Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Deadline for Darfur peace deal passes - AU drawing up new document to allow dissident factions and commanders to sign peace deal and escape sanctions

From The Daily Telegraph correspondents in Addis Ababa June 1, 2006:
A MIDNIGHT African Union deadline for holdout Darfur rebels to agree to a peace deal for the troubled western Sudanese region passed with no new signatories, AU officials said today.

"No one has called to say they will sign but they know how to reach us," a senior AU official said at the bloc's headquarters in Addis Ababa after the (7am Thursday AEST) deadline passed.

"We'll see what happens (Thursday) morning and consider it."

Noureddine Mezni, a spokesman for the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS), said in Khartoum that AU commission chief Alpha Oumar Konare Konare would today "indicate the next steps to be taken".

Shortly before the deadline expired, Mr Mezni said efforts were still under way by southern Sudan ex-rebel chief, now Sudanese First Vice President, Salva Kiir to "persuade those who did not sign" the pact to do so.

A source close to the negotiations said Mr Kiir had received a delegation led by Konare's Sudan envoy, Baba Gana Kingibe, and that he would himself soon host talks between the AU and holdout rebels in the south of the country.

Yesterday, AU officials in Addis Ababa said a group claiming to represent a JEM splinter faction had arrived there to meet officials just hours before the deadline.

"We have been approached by a certain number of groups who are favourable to the DPA," AU Peace and Security Council commissioner Said Djinnit told reporters, referring to the Darfur Peace Agreement.

Diplomats in the Ethiopian capital said the alleged JEM dissidents were prepared to sign the deal even after a spokesman for the group said it could not agree unless substantial changes were made.

Mr Mezni said AU officials were drawing up a new document that would allow dissident factions and commanders to escape sanctions.

"We are finalising a different document, a mechanism will be put in place to receive the signatures of groups and individuals who have chosen the path of peace," he said.

A source close to the AU said seven field commanders from Abdel Wahid Mohammed al-Nur's holdout SLM faction had arrived in Addis Ababa to join the peace process "and before that many others did the same".

Mr Nur himself has said he will not sign unless Khartoum agrees to pay compensation and give his SLM wing a greater security role and a say in local and federal government.

Officials involved in the peace effort have warned Nur he risks becoming "irrelevant" if he does not sign, but his group's absence from the accord will likely plunge Darfur into further violence.

Strategic Victimhood in Sudan (by Alan Kuperman)

Note this extraordinary opinion piece in the New York Times May 31, 2006 by Alan J Kuperman, assistant professor of public affairs at the University of Texas and editor of "Gambling on Humanitarian Intervention: Moral Hazard, Rebellion and Civil War" - copied here below in full, with many thanks to Eric at Passion of the Present. I agree with every word of it. As I am no writer, it is comforting for me to at long last see such an eloquently written piece echoing what I have clumsily banged on about, alone here at Sudan Watch, for so long.

"Strategic Victimhood in Sudan" by Alan Kuperman

THOUSANDS of Americans who wear green wristbands and demand military intervention to stop Sudan's Arab government from perpetrating genocide against black tribes in Darfur must be perplexed by recent developments.

Without such intervention, Sudan's government last month agreed to a peace accord pledging to disarm Arab janjaweed militias and resettle displaced civilians. By contrast, Darfur's black rebels, who are touted by the wristband crowd as freedom fighters, rejected the deal because it did not give them full regional control. Put simply, the rebels were willing to let genocide continue against their own people rather than compromise their demand for power.

International mediators were shamefaced. They had presented the plan as take it or leave it, to compel Khartoum's acceptance. But now the ostensible representatives of the victims were balking. Embarrassed American officials were forced to ask Sudan for further concessions beyond the ultimatum that it had already accepted.

Fortunately, Khartoum again acquiesced. But two of Darfur's three main rebel groups still rejected peace. Frustrated American negotiators accentuated the positive - the strongest rebel group did sign - and expressed hope that the dissenters would soon join.

But that hope was crushed last week when the rebels viciously turned on each other. As this newspaper reported, "The rebels have unleashed a tide of violence against the very civilians they once joined forces to protect."

Seemingly bizarre, this rejection of peace by factions claiming to seek it is actually revelatory. It helps explain why violence originally broke out in Darfur, how the Save Darfur movement unintentionally poured fuel on the fire, and what can be done to stanch genocidal violence in Sudan and elsewhere.

Darfur was never the simplistic morality tale purveyed by the news media and humanitarian organizations. The region's blacks, painted as long-suffering victims, actually were the oppressors less than two decades ago - denying Arab nomads access to grazing areas essential to their survival. Violence was initiated not by Arab militias but by the black rebels who in 2003 attacked police and military installations. The most extreme Islamists are not in the government but in a faction of the rebels sponsored by former Deputy Prime Minister Hassan al-Turabi, after he was expelled from the regime. Cease-fires often have been violated first by the rebels, not the government, which has pledged repeatedly to admit international peacekeepers if the rebels halt their attacks.

This reality has been obscured by Sudan's criminally irresponsible reaction to the rebellion: arming militias to carry out a scorched-earth counterinsurgency. These Arab forces, who already resented the black tribes over past land disputes and recent attacks, were only too happy to rape and pillage any village suspected of supporting the rebels.

In light of janjaweed atrocities, it is natural to romanticize the other side as freedom fighters. But Darfur's rebels do not deserve that title. They took up arms not to stop genocide - which erupted only after they rebelled - but to gain tribal domination.

The strongest faction, representing the minority Zaghawa tribe, signed the sweetened peace deal in hopes of legitimizing its claim to control Darfur. But that claim is vehemently opposed by rebels representing the larger Fur tribe. Such internecine disputes only recently hit the headlines, but the rebels have long wasted resources fighting each other rather than protecting their people.

Advocates of intervention play down rebel responsibility because it is easier to build support for stopping genocide than for becoming entangled in yet another messy civil war. But their persistent calls for intervention have actually worsened the violence.

The rebels, much weaker than the government, would logically have sued for peace long ago. Because of the Save Darfur movement, however, the rebels believe that the longer they provoke genocidal retaliation, the more the West will pressure Sudan to hand them control of the region. Sadly, this message was reinforced when the rebels' initial rejection of peace last month was rewarded by American officials' extracting further concessions from Khartoum.

The key to rescuing Darfur is to reverse these perverse incentives. Spoiler rebels should be told that the game is over, and that further resistance will no longer be rewarded but punished by the loss of posts reserved for them in the peace agreement.

Ultimately, if the rebels refuse, military force will be required to defeat them. But this is no job for United Nations peacekeepers. Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia show that even the United States military cannot stamp out Islamic rebels on their home turf; second-rate international troops would stand even less chance.

Rather, we should let Sudan's army handle any recalcitrant rebels, on condition that it eschew war crimes. This option will be distasteful to many, but Sudan has signed a peace treaty, so it deserves the right to defend its sovereignty against rebels who refuse to, so long as it observes the treaty and the laws of war.

Indeed, to avoid further catastrophes like Darfur, the United States should announce a policy of never intervening to help provocative rebels, diplomatically or militarily, so long as opposing armies avoid excessive retaliation. This would encourage restraint on both sides. Instead we should redirect intervention resources to support "people power" movements that pursue change peacefully, as they have done successfully over the past two decades in the Philippines, Indonesia, Serbia and elsewhere.

America, born in revolution, has a soft spot for rebels who claim to be freedom fighters, including those in Darfur. But to reduce genocidal violence, we must withhold support for the cynical provocations of militants who bear little resemblance to our founders.
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Some reactions

May 31 2006 A Newer World - Spinning Darfur: Professor Kuperman, are you being paid to spin for Sudan's theocratic dictatorship? Or are you just drunk on anti-interventionism? What gives?

May 31 2006 Drima of The Sudanese Thinker: Strategic Victimhood In Sudan (A MUST READ): The following is a superbly written article that I checked today on Sudan Watch. I absolutely love it. It explains everything that Sudan Watch, Passion of The Present and I myself have been trying so hard to get across. The damn media talks about the Darfur conflict like they know it all when infact they got so many of their "facts" wrong. At the end of the day it's you the readers who end up getting distorted information. Please read it and enlighten yourselves to what is truly happening. The rebels are neither heroes nor victims in this tragedy. They are a sick and greedy bunch of people whom the international community shouldn't sympathize them.

June 1, 2006 Coalition for Darfur - Theory vs. Reality: excerpts and links to responses by NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof and Jerry Fowler of VOICES ON GENOCIDE PREVENTION.

[Sudan Watch Ed: Note how Fowler belittles Kuperman as 'a young academic with an iffy academic theory'. Is Fowler saying we all have to be old academics with sound theories to be entitled to an opinion? Old non academic Kristof opines: "First, of course it's more complicated than it seems at first. There are layers and layers of complexity to Darfur (although it's not clear to me that the author has ever actually been to Darfur to try to peel them away)." Is Kristof saying we all have to visit Darfur to be entitled to have an opinion on the war?]

June 2 2006 Jerry Fowler's blog entry Avid Readers says Alan Kuperman's op-ed in the New York Times found one appreciative audience: the Sudanese Embassy in Washington. They've posted it on their home page.

June 1 2006 Bitter Lemon: Personally, I hold George Clooney Responsible for the Genocide: Save Darfur movement has not discussed resolving the political crisis in Darfur, but simply stopping the Sudanese government from slaughtering their own people.

May 31 2006 Random Voices: Kuperman has no kind words for the Darfur rebels.

May 31 2006 Tas of Louded Mouth - Alan Kuperman needs to be smacked: Hey Kupster, maybe if the United Nations and western powers had listened to the Save Darfur movement and taken the crisis as a serious problem sooner, we wouldn't be having this discussion. But the fact is that they didn't; nobody did.

May 31 2006 American Scream - Men With Guns: While I do have an objection to this piece because it obstinately argues that we should do nothing, and everything will magically work out, it does have a point.

May 31 2006 Minerva - Epistemic Conditions For Foreign Engagement: What is compelling about his answer I think is less that it is obviously the right solution (it doesn't sound bad to me) but that it is reversable and causes less damage than humanitarian intervention. It is cautious. If there's anything you should be when it comes to giving guns to a bunch of people and sending them to face off with other people with guns, it's cautious. [Edit] I remember NPR interviewing a woman--someone in Iraq, I can't remember when or how--and she predicted virtually the exact chain of events that left us where we are now. I'm not talking about an expert. I'm talking about someone who sounded frightened, someone very ordinary, maybe even uneducated. Much of what she said--the resentment of the occupation, the internal turmoil between Sunni and Shia, the descent into chaotic violence--were things that seemed to me likely to happen.

May 31 2006 dcat - Touring Africa: Alan Kuperman writes in a Times op-ed piece that Americans misunderstand the conflict in Darfur and thus our solutions are simplistic. While Kuperman is right about Americans, his own proposed solutions are both too sanguine and too wrong. [Edit] While he is correct in his assertion that most of the rebel groups are hardly rife with good guys, any military force worth its salt would go in with the goal of stopping violence on all sides without taking simplistic dualities of good guys and bad guys.

May 31 2006 Just World News by Helena Cobban - Countering Darfur's anti-humane rebels: Put simply, the rebels were willing to let genocide continue against their own people rather than compromise their demand for power. This is a very strong statement of a case I've been making -- in much more tentative terms -- here on JWN over the past few weeks. Kuperman's conclusion is, "Ultimately, if the rebels refuse, military force will be required to defeat them." I disagree with this. I still maintain that there are always alternatives to the use of violence! ... Kuperman conclusion is this: we should let Sudan's army handle any recalcitrant rebels, on condition that it eschew war crimes. I agree, in general, with the argument that Sudan has a right to exercise its own national soveriegnty. ... Kuperman also makes a very good longer-range argument regarding the direction of US foreign policy. ... I am just glad to see Alan Kuperman entering the debate on Darfur with this feisty and generally strongly reasoned article.

May 31 2006 Compartmentalizing: I haven't read it, but I bet it's very good. A NYT op-ed about Darfur by Alan J Kuperman.

May 31 2006 Empire of Dirt - The Nail On The Head: Alan J Kuperman On Darfur: Occasionally, I come across an article that seems to have resulted from the writer's actually doing some thinking, rather than just rehashing some well-worn facts and tired cliches. It doesn't happen very often because new ideas are just few and far between, it seems. Anyway, in today's New York Times, Alan J. Kuperman really made me think anew about the Darfur situation. I'm no expert, so I don't know whether Kuperman is right in his prescription, but I do know that this is the type of writing that makes me sit up and take notice, for Kuperman demonstrates a refusal to bow before sacred cows and an unashamed devotion to the search for truth. Such concern for inquiry is today in short supply and therefore valued all the more by your Emperor.

May 31 2006 LookSmart's Furl - Strategic Victimhood in Sudan - Gives a little history on the Darfur conflict, which apparently isn't quite so one-sided as Kristof et al have led one to believe.

May 31 2006 Greg's Opinion: Alan Kuperman goes contrarian, pointing out that the Sudanese rebel groups aren't the clean-cut innocents that some might wish them to be. Focusing on Kuperman's take, I think it's worth pointing out that many genocides involve combatants on two sides that are rarely combating angelically. The problem is that that does NOT negate the obviousness of genocide. It does nothing to make the case against humanitarian assistance, if not placing boots on the ground to prevent more killing. The current rise of contrarian thought on Sudan is a bit surprising, I don't pretend to know what to make of it. But I would hope that it gets relegated to the asterisk mark of human thought that it deserves.

June 1 2006 Global Paradigms by Dr Leon Hadar, Cato Institute - The road to hell is paved with good intentions: It was interesting to read an op-ed in the New York Times this week Strategic Victimhood in Sudan in which the author Alan J. Kuperman deconstructs Darfour-as-a-Morality-Play and explains what we libertarians have known for quite a long time, that when it comes to most of these civil war in Third World spots, it's all about power, stupid!

May 31 2006 Life's Not That Simple - choosing the lesser of two evils.: one thing i've learnt is that things are never so simple ... no wonder the African Union was reluctant to let UN peacekeeping forces take over..

Jun 2 2006 CJR Daily - =eporter's Layered, Nuanced Work from Darfur

Jun 2 2006 Aplia Econ Blog - News for Economics Students: The Economics of Genocide

Jun 3 2006 The Human Province - Kuperman and "provoking genocie"

June 12 2006 Sudan Tribune Bill Andress Strategic victimhood in Sudan - A response: Tribal conflict is a blemish on all of Sudan just as it is on much of the African continent, but it is not the main issue here. [Sudan Watch ed: What a load of twaddle. By the way, the Sudan Tribune published a response to Kuperman's piece but not the piece itself. Lately, I've found Sudan Tribune (France based, I think) to be subtley biased in its selection of reports: seems to me, Sudan Tribune editors are pro rebel]

Nasty Eric 'insurgent loving' Reeves uses his poison pen to hurl insults at David Rieff (and everyone else except the rebels)

Eric Reeves in A reply to David Rieff asks:
What would be the consequences of humanitarian intervention in Darfur, with all necessary military resources?
And answers twice, saying "there [is] much we simply cannot know in advance" ..."there is much that simply can't be known now about the consequences of intervention."

Mar 3 2006 Give peace a chance: Sending UN into Darfur is no solution - Janjaweed will be very tough to stop by force alone (Julie Flint)

May 12 2006 Sudan's top diplomat in Washington calls for international community to call for measures against those who attempt to undercut Darfur peace accord

May 23 2006 Rebels' rivalry subverts hope for Darfur peace

May 27 2006 Eric Reeves says only NATO military action can save Darfur

May 28 2006 Jan Pronk blogs the big question: Will the UN decide to send a peace keeping force?

May 30 2006 Misinformation about Darfur Peace Agreement has led to violent reprisals against AU peacekeepers - AU media campaign urges Darfuris to support peace

May 30 2006 UN's Egeland warns against Western military force in Darfur: "AU force has to be strengthened, it's them that we have to empower"

Apr 1 2006 Sudanese rebel group JEM dismisses peace talks and calls for Darfur's sovereignty: The chair of Darfur rebels group JEM, Khalil Mohammed, on Wednesday dismissed Darfur peace talks as "a waste of time, energy and resources of stakeholders." He said the peace talks would not achieve any meaningful result as they were "merely going in circles." Mohammed said that if the African Union's April deadline for peace in the region lapsed without success, "the people of Darfur will be left with no choice other than to ask for self-determination". "If we do not get our own sovereignty, the only alternative is a forceful change of the government in Khartoum," Chairman of Darfur rebel group JEM threatened.

May 2 2006 SLM/A Open letter to the World on Darfur Peace Agreement

May 31 2006 blog entry by Tas at Loaded Mouth: Alan Kuperman needs to be smacked

Norwegian Refugee Council returns to Darfur after eviction

Today NRC finalised the negotiations to regain access to perform humanitarian work in Darfur. On 5 April, NRC was forced to suspend all aid work in the region after being evicted by the Sudanese authorities.

For two months NRC has been hindered from distributing food to 50 000 people and co-ordinating Kalma, the largest camp in Darfur, which shelters approx. 100 000 internally displaced persons. - Reuters May 31, 2006.

German diplomat plays down military role in Sudan

Reuters report May 31, 2006 - excerpt:
"This is not a question that is being posed at the moment," Deputy Foreign Minister Gernot Erler told Reuters in an interview, when asked whether Germany could send troops to Sudan as part of a possible UN peacekeeping force later this year.

Erler, who visited Darfur in recent weeks, said that before any discussion of troops could take place, it needed to be established whether a peace deal for the region had sufficient political and popular support.

He said his visit had given him the impression that support was lacking and suggested Germany could play a political role in helping Sudan -- by broadening support for a peace deal to help pave the way for a UN force.

AU looking at a way to accept signature of new JEM splinter faction wanting to sign Darfur Peace Agreement

African foreign ministers met Wednesday hours ahead of a deadline for holdout Sudanese rebels to sign an agreement meant to end the Darfur crisis, AP/ST reported today - excerpt:
Nigerian FM Oluyemi Adeniji, chairing a meeting of AU's Peace and Security Council, was cautious, saying he hoped the holdout insurgents would join the deal before the midnight (22:00 GMT) deadline.

"I hope they will consider signing the agreement," Adeniji said. "We will have to wait and see how the response is later today."

Representatives of Darfur rebel factions are in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, today, "but I'm not sure anything will happen before the end of the day," the AU Peace and Security Commissioner Said Djinnit told The Associated Press.
According to an unsourced report at Sudan Tribune May 31, 2006 dissidents from JEM rebel group may sign the Darfur peace deal diplomats said Wednesday. Excerpt:
A group claiming to represent a splinter faction of Darfur's Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) arrived at AU headquarters here seeking to meet officials just hours before the midnight expiration of the deadline, they said.

AU Peace and Security Council commissioner Said Djinnit confirmed that a number of Darfur minority groups, including members of the JEM, had contacted the pan-African body to say they wanted to sign the deal.

"We have been approached by a certain number of groups who are favorable to the DPA," he told reporters, referring to the Darfur Peace Agreement.

"Until the expiration of the deadline, we are hopeful the leaders of the (holdout) rebel groups will sign the peace deal," he said.

The identities of the alleged JEM dissidents were not immediately clear but diplomats said they were ready to sign the May 5 peace agreement, which was already signed by a faction of Darfur's Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM).

"The dissident faction members of the JEM came here to sign, but they cannot sign today unless their leaders come," an African diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"If their leaders don't show up, they are hoping to sign tomorrow if the AU will accept their signature as a faction," a second African diplomat said. "The AU is now looking at some mechanism to accept the signature of the faction.

The diplomats said the leaders of the group - whose identities were also not immediately clear - were expected in Addis Ababa late Wednesday or Thursday.

Slovenia says JEM needs to stay in the Darfur peace process - JEM leadership will have to make a decision in Slovenia

Unsourced Sudan Tribune report Darfur rebel JEM seeks Slovenian mediation May 31, 2006 (LJUBLJANA) - excerpt:
The Slovenian president held talks here with the chief negotiator for the Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement, Ahmed Tugod Lissan, and a former governor of Darfur Ahmed Diraige.

Darfur's Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) needs to "stay in the game", in the Darfur peace process, President Janez Drnovsek told the press after meeting JEM representatives in Ljubljana on Tuesday.

According to the Slovenian president, it is difficult to say whether there will be any breakthrough tomorrow, as JEM maintains that it will not sign the proposed peace agreement to end the bloody three-year conflict.

"We will try to find a formula to prevent an increase in tensions," Drnovsek also said after the meeting, which is to resume on Wednesday.

The president held talks with the chief JEM negotiator, Ahmed Tugod Lissan, member of the JEM leadership Abdullahi Osman El-Tom, and Ahmed Diraige, the chairman of the Federal Democratic Alliance and former Darfur governor.

In Drnovsek's view, the only way for the JEM to sign the peace deal is for the group to say what reservations they have about the agreement. "The JEM leadership will have to make a decision in Slovenia," he stressed.

Diraige shared Drnovsek's view, labeling JEM’s participation in the peace process as crucial. Although Diraige as a representative of an all-Sudanese party is not directly involved in the Darfur peace process, he was pleased to have had an opportunity to talk to the JEM.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Drnovsek, Diraige expressed hope that the African mediators will extend the deadline for the signing of the peace accord, and find an acceptable solution which will not lead to increased tensions.

He used the opportunity to thank Slovenia for its support and help for the people in Darfur, and praised Drnovsek for his efforts.

Meanwhile, asked why representatives of the SLM al-Nur faction have not arrived for talks as announced, Drnovsek said that they were initially very interested in coming; yet, he has not heard anything from them since Monday.

The daily Dnevnik said yesterday that the absence of the SLM was a result of pressure from Great Britain and the US. The paper says that the special EU representative for Sudan, Marcel Le Roi, would also be present at the talks.

Drnovsek moreover explained that beside the JEM and the SLM, representatives of the Sudanese government were also invited to today's talks, however, they did not respond to the invitation.

The president's office said earlier today that the head of the JEM Ibrahim Khalil was expected to arrive in Slovenia on Wednesday.
UPDATE: May 31 2006 - JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim arrived in Slovenia today; Sudan Tribune report - Slovenia wants Darfur rebel JEM to sign peace deal - excerpt:
Drnovsek's recent interest in Darfur and efforts to present himself as an international champion of the weak and the poor have baffled some in Slovenia, once part of Yugoslavia. He left his party, the Liberal Democrats, and established his own Movement for Justice and Development.

His political shift over the last year coincided with other changes. He became a vegetarian, moved from the capital, Ljubljana, to a remote village where he follows a careful diet and bakes his own bread, and has traveled to India to study meditation.

Darfur SLM/A leaders Minnawi and Nur to meet Salva Kiir in South Sudan

According to the Sudan Tribune today, SLM/A faction leader al-Nur, who is currently in Nairobi, said he would be heading to southern Sudan in the next two days to meet the First Vice-President, Salva Kiir. Report excerpt:
Leaders of the Sudan Liberation Movement will meet the Sudanese First Vice President Salva Kiir in the capital of the southern Sudan Juba, a leader of a faction of the rebel movement said yesterday.

Al Nur said he received a personal invitation from him to discuss the Darfur issue as well as the SLM stance regarding the Abuja agreement.

He said that he received a telephone call from the first vice-president in which he invited him and Mani Arkoi Minawi to visit the south to discuss the Abuja agreement.

The rebel leader reiterated that his party would stick to its position not to sign the agreement if the inclusion of an additional paper to resolve the fundamental issues like resources and power and compensation and the borders of the region would not be added.

"We have already reached a peace agreement for Darfur and we are waiting to convince those who have not joined the agreement to sign," he told a crowd of supporters in Khartoum.

"I have telephoned Abdelwahid al-Nur to convince him to do so, and I will talk to him again," he said. "I’m going to approach all those who have not signed the agreement and I will seek assistance from the United Nations."

Kiir mediates talks with Darfur insurgents and seeks assistance from UN - AU hopeful peace deal will be signed

Hours before the expiry of a May 31 deadline by the African Union to Darfur rebel groups still holding out of a peace deal, the pan-African body said Tuesday it was hopeful the insurgents would beat the ultimatum.
"Until the May 31 deadline expires, we are hopeful that the parties that have not signed will sign the Abuja peace agreement," AU Peace and Security Commissioner Said Djinnit said.
Full report Sudan Tribune May 30, 2006 (Khartoum).

Also, the above report says:
Sudanese First Vice President Silva Kiir, himself a former southern rebel who heads the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, said that he had spoken to the head of the SLM splinter movement to try to convince him to sign up.

"We have already reached a peace agreement for Darfur and we are waiting to convince those who have not joined the agreement to sign," he told a crowd of supporters in Khartoum.

"I have telephoned Abdelwahid al-Nur to convince him to do so, and I will talk to him again," he said. "I'm going to approach all those who have not signed the agreement and I will seek assistance from the United Nations."

An SLM field commander in Darfur, Moussa Morneh, hinted there was a possibility of the SLM coming on board.

"Maybe we will sign but until now we did not yet receive the message from the chairman (Nur) for signing tomorrow," he told AFP by satellite telephone.

Nur himself, currently in Nairobi, was uncontactable.

Djinnit said that if they fail to append their signatures on the Darfur Peace Agreement, the bloc's Peace and Security council would meet to discuss measures to take against them.

"We hope that they will exemplify a historic responsibility and to realise that the agreement is a good basis to achieve peace in Darfur," Djinnit said.

"If not, the Peace and Security Council will meet to see what measures to take ... measures will be taken."

The AU special representative in Sudan Baba Gana Kingibe said efforts were continuing to woo the holdouts to sign the agreement.

"Concerted efforts are still being made with a view to convincing the hesitating Darfur movements' leaders of the need to append their signatures to the agreement," Kingibe said in a statement.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

No Darfur force transition to UN operation without consent of Government of Sudan - Parry

British Ambassador Sir Emyr Jones Parry, who is leading the UN Security Council meeting in Khartoum next week, along with French Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, said he was working on the presumption Khartoum would agree to a UN force, Reuters Evelyn Leopold reported today. Excerpt:
"The signals are slightly confused but the latest contacts I have had suggest there has been agreement to the transition," he told reporters earlier. "Our working assumption is that there will be a transition to a United Nations operation but we will do that with the consent of the Government of Sudan."

Annan seemed to agree. "I think the Council's visit should also further facilitate matters, not only with reference to the assessment mission, but the actual deployment of the mission."
Note, the report tells us the largest UN peacekeeping mission of 17,000 troops and civilians is in the Congo at a cost of $1 billion a year.

UN's Egeland warns against Western military force in Darfur: "AU force has to be strengthened, it's them that we have to empower"

Hallelujah! At long last! What took him so long to say this loud and clear?! -- UN aid chief Jan Egeland has warned against deploying a Western military force, as some politicians in the US have suggested, AP/CNN reported today:
"We have to be careful to calibrate the humanitarian and security response so it doesn't provoke a reaction," Egeland said. "I'd like to see the African Union and the UN play the lead role there, NATO and other organizations can complement and very usefully complement our efforts." AU force has to be strengthened "It's them that we have to empower," Egeland said.

"We either get good news in the next few weeks, or we have catastrophic news later," Mr Egeland said in a telephone interview.

He said a major international conference would be held in June somewhere in Europe to try to boost humanitarian aid and assistance for the peacekeepers.

Egeland was in Brussels to meet top officials at NATO and the European Union. He said military powers should provide more resources to improve transport, communications, logistics, training and planning for the African peacekeepers.

However, he warned against deploying a Western military force, as some politicians in the United States have suggested.

Egeland said the Africans need more trucks and helicopters to move swiftly around the vast region. He said African nations also needed to provide more and better-trained troops and said the African Union should urgently bolster the force's mandate so it could better protect the local population.

"The African Union force has to be strengthened, it's them that we have to empower," Egeland insisted. "What can be provided by military organizations, by member states of the U.N. and NATO is very welcome."

Egeland recently told the U.N. Security Council that the number of displaced people in South Darfur had tripled in the last four months to between 100,000-120,000. He complained local officials have blocked fuel deliveries and the movement of aid workers has been severely restricted.
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May 30 2006 VOA report via Sudan Tribune - Sudan gives mixed signals on UN peacekeepers - excerpt:
With the peace agreement signed, the African Union says it wants the United Nations to take over peacekeeping responsibilities in Darfur. And so does the United States - the Bush administration wants an initial force of 14,000 UN peacekeepers to take up positions in Darfur. But in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, some government officials are saying not so fast. And they include the man who actually signed the peace agreement on the government's behalf.

Mazjoub Al Khalifa Ahmed says the only force bringing peace to Darfur should be an African one. "Let us come up with something workable and practical that will not jeopardize the sovereignty of the country, and will maintain peace on the ground. There is no need to fail the AU and make a transition from the AU to the UN."

Misinformation about Darfur Peace Agreement has led to violent reprisals against AU peacekeepers - AU media campaign urges Darfuris to support peace

Darfur violence increases as tomorrow's peace deadline nears, VOA Noel King in Khartoum reported today:
African Union (AU) spokesman Nourredine Mezni told VOA from Khartoum that misinformation about the peace agreement has led to violent reprisals against AU troops, although the AU is uncertain who the attackers are.

"There are some inciters from outside, from some parties, who are opposed to this peace agreement," said Mezni. "That is why we have these attacks against our troops in Darfur, because the population look at the troops as a symbol of the Darfur Peace Agreement. The attacks against humanitarian workers, attacks against AMIS [African Mission in Sudan] troops, demonstrations, because there is misinformation on this agreement."
AU peacekeepers in South Darfur

Photo: African Union troops listen to the concerns of villagers in the village of Brikatouly in South Darfur, Sudan (VOA)
Mezni says the African Union is launching a media campaign to urge Darfuris to support the peace deal.

The AU Peace and Security Council is considering what actions to take if the two groups do not sign the agreement.

As noted here on May 18, 2006 JEM leader will have to leave Chad if he does not sign Darfur peace deal by May 31.
AU soldiers on patrol in North Darfur

Photo: AU soldiers patrol the village of Kerkera, located between El-Fasher, the capital of northern Darfur and Kuma, further north, 18 May 2006. A Nigerian peacekeeper was killed in an ambush on Friday, and six others wounded. The same patrol was attacked again a day later, AU officials said. (AFP/File/Ramzi Haidar)

May 30 2006 Sudan Tribune report - AU briefs African, partner's envoys on Darfur peace implementation - excerpt:
The African Union held two meetings to enlighten African and AU partners Ambassadors in Khartoum on the implementation of Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA). Chaired by Baba Gana Kingibe, the meetings involved African Ambassadors accredited to the Sudan led by their Dean the Libyan Ambassador Omar Khalifa Al Hamdy, as well as the representatives of the AU international partners.

The importance of explaining and popularising the DPA to the Darfurians on the main benefits of the Agreement which up to now have not been adequately presented to them was also highlighted.

UN force for Darfur must have clear mandate - Kiir

AFP report May 30, 2006 - excerpt:
Amid criticism of Khartoum for failing to agree to the deployment of UN peacekeepers in Darfur to replace the under-manned African Union mission, Kiir said there had been "a misunderstanding".

"We did not refuse the UN force to come to Darfur," he said. "But they must come with a clear mandate."

He said the matter had been raised with UN troubleshooter Lakhdar Brahimi when he visited Sudan last week.

"Let us now have the dialogue... until UN forces will be prepared to take over from the African Union," he said.

Kiir said "the procedure they (the UN) took was rather wrong," referring to the fact the UN Security Council passed a resolution backing the Darfur mission that could be enforced militarily.
But President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, chief of the northern National Congress Party (NCP), said he had a different opinion, Reuters reported (Sudan ruling parties differ over UN Darfur force May 30, 2006 Opheera McDoom):
"We heard the words of Salva Kiir, and his opinion is different to mine," he told reporters late on Monday night. He declined to answer a question on why he opposed UN transition in Darfur.

Peace talks aimed at ending rebellion in eastern Sudan due to start in Asmara, Eritrea June 13

May 30 2006 AFP report Sudan ex-rebels show unity with Khartoum despite differences - excerpt:
Beshir also lambasted Washington for failing to lift sanctions imposed Khartoum's sponsorship of terrorism despite the signing of separate peace deals with the south and with one rebel group in the western Darfur region.

"They want to give us a new recipe, so they say now you have to solve the problem in the east," he said, referring to yet another Sudanese rebellion.

Talks aimed at ending that conflict are due to start in the Eritrean capital Asmara on June 13.

Interview with Dr Douglas H Johnson, expert on the Abyei Boundary Commission - Hofre Nahas area; part of Bahr El Ghazal transferred to Darfur in 1960s

Click here to read IRIN's important interview May 29, 2006 with Dr Douglas H Johnson, an expert on the Abyei Boundary Commission (ABC) and author of the book 'The Root Causes of Sudan's Civil Wars'.

Dr Douglas H Johnson

Photo: Dr Douglas H Johnson was a member of the Abyei Boundaries Commission (IRIN)

Note this excerpt from the interview:
There are many remaining border disputes. One is the Hofre Nahas area; part of Bahr El Ghazal that was transferred to Darfur in the 1960s, which, by the terms of the CPA, and even by the terms of the Addis Ababa Agreement [which ended the first civil war] before, is supposed to be retransferred to Bahr El Ghazal.
And this excerpt from a blog entry I wrote August 2, 2004 while searching for reports online to try and understand what was going on in Darfur and why:
Uranium discovered in Hofrat Al Nihas:
France is interested in Uranium and has drilling rights in Sudan

At the moment I am searching for maps to pinpoint Hofrat Al Nihas. (Other names: Hofrat el Nahas, Hofrat en Nahas, Hufrat an Nahas, Hofrat en Nahas). I think it may be in South Darfur, maybe close to a border. Here's why:

Khaleej Times Online report (31 July 2004 by Amira Agarib and Charles Buth Diu - Sudan needs three years to disarm tribes) excerpt: "The oil and precious mineral resources such as uranium discovered in Hofrat Al Nihas have set off fierce competition between US and France. The US has started to invest in oil industry in Chad, France's former colony, while France Total company obtained drilling rights in Sudan."
Now I am wondering if Hofrat Al Nihas is the same place that Dr Johnson refers to as "Hofre Nahas." Just curious.

Further reading:

Aug 16 2005 Sudan: Abyei Boundary Commission report - Mistriyah in north Darfur, is the heartland of the powerful Arab Rizeigat tribe, of which Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal is the chief.

Sep 14 2005 TEXT- Abyei Boundary Commission Report

Mar 1 2006 Dr Douglas H Johnson Abyei Report - A test to Sudan peace deal (Dr Johnson can be reached at

Mar 30 2006 Mesirya tribe leader urges resolution of Abyei dispute

May 4 2006 Donald Petterson Abyei - A test of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement parties (Ambassador Donald Petterson was the Chairman, Abyei Boundaries Commission - American Ambassador, Ret.)

May 30 2006 Salient points of the first meeting of Sudan NCP-SPLM final communique

Dinkas say "Abyei belongs 100% to Southern Sudan"

Abyei dispute

Photo: About 50 Dinkas staged a demonstration outside the opening ceremony of the NCP-SPLM meeting on Saturday 27, 2006 in Khartoum, shouting their support for the peace deal and calling for a swift resolution of the Abyei issue. In the picture two demonstrators hold banner "Abyei belongs 100% to Southern Sudan".

May 30 2006 Sudan's Misariyah blame Abyei report for instability in the region - In a petition to the Sudanese presidency Misariyah Arab tribes in the disputed region of Abyei rejected the conclusions of Abyei Boundary Commission (ABC) and blamed it for the administrative deterioration and security instability in the area. The petition warned that the commission's report inflamed disputes between the citizens of the area. In order to contain the disputes the petition said it was necessary to set up a new commission whose final decision would be taken by the people of Sudan. The International Crisis Group think-tank said in a recent report that "the NCP's actions regarding Abyei are a blatant violation of the CPA, creating perhaps the most volatile element of the entire agreement right now."
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For further reports, click on Abyei label here below.

Monday, May 29, 2006

SPLM and NCP first joint meeting in Khartoum reviewed progress made in the implementation of the CPA and discussed bilateral relations

Click here to read the major points of the final communique issued at the end of the first Joint Meeting of the National Congress (NCP) and Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) Monday evening.


Photo: Sudanese president Omer al-Bashir and his First Vice-President Salva Kiir during a joint press conference in Khartoum, May 29, 2006 (SUNA).

At the conference, the President stressed that the country would depend on its own resources for the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and that the Government of National Unity should give people hope after the end of the war in the south, conclusion of the Darfur Peace Agreement and the positive steps being taken to resolve the Eastern Sudan question. Full report Sudan Tribune May 30, 2006.

Note, the report says Salva Kiir said there is no difference on Abyei administration but there is a row of the border of this area and the two partners are determined to resolve this issue in the coming days.

UPDATE: Reuters report Opheera McDoom May 30, 2006:
Differences over key issues like the borders of the oil-rich Abyei region pushed the talks into an extra day and ate away into the night before a rather bland final communique was agreed.

Abyei, on the north-south border, contains one of Sudan's two main oil fields. Under the deal it has an autonomous status and will choose in a referendum in 2011 whether to become part of the north or a possible separate southern Sudan.

The NCP rejects the findings of the Abyei boundary commission appointed under the deal, creating a deadlock which analysts say risks renewed conflict.

And despite three days of long consultations Abyei was not resolved. The final statement said the issue was to be decided by the presidency either by recalling the commission members to defend their report, by referral to the constitutional court, or through mediation by a third party.
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May 28 2006 United Nations Sudan Situation Report 28 May 2006 - SPLM and NCP joint meeting in Khartoum reviewed progress made in the implementation of the CPA and discussed bilateral relations - One AMIS soldier reported killed in attack by armed militia in Masteri.

May 30 2006 Interview with Dr Douglas H Johnson, expert on the Abyei Boundary Commission - Hofre Nahas area; part of Bahr El Ghazal transferred to Darfur in 1960s

For further reports, click on Abyei label here below.

World Bank to rehabilitate Sudan transport infrastructures

The World Bank has agreed to assign 40 million dollars for rehabilitation of Sudan Railways, 42 million dollars for roads and bridge projects, besides seven million dollars for river transport in first stage. - Sudan Tribune May 29 2006.

Save Darfur Coalition - Does "Free Darfur" harbor genocide supporters? (Anne Morse, Wilberforce Forum)

Since I rarely follow news of the Save Darfur Coalition I am not sure what the following opinion piece is all about but I am logging it here for future reference:
Does "Free Darfur" harbor genocide supporters?
May 15, 2006
By Anne Morse, senior writer at The Wilberforce Forum

Should human rights activists fighting genocide in Darfur join forces with groups with ties to terrorists--fanatics whose dearest wish is to commit genocide?

Save Darfur has done tremendous work promoting the cause of Darfur's persecuted people to Americans. My 17-year-old son and I were among the 10,000 people who attended the rally in Washington, bought t-shirts, and applauded the celebrity speakers. Clearly, Save Darfur, which includes as members Holocaust survivors, has its heart in the right place.

But its leadership has some explaining to do - specifically, why they invited supporters of genocide to help them prevent it.
See full article at an Amnesty International campaign

From Amnesty International's campaign
The web is a great tool for sharing ideas and freedom of expression. However, efforts to try and control the Internet are growing. Internet repression is reported in countries like China, Vietnam, Tunisia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria. People are persecuted and imprisoned simply for criticising their government, calling for democracy and greater press freedom or exposing human rights abuses, online.

But Internet repression is not just about governments. IT companies have helped build the systems that enable surveillance and censorship to take place. Yahoo! have supplied email users' private data to the Chinese authorities, helping to facilitate cases of wrongful imprisonment. Microsoft and Google have both complied with government demands to actively censor Chinese users of their services.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. It is one of the most precious of all rights. We should fight to protect it.
[via Ethan's link to Amnesty's efforts on blog censorship]

Sudan proposes Libyan role in Darfur peace implementation

The Sudan Tribune is one of the few news sites to pick up on the story that Sudan proposes Libyan role in Darfur peace implementation.

The article claims press reports in Khartoum say al-Khalifa also asked Gaddafi to persuade the dissident rebels groups, particularly SLM/A's al-Nur faction, to join the peace deal.

My heart lifts whenever I read such news. I've followed almost every news report on Col Gaddafi's efforts to broker peace for Darfur and logged most of it here at Sudan Watch.

Map of Libya

Gaddafi seems to mean what he says because throughout the past two years, he's followed through on everything, from opening up routes to get emergency food into Darfur to bringing together warring parties and tribes under one roof.

Al-Bashir welcomes Gaddafi

Photo: Sudanese president al-Bashir welcomes Libyan leader Col Gaddfi to Khartoum March 23, 2006 for Arab summit held in the capital.

Col Gaddafi appears to be a great joiner of people. He speaks different languages, in more ways than one. I believe he continues to be instrumental in building bridges of trust between the warring parties and tribal leaders in the Sudan.

I've found it difficult to believe the regime in Khartoum have control over the so-called Janjaweed. Sudan is a country the size of Europe. Tribal leaders lord it over huge swathes of the Sudan, ruling through benevolence and fear. Searing heat, harsh flat terrain, sand storms, rainy seasons, mud, floods, nomads, livestock, watering holes, camels, tribal customs and traditions all part of a way of life that has not changed since the year dot.

A few years ago, one of the Janjaweed leaders, Musa Hilal, explained to the press that he and the other tribal leaders have no need to take orders from Khartoum. It seems they rule in a way they feel works best. How else does one contain anarchy and retain sovereignty in such a huge poverty stricken country where there is little or no infrastructure?

I imagine all the different Sudanese tribes, dialects, customs, traditions and culture to be as diverse as those in all the different countries of Europe. Some African leaders talk of their vision for a "United States of Africa". Sudan is one quarter the size of the US. My wish for the Sudan is that it separates religion from government. One cannot serve God and mammon alike. There are thousands of different religions. People ought to be free to choose their own faith. Religion and government should be separate. I'd like to see the Sudanese president opening up to the world's media and start a real good blog aimed at fostering real understanding, not propaganda. From what I have seen online, Sudan has a lot to offer. It is a beautiful country with a fascinating history and culture, friendly people and interesting art.

Millions of people in the Sudan have never received an education and do not know how to read or write. Many of them believe if they wear a written message in a pouch around their body it will provide protection from harm and ward off evil spirits.

Man from a Falata tribe in Sudan selling Hidjab

Photo: Man from a Falata tribe selling "Hidjab" which are pages from Quran inside of amulet made of leather. (Vit Hassan, Khartoum)

Man from a Funj tribe in Sudan selling voodoo

Photo: Man from a Funj tribe selling voodoo (Vit Hassan, Khartoum)

Voodoo from skin of a monkey

Photo: Voodoo from skin of a monkey (Vit Hassan, Khartoum)

Note UN SGSR Jan Pronk, in his blog entry 28 April 2006 explains the following about Darfur:
Quite a few tribes are engaged in violent conflict with each other. As a matter of fact, many Sudanese believe that the Darfur conflict is not political, but tribal. In my view it is both. The demands of the rebel movements concerning sharing of power and wealth are of a political nature. A high government official in Darfur, a Darfurian himself, appointed by the Khartoum government and member of the ruling National Congress Party, once told me that there are Darfurians who fight the government and other Darfurians, who do not fight, but the latter share with the rebels a grudge against the government. Darfur against Khartoum; it is a political conflict.

But the conflict is also tribal. The tribal dimension is often underestimated by people outside Sudan. However, tribal conflicts are age-old and deeply rooted. There is an ethnic dimension to the tribal conflicts, to the extent that some tribes are considered to be African, others Arab. There is also an economic dimension: the struggle for land and water, the looting of cattle, the most important resource of many tribes. Tribal conflicts are often related to land claims, with a long history. Some tribes consider themselves as more Darfurian than others, because they settled in Darfur much earlier. Some tribes, though living in Darfur since many generations, are still considered to be Chadian, or West African. Some tribes were favored by the British colonial regime. Others were accustomed to keep slaves. Some tribes are more closely affiliated with the rebels (the Fur, the Zaghawa and the Massaliet). Other tribes are more inclined to support notions of pan-Arabism.

Many tribes have militia, in order to defend their interests. They fight ruthlessly, retaliate out of proportion and often use pre-emptive strikes. Killing of women and children is seen as an acceptable form of revenge for the looting of cattle. Militia do not respect human rights or international law. No wonder that notions of genocide and ethnic cleansing have been used in order to describe the ordeals of the victims of the militia.

The Sudanese government and the authorities in Darfur have taken many initiatives to organize tribal reconciliation conferences. There are old traditions underlying such reconciliations. Respecting them would guarantee that the tribal leaders representing their tribes in the reconciliations have been chosen by the tribes themselves, instead of being appointed by the authorities. The tradition also guarantees that there is mediation by respected facilitators, independent of the government. An essential element of reconciliation is the payment of blood money as a form of compensation of the victims. However, though some efforts were successful, most reconciliations did not last long. The modernization of the governance system in Darfur during the last twenty years has undermined the position of traditional leaders. The war did the same. A new generation with easy access to weapons has lost respect for traditional leaders. Moreover, the government, eager to stay in power, has not been able to withstand temptations to manipulate traditional leaders. The outcome of quite a few of these reconciliations could not be sustained. Some were more or less imposed on weaker tribes, who were threatened that they would be attacked if they would not sign. In other reconciliation conferences appointed leaders dominated the deliberations. Often not all damage that had been done in the past was considered due for compensation. Perpetrators of the crimes often were not indicted, but only had to pay blood money. This practice did not help to bring an end to the impunity prevailing throughout Darfur. Moreover, the agreed sums of blood money often were not paid. So, often new attacks took place, again resulting in revenge and retaliation.

To a certain extent this was due to the fact that the authorities had an understandable interest in reconciliation amongst tribes fighting each other. Too soon success was claimed. The government was even more enticed to do so, when tribal reconciliations were considered an alternative to the political negotiations with the rebel movements.

For these reasons the UN has been reluctant to associate itself with the reconciliation efforts. However, they are necessary, not as a substitute for political talks, but as an essential complement. We have participated as observer in some sessions and promised that, if the conditions of fairness would be met, we could help in the follow up of the reconciliation with reconstruction and development programs to the benefit of the tribes concerned.

Photo: Musa Hilal, an Arab tribal chief accused by the United States of leading a dreaded militia in Darfur, rides his horse in Misitiriyha in north Darfur, Sudan, May 10, 2005. (Reuters/Beatrice Mategwa/Sudan Watch archive)


Photo Musa Hilal, chief of Arab Rizeigat tribe in Mistiriyha, North Darfur, Sudan May 10, 2005 (Reuters/Taipei Times)
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Photos about various tribes, folklore and traditions in Sudan

See "Sudan through my eyes" - a photoset on Flickr created by 27-year-old Vit Hassan in Khartoum, Sudan. [see top right hand corner and click on words "View as slideshow" - wait for a few seconds for slideshow to begin, click on any photo to pause and read captions]
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Sudan Facts and Figures

Sudan is almost the same size as the following 15 countries put together: UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Austria, Denmark, Switzerland, Slovenia and Greece.

At 212,000 square miles, the whole of Darfur is as big as France and North Darfur is 100,000 square miles 3 times larger than the UK.

North Darfur is more than 1,000 miles from Khartoum, the capital of Sudan - about the same distance as from London to Rome. [Source:]

UN WFP increasing rations to Darfur

World Food Programme says it is increasing its rations to those displaced by the Darfur conflict, after receiving additional contributions from donors. Rations were cut in half in May but from June, they will 84% of the recommended minimum energy content, the WFP said. - BBC May 29, 2006.

Bloomberg report May 29, 2006 says recent donations from the United States, the European Union, Denmark, Canada, Australia and the Sudanese government allowed the WFP to increase the rations that were cut by 50 percent for the entire country at the beginning of May, the Rome-based agency said today in an e-mailed statement. For parts of eastern Sudan, the ration was increased to 64 percent of the daily requirement.

JEM's Ibrahim and SLM/A faction travel to Slovenia in an attempt to get their demands met

Reuters report May 29, 2006 says Darfur rebel group rejects deal as deadline nears - excerpt:
JEM President Khalil Ibrahim said he would travel for talks on Tuesday to Slovenia, which he said was trying to find common ground between the AU and the rebel groups refusing to sign the AU-sponsored deal.

"We are going to meet tomorrow on the 30th in Ljubljana, this is to find a way. Slovenia is trying to find a solution," Ibrahim told Reuters in Cairo by telephone.

"We are going to present our position. If they can make amendments in this agreement. If not I don't think there is a solution," he said.

Ibrahim said the SLA faction which had rejected the May 5 agreement would also attend the Ljubljana meeting.

"We are not going to sign this agreement unless there is a radical change including real regional government for Darfur, and reconstruction of Darfur, compensation for our people and a fair share of power," he said.

There was no immediate word from Slovenia on their role in Sudan's peace process.
These guys make me sick. I'd like to know how they make a living and who funds their hotel and travel expenses. It seems to me they're refusing to join the Darfur peace deal because they want to take over Darfur for themselves and are too greedy and incompetent to work and fight for it using non violent means. They're using millions of uneducated women and children as pawns in their power game and gamble for wealth, oil. They expect a region the size of France to be handed to them on a platter, all at once, no matter what the cost. What makes them think they are fit to govern or are any better than the regime the aim to replace? If they don't sign the Darfur Peace Agreement on Wednesday, lay down their arms and go through the political process like other law abiding citizens around the world, I think they should be treated as criminals and put on trial for crimes against humanity.

Jan 10 2006 Slovene president urges UN to warn world about catastrophe in Darfur

Feb 9 2006 Sudan shows appreciation to Slovene initiative on Darfur

Feb 13 2006 Darfur peace talks in Slovenia postponed indefinitely

Feb 28 2006 AU Mediation regrets Slovenian initiative on Darfur

UN says 2 attacks on AU peacekeepers in Masteri, SW Darfur - several injured - 1 critical - 1 killed

Reuters report Opheera McDoom May 29, 2006 - excerpts:
One African Union soldier was killed and another critically wounded when heavily armed men ambushed a patrol not far from their base in West Darfur, the United Nations said.

"The number of attackers is unconfirmed between six to 12 and they were reportedly armed with RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) and AK-47 rifles," the U.N. statement sent late on Sunday said.

The AU on Monday confirmed the ambush but could not give details. The identity of the men behind the attack was unknown.

The attack occurred on Friday about 2 km (1.5 miles) from the AU base in Masteri near the border with Chad in south-west Darfur.

A U.N. source said on Monday the AU base in Masteri itself was attacked during the night on Friday and several soldiers injured, one critically. He was not expected to survive.

The area has come under attack many times by armed Arab militia, known locally as Janjaweed. They have been amassing since the peace deal and become bolder in engaging AU troops.

The AU has also come under attack in West Darfur in the past by a third rebel group demanding a seat at the Darfur talks.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Libyan leader Gaddafi to supervise Darfur Peace Agreement

Today, Libyan leader Col Gaddafi received the Sudanese President's Advisor, Majzoub al-Khalifa, who handed him a message from President Omar Al Beshir, Ljbc reported May 28, 2006:
President Al Beshir thanked Col Gaddafi for his role in the Darfur peace agreement, briefing him on the latest preparations to execute Abuja agreement. He also proposed to set up a committee from Libya, Sudan and the Liberation Movement to supervise this agreement.

The meeting was joined by the leader of the SLM/A, Minni Minnawi, who promised to execute the agreement signed in Abuja. He also called on Col Gaddafi to supervise the peace agreement in Darfur.
May 27 2006 Libyan leader receives AU Commission Chairman Konare

May 28 2006 Sudanese envoy al-Khalifa to meet in Libya with Col Gaddafi and SLM/A's Minnawi re Darfur peace process

Turabi cancels London visit after entry visa delay

According to an unsourced article at the Sudan Tribune May 28, 2006 Hassan al-Turabi, leader of the Sudanese oppostion party PNC, had to cancel his visit to London after a delay in issuing an entry visa. Heh.

Sheikh Hassan Al-Turabi

Photo: Sheikh Hassan Al-Turabi, in a recent interview said, "I was imprisoned because I spoke with the southerners -- the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) -- I spent 30 months in jail for doing so -- and I was also imprisoned, 15 months, for speaking with Darfur's armed opposition groups. Now, I have entered into discussions with the Easterners," he says nonchalantly.

Jan 1 2006 Sudanese Islamist leader Turabi attacks foreign presence

Jan 31 2006 Sudan's Hassan al-Turabi harboured bin Laden

Feb 24 2006 Portrait of Sudan's Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi

Mar 14 2006 Sudan court frees 8 Turabi party members

Mar 25 2006 Sudan's ruling elite and "security cabal" the National Islamic Front: the men who control Africa's largest country

Apr 9 2006 Turabi says women's testimony is equal to that of a man

Apr 24 2006 Turabi branded apostate for pro-women comments

May 14 2006 Sudan's Turabi condemns Darfur Peace Agreement - Al Turabi Is a Chameleon

May 19 2006 Sudan's Turabi calls for overthrow of Khartoum regime

Moral Blindness: The Case Against Troops for Darfur (by David Rieff)

David Rieff in Boston is a contributing editor at The New Republic. Here are some excerpts from his excellent opinion piece (TNR, 25 May 2006) Moral Blindness: The Case Against Troops for Darfur:

Except for those who frankly favor the anti-government insurgents in Darfur--and they are more to be found on the Christian right, which has supported Minni Minnawi's Sudan Liberation Movement as it once supported John Garang's insurgency in Southern Sudan--advocates of a U.S. deployment have been maddeningly vague about what will transpire in Darfur after foreign forces halt the killing. [-edit-]

To his credit, [Eric] Reeves has written that any outside military force would have to ensure that the rebel guerrillas do not take advantage of the foreign presence to improve their position on the ground. But that is what an international deployment will almost inevitably do, which is why Minnawi and others have been campaigning so hard for one. The deployment of foreign troops, whose mission will be to protect Darfuri civilians, will allow the guerrillas to establish "facts on the ground" that will strengthen their claims for secession. That is what makes the interventionists' claim that the intervention will be purely "humanitarian"--that it will protect civilians being murdered, raped, and displaced by the Janjaweed but do little or nothing else--so disingenuous. For it is virtually certain that this is not the way events will play out if U.S. or [NATO] forces deploy. To the contrary, such a deployment can have only one of two outcomes. The first will be the severing of Darfur from the rest of Sudan and its transformation into some kind of international protectorate, a la Kosovo. But, at least in Kosovo, the protectorate was run by Europeans--by neighbors. In Darfur, by contrast, it will be governed by Americans (who are already at war across the Islamic world) and possibly by [NATO] (i.e., Africa's former colonial masters). Now there's a recipe for stability.

If anything, the second possibility is even worse. Assuming the intervention encounters resistance from the Janjaweed and the government of Sudan (and perhaps Al Qaeda), the foreign intervenors will arrive at the conclusion that the only way to bring stability to Darfur is, well, regime change in Khartoum: In other words, the problems of Darfur are, in fact, the product of Al Bashir's dictatorship, and these problems can be meaningfully addressed only by substituting a more democratic government. Such an intervention may well end up being Iraq redux, and it is disingenuous to pretend otherwise. [-edit-]

The idea that, after Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo, and Iraq, intelligent activists can still speak of humanitarian intervention as if it were an uncomplicated act of rescue without grave implications is a testimony to the refusal of the best and brightest among us to think seriously about politics. Is this what the marriage of human rights and American exceptionalism has led us to? If so, God help us. [-edit-]

Reeves may sneer at the idea of national sovereignty and bemoan the African Union's insufficiently aggressive line toward the government of Sudan. The fact remains that the consensus in postcolonial Africa has been to maintain the national borders that existed at the time of independence, despite their obvious artificiality, because, in redrawing them, Africa might reap the whirlwind. But that is why there was so little sympathy in Africa for Katangese or Biafra secession; it is why most African leaders insist that the Eritrean secession remain an exception for the sake of continental stability. There is nothing stupid, venal, or contemptible about this. And, whatever Reeves may imagine, there are many thoughtful African leaders whose reluctance to confront Khartoum is based in large part on these considerations. [-edit-]

If, on reflection, Reeves and those who think like him believe that it [military intervention in Darfur] is worth doing anyway, that is a perfectly defensible position. What is indefensible is not seeing--or pretending not to see--the problem.
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How to avoid another Iraqi quagmire in Sudan

Excerpt from Sudan Watch entry entry Mar 23 2006:
People who cry out for military intervention (an act of war) in Darfur ought to take a few minutes to read a most insightful opinion piece by veteran war correspondent Dr Paul Moorcraft, a Brit who has worked in thirty war zones over twenty years and visits Sudan and Darfur regularly.

Dr Moorcraft's op-ed provides an excellent easy to read summary of Sudan's complex situation. It tells us Sudan has all the potential ingredients to be a failed state and that, quote:
More important is the recognition that there is no military solution in Darfur. Neither side can win the war, nor can the AU (nor UN) impose peace where there is none. It will take nine months to a year for the AU to be beefed up. Use this precious time to enforce the peace process, not least in the Nigerian capital, Abuja."

Jan Pronk blogs the big question: Will the UN decide to send a peace keeping force?

The big question since the signing of the Abuja Peace Agreement is: will the UN send a peace keeping force to Darfur? Initially the Government said that this would no longer be necessary. However, there is not yet peace. Despite its misgivings concerning a recent resolution of the UN Security Council the Government now seems to be willing to accede. Read more by UN SGSR Jan Pronk in his blog entry May 27, 2006. Two excerpts:
I have never understood why the international observers present in Abuja refused to put up a reference to a UN force in the agreement, while at the same time in New York and Washington were pressing the UN to prepare itself for the transition. However, by signing the agreement parties are bound to abide all Security Council resolutions concerning Darfur. The preamble of the agreement explicitly says so. That will imply also possible future resolutions concerning a transition. [- edit -]

President Beshir has agreed to the proposal to send an assessment mission to Darfur. That is the result of Brahimi's visit. So, we are one step further. The next steps will have to be taken later on. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Mustapha has stated that the phase of confrontation between Sudan and the United nations is over. "We are now entering the phase of negotiations". Those negotiations will be difficult. Sudan is clearly of the opinion that the UN can only come under Chapter 6 of the Charter, that means: upon the invitation of the sovereign state Sudan. That would be an operation similar to the one in Southern Sudan. However, the Arab militia, the Janjaweed, the rogue commanders and the rebel movements that have not agreed to peace will require a much more robust mandate. The fact that since the peace agreement has been signed, four weeks ago, militia are still attacking villages and rebel positions, makes this all the more necessary.

Click on the images at Jan Pronk's blog to see amazing close ups of a haboob (sand storm) over Khartoum.
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Notable quote from Jan Pronk's blog entry May 27, 2006:

Brahimi, a former minister of Foreign Affairs of Algiers, and since many years one of the most experienced diplomatic advisors of Kofi Annan, was able to dispel the Sudanese apprehensions. "Do you really believe that I, having fought colonialism in my country and later on elsewhere in Africa, at the end of my career would lend myself to support re-colonisation?"
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Jan Pronk

UN Secretary-General's Special Representative in the Sudan, Jan Pronk, reading a book 'The New Rulers of the World' by John Pilger.

'Als ik vlieg heb ik tijd om boeken te lezen. Ik lees ook NRC Handelsblad, met een vertraging van een maand. Vind ik niet erg.' Naast Pronk een Roemeense bodyguard. [In English, I guess, it says: next to Pronk is his/an Italian bodyguard] (Source: Jan Pronk Weblog)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Sudanese envoy al-Khalifa to meet in Libya with Col Gaddafi and SLM/A's Minnawi re Darfur peace process

Sudanese Presidential Advisor, Majzoub al-Khalifa, headed for Tripoli today to inform Libya's leader on the steps adopted since the signing of the Darfur Peace agreement, Sudan Tribune reported May 27, 2006:
Al-Khalifa announced that he will meet in Libya with the SLM leader Minawi, and other signatories of DPA to discuss the ongoing arrangements for their return to play their role in implementation of the peace agreement.

He further said that an African Union's delegation, headed by Ambassador Sam Ebok, would remain in Khartoum to discuss the formation of joint committees to implement Darfur peace agreement on the ground.

A joint delegation of the African Union and the government visited Al-Fasher, Genaina and Nyala and other areas in Darfur to meet with signatories of the peace agreement and to discuss implementation of the peace agreement on the ground.

Libyan leader receives AU Commission Chairman Konare

Libyan leader Col Gaddafi received on Saturday the AU commission chair Alpha Omar Konare, who presented to him the implemented procedures to execute the peace agreement in Darfur, Ljbc reported May 27, 2006.

Dutch minister in Sudan for talks on Darfur reconstruction conference

Dutch Development Cooperation Minister, Agnes van Ardenne arrived in Khartoum Friday evening in a visit to Sudan to review donor conference preparations for the reconstruction of Darfur with Sudanese officials, SudanTribune reported May 26, 2006.

Agnes is due to hold talks with the Foreign Minister Lam Akol Friday evening and will be received by the Sudanese President and the two Vice Presidents Saturday.

Aid flows back to Darfur - 20 WFP trucks bringing food to North and South Darfur - Jim Lobe in Washington says "Sudan: Grim And Getting Grimmer"

Sapa-AFP report by Joelle Bassoul, Kuma, May 26, 2006:
Darfur's fledgling peace deal is fragile but it is already saving lives, say residents threatened by starvation who welcome the halt in Sudanese rebel attacks on food aid convoys.

"Thank God, it is quiet now." These same words of relief come out of the parched mouths of nearly all the famished villagers around El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur.

Delivering rations to the population had become a perilous task for aid agencies on desert tracks infested with marauding gunmen, who frequently hijacked food convoys and nearly obliged the United Nations (UN) to stop its relief operation.

Khartoum and the largest rebel faction from the Sudan Liberation Movement signed a peace agreement on May 5, raising hopes of an end to the more than three years of conflict that turned Darfur into one of the world's worst unfolding humanitarian tragedies.

Aid trucks crawling on the bumpy roads meandering through the dry hills from El Fasher to Kuma, 80 kilometres to the northeast, were easy targets for armed rebels, who would attack convoys, steal the vital food aid and disappear.

In March, around 20 armed men on camels tried to stop an aid truck, but the driver escaped and went to police in El Fasher.

When they went after the men, clashes ensued around Kerkera, halfway between El Fasher and Kuma, leaving 14 rebels and three police dead, according to the African Union Mission in Sudan (Amis).

Some convoys had started travelling with armed escorts, which would only have led to further bloody clashes.

But calm has returned to the area since the peace deal was signed, despite one SLM faction and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) so far refusing to sign up.

"The situation is calm and no notable incident has happened," since the signing, said Kerkera inhabitant Ishak Yaacub.

People from villages around Kerkera, population 3,000, come to the market to sell their meagre products, mainly dried tomatoes and onions. Others trade in food aid handed out by the World Food Programme (WFP).

African Union soldiers are pleased to see the market functioning normally.

"The attacks against convoys were a big problem," said a Kenyan officer who requested anonymity.

Because of the attacks, the UN threatened to end relief efforts late last month.

"Unless these attacks and harassment stop immediately, the UN and its partners will be obliged to suspend all relief assistance to this particular area," the world body said in a statement.

It said it would hold armed groups and their leaders responsible "for the failure to assist the extremely vulnerable populations under their control."

The UN also said that some aid agencies' vehicles had been stolen "for military purposes". Outside Kerkera, the Kenyan officer points to a four-wheel drive parked in front of a police post.

"It was requisitioned by the rebels and then recovered by government forces," he said.

The SLM however rejected the UN's accusations, blaming the attacks on government forces and their proxy militias.

"Since the signing of the peace deal, the road has become usable without problem once again," said Kuma's mayor, Abdullah Juzu.

On the road outside Kuma, some 20 tarpaulined trucks with the WFP logo emblazoned on their sides are bringing vital food supplies to El Fasher and Nyala, South Darfur's capital.

"The drivers bravely drive hundreds of kilometres, sometimes even coming from Port Sudan, in the far northeast, and they must have security," said the Kenyan officer.

As the latest convoy heads off, the drivers are pleased to see no cloud of dust on the horizon, usually the first warning of an imminent rebel attack.
- - -

Jim Lobe says "Sudan: Grim And Getting Grimmer"

In contrast to the above report, an opinion piece by Jim Lobe in Washington - entitled Darfur, security situation still volatile despite peace accord (Inter Press Service/Sudan Tribune, May 26, 2006) - opens by saying:
"Despite a recent peace accord, a new UN Security Council resolution, and agreement by Sudan to permit a UN assessment team to travel to Darfur to determine how to strengthen peacekeeping forces there, the situation in the region, as well as in eastern Chad, has continued to deteriorate, according to sources here."
Ahem. Mr Lobe: What sources? Why are they not revealed? Are the rebels the sources? Where is "here"?

Note, the first report above, by sapa-AFP is from Darfur, Sudan and the second gives the impression to readers it is a news report when in fact it is an opinion piece by Jim Lobe, an American.

The same piece by Mr Lobe, reprinted at AllAfrica May 27. 2006, via Inter Press Service Johannesburg (of which he is the Washington Bureau Chief) is featured as an 'analysis' and the title has changed to Sudan: Grim And Getting Grimmer.

Any article that quotes the International Crisis Group and/or it's Sudan expert John Prendergast, I've learned to ignore. They make it their job to get attention, whip up storms and spin the media to get attention. I see it as propaganda. See July 9, 2004 Echo Chamber Project Interview with Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service, Washington Bureau Chief - excerpt:
ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: So, when you're covering it you're working outside of those blinders in a way. Do you try to challenge the viewpoints of a lot of the cultural biases?

LOBE: Well, I mean, I'm a product of the culture too, and to that extent my coverage is going to be affected by what my -- you know, what my cultural upbringing says is possible or impossible.

Rebel troops to sign Sudan peace deal by Wednesday

Compared to American news reports on Darfur in papers such as the Washington Post and New York Times, notice the difference in tone and content of the following report from SABC News in South Africa May 27, 2006 entitled Rebel troops to sign Sudan peace deal by Wednesday. It seems much less aggressive and combatative and actually manages to impart some positive constructive news without politicising the story or putting an emotive, activist type spin on the facts:
Two rebel groups have till Wednesday to sign the Abuja peace agreement for Darfur. After more than three years of civil war in Western Sudan, this could bring lasting peace to this war torn region. While there's pressure on the Sudanese government to allow the UN to monitor compliance with the agreement, South Africans in the African Union's mission are quietly - but proudly - contributing to stability.

Returning to the Fata Burno refugee camp with food bought in Kutum is hazardous as many women have fallen prey to the Arab militia along the route. Few are willing to talk about the assaults and rapes that have taken place. Since the African Union has started regular escorts, incidents have decreased in Sector 6 - the sector dominated by South African forces.

Richard Lourens, a colonel and South African sector commander in Kutum, says: "We have pre-deployment training and we have mission-ready training - gives us an edge to come here and make a difference with regards to peace keeping."

South Africans the most self sufficient troops

More than 440 South African soldiers and police members have been deployed in Darfur - most serve as protection forces and military observers. Others teach about the dangers of the harsh local environment and expert shooting. Baba Kingibe, an AU special representative to Sudan, says: "The South African contingent who are based in sector 6 in Kutum, are the most self-sufficient unit we have."

These skills are sure to impress the UN once it requests countries to contribute forces to its mission. Yesterday Sudan has agreed to allow an African Union-UN assessment mission into the country ahead of a possible deployment of UN troops to war-torn Darfur. Speaking after a meeting with Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN troubleshooter, said the mission would start work in Khartoum and then go to Darfur. The Sudanese government and the main Darfur rebel faction signed a peace agreement on the fifth of this month.

Blowing up handpumps is not a good idea - Darfur delegates protect civilians

In Darfur, two British Red Cross women have been working in the field helping to ensure respect for civilians by all those fighting in the conflict - Reuters reported April 13, 2006:
Caroline Birch and Kirsty MacDonald have just returned from south and west Darfur respectively, on separate assignments with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

As protection delegates Caroline and Kirsty were carrying out a vital role of the ICRC in conflict zones - to promote adherence to international humanitarian law by all parties involved.

"I was extremely well-received," Caroline said. "The ICRC is seen in a very positive light because it is impartial and neutral.

"I would speak to survivors, often people who had run to a neighbouring village, to find out exactly what had happened. Then I would meet with the leader of those accused of the attack and, by talking to them, try to prevent it happening again," she said.

Caroline also explained to those fighting that international humanitarian law prohibits attacks against infrastructures necessary for civilians' survival, such as hand water pumps.

"In Darfur, those involved in the conflict want to fight by the rules, they responded well when we pointed out that blowing up hand pumps was not a good idea," she said.

Caroline also visited detainees to ensure their conditions are humane.
Woman at water point in Darfur

Photo: Water points, installed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), can be seen here at the Kassab camp for displaced people. In 2004, the Red Cross repaired and installed safe water supplies that provided 200,000 people with two million litres of water a day. (British Red Cross)

Red Cross convoy in N Darfur

Photo: An International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) food aid convoy can be seen here, returning from a distribution in the southeastern part of Northern Darfur. In just ten days, the Red Cross can distribute 600 tonnes of food aid to 20,000 people. (British Red Cross)

UNICEF's Clean-water project in Sudan keeps children healthy and in school

Since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan in 2005, UNICEF, the European Community's Humanitarian Aid Department and the state water project in South Kordofan have been working together to turn the situation around by building and rehabilitating the region's water system.

In 2005, the project increased access to safe drinking water for 166,000 children and women. Some 10,000 schoolchildren are benefiting from newly installed sanitation systems. And more than 20 school hygiene clubs have been formed, empowering hundreds of children with skills and knowledge about good hygiene and sanitation practices. Full report by UNICEF 25 May 2006.


Photo: Selma (centre) and her friends chatting around one of the hand pumps installed in their village in Sudan's South Kordofan State. The pumps were installed with support from UNICEF and the European Community's Humanitarian Aid Department. (UNICEF) via POTP with thanks.

Jan 26 2006 In Darfur, handpumps are on the frontline of peacebuilding

Jan 30 2006 The war on terrorism that most Americans don't know about

Feb 5 2006 Peacekeeping waterpumps - East Africa a front in war on terrorism

Feb 23 2006 Drilling for Sudan's drinking water is more important than drilling for oil

Feb 28 2006 Water to spark future wars: UK

Mar 5 2006 The 21st century's most explosive commodity will be . . . WATER