SUDAN WATCH: August 2005

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Deadly road home to West Darfur - Spotlight on Darfur 1

Deadly road home

Photo: Sadiya Ibrahim walks for five hours from the displaced persons' camp she lives in to cultivate her land in Jerban, 22km north of El-Geneina in West Darfur, Sudan. (AP Photo/Tanalee Smith)

See Deadly road home report at South African News 24, Aug 30 2005.

Note, the report says 68 households fled to Dorti - 64 of them have returned temporarily this year to work their fields. Also:
"The situation still remains far from ideal," said Filippo Rossi, a protection officer with the UN refugee agency who focuses helping villagers return to their homes in West Darfur. "At least this year the people are taking some initiative to resume their lives, going home for cultivation. The courage is there."

UNHCR says about 20,000 people have returned permanently to their villages in West Darfur in the last 15 months, although more than 700,000 people remain displaced in this state on the border with Chad."
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SPOTLIGHT ON DARFUR 1
And The Darfur Collection

Last May, Catez Stevens at Allthings2all in New Zealand kindly put together The Darfur Collection.

Now, Catez is initiating and hosting Spotlight on Darfur 1 starting September 1. It will feature posts on the current Darfur situation from various bloggers. If you are a blogger and would like to send in a post for inclusion in the Spotlight on Darfur please email Catez for details.

Eugene Oregon at Coalition for Darfur helpfully writes Reminder: Spotlight on Darfur 1.

Note, Catez is planning a regular series of Spotlight on Darfur. If you have missed Darfur 1, there is still plenty of time to prepare a post for Spotlight on Darfur 2 or 3 or 4 ...

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

MADRE's report back from Darfur

In July 2005, MADRE, an international women's human rights organization, donated an emergency humanitarian aid shipment worth $500,000 to Darfur, Sudan. The shipment included urgently needed clothing and bedding for women and families whose villages have been destroyed by militias in ongoing violence in Darfur. It was distributed by MADRE's partner in Sudan, Fatmia Ahmed. She reports on her experience which has been published at ReliefWeb Aug 29, 2005.

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Is Al-Qaeda Moving to Africa?

The Sahel is Osama's New Playground
In a scathing attack broadcast on the al-Jazeera satellite television on June I7, a spokesman for Osama Bin Laden, one Ayman al-Zawahiri, denounced Khartoum for assisting "our arch-enemies" and threatened that "somebody will have to pay a very high price for it".

Uganda becomes part of the global Terrorist Interdiction Programme (TIP) aimed at containing the ability of terrorists to move freely across territorial borders. - Aug 20, AllAfrica.

Al-Qaeda leader may flee to Africa
Britain and the United States are training border guards in the Horn of Africa in the expectation that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, may seek sanctuary there if forced to flee Iraq. - Aug 25, London Times.

Minister: Terror suspects hiding in southern Africa
Individuals with links to al Qaeda and other groups are hiding in southern Africa and could be setting up networks within the region, South Africa's intelligence minister said on Monday. - Aug 29 Reuters via CNN.

Al-Qaeda will retreat to Africa, says US general
A senior US military officer on Wednesday predicted that al-Qaeda fighters in Iraq will move to the "vast ungoverned spaces" of the Horn of Africa once conditions in the country get too tough for them. - Aug 30 Mail & Guardian.

See links to above reports at Miss Mabrouk of Egypt post: Is Al-Qaeda Moving to Africa?
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LRA and its reign of terror in N. Uganda and S. Sudan

In most quarters, the barbaric LRA are viewed as terrorists. British blogger Mick Hartley links to a sad video at Human Rights Watch entitled "Night Commuters: Uganda's Forgotten Children of War" and a photo essay. On these reports and the LRA, Mick writes:
This isn't just an internal Ugandan matter. Ten years back, supposedly in retaliation for the Ugandan government's support for the SPLM [late John Garang's southern Sudan rebel group], the Sudanese regime in Khartoum started supplying the LRA with arms, making them a much more formidable force.

Sudanese backing has dried up, but the struggle goes on. The dilemma for those Ugandan forces battling the LRA is that the child soldiers they face are victims as well. They can't win by force without destroying the people they're meant to be saving ... and all efforts at negotiation have collapsed. After all, how do you negotiate with a group of millenarian cultists?
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Uganda asks Sudan to extend operation areas against LRA

LRA leader Kony has fled to north of Juba on Nisitu-Torit road, reports Xinhua Aug 30:

Following an agreement in 2002, Sudan allowed Ugandan forces to pursue the LRA south of Juba.

But the LRA have now fled across the red line to the north of Juba. "We are not allowed to operate there," said Uganda's President Museveni.

Musevni has asked Bashir to allow military operations against the LRA north of Juba in southern Sudan.

Bashir said the Sudanese army in Juba can operate against Kony there.

Musevni proposes his forces work with the Sudanese army and the SPLA to hunt him.

The LRA have killed over tens of thousands of civilians and displaced over 1.4 million people in their 19-year rebellion in northern Uganda.

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Monday, August 29, 2005

Sudan: Qatar Charity starts Darfur relief mission

Qatar Charity has announced the start of its relief mission in South Darfur, to alleviate the suffering of some 45,000 people living in the war-ravaged zone.

"QC's executive manager told reporters on Thursday that the relief operation, which ends in December 2006, will give priority to the immediate needs of the inhabitants."

Report at Sudan Tribune Aug 28, 2005. See more on Qatar.

Darfur Sudan Intimidation

Photo: Medina Khalil Arbab who has temporarily returned to Borta village, 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of El-Geneina in West Darfur, Sudan in order to cultivate her crops sits with her unidentified son Friday, Aug. 26, 2005. Medina said the janjaweed militia had destroyed her crops twice and had threatened to steal her possessions and beat her if she complained, and she now lives with tens of thousands of others in camps for internally displaced people. (AP Photo/Tanalee Smith/Yahoo)
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Chad: Growing crackdown on independent journalists

IFEX says four reporters in Chad have been jailed in the past two months.

One was fined and jailed for a year for publishing an interview with fellow journalist Djarma in which he accused Arab janjaweed members of the Chadian government of conspiring to silence him because of his coverage of the conflict between Arabs and black Africans in Darfur.

The jailings have prompted Journaliste en danger (JED), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontieres, RSF) to demand the journalists' immediate release and express concerns about press freedom in the country.
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Egypt, US to hold joint war games in September

The US military is to take part in the "Bright Star" joint military exercises in Egypt in September.

Thirteen countries are due to take part, including Britain, France, Germany and Italy, according to Rose al-Yussef newspaper, with Jordan and Pakistan participating for the first time.

Security forces hunt militants in Sinai

The Battle for Sinai: Army sappers joined a 5,000-strong security force Sunday in a sweep through the Sinai, as authorities stepped up their search for militants behind recent bombings of tourist centers on the rugged peninsula.

Apparently, they are currently hunting down suspected Islamist terrorists in the Mount Halal area of North Sinai.

[via Miss Mabrouk of Egypt: Hunt for Islamists Hiding in Caves]
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Eritrean foreign minister dies of heart attack

Eritrea's Foreign Minister Ali Said Abdella died of a heart attack on Sunday morning, the government said. Full story at Sudan Tribune Aug 28, 2005.
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Ideology in arms: The emergence of Darfur's Janjaweed

Julie Flint and Alex de Waal are authors of "Darfur: A Short History of a Long War," from which commentary is excerpted for THE DAILY STAR. The book is published by Zed Books, and will be available in October 2005.

Click here to read their commentary in Lebanon's Daily Star, August 30, 2005.

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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Unidentified gunmen in Darfur steal vehicles and aid

News reports never explain how rebels, fighting for years on end in countries like the Sudan, make a living to pay for their food, trucks, petrol, satellite phones, radios, arms and ammunition etc.

To expect peace and quiet in regions like Darfur where anarchy reigns because leadership and policing is poor or non-existent, seems unrealistic. Banditry in Darfur frequently makes headline news but seldom does banditry in countries like DR Congo or northern Uganda make the news.

Today, a report by Reuters in Khartoum opens by saying, quote "Bandits are stepping up attacks on African Union and relief convoys in Sudan's Darfur region disrupting the flow of aid in the conflict-stricken area, African Union and aid officials told Reuters on Sunday"

The gunmen were unidentified. But why call them 'bandits' and not 'unidentified gunmen'? Reuters' reporting of "stepping up attacks on African Union" makes the violence sound targetted, like war is being waged against AU troops. And the words "disrupting the flow of aid" and "obstruct aid" make it sound like there is a concerted effort to stop aid getting through. Who is creating such spin, and why? Is it the African Union, aid officials or Reuters being sloppy?

The Reuters reporter does not make clear who said the word 'bandits'. Use of the word 'bandits' and not 'rebels' to describe unidentified gunmen, implies the gunmen are from elsewhere or not part of the Darfur rebel movement and even leads one to think the gunmen could be pro government, maybe the so-called Janjaweed. It is not clear if the Reuters reporter chose to use the word 'bandits' in place of 'gunmen', or whether AU and aid officials actually used the word bandits to describe unidentified gunmen.

What difference is there between rebels and bandits? It seems to me they all part of the same anarchy but the Reuters report leads one to think maybe forces allied to the Sudanese government are stepping up attacks on African Union troops, inciting violence and stopping aid reaching those most in need, thus continuing genocide.

Here is an excerpt from the report entitled "Bandits in Sudan's Darfur attack AU, obstruct aid" which makes no mention of the word 'bandit' -
"An AU official said the African body was investigating recent attacks, and added it was not yet clear if the gunmen acted alone or had links to the other armed groups in the area.

"There is a lot of banditry ... The area is lawless and they (gunmen) are attacking everyone," Jean Baptiste Natama, a senior AU protocol officer told Reuters.

Natama said one person was lightly injured on Thursday when unidentified gunmen attacked a patrol near Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state.

The AU official said the incident was the first of its kind in several weeks. But an aid official, who did not want to be named, said incidents of gunmen shooting at convoys and stealing vehicles and aid had increased in recent months in Darfur.

"The situation got worse from around April, May, June ... They (gunmen) are taking vehicles. We have lost trucks and aid commodities," said the official who would not say how much material had been lost."
As noted here in previous posts, an Arab militia, in an interview last year, admitted to not feeling guilty about looting. He explained they are too proud to ask for charity and hand outs and resort to any means to feed themselves and their families. It is not difficult to imagine Sudanese rebels having to do the same. How else do they all make a living? Or are they being funded and supplied by external sources and, if so, by whom and why?

UPDATE Aug 29: Sudanese government accuses Darfur rebel group SLM of attacks, abductions, stealing camels and vehicles. Ref article by Xinhua via ReliefWeb Aug 29, SUNA, the official news agency in Khartoum, says:
SLM, one of two main rebel groups in Darfur, attacked the al-Malam area on August 23 and seized a number of vehicles;

On August 24, SLM launched another attack against the same area, firing at unarmed people, capturing seven as well as looting 3,100 heads of camels;

The Sudanese government announced the attacks on the eve of the arrival of AU Chief Mediator to Darfur Salem Ahmed Salem in Khartoum who was charged with discussing issues related to the upcoming round of Abuja talks with the Sudanese government and the Darfur rebels.
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Displaced from Darfur, Sudan

Photo: Displaced people from Darfur, Sudan. The top United Nations refugee official called on the international community to compensate Chad with development projects for taking in tens of thousand of refugees fleeing the fighting in Darfur. (AFP/HO-UN/Yahoo)
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UPDATE Aug 31: Sudanese rebel group deny attacking aid convoys in Darfur

Copy of a report Aug 31, 2005 via Sudan Tribune - Text of report in English by independent USAID-funded Sudan Radio Service, BBC Monitoring Middle East:

Aug 31, 2005 - One of the anti-government groups in Darfur, the Sudan Liberation Movement, SLM, has refuted reports that its forces have been attacking aid convoys in Darfur.

The SLM field spokesman, commander Muhammad Hamid Ali, claimed to Sudan Radio Service on Monday [29 August] in a telephone interview, that the Janjawid militiamen and government troops have been dressing like SLM fighters so that they can attack relief trucks and tarnish the image of the SLM.

[Soundbite of Ali]: "There are groups of the Janjawid and some elements of the government military intelligence who dress in the same uniform as SLM combatants, mark their vehicles with SLM logo and attack aid convoys, then report that the attacks have been carried out by SLM members."

Commander Ali said his people depend entirely on relief supplies to survive and it is unthinkable that the SLM troops would attack convoys carrying supplies destined for their needy people.

He claims that international humanitarian agencies have been manipulated by the government to make statements without investigations that anti-government forces have been attacking aid convoys.
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Egyptian plane loaded with relief aid arrives in Darfur

Good news. Kuna in Kuwait Aug 28 says an Egyptian transport airplane loaded with relief aid arrived in Fasher, regional capital of Darfur, to help needy people. The plane carried 5.5 tons of medicine, 3.5 tons of food and other relief supplies.

KUNA says according to official media, this was the 24th aircraft sent by Egypt to the Darfur population.
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UNCHR: 4 million refugees would return home to South Sudan

More good news. Bahrain News Agency Aug 28 report says UN high commissioner for refugees in Sudan, Antonio Guterres said in an interview he gave to the BBC that south Sudan's problem would be soon solved and more than 4 million refugees would return to their homes after 20 years of civil war.

"There is a great opportunity for peace in Sudan now. I am here to meet with Sudan's Deputy President, Silva Kiir, and representatives of various southern governorates to ease the return of the refugees", Guterres said.

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Saturday, August 27, 2005

Eritrea suspends U.S. aid efforts - Disillusionment with western aid bureaucracy

The U.S. ambassador to Eritrea has confirmed that Eritrea has asked the US international aid agency, USAid, to cease operations in the country.

"The government has told us they are uncomfortable with the activities of USAid," Ambassador Scott DeLisi said.

The government has impounded about 120 aid agency vehicles, and some aid was recently blocked over tax demands.

Rumours about USAid stopping work surfaced last month, but the ambassador's announcement was the first time they had been confirmed.

Relations between Eritrea and the US have become strained in recent years. Full story at Sudan Tribune Aug 26, 2005.
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Eriteria and the disillusionment with western aid bureaucracy

Read what Sudanese blogger Wau Nau at the African Herbsman blog in Washington DC has to say about the above news.

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Gambia among nations on the brink as a "failed state"

Note this copy of a report by Bubacarr Ceesay August 26, 2005:

The first annual report on the list of potential "failed states"; research conducted by the Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy has listed the Gambia as a potential candidate among 60 nations on the brink of collapse. Ivory Cost made the top of the list and Gambia taking the last spot 60. Several African countries including DRC, Guinea, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Somalia, and Chad also made the top ten. Interestingly, none of Gambia's closest neighbors Senegal and Guinea Bissau made the list. Surprisingly, Gambia's longtime ally Mauritania and now a country under military rule did not make the list.

The report which relies on numerous media reports on nations and utilizes high-tech methods for data computations to reach a conclusive ranking; thus stated:

"How do you know a failed state when you see one? Of course, a government that has lost control of its territory or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of force has earned the label.

To present a more precise picture of the scope and implications of the problem, the Fund for Peace, an independent research organization, and FOREIGN POLICY have conducted a global ranking of weak and failing states. Using 12 social, economic, political, and military indicators, we ranked 60 states in order of their vulnerability to violent internal conflict. (For each indicator, the Fund for Peace computed scores using software that analyzed data from tens of thousands of international and local media sources from the last half of 2004. For a complete discussion of the 12 indicators, please go to Foreign Policy or www.fundforpeace.org.) The resulting index provides a profile of the new world disorder of the 21st century and demonstrates that the problem of weak and failing states is far more serious than generally thought. About 2 billion people live in insecure states, with varying degrees of vulnerability to widespread civil conflict."

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UN food agency hands over upgraded airport to S. Sudan

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today handed over a refurbished airport to the local government in South Sudan's interim capital of Rumbek to provide greater access to the war-wracked region.

See full report at UN News Centre 26 August 2005.

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Network of women journalists in Africa launches Web site

Aug 26 - A network of women journalists in Africa has launched a new web site FEMINIA for publishing and exchanging articles of interest to women on the continent.

Currently, the site features stories on gender mainstreaming; women in Darfur, Sudan; the vulnerability of girls to HIV and AIDS; and Cameroonian women working in the markets who are leading forces in the country's economy. Articles are available in both French and English.

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Over 6,000 Sudanese refugees in Uganda to be repatriated

Over 6,000 Sudanese refugees in Uganda are to be repatriated, says report at ReliefWeb Aug 26.

Note, currently, there are over 188,000 Sudanese refugees in Uganda. The Sudanese refugees take the biggest percentage of the 230,000 refugees in Uganda. Other refugees in the east African country are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and others.

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

U.S. has to lift sanctions against Sudan - U.S. ready to cooperate with Sudan

Sudan oil

Photo: Sudanese Minister for Energy and Mining Dr Awad Ahmed Jazz holds a press conference in Khartoum, Wednesday, Aug 24, 2005. Jazz said his country welcomes all companies wishing to invest in oil in Sudan, but stressed that the U.S. has to lift sanctions against his country if American companies were to be fully involved in oil production.

Sudan said Wednesday it would increase oil production, currently standing at 300,000 to 500,000 barrels per day by the end of current year. (AP Photo/Abd Raouf/Yahoo)
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U.S. ready to cooperate with Sudan

Aug 25 Chinese news report excerpt:
US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice Thursday confirmed her government's readiness to cooperate with Sudan to handle pending issues ahead of mutual relations, the official SUNA news agency reported here.

Rice made the remarks in a message she sent to Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Othman Ismail, said SUNA.
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Sudan urges Darfur rebels to participate in talks, Rice says ready to cooperate

Aug 25 Kuwaiti news report snippets:

Re Darfur rebels:
Dr. Magzoub Al-Khalifa, chairman of the government delegation to the Tanzania-based preparatory meeting for the negotiations said the meeting was successful and aimed at bringing the views of the concerned parties closer.
Re Dr Rice:
[Sudanese FM] Ismail received a letter from his US counterpart Condoleezza Rice, Thursday, in which she affirmed readiness to cooperate with Sudan to improve bilateral relations.

Rice also affirmed the US keenness of the US administration to cooperate with Sudan government with respect to the implementation of the peace agreement as well as normalization of situation in Darfur. She referred to her recent visit to Sudan, saying that it enabled her to get acquainted with Sudanese issues.
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Uganda to expel DR Congo rebels

Note this snippet from a report at BBC News online Aug 24, 2005 says "UN Security Council resolutions oblige Uganda to prevent its territory from being used by regional armed groups." Why can't such a resolution be introduced to quell anarchy in the Sudan and at least give the UN Security Council some leverage when new rebel groups spring up in the country?
"Uganda has announced it will expel six rebels from Democratic Republic of Congo after the UN voiced its concern over their presence in the county.

Uganda's internal affairs minister said the men had been declared persona non grata and must leave by Thursday.

The six are part of a group the UN says planned to use Uganda to launch a rebel movement to seize power in DR Congo.

UN Security Council resolutions oblige Uganda to prevent its territory from being used by regional armed groups."
Full story at BBC.

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Encourage Western companies back to Sudan - Sudan Oil & Gas Summits London Nov 2005 and Dubai Jan 2006

Sudan's government and rebels have eliminated millions of people from their country. Poor Sudanese folk without land or property ownership rights are no longer in the way of progress. Sudan's government and rebels are now free to capitalise on the country's natural wealth without first providing decent security forces to maintain law and order and enable displaced citizens to own their own property and land, grow their food, make a living and raise their families.

Read the below copied articles and see how Sudanese powermongers who stole power through the barrel of a gun are now free to have oil and gas summits in London and Dubai. Great eh? Spread the word for genocidal dictators and rag bag rebel groups throughout the world to hear the news: genocide pays big dividends.

It has taken me sixteen months of blogging about Darfur to realise that it was wrong of activisits putting pressure on Western companies to pull out from the Sudan. Had the big Western companies still been there, Western activists could have brought pressure to bear on the companies and UN Security Council to help Sudanese security forces install law and order and protect Sudanese citizens.

It seems to me, Western companies have no option but to get involved with Sudan's oil, gas and mineral exploration in a big way, otherwise countries like China that put business before human rights, will continue to move in and exploit the region without putting anything back that helps the poor locals. In fact, I would go as far as to say Western companies should be encouraged to do business with the Sudanese government and donate a team of lawyers with expertise in property and land ownership rights.

Encourage Western companies to the Sudan

An article at Albawaba.com today says, following consultation and partnership agreements with the Sudanese Ministry of Energy & Oil and Ministry of Investment, the Sudan Development Program has announced the official Sudan Oil & Gas Summit is to take place in London, in November 2005. Excerpt:
"The Minister of Energy & Oil, Alshreef Omar Badr wishes to bring the international oil industry together to work closely on the long-term development of Sudan's oil and gas infrastructure. The first step identified by the Ministry of Energy & Oil is the raising of production rates to 1.5 million barrels per day.

With recent surveys in Sudan indicating an abundance of oil reserves (estimated to be around two billion barrels) and a high rate of success in drilling operations, the untapped potential of Sudan is clear.

An official Sudanese government delegation will be present at the conference in London; this will be led by Awad Ahmad Al-Jaz, Minister of Energy & Oil and Alshreef Omar Badr, Minister of Investment. The conference will also welcome the chairman of the Sudanese National Petroleum Corporation, Musa Raud Al-Tekanna. The delegation has expressed its desire to "meet with international companies committed to offering their goods and services, forming partnerships and promoting investment opportunities".
Note, the article ends by saying:
"Despite the need for massive infrastructural improvement and the many difficulties encountered by Sudan in recent years, Sudan has maintained a respectable economic rate of growth. Now, with the shared government agreement and the pledging of $4.5 billion to redevelop the country at an April donors meeting in Oslo, the country is well placed to exploit its huge reserves."
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Sudan Development Program looking to further Sudan's economic reintegration

Note the following copy of a MENA article August 17, 2005 about the inaugural Sudan Development Program summit, taking place in Dubai, UAE 9-11 January 2006, advertised as "an essential networking event, based on face-to-face meetings and will allow international companies to present their goods and services to Sudan's public and private sector companies".

Sudan Development Program

With companies from across Africa, Europe, the Middle East and beyond looking to move into Sudan to exploit the vast opportunities within the country's various sectors, the Sudan Development Program is pleased to announce that the inaugural SDP summit will take place in Dubai in January 2006.

The announcement of the summit comes following months of progress throughout Sudan, with negotiations taking place between the north and the southern regions in Nairobi, Kenya in January 2005 and the subsequent accord signing in July 2005. Salva Kiir, the leader of southern Sudan, was recently sworn in as first vice president of Sudan, succeeding the late John Garang.

Since the signing of the agreement, international companies have eyed the numerous opportunities to be found in Sudan, within sectors as diverse as construction, oil, banking and agriculture, while a donors meeting in Oslo in April pledged $4.5 billion for the funding of projects in southern Sudan from 2005-7.

Enjoying support from the Sudanese government, the objectives of the Sudan Development Program are to promote Sudan as an attractive investment destination, to secure capital and trade partners for projects already underway and to aid the forming of relationships between business figures and key individuals within the Sudanese marketplace.

The Sudan Development Program will look to increase the number of development projects being carried out in Sudan; prospective projects include the construction of the Lokichoggio-Kapoeta-Juba Road and plans to build a railway to connect Sudan with the Kenyan port of Mombasa.

(c) 2005 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Darfur peace talks postponed from Aug 24 to Sep 15

The sixth round of Darfur peace talks re-set for 15 September in Nigeria.
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Darfur rebel group SLM/A to meet in Eritrea

According to an excerpt of an Aug 24 report at Sudan Tribune by Sudanese independent newspaper Al-Ayyam in Khartoum [material by BBC Monitoring] a spokesperson for the SLM/A has said a meeting of their leaders will be held today in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, and will be aimed at resolving differences between the leader of the SLM/A, Abd-al-Wahid Muhammad Nur, and the SLM/A secretary general, Mani Arkoi Minawi.

Speaking to Al-Ayyam, Umar Isma'il said a committee of SLM/A leaders had given the two leaders until 5pm Wednesday [24 August] to work towards reconciliation and attend meetings "or else they will be removed from their positions", he added. [Passage omitted]

He said the committee had told the two leaders that it was necessary for them to leave for Asmara immediately and resolve all the SLM/A thorny issues: "We cannot destroy the results achieved so far because of personal struggles", he concluded.
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Locusts pose threat in Darfur, UN agency reports

The locust situation continues to be serious in western Sudan where hopper bands and groups of immature adults of the crop-devouring creatures are present in Darfur, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in its latest update today.

Full story at UN news centre Aug 24, 2005.

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USS Cole families can sue Sudan - Total may take Salva Kiir to court over Sudan Oil Field

CNN reports today that families of the 17 sailors killed in a terrorist attack on the USS Cole can pursue a lawsuit against the government of Sudan, a federal judge decided.

Read Full story by Associated Press, Aug 24, 2005.

UPDATE: More on this at JURIST Aug 24, 2005.
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Total may take Salva Kiir to court over Sudan Oil Field

Note report by Paul Redfern, Special Correspondent at the East African - via Sudan Tribune Aug 24.
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India, China should cooperate on energy security

Snippets from article at New Kerala news India Aug 24, 2005:

PetroKazakhstan, which operates in central Asia, said on Monday it had agreed to a takeover offer from China's state-owned CNPC worth 4.18 billion dollars. The Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) has said the company had lost by a narrow margin and would make a counter bid if asked.

ONGC is India's leading exploration company, while CNPC's PetroChina unit is China's main oil producer.

China already has substantial operations in Kazakhstan, which include a major pipeline pumping crude to China from the oil-and gas-rich former Soviet state.

Provisions of the deal prohibit the Canadian-based company from soliciting new offers, but it would have to consider any competing bid and recommend it if deemed better for shareholders.

Asian oil firms have spent billions of dollars on projects around the world, including in countries such as Sudan that are off-limits to oil majors, and picked up scraps hived off by cost-cutting Western oil companies.

Chinese oil giants have been scouring the globe for energy assets in the last five years, spending over $5 billion in projects from Australia to Indonesia and Sudan to Saudi Arabia.

Similarly, India, which imports 70 percent of its crude oil requirement, has stakes in projects in several countries including Myanmar, Sudan, Russia, Libya and Australia.

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Sudan & Darfur by Gillian Lusk - Visa wants to grow in Africa

Gillian Lusk is Deputy Editor of the London-based fortnightly newsletter Africa Confidential and specialises in Sudanese matters. She lived in Sudan in 1975-1987, working most of that time as a journalist. She was Chairperson of the Sudan Studies Society of the United Kingdom (SSSUK) in 2000-2004. She writes and broadcasts regularly on Sudanese politics.

See her latest piece on The Sudan & The Darfur at Covert Action Quarterly.
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Spanish Red Cross to increase assistance for Sudan

The Spanish Red Cross will increase its assistance to Darfur, a spokesperson for the Red Cross said Tuesday. They said potable water and medical attention are of utmost importance to the displaced in the camps located south of Darfur, along the border of Chad:
Urgent assistance is specially needed in the camps of Abushok, Zam Zam, Fataborno and Kassab in Sudan, as well as the camps in Chad's Treguine.

The Red Cross of Spain has 14 delegates in the region, who collaborate with Sudan Red Crescent and Chad Red Cross. They distribute food and material for basic needs.
Article via ReliefWeb Aug 23, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX)
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Visa wants to grow in Africa

Iafrica.com article Aug 24 says card issuer Visa International is looking to double its presence in sub-Saharan Africa in the next five years. Visa would like to move into Sudan as they see it has having huge promise. They are also getting approaches from Eritrea and Somalia.

The article says inadequate infrastructure and a lack of credit records on customers remain a challenge for Visa in Africa. Cash also still remains king in much of this market, although there is a growing move towards cards.

Also, with regards to security - which has been a growing concern after recent breaches of certain banks systems - Visa and other card issuers are trying to move everybody towards chip technology which would help to reduce fraud significantly.

"This will eventually be the way everyone will transact," said a spokesman.
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The Military and the Left

Excerpt from a post by Minh at the State Of Flux blog entitled "The Military and the Left" -
"I wish more liberals have the view of Rosa Brooks of the LA Times - or at least listen to her. She may have identified the one of the problem why the Left is viewed as weak on National Security. That is why independent voters distrust the Left when it comes to the security of the United States.
Please read full post.

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Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide by Gerard Prunier via Amazon.com

This book, Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide (Hardcover) by Gerard Prunier, has not yet been released. You may order it now and Amazon.com will ship it to you when it arrives. See Editorial Review at Amazon.com.

Book on Darfur by Gerard Prunier

About the Author

A renowned analyst of East Africa, the Horn, Sudan, and the Great Lakes of Africa, Gerard Prunier is a Research Professor at the University of Paris and author of The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide and From Genocide to Continental War: The Congolese Conflict and the Crisis of Contemporary Africa.

Price and shipping details at Amazon.com. Learn how customers can search inside this book.

[With thanks to keatsian]

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

From Uganda and The Darfur ...

From The Darfur ...

From Greg Fisher in Entebbe, Uganda at Greg's Africa Thoughts:

"This very intense young man is a refugee from the Darfur. Our safe water project has benefited his family by giving them a way to keep their water clean, safe, and cool in the desert heat. Leaders of the community told me, "When you give water, you are bringing peace between people."

I will be back in the refugee camps again in November 2005 for the wrap-up of the final part of the safe water project. At this point we have served nearly 25,000 people ... and, by the end we may have served as many as 50,000 people in this project."

GREG

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Sudan: UN refugee chief visits Khartoum and Darfur camps

UN news service via ReliefWeb reports Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is in Khartoum and plans to visit some of the camps which now house hundreds of thousands of the more than 6 million refugees and internally displaced people who fled Sudan's civil strife. Excerpt:
Tomorrow he will fly to West Darfur where he will visit a camp for some of the thousands of displaced people in the province, then on Thursday he will travel to two refugee camps in eastern Chad to speak with Government leaders.

He will then head off to southern Sudan to look at preparations for the returning refugees, which include school and hospital rehabilitation and land mine removal, that follow an agreement in January ending a 21-year civil war.
UN refugee chief in Khartoum

Photo Aug 23 - Sudan urges UN to assist repatriations: UN refugee chief in Sudan Antonio Guterres (L) is received by Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir in Khartoum. Sudanese officials urged Guterres to step up efforts for the repatriation of Sudan's millions of refugees and displaced. (AFP/Salah Omar)
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Sudan asks U.N. to probe Garang death

UNITED NATIONS - AFP report confirms Sudan has asked the U.N. to help the investigation into the July 30 helicopter crash that killed rebel leader John Garang who had just become the country's first vice president, a U.N. spokesman said Monday.
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Japan announces US$ 5.16 million to improve children’s health

The Japanese Government confirmed August 22 its contribution of Japanese Yen 568 million (about US$ 5.16 million) to support UNICEF-assisted interventions in Sudan aimed at improving access to primary health care and to contribute to the eradication of polio, prevention of measles, and reduction in the malaria cases among under-five children and pregnant women.

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Sudan refugees could return home in two years - U.N.

Around 4.5 million Sudanese refugees could return home in two years if foreign governments provide enough political and material assistance, the head of the U.N. refugee agency said on Tuesday.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres told Reuters Sudan needed help to settle political disputes, and money to improve living conditions so Sudanese refugees in the country and abroad can return to their homes.

"Hopefully, in two years all of Sudan's refugees can return home if the conditions are right," said Guterres, who is on a 10-day visit to Sudan and some neighboring countries.

Full report by Reuters August 23, 2005.

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Monday, August 22, 2005

Call to back UN genocide reform - Genocide pact needs PM's help

So much for the US and all its bluff and bluster on genocide. A BBC report today says Tony Blair has been urged to use his influence to increase support for an international deal to stop genocide. Note the report makes no mention of China. I guess we can assume China stands alongside India, Russia and Brazil. Excerpt:
The charity Oxfam has praised the UK's commitment to the deal but hopes the PM will persuade less willing states.

India, Russia and Brazil have attempted to block the agreement and the US has tried to dilute it.

The pact, which would oblige countries to intervene when there is evidence of genocide in another nation, is to be tabled at a UN Summit next month.

Final negotiations over the agenda for the UN's meeting in New York - set to be the biggest ever summit of world leaders - will begin with Oxfam seeking to safeguard the proposals for international cooperation to respond to mass killings.
Genocide pact 'needs PM's help'

BBC photo: The PM is being urged to influence President Bush on genocide
Oxfam director Barbara Stocking said: "This is an opportunity for the prime minister to show his commitment to a progressive foreign policy agenda.

"We're urging Britain to use every diplomatic resource at its disposal to secure an agreement designed to stop future genocides," she continued.

In particular Ms Stocking underlined the importance of Mr Blair's special relationship with President Bush in gaining US support for the plan.

So far the EU, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Rwanda and Kenya, as well as the UK have given their backing to the deal.

The current draft of the scheme states the signatory governments would, "share responsibility to take collective action in a timely and decisive manner" to protect against large-scale killing, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
Full report.
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Call to back UN genocide reform

Note BBC report Aug 14, 2005 Call to back UN genocide reform - Oxfam says reform would help stop a repeat of genocide like Rwanda's. Excerpt:
Oxfam has urged the US, Russia, India and Brazil to support a UN reform that would require the organisation to act quickly to prevent genocide.

The international charity accuses the four countries of blocking UN plans designed to stop atrocities such as the 1994 Rwanda genocide happening again.

Oxfam says that while US officials publicly back the planned reform, in principle they are seeking to water it down.

Other countries opposing the move include Syria, Iran, Cuba, Pakistan, Egypt and Algeria, the charity said.
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12,500 AU troops in Darfur by early next year

BBC East Africa correspondent Adam Mynott filed a report Aug 21 on Darfur's peacekeeping challenge.

He says AU camps have been set up in Labado and Khor Abache in South Darfur in the past six months.

The Sector Commander of the Nyala, South Darfur region, Colonel Vitali Ojumbo took him to Khor Abache to show the impact that his forces have had. Snippets from the report:
About 2,000 of the 12,000 people who used to live in the village had come back.

Colonel Ojumbo, a Kenyan army officer, has a battalion under his command of about 850 men. Seven different nationalities of African soldiers answer to his orders, but the area they cover is vast - hundreds of square kilometres.

The colonel said it was probably the most volatile region in Darfur, and the threat of attack from Arab militias was constant.

By the end of September, there are due to be 7,500 AU troops in Darfur, and that figure is expected to grow to 12,500 by early next year.

The mandate of the AU forces is to oversee the ceasefire between government troops and the rebels, to report violations of that ceasefire and to protect humanitarian workers and AU monitoring forces.

It only extends to protecting villagers should they come under attack, or be threatened, while AU forces are in the vicinity.
Full report.

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Sunday, August 21, 2005

African Migrants: The Hunt for 20,000 Workers

A blog called African Migrants "Thoughts and Reflections on African Migration and Settlement in Australia" has a post dated Aug 16, 2005 saying the Australian government is trying to attract 20,000 workers from across Europe, Asia and Africa to replenish the dwindling labour supply and rescue key industries from the impending labour shortages.

[Australian officials ought to visit refugee camps in Chad where 200,000 Sudanese people are sitting, twiddling their thumbs - at least 10% might be interested in a better life in Australia. Refugees, while they are imprisoned in refugee camps with little to do, should be taught how to read, write and speak English - and French - as it could help them make a fresh start with their children in another country]

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Professor Justin Holcom inspired by Sudan chaplains

Justin Holcomb, a University of Virginia professor, has just returned from a trip where he worked with chaplains in South Sudan. An article in today's Daily Progress by Melanie Mayhew entitled "Professor inspired by Sudan chaplains" says the chaplains asked Holcomb to share their story in the hope that the international community will get involved in bringing about Sudanese peace. Here is part of it, in snippets from the article:

Despite the extreme danger, Holcomb, 31, has repeatedly returned to the Sudan to help pave the way to peace, one chaplain at a time.

He spends one-month stints training chaplains to serve as intermediaries between the northern Sudanese government, the southern Sudanese rebel army SPLM, soldiers, prisoners of war, civilians and the various military or militia organizations. The chaplains' selfless ministry transcends politics, religion, language, ethnicity - and war, he said.

Holcomb teaches the Christian chaplains biblical and theological studies and asks each chaplain to read the Koran.

During his trips to the south of Sudan, Holcomb has seen the horrifying remnants of one of Africa's longest-running wars between the Christian and animist South and the Muslim, Arab-speaking North. In one village, he saw the site of the mass murder of 10 male villagers who were butchered with machetes in front of their family and friends. The killers put the remains in a pot and force-fed them to villagers, Holcomb said.

Civilians in the Sudan deal with constant attacks, and not just from the north, Holcomb said. A Christian terrorist group, the Lord's Resistance Army, abducts southern Sudanese children and attacks women at water wells. The group's campaign of demoralization includes cutting off mothers' breasts so they can't feed their children, beating babies in front of their mothers and severing mothers' lips and ears so they can't communicate with their children, Holcomb said.

"Terror is an amazing way to control," said Holcomb, who's seen a woman with her lips reattached after one of these attacks.

"I look at American culture through a completely different lens," he said. "It causes me to interpret success differently."

"The chaplains in the SPLA are my heroes," he said. "They do the stuff with their lives that I theorize about."

Please read full story.

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Sudan: France is helping Darfur more than Saudi Arabia

Today's Washington Post prints a letter to the Editor from Jean-David Levitte, Ambassador of the French Embassy in Washington, as a rebuttal to the paper's unfair criticism of France's role in the Sudan. Mr Levitte points out France is contributing about $100 million to help Darfur, and it has pledged about $144 million for Sudan during the next two years.

As stated here several times before, France has been of huge help to Sudan. The French were the first in the West to send troops to the Sudan/Chad border for the airlift of emergency aid into Darfur which saved a lot of lives. For all we know, the 200 French soldiers may still be there.

Also (thanks to Eric at Passion of the Present for pointing it out) on page 2 of the above link, there is a letter from Rihab Massoud, Charge d'Affaires at Saudi Arabia's Embassy in Washington who reveals Saudi Arabia's contribution of USD 13.7 million. [Chicken feed compared to what Britain alone has contributed to Darfur.] Here is a copy of the letter:

We Are Helping Sudan

"Arabian Shame" drastically understated the amount of assistance Saudi Arabia gives to Sudan. During the past three decades, Saudi Arabia's foreign aid has averaged about 4 percent of its gross domestic product, well above the official U.N. goal of 0.7 percent.

In addition to the $3 million donated to the U.N. Darfur campaign last year, Saudi Arabia contributed $10.7 million in August 2004 for food and medicine for the region's displaced people through the Saudi Red Crescent Society. This supplemented its humanitarian relief, which has included supplying power generators; drilling wells; a 200-bed field hospital and clinics; and dispatching a Saudi medical team to provide urgent care.

In April Saudi Arabia sent 40 tons of medical equipment and foodstuffs to support the displaced and needy in Darfur. Since last summer, it had dispatched 46 planeloads of aid to western Sudan. In addition to relief assistance for Darfur, Saudi Arabia has given emergency relief aid to Sudan when it has been afflicted by floods, as happened in 2001 and 2003.

RIHAB MASSOUD
Charge d'Affaires
Embassy of Saudi Arabia
Washington
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Blogger war ends with partnership

Nice article by Dawn Eden at New York Daily News - Dawn Eden's Blog On! about how Coalition for Darfur blog started. Steve Dillard writes a post on it.

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Saturday, August 20, 2005

Darfur rebels to launch "unofficial" talks in Tanzania

This must be the "conference" the Darfur rebels said they needed in order to get their act together before peace talks resume August 24:

Kuwait News Aug 19 says the Sudanese government and Darfur rebels are scheduled to kick off "unofficial" talks in Tanzania on Saturday. This is in preparation to hold the next round of negotiations, said head of the Sudanese delegation to the negotiations Majthub al Khalifah on Friday. Excerpt:
Khalifah told reporters that talks will deal with both sides' various points of views in addition to the negotiation process "in an attempt to bring the visions close to each other prior to holding the sixth negotiation round in Abuja."
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UNHCR High Commissioner to visit Sudan

On Aug 19 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced in Geneva that its High Commissioner Antonio Guterres will start next Monday a 10-day mission to Khartoum, Darfur, Southern Sudan, Chad and Kenya.

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Friday, August 19, 2005

Monthly Report of the UN Secretary-General on Darfur - 11 August 2005

Despite few casualties in Darfur, conditions are steadily deteriorating says United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his latest report to the UN Security Council.

While deaths from clashes between Sudanese Government forces and armed factions in Darfur have declined, Mr Annan warns in a new report that the ensuing "descent into lawlessness" - looting and rebel attacks against civilians and aid workers - has only intensified insecurity in Darfur.
"While the daily rate of casualties from fighting has declined in recent months, the damage to the social and economic fabric in Darfur and the longer-term costs of this conflict are steadily becoming clearer," says Mr. Annan in his monthly report to the Security Council, which notes that as of 1 July, 3.2 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance and 1.9 million were living in crowded camps in Sudan.
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Sudanese president urges U.S. to pressure Darfur rebels to stick to peaceful solution

What makes the Darfur rebels think they can keep getting away with avoiding peace talks with their government? On August 18 Kuwait News reports the Sudanese president complained to visiting US congressman Christopher Smith and his delegation that negative signals from Congress have emboldened the rebels to drag their feet on carrying on negotiations with the Sudanese government, said Sudanese News Agency.

He's probably right. The rebels must think if the Americans are on their side, the rest of the West is too, encouraging and glorifying them as freedom fighters. There was a time last year when the tide started turning against the rebels but they did not read the signs from the West. It took the UN to point out to them the error of their ways. As a result, they went back to the negotiating table.

African rebels do not appear very educated or worldly. It is doubtful if their rag bag army is disciplined or sophisticated in dealings with educated negotiators. Maybe when it comes to peace talks, rebels fear being out of their depth and suspect they may get railroaded into deals that can't be translated to those in the field. As pointed out in yesterday's post, agreements by Darfur's rebel leaders at previous peace talks was not adhered to by rebel commanders in the field.

The two main Darfur rebel groups JEM and SLA have had their differences. My understanding is JEM sprang out of the SLA. Who knows, by the time peace is agreed with leaders of JEM and SLA, some rebels may break away and pose threats elsewhere. They all need eat, make a living and raise their families. Lawless Darfur. Anarchy reins.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Sudan: Could military intervention enforce peace in Darfur?

It seems only American academics and 20-30 somethings sitting in cushy armchairs in the U.S. who have never done a day's service in the military, have no compunction suggesting military intervention (an act of war) in Darfur would help "save" more lives. None of them say whether this would be done with a UN Resolution (China and Russia would block it) which countries should (or would be willing to) invade Sudan without a UN Resolution, how long they would occupy, who would pay and what the objective would be. Overthrow the regime in Khartoum? And replace it with what? Meanwhile, what would become of the people most in need of aid if humanitarian relief workers were evactuated or dismissed from the country? They would probably perish.

As said here many times before, I think military intervention in the Sudan would make Iraq look like a picnic. It would set the tinder box of Africa alight. Jihadists would leap out of the woodwork from all four corners. It would create a bloodbath. And defeat the current objective of providing unimpeded access for aid and helping those most in need while steering the Sudanese to ceasefires and peace agreements using diplomatic processes, carrots and sticks. People who think courageous Arab warriors (who are highly skilled horsemen and camel riders, can read the sand like the back of their hand and subsist on next to nothing in searing heat and blinding dust) wielding throat cutting sabers are not a mighty force to be reckoned with, are living on cloud cuckoo land.

A study by Dr Matthew Krain [an American I guess] is published in the September 2005 issue of International Studies Quarterly. The study shows some types of military interventions can slow or stop genocide. According to an article at EurekAlert! today, the study is the first to examine the effectiveness of military action on the severity of ongoing instances of genocide and polititcide*. Excerpt:
Krain's study examines factors affecting all ongoing instances of state-sponsored mass murder from 1955 to 1997 and simulates the effects of interventions on two cases, including the current case of mass murder in Darfur, Sudan. His results also confirm that attempts to intervene as impartial parties seem ineffective.

"By finding that increasing the number of interventions against perpetrators of genocide or politicide reduces severity this study confirms that international interventions against perpetrators do save lives," Krain concludes."
Dr Krain is associate professor of Political Science and chair of the International Relations Program at the College of Wooster. He specializes in the study of contentious politics and large-scale political violence and has written scholarly books and articles on repression, human rights violations, revolutions, civil wars, and genocide and politicide.
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*Definition of Genocide, Politicide, Mass Murder, Democide:

Genocide: among other things, the killing of people by a government because of their indelible group membership (race, ethnicity, religion, language).

Politicide: the murder of any person or people by a government because of their politics or for political purposes.

Mass Murder: the indiscriminate killing of any person or people by a government.

Democide: The murder of any person or people by a government, including genocide, politicide, and mass murder.

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Darfur: What are the oil rich Arabs doing to help Sudan?

Here we go again. African Union short of funds for Darfur mission. Same old violin and press hype. Unending propaganda.
"Within three months we will not be able to pay the wages of our troops who are on the ground there," an AU official said today.

"The international community, UN, European Union and NATO can't ask us to increase our force in Darfur and then not come up with the money," the official added.
Oh for goodness sake, what a load of propaganda: BLAME IT ON REBELS AND AFRICANS AND THEIR POLITICS -- NOT the West which is doing much to help the Sudan and drought-stricken African states.

What are the oil rich Arabs doing to help? Why are Khartoum and the African Union not leaning on their Arab neighbours and the Arab League? Where are all the Muslim clerics on this? Sixteen months have gone by and these questions, raised through blogging about Darfur, still remain unanswered.

African Union short of funds for Darfur mission

IRIN Photo: The AMIS headquarters in Khartoum

Darfur rebels cost Western taxpayers $252 million a year for AU troops

Oil is rocketing in price and yet oil rich Sudan is still not managing to feed and protect its own people. What is the Khartoum regime doing with Sudan's oil revenues? If they cannot install law and order to protect citizens and enable them to grow their own food and make a living why does it - and all the countries within the Arab League and African Union - not foot the bill for African Union security forces and expand their mandate in Darfur?

The international community has bent over backwards to help and feed 2.5 million Sudanese. It has provided an incalculable amount of aid, education, medicine, shelter, latrines, water pumps, aircrafts, trucks, transport for troops, accommodation and military hardware, not to mention shouldering the cost of 10,000 aid workers and all that goes with it. Sudan's cost to the West is running into billions of dollars, without even a word of thanks in return.

Either the Darfur rebel leaders sort out a peace deal starting August 24 or they go to jail. End of. I for one am sick of them. Bunch of moronic lowlifes. Who is supporting and funding them? We never get answers to these questions or find out how come Darfur rebel group leaders are based in Europe and affording world travel while keeping their cause going indefinitely for years on end.

Why are questions not being asked - is this a multi-billion dollar aid scandal or what? How many years will the Darfur rebellion continue: twenty years? At a cost of another two million lives? Easily. The rebels are young men who are not gainfully employed or educated and do not know any different. It is a way of life for them. Banditry and looting is how they make their living and get their guns, fuel, satellite phones, sunglasses, radios and food on the table.

How much longer do we in the West have to stomach listening to know-it-all Africans thumbing their noses at the West's help while lecturing on "African solutions to African problems" and not lifting a finger to help? No wonder Africans have a reputation for being lazy without any conscience.

Recently, the head of the African Union said in 27 years time Africa's population will have doubled and if things don't change drastically soon it will become completely unmanageable for the rest of the world.

Already there are too many people on this planet. Experts say the Earth's current population of 6 billion is too much, that it can only comfortably sustain 2 billion at a time and things will get worse for many as the planet feels strains of people pressure.

The only solution is for all those in need to walk out of Sudan so everyone can pull out and leave the rebels and their so-called government to it. Most of us know about global warming and changing climates and that deserts are no place to live. The world will experience even more shortage of water and it will get worse. Leave Sudan. Go to Uganda or DRC. It's lush there with plenty of water, greenary and wildlife.

Vast regions of the world and areas within the United States and Canada are uninhabited for a reason. Why should the deserts of Africa, and in particular the Sudan, be any different?

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Darfur rebels' playing for time (again) costs countless lives and a fortune in aid

Long overdue Darfur peace talks are due to resume August 24 but, once again, despite promises to resume peace talks, the Darfur rebels have asked for a postponement of the meeting with their government.

Reuters reports today that Jan Pronk, the UN's top envoy in Sudan, speaking after two days of meetings with SLA commanders, said they had requested the delay to hold a rebel movement conference to reach a unified position in the negotiations with Khartoum. Excerpt from the report:
"If a postponement is unavoidable ... it should be a very brief postponement," Mr Pronk told reporters. "But not a long postponement because that will not be accepted."

"The commanders are united in their desire to continue the talks in order to reach a peace agreement by the end of this year," Pronk said.

He said he had advised them to hold the planned conference for all SLA commanders, political and humanitarian officials across Darfur in September or October.

The rebel leadership has quarrelled at previous rounds of talks in Abuja.

Pronk said that if the SLA did not reach a deal this year, they would have to negotiate under pressure next year, when he feared donors would reduce their humanitarian aid to Darfur.

"We are now entering a critical stage of the talks."
Note, the report says agreements with Darfur rebel group leaders have often been ignored by commanders on the ground, but Pronk said they now recognised the need for a deal to end the violence in Darfur. Oh yeah, sure. We've heard that before. How can one view a bunch of rebels as capable or believe a word they say? They appear nowhere near disciplined enough and come across as a shambolic bunch of cold blooded murderers, thugs and bandits whose word means nothing.

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Sudan: Government forces relocations from camps around Khartoum

It's sickening that one can't believe a word from the Sudanese government or the Darfur rebels who are rebelling at a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in aid. The longer this goes on, the more dependent Sudanese will be on aid. Those responsible ought to be arrested by the African Union and put on trial for crimes against humanity.

Today's report by Reuters' excellent correspondent Opheera McDoom in Khartoum says Jan Pronk heard reports in the past day of forced relocations from camps around Khartoum, which house around 2 million people mostly from Darfur and South Sudan, despite promises from the government they would be consulted before anyone was moved from the slum areas. Excerpt:
"I deplore that strongly ... promises have been made of consultation and I'm afraid to have to conclude that that consultation did not take place," he said.

Pronk said there had been violence but did not give details, saying the authorities had prevented U.N. personnel from entering the area.

Earlier this year, thousands were forcibly moved to a desert area about 35 km (22 miles) from Khartoum. Residents complained it did not have sufficient water or health services and that they could no longer afford to get to town to work.

The governor of Khartoum said he needed the land for regular, planned housing and that he had consulted with local committees before moving the people.
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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Sudan: Darfur 'descent into lawlessness' - Annan

A report by the Press Association in this morning's Scotsman and at Virgin.net says UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has accused Sudanese rebels of increasing abductions, extortion and banditry in a "descent into lawlessness" that has intensified insecurity in Darfur. Excerpts:
The targeting of humanitarian workers, harassment and looting of civilians, and "unprecedented criminality" in the town of Nyala are also part of the "dangerous pattern" of violence caused by the prolonged conflict, he said.

"While the daily rate of casualties from fighting has declined in recent months, the damage to the social and economic fabric in Darfur and the longer term costs of this conflict are steadily becoming clearer," Annan said in the report to the UN Security Council obtained on Tuesday.

"I urge both parties to recognise that despite some stabilisation of the security situation in Darfur, at a deeper level, living conditions are steadily deteriorating," he warned.

The secretary-general demanded "urgent corrective action" by the rebels and the government.

He noted that the government still shows no intention of disarming the Janjaweed or other militias, "and is yet to hold a significant number of them accountable for the atrocities of earlier months".

Second, Annan said, the government and rebels must prepare to reach an agreement at the next round of peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria, on August 24 on the difficult and divisive issues of sharing power and wealth "which are at the root of the conflict in Darfur".
UN's Kofi Annan accuses SLA and JEM of banditry

Today's Guardian report says Kofi Annan accuses SLA and JEM, of banditry:
The secretary-general blamed the SLA and the JEM - the rebel groups that first took up arms in Darfur and last month signed a declaration of political principles with the government outlining a long-term solution to the Darfur crisis - for the "considerable rise" in July in abductions, harassment, extortion and looting.

The abduction of Sudanese working for private aid organizations reached "alarming proportions" at the beginning of July with 10 being held by the SLA, he said. Ministry of Health teams conducting polio vaccinations were also abducted, he said.
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Aug 16 - UN Mission reports fresh violence and looting in Darfur.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Sudan: Abyei Boundary Commission report

On May 26, 2004 at peace talks in Naivasha, Kenya the Sudanese government and John Garang's South Sudan rebel group SPLM/A exchanged protocols dealing with the outstanding issues of power sharing, the two disputed areas of Nuba and Southern Blue Nile, and a third disputed area, Abyei.

On July 13, 2005 UNMIS announced the Abyei Boundary Commission report was to be released to the Sudanese Presidency within a few days.

The Abyei Boundary Commission is made up of five international boundary specialists and one representative from each of the two parties. The chairman of the commission is Don Petterson, a former US ambassador to Sudan.

Excerpt from Crisis Group Report August 9, 2005:
Abyei was defined under the CPA as the traditional territory of the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms transferred to Kordofan in 1905. The Abyei Boundary Commission defined this as a broad area stretching from the borders of Bahr el-Ghazal, east to the border with Upper Nile, and north to the villages of Umm Sakina, Turda and Edd Dibekir.

The district of Abyei, which South and North both claim, was one of the most divisive issues during the negotiations, and it is a potential flashpoint in the immediate aftermath of Garang's death. The recent report of the Abyei Boundary Commission defined the area broadly, stretching well north of the Bahr el-Arab (River Kiir), and well east of Abyei town, to the Upper Nile border. The report was met with threats of violence by the elements of the Misseriya community who continue to view the Abyei agreement, with its built-in referendum to choose between joining the North or South, as a zero-sum game in which they risk losing their traditional grazing routes to the Dinka and ultimately to an independent South. Although the parties agreed the Commission's decision would be binding, President Bashir has stated publicly that he disagrees with it, and hard-line elements in Khartoum may seek to use the Misseriya as proxies to destabilise the region and scuttle the CPA, particularly as the Commission included the region's oil areas within Abyei's boundaries.

Many Ngok Dinka, the inhabitants of this region, have senior SPLM positions and were close to Garang. Those relationships made negotiating the Abyei issue more difficult, as Garang had little room to manoeuvre and had to satisfy their demand for the historically promised (but never implemented) referendum. That many senior Ngok Dinka in the SPLM who shared a special relationship with Garang will not necessarily enjoy the same support from Salva Kiir could emerge as a fault-line if tensions in Abyei continue to heat up. The Ngok Dinka and Misseriya communities must receive assurances that their land and grazing rights will be guaranteed irrespective of the referendum's outcome.
[For analysis of the Abyei question, see Crisis Group Report, The Khartoum-SPLM Agreement, op. cit., as well as Crisis Group Africa Briefing No. 4, Sudan's Other Wars, 23 June 2003; Crisis Group Africa Report No. 65, Sudan Endgame, 7 July 2003; and Crisis Group Africa Report No. 73, Sudan: Towards an Incomplete Peace, 11 December 2003.]
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UN envoy continues talks with southern rebel leaders, civil society

UN News Centre August 15 confirms Jan Pronk, the top United Nations envoy in Sudan, has met with opposition leaders in the capitol, Khartoum, and will head to Darfur today for a two-day visit to North and South Darfur where he is expected to assess the humanitarian and security situation there. Report excerpt:
"The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reported that Mr Pronk met Friday with senior members of the SPLM and civil society groups.

The meeting focused mainly on the Abyei Boundary Commission's report, which was released in mid-July.

Abyei is a disputed enclave in northern Bahr el-Ghazal province, and negotiations on its status were considered a main concern in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which in January ended Sudan's two decade war between southern-based rebels and the Government. Mr. Pronk urged that the issue be dealt with as a high priority item on the agenda of the Presidency."
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70% of increased aid needs in Sudan are in the East and South
"Meanwhile, on the humanitarian front, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has expressed concern about the chronically impoverished regions of Bahr el-Ghazal in the South, and the Kordofans in central Sudan and Red Sea state and Kassala in the East.

The East and Bahr El Ghazal account for 70 per cent of the increased needs in Sudan.

WFP has warned that its response is severely hampered by critical funding shortages, the late arrival of donor funds and severe shortages of Jet-A1 fuel - as well as limitations on road deliveries and airlifts imposed by the rainy season. These problems sabotaged WFP's efforts to deliver by air and pre-position food aid before rains cut road access in much of the south."
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Mistriyah in north Darfur, is the heartland of the powerful Arab Rizeigat tribe, of which Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal is the chief

The following are a series of notes to myself for future reference:

Musa Hilal, who is suspected by the US state department of being a leader of the Arab Janjaweed militia, is a tribal leader from northern Darfur who lives in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. He is thought to be running one of 16 known Janjaweed bases.

Last July, the Guardian spoke to a deserter from a training camp run by Mr Hilal, who said the Janjaweed commander whipped up racial hatred among his fighters. When the recruits first arrived in the camp, at Mistiriyha in north Darfur, Mr Hilal made a speech in which he told them that all Africans were their enemies.
"Musa Hilal said: 'Zurgha [blacks] always support the rebels. We should defeat the rebels,'" said the deserter, Mustafa Yusuf, 18. Mr Yusuf also witnessed Mr Hilal leading troops into battle. "Musa Hilal led the troops. He was in the Landcruisers, and there were people on horses," he said.
Mistiriyha, the heartland of the powerful Arab Rizeigat tribe, of which Musa Hilal is the chief.
U.N. sources say Hilal is likely to be on a list of 51 government, militia and rebel leaders suspected of crimes against humanity in Darfur which was handed to the International Criminal Court in April, 2005.
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Excerpt from HRW Sudan: Darfur Destroyed: SUMMARY dated May 2004:

Some Arab nomads are given automatic arms and free rein to attack their usual African sparring partners, in the name of government counterinsurgency.130

Many or most of the Janjaweed leaders were emirs or omdas from Arab tribes, and several were appointed by the government in the administrative reorganization of the mid-1990s. The participation by ethnic-political leaders leads to increasing ethnic polarization as members of one ethnic group are summoned and recruited by their leaders to join in a free-for-all war against another ethnic group.

The Janjaweed are not simply a few side-lined ostracized outlaws, as the government suggests. Among the leaders participating in the war in Darfur against the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa are:

- Hamid Dawai, an emir of the Beni Halba tribe and Janjaweed leader in the Terbeba-Arara-Bayda triangle where 460 civilians were killed between August 2003 and April 2004. He has residences in Geneina and Bayda.

- Abdullah abu Shineibat, an emir of the Beni Halba tribe and Janjaweed leader in the Habila-Murnei area. He has residences in Geneina and Habila.

- Omda Saef, an omda of the Awlad Zeid tribe and leader of the Janjaweed from Geneina to Misterei. He has a residence in Geneina.

- Omar Babbush, an omda of the Misseriya tribe and leader of the Janjaweed from Habila to Forbranga, with a residence in Forbranga.

- Ahmad Dekheir, an omda of the Ma'alia tribe and leader of the Janjaweed in Murnei.

Instead of taking strong action against the Janjaweed, the government has incorporated many into its formal security structures, principally the Popular Defence Forces (PDF) and Border Intelligence Guard, but also the Popular Police (Shorta Shabiya) and Nomadic Police (Shorta Zana). In addition to these "formal" groups, there are other tribal militias armed by the government, such as Musa Hilal's infamous El-Khafif, El-Sariya, El-Muriya (The light, the fast, the fearful), based in the Kebkabiya area of North Darfur.

The Border Intelligence Guard (Istikhbarat Al-Hudud), headed by General Al-Hadi el-Tayeed, appears increasingly to be the body of choice for the integration of Janjaweed. It was created in early 2003 in a public ceremony during which the government granted amnesty to a large number of prisoners, enlisting them to fight the rebels. It is annexed to the army, which funds it, but controlled by Military Intelligence. It is given both arms and logistical help by the army and can call for air and armed support as needed. "This is now the core of the Janjaweed", explained a Sudanese observer.

The government clearly believes it can avoid penalties, making for an easy choice between inaction and the admittedly difficult process of now neutralising the militia groups it created. Unfortunately, the international community has not yet acted to influence this calculation. A government official explained candidly:

There are many in the government who are pleased with the work of Musa Hilal and other Janjaweed leaders, because they've protected the government interests in Darfur. Those who committed war crimes should be brought to justice but we are afraid of the backlash. Musa Hilal for example, has 3,000 to 4,000 soldiers under him. If we arrest him, they will turn on us. The government has to weigh that against the outside pressure to take action, and possible repercussions from inaction.

In early November, Musa Hilal was promoted from a colonel in the PDF to a brigadier general in the General Security Services.
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Excerpt from ICG report 8 March 2005 entitled Darfur: The Failure to Protect (ICG) [Note last paragraph about a third new group, al-Shahamah, is made up of Misseriya in neighbouring Western Kordofan. It emerged in October 2004 and was reportedly led by Musa Ali Muhamadein, a former follower of Popular Congress Chairman Hassan el-Turabi and a former leader of the Popular Defence Forces in Western Kordofan.]
On 18 December, the NMRD signed a separate ceasefire with the government, mediated by Chad. It reaffirms the accords signed with the SLA and JEM and calls for creation of a parallel international monitoring mechanism for its implementation. The government also reiterated its pledge to disarm militias.

While the details remain murky, two conclusions can be drawn. First, the NMRD has received significant support, presumably from either the Chad or Sudan government. Some well-placed sources suggest the seed money for Deby's help originated in Khartoum. Reports from eyewitnesses who have encountered the NMRD in Jebel Moon are that it has new cars and uniforms, rockets, and heavy guns, which suggest an outside backer. Secondly, it does not appear to be receiving Khartoum's support now. It has clashed with government forces on multiple occasions since early September 2004, and at least once with JEM, in late October. Reports of up to three NMRD camps in Chad suggest that if support is still flowing, it originates there.

The second new group, Khorbaj, is predominantly Arab and said to be based in South Darfur. Little is known of it, although anonymous statements have been distributed that claim to represent its views. It has not yet done anything in the field but two versions of its purported intentions are emerging. The first is that it is a government creation, designed to organise the Arabs into a "legitimate" political movement, thus further complicating the situation and undermining rebel claims to represent Darfur in any negotiations. The second posits that it is part of a much larger, still evolving, movement within the Arab tribes to assert their independence from and opposition to the government. There is said to be a growing realisation among many in those tribes that have joined Khartoum's counter-insurgency strategy that they have been badly used and will not benefit from continuing the conflict. Contacts between Arab leaders, in some cases Janjaweed, and the SLA have been increasing since mid-2004, when international pressure to disarm the Janjaweed was at a peak. Fearing they would become scapegoats, some Janjaweed opened channels to explore an alliance.

Some contacts go back even further. A meeting was scheduled in December 2003 between some Arab leaders fighting for the government and then SLA Secretary General Abdallah Abaker, who was killed the following month in a government attack. The government learned of the meeting and bombed the site before it could take place, thus increasing mistrust among the Arab tribes involved and the SLA. The elements within Arab tribes which have concluded the conflict does not serve their interests are now reportedly trying to establish a stand-alone Arab movement in Darfur, to fight against the government and establish ties on equal footing with the SLA and JEM. Khorbaj may be a manifestation of this but too little is known to be certain.

The third new group, al-Shahamah, is made up of Misseriya in neighbouring Western Kordofan. It emerged in October 2004 and was reportedly led by Musa Ali Muhamadein, a former follower of Popular Congress Chairman Hassan el-Turabi and a former leader of the Popular Defence Forces in Western Kordofan. He is said to have died on 30 November of natural causes in the SPLM-held town of Warawar, in northern Bahr el-Ghazal. The group has distributed anti-government pamphlets in parts of Western Kordofan, vowing to fight against dissolution of that state, which has been agreed to in the Nuba Mountains/Southern Kordofan agreement reached between the government and SPLM. There were attacks on government posts in the Western Kordofan towns of Gubeish and Magror in late September and early October, and though blame was originally given to the JEM and SLA, it may be that those operating as al-Shahamah were also involved.

A fourth group, the Sudanese Movement for the Eradication of Marginalisation, apparently debuted in mid-December with a high profile attack on government oil installations at Sharef, near the border of South Darfur and Western Kordofan. It has since emerged that this was an SLA action. Interviews with numerous SLA supporters indicate that it undertook the attack as a response to the government offensive then underway but sought to conceal its identity to avoid international condemnation.
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