campaign have been diplomatic efforts at home and abroad, and a prodigious stream of “news” reports that deliberately distort or patently misrepresent China’s role in the Darfur crisis. The spokesman for China’s distortions is special envoy for Sudan, Liu Guijin. Close examination of scores of dispatches from Xinhua, the state-controlled Chinese “news agency,” reveals a number of distinct themes, particularly in Liu’s statements. Unchallenged, Beijing will be encouraged to believe that it can succeed in shedding its larger responsibility for Darfur by a disingenuous representation of critical issues.
 China argues that deployment of the UN-authorized UNAMID force is being held up by merely “technical” problems.
Liu recently declared, “Of course, there are still some technical problems [with the deployment of the peacekeepers], but what China thinks is that we cannot politicize the technical problems” (Associated Press [dateline: Khartoum], February 24, 2008).
This is not only a highly misleading characterization of the obstacles to UNAMID deployment, but an exceedingly dangerous one, absolving Khartoum of responsibility for having made what is by all accounts precisely a political decision to obstruct the UN/AU force. This was the explicit conclusion of the British ambassador to the UN, John Sawyers, following a January 6, 2008 briefing of the Security Council by head of UN peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guhenno (Deutsche Presse Agentur [dateline: UN/New York], January 9, 2008). It is certainly the conclusion within the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UN DPKO).
There is nothing “technical”—and everything political—in Khartoum’s refusal to accept the UN-proposed roster of troop-, engineering-, and civilian police-contributing countries. The regime’s refusal to accept an engineering battalion from Sweden and Norway, special forces units from Nepal, and a fully-equipped battalion from Thailand reflect nothing other than a political decision to deny UNAMID the personnel determined by UN DPKO to be essential for an effective mission in Darfur.
Khartoum accepted deployment of UNAMID on the basis of its having a “predominantly African in character.” This is not the same as a force “exclusively African in character,” and yet that is what Khartoum now insists upon. For this reason, UN Secretary-General is left to continue his complaint that:
“With respect to the critical issue of the composition of the force, and the list of troop-contributing countries sent by the United Nations and the African Union to the Government of the Sudan on 2 October 2007, [National Islamic Front President Omar al-Bashir’s] response was not definitive. While the African Union and the United Nations are committed to continuing these discussions with the Government of the Sudan, the primary objective of the two organizations remains to deploy a balanced and impartial force, with the required capabilities and readiness to deploy in a timely manner. We have also sought to assemble a force which would unquestionably meet the ‘African character’ criteria referred to in resolution 1769 (2007). Troop-contributing countries now require urgent confirmation from the Government of the Sudan that their contributions to UNAMID are welcome. The speed of UNAMID deployment depends critically on this issue being resolved as soon as possible.” (“Report of the Secretary-General on the Deployment of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur,” paragraph 47, February 14, 2008)
For China to describe this defiant refusal to accept troops per the terms of a UN Security Council resolution as a “technical problem” reveals the deeply disingenuous character of Beijing’s diplomacy. Nothing could do more to encourage Khartoum to remain defiant, and thus obstruct in critical ways the appropriately sequenced deployment of personnel required by UNAMID. Lack of engineering resources has been particularly consequential, forcing unconscionable delays in the deployment of troops and civilian police for lack of barracks, water supplies, operations centers, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure.
 Beijing asserts that here are no “differences in principle” between China and the US government on Darfur policy, only “differences in approach.”
But the claim by China is belied in the same Xinhua dispatch ([dateline: Khartoum], February 27, 2008):
“‘For China, we oppose sanctions and embargoes because we think if others impose sanctions and embargoes against a certain nation, the consequence would be the suffering of the people. Sanction and embargo can’t solve the problems,’ said Liu.”
Liu deliberately confuses the comprehensive sanctions that have long been imposed by the United States with current call for targeted sanctions—those that would impose travel restrictions and asset freezes on members of the regime responsible for violations of international law and who have ignored the demands of various UN Security Council resolutions. But most significantly, by sending Khartoum the signal that there will be no consequences, no punitive actions, no matter how blatant the regime’s non-compliance, Beijing gives the green light to the massive atrocity crimes we’ve seen recently in West Darfur, as well as the relentless obstruction of UNAMID. Knowing full well the consequences of China’s categorical rejection of punitive measures, Khartoum feels it has nothing to fear from the UN Security Council.
The same dynamic was in evidence this past December when Britain introduced a toughly worded Presidential Statement at the Security Council, demanding that Khartoum turn over two gnocidaires to the International Criminal Court. The first, Ahmed Haroun, who, in a grotesque bit of irony, now serves in Khartoum’s ministry of humanitarian affairs, is accused of having directly orchestrated many of the vicious crimes documented by the UN and independent human rights organizations in Darfur. Similarly, Ali Kushayb, a Janjaweed militia leader, is deeply implicated in the most egregious violations of international law—targeted ethnic slaughter, mass destruction of African villages, and the use of rape as a weapon of war among them.
The Presidential Statement should have easily passed: the evidence against both men is overwhelming, and because of UN Security Council Resolution 1593, the ICC has jurisdiction over the matter. What ended up happening, though, was all too familiar. China threatened to veto the non-binding declaration unless its language was essentially gutted, and rather than force the issue, Britain, France, Italy, and the US—as well as the other Security Council members—quietly decided to drop the matter. As a result, not only will Haroun and Kushayb remain free, but the regime in Khartoum will feel that it can block the extradition of those subsequently accused by the Court. (See my assessment of this cowardly episode in Security Council behavior, and China’s role more broadly within the UN, at http://www.sudanreeves.org/Article197.html).
 China has also consistently misrepresented, or simply remained silent about, the extent of Darfur’s vast humanitarian crisis, as well as the significance of its own indifferent response to this crisis:
[a] Despite the horrific human realities in Darfur, reported by the United Nations as well as many of the world’s most distinguished nongovernmental humanitarian organizations, China refuses to speak honestly about these realities. Sometimes the representations are reminiscent of crude Maoist era propaganda. A recent Xinhua dispatch ([dateline: Khartoum], March 2, 2008) reports:
“Whenever a Chinese team came to the tribe, the leader of the tribe camp would go to collect water and food from door to door for their Chinese friends. Although the food was quite simple, sometimes even hard to swallow, the Chinese workers always enjoyed it and spent many heart-warming nights in the villagers’ shanties. [ ] Sometimes, the Chinese drilling team felt quite sorry when they found that a well with clean drinking water could never be found in some villages.”
No mention is made of the paltry scale of Chinese humanitarian assistance in Darfur. Nor is any mention made of the fact that so many water sources in Darfur have been destroyed or compromised by Khartoum’s regular forces and its Janjaweed allies. Countless wells have been poisoned by human and animal corpses. Wells and water sources have been relentlessly targeted by Khartoum’s Antonov bombers. And the Janjaweed, in addition to acts of violent destruction and poisoning, have often denied civilian access to water points, and have raped women and girls seeking to collect water for desperate families. Overwhelmingly, the people of Darfur despise, indeed hate the Chinese, well aware of China’s role in their ongoing torment and destruction. The “heart-warming nights” the Xinhua dispatch contrives are purely propagandistic creations.
[b] In an especially grim bit of grotesquerie, Chinese special representative for Darfur Liu cites National Islamic Front President al-Bashir on humanitarian conditions in Darfur (Xinhua [dateline: Khartoum], February 27, 2008):
“Liu quoted al-Bashir as saying that the Sudanese government is also devoted to improving the humanitarian situation in Darfur and has been trying best to facilitate humanitarian assistance by international aid groups.”
This absurd proposition has the advantage of being an assertion by al-Bashir, not Liu himself. But without any correction, it stands as an assertion that Liu credits. And yet as has been repeatedly reported by the most senior UN humanitarian officials, Khartoum has engaged in a systematic campaign of harassment, intimidation, and abuse of humanitarian workers and officials. This abuse continues to the present, with humanitarian workers on the ground now facing unprecedented levels of abuse, intimidation, and other tactics that have brought morale among these courageous individuals to new lows.
Far from seeking to help humanitarian organizations, al-Bashir and his junta have gone out of their way to demonize these organizations as “Zionist” fronts, given to overstating humanitarian problems to raise money, serving nefarious Western interests, and deliberately misrepresenting conditions on the ground. These views were more bluntly expressed by al-Bashir earlier in the crisis, but have not changed in the interim:
“The charges are the latest by Khartoum against international humanitarian organisations in the Darfur region. [ ] In October , Sudanese President Omar el-Beshir launched an attack on aid agencies in the region, calling them enemies. ‘Organizations operating in Darfur are the real enemies,’ the president [said]. And earlier in May , Sudanese Interior Minister Abdul Rahim Hussein accused a number of aid organizations of supporting ethnic minority rebels in the region, [claiming] that they ‘used humanitarian operations as a cover for carrying out a hidden agenda and proved to have supported the rebellion in the past period.'” (Agence France Presse [dateline: Khartoum], March 20, 2005)
China of course has said nothing to correct such vicious and ongoing mendacity by al-Bashir and others in the regime. Nor has China acknowledged the scale of the humanitarian crisis that Khartoum has engineered. The most recent UN Darfur Humanitarian Profile (No. 29) presents the overwhelming statistics (conditions of October 1, 2007; there has been substantial deterioration in the subsequent five months): more than 4.2 million conflict-affected persons in need of humanitarian assistance; a dramatic decline in access to these desperately needy people since the signing of the ill-conceived and disastrously consummated Darfur Peace Agreement (May 2006); Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates rising, with all the areas sampled revealing GAM rates above the emergency threshold (a significant deterioration over the past year). This is the context in which Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao recently declared that Beijing “hoped the peace and development in Darfur can be maintained” (Xinhua [dateline: Beijing], February 28, 2008).
Even in matters of simple facts about humanitarian efforts in Darfur the Chinese are peculiarly inaccurate, or content to accept the accounts of the National Islamic Front. Xinhua ([dateline: Khartoum], February 27, 2008) reports:
“Currently, there are over 17,000 volunteers, including 2,000 foreigners, and more than 200 international aid groups in Darfur to provide assistance, according to [President al-Bashir].”
In fact, UN Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 29 reports 13,338 humanitarian staff in Darfur, with 890 expatriate workers. The Profile also reports 14 UN organizations and 75 nongovernmental organizations, not “200 international aid groups.” In accepting Khartoum’s representation of humanitarian conditions and figures defining the Darfur crisis, China presumably also accepts Khartoum’s adamant insistence that only 9,000 have died, from all causes, in the course of more than five years of genocidal counter-insurgency warfare. Certainly Beijing officials have never challenged this preposterous figure. All independent assessments of mortality put the figure in the hundreds of thousands (see my April/May 2006 mortality assessment at http://www.sudanreeves.org/Article102.html).
CHINA, UN AUTHORITY, AND WEAPONS TRANSFERS TO KHARTOUM
Essential to any understanding of Khartoum’s obduracy is the attitude of China itself towards both international humanitarian law and the terms of UN Security Council resolutions. China has not once made mention of Khartoum’s many well-documented violations of international law, including massive crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide. Moreover, while continually threatening to veto Security Council resolutions pertaining to Darfur, and flaunting its power as a veto-wielding Permanent Member, Beijing feels no obligation to encourage Khartoum to abide by the demands or terms of resolutions that have come into effect. Thus although the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur has repeatedly established Khartoum’s numerous violations of a range of Security Council resolutions, as have a number of human rights organizations, the reports of the Panel have had no effect on Chinese statements or actions (even as the Panel of Experts was itself established by the UN Security Council). Certainly China’s contempt for human rights and human rights organizations is well known, something Beijing shares with the Khartoum junta. But it is especially destructive of UN authority for an authorized Panel of Experts to be so systematically ignored by Beijing, even as such behavior is correspondingly encouraging of Khartoum’s defiance of international will.
In August 2006, the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur reported that it had:
“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 Defence 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)
Khartoum’s contempt for various obligations and commitments to the terms of the Darfur Peace Agreement, as well as to the UN, was further highlighted in this report by the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur:
“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)
We know that the movement of “weapons, ammunition, and other military equipment” into Darfur has been massive, and continues to be so. Indeed, a highly authoritative and well-placed source on the ground in Darfur reports to this writer (email received February 28, 2008) that a convoy of some 50 cargo trucks, loaded with weapons and munitions, recently moved from el-Fasher and Nyala to el-Geneina in West Darfur, as well as to the Kerenek area, where Chadian rebel groups attempting to seize power in N’Djamena are being rearmed by Khartoum.
China itself has over the course of the past decade and more been the primary supplier of weapons to Khartoum, though more recent purchases of extremely expensive fighter jets (including advanced MiG-29s) and helicopter gunships from Russia have moved to the forefront of the regime’s military expenditures. Chinese arms transfers to Sudan, ultimately for use in Darfur, have been the subject of investigation by both the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur and Amnesty International. Amnesty found in May 2007:
“The bulk [of the military and related equipment] was transferred from China and Russia, two Permanent Members of the Security Council. The governments of these supplier countries have been, or should have been, aware through the published and unpublished reports of the UN Panel of Experts to the UN Sanctions Committee on Sudan as well as the detailed report by Amnesty International published in November 2004 that several types of military equipment including aircraft have been deployed by the Sudanese armed forces and militia for direct attacks on civilians and indiscriminate attacks in Darfur, as well as for logistical support for these attacks.”
These aerial attacks on civilian targets are chronicled in immense and compelling detail in Amnesty’s report, “Sudan: Arms continuing to fuel serious human rights violations in Darfur,” May 8, 2007, Amnesty International Index: AFR 54/019/2007. Of particular concern are Chinese A-5 “Fantan” jets:
“Amnesty International is concerned that the Sudan Air Force has transferred these [A-5 “Fantan”] jet bombers to Darfur without authority from the UN Sanctions Committee and is highly likely to use these newly acquired jets, as it has other aircraft, and the acquisition of expertise to fly the jets supplied from China, for indiscriminate attacks in Darfur in violation of the UN arms embargo and international humanitarian law.”
Amnesty further reports that despite the February 2007 appeal from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (“I particularly deplore the aerial bombings by Sudanese government forces, which have expanded to new areas since 16 January , resulting in more civilians casualties and suffering”),
“Between January 2007 and March 2007, Chinese A-5 ‘Fantan’ jet fighters were seen parked at Nyala airport. These aircraft are specifically designed to be used for ground attack operations. In early March a large bomb and some green ammunition boxes were seen next to the jets. In March 2007, a third A-5 ‘Fantan’ jet (reg. number 410) was seen at Nyala airport.”
Another Amnesty report on China’s international arms transfers, drawing on the work of the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur, highlights the shipment to Khartoum of Dong Feng military trucks:
“In Sudan in August 2005 a UN panel, which was investigating violations of the international arms embargo on Sudan, saw a shipment of green Dong Feng military trucks in the Port of Sudan. ‘New green trucks of a similar type were also seen on the Sudanese air force premises in Darfur in October.'” The investigation found that:
“The Panel had begun a process trace in order to verify the end-user and final destination of the vehicles that were seen at Port Sudan. The investigation showed that a total of 222 vehicles (212 military trucks of model EQ2100E6D and 10 chassis workshop of model EQ1093F6D) were procured from Dongfeng Automobile Import and Export Limited in China, makers of military equipment and vehicles. The consignee was the Ministry of Finance and National Economy of the Sudan. Further reports received indicated that the vehicles were consigned on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.” (“People’s Republic of China: Sustaining conflict and human rights abuses: The flow of arms accelerates,” June 11, 2006, Amnesty International Index: ASA 17/030/2006)
And the end use of such vehicles, duplicitously imported from China?
“Throughout the massacres in Darfur in 2004, Amnesty International and other human rights monitors noted that military trucks were being used to transport both Sudanese military and Janjawid militia personnel, and in some cases to deliver people for extrajudicial execution. In April 2004, Amnesty International reported the extrajudicial execution of 168 people from Wadi Saleh, in the west of Darfur, near the Chad border. The men were seized from 10 villages by a large force of soldiers, military intelligence officers and Janjawid militiamen, blindfolded and taken in groups of about 40 in army trucks to an area behind a hill near Deleij village. They were ordered to lie on the ground and were shot dead.”
Again, a great percentage of the weapons used in Khartoum’s ongoing military build-up have entered Darfur in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1591 (March 2005), as reported last fall 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 regime-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). And yet since early February 2008 Antonov bombers and helicopter gunships have flown on numerous missions, with civilians and civilian villages and towns the primary targets.
China has made no mention of these authoritatively reported aerial military assaults on civilian targets, assaults that violate not only the terms of UN Security Council resolutions but explicit provisions of international humanitarian law.
CHINA AND RESOLUTION 1769, AUTHORIZING THE UN/AU “HYBRID” FORCE
Resolution 1769 (July 2007), authorizing deployment of the present “hybrid” UN/African Union mission to Darfur (UNAMID), was a weakened substitute for Resolution 1706 (August 2006). China’s role in determining the final form of both resolutions is yet again revealing of just why Khartoum feels so free to ignore the UN and other international actors, even when those actors—too often reluctantly—find their voice.
Resolution 1706 authorized, under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, a force of some 22,500 civilian police and troops with a robust mandate for civilian and humanitarian protection. The force, with a composition to have been determined entirely by UN DPKO, was supposed to deployed “rapidly” and establish a “multidimensional presence” to “improve the security situation in the neighboring regions along the borders between the Sudan and Chad and between the Sudan and the Central African Republic.” Urgently and robustly deployed, such a force could have done much to avert massive human displacement and destruction. It could also have very likely forestalled the terrible cross-border violence between Darfur and Chad that gives every sign of becoming more dangerous and more destabilizing to the entire region. But at China’s insistence, language was inserted into the final text of Resolution 1706 that “invited the consent” of the Khartoum regime. The “invitation” was resolutely declined, and the UN Secretariat, as well as many key member states, quickly lost their nerve. Resolution 1706 was stillborn. China had orchestrated a case study in “defiance rewarded,” one that continues to inform Khartoum’s thinking to this day.
Resolution 1769 (July 2007) authorized all that Khartoum could be brought to agree to: a “hybrid” UN/African Union force of some 26,000 troops and civilian police to protect civilians and humanitarians. The force was to be “predominantly [not exclusively] African in character.” China eventually voted for the resolution, but only after stripping it of a mandate to disarm combatants. More consequentially, China refused to approve any sanctions measure in the inevitable event of Khartoum’s non-compliance with the terms of Resolution 1769 (see above).
UN and other well-placed sources have made clear to this writer that for most of the time since the passage of Resolution 1769, China has become more, not less, supportive of Khartoum’s broad defiance of the international community, including obstructing the deployment of UNAMID. In its most recent statements, feeling the pressure of advocacy campaigns—particularly the “Genocide Olympics” campaign—China has made some of the right noises publicly. Recently Liu Guijin told Xinhua that “the Sudan government should cooperate better with the international community and demonstrate greater flexibility on some technical issues” (Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], February 24, 2008). “Technical issues” is of course a Chinese euphemism for Khartoum’s conspicuous and relentless obstruction of UNAMID. But it is unclear how forcefully Beijing has delivered these words to the regime in Khartoum. Chinese leaders are feeling the heat from Darfur advocacy, but at the same time give many signs of believing that a good propaganda campaign can substitute for real pressure on National Islamic Front gnocidaires.
Certainly there can be no doubt that Khartoum’s defiance has brought deployment of UN-authorized forces to a near standstill, even as it continues to impede humanitarian aid delivery and has resumed scorched-earth civilian clearances in West Darfur. And in this ongoing obstruction of UNAMID lies the danger that the entire UN/African Union mission will finally be aborted, precipitating a collapse in security throughout Darfur. As Jean-Marie Guhenno, head of UN peacekeeping, asked last November, “‘Do we move ahead with the deployment of a force that will not make a difference, that will not have the capability to defend itself, and that carries the risk of humiliation of the Security Council and the United Nations, and tragic failure for the people of Darfur?'” (Reuters [dateline: UN/New York], November 27, 2007).
This is a question that of course answers itself. But China’s ongoing support for and protection of the Khartoum regime daily gives this question greater force. It takes great confidence to engage in long-term genocide before the world’s eyes. China—diplomatically, economically, militarily—has done far too much to provide Khartoum with that confidence. If the world community wants the genocide to end, the Chinese regime must be made to understand that it will lose more by helping to perpetuate the horror in Darfur than it will gain by supporting Khartoum.