SUDAN WATCH: Warmongering New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is gunning for Khartoum

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Warmongering New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is gunning for Khartoum

The following copy of an article published at Sudan Tribune appears to be based on an opinion piece by The New York Times' columnist, Nicholas Kristof. The BBC interview cited in the article took place in February of last year [George W Bush's BBC interview 14 February 2008]. Note the paragraph that I have highlighted in red for future reference.

From Sudan Tribune - US special envoy to Sudan asked Bush to use military force: report
December 28, 2008 (WASHINGTON) – The US special envoy to Sudan Richard Williamson has reportedly asked President Bush to take coercive measures against Khartoum to halt killings in the western region of Darfur.

US special envoy for Sudan, Richard Williamson

Photo: US special envoy for Sudan, Richard Williamson, leaves after meeting with Sudanese Foreign Minister Deng Alor (unseen) in Khartoum on June 2, 2008 (AFP)

The New York Times (NYT) newspaper reported that Williamson sent a “tough” memo to Bush recommending a series of steps to pressure the Sudanese government.

Among the steps is to temporarily jam all communications in the Sudanese capital which would severe telephone communications, cell phones as well as internet access.

Furthermore the US navy would hinder access to Port Sudan by searching or turning away some ships. At a later stage a full blown embargo could be enforced to prevent Sudan from selling its oil.

The last stage would be to shoot down all Sudanese fighters that violate ban over Darfur and to use the threat of destroying air force if Khartoum does not comply with other demands such as handing over two suspects to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The US has been the only country to label the Darfur conflict genocide and the Bush administration has been under intense domestic pressure to intervene.

The US has been the most outspoken country on bringing the issue of the Darfur. In September 2004 Washington officially labeled the conflict as ‘genocide’.

Last February US President George W Bush has defended his decision not to send troops to the region despite strong domestic pressure.

“I had to make a seminal decision. And that is whether or not I would commit US troops into Darfur” Bush told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in an interview.

But many Darfur activists accused the Bush administration of refusing to take more forceful steps against Khartoum to avoid jeopardizing their intelligence cooperation.

US officials denied the allegations saying that the counterterrorism cooperation has not prevented Washington from taking the lead on the Darfur crisis.

The NYT said that the plans put forth by Williamson were blocked by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security adviser Stephen Hadley.

The report is likely to worry Khartoum which has last week praised Williamson for his knowledge of Sudan after the diplomat made a speech suggesting that the incoming Obama administration should test diplomatic options with Sudan before moving to “more robust steps.”
I say, if this report is true, thank goodness for Dr Rice and Mr Hadley.
- - -

A New Chance for Darfur
Opinion editiorial by NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published at December 27, 2008

Nicholas D. Kristof

Photo: Nicholas D. Kristof (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)
If Barack Obama wants to help end the genocide in Darfur, he doesn’t have to look far for ideas of how to accomplish that. President Bush and his top aides have been given, and ignored, a menu of options for tough steps to squeeze Sudan — even destroy its air force — and those will soon be on the new president’s desk.

The State Department’s policy planning staff prepared the first set of possible responses back in 2004 (never pursued), and this year Ambassador Richard Williamson has privately pushed the White House to squeeze Sudan until it stops the killing.

Mr. Williamson, who is President Bush’s special envoy to Sudan, wrote a tough memo to Mr. Bush this fall outlining three particular steps the United States could take to press Sudan’s leader, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir:

• The United States could jam all communications in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital. This would include all telephone calls, all cellular service, all Internet access. After two days, having demonstrated Sudan’s vulnerability, the United States could halt the jamming.

• The United States could apply progressive pressure to Port Sudan, from which Sudan exports oil and thus earns revenue. The first step would be to send naval vessels near the port. The next step would be to search or turn back some ships, and the final step would be to impose a quarantine and halt Sudan’s oil exports.

• The United States could target Sudanese military aircraft that defy a United Nations ban on offensive military flights in Darfur. The first step would be to destroy a helicopter gunship on the ground at night. A tougher approach would be to warn Sudan that unless it complies with international demands (by handing over suspects indicted by the International Criminal Court, for example), it will lose its air force — and then if it does not comply, to destroy all its military aircraft on the ground.

Officials frustrated by the administration’s passivity shared these possible steps with me, partly to make clear that Mr. Obama can do more if he has the political will.

Mr. Williamson has been one of the unsung heroes of the Bush administration, fighting tenaciously and secretly — even twice threatening to resign — to redeem American honor by confronting genocide. President Bush himself seemed open to tougher action, officials say, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser, always resisted, backed by the Pentagon. Ms. Rice and Mr. Hadley tarnished their own honor and America’s by advocating, in effect, acquiescence in genocide.

The naysayers’ objection was simple: Those are incredibly serious steps, with grave repercussions.

They’re right. But then again, genocide is pretty serious, too.

That’s something that Mr. Obama and his aides understand. Partly for that reason, Sudan fears the Obama administration, and now for the first time in years, there’s a real chance of ousting President Bashir and ending his murderous regime.

Several factors are coming together. The leaders in Khartoum feel their government wobbling, particularly after rebels clashed with government soldiers on the outskirts of Khartoum earlier this year. They know that the International Criminal Court is expected to issue an arrest warrant for President Bashir, probably in February, but that no other top leader will be indicted after Mr. Bashir.

China, which for years has been President Bashir’s most important international supporter, now seems to be backing away — just as it eventually abandoned genocidal friends like Slobodan Milosevic and the Khmer Rouge. And an Arab state, Qatar, is now leading a serious diplomatic initiative to try to end the slaughter.

Thus there are growing whispers that key figures in the Sudanese regime may throw Mr. Bashir overboard in the coming months. The other leaders are ruthless and have blood on their hands as well, but some of them have in the past proved more willing to negotiate deals than Mr. Bashir has.

Hovering in the background is the risk that the north-south war in Sudan will resume, leading to a slaughter even worse than Darfur. One ominous sign is that Sudan is now stockpiling cash and weapons, apparently so that it can wage war on the south even if Port Sudan is blocked.

Mr. Williamson has suggested providing surface-to-air missiles to the separate government of South Sudan. Such weaponry would reduce the chance that Sudan would attack the south.

If Mr. Obama and his aides can work with Europe, China and Qatar to keep the heat on — and to make clear that Sudan has no choice but to hand over President Bashir once the court issues the arrest warrant — then we just might avert a new war and end the first genocide of the 21st century in the new year.
More on this later.

See next Sudan Watch post Thursday, January 08, 2009: The White House denounces Nicholas Kristof



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