“Madeleine Albright, Rwanda, and Darfur: How Genocides Happen” | Updated November 21, 2015 (originally published June 12, 2014)
A policy response to a recent analysis from Human Rights Watch is increasingly urgent, given the growing intensity of slaughter and violent farm land expropriations by Khartoum’s regular Sudan Armed Forces and its militia allies, the Rapid Response Forces. This extraordinary report from Human Rights Watch (“Men With No Mercy”: Rapid Support Forces Attacks Against Civilians in Darfur, Sudan,” Human Rights Watch | September 9, 2015 | https://www.hrw.org/node/280756/) is terrifying in its findings:
One highlight, revealed by a militia (Border Guards) defector:
Ahmed, a 35-year-old officer in the Border Guards, spent two weeks at a military base in Guba [North Darfur] in December 2014 before being sent to fight rebels around Fanga. Two senior RSF officials, the commanding officer, Alnour Guba, and Col. Badre ab-Creash were present on the Guba base.
Ahmed said that a few days prior to leaving for East Jebel Marra, Sudanese Vice President Hassabo Mohammed Abdel Rahman directly addressed several hundred army and RSF soldiers:
“Hassabo told us to clear the area east of Jebel Marra. To kill any male. He said we want to clear the area of insects… He said East Jebel Marra is the kingdom of the rebels. We don’t want anyone there to be alive.”
For “insect” substitute “cockroach”…
Eric Reeves, 21 November 2015
“Madeleine Albright, Rwanda, and Darfur: How Genocides Happen”
Eric Reeves, 12 June 2014
Last week the New York Times reported (June 3, 2014) on a significant trove of UN diplomatic cables sent before and during the Rwandan genocide of 1994, and recently declassified. All are marked “confidential” and are extraordinarily revealing of the thinking at the time by many Security Council members, and particularly the Clinton administration’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Madeleine Albright. Ambassador Albright’s role in pushing to authorize an early withdrawal of UN peacekeepers in Rwanda has long been known in general terms. But for the first time we see her language, her initiative, and her pushing specifically for her view of events in the recently released “confidential” cable of April 12, 1994. Albright has suggested to the New York Times for its reporting on the publication of these cables that she was merely following orders: “I was an instructed ambassador, not the secretary of state.” But implying that she was not instrumental in shaping the Clinton administration’s policies on Rwanda, at the crucial moment, is shamelessly disingenuous.
Many bear responsibility for the Rwanda genocide; few will accept that responsibility
Her belated “wish that I had done more” is wholly after the fact, and does nothing to mitigate her responsibility for compelling the withdrawal of the last chance to avert the genocidal destruction in Rwanda, well underway by the time of her April 12 cable and long predicted by the UN force commander, Major-General Roméo Dallaire.
Madeleine Albright, former U.S. ambassador to the UN
The entirety of her cable is, with its clear intent to influence the Clinton administration team working on Rwanda, utterly chilling (the transcribed text below eliminates the gratuitous mechanical apparatus that accompanies all cables, and unpacks some of the acronyms; otherwise, it is verbatim):
“The Future of UN Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) and French Roles in Rwanda”
[Sent to the Rwanda working group in the Clinton administration; the entire text of cable—April 12, 1994—is marked as “confidential.”]
• The UN Mission at the United Nations foresees two issues that demand Washington’s immediate consideration. First, there are rumors that the French are considering staying in Rwanda after they complete the humanitarian mission of evacuating foreign nationals.
• The other immediate issue is UNAMIR’s future. At present the airport is still open and under French-Belgian control. However, there is no signal that the UN is nearing a decision because relative calm has descended on Kigali [capital of Rwanda] and UNAMIR troops are not presently the target of hostilities. Yet this might be a window of relative opportunity to evacuate UNAMIR forces: there is a real possibility that it might become more difficult to evacuate once the French and Belgians leave.
In this respect it is worth considering taking the lead in the Security Council to authorize the evacuation of the bulk of UNAMIR, while leaving behind a skeletal staff that might be able to facilitate a cease-fire and any future political negotiations. (all emphases in all quotations have been added)
• Bujumbura [capital of Burundi] minimize considered.
[links for all cables are contained within a compendium assembled by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Security Archive at George Washington University]
This is not the cable of someone asking for instructions; it is the language of a powerful woman who wished for yet greater power (which she would subsequently have as Secretary of State), and who in particular wanted to play a dominant role in the key decision that faced the Security Council throughout April and May 1994: “Yet this might be a window of relative opportunity to evacuate UNAMIR forces: there is a real possibility that it might become more difficult to evacuate once the French and Belgians leave.”
Albright would have known that as a result of the intelligence she gained from her position as U.S. ambassador to the UN, her assessment would be regarded as having particular authority. This is the context in which to understand her proposal: “In this respect it is worth considering taking the lead in the Security Council to authorize the evacuation of the bulk of UNAMIR….” Here again, Albright clearly expects that any “consideration” of options by the Clinton administration with respect to Rwanda will be guided by her more intimate access to UN intelligence and to the thinking of other Security Council diplomats. If not openly hortatory, this is far more than mere suggestion; the New York Times did not hesitate to use the word “advocate” in describing her language and actions.
It is hardly surprising, then, that the Clinton administration followed her advice and made a decision that even President Clinton would later describe as “one of the greatest regrets” of his administration. But there can be no shying away now from responsibility, as Albright has tried to do with her deeply disingenuous claim: “I was an instructed ambassador, not the secretary of state.” True in a narrow sense, but deeply misleading. The New York Times also reports Albright’s claim that, “she did not recall the specific cable pushing for a withdrawal.” Even with so many cables, and so many crises, it is exceedingly difficult to credit this claim of forgetfulness.
President Bill Clinton, circa 1994
But of course there are good reasons for selective amnesia. The Times also reports the view of Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University (one of two sources for the cables, the other being the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum): “It’s clear, in hindsight, that the pullout of peacekeeping was the green light for genocide.” And it was a decision that was irreversible once made: “On April 21, after a week in which 10,000 Rwandans were killed in Kigali alone, the Security Council voted to reduce the size of the force to 270 troops from 2,100” (New York Times, June 3, 2014). These few remaining peacekeepers were hardly the “skeletal staff” that Albright suggested might be “in a position to facilitate a cease-fire and any future political negotiations.” Rather, what remained of UNAMIR, led by the courageous, resourceful, and meticulous General Dallaire, found itself “standing knee-deep in mutilated bodies.”
Reading the newly released cables as a group reveals that there was much confusion, ignorance—and completely ineffective leadership on the part of Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Geopolitical rivalries complicated matters, and sometimes produced deadline diplomacy. Thus we learn in one cable that New Zealand’s Permanent Representative, for the month of April 1994 President of the Security Council, was forced on one critical occasion to set a deadline of one minute before midnight on April 30, since the following morning Nigeria would take over the rotating Council presidency. Decisions were clearly being made on the basis of inadequate intelligence and reporting from the ground. But any serious effort at ascertaining what was happening could have been and in many cases was provided by General Dallaire. And anyone reasonably attentive in reading his extraordinary memoir (Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, 2003) will certainly understand how much we knew, when we knew it—and when the UN might well have known if it wished. This is in addition to many academics and regional specialists who also had real-time information of significant value about developments on the ground. Rwanda expert Alison Des Forges of Human Rights Watch, for example, met with an apparently bored National Security Advisor Anthony Lake in April 1994. His only advice to Des Forges and her fellow experts on Rwanda? “Make more noise.”
Major-General Roméo Dallaire while UNAMIR commander, 1993 – 1994
By the time of Albright’s April 12 memorandum—six days after well-prepared ethnic violence exploded following the plane crash that killed Rwanda President Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira—a great deal was known. Albright herself in a cable of January 24, 1994 had already declared that one “pressing issue” emerging in Rwanda was the growing power of the militia we would come to know as the Interahamwe: “The [Hutu-led] government is actively involved in distributing arms and training its militia; these covert activities are particularly disturbing given the presence of a RPF [Rwandan Patriotic Front] battalion in Kigali.”
But within hours of the plane crash, what we see in Albright’s cables is a concern not for the people of Rwanda but for the difficulties of evacuating foreign nationals and ultimately UNAMIR itself. And in a cable the day following her telling April 12 memorandum, Albright had already created at least a putative “consensus” about what Tom Blanton calls “giving the green light to genocide” (see above):
There was considerable consensus that UNAMIR should be substantially reduced because the security of UNAMIR troops are [sic] at risk, and UNAMIR can no longer fulfill its mandate given the present circumstances. [signed April 13, 1994] Albright
Clearly Rwandan civilians were not her primary concern, and we may reasonably speculate whether Albright thought that by making the safety of UNAMIR troops paramount, this ensured that the mission would be withdrawn rather than augmented in an effort to stop the bloodbath that was well underway. Albright claims that others argued a token force should be left because “a total UN departure would hurt the UN’s credibility.” There could hardly be a grimmer irony, given the legacy Rwanda has created for the UN. Notably, Nigeria, Brazil, and Djibouti are reported by Albright as “favoring the idea of tasking UNAMIR with protecting Rwandan civilians.” Others, including Albright, “noted the near impossibility of this task, even if resources and armament for UNAMIR were vastly increased.”
Force commander General Dallaire had a very different view of the situation from his position in Kigali (see below). And in an April 18 cable, Albright herself notes that “ethnic killings continue, particularly behind government-held lines,” something that Dallaire had long predicted. By April 21, Albright reports that New Zealand’s Permanent Representative to the UN, and Security Council president for April 1994, was “encountering a number of countries not Council members who could not understand why the Council was not saying anything on ‘this horrific killing.'” On April 21 Albright reports in a cable that Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali was hesitant to pull out UNAMIR entirely, because then he would have to take the responsibility for fifty thousand additional deaths in Rwanda.” Clearly the thinking in the Security Council and the Secretariat was painfully limited in contemplating the consequences of full-scale ethnic violence.
Perhaps as damning as any cable besides that of April 12 is Albright’s reasoning in a document from April 26, worth considering carefully and in the context of former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s finding (September 2004) that genocide was occurring in Darfur, but this finding dictated no new actions on the part of the U.S. At the very least, we may say that Albright had a better understanding of the legal entailments of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention:
The Czechs and Argentines are working on a draft statement about genocide. COMMENT: The events in Rwanda clearly seem to meet the definition of genocide in Article II of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. However, if the Council acknowledges that, it may be forced to “take such action under the [UN] Charter as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide” as provided for in Article VIII. END
It may be genocide, Albright is saying—Rwandans are already being killed on the basis of their ethnicity on a tremendous scale—but if we use the word “genocide” then we may be obliged to do something other than withdraw UNAMIR. Such thinking reflects perfectly the attitudes that informed Albright’s decision-making and her tragically persuasive advice to the Clinton administration.
The New York Times also reports on Albright’s supposed change of heart as the bodies piled up. According to the Times, Albright claims that the May 1994 arguments of the Nigerian Permanent Representative,
…persuaded her that the United States risked being on the wrong side of history. At one point, she left a Security Council meeting and placed a heated call to Washington to resist its demands for a complete withdrawal. “I wanted to have more flexibility,” she said, “but the options for having a large operation were so difficult.”
The veracity of this account is certainly open to challenge, the more so since it is “history” that Albright is thinking about, not the present moment in which hundreds of thousands of people were being slaughtered on the basis of ethnicity and political sympathies. But it was on the basis of her recommendation that UNAMIR had been essentially gutted, and there was no conceivable way to put together a new force so late in the period of 100 days when most of the slaughter occurred. A “heated call”? To what purpose in May of 1994, after you had successfully pushed for the withdrawal of UNAMIR, Ms. Albright? “More flexibility”… to do what?
For despite the fact that the word “genocide” proved so embarrassingly difficult for the Clinton administration—to use, or not use, or use with qualification—what was unfolding could not have been more clearly genocide. Extraordinarily, the typically scrupulously neutral medical relief organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) declared to the UN that evidence gathered by its humanitarian presence on the ground made clear that the world was witnessing genocide—the word used explicitly by MSF. The Czech and Argentine Permanent Representatives were clearly prepared to use the word genocide to describe realities in Rwanda. But Albright worried about entailments of any such use of the word.
To be sure, there were many complexities in the situation as Dallaire surveyed it, many things he did not understand fully at the time. But he is unquestionably our most important witness to the most “efficient” genocide in human history, and one that Dallaire had tried mightily to prevent. When he flew to Arusha, Tanzania to testify before the International Tribunal for Rwanda in February 1998, he broke down after managing to declare:
“It seems … inconceivable that one can watch … thousands of people being … massacred … every day in the media … and remain passive,” the former United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) commander said as his voice broke and tears fell from his eyes.
He had flown from Canada to Arusha, Tanzania, to become the first senior UN official to tell a UN tribunal that “with a well-armed force of 5,000 men” and the proper mandate, “the UN could have stopped the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans.” (Christian Science Monitor [Arusha], February 27,1998)
My intention in this brief overview is not to attempt a revision of received historical accounts of the Rwandan genocide; there can be little addition to the magisterial work of Alison Des Forges of Human Rights Watch (Leave None to Tell the Story (HRW, 1999), or the searing accounts offered by Philip Gourevitch in We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories From Rwanda (Farrar Straus Giroux, 1998). Rather, I want to emphasize two moments in the history of the Rwandan genocide by way of suggesting parallels with the genocide in Darfur. As many have insisted, “Darfur is not Rwanda,” and this is of course true for many reasons. There is, however, too much grim truth in the frequent description of Darfur as “Rwanda in slow motion” not to ask about moral parallels.
The first of these two moments comes on January 11, 1994 when Roméo Dallaire sent his now infamous “Genocide Fax” to UN headquarters and head of peacekeeping at the time, Kofi Annan. Much has been written about this fax which came anonymously to Philip Gourevitch and served as the centerpiece for his devastating article in The New Yorker (May 11, 1998). Coded “most immediate,” Dallaire’s fax contained a chilling warning on its first (of two) pages:
[a] Force Commander put in contact with informant by very very important government politician. Informant is a top level trainer in the cadre of Interahamwe-armed militia of MRNQ [National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development; French: Mouvement républicain national pour la démocratie et le development—the Hutu-dominated party of President Juvénal Habyarimana—ER]
[b] He informed us he was in charge of last Saturdays demonstrations which aims were to target deputies of opposition parties coming to the ceremonies and Belgian soldiers. They hope to provoke the RPF [Rwandan Patriotic Front—ER] to engage (being fired upon) the demonstrators and provoke a civil war. Deputies were to be assassinated upon entry or exit from Parliament. Belgian troops were to be provoked and if Belgian soldiers resorted to force a number of them were to be killed and thus guarantee Belgian withdrawal from Rwanda. (Image of page one of this fax may be found at http://wp.me/p45rOG-1kF.)
Three months before the beginning of civil war, and the mad onslaught against all Tutsis and moderate Hutus by the Interahamwe militia, three months after stores of machetes were discovered and reported, three months before ten Belgian soldiers were in fact killed to provoke—successfully—the withdrawal of all Belgian forces, three months during which an effective peacekeeping force could have been assembled, the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations did nothing. Not all credit Dallaire’s assessment that “with a well-armed force of 5,000 men” and the proper mandate, “the UN could have stopped the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans.” But those who gainsay this assessment are too often those who would deny their own culpability in responding to genocidal destruction that would claim some 800,000 lives. Too often those who gainsay Dallaire’s assessment are judging without anything like Dallaire’s understanding of the circumstances on the ground.
The truth is that Kofi Annan and the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations he headed, encouraged by the Clinton administration and others, wished to see no augmentation of the force of 2,100 personnel to the 5,000 Dallaire wanted. And when the force was precipitously eviscerated, leaving only 270 personnel, it was in no position to do anything but observe. But observe Dallaire did, and Shake Hands with the Devil was written with soul-destroying detail and a growing comprehension of what he had seen.
Kofi Annan as he accepts the Nobel Peace Prize not mentioned in celebrating his career was the fact that he headed UN Peacekeeping at the time of the Rwanda genocide, and bears immense responsibility for what occurred in April to July 1994. He was UN Secretary-General during the early years of the Darfur genocide, and failed badly again.
This is the context for the second moment, what I have summarized above as Madeleine Albright’s deeply expedient role in ensuring that the U.S. would not have to face the prospect of Americans coming home in body bags as a result of fighting in Africa, as they had from Somalia. She hardly needed “instruction” to understand that the Clinton administration wanted neither a U.S. role nor indeed a UN role in any mission amidst the unfolding carnage in Rwanda. She and the U.S.—in the midst of rapidly unfolding genocide—wished mainly to see a reduction in the size of UNAMIR. And as expedient as Albright was in the moment, she is commensurately disingenuous in claiming now that she was simply following orders. Such shameless self-exculpation is evidently a priority for Albright, who continues to win awards and honorary degrees (most recently from Princeton University). Kofi Annan, who would go on to become Secretary-General of the UN and be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, has been similarly disingenuous in his comments following the 100 days of horror in which the vast majority of the killings took place (hardly a period of time in which National Security Adviser Lake’s advice for advocates—”make more noise”—could have had any effect on the formulating of policies affecting events). It was Annan’s office, as head of UN Peacekeeping, to which Dallaire sent his “MOST IMMEDIATE” fax.
Rwanda and Darfur
In her expediency and disingenuousness, Albright offers us precisely what we need to understand why genocide in Darfur continues more than a decade after conflict began in early 2003. The degree of violence has ebbed and flowed, to be sure; but human suffering and destruction have been unrelenting. And conditions now are horrific, perhaps worse than at any time during the genocidal counter-insurgency orchestrated by Khartoum’s National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime. Certainly the prospects for a peaceful settlement are nowhere in sight, nor is there any evidence that security will not continue its relentless decline—limiting, and further diminishing the quality, of humanitarian assistance, even as more than 2 million needy people are internally displaced and another 340,000 are refugees in eastern Chad—overwhelmingly from the non-Arab or African tribal groups, preeminently the Fur, Massalit, and Zaghawa. A great many will not survive the current rainy season or the predations of Khartoum’s militia forces.
But again and again we have seen expediency and disingenuousness driving, in particular, UN and U.S. policy. For President Obama, these tendencies are all too conspicuous if we look at the rhetoric of his campaign.
• In 2007 he chided the Bush administration for its accommodation of Khartoum. Invoking Rwanda and Bosnia as justification for humanitarian intervention in Darfur, Obama said,
“The United States has a moral obligation anytime you see humanitarian catastrophes… “When you see a genocide in Rwanda, Bosnia or in Darfur, that is a stain on all of us, a stain on our souls …. We can’t say ‘never again’ and then allow it to happen again, and as a president of the United States I don’’t intend to abandon people or turn a blind eye to slaughter.” (Video recording available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEd583-fA8M#t=15)
Screen shot of Barack Obama as he made these comments running for president—and at a time when the Darfur advocacy movement was most potent in the U.S.
• As President, Obama again characterized Darfur as the site of “genocide,” but there has been no response commensurate with the magnitude of the crisis, whatever we may decide to call it. On the contrary, repaying a campaign debt, Obama appointed former Air Force Major-General Scott Gration as his special envoy for Sudan (Gration’s real goal was to gain sufficient regional experience to become ambassador to Nairobi, a position to which he was soon appointed, only to be fired by the State Department for incompetence in less than a year). His disastrous performance as special envoy, as judged by all relevant constituencies, was entirely predictable, given his total lack of diplomatic experience, his extremely shallow knowledge of Sudan, and his lack of facility in any relevant language, at times including English.
• Shortly after Obama appointed Gration the President enlisted the support of Senator John Kerry, perhaps sensing that Gration was completely out of his depth. Certainly the crisis created by Khartoum’s March 2009 expulsion of thirteen if the world’s finest international aid organizations—roughly half the humanitarian capacity in Darfur at the time—was of the most urgent sort. But instead of making demands of Khartoum and enlisting European allies to add pressure to reverse this immensely destructive action, Kerry simply created a fantasy solution to the problem, declaring in April 2009 that the capacity represented by the expelled organizations would be replaced in “a few weeks.” Cynically, he declared that he had Khartoum’s promise on the matter, as if the regime’s promises have somehow meant something in the past. Kerry’s disingenuousness undoubtedly set back efforts to re-start humanitarian efforts in many regions within Darfur. In short, Darfuri lives were sacrificed in the name of a wholly specious diplomatic “success” by the ambitious Kerry.
Former senator and current U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry; his cynical assessment of humanitarian capacity losses in March/April 2009 cost untold numbers of lives and emboldened Khartoum, whose promise Kerry had expediently accepted at face value
• Despite Obama’s decisive campaign rhetoric of 2007, in November 2010—not two years in office—his administration “de-coupled” Darfur from the key bilateral issue between Washington and Khartoum:
“… the U.S. [is] prepared to accelerate the removal of Sudan from the state sponsor of terrorism list if the Government of Sudan did two things. One is to fully implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and two, to live up to all of the legal conditions required under law for Sudan to be taken off the state sponsors list. By doing this, we would also be de-coupling the state sponsor of terrorism from Darfur and from the Darfur issue.” (State Department transcript of November 9, 2010 background briefing by senior administration officials)
Of course, as was soon obvious, Darfur had been “de-coupled” much more fully than suggested by this unnamed “senior administration official”; “we” were a long, long way from the morally flatulent and expedient rhetoric Obama used in 2007.
• This expediency has translated into various forms in Obama’s Sudan policy, including what has been largely silence on the outrageous, immoral, and grossly illegal bombings of civilians in Jebel Marra and other locations in Darfur, as well as elsewhere in greater Sudan, particularly the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. What is said by the Obama administration, very occasionally, is perfunctory and utterly inconsequential. Here the UN, the Europeans, and the African Union are equally to blame.
• The Obama administration speaks rarely if at all about the extremely dire humanitarian situation in Darfur: silence here is again expediency. (See Sudan assessment by UN OCHA in next paragraph as well as paragraph below that notes the FEWSNet assessment of food insecurity in South Kordofan.)
• Of Khartoum’s relentless obstruction of humanitarian assistance, the U.S. has had nothing of consequence to say, even as Radio Dabanga reports (see below): “The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan has expressed deep concern with the marked increase in humanitarian needs in Sudan which are not met with sufficient aid.” He is speaking primarily of Darfur, but also eastern Sudan and other areas which receive so little from Khartoum and to which the regime frequently denies access.
• The Obama administration refuses to characterize UNAMID as the failure it is, preserving the grim status quo for civilian protection and preventing real debate about what must be done to address the extreme security crisis (see Radio Dabanga dispatches below).
• The Obama administration pretends that there is life left in the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), now almost three years into conspicuous irrelevance (it was signed in July 2011 by non-representative rebel groups cobbled together by Gration and Muamar Gadhafi). This is absurd and merely an expedient way of refusing to confront diplomatic realities and the need for auspices more effective than those that can be provided by Qatar. By continuing to flog the dead horse that is the DDPD, the Obama administration is dodging the real work of helping to bring peace to Darfur.
• Ultimately, the most disgraceful part of the Obama administration’s Sudan policy is that is driven by a lust for the putative counter-terrorism intelligence that Khartoum can provide, no matter what the human consequences of accepting this partnership with a genocidal regime. Moreover, this is so despite Khartoum’s continuing inclusion on the most recent (2013) State Department list of state sponsors of international terrorism (see my lengthy review of the regime’s record of support for terrorism, “The Obama Administration, Terrorism, and Hypocrisy” [with Appendices], at Sudan Tribune, May 6, 2014: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article50897/).
Nothing else can explain the preposterous view toward the regime in Khartoum articulated by another former Obama special envoy for Sudan, Princeton Lyman. In an interview with the important Arab news outlet, Lyman declared:
“Frankly, we do not want to see the ouster of the [Sudanese] regime, nor regime change. We want to see the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures.” (Asharq Al-Awsat, 3 December 2011)
Former Obama administration special envoy for Sudan Princeton Lyman, responsible for some of the most damaging words in the recent history of U.S. response to the serial genocides of the Khartoum regime: “Frankly, we do not want to see the ouster of the [Sudanese] regime, nor regime change. We want to see the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures.”
It is simply absurd to think that the current regime can oversee “reform via constitutional democratic measures.” Every event in Sudan since this outrageously expedient and deeply misleading statement belies Lyman’s premises. The crackdown on the press has been more repressive than ever. Demonstrations last September/October in a range of Sudanese cities and towns were met with extreme violence by security forces, including what Amnesty International described as “shoot to kill” orders in Khartoum and Omdurman. There is an increase in the number of political jailings. And perhaps most consequentially, the Sudanese economy is imploding and there is nothing the current regime can do to reverse the decline; to remain in power these ruthless men will have to use ever more repressive and violent means. The last thing on their minds is “carrying out reform via constitution democratic measures.” To suggest otherwise is not merely disingenuous, it is mendacious.
• Readers may draw their own conclusions about parallels between the decisions, judgments, and actions of the United States in 1994 and those of the current U.S. administration in response not only to Darfur, but to the genocidal realities of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, which are—in rebel-controlled areas—subject to a total humanitarian embargo. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports in its most recent Sudan Bulletin (Issue 22, 1 June 2014): “The Famine Early Warning Networks (FEWS Net) forecasts that 40 per cent of IDPs and host communities in SPLM-N areas of South Kordofan will face emergency levels of food insecurity through September 2014.” This implies an extremely large mortality total, especially among children under five.
And yet the Obama administration has done nothing of consequence to help create humanitarian access or corridors, whether from Ethiopia or South Sudan. Again, this is expedient, and deadly, in a variety of ways—and there are far too many other examples. Darfur many not be Rwanda, but the expediency and disingenuousness that guide U.S. policy are all too similar.
Darfur—Endless human suffering and destruction
I have been driven by necessity to chronicling events in Darfur via Radio Dabanga and the occasionally useful UN report (although notably, the UN has not for years released figures for Global Acute Malnutrition for the region, for Severe Acute Malnutrition—typically fatal if untreated in children under five—or for global “excess mortality”). I have recently offered a compendium of briefs on policy responses as we know them—”Darfur: A Bibliography of Violence and International Indifference,” Sudan Tribune, 13 April 2014 (http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article5063) as well as “Pretending Darfur Isn’t: the world continues to avert its eyes from accelerating human suffering and destruction,” Sudan Tribune, 2 June 2014, http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article51213. And on this occasion I can do no more than highlight what has been authoritatively reported by Radio Dabanga, using as a symbolic time-frame the ten days since the New York Times reported on various UN cables, highlighting the disgraceful response of international actors to genocide in Rwanda.
Such disgrace finds its ample complement this very day in the inaction of those with the power to pressure the Khartoum regime to end its increasingly violent “genocide by attrition.” The dispatches here concern the usual subjects of Radio Dabanga (the source for all unless otherwise indicated; not all dispatches are included): murder, rape, indiscriminate aerial bombardment (in violation of international law and UN Security Council Resolution 1591, March 2005), village torching and looting by regime-allied Arab militias (most commonly now the Rapid Support Forces, another recycling of the Janjaweed), extortion, torture, appropriation of African farmland, and robbery.
The Rapid Response Forces—the “new Janjaweed”
The victims of course are all new—or have suffered a terrible repetition of these brutalities:
UM GUNJA (8 June 2014) – On 28 February 2014, Radio Dabanga reported that more than 35 villages burned to ashes, and dozens of civilians were killed in attacks by troops of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF… FULL STORY
KHARTOUM (2 June 2014) – The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan has expressed deep concern with the marked increase in humanitarian needs in Sudan which are not met with sufficient aid. The… FULL STORY
MURNEI (10 June 2014) – Six basic school students of camp Murnei for internally displaced people in Kereinik locality, West Darfur, have become ill on Sunday as a result of drinking water believed to be… FULL STORY
EL FASHER (5 June 2014) – Sudanese government authorities have refused to provide access to water and sanitation for newly displaced people in Zamzam camp near El Fasher, capital of North Darfur. A… FULL STORY
OTASH CAMP (4 June 2014) – Thousands of the displaced inhabitants of Otash camp in Nyala, face a bleak humanitarian and health situation as no food rations have been received. Those affected include the… FULL STORY
KHARTOUM (5 June 2014) – The health situation of thousands of new arrivals at the UNAMID site at Mellit in North Darfur is life threatening. Today UN agencies embarked on a mission to Mellit to try to… FULL STORY
EAST JEBEL MARRA (6 June 2014) – Three children died in a bomb explosion caused by remnants of war on Thursday in Korofala area in East Jebel Marra, Darfur. A relative of the dead told Radio Dabanga that the… FULL STORY
BA’ASHIM (2 June 2014) – Three boys were maimed when a grenade they found and played with detonated in the area of Ba’ashim in North Darfur on Sunday. Zubeir Suleiman Ibrahim (13), Bush Hamid Sandal (13… FULL STORY
KALMA CAMP (5 June 2014) – A total of 39 displaced women and girls from Kalma camp in South Darfur, were the victims of rape during April and May 2014. Almost all of the rapes occurred while the women were… FULL STORY
AZUM LOCALITY (3 June 2014) – Militiamen raped a nursing mother of Um Shalaya camp for Chadian refugees in Azum locality, Central Darfur on Tuesday. “This morning three government-backed militiamen assaulted… FULL STORY
MERSHING LOCALITY (3 June 2014) – Militiamen attacked the village of Awlad Amin in Mershing locality, South Darfur, on Tuesday. “Government-backed Janjaweed on camels stormed Awlad Amin village in the area of Abu… FULL STORY
EL RADOOM LOCALITY (10 June 2014) – Pro-government militiamen robbed the market in Alaiba area, El Radoom locality in South Darfur, on Friday. One of the victims of the looting told Radio Dabanga that the militiamen… FULL STORY
KORMA/EL FASHER (6 June 2014) – Militia elements killed at least eleven citizens during attacks on rural villages in Korma area in El Fasher locality, North Darfur, on Wednesday. They have also wounded five… FULL STORY
KASS (2 June 2014) – Militiamen threatened to set the village of Doura in South Darfur on fire on Sunday, if the villagers do not pay compensation for two cows. On the same day, two people were… FULL STORY
KUTUM (6 June 2014) – Pro-government militiamen ambushed and injured a number of displaced people from Kassab camp in North Darfur’s Kutum locality, on Wednesday. One of the victims told Radio Dabanga… FULL STORY
BIRKAT SEIRA (3 June 2014) – Abbala tribesmen detained four people in Birkat Seira in North Darfur on Monday. “The four men from Birkat Seira in Saraf Umra locality were detained by the Abbala on charges of… FULL STORY
[The Abbala (camel-herding) nomadic Arab tribal groups of northern Darfur have contributed disproportionately to the Janjaweed, currently incarnated as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF)—ER]
EL SAREIF BENI HUSSEIN (3 June 2014) – Abbala tribesmen abducted two women in the area of Um Jarwa in El Sareif Beni Hussein locality, North Darfur, on Saturday. A relative of the abductees told Radio Dabanga that… FULL STORY
BIELEL (6 June 2014) – Three camel herders tied down and severely beat a married couple in Tebeldina area, south of El Salam camp in South Darfur on Thursday. Mahjoub Adam Tabaldiya, a sheikh of El… FULL STORY
ZALINGEI (9 Jun 2014) – Five people were seriously injured in an attack by pro-government militiamen on Dereig market, west of Zalingei in Central Darfur. Sheikh Matar Younis told Radio Dabanga that a… FULL STORY
ZALINGEI/NIERTETI (10 June 2014) – Two men were shot dead in two separate cases in Central Darfur localities on Sunday. Idris Haroun Abdel Salam, aged 22, was killed by unidentified gunmen in his house at El… FULL STORY
TAWILA (9 June 2014) – Four people have died, five wounded, and 100 more unaccounted for following consecutive militia attacks in the area of Kuru, 20km southwest of Tawila in North Darfur. A relative… FULL STORY
GIREIDA (8 June 2014) – Two South Darfur displaced farmers have been transferred to Gireida hospital “in serious condition” following a militia attack on Friday. A witness told Radio Dabanga that Yousif… FULL STORY
NYALA (10 June 2014) – Two people were killed and two others were injured in an armed robbery at a house in Nyala city, South Darfur, on Sunday. Witnesses in the South Darfur capital recounted that… FULL STORY
NYALA (5 June 2014) – The Minister of Urban Planning for South Darfur, Issa Adam Abkar, says the security situation in the state and the capital city of Nyala in particular “seems to be beyond the… FULL STORY
TAWILA LOCALITY (5 June 2014) – Pro-government militias have publicly threatened to kill Omda Musa Moktar of Rwanda camp for the displaced in Tawila locality, North Darfur on Saturday if he does not leave the… FULL STORY
NYALA (10 June 2014) – The doctors and nurses of the Nyala Hospital have entered into an open-ended strike from work since Sunday, protesting the attack on a doctor by the paramilitary Rapid Support… FULL STORY
EL FASHER (8 June 2014) – The flow of commercial trucks and passenger buses between Kutum and El Fasher has stalled for the second week owing to the security situation in North Darfur. The halt is a result… FULL STORY
KHARTOUM (8 June 2014) – A 14-year-old boy has died and an unknown number of people detained by police after citizens of Sudan’s capital took to the streets in protest against water cuts on Sunday. The… FULL STORY
ZALINGEI (6 June 2014) – Eight wounded, internally displaced people from Ronga Tas camp have been held in detention by security forces in Zalingei locality, North Darfur, since Thursday without charge. “… FULL STORY
ZALINGEI (5 June 2014) – Sudan’s Defence Minister Abdel Rahim Mohammad Hussein and leaders of the Sudanese Armed Forces have arrived in Zalingei, capital of Central Darfur, for a round of meetings with… FULL STORY
SENNAR STATE (4 June 2014) – Brigadier Yousif Ahmed Yousif Aboroaf, MP for the Rufaa tribe has accused the Governor of Sudan’s Sennar State, Ahmed Abbas of seizing SDG 5 million ($878,000) allocated for the… FULL STORY
EL FASHER (4 June 2014) – The members of the States Council have revealed that 80 percent of youths from Darfur and South Kordofan are school dropouts, warning that the phenomenon might continue growing…. FULL STORY
NYALA (4 June 2014) – Sudanese Security Services have arrested three employees of the judicial authority of South Darfur in the aftermath of an armed robbery last Thursday, during which gunmen made off… FULL STORY
DARFUR (3 June 2014) – On Monday, militiamen ambushed a vehicle of the South Darfur State’s Ministry of Health in the area of Digeis in South Darfur. In Um Dafug, South Darfur, the vehicle of a… FULL STORY