SUDAN WATCH: July 2006

Monday, July 31, 2006

Savedarfur.org wants to spend $50,000 on advert to push for UN force in Darfur?

Save Darfur.org (Washington, DC) is circulating an email asking for 1000 people to donate $50 each for their advert in a local U.S. newspaper.

Does this mean it costs $50,000 for a full-page ad? How many Sudanese children in refugee camps could benefit from school books costing $50,000? What becomes of a newspaper after it is read? Who will really benefit from the advert? Think about it.

Here is a copy of the advert and email from darfur@mail.democracyinaction.org
Save Darfur.org

Dear Supporter,

Click here to make a contribution and see the ad.

Thanks to you and other Darfur activists like you, since Wednesday, over 74,000 messages have been sent to Members of Congress urging adequate funding to protect the people of Darfur.

That's impressive! But we must keep the pressure on all our elected leaders - including President Bush. That's why we're about to do something we've never done before.

President Bush is soon headed to his Texas ranch. To keep the Darfur genocide on his mind even while he's on vacation, we're going to run a full-page advertisement in the Waco, Texas, newspaper (the closest big newspaper to President Bush's Crawford ranch).

Now we are asking for your help to pay for the ad. For a contribution of at least $50, you can sign on and have your name printed in the advertisement in the Waco Tribune-Herald.

But we can only fit the names of 1,000 citizens calling on President Bush to take stronger action in Darfur, so please make your contribution soon.

Click here to make a $50 donation and see what the ad will look like.

The situation in Darfur is critical with hundreds of thousands of innocent people dead millions of men, women and children displaced from their homes and many more at risk.

That is why we are calling on President Bush to:

Push for the deployment of a strong UN peacekeeping force to protect Darfur civilians.

Appoint a Special Envoy to coordinate the U.S. government's Darfur policy and to see that the Darfur Peace Agreement is faithfully implemented.

President Bush must act soon. And we must show him how much Americans are committed to stopping the genocide in Darfur.

Click here to support our work and add your name to the advertisement with a $50 donation today.

Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,

David Rubenstein
Save Darfur Coalition

P.S. Don't forget! September 17 is the Global Day for Darfur with activities around the country and around the world. In New York City, the Save Darfur Coalition is hosting "Save Darfur Now: Voices to Stop Genocide," a rally/concert calling on the United Nations to deploy international peacekeepers to Darfur. Visit http://www.savedarfur.org/now for information and updates.
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Some other points of view

Jul 31 2006 anonymous comment at Coalition for Darfur's blog entry - Show President Bush You Want to Stop the Genocide:
"If the Waco Tribune insists on charging for this F*CK THEM. I wouldn't give them my $50 for anything. Get a f*cking GRIP! B!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jul 31 2006 blog entry by Drima of The Sudanese Thinker - SaveDarfur.org Pushing For UN Troops:
Okay so previously I've talked about how I appreciate Save Darfur's great job in bringing Darfur to the attention of the American public and the world but NOW I don't really think I like THIS. They're organizing a concert with the aim of pushing for UN troops to be sent to Darfur. I've explained before in a simple and straight forward way why I believe the UN troops won't improve the situation. There is strong opposition to UN troops in Sudan and it's growing more by the day. Even Darfur tribal leaders are opposed to UN troops. I'll say it again only with some updates.

Darfur previously = Disaster
Darfur now = STILL a disaster but to a lesser extent
Darfur + UN troops = Bigger disaster
Darfur + AU troops reinforced by UN & NATO = HUGE improvements.
Darfur + UN troops + Al Qaeda = One big ass GIGANTIC Disaster !!!

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Battle between government forces and holdout rebels in Kulkul nr N Darfur's capital Al-Fasher

Darfur rebel group JEM [now part of NRF - the group that aims to overthrow* the regime in Khartoum] said Sudanese government forces had shelled the area of Kulkul, about 35 kilometres (22 miles) from North Darfur's capital Al-Fasher, Sudan Tribune reported today:
"The battle is still continuing," Izz Al-Din Yusuf of the JEM told the daily Al-Ray Al-Aam.

It vowed to retaliate after claiming the government used military planes to quell the unrest, effectively "disregarding an air embargo in that area."

"We will enter Al-Fasher and occupy the airport if the government continues shelling them by planes," Yusuf said, warning citizens to evacuate the area.

The United Nations and African Union missions in Sudan denounced Friday’s attack on the JEM, saying they were "deeply concerned about the fighting."

"The Khartoum regime has begun implementing a military project that aims at an all-out assault on the parties which did not sign the farcical Abuja 'agreement'," JEM spokesman Ahmed Hussein Adam said.
[*Ref Sudan Watch June 2, 2006: "If we do not get our own sovereignty, the only alternative is a forceful change of the government in Khartoum," Khalil Mohammed, Chairman of Darfur rebel group JEM, threatened; Khalil Ibrahim, who took part in talks with Slovenian President Janez Drnovsek on Wednesday, told the Slovenian public broadcaster that his JEM would seek independence if there was no peace in Darfur. "Now as the next step that means that we will ask for self-determination - we're going to have our own country," Khalil told TV Slovenija, which said that this is the first time he has mentioned the possibility of independence]

SLM/A-Haskanita (the faction that's now part of NRF) says SLM/A's Minnawi faction attacked them in Tourra, N Darfur

At the moment I am working on piecing together a list of Darfur rebel groups requested by a Sudan Watch reader. Not a quick or easy task. When completed, I'll publish it here for future reference and update it when changes occur.

Meanwhile, an unsourced report from Al-Fasher at Sudan Tribune July 29, 2006 says SLM/A-Haskanita (the faction that's now part of NRF) claims that SLM/A's Minnawi faction attacked them in Tourra, North Darfur. Note also, the article suggests the mounting military operation undertaken by Sudanese forces against Darfur holdout rebel groups indicates Khartoum has chosen to close the door on talks with the NRF groups:
A Darfur rebel group called upon the International Committee of the Red Cross to contact them in order to deliver 200 POWs, the group also accused the African Union of becoming an ally of the former rebel group which signed the Darfur Peace Agreement.

The Sudan Liberation Movement Haskanita faction - once was part of Minawi faction and now joined the National Redemption Front (NRF) - said in a press statement Sudanese army, Jajaweed militia and the SLM Minawi faction troops attacked their position in Tourra area 25 klm in the north of Al-Fasher North Darfur on Friday 28 July.

The SLM Haskanita spokesperson Isam Eddine al-Haj said in the press statement, Sudanese army aviation from Antonove aeroplane and helicopters participated in the attack.

Al-Haj denounced the African Union stand in the conflict saying it provides logistical support to Minawi group. He said that AU mission in Darfur can be considered as accomplice of the Sudanese government.

The AU headquarters in Al-Fasher hosts, since the signing of the peace deal, the former rebel leader Minni Minawi and his military commanders.

The AU envoy to Sudan yesterday in a joint statement with the UN special envoy to Sudan condemned governmental troops attack against rebels' positions.

"This is typical of the kind of incidents which should normally be investigated by the Ceasefire Commission and the Joint Commission. But the refusal of the DPA signatories to have all inclusive Commissions makes prompt and thorough investigations difficult" said the joint statement of the AU, UN envoys to Sudan. The SLM Haskanita talks for the first time in the press statement about their allied forces to mention the NRF troop.

The mounting military operation undertaken by the Sudanese army against the Darfur holdout rebel groups indicates that Khartoum has chosen to close the door of talks with the NRF groups.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

AU's Colonel Laurens: "Solve lora infernis, unleash hell! We will not tolerate this any more ... if they raise their weapons at you again, kill them"

Today, BBC correspondent Jonah Fisher reports from Khartoum:
This week President Bush met Minni Minnawi, one of the rebel leaders from Darfur in western Sudan. Mr Minnawi is the only rebel leader there who has signed up to a peace deal, but there are fears that this has made matters worse in the region.

Bush and Minnawi

Photo: President Bush urged Mr Minnawi to build support for peace

As the sun beats down on Darfur's dry flat desert, the order goes out from a leader to his men: "Solve lora infernis, unleash hell! We will not tolerate this any more."

These men are not the Janjaweed - the feared militia backed by the Khartoum government and responsible for the worst atrocities of this war. A hundred thousand people have died and two million have been displaced.

They are not the Darfur rebels either - a sprawling mess of armed groups who have targeted aid workers and food convoys.

No, this is the African Union (AU) - the organisation sent to bring peace to Sudan's far west.

Barking out the orders is a man who would not be out of place in a Hollywood film - South African sector commander Richard Lourens.

A veteran of wars in Angola and Namibia, he is not a man who takes failure well.

Sporting a closely trimmed black beard and a macho swagger, he has been in Darfur just a few months but he has had enough of being pushed around in this messy conflict.

Large parts of the surrounding desert are off limits to his patrols and twice in the past two weeks Colonel Lourens' men have suffered the ultimate military humiliation.

Stopped by rebels on a road, the South African soldiers handed over their weapons and vehicles without a shot being fired. Some 45 machine guns and four vehicles were taken.

Traumatised population

As Colonel Lourens reads the riot act, the man at the centre of Darfur's confusion is being acclaimed in Washington as a peacemaker.

For Minni Minnawi, a photo opportunity with President Bush is his reward for bowing to international pressure and signing an African Union-sponsored peace agreement with the Sudanese government.

The problem is that Mr Minnawi's signature has made the situation in Darfur worse, not better.

SLA forces are dividing along tribal lines

A former primary school teacher, Mr Minnawi leads his own faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) - the only rebel group in Darfur to have agreed terms with the Khartoum government.

But the deal has done little for the region's traumatised population and new rebel alliances spring up every few days.

The one positive note is that fighting has now stopped between Mr Minnawi's rebel faction and the Sudanese government.

But with both hands now free he has been able to devote his full attention to what had previously only been a side issue - attacking rival rebel leaders and their supporters.

In one of the African Union camps I spoke to a West African commander. He loaded a detailed map on to his laptop.

"This town is Korma," he said.

Korma and the surrounding villages are dominated by a tribe loyal to SLM Wahid, a rebel group which is opposed to Mr Minnawi and outside the peace agreement.

Taking me through events in meticulous detail, the commander explained how Mr Minnawi's rebels spent the first few days of July clearing villages of people en route to capturing Korma.

At least 80 people had been killed, he said, 18,000 fled for their lives.

"This was ethnic cleansing," he told me. Remaining villagers were being shot on sight, and he said he had seen pictures of two mass graves.

'Part of the problem'

Mr Minnawi's violence has left the African Union humiliated and deeply compromised. When the deal was signed the AU had welcomed him with open arms.

The rebel leader stays inside AU headquarters, eats AU food and his men drive, and on some occasions crash, AU cars. Atrocities have been brushed under the carpet and when Mr Minnawi wants to go into the field, an African Union helicopter is made available to fly him there.

The men of the African Union went to Darfur to help protect its displaced people.

Now they are seen as part of the problem: on the side of the Sudanese government and of Minni Minnawi. They are not welcome in many of the camps they are supposed to be protecting and despite the best efforts of people like Colonel Lourens, their men are demoralised.

Western donors have seen enough.

They want the AU's troubled mission to be replaced by a United Nations force.

President Bush apparently made his support for this proposal clear to Mr Minnawi when the two men met at the White House on Tuesday. But the Sudanese government firmly opposes it. A holy war will greet any western invading force, Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has declared.

So now it seems the AU will stay here in Darfur at least until the end of the year.

A donor conference was held so they could ask for funds to beef up their operations and try to implement fully the peace deal.

The response was lukewarm. They were given only half the money they needed - just enough to continue stumbling along their current path.

Having pushed a partial peace deal onto Darfur the world seems to be walking away from a mess it helped to create.

Out in the desert again, Colonel Laurens is speaking to his men.

"Enough is enough," he shouts.

"We came here to be friends with our African brothers, but that's over. If they raise their weapons at you again - kill them."

Sudanese forces fight JEM rebel holdouts in Jabel Moun area on Sudan-Chad border

The UN and AU have condemned the Sudanese army and militia troops for attacking rebels in Darfur's Jebel Moon area, BBC news reported today. Excerpt:
The attack was against the rebel Justice and Equality Movement, (JEM) which did not sign the [Darfur peace] deal.

Both government and militia troops had been observed massing near the western town of Geneina before the attack on Friday.

An assortment of armed groups that remained outside of the peace agreement, including Chadian elements, are known to be taking shelter in the Jebel Moon mountains.

The attack is confirmation that Darfur's conflict has changed in nature, the BBC's Jonah Fisher reports from Sudan.

JEM spokesman Ahmed Hussein Adam said the Sudanese government was systematically attacking groups who had refused to sign for peace.
Note, the BBC report says the two signatories to the peace agreement - the government and the SLA-Minnawi - are using the agreement as a springboard to attack those outside the deal. I see it as the signatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement combining forces to implement the deal and defend against those who are out to ruin the agreement.

July 29 2006 (Reuters Opheera McDoom) Sources say Sudan forces attack rebel bases: "Yesterday (Friday) all day and until the evening the government of Sudan with the Janjaweed attacked Jabel Moun and Kulkul, north of el-Fasher," Abu Bakr Hamid al-Nur, a rebel NRF commander, told Reuters from Darfur on Saturday. Jabel Moun is a mountainous area on the Sudan-Chad border. Kulkul is 35 km (22 miles) north of Darfur's main town el-Fasher.

Aid group attacked in Deleig camp, W Darfur - 17 women raped by militia outside Kalma camp

July 29 2006 (Reuters Opheera McDoom) Sources say Sudan forces attack rebel bases:
An international aid group was attacked in Deleig camp in West Darfur on July 27 by the displaced who said they were poisoning them with vaccinations, a U.N. report said.

One Sudanese driver was killed and three national staff of the aid groups, which was not named, were injured in the attack.

In South Darfur's vast Kalma camp, 17 women were raped by armed militiamen as they went out to collect firewood last Monday, the Sudanese Organisation Against Torture said.

"During the attack, the militias beat the women with the butt of their guns and flogged them before raping 17 of the women," the rights group said.

Gerard Prunier: Darfur is not genocide. Jim 'Second Superpower' Moore put the spotlight on Sudan's Darfur

July 28, 2006 Genocide Intervention Network news round-up [via CFD]. Excerpt:
Harper's Magazine printed an article in which Gerard Prunier, author of Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide, suggests that too much emphasis is put on the question of whether or not a conflict is "genocide." Darfur was largely ignored until journalists began to paint it as a genocide, says Prunier, and the use of the word has neither increased understanding of the crisis in Darfur nor spurred significant action to end it. Darfur is not necessarily a genocide by his definition, Prunier notes, but he believes that "it is a measure of the cynicism of our times that we appear to think the killing of 250,000 people in a genocide more deserving of our attention than that of 250,000 people in nongenocidal massacres."
Note, from what I have gathered since April 2004, Darfur was largely ignored by journalists and mainstream media until Western activisits and bloggers began putting the spotlight on Darfur, painting it as genocide and demanding action from their political representatives.

Jim 'Second Superpower' Moore put the spotlight on Darfur Sudan

Dr James Moore

Photo: Dr James Moore - one of America's top bloggers - put the world's spotlight on Darfur, Sudan

In August 2005, I wrote the following draft and am publishing it here now for future reference:

Recently, Jim Moore linked to a collection of photos here at Sudan Watch, along with a collection of essays on Darfur, written by activist bloggers around the world. In his blog entry entitled Blogging Darfur, Jim says he thinks we failed to stop genocide in Darfur. Here is a note to Jim which will make him feel embarrassed because he is so modest.

Sorry to disagree Jim. You have deleted the first seven months of your archives at Passion of the Present but I have not deleted mine from sixteen months ago, when you first blogged Darfur. One day, I shall plough through it all and show why I know it is you who put the spotlight on Darfur resulting in the unprecendented visit of Kofi Annan and Colin Powell to Khartoum followed by Tony Blair's (the first visit by a British Prime Minister in over 50 years).

Very few people, if any, other than Joanne and Jim Moore, will know what I am really talking about here, or what I mean by pointing out Jan Egeland's statement made September 28, 2005:
Jan Egeland, UN Switzerland

Photo: UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland gestures as he explains that escalating violence in Darfur is threatening to halt aid work as increasing numbers of international staff come under attack, during a press conference at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Sep 28, 2005.

'If it continues to escalate, if it continues to be so dangerous on humanitarian work, we may not be able to sustain our operation for 2.5 million people requiring lifesaving assistance,' Egeland tells reporters. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
Here is the important part of his message - at the press conference Jan Egeland said:
"We need to have the same kind of pressure on the parties as we had last summer when world leaders really, really put their thumb and their pressure on the Government of Khartoum." Mr Egeland said he no longer felt the same kind of pressure.
Some people such as Eric Reeves, and a blogger or two, published news on Darfur prior to April 2004 but, I know for a fact, sporadic news reports on Darfur went from a handful every few weeks to thousands, seemingly overnight, until the world's spotlight shone so brightly on the Khartoum that the regime there admitted (I shall find the reports one day) they did not know what had hit them, or why. I know why. It was all down to Jim Moore's herculean effort to get unimpeded access for aid into Darfur simply through relentless blogging, linking and connecting, day and night, spreading the word to others all over the world. I doubt anyone can dispute what I am saying here. I saw it with my own eyes and logged some evidence but, unfortunately, do not have the energy to stop and spend months putting it all together in one summary. Maybe one day ...

Meanwhile, here's sending Jim and Joanne much love and huge thanks for everything they did for the people of Darfur.
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Copy of something I had drafted earlier, in March 2005:

Since last April, Jim Moore has given his all putting to good use the technology we bloggers have at our fingertips by highlighting the plight of the Sudanese -- getting word out in the blogosphere for us global citizens here in cyberspace to have a unique opportunity to make a difference -- to use blogging technology to see if it is within our power to make a real difference, get politically aware and involved, learn about Africa, activism and help stop genocide in Darfur.

As far as I am aware, Jim was the first blogger to sound the genocide alert on Darfur (and stay with it all the way every day) before even the US government declared Darfur as genocide. Who knows, Jim could have chosen Somalia or some other hotspot but it was Darfur thanks to he and Joanne and her idea for starting up http://passionofthepresent.org

Jim expended a great deal of effort and spent thousands of hours blogging, connecting, reading, writing, tracking, linking, phoning, emailing and rallying people to bring Darfur to the attention of mainstream media and governments around the world - all at a time when news reports were few and far between. To be blunt, considering now connected we all are, not a lot of bloggers wanted to know. [As an aside, it took a British blogger who works at the BBC to push Darfur up the agenda at BBC News online. This, I know for a fact, was a result of Jim's efforts at a time when there was no political will, very little aid on the scene and the Darfur death toll was reported at 10,000.

Various Sudan experts now put the death toll at 200,000 - 450,000 and rising. Last week, a British government official was reported as saying the crisis in Darfur would continue for another 18-24 months. So, given that bodies like WHO say up to 10,000 refugees in the camps are dying each month from malnutrition or disease, one can't help wondering, if the situation does not improve, that the best case scenario may be a further 240,000 deaths - through non-violence alone - over the next 24 months, on top of the two million Sudanese people who perished in southern Sudan under the present regime in Khartoum.

Over the past year, Jim left no stone unturned in publicising Darfur and use of the tools and technology that we - who enjoy freedom of speech and do not live under dictatorships - have at our fingertips to stop genocide. I have no doubts whatsoever that Jim's efforts generated and maintained a cascade effect on bloggers and mainstream media throughout the world - right up to America's presidential election - bringing Darfur higher onto the daily agendas of the media, politicians and both President Bush and Senator Kerry during their face to face televised debates.

Also, I believe Jim's efforts spawned an effect here in Europe that brought Darfur higher up on the agendas of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other leading politicians. Unfortunately, I do not have evidence to prove this. I only know what I have seen and absorbed since I started tracking blogs and almost every other item online relating to Darfur.

Last year, I exchanged emails with David Sifry, CEO of Technorati, who offered his technicians to look into Technorati's databases to see if it would be possible to piece together some evidence that blogging technology put - and kept - the spotlight on Darfur. Who knows if the data is still out there somewhere.

Bearing in mind that blogging genocide is dismal, gruelling and emotionally draining, Jim blogged eloquent daily alerts of genocide occurring and reminders to us all how it could be within our grasp to make a difference. I witnessed how long it took for bloggers to spare a few column inches for Darfur. Influential blogs, academics and the wired Joi Ito's of the world stayed pretty silent most of the time - except InstaPundit who was brilliant. For Jim, most of the time, it must have seemed like climbing the sheer face of the Eiger with a sack of rocks on his back getting even just a few bloggers to make an effort and spread the word to put pressure on politicians to take action to provide unimpeded access for humanitarian aid into Darfur. The Michael Jackson court case received far more publicity.

By July 2004, when the pressure had built, the so-called "key players" in the Darfur catastrophe said they were taken aback at the sudden but inexplicable media attention on Darfur, finding themselves in the glare of a spotlight. It caught them by surprise. They could give no explanation, were caught out, and admitted they had been too slow to respond with aid. Not to mention the historic visits to Khartoum by Kofi Annan, Colin Powell and Tony Blair. Why Darfur? Why not the DR Congo or Northern Uganda? asked the stunned officials, aid agencies, and the bewildered regime in Khartoum. News reports out yesterday revealed aid agency surprise at why Darfur in western Sudan attracts donations but southern Sudan does not.

For the past eleven months I have read every word Jim has written on Darfur both in his journal and at http://passionofthepresent.org. Jim was probably the only blogger in the world to post daily on the news and bring together links, contacts, people and news from human rights bodies worldwide.

If only there were more bloggers like Jim, putting blogs and the technology we are using right now to good use. He deserves to be applauded for putting the heat on us all, including the UN, to stop 'genocide' in Darfur.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Pronk's statement on oil fields protection is inexact - Sudanese MP

July 28, 2006 SMC/ST article says a Sudanese member of parliament claims a statement made by UN SGSR Jan Pronk on the issue of the protection of oil fields in southern Sudan is inexact [see previous entry here below] - excerpt:
The Energy and Mining Committee at the National Assembly has expressed its surprise at the statements made by the UN secretary-general's representative, Jan Pronk, were he warned against the disruption of security in the south because of what he termed was an oil protecting militia.

In a statement to pro ruling National Congress Party, The Sudanese Media Centre, the chairman of the energy and mining committee in parliament, Hussein Marnot, said the protection of oil companies was the direct responsibility of the armed forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.

He described Pronk's statement regarding these militia forces as "incorrect".

Marnot said the militia Pronk was referring to was in the process of adopting a legal status by joining the SPLM or the armed forces, according to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

He noted that the groups operating under the name "oil security" were regular forces that protected oil fields and companies.

He said, "This takes place through coordination between the Ministry of Oil, police, as well as the armed forces. The description of militia does not befit these forces".
New oil platforms

Photo: New oil platforms are constructed, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2005 near Kotch in southern Sudan.

Tribal violence in South Sudan is more complex - UN Pronk

Click here for a must-read near verbatim transcript of a press conference by UN SRSG Jan Pronk held on 26 July 2006 at UNMIS Press Briefing Room, Ramsis Building. - via Sudan Tribune 28 July 2006. Excerpt from Q&A:
Q Two questions: one: you mentioned that oil companies in the south have their own militias. Could you elaborate on that? Who are these oil companies; are they foreign or national and is anyone negotiating with them on their militias?

Secondly; how seriously do you take the threats from AlQaeda that they will move in Sudan if the UN deployed in Darfur and what has the Government said to you about these threats?

SRSG Pronk: No details about the oil companies and those militias. I see it as a problem and today I am not going further than that. I am highlighting the complexity of the violence in the South. Many people say it is more than tribal, it is economic. Economic not only in the traditional sense of the word - that is the fight for water and all that - but also fight for other resources; fight for land which has been occupied for security reasons for instance by oil companies. People returning to the places where they came from find that the land has been occupied by the oil companies sometimes a decade or fifteen years after they had left and they are being denied access to their title by people in uniform. It is a problem and it will have to be discussed.

I don't know about new [AlQaeda] threats ...
[Note to self to take time out to digest this report. Light blogging over next few days]

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Jan Pronk: Two new Darfur rebel groups G19 & NRF - SLM Abdel Wahid al-Nur declares his aim is to become President of Sudan

Here is the answer to my question about Minnawi and Nur: if Minni Minnawi takes up the top position in Darfur, what becomes of his rival Abdel Wahid al-Nur? UN SGSR Jan Pronk, in his latest blog entry, reveals that this week, Abdel Wahid al-Nur declared that his aim is to become President of Sudan.

Note also, Mr Pronk confirms JEM's aim is not peace but power in Khartoum. Some days I think the Sudanese rebels are all part of one group/strategy.

Jan Pronk blog entry July 22, 2006 - copied here in full:

Ten weeks after the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement the situation is still quite bleak. As I wrote a month ago, the main problems are the lack of implementation and the lack of support. Violations of the agreement continue. Intra SLA fighting has not stopped. Two new movements have emerged. One is called the G19, a group which originally consisted of nineteen people, who were present in Abuja as members or advisors of the SLA delegation, but who increasingly disagreed with the leadership. In Abuja this led to a further split within the SLA, this time without consequences for the negotiations, because the dissenters were not considered strong on the ground. That may have been the case, but the G19 received more and more support amongst those who disagreed with the outcome of the talks. They were able to establish a stronghold in the north-western part of North Darfur, around Musbat and Birmasa. About one month after the signing of the agreement Minnie Minawi's forces attacked them, allegedly with some support from the Sudanese Armed Forces. They fought back, became stronger and presently they seem to be in control of the area concerned.

A second new group is the New Redemption Front (NRF). They seem to have their base in the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), which had participated in the Abuja talks. The JEM has never been strong on the ground, but the movement had quite knowledgeable negotiators with well articulated political objectives. They are supposed to have close ties with the Islamist. However, during the negotiations they never took a religiously inspired or ideological position. Their political demands did not include the establishment of a religious governance system in Darfur. Neither did they have specific religious claims with regard to the negotiations themselves (for instance special considerations for prayer time or during Ramadan). The JEM negotiators were both clever and flexible, up to a point. During the negotiations I more and more got the impression that they were not interested in reaching a result. Their objective did not seem to be peace in Darfur, but power in Khartoum. Because a solution in Darfur would also strengthen the position of the ruling party, the NCP, they would not join a peace agreement and always try to convince the other movements to do likewise.

That is the reason why the JEM could so easily change alliances. First, the movement joined forces with the MRND, a relatively small rebel group with a base close to the Chadian border, which was prevented by SLA to participate in the talks and had declared to fight itself a place at the negotiations table. When the SLA split into two factions which could not decide on common representatives, the JEM became their common spokesman, cleverly retarding any progress in the talks. Later JEM became the prime ally of the SLA faction led by Minnie Minawi, despite the fact that the latter's forces had driven them out of their stronghold around Gereida in South Darfur. Until a week before the closure of the talks the new allies were staunchly rejecting the draft agreement. However, when Minnie Minawi and Abdul Wahid traded places at the table, whereby the former signed the agreement and the latter rejected it, the JEM sided with the faction led by Abdul Wahid. After Abuja the JEM declared its intention to join the struggle of the Beja and the Rashaida in Hamesh Koreib in East Sudan. They brought their (little) forces from Darfur to the East. However, the Beja and Rashaida, who together had formed the Eastern Front, started consultations about peace talks with the Government and declared that the JEM was not welcome in the East.

Shortly thereafter, in June this year, the NRF attacked Hamrat al Sheikh, a small town in North Kordofan. It was a shock. For the first time a place outside Darfur had been attacked. Was this an exception, a guerilla attack to surprise and confuse, or would this be the beginning of the extension of the war in Darfur to other regions of Sudan? It had to be strongly condemned, as a brutal violation of the peace agreements, not only the DPA, but also the previous agreements, based on the N'Djamena cease fire, to which not only the Government and the Minie Minawi faction of the SLA are bound, but also the others, including the JEM, Abdul Wahid's faction of the SLA and all those commanders who at that time were part of SLA, but since then have joined either the G19 or the NRF.

Abdul Wahid must have understood this. He does not want to sign, but he also does not want to violate agreements which he has signed in the past. He has publicly dissociated himself from the NRF, keeping the door open for talks. Some secret overtures have been made, but so far to no avail. In the meantime Abdul Wahid is increasing his demands. This week he declared that his aim is to become President of Sudan. It may have been his answer to the nomination of Minnie Minawi, last week, to the post of Chief Advisor of the Presidency, a position created by the Darfur Peace Agreement. This would make Minnie Minawi officially the number four in the hierarchy in Khartoum and also number one in Darfur, heading the provisional government of Darfur, to be established in due time. Talks after the signing of the DPA could have resulted in a deal between Minnie Minawi and Abdul Wahid to split this powerful new position into two functions, one in Darfur and the other in Khartoum. However, this seems to be a foregone option after Minnie Minawi's official nomination (as of today he has not yet been appointed) and his invitation by President Bush to meet him in the White House. As a signatory to the peace agreement he certainly deserves credit. However, it remains to be seen whether these political and diplomatic steps will contribute to lasting peace. Abdul Wahid does not seem to be interested anymore to share power with Minnie Minawi. I am afraid that each week the chances to get more support to the DPA diminish.

In the meantime there are indications that the NRF and the G19 are closing ranks.The G19, after having been attacked by Minnie Minawi's forces, needed support from where ever they could get it. It means that the JEM, which seems to have access to ample financial resources in the Middle East and thus can provide weapons, has found a new ally. There also seem to be Chadian troops involved, but it is not clear whether they receive instructions from their government or from other power groups in Chad. According to the DPA all combating forces should have disclosed there whereabouts and stay in the areas which they controlled at M-day, when the agreement became operational. After verification of these zones by the African Union stability would be guaranteed by the freezing of the status quo and by demarcating buffer zones, demilitarized zones and humanitarian corridors. Instead Minie Minawi's faction has chosen to attack the G19 as well as the troops belonging to Abdul Wahid's faction. In this situation it will be difficult to verify the positions held by the parties on M-day. It seems that all parties, those who signed and those who did not sign, are trying to expand the area under their control.

In particular Minnie Minawi's faction has been accused of attacking civilians as well, with gross violations of human rights. Minnie Minawi has denied this and as long as an investigation has not taken place he should be given the benefit of the doubt. It is possible that his troops acted against his instructions. It would not be the first time that this has happened on either side of the conflict .The AU has refrained from carrying out an investigation, which makes it difficult to ascertain the truth. However, thousands of people have fled their homes. They have told stories which resemble those of last year, when they were attacked by militia.

All these violations should be a first issue on the agenda of the Cease Fire Commission, but so far it has they have not been addressed. Violations always take place after the signing of such an agreement. That cannot be avoided. However, a good cease fire agreement includes the establishment of institutions which can address such violations, if and when they take place. The Cease Fire Commission provided for in the DPA is such an institution. However, it does not yet function properly, because the two signatory parties - the Government and the Minnie Minawi faction - deny access to that commission to the non-signatories. This is understandable, but it is not wise. If the Abdul Wahid faction, the JEM and the new split factions violate the cease fire, which they have done, they should be taken to task. Denying them access to forums which have been established for that very purpose results in ongoing violations, not addressed, giving all parties, including the Government and Minnie Minawi's faction, an excuse to continue fighting, despite their signature. Is that the intention? We do not know, but we do know that we are caught in a vicious circle.

In my discussions during the peace talks in Abuja I have argued that a peace agreement would be a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for peace. We jumped across a hurdle, a high one, but after that hurdle there was a further track towards the finish. However, parties seem to think that the hurdle is the finish. Many international observers who signed the agreement as a witness declare that those who did not yet sign simply should do so, without further ado. That is a justifiable legal position, but politically it will not work. That has become clear in the ten weeks since the signing of the DPA. In many camps the people simply do not trust the parties that signed.

In some camps this has led to violence and to polarization along tribal lines. The anger is also directed against the African Union, which is not being seen as neutral. Instead the AU is being accused of having taken sides. G19 commanders speak about the AU as 'the enemy'. Troops loyal to Abdul Wahid have denied the AU access to regions which they control. AU escorts and convoys have been ambushed. It is not AMIS fault. The AU is only doing what is has to do according the peace agreement, within its limited capacity. But it is high time to invest in confidence building, by addressing all violations without exception, by allowing non-signatories to participate in talks to implement the cease fire, by starting all-inclusive preparations for the Darfur Darfur Dialogue and by including all displaced people, irrespective of their tribe or of their political affiliation, in the reconstruction of their villages. Last but not least confidence building requires a quick, serious, transparent and credible start with the disarmament and demobilization of the Janjaweed. Without demobilization of the militia and a visible disarmament of the Janjaweed the victims of the atrocities will not believe that the Darfur Peace Agreement, upon its signing, was meant to be a jump stride forward on the road towards sustainable peace.

UN envoy condemns killing of Sudanese officials at Hassa Hissa camp, W Darfur

July 25, 2006 UN News Centre report:
In a formal statement today, Jan Pronk, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Sudan, expressed concern about the lack of security and the resulting deterioration in conditions in IDP camps that last Thursday led to the three members of the State Water Corporation, who were testing water at the Hissa Hissa camp, being beaten to death by IDPs.

In many such camps, Mr Pronk said, "the conditions for the conduct of humanitarian activities are no long available or significantly affected by insecurity, which has been worsened by a wide availability of weapons."

According to the recently signed Darfur Peace Agreement, responsibility for the internal security of those IDP camps under Government control falls to the Government in cooperation with the African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission.

Mr Pronk expressed hope that the AU will soon be able to re-establish its police presence in the camps, after it was suspended due to attacks on its personnel. "AU deployment inside IDP camps is crucial to ensure security within the camps and provide the adequate environment for humanitarian work," he said.

SLA arms inside Zamzam camp N Darfur raising concern

UN humanitarian staff in Darfur cannot reach at least one in five of those in need of assistance because of the ongoing violence and insecurity there, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reported today, July 24 2006. UN News Centre report excerpt:
Direct attacks against humanitarian workers, acts of banditry and fighting among rebel groups mean the UN has access to less than 80 per cent of beneficiaries, well below the rates achieved in 2004, according to UNMIS.

The mission said it is also worried that the security conditions inside some camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) are so poor that humanitarian operations there have been placed at risk. In Zamzam camp in North Darfur, the presence of arms belonging to elements of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), one of the region's rebel groups, is raising concerns. Last Thursday IDPs killed three government workers and a police officer at Zalengi camp in West Darfur.

The reports come as the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, completed a two-day tour of South Darfur as part of his regular visits to the three states in the region.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Darfur conflict can be resolved within AU - Sudanese Ambassador

Excerpt from AND/Zambian Post report July 24, 2006:
The Darfur conflict can be solved within the African Union, Sudanese Ambassador to Zambia Salah Mohamed Ali has said.

In an interview with The Post, Ambassador Ali said there was no need for a United Nations intervention force to move into the war ravaged Darfur region.

"Our position is that the African Union Military Intervention Force (AMIS) should be helped to continue with its mandate by making available to it more resources and logistics," he said.

"The AU should continue other than switching to the UN because that will be a testimony to the failure of the AU and Africa as a whole to solve our own problems. Darfur conflict is an African problem and it should be solved within the African context."

Ambassador Ali said Sudan would soon come up with a road map for resolving the conflict.

"Our President made our position on changing mandate to UN very clear when he met Koffi Anan during the AU summit in Banjul. Within a month, we will draw up a road map and submit it to the UN which will consider our envisaged plan on resolving the conflict and give its position," he said.

Ambassador Ali said the AU had played a big role in the peace process and would succeed more if resources were made available.

"The AU helped us reach ceasefire between government and three rebel movements, unfortunately two other movements didn't sign in May but the government is doing its best to bring them to join the peace process," he said.

"The AU would succeed more with increased resources and logistics because the real problem is shortage of funds. At the donors' conference on July, 18 in Belgium the AU requested for about $400million and the conference managed to secure $250 million and we are hopeful that it will help them perform better."

Ambassador Ali said the pace of implementing provisions of the peace agreement was satisfactory and things were going well.

"The process suffered a major setback in July last year with the death of John Garang, he had an ambitious vision to establish a new Sudan as he called it and his death was not just a loss to SPLMA (Sudan People's Liberation Movement/ Army) and Sudan but the whole of Africa," he said.

"But we are getting somewhere and even Sudan's mediation between the Ugandan government and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) means that we have a fully fledged government which has assumed its role not only locally but in the region as well."

Salva Kiir speech to Sudanese community in US Omaha

Excerpt from speech of Sudanese First Vice-President Salva Kiir in a meeting with the Sudanese community in Omaha, Nebraska on July 22, 2006:
Lastly, but not least, my most important message to all of our people inside Sudan and those of you in the Diaspora is that, unite! Our disunity is our greater enemy. I appeal to you all to reject your tribes, and unite under one tribe, the SPLM!!! Our disunity will not overcome the challenges ahead of us. Our disunity will not make us vote properly, and wisely when the day of the referendum comes. You all know that our final destiny depends on our unity. No nation in Africa and other parts of the world is built by one tribe. SPLM Oyeee! Thank you.
Salva Kiir

Photo: Salva Kiir is addressing the SPLM Chapter leaders in North America at the Marriott Hotel in Washington, USA. Full speech (Sudan Tribune)

SLM/A's Minnawi heads to Washington with chief of Dar Zaghawa tribe

The chairman of Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), Mani Arkoi Minawi, has made a stopover, in Khartoum Airport, for seven hours on his way to USA. Minawi held a meeting with leaders of the SLM advanced delegation, in Khartoum, where he briefed them on the situation in the field, Sudan Tribune reported July 23, 2006:
According to Al-Khartoum newspaper, Minawi received a briefing from the advanced delegation about the being carried out by the delegation regarding the implementation of the agreement and preparation of his swearing in as president's assistant, after he returns from USA, which will last in a week.

Minawi would be accompanied, in his visits to USA, by a number of advanced delegation members including Mariam Tex, Mustafa Abdallah Jamil and the supreme chief of Dar Zaghawa tribe. The SLM Secretary General Mustafa Tairab and the chief commanders of the SLA Juma Haggar will be part of his delegation.

The US President George W. Bush is expected to meet Minawi on 27 July. Minawi will discuss the Darfur Peace Agreement implementation and the role of the UN force in peace implementation.

Among rebel leaders in Darfur, only Minawi was persuaded by U.S. negotiator Robert Zoellick to support the power-sharing agreement in May. Now Minnawi is facing rising opposition to his leadership among commanders in northern Darfur, including those from his Zaghawa ethnic group, according to the United Nations.

Darfur holdout group JEM/NRF claims it controls N Darfur

July 24 2006 Sudan Tribune report excerpt:
The National Redemption Front (NRF) declared that the State of North Darfur is now entirely clear of any forces belonging to Minni Minawi, the signatory to the Abuja Agreement, DPA in last May.

But Minni Minawi the leader of one of the SPLM groups, denied the NRF statement. Minawi said Khalil has been, during the last four years, alleging that his troops were controlling regions in Darfur, but that was not true. "I believe Dr Khalil's statements would be like his previous ones" he added.

Khalil Ibrahim, a member of the NRF Leadership Authority and President of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said that the NRF had to repel continuous attacks by "Minawi's forces and his Janjaweed and government allies".

"The mission is now accomplished leaving the NRF in full control of the entire State of North Darfur. Minawi's forces have been driven out of Forawya, Umbaru, Kornoi, Bir Mazza, Amo, Khazzan Abu Gimra, Muzbad, Amarai, Kutum, Seyah and Atroon areas. 200 fighters have deserted Minawi and joined the NRF while another 84 soldiers taken as war prisoners".

Ibrahim stated that "Minawi's weight in the Darfur Military Equation now equals zero". "He can no longer deceive the world as he once did".

The statement invited the UN and the African Union to verify their entire control of the region. "The UN Envoy to Sudan Jan Pronk and Representatives of the AU are cordially invited to visit NRF sites in the specified areas and review the "DPA" in accordance with these new realities".

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Slovene president envoy held in Darfur

Tomo Kriznar, President Janez Drnovsek's special envoy to Darfur, has said that court proceedings against him have been started in the Sudanese city of Al Fasher, Drnovsek's office reported. - via SudanTribune 21 July 2006:
According to Kriznar, who was arrested on Wednesday for lacking a valid visa for Sudan, he is being dealt with in a correct manner and is expecting a hearing.

Drnovsek's office has already called on the president of the African Union commission, the Sudanese embassy in Vienna, which also covers Slovenia, as well as other foreign institutions for assistance in securing Kriznar's release.

Drnovsek sent Kriznar to Sudan in early February. He has also presented a plan to solve the crisis in the province as well as launched a humanitarian initiative.

Sudan considers international Muslim troops for Darfur

According to the Dutch development minister, Agnes van Ardenne, the EU, together with the UN and the US, had succeeded in getting Khartoum to agree to the establishment of a UN force in Darfur, Radio Netherlands Vanessa Mock reported July 18, 2006 - excerpt:
Speaking at an international conference on Darfur in Brussels, van Ardenne said Khartoum had now bowed to international pressure, but only on condition that AU forces would form part of the UN mission. "[The Sudan government] will not accept a new force. They will only accept the same force under the umbrella of the UN. And now we've understood more clearly what was hampering them before. ... AU troops will remain on the ground, they will be strengthened, more equipped and will operate under the UN umbrella."

Ms Van Ardenne said she was hopeful that the new mission would be ready by the end of the year and said the Netherlands would help train AU troops for deployment under the UN.
On or around 19 July 2006 Sudan's Foreign Minister, Dr Lam Akol, announced that the Sudanese government will submit to the United Nations on 1 Aug a plan to change the situation on the ground in Darfur.

According to an article at the Sudan Tribune 23 July 2006, London based Asharq Alawsat daily newspaper says a plan to deploy Arab and Muslim troops in Darfur is being prepared by the Sudanese security and intelligence organs as well the armed forces. The article points out that former US President Bill Clinton suggested on Sunday 16 July that Sudan accepts UN forces from Muslim countries. "Sudan should be pressured to accept international troops from Muslim countries such as Pakistan, Turkey, Bangladesh and others to help maintain peace and order in Darfur," Clinton told an audience at AU headquarters.

On 18 July 2006, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he will propose to the Security Council a new level of support to AMIS - UN peacekeepers will come from Africa and Asia as helpers.

Further reading

Jul 20 2006 New funding for AMIS keeps it afloat until Sept. What then?

Jul 22 2006 US's Frazer: US still hoped for transition to UN end of Sept and would not extend financial support after that date.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Eric Reeves: U.S. led coalition force with Chapter 7 mandate will be required in Darfur to militarily defeat the rebels and militias

Eric Reeves

At long last, in his latest opinion piece, warmongering American academic Eric Reeves (pictured above) admits that if people really understood what they are calling for to protect Darfuris, they'd desist in their demands. No wonder he and other Western activists do not spell things out to their readers: they would not receive the same amount of attention or have many followers to donate to their cause, read their columns, visit their websites, buy their books, promote their awards, subscribe to their writings, watch their plays. I'd be right behind them, promoting their writings if what they wrote was accurate, sensible and not looking to set the tinder box of Africa alight. Their calls for international troops in Darfur does not make any sense to me because what they are proposing is military intervention (an act of war) in Sudan without a UN resolution - China and Russia would never approve such a resolution. The time and effort they've spent on backing the rebels and publishing what they want to hear, could have been better spent on pulling people together to support the fledgling African Union Mission in Darfur.

Excerpt from the opinion piece July 21, 2006:
Perhaps in understanding what is really militarily at stake in protecting Dafuris, those who have so often and loudly demanded such protection---including UN and government officials, humanitarian and human rights organizations, and advocacy groups---will desist in their demands. But they cannot have it both ways: they cannot demand that civilians and humanitarians be protected and then fail to accept the extraordinary military requirements and difficulties entailed in providing that protection.
Also, in the following edited excerpt, Reeves outlines what (It seems to me) he appears to believe: that a U.S. led coalition force with Chapter 7 mandate will be required in Darfur to militarily defeat the rebels and militias. Note how he chose to use a sub-title that misleads readers into believing it is the view of the U.S. and not just one American official:
THE REAL U.S. VIEW FROM KHARTOUM

Cable written by U.S. Foreign Service Officer Ron Capps, Deputy Chief of the Political/Economic Section in Embassy Khartoum. Capps' analysis was distributed confidentially on April 28, 2006 (a week before the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement in Abuja):
"An Abuja peace accord is unlikely to stop the violence in Darfur. There are several reasons why:

[1] Rebel field commanders have lost faith in the leadership of the movements. Nineteen SLA/[Abdel] Wahid [el-Nur] commanders have publicly broken with Wahid. SLA/[Minni] Minawi has splintered, with breaks by Sulieman Jamooz, Sharif Harir, Sulieman Marajan, Khamis Abdullah and seventeen other commanders. Other commanders have defected to Wahid. At least one has joined the government in fighting the SLA; [ ]

[2] Government of Sudan negotiators do not represent the Arab tribal militias of the Janjaweit leaders, nor does the Government have a sufficient level of control over those militias to guarantee their compliance;

[3] fighting between SLA factions will continue and could degrade into a tribal war which would eventually draw in the Arab tribals."
Three months ago, Capps drew inescapable conclusions from the violence he predicted, and which is now all too evident:
"A weak international force with a limited mandate will be powerless to stop the violence. In this scenario, Internally Displaced Persons and refugees will be unable to return home, rebels and militias will continue to kill with impunity, and all our work in Abuja will have been futile."

"Regardless of whether Abuja produces an enhanced cease-fire agreement or a complete peace accord --- or even if the talks completely collapse --- in order to stop the violence, rebel forces and militias will have to be mapped, counted, cantoned and disarmed. Given the lack of cohesion among the rebels and the lack of Government control over the militias, it seems likely that the groups will resist these steps, particularly disarmament. In this event, the international peace and security force will be required to militarily defeat them. This is not a Chapter VI mission. The force will require the combat power and prowess to enforce a peace accord if it is to provide a safe and secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian aid and the return of Internally Displaced Persons and refugees. It will require the right mandate. Seven UN Security Council Resolutions have been issued under Chapter VII. This must be the starting point for the follow-on force."
Capps here characterizes the force necessary in Darfur:
"Stopping the violence in Darfur will require a military force with first-world leadership, first-world assets, and first-world experience. US and coalition experience in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq is relevant here. Putting together such a coalition and getting it into place to do its work will require that the United States government and our military take a lead role, at least initially. Our NATO and other first-world military partners will not be keen to step forward without our participation, and many of the traditional UN troop contributing countries lack the military capability to successfully complete the mission."
- - -

Signatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement implementing the deal is seen by Eric Reeves as an "ominous collaboration"

Excerpt from Eric Reeves's July 21 2006 opinion piece (see above)
"There is an increasing body of evidence, including from eyewitnesses, which makes overwhelmingly clear that an ominous collaboration between SLA/Minawi and Khartoum's regular forces defined recent fighting in Bir Mazza and Um Sidir, North Darfur."
What is ominous about parties to a peace agreeement implementing what they had agreed? I guess it can be viewed as "ominous" if you are anti the Darfur Peace Agreement/GoS/SLA-Minnawi but pro SLM-Nur and all the others who are against Darfur's peace deal.
- - -

July 22 2006 When did Sudanese VP Ali Taha say Sudan would allow UN peacekeepers in Darfur?

When did Sudanese VP Ali Taha say Sudan would allow UN peacekeepers in Darfur?

Khartoum protests

Photo: Aug 4 2004 (AFP) CBS News Sudan Protests U.N. Ultimatum: More than 100,000 people staged a state-orgainsed protest Wednesday against a UN Security Council resolution giving Sudan 30 days to stop militia violence in Darfur or fact economic and diplomatic penalties. -- "Targeting Sudan means you will fall into a third swamp, after Afghanistan and Iraq," said a senior member of the ruling party, Mohammed Ali Abdullah, in comments directed at President Bush and British leader Tony Blair.

Khartoum demo

Photo: Mar 8 2006 (Reuters) Thousands of Sudanese protest against UN force

capt.sge.kjo33.250606193738.photo00.photo.default-512x341.jpg

Photo: Jun 25 2006 (AFP/Isam al-Hag) Sudanese from student and youth organisations rally in front of the parliament building in Khartoum, to protest against UN plans to deploy peacekeepers in Darfur. See report Jun 26 2006 Thousands of protestors gathered in Khartoum to protest against UN and its proposed peacekeepers: Up to 5,000 protesters, mainly from the youth and student organisations of the ruling National Congress, gathered in front of parliament in Khartoum Sunday to protest against the proposed deployment. "Down, Down United Nations", "Down, Down, USA", "We will not be ruled by the CIA", they chanted, as some of them torched a life-size dummy with the words UN and USA inscribed on it.

When did VP Ali Taha say Sudan would allow UN peacekeepers in Darfur?

The photos here above are just a few of many showing demos in Khartoum against the UN over the past two years. I am still trying to get to the root of where Western activists got the information they keep spreading that Khartoum agreed to UN peacekeeepers for Darfur. If their information is based on something that I have missed, I am interested in finding it, to see for myself how it could be construed as a commitment by Khartoum. Western activists keep claiming that Khartoum is backtracking, reneging, going back on a "commitment" that, so far from what I can gather, was never made.

For example, note this excerpt from Eric Reeves' latest opinon piece entitled Security in Darfur: Donors' Conference in Brussels Fails to Take Action
"'(Second Vice President) Ali Osman Mohamed Taha was absolutely categorical that once a peace deal was signed [in Abuja] ... Sudan would allow UN peace keepers in Darfur. There was no ambiguity at all,' said [Chief Editor] Patrick Smith of the Africa Confidential political newsletter in London." (Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], July 11, 2006).

Of course once Khartoum secured in Abuja the deal it found most advantageous, it promptly reneged on Taha's commitment. "
A commitment eh? What commitment? When and where did Second VP Ali Osman Taha say Sudan would allow UN peacekeepers in Darfur? I challenge Eric Reeves and Patrick Smith to back up such claims or admit they've made it up to suit their opinion pieces.

So far, all I can find is this excerpt from a Reuters AlertNet piece by Mohammed Abbas 11 July 2006:
Analysis-Little sign of peace or agreement after Darfur deal:

"(Second Vice President) Ali Osman Mohamed Taha was absolutely categorical that once a peace deal was signed ... Sudan would allow UN peace keepers in Darfur. There was no ambiguity at all," said Patrick Smith of the Africa Confidential political newsletter in London.
Further reading

Jun 22 2006 Human Rights Watch incorrectly says Khartoum is backtracking - I challenge Human Rights Watch to point out when and where the Sudanese Government agreed to accept UN troops in Darfur and monitor a peace agreement.

Jun 27 2006 Human Rights Watch wants more troops in Darfur - - When did the Sudanese government say it would support the transition to a UN force? How can the Sudanese government renege on a commitment it never made?

Jul 2 2006 Washington Post continues to publish propaganda on Darfur - On reading the editorial closely, I saw no fact based news but a piece of activism calling for UN troops in Darfur and the isolation of Khartoum regime. Clearly it states, quote: "This year, Sudan's government declared that it would allow United Nations peacekeepers into the western region of Darfur."

capt.sge.kjo33.250606193738.photo01.photo.default-361x512.jpg

June 25, 2006 photo: A Sudanese youth holds a banner reading in Arabic," America stop", during a rally in front of the parliament building in Khartoum, to protest against UN plans to deploy peacekeepers in the troubled region of Darfur. The UN's bid to gain backing for its Darfur peacekeeping plan suffered a fresh blow when Khartoum accused the world body of providing cover for a rebel leader who rejects a recent peace deal. (AFP/Isam al-Hag)

Demos in Sheiriya Gereida via Jan Pronk Weblog

Mar 8 2006 Sudanese students offers reward for head of UN envoy

3 photos: Demonstration in Nyala against a potential AMIS-UN transition. (Paula Souverijn-Eisenberg) Source: March 13, 2006 entry at Jan Pronk's weblog." See Jan Pronk's weblog accuses Sudanese government of a political campaign against the United Nations

Sheiriya Gereida

Sheiriya Gereida

Sheiriya Gereida

May 7 2006 Protests greet UN's Egeland in Darfur, before Gereida visit: As Jan Egeland stepped off his plane, several dozen protesters chanted and waved banners saying "No to international interference," an apparent reference to a proposal to send U.N. peacekeepers to Darfur to calm the violence that has killed 180,000 people and displaced 2 million others. Saturday, a spokesman for the Sudanese government suggested that Sudan would welcome U.N. peacekeepers, but a foreign ministry spokesman told Reuters on Sunday that the government had not yet decided whether to allow the so-called "blue helmets" into the region.

US's Frazer: US still hoped for transition to UN end of Sept and would not extend financial support after that date

Despite Sudan's resistance of pressure from world powers this week to accept a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur to replace an African Union force, leaders at a conference in Brussels are optimistic of a Khartoum change of heart, reports African News Dimension today, quoting Guardian newspapers as its source, in an article entitled World powers optimistic on UN force for Darfur:
"To protect innocent lives in Darfur, we need an international peacekeeping operation with the capability to address the complexity of the challenges," US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer said.

Frazer said the US still hoped for a transition to the UN at the end of September and would otherwise not extend financial support after that date.
Note, People's Daily Online/Xinhua July 19, 2006 - EU foreign policy chief says Sudanese government closer to change of position on UN mission in Darfur - excerpt:
A Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday that Akol was not traveling to Brussels to give a nod to a UN mission.

The leaders are meeting in Brussels to discuss the security situation in the war-torn Darfur region and the implementation of a fragile peace agreement. Donors are also expected to pledge support for the AU mission in Darfur, both financially and in technology and logistics.

U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Jendayi Frazer, said her country is ready to give assurances to the Sudanese government on the nature of the UN mission.

"We try to give some assurances to President (Omar Hassan) Bashir -- through his foreign minister -- about what the intent of a UN mission would be," she told the same press conference.

She met separately with Akol in the morning.

"I think it's important that we also be transparent with the government of Sudan and explain what our intension is ... There is no hidden agenda here. There is no ulterior motive."

She said the goal of the UN mission is to support and protect civilian lives in the region and allow the displaced to return to normal life. "We are there and we want a capable force given the complexity of the challenges."
See July 21 2006 - New funding for AMIS keeps it afloat until Sept. What then?

Friday, July 21, 2006

New York Times' Kristof and Miller dramatise Darfur revelations

Minnesota Public Radio report - Times writers dramatize Darfur revelations - by Marianne Combs, July 20, 2006:
How do you write a play about genocide that both delivers an important political message and a compelling evening of theater? A New York Times staffer has come to the Twin Cities hoping to do just that.

St. Paul, Minn. - In the Darfur region of Sudan, people are dying by the hundreds of thousands in a blatant act of genocide. New York Times researcher Winter Miller has studied the Darfur crisis for years, but she still wasn't prepared for the reality when she travelled to the Sudanese border earlier this year.

"People talk about the resilience of the Sudanese, and there's no better word," says Miller. "It's the most punishing environmental conditions. It's unimaginable to me how people forage in peaceful times. Add a genocide, and they're getting raped and killed every time they step outside to get firewood. It's beyond comprehension."

Miller is also a playwright. She found an opportunity to bridge her two worlds in Minneapolis at the Playwrights' Center's "Two-Headed Challenge." Each year the Playwrights' Center chooses a writer who wants to collaborate with someone knowledgeable on a difficult topic.

Winter Miller chose to work with her colleague, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. Kristof says he was happy to help.

"Since Winter knows the world of theater, and since it is a way of dramatizing really awful things that people don't always want to focus on, I thought it was terrific," says Kristof.

Many a movie has dealt with genocide: "Hotel Rwanda," "Schindler's List." But how do you convey the horror of genocide on the stage? Playwrights' Center Director Polly Carl says this has got to be one of the very hardest kinds of plays to write.

"Plays are really about the imagination," says Carl. "Films can show you lots of bodies and can give you the horrific visual images without saying much. But with a play, you really have to figure out a way that you can take an issue that's enormous, shrink it down so it fits on a stage, and still let it have the impact. You still have to feel that enormity."

Carl and a director sit with Miller through several readings of her play, suggesting revisions to make it more dramatic and more accessible.

Miller says she wants her audience to connect with the people of Darfur by seeing individual characters on stage, instead of a sea of nameless faces on the news. And so she created Hawa, a young teacher and translator who's lost her family and is struggling to survive.

Hawa's plight unfolds alongside the story of a Swedish journalist desperate to report the crisis, and an American doctor trying to provide aid to the wounded.

The title for Winter Miller's play is "Never Again, Again." She says in the wake of past genocides, people have declared "Never again!" But still genocides continue.

Miller says with her other plays, she's used to being patient, waiting for the work to find a home on stage. But not this time.

"I wrote this play now, so quickly and for this reason, because something needs to be done now. Something needs to be done yesterday," says Miller. "So in an ideal world somebody says, 'Let me see that script,' great! I love the idea of it, let's do it."

The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis has scheduled a dramatic reading of "Never Again, Again" as part of its PlayLabs festival. Then Winter Miller will have to wait and see if a theater is willing to mount a full production.
Labwork

The Playwrights' Center's Polly Carl, writer Winter Miller and a director discuss the latest draft of "Never Again, Again." Winter Miller's play addresses the genocide of black Africans by their Arab neighbors over land use. (Photo and caption by MPR/Marianne Combs)

Nicholas Kristof
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has covered the Darfur crisis for years, with help from researcher and playwright Winter Miller. Miller was inspired by the experience to write the play "Never Again, Again." (Photo by Fred Conrad - caption by MPR/Marianne Combs)

Genocide on stage
Actress Sonja Parks plays the role of Hawa in Winter Miller's play "Never Again, Again." The play is being developed as part of the Playwrights' Center's annual Playlab Festival. (Photo and caption by MPR/Marianne Combs)

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Peace boards

Peace board installation asks "Does anyone have any helpful suggestions for non-violent forms of conflict resolution? On personal, group, national or international level"

Peace boards

It would be interesting to read what is posted on a peace post installation. Not sure what I would write on a peace board. Probably something by the late great Mahatma Gandhi.

From Clare White of Never Again International July 16, 2006:
Peace boards, based on Basia Forrest's Peace Posts that have been received enthusiastically by many members of Never Again, got to Stoke-on-Trent, UK, this weekend. The boards were accompanied by three soldiers sitting outwardly in the blazing sun.

They will stay for a few more weeks, giving us the opportunity to see how the people of Stoke respond to the chance to contribute their ideas to peacebuilding.
Peace boards on Flickr originally uploaded by cmwhite July 16 2006.

Obasanjo, El Bashir meet to end Darfur crisis

President Olusegun Obasanjo has met with the President of Sudan, Omar El-Bashir, to review on-going efforts to resolve crisis in Darfur. El Bashir, who was in Nigeria for the 7th Leon Sullivan Summit, also discussed the ongoing implementation of the CPA with rebel groups in the south of the country. - allAfrica July 21, 2006.

AU briefs African envoys on Darfur peace implementation

The African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) convened a meeting with the African Group of Ambassadors on 18 July, 2006. The meeting was held to update the group on the activities of AMIS and also exchange ideas and view points regarding the efforts of the Mission in the Sudan.

The meeting was chaired by the Acting Head of Mission Madam Monique Mukaruliza and attended by the Head of the DPA Implementation Team Ambassador Sam Ibok and senior personnel of AMIS, said the AU spokesperson, Noureddine Mezni, in a press release. - Full story ST July 21 2006.

Aid work suspended in Zalinge, Darfur after killing - UN

International aid operations in refugee camps in the Zalinge area of Darfur have been suspended after three water workers were killed by a mob, UNHCR said today - Reuters report via Sudan Tribune:
UNHCR said the three were beaten to death on Thursday in the region near the border with Chad in circumstances that were still unclear.

The incident follows an attack on two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the Djebel Mara area, north of Zalinge, two days ago and the fatal shooting of an NGO driver attacked by bandits in Darfur's El Geneina last week, the UNHCR said.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

UN workshop aims to help Sudan plan and manage natural environment

UN workshop aims to help Sudan plan and manage natural environment, UN News Centre reported 20 July 2006:
"This country has endured years of turmoil and years of misery," Achim Steiner, UNEP's Executive Director, said in a news release. "A new chance for the people of Sudan will hinge on numerous factors, including strengthening the ability of the Sudanese authorities to sustainably manage their natural resources."

He emphasized that restoring and rehabilitating Sudan's economically important and productive land, forests, river systems, and other crucial ecosystems, which so many people depend on, will play an important role in ensuring stability and a lasting peace.

"Environmental issues in Sudan such as desertification, land degradation and deforestation greatly contribute to the scarcity of vital resources such as water for drinking and irrigation, animal fodder and fuelwood," he said. "This scarcity can drive and exacerbate conflicts and population displacement, which may in turn then result in accelerated environmental degradation and human suffering."

He pledged UNEP's readiness to help the Sudanese authorities to address these problems. The agency is currently conducting a detailed assessment of Sudan's challenges with the aim of identifying environmental issues and priorities that require priority attention. That study is due to be published in October.

Remarks by President Bush and Salva Kiir

Click here for transcript of remarks by President Bush and Salva Kiir, First Vice President of the Government National Unity of Sudan and President of Southern Sudan. White House Press Office July 20, 2006 (via PR Newswire/Yahoo)

Bush and Kiir

Photo: US President George W. Bush with Sudanese Vice President Salva Kiir pictured here in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. Bush said that there was "a lot of work to be done" before an international force can go to Darfur to help beleaguered African Union (AU) troops. (AFP/Jim Watson)

In a meeting with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement Chapters' leaders in the USA and Canada, the Sudanese First Vice President Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir admitted that there is slow progress in CPA implementation.

Sudan to provide UN with plan for change in Darfur

Khartoum, July 19 (SUNA):
The Foreign Minister, Dr Lam Akol, announced that the government will submit to the United Nations on the 1st of next August a plan to change the situation on the ground in Darfur region.

In a press statement at Khartoum airport upon his return from Brussels Wednesday evening, Dr Akol said that he participated in the Donors Conference, which was intended to attract aid for the African Union forces Darfur.

He said that the donors pledged to extend more than 200 million dollars for Darfur, adding that this sum is sufficient for the requirements of the African Union forces in Darfur till after the 30th of next September.

He said that Sudan delegation has met at the conference with the UN Secretary General and senior officials of the European union and explained Sudan vision concerning peace in Darfur and the arrival of international forces in the region.

He said that the government delegation held in Brussels meetings with the American, Dutch delegation and the delegation of the European Union and discussed progress of the bilateral relations. The minister described the meeting as a successful one as it came out with recommendations supporting to the African Union forces in Darfur. He said that the meeting has appreciated the efforts of Sudan government concerning implementation of Darfur peace agreement on the ground. - via ReliefWeb & CFD

US, UK government statements on AMIS Donor Conference

July 19 2006 US Department of State press release via ReliefWeb, excerpt:
United States commits $116 million at Sudan donors conference: The United States maintains a strong partnership with the African Union on the Darfur issue, and we commend the efforts of the AMIS peacekeepers and their leaders. Conference participants expressed broad agreement that the transition of the AMIS to a United Nations Mission should go forward as soon as possible. They universally called for all parties in Sudan to respect the cease-fire agreements and to halt all hostilities.
July 19 2006 UK government statement on African Union Mission in Sudan: Donor conference, Brussels:
The British Government is gravely concerned at the tragic situation in Darfur. It is playing an active part in the response to the political, military and humanitarian dimensions of the crisis. Britain has provided over GBP 126 million in humanitarian assistance since September 2003, and continues to support the peace process in every way it can.

The African Union has played the leading international role in Darfur. The troops and civilian police of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) are playing a vital role in easing the suffering of the people of Darfur. The Darfur Peace Agreement provides the only basis for lasting peace in Darfur. Its signature at Abuja in May was a tribute to the African Union mediation. AMIS is critical to the success of the Darfur Peace Agreement and has already reduced large-scale violence and increased security where it operates.

Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for International Development, said:

"AMIS has done an impressive job in very difficult circumstances. The UK is proud to support the AU in its first major peace keeping operation. Today we are confirming our additional commitment of GBP 20 million, bringing our total financial support to AMIS to GBP 52 million. This support, together with the welcome contribution from others, will enable AMIS to continue its vital operations as it prepares to hand over to the UN."

Lord Triesman, Foreign Office Minister for Africa, said:

"AMIS' record in Darfur has been impressive. We are extremely grateful to them for what they have done. However the Darfur Peace Agreement has led to AMIS having substantial new tasks added to its mandate, which the AU itself recognises a UN force is best placed to implement. The UN will be able to deploy a larger force which will have a much better chance of preventing future violence, and prevent more people being forced to leave their homes. The United Nations, the African Union and Sudan's international partners all want AMIS to hand over to a UN force. I urge President Bashir to accept this."

Notes to Editors

1. The AMIS Donors'' Conference is an international conference hosted jointly by the African Union and the European Union being held in Brussels on 18 July.

2. Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for International Development, announced the contribution of GBP 20 million additional funding for AMIS during a visit to Sudan in 21-23 February 2006. This brings the total UK contribution to GBP 52 million. The UK will work with AMIS to ensure that the additional funding is put to the best use.

3. The UK was the first donor to AMIS in 2004, and has continued to play a leading role since then. UK assistance to AMIS has already provided 1,000 vehicles, help with airlifting AU troops into and out of Darfur, and funding ground fuel. We have provided civilian police as part of the EU supporting action to AMIS in Darfur, which has contributed significant technical expertise and training, and we have provided military experts. The UK has also provided training for AU troops deploying to Darfur.

4. The UK is also expanding its Khartoum-based Police Training and Development Programme into Darfur to train over 400 officers across Darfur. It has also put forward a proposal to assist the AU in readying itself for its role in the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration process which will help former rebels return to normal society.

For further information, contact 020 7023 0600, e-mail pressoffice@dfid.gov.uk or call our Public Enquiries Point on 0845 300 4100. - via ReliefWeb
July 20 2006 New funding for AMIS keeps it afloat until Sept. What then?

New funding for AMIS keeps it afloat until Sept. What then?

In response to the $200 million pledged to the African Union force at yesterday's donor conference, a group of leading international aid agencies (CAFOD, CARE International, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, IRC, Oxfam and Tearfund) working in Darfur issued a joint statement. A spokesperson for the group said:
"Yesterday donors were asked to respond generously to the desperate situation in Darfur, but instead the African Union force is still $150 million short of what it asked for.

The African Union force is the only protection civilians have in Darfur, yet due in part to the lack of funding, many of their patrols have stopped and come nightfall the troops retreat to barracks.

Even if the money pledged is delivered, according to the chairperson of the African Union it will only keep the mission afloat until September. What then?

If donors continue to opt for protection on the cheap, it will be the men, women and children of Darfur who will pay the price.

With few exceptions, the AU is still dependent on just five donors (the United Kingdom, United States, the EU, Canada and the Netherlands) for the vast bulk of funding for the force.

We urge all the other donor countries who are concerned about what is happening in Darfur to donate generously and work with the African Union to ensure we avert an even greater protection catastrophe."- via ReliefWeb
Jul 18 2006 Annan will propose to the Security Council a new level of support to AMIS - UN peacekeepers will come from Africa and Asia as helpers

Jul 18 2006 EU welcomes tentative breakthrough on Darfur: Khartoum agrees to AMIS operating under UN umbrella

Jul 19 2006 EU's Solana: Khartoum closer to change of position on UN Mission in Darfur

Jul 19 2006 Donors pledge US $220m to boost African force in Darfur

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Donors pledge US $220m to boost African force in Darfur

IRIN report 19 July 2006 - excerpt:
Aid donors meeting in the Belgian capital have pledged about US $220 million in additional funding to the African Union (AU) force in Darfur.

During Tuesday's pledging conference in Brussels, representatives of the international donor community insisted that the AU peacekeeping mandate must be transferred to the United Nations by 1 January 2007.

"I can't foresee any realistic exit of the Darfur conflict without such a transition [from AU to UN peacekeeping], and I can't either imagine that the government of Sudan would continue to oppose it," the EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana said at the conference.

The United States said it would give $116 million to be used to strengthen the Africa Mission in Sudan, while the EU will make available $31.2 million to the Mission on top of an additional $50 million for the humanitarian effort in Darfur. The Netherlands pledged $31.2 million, Britain $36.6 million, France $2.5 million and Belgium $1.25 million.

The pledges would only be enough to sustain the Mission until the end of September; it needs an extra $450 million to operate until year-end, to pay for extra soldiers to be deployed, communications equipment, air support capability and more vehicles.

"The situation is precarious. The strengthening of [the Africa Mission] should be our priority because the next six months are critical," said the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guehenno. "If we have a strong [Africa Mission], we will have a strong UN mission," he added.

A senior European Commission official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the real problem was that the "the AU is snowed under with the complexities of financial management".
Annan and EU's Solana

Photo: European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana (L) and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan hold a joint news conference during an International Conference on Darfur at the European Council in Brussels July 18, 2006. Reuters/Francois Lenoir

Annan will propose to the Security Council a new level of support to AMIS - UN peacekeepers will come from Africa and Asia as helpers

July 18 2006 report by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan - excerpt:
I will propose to the Security Council that the United Nations be authorized to provide a new level of support to AMIS, as agreed during our joint assessment mission. But, this support will complement -- not substitute for -- what is being asked of you today. We cannot afford to lose another day before we start giving AMIS the extra resources that it needs.

AMIS must be able to concentrate on the many complex tasks that the Peace Agreement requires it to undertake; on protecting civilians, and on responding to ceasefire violations.

United Nations peacekeeping forces -- which will come primarily from Africa and Asia, with some additional, and much needed, support from developed countries -- will come to Darfur not as occupiers, but as helpers.
Jul 18 2006 EU welcomes tentative breakthrough on Darfur: Khartoum agrees to AMIS operating under UN umbrella

Jul 19 2006 EU's Solana: Khartoum closer to change of position on UN Mission in Darfur

Jul 19 2006 AND/Gaberone Bureau report - Botswana to send troops to Darfur ony under UN auspices - Speaking to the local media recently, the minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, Mompati Merafhe, said "As government, our standpoint currently is that we are not in a position to send troops to be part of the African Union contingent." He added that Botswana will do that only when the Sudanese government has agreeds to allow UN troops to replace the African Union peacekeeping forces.

AU mission in Darfur

Photo: Kenyan, Zambian and Rwandan soldiers working in Darfur for AMIS (African Union Mission in Sudan) take turns practicing marksman skills on a 50-calibre heavy machine gun in the Kabkabyia area of North Darfur, Saturday, June 24, 2006. The A.U. has 7,000 men and women in Darfur, a region of 150,000 square miles (388,500 square kilometers), roughly the size of France, where punishing heat and frequent sandstorms take their toll on troops and equipment. (AP Photo)
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