Annan says a UN force should be sent to Darfur, even if Sudanese won't agree?
"NATO not UN should be protecting Darfur"
by RN Security and Defence Editor Hans de Vreij:
Lord Owen, a former international peace negotiator believes the plea by UN's Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk for a 'robust' UN force to be sent into Darfur is unlikely to materialise. Lord Owen, formerly EU representative during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina and now a member of Britain's House of Lords, told Radio Netherlands that only NATO would have the capability to do "hard peacekeeping" as he phrased it.
However, he added that NATO was likely to continue with the new tasks it has in Afghanistan first, before engaging troops to establish peace in Darfur. For the time being, the alliance's role there is limited to providing logistical assistance to a small peacekeeping force from the African Union.
Jan Pronk last week strongly spoke out against any NATO intervention in the region of Darfur. He said that action by NATO would cause,
"...massive support by the whole of the [Sudanese] population against such an intervention. People will think that this is just a third theatre of Western intervention after Afghanistan and Iraq. They will fight."
Instead, Jan Pronk believes a UN peacekeeping force consisting mainly of African and Asian troops with 'enabling' support from Western UN member states would be acceptable for the Sudanese government.
During a brief visit to the Netherlands, UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan said on Thursday that he had sought unspecified military support from the Netherlands and countries like France and the United Kingdom for a new peacekeeping mission in Darfur.
Mr Annan told the NOVA television programme that a UN force should be sent, even if the Sudanese government were not to agree.
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council is yet to give a green light for the dispatching of such a force. But according to Lord Owen, the UN lacks key capabilities for "hard peacekeeping", such as an air force or heavy artillery.
"In many of these regions, you will need this. You can subcontract that to NATO, as we did in Bosnia, but there were a lot of problems with that, such as 'dual-key' command."
Referring to Jan Pronk, Lord Owen added that he respected his views.
"He is an experienced figure; he is there in the field, so I respect his judgment. But he has got a history, he has not always been strong on defence.
Lord Owen referred to the situation in Darfur as,
"... a disgrace. The trouble is, at the moment I don't think the African Union is yet ready to ask for NATO to come in. What we are doing in NATO is right, we are helping the African Union, flying troops in, we're giving them logistical support, we're acting in the background. Personally, I doubt the African Union can deal with Darfur and I think there will come a moment when the states in the region will ask us to go in."
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See NATO ready to help UN in Darfur - What happened to NATO supporting African Union Mission in Darfur?