Al Qaeda terrorists are already entrenched in Sudan, U.N. Envoy Jan Pronk warns
Al Qaeda Is Entrenched In Sudan, U.N. Envoy Warns
By BENNY AVNI, Staff Reporter, New York Sun
March 01, 2006
UNITED NATIONS - Secretary-General Annan's envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk, warned yesterday that Al Qaeda terrorists are already entrenched in Khartoum, and that if the current force composed of African Union troops in Darfur is replaced too quickly with a more robust force under the U.N. banner, Al Qaeda could "retaliate" against it.- - -
President Bush has suggested NATO could get involved to protect victims of genocide in Sudan. Earlier this month the Security Council backed in principle an American proposal to create a U.N. force capable of halting the atrocities against villagers in Darfur. Estimated at more than 20,000 troops, this force will replace the current 7,000-troop contingency that was sent to Sudan by the African Union.
Khartoum, however, is resisting any infringement of its sovereignty by allowing the presence of a U.N. force. "We are strongly opposed to any foreign intervention in Sudan, and Darfur will be a graveyard for any foreign troops," President al-Bashir was quoted as saying to Sudanese newspapers, according to Al-Jazeera.
Mr. Pronk said Sudan sent envoys to capitals of key members of the African Union and the Security Council to plead with them to reject the transition to a U.N. force. The A.U. was scheduled to decide on the Darfur transition on Friday, but a meeting in Addis Ababa was postponed to March 10, the A.U. announced yesterday.
One observer familiar with the Addis negotiation, who asked for anonymity, told The New York Sun yesterday that most of the resistance there to a U.N. force comes from the two members of the A.U.'s peace and security commission who are also members of the Arab League, Egypt, and Algeria. Qatar, which represents the Arabs on the Security Council, also has raised objections.
American ambassador John Bolton said that along with the Sudanese government, the African Union, the Arab League, and other concerned groups, America has tried to negotiate a resolution to send a U.N. force to Darfur to try to "stop the genocide." Addressing Mr. al-Bashir's resistance to the idea, Mr. Bolton said, "One can only hope that the government of Sudan shares the objective that its own citizens should live."
A spokesman for the American U.N. mission, Ben Chang, added, "We will expect the Sudanese government, as well as the rebels, to accept and accommodate the U.N. peacekeeping force once the transition takes place."
But according to Mr. Pronk, there is "a lot of talk about Al Qaeda in Khartoum," where the government is spreading conspiracy theories about foreigners trying to turn Sudan into another Iraq or Afghanistan. Sending NATO there without Security Council approval, the way the Clinton administration did in the Balkans, is a "recipe for disaster," Mr. Pronk said.
Citing multiple sources, Mr. Pronk told reporters there is "intelligence information that there are [Al Qaeda] people in Khartoum who have not been there before," and that those people have issued "threats" and "letters," warning of retaliation if the Sudanese people believe their country is invaded by the West.
Khartoum hosted Osama bin Laden in the late '90s, but the Sudanese government has played both sides by supplying America with some intelligence for the war on terror while continuing to raise the Al Qaeda specter as a warning to the West.
Mr. Pronk said that unlike failed states like Somalia, Sudan's government has firm control in the country, and that even street demonstrations are orchestrated to the last detail and the crowds "know how far they can go."
Currently, he added, the climate against the U.N. in Khartoum "is heating up," and therefore it would be "foolish not to take such warnings [of Al Qaeda attacks against a U.N. force] seriously."
See Sudan Watch, Tuesday, 24 March 2009: Bin Laden deputy calls for Sudan jihad (Update 10)