Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Blogging Sudan Watch: a plug for Darfur at the new Guardian "Comment is Free" (Daniel Davies)

The Guardian's new blog "Comment is Free" has published several pieces by Daniel Davies, one of which features this blog Sudan Watch, saying it ought to be compulsory reading for anyone planning to comment on the unfolding tragedy in Darfur. Here below is the March 21, 2006 piece entitled Sudan Watch: a plug - copied in full for posterity, incase the link to the Guardian's new site becomes broken:
"The website Sudan Watch really ought to be compulsory reading for anyone planning on using the unfolding tragedy in Darfur as scenery for their latest attack on their domestic political enemies (as a distressing number of people are doing these days). It is maintained by Ingrid Jones, about whom I know basically nothing except that she has an absolutely tireless energy for the distressing task of compiling news stories about Africa (Sudan Watch has sister sites dealing with Uganda, Congo, Niger, Ethiopia, Tibet, Iran and Syria). The site is compendious in its information and largely spin-free in its analysis. And it contains a number of pieces of information that one won't find anywhere else.

For example, it has been something of a trope of a certain element of the blogosphere to bash the UN for not sending a multilateral force into Sudan with NATO support. On the other hand, did you know that the African Union has been crying out for NATO to provide troops and material assistance for its own multilateral peacekeeping force in Darfur for the last year? Or that NATO has been refusing to do this, claiming that the presence of foreign troops would be "disastrous" for a similar period of time, until this week, when it volunteered to support a UN force (although not an AU one), the minute it became clear that no UN force would be sent? I am reluctant to draw conclusions from this, not least because I don't want to start using the Darfurians as scenery for my own domestic political battles. But it seems like the sort of thing that would be worth knowing.

I don't think it's exaggerating to say that if there had been a website as good as Sudan Watch in the runup to the Iraq War, a lot of things might have become common knowledge a lot earlier which have in fact only really come out since the war. It's an excellent website and deserves a lot more publicity."
[Note, Daniel Davies is an analyst and stockbroker working in London. He is a graduate of Oxford and the London Business School and started his career working in the Bank of England. He is a member of the Crooked Timber group blog (a wide-ranging philosophy blog) and maintains D-squared Digest plus a small number of other projects]

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