SUDAN WATCH: UN's Malloch Brown: AU peacekeeping force in Darfur, the only game in town, isn't properly financed

Friday, September 29, 2006

UN's Malloch Brown: AU peacekeeping force in Darfur, the only game in town, isn't properly financed

Sep 29 2006 Independent - excerpt from interview with UN Deputy Secretary General Mark Malloch Brown:
Nowhere are the new limitations of US power today more exposed than over Darfur, where Washington has used the word "genocide" to condemn the scorched earth policies of the Sudanese government against the people of Darfur and the rebel groups who hide among them. But, says Malloch Brown, in their outrage the US and the UK are, "out there alone and it's counter-productive almost".

"Sudan doesn't see a united international community. It doesn't see its oil customers [China and Russia] or its neighbours in that front row. And that allows it to characterise themselves as the victims of the next crusade after Iraq and Afghanistan. So Tony Blair and George Bush need to get beyond this posturing and grandstanding. The megaphone diplomacy coming out of Washington and London: 'you damn well are going to let the UN deploy and if you don't beware the consequences' isn't plausible. The Sudanese know we don't have troops to go in against a hostile Khartoum government; if Sudan opposes us there's no peace to keep anyway; you're in there to fight a war. It's just not a credible threat."

What is needed instead is two things: "a carefully-modulated set of incentives and sanctions which Sudan needs to understand" and a diplomatic coalition to back them.

Khartoum wants four things: "the normalisation of their relations with the US, UK and others; an opportunity to deploy their new oil wealth and exercise global diplomatic and economic influence; a UN deployment that will increase their authority as the national government of Sudan and not undermine it; and a way of handling the International Criminal Court indictments laid against members of the Khartoum government which they all feel very threatened by. Those are the kind of issues which the Sudanese need to hear a positive message on.

"But in the other pocket there need to be the sanctions. And those pluses and minuses need to be echoed not just by a group of Western leaders but by a much broader cross-section of countries that Sudan respects and trusts. That's what we're now trying to orchestrate. We've been working very hard on getting China to be part of the next set of diplomatic demarches to put pressure on the Sudanese. We're working on how can we bring the major states within the Arab League and the African Union more into frontline diplomacy."

Meantime, he says, the West could do with matching its moral indignation with cash. The food aid pipeline to three million hungry people in Darfur is still $300m short of what is needed. And the African Union peacekeeping forces in the region - inadequate but the only game in town - isn't properly financed till the end of the year. Western governments, he says, "have really taken their eye off the ball on this".

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