SUDAN WATCH: AU suspends work in South Darfur - New rebel group claims Sudan oil attack

Monday, December 20, 2004

AU suspends work in South Darfur - New rebel group claims Sudan oil attack

Here's an interesting development that sounds like advice has been given by AU security council or even the UN (or those in the international community behind the scenes supporting the AU): Reuters UK says AU truce monitors have suspended operations in South Darfur after the attack on an AU helicopter, an AU official said today.

"To my knowledge, this suspension is only in South Darfur state," said a senior AU official, asked about a report that the observers had called off monitoring throughout the region. South Darfur state makes up about one third of the region. The official, who asked not to be named, did not say how long the suspension was likely to last. - Reuters
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NEW REBEL GROUP CLAIMS SUDAN OIL ATTACK

Note in the below excerpt, the mention of "east and central Sudan". It seems clear (to me anyway) the aim of the rebels is not to make peace but to overthrow the current regime in Khartoum. It's the only thing that makes sense as to why there was a six week delay between the last UN Security Council meeting and the December 31 deadline for the signing of the peace agreements. What were the warring parties expected to get up to during those six weeks? Play happy families? My hope is the international community is totally behind the AU and secretly behind the rebels - that way, all of what is happening makes sense. The rebels appear so sophisticated with their tactics and strategy, I can't help thinking there are other forces at work here. The following is an extract from a Reuters report today:

A previously unknown rebel group the Sudanese National Movement for the Eradication of Marginalisation, claimed responsibility today for an attack on an oil field in Darfur and said it was the group's first military operation. The movement says it is based in the central areas of Sudan and Kordofan, which lies immediately to the east of Darfur. A spokesman said the movement supported peace processes to end the Darfur conflict and more than two decades of civil war in Sudan's south, but felt other areas like the east and central Sudan were being left out of these talks, which will decide how to share power and wealth in the country.

A Western diplomat in Khartoum said the plethora of armed movements in Sudan did not bode well for a southern peace deal, due to be signed by the end of the year and which will usher in a new government. The United Nations has expressed concern at new movements emerging in Darfur, where four rebel movements are now active. Only two of them are represented at the talks in Abuja. - Reuters.
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UPDATE: Sudan rebels reject Libyan proposal on Darfur, talks end Tuesday. Spokesman on behalf of the two rebels SLM and JEM said the rebels accepted the AU's conclusion that the Sudan government should withdraw immediately from the area being occupied by its troops to their original position.

After announcing an end to the offensive, Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said that troops would only respond if fired upon first. However, he ruled out any withdrawal of government troops from positions they had recently taken from rebels.

What now? Stalemate. Something has to give. But what? Maybe the UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting and give Chapter 7 mandate to the AU troops so they can fight back if attacked. Their role as observers and protectors of the ceasefire monitors has changed. There is no ceasefire to monitor or observe. The whole picture has changed. Security is needed for aid workers and unimpeded access for aid. The oil operation in South Darfur that was attacked by a new rebel group probably belongs to China. As I've said here before, I don't see why China can't provide 70,000 special police in Darfur to provide the security that's needed while protecting their oil interests at the same time. The 10,000 UN peacekeepers that are preparing to enter Sudan after the peace agreements are signed December 31 will be needed for Southern Sudan. As mentioned here earlier on today, trouble is brewing for Eastern and Central Sudan which, as far as I know, are not part of the power sharing agreements.

I've noticed over the past eight months that three things seem to happen whenever a deal is close (1) the LRA from Uganda spring up trouble somewhere (2) trouble connected with Eastern Sudan looms (3) something to do with Eritrea flares up.

Perhaps the rebels get their supplies from Eritrea; the LRA are onside with Khartoum; and Garang's rebels in Southern Sudan stir up trouble within Eastern Sudan to bring it to the fore. I've noticed a pattern which may of course be a coicidence. Purely guesswork, and a personal view. I would not be surprised if the international community were behind Garang who in turn is behind the new rebel groups attacking oil operations. My imagination is working over time, better go to sleep now. Goodnight. And God bless the people in Sudan. They sure need some guardian angels and a few miracles to happen in order to bring about peace.

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