SUDAN WATCH: September 2006

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Humanitarian War Myth (Eric Posner)

Opinion piece by Eric A. Posner - The Humanitarian War Myth via Washington Post 1 Oct 2006 - excerpt:
"The best humanitarians of our day recognize that we face a painful dilemma: to tolerate atrocities in foreign states or to risk committing worse atrocities in the course of ending them. From Rwanda, many people drew the lesson that failure to intervene is the worse option. The Iraq war may be the first step in unlearning this lesson. If not, an intervention in Darfur surely will be."
Eric A. Posner is a professor of law at the University of Chicago and co-author of "The Limits of International Law."

Alex de Waal critiques Prunier and recounts DPA talks

"The African Union mediation team that laboured in Abuja, Nigeria, to try to bring a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Darfur was neither naive, deluded, nor opportunistic," writes Alex de Waal in commentary published at openDemocracy 29 Sep 2006. He should know. He was there as a member of the African Union's mediation team. Read the rest - Darfur peace agreement: so near, so far [POTP has a reprint 29 Sep 2006, sorry permalinks to POTP not working here]

Note, in the piece, Mr de Waal says:
"But, constantly, a stream of high-profile international visitors insisted that the process be hurried to a conclusion, because the humanitarian crisis was so bad. People were dying, we were told, so we should not be so slow. What finally convinced the United States to push for an accelerated conclusion to the talks was Khartoum's promise that if a deal was signed, it would allow United Nations troops in. President Omar al-Bashir then reneged on that promise."
As stated here several times before, despite searching, and following events closely at the time, I've yet to find a single news report that pinpoints who promised Khartoum would allow UN troops into Darfur. I'm not implying it never happened, I'm just interested to know what was said. I seem to recall seeing a report somewhere, hinting the source might have been VP Ali Taha behind closed doors. My point is, many months of tedious arguing over UN troops, while allowing AMIS to flounder in uncertainty, appear to have been wasted on hearsay. Only the Sudanese president can make such promises, not Mr Taha.

US provides $20m to African peacekeepers in Darfur

Good news. US Senate has approved today an emergency aid of 20 million USD to the African Union forces in Darfur.

"With the severity of this situation growing worse, and as the government of Sudan continues to block the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force to Darfur, the African Union force remains the front line of security," said Senator Reid. - ST 30 Sep 2006.

Sudanese official criticises US's Rice threats

From Cairo 30 Sep 2006 Bahrain News Agency:
Sudanese official criticised reccent threats by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in case if Khartoum do not agree on deploying international forces in Darfur.

Advisor to Sudanese president Dr Majthoub Al Khalifa said these threats are not civilized, underlining the US targets to control central, west and east parts of Africa next to middle east region.
He's right. Such threats don't sound civilised.

USAID awards $31m infrastructure contract for S Sudan

Sudan is USAID's largest program in Sub-Saharan Africa, totaling $855 million in fiscal year 2005. The complex program provides extensive humanitarian and food aid to vulnerable people in Southern and Eastern Sudan and Darfur, as well as extensive reconstruction assistance in the south, Abyei, Blue Nile, and Southern Kordofan. Full story by USAID via ST 30 Sep 2006.

Lets hope none of this money is spent on military. Somewhere in Sudan Watch archives are reports of large sums of development funding being spent on southern Sudan's ex rebel group getting its army modernised and kitted out.

US's Bolton slams UN's Malloch Brown for criticizing UK, US on Darfur

Ha! This is rich coming from UN basher Bolton. Mr Bolton's comments, reported by AFP/ST today, are a nonsense. Especially considering he has a reputation for hostility towards the UN:
"These remarks bring discredit to the UN and are a stain on its reputation," said Bolton, the US envoy to the UN.

"Mr Malloch Brown should apologize to Bush and Blair."
Apologise? What a cheek! The only thing I regret about Mr Malloch Brown's remarks is that he coupled British Prime Minister Tony Blair's name with the US when in fact (and Sudan Watch archives show) Mr Blair has always been most considerate, careful and diplomatic when it comes to the Sudan. It's great to hear the viewpoint of top UN officials. I applaud Mr Malloch Brown for speaking out, especially since his comments were aimed to bring discredit to Washington's 'you damn well are going to let the UN deploy and if you don't, beware the circumstances."

Here are some snippets from article Who Is John Bolton? (via Center for American Progress 7 Mar 2005):
Bolton was infamous as a right-wing ideologue opposed to anything and everything that smacked of U.S. cooperation with or support for the United Nations. "If [the UN Secretariat building] lost 10 stories," Bolton once quipped, "it wouldn't make a bit of difference."

From calling support of the International Criminal Court the product of "fuzzy-minded romanticism [that] is not just naive, but dangerous" to discussing North Korean policy by saying that "sounder U.S. policy would start by making it clear to the North that we are indifferent to whether we ever have 'normal' diplomatic relations with it,"

On the eve of talks with North Korea about their nuclear weapons, Bolton took a novel approach to public diplomacy and publicly called King Jong Il a "tyrannical dictator" and an "evil regime." The State Department was forced to send a replacement representative after North Korea responded by calling Bolton "human scum" and stating their objection to negotiating with him.
Note, the article concludes by saying:
"At this point it is clear that the world Bolton has left us four years later is one that is more dangerous. He can only do more damage from a position of greater power.
UN China Shop

Sep 9 2006 US's Bolton says there is a legal basis for armed intervention in Darfur?

Apr 15 2006 Sudan: Bolton blames British for "erroneous" leak

Mar 2 2006 John Bolton, US Ambassador to the UN, says the term Darfur "genocide" sounds right

Feb 21 2006 Bolton chides Annan on UN planning for Darfur force

Oct 11 2005 US: Bolton blocks UN briefing on atrocities in Darfur Sudan
- - -

BRACING FOR BOLTON - DISMAY AS US SENDS HAWK TO UN

Excerpt from Sudan Watch archives 9 March 2005 - UN joins AU to assess peacekeeping needs in Darfur, Sudan - Bracing for Bolton
The shock appointment of hardline neo-conservative John Bolton as US ambassador to the UN stunned the diplomatic community yesterday and raised questions about George W. Bush's commitment to work constructively for reform of the world body in its 60th anniversary year. His appointment must be ratified by the US Senate, where there is sure to be some opposition.

"Why would (President Bush) choose someone who has expressed such disdain for working with our allies?," said Senator John Kerry, who lost last year's election to Mr Bush. Full Story - 9 March, 2005 - Herald Sun - by David Nason in New York.

9 March: FT in America Firster says today: Mr Bolton is hardly likely to re-invent himself as a born-again multilateralist. But if US policy were to be changed in that direction by the decision-makers in Washington, it would carry more weight with the UN's many critics on the Republican right if it came out of the mouth of Mr Bolton. The dispatch of one of Washington's staunchest unilateralists to the UN may yet turn out an inspired decision. But the onus will be on Mr Bolton and his masters in Washington to prove this so. [Let's hope it turns out an inspired decision]
Seems Mr Bolton is turning out not to be an inspired decision after all.

US ADMINISTRATION STILL PUSHING FOR UN FORCE IN SUDAN

Excerpt from AP report via ST 30 Sep 2006:
U.N. chief envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk, said did not expect the Sudanese government to accept a U.N. force anytime soon. And so, he said, the international community should instead push for the African Union's mission to be prolonged and reinforced.

But Friday, [US State Department spokesman] McCormack disagreed. "I don't think that there is a substitute for an international force at this point," he said. "Certainly, we are not going to throw in the towel on getting an international force into Sudan. OK?"
Yee Haw! Y'All Have A Nice Day!

Sudan balks at giving US envoy a visa

Reuters report via ST 29 Sep 2006:
"He (U.S. special envoy) has not been granted a visa yet. Certainly, I think Andrew (Natsios) would very much want to travel to Khartoum. We are having some difficulties now with the Sudanese government," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, who declined to provide specific details.

McCormack said the United States would continue to put pressure on Khartoum to accept a 20,000-strong U.N. force to replace about 7,000 poorly funded African Union troops struggling to keep the peace in the arid region. "We think it is important that other states apply similar pressure to the Sudanese government," said McCormack.

Asked about Malloch Brown's reported comments, McCormack said the senior U.N. official should "apply himself to the task at hand rather than giving speeches."
I wish aggressive Americans could hear how primitive they sound this side of the pond. Is it any wonder now Sudan balks at issuing Americans full entry visas? Talking of warmongers, Eric Reeves pens another cryptic ream, weirdly titled "Khartoum Strong-arms, Negotiates to Retain Control of Darfur Security - The National Islamic Front will continue to determine the military and security dynamic throughout Darfur and eastern Chad". Who are such pieces aimed at? The rebels? Note, he tells his readers "the AU decision announced by Konare very likely paralyzes further movement toward non-consensual deployment for both military tactical reasons and political reasons." And he concludes by saying, quote: "If we wait to see the full scale and consequences of an inevitable AU failure to provide security for Darfur, we will be waiting while too many hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings die." "If we wait" eh? Who is the "we"? What is he suggesting? I think Eric Reeves is dangerous.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Al Qaeda No 2 urges jihad in Darfur if UN troops sent

Al Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri called on Muslims in a video released on Friday to launch a holy war against proposed UN peacekeepers in Darfur.

"O Muslim nation, come to defend your lands from crusaders masked as United Nations (troops). Nothing will protect you except popular jihad (holy war)," Zawahri said in the video posted on the Internet. - Reuters 29 Sep 2006.

AU-EC meeting 2 Oct 2006 AU HQ Addis Ababa

Copy of press release published at africa-union.org:
Addis-Ababa, 29 September 2006 - The European Commission and the Commission of the African Union will meet for a joint working session at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa on 2 October 2006.

Both Commissions will meet in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia for their third joint session within three years. This meeting is the latest testimony of an ever growing partnership between the two continental executive bodies: the European and the African Union Commissions.

For this occasion, the European Commission will hold its first ever meeting on another continent than Europe, travelling to Ethiopia with no less than 10 European Commissioners including President Barroso, all three vice Presidents Wallström (Communication), Frattini (justice) and Kallas (administration), the Commissioners Michel (development), Mandelson (trade), Gribauskaite (budget), Potocnik (research), Kyprianou (health), Kovaks (taxation), Spidla (employment) and Piebalgs (energy). The agenda of the meeting focuses on institutional partnership and development.

Almost one year after the adoption of the EU Strategy for Africa, both sides will review the progress in its implementation and decide on new steps to take. They will look at the implementation of the EU-Africa Partnership of Infrastructure. They will discuss how to manage better migration flows for the benefit of both continents. They will agree on how to exchange experience when it comes to their respective areas of responsibility such as employment, science and technology or health.

The European and African Union Commission will also strengthen their institutional ties. Both institutions will agree on a first large support programme of 55 million Euros for the African Unions operational and institutional development to be implemented as from 1 January 2007 and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to structure the exchange of officials and trainees between the two institutions.

Contact info:
Ms. Habiba Mejri - Cheikh, Spokesperson, CUA (+251- 11) 5514555
E-Mail: HabibaM@africa-union.org
Mr Amadeu ALTAFAJ, spokesman's service of the European Commission 0032 2 29526 58
Website:..http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/conferences/Past/2006/October/EUAU/AU-EU-meeting-en.htm

EU funding saved Darfur peacekeeping mission - AU

The AU's Peace and Security Commissioner Said Djinnit said Europe had been instrumental in funding AU operations across the continent.

"This is particularly true with the current efforts at peacekeeping in the Darfur region which enabled the AU to extend the mandate of the mission in Sudan by three months as a result of the contribution of 30 million euro by the EU," Djinnit said. - Reuters

Note, the EU is responsible for establishing and supporting the AU to enable African solutions for African problems.

Ramstein team aids peacekeeping mission in Darfur

By Capt. Erin Dorrance, 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Sep 29, 2006, US Air Force

Ramstein team aids peacekeeping mission in Darfur

Photo: Ramstein Airmen assist Ugandan civil police with their baggage while transfering at Kigali International Airport, Rwanda. The Ugandan civil police are returning home after a one-year deployment to the Darfur region. Airmen from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, are deployed to Kigali, Rwanda, to provide airlift support for the African Union peacekeeping mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Erin Dorrance)

Returning home from Darfur

Photo: Ugandan civil police prepare to board a Botswana C-130 at the airport in Kigali, Rwanda. They were returning home after a one-year deployment to the Darfur region where they were part of the African Union peacekeeping mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Erin Dorrance)

Full story Blackanthem.com Military News 29 Sep 2006.

See Sep 26 2006 US Air Force news: Ramstein crew flies with Botswana into Darfur.

Sudanese govt and rebels must resume Darfur peace talks (Alex de Waal)

"There is still a chance to protect Darfur's civilians but only if government and rebels resume peace negotiations ... this means stepping back from rhetorical confrontation and empty threats of military action," writes Alex de Waal in the Guardian's CiF 29 Sep 2006. The piece, entitled "The book was closed too soon on peace in Dafur" received an insightful comment from BriscoRant, saying:
"Peace agreements seem to work in Sudan. They stopped the war in southern Sudan a few years back. If peace negotiations are working, we need to hear about that. Otherwise all we hear is our own government's pro-military propaganda. It makes us think, the military, are the only answer. Please keep us informed."
Yes Mr de Waal, please keep us informed as most other pundits and activists on Sudan (especially Americans) who vainly think we can be manipulated to promote their self serving agendas, are feeding us nonsense.

Geldof concerned for Sudan

Activist-singer Sir Bob Geldof says: 'I think we really have a right to insist upon an intervention through the United Nations.' - India News 29 Sep 2006.

Labels:

Misleading the World on the Darfur Conflict - Salvato

By using their commercial to single out President Bush on the matter of Darfur, the folks at Save Darfur have injected an air of political partisanship to their message. They have effectively cast a shadow of suspicion over their motives and intentions. Then again, that shadow was born when they selected George Clooney to be their spokesman. - Opinion - Salvato 29 Sep 2006.

NATO to continue to aid Darfur peacekeepers - official

The African Union can continue to rely on NATO to provide airlifts and training for its peacekeepers in Darfur, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said Thursday.

"Darfur will, as far as NATO is concerned, continue to see a continuation of what we are now giving to the African Union," de Hoop Scheffer told reporters after talks with North Atlantic Treaty Organization defence ministers. - AP report via ST 29 Sep 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".

IMPORTANT: UN's Pronk calls for AU force to be extended indefinitely

Important news from UN SRSG Jan Pronk in Sudan. Mr Pronk is probably the only Westerner who knows exactly what's going on in Darfur and the rest of Sudan. Mr Pronk is extremely honest and open. He works hard in the best interests of everybody in Sudan. Not only does he have a great intellect, nerves of steel and amazing diplomacy skills but guts too.

AP report - UN chief in Sudan says UN peacekeeping mission to Darfur unlikely, calls for strategy change - via IHT 28 Sep 2006:
Sending UN peacekeepers to Darfur is unlikely to take place soon, and the international community should instead push for the existing African Union mission to remain in the war-torn region indefinitely, the head of the U.N. in Sudan said Thursday.

"I don't expect the government to accept a U.N. transition any time soon," Jan Pronk told The Associated Press.

"The international community should instead push for the African Union's mission to be prolonged and reinforced," Pronk said in an interview at the U.N. headquarters in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.

He called for the AU force to be extended indefinitely to prevent jeopardizing humanitarian work in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced in three years of fighting.

Pronk said he was confident the Sudanese government would allow the African troops to stay on in Darfur, though for now Khartoum only has agreed to keeping them an extra three months.

He also urged the international community to change strategy and guarantee more funds to the AU, so it can implement peacekeeping without the constant pressure of diplomatic deadlines.

"Otherwise, we're shooting ourselves in the foot each time," he said. "Our first priority must be to help the people of Darfur."

The current 7,000-strong AU force was due to leave Darfur at the end of September but recently prolonged its mission until the end of the year. U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton called it a temporary measure as the international community builds up pressure on Sudan to accept the blue helmets.

But Pronk said he didn't expect the Sudanese government to agree to that soon and said there was "no possibility" that the Security Council would pass a new resolution allowing U.N. peacekeepers to invade.

Earlier this week, Sudan's top official for Darfur said the government was willing to let a trickle of U.N. military advisers join the AU forces, describing it as "a third way" that could resolve the stand off between Khartoum and the United Nations.

Pronk said these discussions were now being settled and the first batch of 105 U.N. military advisers and dozens of police could be sent to Darfur "very soon." He hinted that their numbers could be increased "in a step by step process."

Meanwhile, the AU has pledged to boost its force by up to 4,000 troops. Some of the African soldiers would be immediately available, but the AU says it doesn't have the cash to send them in.

Pronk said there were reports that the AU force was so strapped for cash that some soldiers in Darfur were not being fed, and that patrols weren't going out because there was no gasoline for their armored vehicles.

The U.N. chief maintained that the Darfur Peace Agreement signed in May between the government and one rebel faction was "in a coma," an assessment that angers Khartoum but that Pronk says reflects the worsening humanitarian situation.

Both government forces and rebels have violated the cease-fire more than 70 times between May and August, and there were new violations in September since Khartoum launched a large scale offensive in northern Darfur, Pronk said.

The government has announced it created the Darfur Transitional Regional Authority, a makeshift organization meant to provide some of the power sharing demanded by rebels. But Pronk said both Khartoum and rebels were in "total noncompliance" with the peace deal.

He said that Khartoum and the rebels who signed the deal were barring other factions from joining the commission meant to monitor the cease-fire, and that the U.N. was barely granted an observer's status.

"We are being silenced, which is preposterous," Pronk said.

He also said Khartoum was making little effort at disarming the Janjaweed, a pro-goverment militia of Arab tribes accused of most of the atrocities against ethnic African villagers.

Pronk said he was skeptical that U.N. troops would manage to enforce peace if a broader political solution to salvage the peace agreement was not found soon.

Even the rebel group that signed the peace remains on critical terms with the government. On Thursday, tensions degenerated into an open shootout in Omdurman, an affluent neighborhood of Khartoum. Rebel leaders say they took three police officers hostage in retaliation to the arrest of two of their members.

Pronk said one man was killed during the shooting. "That (the conflict) has now reached Khartoum is just another proof of how bad things are," Pronk said.

At least 350,000 people are cut off from any aid in North Darfur because of the intensified fighting there, the U.N. says. At least another 100,000 people have fled their homes.

The U.N. says it has reports that Janjaweed are holding some 7,000 people hostage in a detention camp in South Darfur, including women and children, asking for a ransom to let them leave safely. Other militia attacks on refugee camps have been reported across Darfur this week.
Sep 29 2006 ST - Sudanese policemen held hostage by ex-Darfur rebels in Khartoum

Sep 28 2006 (Khartoum) via ST Sep 29: Sudanese authorities, Ex-Darfur rebels clash in Khartoum

Sep 29 2006 AP report By ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU - U.N. Peacekeepers in Darfur Unlikely: Pronk said one man was killed during the clashes.

Air Assault

Air Assault

Photo and caption via Soldier of Africa blog, authored by a SA soldier in Darfur: "The soldiers of 6 SAI Bn are Air Assault trained and love helicopters. Unfortunately in Sudan the elements working with us were not and the mission was observation. Air Assault tactics would have been perfect to track down and neutralise beligerants who maim and kill innocent civilians in Darfur. Very few ever get away from a good tracker and helicopter-bourne reaction force." Sep 2006

Training

Training

Photo and caption via Soldier of Africa blog, authored by a SA soldier in Darfur: "One of the reasons why we are the best in Africa is because we do constant training. Here the South Africans do musketry training in Sector 6. South African soldiers are trained to fire well-aimed shots. With the R 4 rifle a South African soldier is a world class fighting man." Sep 2006

South African Patrol Preparation

South African Patrol Preparation

Photo and caption via Soldier of Africa blog, authored by a SA soldier in Darfur: "Before a patrol the South Africans in Sector 6 do an organised and structured final inspection before going. Sector 6 is currently still the most dangerous sector in Darfur." Sep 2006

Kutum

Kutum

Photo and caption via Soldier of Africa blog, authored by a SA soldier in Darfur: "This is a photo of Kutum base in Sector 6. The vehicles in the foreground are the South African Army's new Mamba Mk III's." Sep 2006

Casspir

Casspir

Photo and caption via Soldier of Africa blog, authored by a SA soldier in Darfur: "These Casspirs were stationed at Kutum. These are armed with twin 7,62mm FN MAG general purpose machine guns, although in South Africa we call them Light Machine Guns. Casspirs have been faithful servants to many South African soldiers in the past and have ensured the safety of many fighting men. The conditions in Sector 6 are ideal for the rugged high-speed cross-country abilities of the Casspir." Sep 2006

South African Soldiers

South African Soldiers

Photo and caption via Soldier of Africa blog, authored by a SA soldier in Darfur: "I got this photo from Arrie Burger taken in Kutum, Sector 6, just to indicate the morale and discipline of our soldiers over there. They have done well and Arrie's platoon was involved in a contact about four weeks ago. At least five rebels or militia were killed and only one of ours wounded through both legs. Now these guys are back in South Africa. Well done, boys." Sep 2006 

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Chirac: Sudanese government has no choice but to accept UN peacekeepers

Sep 28 2006 AP report via IHT - excerpt:
French President Jacques Chirac said Thursday that he fears Darfur is on the brink of a new humanitarian crisis, and he insisted that the Sudanese government has no choice but to accept UN peacekeepers.

Chirac said he deplored Sudan's military operation in the remote western region of Darfur. But he also said the international community should not threaten Sudan, and instead should work to convince it to change its stance.

"I don't think we should use threats in this affair," Chirac told RFI radio and TV5 television. "I think we should try to convince them, and I think we must work to help Arab countries that were tempted to support the position of (Sudanese President Omar) el-Bashir to realize that there are consequences, and that we have to do everything to find a political solution that clearly allows the Sudanese president to accept UN troops," Chirac said. "There is no alternative to that."

Sudan, eastern rebels sign security deal

The Sudanese government and eastern rebels signed a draft security protocol on Thursday, raising the prospects for an end to the low-level revolt in the economically important region, state news agency SUNA reported. - Reuters 28 Sep 2006.

Egypt blames Darfur rebels for deteriorating security

Sep 28 2006 Reuters by Jonathan Wright:
"The parties which did not sign the agreement (are) those primarily responsible for the current deterioration of the security situation," the [Egypt] Foreign Ministry statement said.

"Egypt thinks the Sudanese government has a share of responsibility and they are advising them not to get into a confrontation of the kind with (former Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein," said one diplomat, who asked not to be named.

Military confrontation with UN forces in Darfur could cause NCP to cancel South Sudan's peace agreement

Sep 27 2006 Sudan Tribune excerpt:
For the first time since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement on 9 January 2005, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement accused its partner in the government of the national unity, the ruling National Congress Party, of violating the peace deal.

This development comes after a statement made by Ibrahim Ahmed Omar, a leading member of the National Congress Party, saying if there is a military confrontation with the UN forces in Darfur, the NCP would cancel the CPA.

According to the Satellite TV al-Jazeera, Omar also condemned the SPLM stance in favor of the UN takeover from the African Union forces in Sudan's troubled region of Darfur.

Al-Jazeera broadcasted a photocopy of the SPLM's statement in Arabic language.

Darfur's Chairman Minnawi will announce the establishment of the first Darfur government in next few days

Sep 27 2006 Xinhua excerpt:
Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir issued on Wednesday a presidential decree on setting up an interim authority in the western region of Darfur.

The decree stipulated that a regional interim authority of Darfur should be established in accordance with the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA)

The interim authority will be chaired by Minawi, who was appointed as the senior assistant of the president following the signing of the DPA, and will include governors of three states in Darfur.

Minawi will announce the establishment of the first Darfur government in the next few days, according to the decree.
Abdelwahid al-Nur is in Asmara, Eritrea

Sep 26 2006 Sudan Tribune excerpt:
The former leader of the SLM who is currently based in Asmara after his dismissal from the SLM last July, Abdelwahid al-Nur told Alayam newspaper that the solution to the problem of Darfur would be achieved by recognizing Darfur as one state, ruled by a majority of the sons of the region, and for Darfurians to be represented fairly in the central government according to their population quota. In addition, individual compensation should be paid to the region's IDPs who had been affected by the war based on the principle of positive discrimination.

AU to expand its peacekeeping strength in Darfur from some 7,800 to 10,500 troops

The African Union (AU) is to expand its peacekeeping strength in Darfur from some 7,800 to 10,500 troops, spokesman of AU mission in Sudan Nouredinne Mezni told Xinhua on Wednesday:
The expansion of the African forces was prescribed in a peace agreement signed by the Sudanese government and Darfur rebels in the Nigerian capital Abuja on May 5, Mezni said, adding that the mission currently stands at some 7,800 soldiers and civilian policemen.

"The Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) has given the AU forces new tasks in the framework of its security arrangements, including safeguarding the refugee camps, disarming militia fighters and setting up nonmilitary areas," Mezni told Xinhua.

The present African forces could not carry out these new tasks without reinforcing their strength, Mezni stressed.

The spokesman added that six fresh battalions would arrive soon in Darfur, and every battalion would consist of 500 to 650 troops.
Note the time wasted calling for UN troops. AMIS should have had 12,500 personnel in Darfur by now.

US's Schwarzenegger signs Pension Fund Bill to stop investing in Sudan

E Canada news report says a bill banning California's state pension funds from investing in companies with interests in Sudan went into effect Tuesday with the signature of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Excerpt:
The move comes a day after US Congress passed a bill imposing sanctions on the Sudanese government. The new California law could provoke protests and suits by trade organizations who claim that individual states do not have authority to intervene in international diplomacy.

governor-schwarzenegger-sudan.jpg

Schwarzenegger said his bill would send a message to strife-torn Darfur that California "does not stand for murder and genocide."

"We cannot watch from the sidelines and be content to mourn this atrocity as it passes into history," Schwarzenegger said with actor and political activist George Clooney at his side.

"We must act and that is exactly why we will divest from the Sudan. Divesting will show our defiance against the murderers and their inhumanity."

George Clooney
What a load of dopey Hollywood twaddle. How would sanctions and divestment help the poor people of Sudan and its development? Sudan is poverty stricken and up to its eyeballs in debt. If misguided activists had not pushed out Western companies from Sudan, we might have been able to pressure oil companies like British Petroleum to help the locals and get drinking water piped and pumped where needed. I say, the more Western companies do business with Sudan and invest in the country's infrastructure, the better. Sudan needs technology know-how, skills and education. Don't pave the way for unscrupulous ruthless opportunists to fill the gap!

Don Cheadle

Photo: U.S. actor Don Cheadle (L) speaks as California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger listens before signing legislation to divest state pension money from Sudan in Los Angeles, California. USA Sep 25, 2006. Activists have been pressuring companies and governments to divest from Sudan. (Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)

UPDATE; More on the Sudan divestment thingy at The Sudanese Thinker.

Peacekeeping non-existent peace in Darfur - Why can't the African Union do it?

Channel 4 gets blogging with J.J. King's review on what bloggers are saying about Darfur 21 Sep 2006. It links to this blog Sudan Watch and the Guardian's CiF where there's more brilliant commentary by British economist Daniel Davies whose blog is called D-squared Digest. See CiF's Demonstrate for Darfur and the following comment by Daniel:
[Why can't the African Union do it? ]

A good question; the answer is that the AU simply does not have the money to finance AMIS unless the UN were to keep its promises about funding. All sorts of solutions would be better than UNMIS, but the brute facts of the matter are that this is a genuine and imminent humanitarian crisis and UNMIS is the only genuinely politically possible peacekeeping force solution.

I personally think it's an absolute scandal that the UN has nickel-and-dimed AMIS into the ground in order to promote its own proposal but these are the facts and a humanitarian emergency is no time to stand on one's dignity.
Well said Daniel! Mainstream media ought to pay Daniel for educating readers on the facts of matters in Sudan. He tells it like it is and has a nice way with words that makes for easy reading. His commentary appears easy to do. It's not.

UK's Beckett: Future of Africa linked to climate change

Interesting comments, especially by UN Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown (note he reminds us that in Darfur there is no peace for peackeepers to keep), in this article atBlack information Link 28 Sep 2006:
The problems of international development and climate change were interlinked, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett stated yesterday.

Speaking at a Fringe event organised by IPPR, Channel Four, Amnesty, Oxfam and Safer World, a number of issues, including Darfur, climate change, Uganda and Zimbabwe were raised.

Ms Beckett was joined on the panel by International Development Secretary Hilary Benn MP, Tidjane Thiam, Commission for Africa, Monica Naggaga, Oxfam, Mark Malloch Brown, United Nations and David Mepham, IPPR who chaired the event.

Mr Mepham began the session by raising the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan.Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett highlighted that the United Nations extended the mandate of the Africa Union last week, ensuring that a security vacuum was not allowed to develop.

However, this move was stepping away from the brink and was not a positive move forward, she asserted. The Africa Union should work with all sides in the conflict and receive back-up and support from all other nations.

International Development Secretary Hilary Benn added that the Africa Union was dealing with the symptoms of the problem and a political solution was needed. Moreover, a way of bringing groups together to begin a move to some form of regional Government was needed.

Indeed, UN troops were already in Sudan following the civil war there, making it unusual that the country now opposed a UN force in Darfur, he argued. Monica Naggaga stressed that the Africa Union needed support to provide protection to people in Darfur, in particular the 200 women raped every month.

Elsewhere, Mark Malloch Brown asserted that Darfur was by far the biggest problem in the world today. The UK, United States and many in Europe wanted to do more, he added, applauding the UK's efforts in this since 2003.

Tidjane Thiam reiterated calls for a political solution, highlighting that minority rights had to be protected in the country.Mr Mepham asked whether the imposition of a no-fly zone across the north of the country was an option.

In response, Mark Malloch Brown argued that countries were reluctant to deploy troops to Darfur, partly because of the size of the country and scale of the task at hand, and peacekeeping was about having a peace to keep, a situation missing in Sudan.

A representative of Crisis Action asked whether the ministers could confirm the carrots and sticks deployed to enforce peace in Darfur. In the same round of questions, the subject of trade embargos against Sudan was raised.

Hilary Benn asserted that it was best not to discuss the carrot and sticks to be offered as negotiations were still on-going.However, the people of Sudan had an incentive to aim for a peaceful solution as the country had generous oil reserves, he stressed.

Furthermore, the Sudanese claim that they were not consulted over the role of the Africa Union was untrue, the Minister proclaimed. The Africa Union, the Arab League, China and many others had an important role to play, Mr Benn maintained. Margaret Beckett added that the Sudanese had appealed to the Arab League and fellow African nations for support on the premise that the measures to secure peace in Darfur were merely imperialist mechanisms being deployed by the UK and others.

Mr Malloch Brown stated that the Sudan conflict was not on the BBC every night, ensuring that its profile was not constant. Therefore it was crucial for people to keep up the pressure on Governments, he argued.

Indeed, many multi-national corporations could be pressured into ceasing oil extraction from the country, he asserted. On questions on climate change from the audience, a representative of Christian Aid raised the suggestion that African nations could be compensated for the detrimental effects they faced from climate change.

Elsewhere, a representative from Manchester Friends of the Earth asked how useful it was to Africa, if the UK cut carbon emissions year on year. Additionally, a question on the exportation of flowers from Africa was raised. In response, Mark Malloch Brown stated that a real investment strategy for Africa was needed.

On the export of flowers, he asserted that the initial positive benefits had now led to unintended consequences that had to be addressed. Margaret Beckett argued that climate change and development were intrinsically linked issues.

Indeed, an increase in global temperatures was estimated to result in a four per cent decline in the GDP of African nations. A partnership between developed and undeveloped countries, including technology transfer, would highlight how climate change and development were not mutually exclusive, she maintained.

Moreover, the UK was responsible for only two per cent of world carbon emissions, she claimed, making a global, and not just individual, agreement on climate change imperative. Mr Benn added that the issue of climate change also involved individual choices, raising the problem of how such environmental measures are enforced.

Moreover, if people believed that the scale of the problem was impossible to remedy, support for measures would be lost. The Government had pressed the World Bank for an energy investment framework to address the issue of developing countries creating larger capacities for electricity generation, Mr Benn went on to say.

It was essential to help countries like China invest in electricity generation without the consequences of global warming, he argued. Labour MP Kerry McCarthy asked a question on aiding people of Uganda to return to their homes after fighting. A further question on the country related to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The issue of Western Sahara and the Morocco backed block on the UN resolution on the conflict was also raised. Monica Naggaga stressed that the UK should support the resettlement of Ugandan refugees. Mark Malloch Brown stated that ICC rulings could not be taken away but could be suspended, a useful bargaining tool in negotiations with the LRA in Uganda, he maintained.

On Western Sahara, he highlighted that UN resolution after UN resolution had been passed but to no avail.Tidjane Thiam asserted that minority rights had to be protected, highlighting South Africa as a good example of a constitution that ensured this.

Hilary Benn asserted that the UK Government had helped to fund Mega FM in Uganda, a project that was proving an important tool in getting people to feel safer and move back home following positive news reports.In the final round of questions, Tidjane Thiam asserted that China had an increasingly important role to play in international development.

Moreover, a new scramble for African resources may be about to begin, Mark Malloch Brown asserted. He argued that the problem of Zimbabwe, including the illegal immigration into South Africa, had tried to be addressed by the UN and South Africa but to no avail. This had to be addressed, he concluded.

AMIS should have had 12,500 personnel in Darfur by now

Note this excerpt from a report last year by Refugees International 11/9/2005 - No Power to Protect: The African Union Mission in Sudan:
AMIS needs more troops on the ground to effectively fulfill their mandate. With a strengthened mandate, they will need even more troops. AMIS also needs to receive more training to be able to respond effectively to the challenges of their mission.

According to planning from earlier this year, AMIS was to get to a mandated level of a little over 7,700 personnel (Phase II) by September 2005, with a decision on increasing personnel to 12,500 (Phase III) to be made that same month. Because of a series of delays, including problems with accommodations and fuel, AMIS still has not reached its 7,700 target, which is to include 6,171 soldiers (protection forces and Military Observers) and 1,586 unarmed Civilian Police.

The majority of the protection forces are from Nigeria and Rwanda. Gambia, Senegal, and South Africa, have also contributed troops, with Kenya contributing a few dozen Military Police. No other member country of the African Union has sent combat troops to Darfur, although 25 countries have contributed Military Observers. Fifteen countries have contributed Civilian Police.

As of October 21, AMIS had deployed 4,890 protection forces, 686 Military Observers, and 1,176 Civilian Police. According to AMIS, around 120 of these Civilian Police are women; less than 1% of the protection forces and Military Observers are women, which is similar to the percentage normally found on a UN mission. AMIS Military Observers and protection forces are deployed evenly across eight Sectors; the Civilian Police are concentrated around IDP camps. According to AU officials, discussion about Phase III won't start until after a joint donor/UN/AU assessment mission, scheduled to take place by the end of 2005.

US tells Sudan: cooperate or expect confrontation

Expect confrontation? Music to the rebels' ears. Note how the flaming Americans love to be combatitive. They have no intention of sending their own troops to Darfur. Which countries do they expect would be willing to carry out the 'confrontation'? Why don't they support Africa's peacekeepers? There should have been at least 12,500 in Darfur by now but the US and EU didn't cough up the funds and Africa (conveniently) couldn't find troops to send. Nobody appears to have followed through on Libya's offer of 100,000 troops. Reportedly, AMIS costs $1 billion a year and yet their troops have not been paid for eight months. What is going on, does anybody know? Who is funding the rebels? Mainstream media and activists sure are feeding us a lot of garbage. See Sept 27, 2006 VOA - and this Reuters excerpt:
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Sudan in firm terms on Wednesday it must choose between "cooperation and confrontation" with the rest of the world and accept a UN force for Darfur.

"We are not going to sit by and watch this kind of death and destruction continue and we will use whatever tools are necessary, through the U.N., to be able to stop that" she said, without specifying what these tools might be.

"The Sudanese government faces a clear and consequential decision," said Rice, adding, "This is the choice between cooperation and confrontation."

When asked what Rice meant by this, U.S. special envoy for Sudan, Andrew Natsios, also declined to provide specifics, saying it was more diplomatic to leave the consequences vague. "But we never make idle statements," said Natsios, who plans to travel to Sudan in the next few weeks.

"If the government of Sudan chooses cooperation - if it works with the United Nations and welcomes the U.N. force into Darfur, then it will find a dedicated partner in the United States," said Rice.
Note, the report says The Save Darfur Coalition ran a full-page advertisement in The New York Times on Wednesday, showing mass graves in Darfur. "When all the bodies have been buried in Darfur, how will history judge us?" said the headline on the advertisement. I wonder how much the ad cost. If I had donated to savedarfur.org, I'd feel conned. Maybe the NYT published it without charge.

Heh. Here's an amusing comment from a reader south of azania at Aljazeera's Shedding crocodile tears over Darfur plight:
Condi Rice needs to be told that the ONLY "FORK" in the road is her FORKED TONGUE AND THAT OF HER BOSS GWBUSH!...they NEVER TALK staright simple English but in "FORKED TERMS" and with hypocrisy written all over thair faces and speech.What exactly can they do about DARFUR ...ZULCH!! SWEET ZERO NOTHING!! JUST LIKE LEBANON, RICE left the troublede mideast region during the israeli war with hisbollah/ lebanon with tail betwwen her LEGS! Khartoum will NEVER ALLOW ZIONISTS AND USA MARINES TO BE DEPLOYED IN THE DISGUISE OF U.N.FORCES In darfur or part of Sudan. Dont look far, just look at RICEY face and you can see the incarnation of IBLIS*.
*Iblis is the name for the devil in the Qur'an.

Note, Al-Ahram Weekly Interview - America goes too far - Historian Paul Kennedy tells that the great wheel of history is turning against the United States: "We are making very slow progress in terms of sending UN forces to Darfur because the Chinese government has a lot of reservations on it."

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

UK's Blair: "We must show that an African life is worth the same as a western one"

Key points from Tony Blair's speech 26 Sep 2006 - via Guardian:
We must also take action on Darfur, he says. We must show that an African life is worth the same as a western one, says Mr Blair.
blairconf1_372.jpg

I say, let's hope Africans and Arabs are saying the same.
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As-Sudan literally means the Land of the Blacks in Arabic - An Arab is defined by language and culture and not skin color

Excerpt from blog entry authored by Amanda in South Sudan:
It seems that my issue is that I am being mistaken for a northern Arab. To me that is ridiculous, but virtually any Black person whose skin is more brown than ebony could be mistaken for someone from the North.

Firstly let me help you to expand your definition of an Arab.

In the United States at least, and I believe the same is true for much of Europe we think an Arab is a light skinned/olive skinned individual with curly to kinky hair who, speaks Arabic. Like African Americans, Arabs come in all shades of skin color.

I used to look at all Sudanese as being Black, after all As-Sudan literally means the Land of the Blacks in Arabic. I was initially shocked and offended some years ago to learn that the northern Sudanese consider themselves Arabs and not Black, after all they look like they would fit in at one of my family reunions. But being here has helped me understand why they consider themselves Arab.

So an Arab is defined by language and culture and not skin color.

I had previously written about how as a Black person in Africa I am often put into a local ethnic group, well that can be a good thing because it makes me less conspicuous, but it can also be dangerous depending on socio-political and historical factors.
- - -

Ethiopian tea-woman

Ethiopian tea-woman

Photo titled "Shy": She has on forehead tatoo as mark of her religion-She is Christian. Same tatoos she has on her neck, hands and as she told me also on all her body... [Taken in Khartoum, Sudan by Vit Hassan - caption also by Vit]

Sudan willing to accept compromise - UN military advisers, police and civilians to reinforce AMIS

Good news of a proposal that's gaining momentum. AP report by Alfred de Montesquiou 26 Sep 2006 - excerpt:
The UN and Sudan are discussing the deployment of UN military advisers to reinforce the AU peacekeeping mission in Darfur, officials from both sides said Tuesday.

The Sudanese government's top official on Darfur, Majzoub al-Khalifa, said in an interview with The Associated Press that Sudan was willing to accept a compromise involving UN advisers.

"There is a third way. ... Why not let the UN place its men, command expertise and materiel at the service of the AU mission,'' al-Khalifa said.

Bahaa Elkoussy, a UN spokesman in Sudan, said the two sides were negotiating over sending UN advisers "to facilitate the deployment of the AU."

"There are ongoing discussions to provide the AU force with support, pending a future decision from the UN Security Council," he told the AP.

He would not elaborate. But other UN officials in Sudan, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks, said the proposal was to send more than 100 UN military advisers and dozens of police and civilians to reinforce the AU mission.

Elkoussy said UN personnel were ready to be sent to Darfur in the coming weeks "as soon as there is a solid agreement with the (Sudanese) government."

The AU confirmed Tuesday it was planning to send up to 4,000 more African peacekeepers to Darfur, though it lacks the gear and the cash to schedule their deployment.

"At least 1,300 troops are immediately available. We are negotiating with our partners for the funds to send them in," said Noureddine Mezni, the AU spokesman in Sudan.

The AU has had little effect in preventing atrocities in Darfur, but Mezni said this would change under the force's new "concept of operations," which sets out more robust tasks for the peacekeepers.

EU to give AU $70m - EU is AU's top supporter

The European Commission (EC) will give the African Union 55 million euros ($70 million) to support its operations during a visit this week to the pan-African body's headquarters, an EC envoy said on Tuesday.

Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will lead the delegation to Addis Ababa, during the Sept. 30- 0ct. 2 trip. - Reuters 26 Sep 2006.

'Sudan to approve Darfur peacekeepers'

"No soldier should go to Sudan without the permission of the Sudanese government because it's not about making war with the Sudanese people but helping them," AU head Alpha Oumar Konare said on Monday.

Konare's comments came as al-Bashir, in Sudan, lashed out at the US, saying Washington's plans to create a "new Middle East" were behind an international push to replace AU peacekeepers with UN forces in Darfur. - ndtv

Ramstein crew flies with Botswana into Darfur

Ramstein Airmen flew with a Botswana C-130 Hercules crew to the Darfur region Sept. 23 and 24 to support the African Union peacekeeping mission.

Two C-130 crewmembers from the 86th Operations Support Squadron, aerial porters from the 86th Air Mobility Squadron and a force protection specialist from the 786th Security Forces Squadron, joined the Botswana C-130 crew that transported 56 Ugandan civil police into Darfur. - U.S. Air Force

Monday, September 25, 2006

UN's Pronk suggests using the UN Charter's Chapter VIII to support the AU deployment in Darfur as a viable option

Excellent article at Aljazeera today - Darfur: U.S. confrontational approach rejected - by Ilham Kocache, Horn of Africa Researcher at GLCSS (The Great Lakes Centre for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank, with offices in Central and East Africa). Here is a copy, in full:
This week brought a clear path forward for the Darfur conflict and humanitarian crisis. The UN Security Council's confrontational approach was dealt a near fatal blow and the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sudan Jan Pronk outlined a five step solution for Darfur and suggested a compromise solution of a Chapter VIII approach.

At a press conference following his Security Council appearance, Pronk suggestion that using the UN Charter's Chapter VIII to support the African Union (AU) deployment in Darfur was a viable option.

"Chapter VIII is a possibility," Pronk said, "whereby there is another force (which acts) on behalf of the United Nations which has been requested by the Security Council and fully financed by the UN."

He stressed that AMIS, the AU force, could continue to be led by the AU with AU peacekeepers, and that he believed the Government of Sudan was willing to accept this solution. Pronk, however, stressed the caveat that the force must be more effective than if it is now.

Contrary to the continued calls by some governments for the UN to act unilaterally against Sudan, AU Commission Chairperson Alpha Konare was quoted in the Sudan Tribune as contradicting this view.

"That means this has to be done with the Sudanese government's approval and we have clearly said that even if the UN was to come, the bulk of the troops would be AU forces, the command would be African and the AU political leadership will be there," Konare said, after the AU extended presence of its Darfur units until the end of the year.

He also contradicted certain members of the Security Council, which have consistently placed the blame solely on the Government of Sudan. According to Konare, the current instability in Darfur is more the direct result of fighting between the rebel movements themselves than between the rebels and the Government of Sudan.

As discussed in last week's article, Darfur Crisis: Shared Responsibility (Sudan Tribune Comments 18 September 2006) the primary solution is the restoration of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA). Pronk, in supporting that position, outlined a five step program to get the DPA into "intensive care" before it dies.

The first step is to "get everyone on board."

"Abdul Wahid's group," Pronk said, explaining one of the core problems of the DPA, "are out of the agreement and we need to bring them on board."

This is vital to the DPA because Abdul Wahid's group, which mostly represents Furs, is a significant portion of the population. He stressed that Abdul Wahid's group maintained the original ceasefire and has not resumed fighting and that peace will not be possible without their cooperation.

He concluded the description of the first step by stating bluntly, "they must be brought on board."

Pronk called for establishing a truce as the second step. He stressed that the approach used at the peace talks caused the rebel movements to split into different, uncontrollable factions.

"They were told: First sign, then talk. That further split the rebel movements," he reported to the Security Council. According to Pronk, this led the National Redemption Front to break the ceasefire in July and contribute to the current escalating events in Darfur.

He stressed it was "an outright violation of the DPA", and that a truce was needed to bring the DPA out of its coma. Pronk said, "Mini Minawi can play a role, maybe, in mediating between his present and his former allies in order to finally get peace on the ground."

Reforming the non-functioning Ceasefire Commission (CFC) was identified as the third step.

"It simply does not function," Pronk said. "It has been hijacked by the signatories, it is not well chaired, non-signatories have been excluded, and the United Nations has been silenced."

He urged the CFC to start addressing the violations of the DPA. In addition, he envisions a renewed and authoritative CFC that is fully representative of all parties.

"In the southern Sudan," he recalled, "the CJMC is one of the most important pillars of the CPA. If it were taken out, the CPA would be paralyzed. That is exactly the present state of the DPA, so the third condition is to start addressing the violations of the DPA through a renewed, fully representative, but authoritative CFC."

The SRSG called for improving the DPA as the fourth step. According to Pronk, many people of Darfur have lost faith in the DPA and a new round of consultations should be started.

"We must talk, add, improve and give an opportunity to those who feel excluded and form at least one third of the population of Darfur. We must get their interests guaranteed, on paper as well as in reality," he said, stressing that the new talks can not be seen as reopening the peace negotiations.

Finally, Pronk called for all parties to get off the collision course of confrontation and work on rebuilding trust and respect.

"Secretary-General Kofi Anan has clearly said that "without the consent of the Sudanese Government, the transition will not be possible", reported Pronk, directly contradicting the position of unilateral action. "However, getting the consent of the Government requires consultations. A transition to a United Nations force has to be made attractive to the Sudanese leadership in order to get its support. That also requires trust, confidence-building and time. It requires that those in favor of a transition and those against it should refrain from the present collision course."

Clearly, SRSG Pronk recognizes by stressing his last point that the hostile rhetoric by certain members of the Security Council have continued the crisis in Darfur and raise suspicions by the Government of Sudan. Once again -- as this author stated after the DPA was signed, in July, and now -- the quickest solution to the Darfur humanitarian crisis is a robust AU peacekeeping force.

This is the ideal time for the Government of National Unity to demonstrate to the world that this was not a war of Arabs against non-Arabs. This is the time for the Government of National Unity to work closely with SRSG Pronk and initiate his five step program. It is time for the Government of National Unity to demonstrate that Africans - North Africans and Sub-Saharan Africans, regardless of their ethnic or religious background -- will solve African issues, without outside political rhetoric."
Ilham Kocache may be reached at Ilham.kocache@glcss.org

Darfur damned by western pity (Brendan O'Neill)

Excerpt from Guardian's CiF by Brendan O'Neill Darfur: damned by western pity:
"The people of Darfur and Sudan, like the people of Bosnia before them, are likely to pay a heavy price indeed for the patronage of their latte-drinking "friends" in the west."
I say, kudos to Brendan for speaking up with such an unfashionable viewpoint. I doubt those who disagree with Brendan's article will understand what he is getting at. Even if they do, whether they realise it or not, they are supporting the insurgents aiming for regime change and, in turn, helping to prolong the conflict.

Well meaning but misinformed people are manipulated by others with self serving agendas. Who would they like to see in place of the current regime? Doubt if they know the answer to that question. Before any of them get mad at Brendan, I'd like them to ask themselves why they (and the people they agree with on Darfur) have not supported the African peacekeepers in Darfur who've been doing a great job under appalling conditions. The insurgents want UN troops fighting onside and have been spinning the media to discredit and denigrate African troops in Darfur.

See Jonathan Steele's article in the Guardian 19 Sep 2006: "Sorry George Clooney, but the last thing Darfur needs is western troops: The rebels, not Khartoum, scuppered this year's peace deal - the solution has to be an expanded African Union force." [via POTP]

Bashir imposes travel restrictions on US officials in Sudan

Sudan's Bashir accuses US of meddling in Darfur (ST Sep 25, 2006):
The Sudanese leader, just back from an overseas trip to gather support from nonaligned nations and attend the UN General Assembly in New York, said Sudanese officials were unfairly scrutinized by US Homeland Security during the visit.

In response, no American official in Sudan would be allowed to travel more than 25 kilometers away from the presidential palace in Khartoum without a special permit, al-Bashir said. "The measure is effective as of Monday," he said.
From Reuters/Aljazeera
"Any American official who comes to Sudan, we will stamp his passport for only 25km from the presidential palace," he [Bashir] said. "Even if they apologise and lift theirs, we will not lift ours."
Heh. Nah nah na na nah. Maybe Mr Bashir isn't aware that after 9/11, most visitors to the US feel unfairly scrutinized by US Homeland Security. Strange how he doesn't impose travel restrictions on the rebels. It irks me that JEM et al are free to swan in and out of Europe, the US and Sudan.

Did Reuters get it wrong? Today, China's Xinhua says this:
President Omar al-Bashir also said the removal of this measure would depend on the amelioration of the bilateral ties, according to the report.

"Any American official visiting Sudan will have his passport stamped and his movement restricted at a limit of 25 kilometers," al-Bashir said, adding that this measure would not be removed unless relations between Sudan and the United States are improved.

President Omar al-Bashir, Sudan - coup in 1989

Sep 22 2006 BBC report - Coup leaders' addiction to power - tells us the tide turned in the 1980s, when Latin American governments agreed not to recognise leaders who came to power by military means.
Ely Ould Mohammed Vall, Mauritania - coup in 2005
Francois Bozize, Central African Republic - coup in 2003
Gen Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan - coup in 1999
President Yahya Jammeh, The Gambia - coup in 1994
President Omar al-Bashir, Sudan - coup in 1989
Blaise Campaore, Burkina Faso - coup in 1987
President Lansana Conte, Guinea - coup in 1984
Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, Libya - coup in 1969
Let's not support "rebels" who use violence to get what they want. Peacekeepers serving in war zones deserve to be supported, appreciated and respected. African Union peacekeepers in Darfur need all the support and help they can get.

Are all Darfurian civilians rebels? When trying to install security in Darfur, how can one tell the difference between a rebel and a civilian, a bandit and a civilian, a terrorist and a civilian, a janjaweed and a civilian? The Sudanese government is accused of "indiscriminate" attacks and bombings of Darfur villages. Where do the rebels, bandits and janjaweed eat, sleep and live? How do they make a living? Where are the families of these people? News reports tell us the Sudanese government backs the militias, but never say or even look into who funds the so-called rebels. So many questions.

Who will be the next UN Secretary General? Runners for Kofi Annan's job

Kofi Annan has this week begun his last UN General Assembly session as Secretary General. He must stand down by the end of the year, and the race to succeed him is gathering pace.

Seven people have already declared their candidacy, but it is possible that Mr Annan's successor will not be among them. There is still time for others to throw their hats into the ring.

Traditionally, the UN Security Council recommends a candidate and the 192-member General Assembly approves the choice.

Click here for portraits of the seven candidates. (Courtesy BBC)

See updates at newsblog Who will be the Next UN Secretary General?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

NRF commanders claim Musa Hilal's Janjaweed forces are on their way to crush NRF in N Darfur

Today's Sunday Times publishes a report by BBC correspondent Jonah Fisher in Sudan saying the Sudanese government has denied undertaking the continuing bombing raids and claims its military actions are in self-defence against rebels who will not sign last May's peace deal.

On 26 Aug 2006, NYT correspondent Lydia Polgreen reported Sudan's foreign minister, Lam Akol, said in an interview that Khartoum's plan to use troops to pacify Darfur is already in motion. "With this plan, we are implementing the Darfur Peace Agreement," Mr Akol said. "We do not need the permission or the input of the United Nations or anyone else."

On 21 Sep 2006, Darfur rebel group NRF issued the following press statement (via Sudan Tribune):
According to fresh news from Darfur, the janjweed forces of Musa Hilal have left Elfashir, yesterday September 19th, heading towards Umsidra area, the site where the forces of Albashir were badly defeated ten days ago. The forces of Hilal are estimated to be around 1300 men on 70 plus vehicles, camels and horses. They are now camping in Umsiala north of Kutum town.

Through the whole of yesterday, Antonov planes and helicopter gunships pounded civilian villages of Umsidra, Hashaba, Kulkul, Jiraya and Anka in North Darfur. Needless to say, the bombardment led to human waves of newly displaced civilians in the bombarded area and the number of causalities is yet to be produced.

According to our sources, the new assault is prompted by rebellion of the demoralised government army in Alfashir. Hilal struck a deal with the regime of Albahsir, whereby the Janwaeed will take over the duty of crushing the NRF in North Darfur. In return, the Janjaweed will be allowed to drive away indigenous populations of North Darfur and occupy their land as they have done in Jabal Mara area of South and West Darfur. However, we would like to reassure the peace loving people of Sudan in general and Darfur in particular, that we will never allow such plans to be realized except in the day dreams of the regime. We regret in advance the losses to life of people who are deemed to die under the deception of the regime.
- - -

Janjaweed

Further reading

Sep 9 2006 Sudan's Camp Rwanda in deadly Tawila, N Darfur - On Feb 27, 2004, hundreds of Arab tribesmen in military uniforms attacked Tawila, led by Musa Hilal, the leader of the militia known as the janjaweed.

Jun 12 2006 Interview: Sheik Musa Hilal, leader of Um Jalul tribe in his hometown of Mistariha, North Darfur

Mar 26 2006 Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal says Sudanese government call to arms is carried out through tribal leaders

Feb 21 2006 List of top wanted Janjaweed leaders - Who's who on Darfur (African Confidential)

May 3 2005 ABC's Interview with Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal in Sudan

Feb 20 2005 Janjaweed leader says followed orders in Darfur, Sudan

Aug 22 2004 Janjaweed Leader Moussa Hilal - interview with UK Telegraph and IslamOnline.net

Nov 18 2004 Sudanese militia leader Hilal accused of Sudan massacre speaks exclusively to ABC News

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Egypt wants guarantees to persuade Sudan to accept UN

If true, this is interesting. Via Sudan Tribune 22 Sep 2006:
According to Arabic language al-Sahafa, the Egyptian government and the Saudi Arabia are exerting efforts to persuade Sudan to accept the deployment of the international peacekeepers in Darfur.

Sudan would receive guarantees that the UN forces would not be used against the government officials, and the US would give pledge to lift economic sanctions imposed on the Sudan since 1997, the report said.
One wonders why it has taken so long to offer Khartoum such obviously needed guarantees. It's no big deal to lift sanctions and see justice being carried out by the Sudanese in their own courts. US President GW Bush vowed no US citizen would ever be tried by the ICC. Why should the Sudanese not vow same for their own people?

Friday, September 22, 2006

PostGlobal, The Washington Post's forum, debates Darfur

Email received from Amar.Bakshi@washingtonpost.com Sep 20:
The Washington Post PostGlobal site (blog.washingtonpost.com/postglobal) wants to devote its upcoming coverage to the situation in Darfur.

We'd like to get you all on board in helping us craft a question (as soon as possible) and then in letting your readers know that we are convening a place for people around the world to discuss the issues.

We send our question to the editors of 50 worldwide publications - Economist, Caijing, Asian Age, Daily Star, South African Star etc. and about 100 global blogs to convene debate.

Let me know if you're interested in being a part in formulating the question, and if you'd be willing to spread the word.

Amar
Another email received today:
PostGlobal (http://blog.washingtonpost.com/postglobal) is an international blog and forum for the Washington Post. During the next few days, the site will be hosting online discussions on solutions to the crisis in Darfur. We urge you to join the debate alongside Bill Emmott - former editor of The Economist, Alex de Waal - author of Darfur: A Short History of a Long War, Christine Ockrent - French journalist, and many more. This is the time for the world to come together over the crisis in Darfur. Get engaged and join the debate.
Thanks Amar. Sorry I've not had time to get involved in formulating a question. But I did spend an hour this evening reading the replies to your latest question:
"Should regional solidarity be allowed to trump human rights needs? What could be done to pull away support from the Sudanese regime and enable UN troops to enter?"
I agree with Alex de Waal's answer titled "Sudan Solution: Politics is Paramount", especially this excerpt:
"The most important action in support of human rights in Darfur is progress towards a political settlement. Such progress will, in itself, provide protection for the people of Darfur; it will bring forward the day when stability can return; it will make it possible for a peacekeeping force to operate effectively..."
Also, this comment by AK, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA:
"There is no doubt that people in Darfur are dying. But the term genocide has been used too freely. First off, the killing in Darfur is not completely one sided as some might lead you to believe. Secondly, the fighting is based on resources more than it is on anything else. Resources such as water and grazing/farming land are essential for both groups involved. Thirdly, there is no "racial" issue here. EVERYONE in Darfur is African, and EVERYONE in Darfur is Muslim. There are tribes who have been Arabized through trade and intermarriage, but have no clear Arab lineage. There is no clear cut line between Arab vs. African.

On the Issue of the UN intervention, there is no doubt in my mind that the US and France along with the sponsors of the resolution have illegitimate interests. I say, if they truly want there to be peace, fund the African Union force and supply them with the needed equipment to complete their mandate.

The other major problem with the UN resolution is that it only addresses the military and humanitarian aspect of the conflict, not the political aspect. Just giving food and sending soldiers is not going to bring peace, lasting peace to the people of Darfur and all of Sudan.
Plus this comment, by AM, Vienna, VA, caught my eye:
"Why are outsiders needed?
If you recall, it is the insurgency that is causing the problems."
Note, PostGlobal, an experiment in global discussion of important issues, operates as part of washingtonpost.com. Overseeing the site in Washington is Hal Straus, washingtonpost.com's Opinions Editor, and Amar Bakshi, the Editor/Producer of PostGlobal. Good luck chaps!

If I had to pose a question, I guess it would be the one I've asked myself many times over the past two years but never found an answer:
Why has the African Union Mission in Darfur (AMIS) never received the support and funding it so badly needed?
I wonder what question The Sudanese Thinker would ask ... [Hi Drima!]

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UN readies experts, equipment for AU in Darfur - UN Security Council Resolution extends UNMIS to 8 Oct 2006

Today, the UN confirmed it would move 100 personnel, including military officers, to Darfur in the next few weeks to man communications and other equipment for the AU. - Reuters via SABC:
Also today, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution extending for two weeks, until October 8, the UN mission in Sudan, which has some 10,000 peacekeepers in southern Sudan to monitor a peace agreement there.

John Bolton, a US ambassador, said the short rollover "would give us more time to build up momentum and pressure on the government in Khartoum to accept the inevitability - that there is going to be a UN peacekeeping force."

Darfur 'still being bombed' - Egypt supports Sudan's position on Darfur

UN human rights monitors claim Sudanese government aircraft bomb Darfur villages. - UN News Centre 22 Sep 2006

Mubarak told Bashir that Egypt supported Sudan's position on Darfur, underlining that a possible deployment of UN forces could only be conducted with consent from the Sudanese government. - Xinhua/ST 22 Sep 2006

Britain has called for a summit on Darfur. - Reuters 22 Sep 2006 via Scotsman

The UN is meeting today to discuss what can be done to stop the violence. - BBC TV 22 Sep 2006

Water in Darfur

Photo: A displaced Sudanese woman fetches water at the Argo camp in Tawilla, north Darfur, Sudan, September 6, 2006. (Reuters/Candace Feit)

Climate change and war - UN peacekeeping in S Sudan and Darfur would cost $2.7 billion annually - for how many years?

"On the list of the presently largest relief operations in the world Darfur is number one and Southern Sudan number two," writes UN SRSG Jan Pronk in his weblog September 22, 2006. Excerpt:
"Close to 90.000 metric tons of food aid were provided to 1.3 million people throughout South Sudan. Nearly 400 anti-personnel mines and anti-tank mines and more than 16.000 unexploded objects were collected and destroyed, amongst others along 265 km roads. The reopening of these roads made humanitarian and commercial traffic possible. This was further facilitated by the construction of nearly 900 km roads and the rehabilitation of seven airfields. About 800 new water points were established. More than 750 schools were rehabilitated and about 4500 teachers were trained. Several millions of children were reached through the vaccination and immunization rounds, amongst others against measles and polio.

To cover the humanitarian needs for this year, 2006, in both Darfur and Southern Sudan we have presented an aid program to the international community amounting to 1.6 billion dollar. So far we have received 1.1 billion. It means that we had to cut assistance again.

Presently UNMIS, with 10.000 military, costs another one billion dollar per annum. If we are going to deploy in Darfur as well, as has been stipulated in resolutions of the Security Council, this will increase to 2.7 billion dollar annually.
WHEN WILL A POLITICAL SETTLEMENT BE REACHED?

I say Mr Pronk, $2.7 billion annually for something the majority of Sudanese don't seem to want? How long will it go on for? ... 2 years? 20 years? 200 years? When will the insurgents reach a political settlement? How many water pumps cost $2.7 billion? When is walk away time? Who decides when enough is enough? The insurgents claim to be fighting in the best interests of "their" people but how old will they be when they reach a political settlement? When they get old and grey and peg out, will their children carry on the fight? The point I am making here is, the warring parties in Sudan may as well reach a political settlement NOW and get started on pulling together to PUMP WATER before it's too late, otherwise Darfur will be uninhabitable. Maybe that's what they want, to be left alone with the oil. Read on:

CLIMATE CHANGE AND WAR

Visiting Africa's Sahel region, Jeffrey Sachs says it's clear that climate change is already driving warfare in Ethiopia and Sudan. This time, peacekeepers, sanctions and humanitarian aid are not going to cut it. Instead, the developed world needs to cut its emissions drastically while helping developing countries adapt - and fast. See commentary by Jeffrey Sachs at Global Policy Forum on "Climate Change and War" 1 March 2005. Excerpt:
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has declared that the two issues at the center of the G-8 Summit this July will be African poverty and global climate change. These may seem to be distinct issues. In fact, they are linked. A trip I took to a village in the Tigre region in northern Ethiopia shows why.

One morning, I was taken to a dry riverbed at the village's edge. Farmers were digging a pit in the riverbed, down to the water table approximately two meters below ground level. They explained that, until recently, this was a perennial river - one that flows throughout the year. But now, the river stops flowing during the dry season. Only when the annual rains begin in the summer does water reappear in the river bed. Until then, water-starved communities dig for water - if they can find it and if they can afford to pump it out.

In northern Ethiopia, as in much of Africa, the rain cycle has changed markedly in recent years. Ethiopian village life has long depended on two crops, one during a short rain in March and April, and the main crop during the long rain in the summer months. In recent years, the short rains have failed entirely, and long rains have been erratic. Hunger is omnipresent. Perhaps half of the children are severely underweight.

Much of arid sub-Saharan Africa, notably in the Sahel (the region just south of the Sahara desert), has experienced a pronounced drop in rainfall over the past quarter-century. This decline coincided with a rise in the surface temperature of the neighboring Indian Ocean, a hint that the decline in rainfall is in fact part of the longer-term process of man-made global warming.

Failures of rainfall contribute not only to famines and chronic hunger, but also to the onset of violence when hungry people clash over scarce food and water. When violence erupts in water-starved regions such as Darfur, Sudan, political leaders tend to view the problems in narrow political terms. If they act at all, they mobilize peacekeepers, international sanctions and humanitarian aid. But Darfur, like Tigre, needs a development strategy to fight hunger and drought even more than it needs peacekeepers. Soldiers cannot keep peace among desperately hungry people.

One course of action must be to help impoverished African regions to "adapt" to climate change and to escape the poverty trap. Water-stressed regions like Ethiopia and Sudan can adapt, at least in part, through improved technologies such as "drip irrigation," rainwater harvesting, improved water storage facilities, deep wells, and agro-forestry techniques that make best use of scarce rainfall. Better land-management practices (the re-planting of degraded forests, for example) can recharge underground water aquifers.

Poor countries cannot afford these technologies on their own - nor should they have to. Help for poor countries in Africa and elsewhere to adapt to climate change should not be described as charity or aid, but rather as compensation for damages being imposed on the poorest people on the planet. Greater help for these countries to escape from extreme poverty has been promised for decades but has not been delivered.

In addition to adapting to climate change, the world must also reduce future risks to the planet by cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions, which are the source of man-made climate change. While adaptation to climate change is necessary - because it is already occurring - it is not enough. If the world fails to mitigate future climate change, the effects of rising temperatures, increasing droughts, more numerous and severe tropical storms, rising sea levels and a spread of tropical diseases will pose huge threats to the entire planet. The famines in Ethiopia and the violence in Darfur suggest what can lie ahead.
Sudan's Chinese backed Merowe Dam

Photo: Click on image for details of Sudan's Chinese backed Merowe Dam.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Bashir meets Mubarak - AU can solve conflict in Africa

AP/ST 21 Sep 2006:
"Our aim is not to finalize the role of the AU at the end of this year, but to encourage them to continue forward and to set a positive example," Magzoub Al-Khalifa Ahmed, an adviser to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, told a Khartoum press conference.

"They are able to solve the conflict in Africa," he said.

Al-Bashir, returning from the annual UN General Assembly session [in New York] stopped briefly in Cairo on Thursday and held talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. There was no comment on what they discussed.

SA: Reinforce African Union army in Darfur

South Africa's Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said the AU troops would remain until December 31 but UN should take control of the peacekeeping mission. He said with the extension of the AU troops' stay, there was time for the UN security council to review its resolution to "blue hat" the AU troops. - Sapa 21 Sep 2006.

Darfur: UN estimates over 400,000 deaths, 2m displaced

Over the past two years, I've covered miles of news reports on Darfur and am still unable to understand why the African Union Mission in Darfur was never given the support it needed to function effectively. Report by the UN News Centre 21 Sep 2006 - Annan welcomes extension of African Union mission in Darfur:
In a statement issued by his spokesman, Mr Annan stressed that additional funding for the mission, known as AMIS, is urgently required for it to function effectively during its new mandate in a region where UN officials estimate over 400,000 people have lost their lives and some 2 million more have been driven from their homes in three years of fighting between the Sudanese Government, allied militias and rebel forces.
Note, the report states UN officials estimate over 400,000 deaths.

UN envoy Jan Pronk calls for Ramadan calm in Darfur

Following yesterday's excellent news that AU peacekeepers are to remain in Darfur, The Times reported today:
Jean-Marie Guehenno, the UN Undersecretary-General in charge of peacekeeping, welcomed the AU's decision. The logistics and support supplied to the African peacekeepers is expected to amount to 200 unarmed trainers and advisers at a cost of $22 million over the next four months, as well as help airlifting supplies and troops, and arranging contracts for food, fuel and water.
UN SRSG Jan Pronk has a great idea that, hopefully, could give fighters time to pause for thought and reflect on what is really important for the millions of defenceless women and children imprisoned in camps in Darfur and Chad, and start the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue. Reuters/ST Sept 21, 2006:
The UN envoy to Sudan on Thursday urged warring groups in Darfur to stop fighting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan to let relief workers operate in the region where conflict has displaced more than 2 million.

"I am sending letters to the president and to all the seven movements ... asking them to respect a month of tranquillity during Ramadan," Jan Pronk said in reference to Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and Darfur rebel groups.

"Get off the collision course ... Don't fight, don't bomb, don't change your positions," Pronk told reporters in Khartoum. The Islamic month of Ramadan begins with the new moon in the coming days.

Pronk said a halt to fighting would lead to "creating an atmosphere whereby you can start talking again rather than fighting again with each other." It would also allow U.N. agencies to reach those in need, he said.
Good luck to Mr Pronk. Let's hope everyone will take a month off to rest and reflect on what is really important: PUMPING WATER NOT WAR!! Note this gem, by an insightful blogger at dishyduds blogspot re "Climate Change and Darfur":
"I now believe that the United States has a moral obligation to alleviate the struggles in Africa. It is our responsibility because we are the largest contributors to the root of the problem. I no longer support a UN military presence. Peace cannot be forced, and military action would only act as a band-aid on a seeping infected wound. The root cause needs to be addressed and the United States needs to lead as we had a hand in creating the problem. The peace needs to be rewritten to include provisions for all tribes to address what they were fighting over to begin with. Famine relief needs to be supported by all western world countries, especially those who are the largest contributors to global warming."
Read the full story. And, some more good news:
Water firm awarded $203 mln contract for Port Sudan (Sudan Tribune, Sep 17 2006)
Water treatment and hygiene education protect millions in Sudan

UNICEF has been working closely with the Federal Ministry of Health of the Government of National Unity, as well as state authorities, to treat water sources and storage systems. And while acute watery diarrhoea continues to be reported in a number of states, fatalities have fallen from 6 per cent to 3 per cent in the last month. Full story 20 Sep 2006.

Water treatment and hygiene education protect millions in Sudan

Photo: Children gather at a community water point in Sag el Naam, in Sudan's North Darfur State. Following recent outbreaks of acute watery diarrhoea, UNICEF and its partners have embarked upon a massive programme of water chlorination and hygiene education. (Copyright UNICEF Sudan/2006/Carwardine)
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