SUDAN WATCH: Hawkish call to arms ignores realities of Darfur

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Hawkish call to arms ignores realities of Darfur

Here is a copy of a letter by Dave Markland in Vancouver, Canada, published in the Letters section at Straight.com 5 Oct 2006:
Hawkish call to arms ignores realities of Darfur

In July 2004, the report of the UN's International Commission of Inquiry into Darfur concluded that "the Government of Sudan has not pursued a policy of genocide." Instead, horrific attacks by government forces and the Janjaweed are "primarily for purposes of counter-insurgency warfare". Yet nowhere in his piece does Terry Glavin mention the three-year-old rebellion that forms the context for the extreme abuses of human rights being committed in Darfur. While he spares no ink in expressing his desire that Canada "take action" and send a "robust" armed force, Glavin sadly exhausts no effort to deepen his readers' understanding.

For those of us who do wish to educate ourselves about the conflict, an obvious place to start is the leading authority on Sudan, Alex de Waal.

A long-time human-rights advocate, prolific author, and a mediator in this year's multilateral peace talks, de Waal has been unambiguous in his recent comments on the crisis: "The idea of foreign troops fighting their way into Darfur and disarming the Janjaweed militia by force is sheer fantasy," he wrote in the Guardian on September 29. Further, the actions of UN forces operating without the consent of both the Sudanese government and rebel groups would "make the plight of Darfurians even worse". He concludes: "Finding a solution hinges on a sober assessment of what is practical, not on making Darfur a guinea pig for 'the duty to protect' or a test case for a new global moral consciousness."

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