Friday, June 30, 2006

"The Human Potential for Peace" (Hugh Curran)

Hugh Curran On Bonobos, chimpanzees and potential for peace 30 June 2006, Bangornews. Excerpt:
Ninety-nine percent of history has been free of war." "War causes aggression, aggression does not cause war."

These two statements are a centerpiece of Douglas Fry's recent book, "The Human Potential for Peace," issued this year by Oxford Press. Most people assume that human history has always been subject to war and this is certainly true of the 20th century. Now that we are in the 21st century the world continues to experience wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Congo region, Darfur and Sri Lanka.

"The Human Potential for Peace" looks at the long history of both humans and primates and questions whether there is an inherent drive toward violence and war. Some anthropologists and archaeologists believe that humans are naturally aggressive and war-like, but the author states that there is no evidence of war among primates such as the Bonobos nor is there evidence of war among our remote ancestors, nor for that matter is there any evidence of war in most of human history.

Obviously there has been aggression and conflict but studies, that the author cites, indicate that our ancestors, as well as many indigenous peoples up to the present, learned methods of defusing violent confrontation before they could result in war.

In terms of primates, Bonobos are as closely related to humans as chimpanzees. Interestingly, in many studies of aggressive behavior among primates, Bonobos are often ignored even though studies show that they avoid aggressive behavior, preferring to stay away from conflict.

Photo source: The Future of Bonobos: An Animal Akin to Ourselves

AU turns down democracy charter

African leaders have refused to adopt a democracy charter that would have made it more difficult for unpopular presidents to stay in office. - BBC

JEM-Ibrahim expands by forming alliance with SFDA & Darfur rebel holdouts to deal with all the issues of Sudan: National Redemption Front (NRF)

SudanTribune (unsourced article from Asmara) June 30, 2006 - copy in full:
Three Darfur rebel groups that have refused to sign up to an African Union-mediated peace deal for the troubled western Sudanese region formed a new alliance to fight Khartoum on Friday.

Officials from the groups created the National Redemption Front (NRF) after talks in the Eritrean capital and reaffirmed their opposition to the Abuja peace agreement, signed by only one rebel army and Khartoum in May.

The front is made up of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a holdout faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Sudan Federal Democratic Alliance (SFDA), according to a "founding declaration" released in Asmara.

"We, leaders of political and military organisations abstaining from signing the Abuja document ... reaffirm our rejection of that faulty process," they said in a statement.

"Realising the virtues of combining efforts and resources to end the suffering of our people, we hereby join hands in establishing the National Redemption Front (NRF), as an instrument for coordinating political, military, diplomatic and media initiatives," they said.

The declaration was signed by JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim, Khamis Abdalla Abakar of the dissident SLM faction and Sharif Harir and Ahmed Ibrahim Diraige from the SFDA, all of whom said the peace deal did not go far enough.

Ibrahim said after the creation of the new group that it would accept as members any other movement that opposed the Abuja agreement and the policies of the Sudanese government in general.

"This front is open to all other movements who do not accept the Abuja document," he said. "This front will not only deal with the Darfur issue but all the issues in Sudan."

There has been strong pressure on holdout groups to accept the AU-mediated Darfur peace agreement that aims to end three years of war in Darfur that have killed an estimated 300,000 people and displaced 2.4 million others.

The pan-African body has threatened sanctions on groups that do not sign the accord which was inked by Khartoum and the largest SLM faction in the Nigerian capital on May 5.

Friday's declaration of the new front came on the eve of a summit of AU leaders in Gambia who are expected to renew calls for Sudan to accept the transfer of the bloc's Darfur peacekeeping mission to the United Nations.

Decades of tribal fighting in Darfur erupted into all-out violence in 2003, when ethnic minority rebels took up arms, accusing the Arab government in Khartoum of neglect and calling for autonomy.
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IRIN Report Special on Whos Who: Sudan Federal Democratic Alliance - Opposition organisation based in Darfur - its chairman is Ahmad Ibrahim Dirayj.
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Feb 4 2004 IRIN report "Sudan: Dialogue On Humanitarian Access in Darfur" - reprinted at SPLM Today (site currently under construction)
Meanwhile, Chadian President Idriss Deby, who mediated in peace talks between the government and the SLA until they broke down in December, said on 2 February that he would renew his mediation efforts.

Both the SLA and the JEM, who have called for international mediators, have said publicly that they consider Deby too close to Khartoum to trust. The chairman of the SFDA, Ahmad Ibrahim Dirayj, told IRIN from London that he had met Taha in Kenya on 23 January and was now engaging in talks with the two rebel groups to try to bring about a ceasefire agreement.

He said the SFDA was pushing for unrestricted humanitarian access in Darfur, a protocol on the protection of civilians, and the disarming and disbanding of militias by the government.
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Feb 10, 2004 Eric Reeves op-ed: Khartoum Refuses to Attend Talks on Humanitarian Access for Darfur, February 10, 2004 - The Sudan Federal Alliance party, whose chairman Ahmad Ibrahim Dirayj is from Darfur, had also agreed to participate and help bring about a cease-fire, or at least a pause in fighting for humanitarian purposes.

Jun 30 2006 Sudan Tribune: Founding Declaration of Darfur's National Redemption Front

Amnesty International publishes testimonies from E Chad

Remember the nonsensical sounding messages from Bin Laden? A few years ago, when I first started reading news reports on Darfur, I noticed that statements by Sudanese people like President Bashir sounded alien, from another planet. To my English born ears, the flow of African and Arabic speech when translated into English, sounded very strange. I found it to be expressive, passionate, flowery, poetic and quaint - from another world. The mindset was quite difficult to understand.

Nowadays, when I read certain reports or verbatim statements by Sudanese and Chadian people (especially uneducated rebels) I notice how their choice of words sound weirdly Western. At times I wonder to what extent Sudanese locals interviewed by Westerners are primed by the rebels. Translators probably convey stories to be understood by Westeners but overall it's the thrust and content that appears to have changed. Placards held by protesting IDPs calling for international troops I guess are geared towards a Western audience. It stands to reason that most of the women in the refugee camps could be related to rebel fighters. A mother, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, wife, girlfriend, in-law, friend of a friend.

These days I don't believe much of what I read in any one article and am wary of sources. Even religious and aid groups appear to have an agenda when it comes to fundraising for their work. I guess my point is, most news reports actually contain some form of propaganda. Sadly, I now take the following testimonies with a pinch of salt and can't be the only one doing so. People's real voices might not be heard.

Here's another thing. Sudanese rebels have access all sorts of equipment and know-how when it comes to communications technology, you'd think more video or digital camera reports of attacks by GoS forces, Janjaweed and such like would have appeared on our screens by now. Some reports say more than 400,000 Darfuris have perished in Darfur's war. That sure is a lot of bodies and funerals. Where and when are all the bodies buried? I've seen film evidence of two burials, one of a child in Darfur and the other of a man in Chad.

Click here to read some statements by Chadian internally displaced persons, published by Amnesty International 29 June 2006 [via ReliefWeb]. The accounts represent a selection of the testimonies gathered by Amnesty in Eastern Chad in June 2006.

African leaders face tough issues

African leaders are gathering in The Gambia to discuss some of the continent's most contentious issues. Topping the African Union agenda will be an attempt to persuade Sudan to allow the UN to take over the stretched AU peace mission in Darfur. - BBC

Al-Qaeda: New 'Bin Laden message' mentions Sudan

New 'Bin Laden message' released, BBC reported 30 June 2006:
Bin Laden says al-Qaeda will go on with operations against the US and its allies.

"We will continue, God willing, to fight you and your allies everywhere," he said, "in Iraq and Afghanistan and in Somalia and Sudan until we waste all your money and kill your men."

Gaddafi drives across Sahara for AU summit

Libyan leader Col Gaddafi was reported to be driving across the Sahara in a convoy on Thursday to arrive in Gambia for the African Union (AU) summit which will start in the capital, Banjul, on Saturday, IOL reported June 30 2006:
Four years ago Gaddafi arrived at the first AU summit in Durban after driving almost the entire length of the continent.

He has apparently been inspired to do another roadshow by the fact that the summit will be discussing a tighter integration of the sub-regional organisations of the continent to form something like the "United States of Africa", which he has always demanded. - Independent Foreign Service & Sapa

UK's David Triesman attends this weekend's AU Summit

Lord David Triesman, Minister for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, will arrive in Banjul today to attend the African Union Summit, Daily Observer reported 30 June 2006:
Lord Triesman will join delegates at the AU summit as part of the Commonwealth. He will during the visit, be focussing on a number of issues currently affecting Africa. These will include the conflict in Sudan and the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), as well as discussing the African Commission of Human and Peoples' Right (ACHPR) report on situations in certain countries. Lord David will also listen to President Obasanjo's preparation on the development of the AU and also discussions on UN Security Council reform and the UN itself. Lord Triesman will also have bilateral discussions with various Heads of State during which he hopes to focus on different issues, such as migration and human rights.

Bush surprise at Sudan briefing

Snippets from BBC report 29 June 2006:
US President George Bush expressed amazement when he heard that the south Sudan peace deal was not working 18 months after it was signed.

"That is not the information I'm getting," he told the BBC's Khartoum reporter Alfred Taban, who was in Washington to receive an award.

Our correspondent says he spent almost 20 minutes talking to Mr Bush, who was very keen to hear about the situation in Sudan.

"He asked me if the peace agreement was working and I said, 'Mr President, it is not working,' and he was very surprised," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

When the president said that this was not what he had been informed, our reporter said he told Mr Bush: "Well, whatever information you're getting, that peace agreement is not being implemented by the government in Khartoum."

He went on to tell the president that people in southern Sudan were still waiting to see improvements to their lives.

"There's no water, there's no electricity, nothing in Juba," our correspondent said, describing life in the capital of south Sudan.

During the discussion Mr Bush called one of his aides and asked to be given more details on southern Sudan.

"He appeared to be taking it very seriously," our reporter said, describing the president's manner as warm and welcoming, despite the intimidating surroundings.

"We've got a man from the Sudan who talked eloquently about free press," the president said.

"My spirits are enriched by talking to freedom lovers and freedom fighters."
Note, my understanding is the $4.5 billion pledged for southern Sudan by donors has strings attached. The development funds depend on a peace agreement for Darfur. Sudanese rebels refusing peace account for one of the reasons for slow progress, not to mention all the other obstacles (scroll through 2 years of this blog) like the Abyei boundary dispute, LRA rebel attacks and the undertaking by the UN to de-mine huge areas of southern Sudan to clear the way for development.


June 30 2006 Uganda Watch LRA victim: 'I cannot forget and forgive'

Sudan's head of intelligence and security Sala Gosh rejects UN force, calls for martyrdom

In a way to show the regime's opposition to a UN force in Darfur, the Chief of the security service said he prefers to die as martyr instead of accepting international troops, says an unsourced article at Sudan Tribune - excerpt:
The head of Sudan national security and intelligence organ, Lt General Salah Abdalla Gosh has declared on Wednesday 28 June his outright rejection of deployment of International peacekeepers in Darfur: "If the choice is between recolonialisation of Sudan and incursion into its soil by foreign troops, then interior of earth is better than its surface", he said.

Gosh received messages of support and allegiance at his headquarters, on behalf of president Omer al-Bashir, from 10 thousand members of the security organ and Popular Defence Forces, the Sudanese al-Ray alAam daily newspaper reported.

The security chief made his statement on the occasion that marked the end of a 3-day long walk from the centre of Gezira State to Khartoum in which thousands of security and land-based forces participated in a security operation that has been described as first of its kind.
[Reportedly, Mr Gosh's name is on a secret list of 51 suspected Darfur war criminals. The International Criminal Court received the list from the UN]

Apr 4 2005 UN list of Darfur war crimes suspects to ICC tomorrow - Khartoum must act quickly to avert a perilous threat

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

Mar 10 2006 Sudan's head of intelligence Sala Gosh given entry to UK

Jun 15 2006 International Criminal Court Prosecutor briefs UN Security Council on Darfur, says will not draw conclusions on genocide until investigation complete

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Save Darfur Coalition (Washington, DC): Million postcards urge US Bush to stop Darfur genocide

June 29 2006 press release by National Council of Churches USA - NCC helps Save Darfur Coalition generate 1 Million postcards urging President Bush to stop Darfur genocide - excerpt:
Demonstrating that moral issues can overcome partisan politics, Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D. (R-Tenn.) and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) today signed the one millionth postcard from Americans to President Bush through the Save Darfur Coalition's "Million Voices for Darfur" campaign. The postcards urge the president to use the full power of his office to support a stronger multi-national force to protect the people of Darfur.
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Email received today from Save Darfur Coalition (Washington, DC)

Dear Supporter, [Disclaimer: Sudan Watch Ed is not a supporter]

Click here today to make a critical contribution today!

I have some important news to report; we have reached our goal of one million postcards calling on President Bush to take stronger action on behalf of the suffering people of Darfur!

In a ceremony this morning at the U.S. Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) became the 999,999th and one-millionth postcard signers!

That means we now have one million postcards to deliver to President Bush urging action in Darfur. We reached this historic moment thanks to efforts by you - and hundreds of thousands of activists like you - and hundreds of organizations across the country.

While we've achieved this major milestone, the Darfur genocide is not yet over and so our work is not yet done. To help truly make a difference, your support right now is crucial.

Click here to make a tax-deductible contribution today to help us continue our efforts on behalf of the people of Darfur.

Millions in Darfur have already been displaced from their homes, with little hope of returning. They suffer in squalid refugee camps with little protection or hope for the future.

And hundreds of thousands have already died at the hands of a genocidal regime while every day more are killed.

President Bush has a critical role to play in stopping the Darfur genocide. His involvement was key in getting a signed peace agreement - an important first step.

But to truly stop the genocide in Darfur we must:

Deploy a UN peacekeeping force; and
Appoint an American envoy to be sure U.S. actions reflect the urgency of the crisis
Help the Save Darfur Coalition keep the story of Darfur in the news and on the minds of President Bush and members of Congress.

Click here now to make a tax-deductible contribution.
As always, your support is greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
David Rubenstein
Save Darfur Coalition
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June 29 2006 Sudan Watch: Save Darfur Coalition (Washington, DC) plotting another rally to demand UN force in Darfur - Bad news. Save Darfur Coalition (Washington, DC) is plotting another rally to demand the UN to deploy a peacekeeping force in Darfur. The warmongering organisers of Save Darfur Coalition must know what message this sends to the Darfur rebels. I think America's bolstering of the rebels means the insurgents won't have to make peace in Darfur for a very long time. Pity the poor women and children of Darfur. God help them all - who else is really on their side?

Sudan to lobby Rwanda on UN

The Sudanese government is planning to send a delegation to Rwanda in its efforts to seek support from African countries in a bid to block a United Nations peacekeeping force from going to Darfur. Read more - New Times report via CFD 29 June 2006.

Note, the report points out, Ismail Dahab Mohamed, the Sudanese Deputy Head of Mission in Kampala said that the AU peacekeeping forces only need logistical and financial support to bring about stability in the area.

I say, news reporters seem to forget to mention some important points, ie current AU Mission in Darfur costs around $1 billion a year. Funding is at the whim of donors. More troops are needed in Darfur. The UN has onging budgets for peacekeepers. Troops in Darfur will probably be needed for more than one year, not to mention Southern and Eastern Sudan and Chad. Who is to pay for all the personnel and equipment? It seems only the UN has the capacity to support such a mission. I've read somewhere that Khartoum feels the UN could use its peacekeeping funds to pay the AU Mission in Darfur to continue after Sep 30.

A recent Arab League meeting resulted in Arab countries suggesting they pay for the AU Mission to continue in Darfur after the mandate ends Sep 30 - but from what I can gather, nothing like $1-2 billion was mentioned.

On July 7 in Brussels, international donors are raising more funds for Darfur and on July 26, an Arab League meeting is set to discuss Darfur relief aid.

Mar 28 2006 - Arabs agree funding for AU troops in Darfur from Oct 1, 2006 plus extra troops from Arab states

Mar 30 2006 - Arab leaders fail to fix amount for Darfur aid

June 7 2006 - EU hosts donors meeting July 7 on Darfur reconstruction

Worsening humanitarian situation in Sudan, Chad demands immediate action, UN Security Council told today

UN News Centre report 29 June 2006 says any UN peacekeeping mission that takes over from the AU in Darfur will need to work in "partnership" with the country's people and Government, the head of the recent Security Council mission there said today. Excerpt:
British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, addressing the 15-member body on the mission's report of its trip, also reiterated the importance of viewing the situation in Sudan in terms of the wider region, in particular the situation in neighbouring Chad where the delegation also visited.

"We came away I think all again reconfirmed in our view that, as the African Union has itself decided, it is right that the UN should take over the peacekeeping operation in Darfur, that's the short-term objective," he said.

"I would only end by stressing this: the wish that we all kept repeating and which is fundamental to policy, in wanting to see a partnership with the Government and the people of Sudan. It's a partnership, we can't do this without the consent of the Government, that is obvious.

"Our wish is to see an improvement in all aspects of the situation in Sudan and that the United Nations should play its part working with that Government and its people," the Ambassador concluded.

Sudan's Bashir rules out UN force in Darfur - AU summit this weekend hopes to persuade Sudan to accept UN force

Excerpt from Reuters via Sudan Tribune 29 June 2006:
In an open-air speech attended by thousands in Khartoum, Bashir said a U.N. force was out of the question.

"We will not allow international troops under the U.N. to deploy in Darfur," Bashir said in an address marking the anniversary of the bloodless coup that brought him to power in 1989.

"Life in Darfur will return to its normal state without the presence of the international community or the participation of international troops in Darfur," he added.
Note, the report points out that analysts say Khartoum has objected because it fears U.N. soldiers would arrest officials or militia leaders likely to be indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court. I've yet to see any news report, analysis or opinion piece addressing this issue.


Photo: Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir (C), Wall Meyange (L), the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, and Al Motaffi (R), governor of Khartoum, wave to the crowd during a celebration of the National Congress Party's 17th anniversary at Green Square in the capital Khartoum, June 29, 2006. (Reuters)

AU summit hopes to persuade Sudan to accept UN force

Excerpt from Sudan Tribune 29 June 2006:
"Beshir fears that once the United Nations moves to Darfur, it will be difficult to stop the prosecution of some people before international tribunals," said another diplomat.

Recent developments have are also likely to complicate the scenario.

The hauling of former Liberian strongman Charles Taylor before an international war crimes court has not warmed the Sudanese to UN peacekeeping efforts. Now similar calls are being made for Chadian ex-dictator Hissene Habre, currently held in Senegal over alleged atrocities, to be extradited to face justice abroad.

"Some heads of state think that with what happened to Taylor, there is need to be cautious," according to a Western diplomat based in Ethiopia.

Nonetheless, the United States and the UN have relentlessely called for a rapid deployment of the UN peacekeepers to halt human suffering and help end the Darfur conflict that has now spilled into the neighbouring Chad.
Calling for Sudan to agree a U.N. force with Chapter 7 mandate seems like banging ones head against a brick wall. Why should Sudan agree? Such a move would threaten Khartoum regime's existence - unless, of course, the suspected Darfur war criminals on the UN's list of 51 names lodged at the ICC were given immunity.

Arab fatigue - The Arabs have succeeded in making the world believe that they condone terror

Al-Ahram Weekly Opinion piece by Salama A Salama - Arab fatigue - excerpt:

" ... But when you visit Madrid, capital of the country, which first pull its troops from Iraq, you cannot help but feel that people have had enough with the Arabs, with their whining and inability to resolve their own problems. The Arabs have succeeded in making the world believe that they condone terror. America and Israel, meanwhile, have succeeded in making terror top the agenda of each and every Arab problem. Then you sense the frustration felt in Europe over the illegal immigrants that keep arriving from the southern Mediterranean and Africa. The world has a limited attention span, and it is getting well and truly fed up with the parade of problems coming from this region - Darfur and Somalia, Iraq and Iran, Syria and Lebanon.

The world has a mental image of a divided and tormented Arab region. Regardless of the sympathy people may have abroad for some of our issues, they cannot see a point in trying to change what cannot be changed. People abroad are increasingly asking themselves: why help those who don't want to help themselves? ..."

The guiding ideology fuelling U.S. policy in Sudan is to establish democracy in the country - U.S.

UPI analysis "U.S. Supports derided Darfur Peace Agreement" by Stephanie Sonntag June 29, 2006 [via CFD] excerpt:
Michael Ranneberger, senior Sudan representative for the U.S. State Department, told United Press International the United States doesn't support the current return of the refugees to their southern homes.

"Our position is that people should not go home until security is such that it would be safe," Ranneberger said.

The current foreign policy, as outlined by the U.S. State Department, supports a peace agreement to end the Sudan conflict, seeks cooperation against terrorism and "is deeply concerned" about human rights violations. According to current department statistics, the government provides 89 percent of the country's food aid and has sent more than $1.3 billion to fund reconstruction, humanitarian and peacekeeping efforts.

The guiding ideology fueling U.S. policy in Sudan is to establish democracy in the country by ending violence and genocide, Ranneberger said.

Washington is working through humanitarian groups to provide adequate food, clothing and health care to the millions of displaced people. Humanitarian groups have expressed frustration in the two peace agreements' limited power and large failures, as yet, to establish a safe environment.

The International Rescue Committee has many humanitarian officials entrenched throughout Sudan and is working on restoring these people to their homes. Experts assert that returning displaced people is a complex issue and often involves neighboring countries. Currently many refugees are resistant to return home.

J. Stephen Morrison, Africa program director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, offered several explanations for why many displaced Sudanese do not want to return.

"The population may be living a marginalized existence, but are somewhat protected," he said at a recent conference. "The movement of populations is highly political."

Amanya Michael Ebye, a deputy county representative for western Sudan, agreed that the returns process is a difficult road. He said many of the region's citizens are afraid to leave their houses, let alone take dangerous journeys back to their homes. Because traveling is difficult, Ebye said, travelers would need walking security and adequate space for humanitarian efforts.

"Looking at the whole process, the recovery needs to be putting into place basic needs... including the management of facilities so they can own this process," said Anne Mesopir, a member of the IRC's south Sudan program.

The African Union, a recently formed multinational coalition to provide "African solutions for African problems," has deployed nearly 7,000 troops to patrol an area the size of France. The United States and many United Nations' officials support a transfer of patrol power from the understaffed and poorly funded AU to the U.N., but the Sudanese government opposes the transfer.

Ranneberger said it is in the best interest of Sudan to allow the transfer.

"The African Union is doing great job in Darfur, but it is not set up to maintain forces for a sustained amount of time," Ranneberger told UPI. "The African Union could form the core of the force. Sudan will simply need to cooperate."

He said the United States expects the U.N. Security Council's full support in the transfer.
[If its true that "the guiding ideology fueling U.S. policy in Sudan is to establish democracy in the country by ending violence and genocide" one wonders what the Sudanese think when they hear the US wants to establish democracy in Sudan. It's a terribly arrogant statement for a U.S. official to make, don't you think? Some days, I wonder what's in the water over there. Americans can't hear themselves the way as the rest of the world hears them. I'm not alone in this thinking - see following item]


Reuters, New York Times report via International Herald Tribune June 22, 2006 - excerpt:
On Wednesday, Bush issued an impassioned defence of his Iraq policy amid pointed reminders of how far the United States had fallen in the eyes of many Europeans.

"That's absurd!" Bush declared, dismissing a reporter's suggestion that most Europeans regard the United States as a bigger threat to global stability than North Korea, which has proclaimed it has nuclear arms, or Iran, which is suspected of developing them.

"I will do my best to explain our foreign policy," he said. "On the one hand, it's tough when it needs to be. On the other hand, it's compassionate. And we'll let the polls figure out - people can say what they want to say.
Note the report points out that Mr Bush fought back, citing U.S. aid to Africa to fight AIDS and his declaration recognizing genocide in Darfur.

AU to impose travel bans and assets freeze against Darfur holdout rebels

The Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU), at its 58th meeting, held at ministerial level, on 27 June 2006, in Banjul, The Gambia, adopted the following decision on the situation in Darfur.

See full text at Sudan Tribune June 29 2006.

How to put new life into Darfur's Peace Agreement - Pronk

UN SRSG Jan Pronk blog entry 28 June 2006:

There is a significant risk that the Darfur Peace Agreement will collapse. The agreement does not resonate with the people of Darfur. On the contrary, on the ground, especially amongst the displaced persons, it meets more and more resistance. In my view it is a good text, an honest compromise between the extreme positions taken by the parties during the negotiations in Abuja. That is why the UN, like all international partners, has endorsed the agreement. However, in politics objective rational calculations will always be confuted by subjective emotional perceptions and aspirations. And those perceptions are that the agreement does not meet the expectations of the people in Darfur, has been forced upon them and, rather than meeting the interests of all parties somewhere halfway, only strengthens the position of the government and a minority tribe, the Zaghawa.

This perception is a new political fact. Neglecting it would only reinforce the resistance and kill the agreement. It is not yet dead, but severely paralysed. How to put new life into the DPA?

Three steps are necessary. First: timely implementation of what has been agreed. So far, nothing has been done. None of the deadlines agreed in the text of the agreement has been met. The African Union is in charge but it clearly lacks the capacity to lead the process of implementation. The deadlines are tight. During the talks in Abuja we warned against too tight deadlines, which could not be kept, but this was disregarded. The military positions of the parties have not yet been verified; the demilitarized zones, the buffer zones and the humanitarian routes have not yet been demarcated. As a result of this the humanitarian assistance to people in areas to which we did not have full access during he war, cannot be resumed, despite the agreement on paper. The preparations of the Darfur-Darfur dialogue have not yet started. It is no wonder that the people in Darfur get the idea that the DPA is just another text without substance, like earlier cease fire agreements, and is not meant to be kept. This only reinforces their rejection of the agreement. It is not yet too late to start implementation, but we seem to be running out of time.

The second priority is broadening the circle of support for the peace agreement. In its present form the DPA is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for peace. The present tactic to do so by soliciting the support of splinter groups and by sanctioning those who took the political decision not to sign will not work. We need the support of Abdul Wahid and his followers, who together represent at least two third of the displaced people in the camps. His group may lose some who associate themselves with the DPA (such as some of Abdul Wahid's advisors who came to Addis and did so in a ceremony with much publicity) but at the same time it may gain support amongst people splitting off from Mini Minawi. Quite a few have done so. Minnie Minawi's position may have been strong in Abuja, it is less so in Darfur. His commanders are brutalizing dissenters and his forces do not refrain from human rights violations similar to those of the militia they had fought against.

Efforts to broaden the support for the DPA should not result in losing partners who have already signed. For this reason we should stick to the text of the agreement, but be willing to add a lot. This can be done in all three fields: security, power sharing and wealth sharing. Credible international security guarantees, visible disarmament of the Janjaweed, more money for compensation and a tangible reconstruction of the areas where the refugees and displaced people lived before they were chased away will have to be added soon in order to turn the present agreement into a sustainable pact.

Broadening and implementation should go hand in hand. The necessary additions and refinements should take place in he framework of the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and in the DPA institutions, such as the Cease Fire Commission, the International Joint Committee (to oversee the security arrangements) and the institutions dealing with humanitarian assistance, reconstruction and he preparation of a transitory governance system. However, this requires a fast track towards making these institutions operational. It also requires an inclusive approach. Any further delay and any further exclusion of non-signatories who so far have complied with the agreement, without signing it) would bring us back to the unfortunate situation before 5 May.

Not all international partners are in favour of an all inclusive approach. Some say that Abdul Wahid have missed all opportunities to sign and should be penalized by exclusion from the benefits of the agreement and by sanctions. It is a reaction based on feelings of offence and annoyance. It is short-sighted and counter productive. Only one week before the agreement was reached Abdul Wahid hesitated whether he should sign while Minnie Minawi declared himself to be all out against. During that week the tables were turned. From the USA Zoellick and from the UK Hillary Benn came to the rescue of the agreement and were able to persuade Minnie Minawi that he should sign. Contrary to what some commentators have argued Minnie Minawi was not forced to do so. He took his own decision, under pressure, but in freedom, the same freedom that brought Abdul Wahid to his refusal. However, what the international facilitators had not understood was that the non-signing by the one party was a function of the signing by the other. Configurations within Darfur - identity considerations, tribal motives, historical grounds and power rationale - turned out to be more decisive than the relations with Khartoum. It would have been better if Abdul Wahid would have been persuaded to sign, even knowing that this would stiffen Minnie Minawi in his initial rejection.

This situation can not be reversed. The miscalculation of Abuja can not be undone by another mistake: exchanging Minnie Minawi for Abdul Wahid. It would result in the resumption of hostilities, civilian deaths, displacement, and human rights violations. This is no option. However, sticking to the position of Abuja, for which international mediators, facilitators and observers share the responsibility with the parties, is no option either. The flaw which has been built in the agreement has to be mended.

It is high time. In Darfur the people who are the victims of the war turn against the DPA. Those who are on the side of the government and of the tribes and militia which were responsible for the killings and the atrocities welcome the DPA. If the constituency of Abdul Wahid is not being brought behind the DPA, and if the UN is seen as working together with the government and with Minnie Minawi only, the UN risks to be seen as favoring the wrong side of the conflict.

A transition towards a UN peace keeping force is the third priority in a strategy to save the DPA. Without an effective UN peace force the security of the displaced people and other victims of the war can not be guaranteed. The AU peace force has done a good job but it is too weak. Without such a transition the government will continue to set the conditions for the implementation of the DPA on the ground. A transition towards a UN peace force will only be successful if it can reverse the present conditions of non-implementation and exclusion. That would require a unified approach and a unified command in the humanitarian, civilian, military as well as political sphere.

As I said: it is high time. However, we do need also some time to reflect in order to choose the right approach and to get consensus. A couple of days ago we were given some time. We did not ask for it. On the contrary, we got it against our wish. An official joint high level delegation of the UN and the AU which had come to Khartoum in order to discuss the role of the two organisations in the implementation of the DPA was told by President Bashir that he would not agree with a transition towards a UN peace keeping force in Darfur. "This is final", he said and he repeated these words several times. It is a set back for the people in Darfur. But I do not believe that it is final. What is final will be dictated by the situation on the ground.
- - -


The press have taken three days to pick up on the above opinion piece. It's the first time I've seen them pay attention to Jan Pronk's Weblog - even though it is a great blog with superb pictures.

July 1 2006 Reuters Opheera McDoom UN envoy calls for changes to Darfur peace plan: Sudan's top U.N. official has said the Darfur peace deal should be amended to meet key rebel demands to save the foundering agreement, in an apparent shift from his previous statements.
Jan Pronk, on his Internet blog, said international guarantees of security, a more visible disarmament of the Arab militia and more compensation for war victims needed to be added to the pact.
All these have been demanded by two rebel factions who refused to sign the May 5 deal. Angry protests have erupted in some Darfur refugee camps against the agreement.
"None of the deadlines agreed in the text of the agreement has been met. The African Union is in charge but it clearly lacks the capacity to lead the process of implementation," Pronk said in his blog, seen by Reuters on Saturday and dated June 28.

July 1 2006 BBC UN envoy attacks Darfur agreement: The head of the United Nations mission in Sudan, Jan Pronk, has said the Darfur peace agreement is in danger of collapse and needs re-writing. Writing his weblog, Mr Pronk called for security guarantees, more disarmament, and more compensation for victims. He said the pact does not resonate with the people of Darfur, describing it as "severely paralysed".

July 1 2006 Sudan Tribune Darfur agreement is severely paralysed

July 2 2006 Annan: Darfur out of control: The AU's mandate in Darfur ends in the autumn, but the situation was today confused by the head of the UN's mission in Sudan, Jan Pronk, who has criticised the Darfur peace agreement (DPA) signed earlier this year, despite originally being one of its main proponents. 'It is no wonder that the people in Darfur get the idea that the DPA is just another text without substance, like earlier ceasefire agreements, and is not meant to be kept,' he said on his personal website.

AU to discuss democracy charter

African Union foreign ministers meeting in the Gambian capital, Banjul, are to discuss proposals for a charter on democracy and governance, BBC reported today. The report says the AU is supposed to suspend governments which take power by arms.

What about rebel groups taking power by arms? Why are they free to come and go as they please? One wonders what they say to European and American Immgration authorities when asked to declare occupation, finances and reason for entry. Surely it's about time travel bans were slapped on rebels who refuse to make peace.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Save Darfur Coalition (Washington, DC) plotting another rally to demand UN force in Darfur

Bad news. Save Darfur Coalition (Washington, DC) is plotting another rally to demand the UN to deploy a peacekeeping force in Darfur. The warmongering organisers of Save Darfur Coalition must know what message this sends to the Darfur rebels. I think America's bolstering of the rebels means the insurgents won't have to make peace in Darfur for a very long time. Pity the poor women and children of Darfur. God help them all - who else is really on their side?

Organizers of April's Save Darfur rally are planning another event for September, JTA reported June 28, 2006 - excerpt:
The second protest to draw attention to the continuing genocide in Sudan will be held in New York City on Sept. 17.

Like its predecessor, the rally will be orchestrated by the Save Darfur Coalition, a collection of 150 faith-based advocacy and humanitarian aid organizations.

Discussions also are in place to stage rallies across the country that day, as well as in Europe and Canada.

Unlike the first rally, which was aimed at President Bush and policymakers on Capitol Hill, this event will court a more international audience, and will focus on the demand for the United Nations to deploy a peacekeeping force to Darfur.
[Europe eh? Bug off, you bunch of warmongering nutters]
- - -

Email received today from Human Rights First aka H.O.P.E. for Darfur: Help Organise Peace Envoy [they say their campaign grows out of HRF's work with Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, a leading human rights defender in Darfur]

Ingrid, Darfurians are losing hope. Promised a better future with the May peace agreement, they've only seen more violence. But you can make a difference by taking action today.

Our concerns about the continued killings in Darfur have been deepened by unfortunate news on the home front: two U.S. officials who have shaped our nation's leadership role on the crisis in Sudan are leaving government service. The engagement of Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick and the President's special adviser Michael Gerson sent a strong message - to Khartoum and the world - that Darfur is a priority of the Bush Administration.

Will you join us in urging President Bush to immediately fill this gap by appointing an influential and high-level official to coordinate the U.S. response to the Darfur crisis?

Click here to ensure that Darfur remains a priority for President Bush.

Already, the departure of these two U.S. officials is being felt. Just when pressure from the U.S. is more important than ever, the U.S. government is not playing the critical role on Darfur that it has for the past several months.

A high-level official would take up where Mr. Zoellick and Mr. Gerson left off - expressing the will of the President and showing the resolve of the U.S. government to end the crisis.

We should be clear: Human Rights First is still calling on Secretary-General Annan to appoint a U.N. Special Envoy for Peace in Darfur. We believe the best hope for peace is a coordinated international response - an effort led by a U.N. envoy. But this envoy needs influential contacts within the world's most powerful governments - especially the United States.

Tell President Bush to immediately appoint a senior-level official to fill the gap left by recent departures.

At this critical juncture, your voice will make a difference! Thank you so much for helping us address this human rights tragedy.

Jill Savitt
Director of Campaigns
Human Rights First

Eritrea objects to deployment of UN forces in Darfur

Sudan Vision report via African News Dimension June 28, 2006:
Eritrea said it categorically rejects deployment of International Forces in Darfur, stressing that the solution should be a purely Sudanese one.

The Eritrean President Advisor Abdalla Jabir added that stability in Sudan is part of that of Eritrea, affirming that intervention in Darfur or eastern Sudan destabilizes the whole region.

Jabir added that replacement of AU Forces will further complicate the problem. He further pointed out that Eritrea has some reservations on the Abuja talks as to the non-attendance by some parties of these talks. Darfurians should be consulted in order for them to decide on their own affairs, he noted.

Jabir denied news that Eritrea has put forward an initiative aimed at bringing President Al Bashir, VP Kiir and the Darfurian Movements to meet.

Why has Eric Reeves pushed for military intervention in Darfur knowing humanitarian access will be severed and civilian destruction will be massive?

In his opinion piece June 28, 2006 - "Meaning of Khartoum's suspension of humanitarian access to Darfur" - Eric Reeves says Khartoum's decision to suspend most of the UN's humanitarian operations in Darfur for two days had little to do with the reason offered by the regime. Snippets from the piece:
To be sure, Khartoum's vicious Military Intelligence was angry that the UN moved Jamous without permission. ... Khartoum's action was, in effect, a pointed threat:
"We have the power to shut down humanitarian operations overnight --- and completely. The present suspension was simply a warning, a reminder. But if we are pressed, if our most consequential claims of national sovereignty are ignored, if the UN should demand that we accept a force capable of protecting civilians and humanitarians, then we will respond much more severely the next time."
There should be no doubt about the deadly seriousness of Khartoum's threat, or about the ghastly history that stands as its guarantor.

This apparently technical obstructionism has terribly real consequences for desperately needy human beings. ... Of one thing we may be sure: if war comes, then humanitarian access will be severed altogether, and civilian destruction will be massive.
So, why has Eric Reeves over the last two years relentlessly pushed for military intervention in Darfur? I don't get it, unless he is onside with SLM-Nur. Note, in the piece he criticises the AU, SLA-Minnawi and the Darfur Peace Agreement but not SLM-Nur or JEM. Why would an American academic in Boston, MA, USA who networks with USAID and many others in America and Sudan, fight (with a pen) onside with SLM-Nur? A pen can be mightier than a sword.

African Union Mission in Darfur ends September 30, 2006

According to an unsourced article at the SudanTribune (Paris) June 27, 2006, a press statement says a faction within SLM-Minnawi suspends Darfur Peace Agreement implementation provoking a tacit split against its leader Minni Minnawi who signed the peace deal.

Also today, an Associated Press report via Sudan Tribune tells us UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan hopes AU will pressure Sudan on UN peacekeepers - excerpt:
Despite al-Bashir's rejection of a UN force, Annan said he is not giving up ... "In politics, words like 'never' and 'forever' do not exist," Annan told reporters. "We have seen leaders say lots of things, but they also find reasons and ways to adapt, to shift, to change direction, and often forget that they have used the word 'never.'"
Surely such a statement coming from Kofi Annan is music to the rebels' ears. UN mediation and UN troops are what the Darfur rebels have wanted all along.

Surely such reports, along with the army of rebel supporters in America - not to mention their calls for UN troops - bolsters the rebels, giving them the confidence to hold out. Who is really on the side of the long suffering civilians in Sudan? There's a big pot of gold at stake for rebels. Three years of war in Darfur have now passed while another generation of Sudanese youngsters grow up without ever receiving an education. If those children resort to making a living through theft and murder (many in Darfur's SLA rebel group are as young as 16) when will the cycle of violence, fighting and war in the Sudan ever be broken?

Today, a BBC report reminds us the AU Darfur mission ends in three months - excerpt:
The peacekeepers will leave by the end of September [30] even if there is no agreement on replacing it with a United Nations force, an AU meeting agreed.

Sudan is vehemently against this move, but UN boss Kofi Annan hopes to change their mind at this weekend's AU summit.

South Africa's foreign minister said the AU did not have the money to continue even if it wanted to.

But the UN head of peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guehenno, says the UN is committed to bolstering the AU mission.

"Whatever happens our mandate ends on 30 September unless there are new developments in the discussions between the Sudan and the UN," said South Africa's Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlaminini Zuma, who chaired an AU Peace and Security Council meeting on the subject.

"For us that mandate should end and the UN should be the one who takes over."

The meeting took place ahead of an AU heads of state summit in The Gambia.

In a separate move, the head of UN peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno has said the UN will strengthen its support for the AU Darfur mission. But, he gave no details.

"We believe that the United Nations can help the African mission," he told reporters at the UN after returning from an assessment mission in Sudan.

"We did not get any objection from the government of Sudan so we are going to work in earnest on that."
See comments at BBC's Have Your Say: What should the African Union leaders do?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Think Piece: Will UN troops in Darfur make things more "humanitarian" than they are right now?

Another great blog entry by Drima, The Sudanese Thinker: Bashir & Kofi Anan: The Head Banging Continues. Excerpt:
Even the American troops in Iraq are having trouble controling terrorists and the insurgency and you think your great almighty UN troops will have it easy in Darfur? The answer is NO! You talk about intervention because of humanitarian purposes. I guess when your troops get sent they will make things more "humanitarian" than they are right now. How sweet and caring? I do realize many of you out there are supporting intervention and I sincerely thank you all for that. Do you know why? It's because I know your intentions are sincere. I know you mean well and I know you want to help but I ask you all to step back for a while and stop reading so called "facts" about Darfur. If I were reading those same "facts" my position would be like yours and that's why I don't blame you. I blame those making money publishing such "great knowledge" for all of us to consume. I blame those leveraging this issue to make a name for themselves.
- - -

June 26 2006 Reuters report - Congo militia threaten to execute UN peacekeepers: Congolese militia linked to gunmen holding seven Nepalese U.N. peacekeepers hostage on Monday threatened to order their execution after clashes last week.

June 27 2006 BBC Chad rebels 'launch CAR attack': Peacekeepers from a regional body were also involved in the clashes with "heavily armed" rebels in the north, the interior ministry says.

Sudanese President condemns West's meddling

Sudan Prez Condemns West Meddling - Prensa Latina. June 27, 2006 - excerpt:
Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir slammed the West interference in his country through the UN with the pretext of imposing peace in Darfur, which is rich in oil, diamonds, uranium and minerals.

In a meeting with deputies of the governing National Congress Party, in presence of some ministers, Al Bashir asserted he would rather be a leader of the resistance than a president of a nation where multinational forces are deployed.

The Sudanese president made it clear he would not allow stationing blue helmets in Darfur, as that zone cannot be become an Iraq, where the UN-backed West has solved nothing.

I really regret the United Nations has joined the tricks of powerful governments to intervene in Sudan, especially in Darfur, he noted.

Al Bashir also urged rebel groups in Sudan's west to join the peace agreements of May 13, 2006.
- - -

Photo released by the United Nations shows refugees at the Kalma Camp in south Darfur, in 2005. Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir said his country could assume peacekeeping operations in war-torn Darfur, state media reported, in a fresh rebuff of the UN's deployment plan. (AFP/UN-HO/File/Evan Schneider 26 June 2006)

Human Rights Watch wants more troops in Darfur

From Human Rights Watch: Darfur: Send More Troops to Protect Civilians [via CFD] excerpt:
African leaders meeting at the African Union summit on July 1 and 2 must contribute more troops to protect civilians in Darfur and urge Sudan to consent to a UN force in Darfur, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the leaders.

"Violence is rising, and additional African forces are needed to reinforce the 7,000 troops now on the ground, so they can better protect civilians," Peter Takirambudde, said Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "The AU council must equip AMIS to robustly and proactively protect civilians," said Takirambudde. "The alarming deterioration in security in Darfur means that even if Khartoum agrees to a UN force tomorrow, AMIS needs more support and capacity now." [edit]

The Sudanese government initially said it would support the transition to a UN force, but only after a peace agreement was reached; now it has reneged on that commitment. On June 20, President Omar al-Bashir said Sudan would never allow UN troops into Darfur, even though a UN force of almost 10,000 is already in Sudan to support the 2005 peace agreement ending the 21-year war waged mostly in the south.

"African leaders should tell Khartoum to accept a UN force," said Takirambudde. "The AU has transferred to UN forces in Burundi and elsewhere in Africa; why should Sudan be different?"
[When did the Sudanese government say it would support the transition to a UN force? How can the Sudanese government renege on a commitment it never made? See June 22 2006 Sudan Watch entry: Human Rights Watch incorrectly says Khartoum is backtracking]

Photo: An African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) platoon leaves Zamzam base to patrol just south of El-Fasher in Darfur, 09 June 2006. Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir said his country could assume peacekeeping operations in Darfur, state media reported, in a fresh rebuff of the UN's deployment plan. (AFP/File/Charles Onians 26 June 2006)

Chad: Deployment by UN urged by Amnesty International and France

The UN must consider deploying international forces to eastern Chad, both Amnesty International and the French government are warning, the Financial Times reported June 27, 2006.

See full report Chad: Deployment by UN Urged [via CFD, with thanks]

Note the report points out that France is advocating the possibility of international policing in the camps and aerial surveillance.

Chad/CAR: Chadian rebels attack Central African Republic

Chadian rebels have launched a raid in NE Central African Republic, clashing with government troops and African peacekeepers, the Defence Ministry said on Tuesday, Reuters, AFP, BBC reported. Excerpt:
A BBC correspondent says rebels from Chad and CAR have formed an alliance.

The BBC's Joseph Benamsse in the CAR capital, Bangui, says the Chadian rebels want to be left alone in the remote northern region.
[via Coalition for Darfur, with thanks]

Brian Steidle writes a book about his experience in Sudan

Dartmouth Online Brother and Sister Tackle Crisis via CFD. Excerpt:
Before earning her Masters in Business Administration from the Tuck School of Business in 2001, Wallace graduated from the University of Virginia and then went on to work for an investment banking firm that specialized in development in poor countries. While at Tuck, she founded the Allwin Initiative for Corporate Citizenship, aimed at promoting corporate responsibility and ethics. She started the non-profit organization Global Grassroots, which seeks to promote women's rights and combat poverty in the third world, and she is in the process of completing a documentary film illustrating the plight of female refugees who fled Darfur.

Her brother, after graduating from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1999, joined the United States Marine Corps and completed his service in 2003. He scanned the internet for a job that interested him, and after touring the world with the Marines, he looked beyond desk jobs.

"I don't know where the trigger is on the stapler," he quipped.

Steidle applied for a position with the Joint Military Commission in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan and received his acceptance and plane tickets within days. After working his way up to Senior Operations Officer, he moved west in Sudan to work for the African Union in Darfur. In March 2005 he testified in Congress and is now writing a book to be published this spring about his experiences in Sudan.

International Crisis Group stands by its irresponsible analysis - Dave Mozersky is ICG's Sudan researcher

June 26, 2006 Reuters/WP report excerpt:
The International Crisis Group 'Policy Briefing' on Darfur contains some serious errors of fact and interpretation, which are extremely unhelpful to the process of implementation," the AU said in a seven-page reply, seen by Reuters on Monday.

ICG said it stood by its analysis:

"The security situation continues to be extremely worrisome," said Dave Mozersky, ICG's Sudan researcher.

"Implementation of the (deal) is likely to be challenged by a combination of government unwillingness, rebel divisions and unwillingness of the international community to stand up for a sufficiently robust peacekeeping force," he added.
[Who do these foreign armchair critics think they are, undermining fragile peace talks and ceasefire agreements?]

Jun 25 2006 AU reacts to ICG report on Darfur peace deal - Bravo to the African Union for its speedy response to serious misinformation published by International Crisis Group; More meddlesome armchair critics

Jun 25 2006 What matters is what the majority of Sudanese think the UN's intentions are - so far they all believe the UN's intentions are sinister - Why spread and market such garbage? This isn't helpful. In order to solve a problem, one must understand it well first. Such distorted information only adds to the problem.

Jun 26 2006 United Nations Sudan Situation Report 24 - 25 Jun 2006

United Nations Sudan Situation Report 24 - 25 Jun 2006

Report by United Nations Country Team in Sudan 25 June 2006, via ReliefWeb. Security situation:

North Darfur
UNDSS reported that the Head of SAF Military Intelligence (MI) for the Darfurs indicated that all UNMIS flights coming into the Darfurs will be prohibited from landing. All UNMIS aircraft that are now based in the Darfurs will not be granted permission to take off except in emergency and medical situations with prior special permission from MI. UNDSS advised that until further notice UNMIS Air Operations will suspend all flights coming into the Darfurs.

South Darfur

West Darfur
On 23 June, Chadian armed Opposition Group (CAOG) force moved from El Geneina towards the border area. The local population observed CAOG force with about 30-50 vehicles near Dockit Hills (approximately 1 km east of Adi Kong). On 24 June, clashes were reported between CAOG and the Chadian army (FANT) in the vicinity of Tandulti (45 km NW of El Geneina), Gellu (30 km NW of El Geneina) and Adi Kong (25 km W of El Geneina).

Monday, June 26, 2006

SPLM northern sector spokesperson Walid Hamid resigns

The SPLM's spokesperson of the northern sector, Walid Hamid, resigned last Thursday. Different sources within the SPLM said there are ongoing discussions to persuade him to withdrew his decision.

Hamid attributed his resignation to “the organisational dysfunction within the SPLM institutions. - SudanTribune article (unsourced) 27 June 2006.

Thousands of protestors gathered in Khartoum to protest against UN and its proposed peacekeepers

A demonstration (see above AFP/Isam al-Hag photo) was organised in Khartoum during which thousands of pro-regime youths chanted slogans against the world body and its plans to deploy Nato-backed peacekeepers to Darfur, Sapa-AFP (Mohammed Ali Seed, Khartoum) reported June 26, 2006. Excerpt:
Up to 5,000 protesters, mainly from the youth and student organisations of the ruling National Congress, gathered in front of parliament in Khartoum Sunday to protest against the proposed deployment.

"Down, Down United Nations", "Down, Down, USA", "We will not be ruled by the CIA", they chanted, as some of them torched a life-size dummy with the words UN and USA inscribed on it.

"The experience of foreign intervention in other countries, including Iraq, shows that it is not in the interest of the people," Ali Yehya, the speaker of the Council of States, the upper house of parliament, told the crowds.
[via IOL, CFD, POTP, with thanks]

Sudanese burn effigy of Sudan President

Photo (Sudan Watch archives) Sudanese residents living in the Chadian capital N'djamena burn an effigy representing Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir, Friday, April 21, 2006 during a protest condemning the situation in Darfur.

Khartoum demo

Photo: Thousands of Sudanese protest against UN force Mar 8, 2006. See full report Protests over Darfur peacekeepers.

Feb 28 2006 UN envoy Jan Pronk cites Al-Qaeda threats to his own life and non-African UN troops deployed to Sudan's Darfur

Mar 8 2006 Sudanese students offers reward for head of UN envoy

Mar 24 2006 Jan Pronk's weblog accuses Sudanese government of a political campaign against the United Nations

May 7 2006 Protests greet UN's Egeland in Darfur, before Gereida visit

Sudan removes suspension of UN operations in Darfur

Storm in a tea cup? Whenever strange news stories like this appear, it makes one wonder if it's blown out of proportion by Khartoum to deflect the media away from a bigger story, like a Janjaweed attack or GoS bombing raid. [Afterthought: or a flap about something else going. I guess we'll never know what really goes on behind the scenes of a civil war]

A few minutes ago, IRIN reported that UNMIS air operations have suspended all Darfur flights until further notice, after the head of military intelligence of the Sudanese armed forces indicated that all UNMIS flights coming to Darfur would be prohibited from landing.


Photo: Rebel commander, Suleiman Mohamed Jamous, was the humanitarian coordinator for the SLM/A before it split in November 2005 and the main rebel contact for the approximately 14,000 humanitarian aid workers in Darfur. Jamous was a member of Minni Minnawi's SLM/A faction who signed the Darfur Peace Agreement on 5 May, but was imprisoned by that same faction for his opposition to the peace deal. (IRIN)

Shortly after the above report hit the news wires, an unsourced article at Sudan Tribune June 26, 2006 appeared, saying:
The Sudanese Foreign Minister spokesperson Jamal Ibrahim said in an interview with the French Language RFI, that the head of the United Nation Mission in Sudan Jan Pronk had indicated in a meeting Monday that the transport of Darfur rebel leader Suleiman Jamous was made in good faith and in humanitarian bases.

He further said Pronk had reiterated his engagement to respect agreement between Sudan and the United Nation and to notify details of UN flights to the Sudanese aviation authorities as it is stipulated in the agreement.

"Sudan has accepted the clarifications presented by the UN envoy and the suspension is removed" said the Sudanese official.
Some ten minutes later, the Sudan Tribune had edited its report with a correction notice. The report now states the following text (which sounds more plausible because from what I'd gathered yesterday, Mr Pronk is currently in Europe, not Sudan) and instead of Mr Pronk's photo depicted earlier, shows this one of Taye-Brook Zerihoun:

Sudan removes suspension of UN operations in Darfur - Correction: Please note that the meeting was held with Mr Taye-Brook Zerihoun, the Principal Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General.

The Sudanese Foreign Minister spokesperson Jamal Ibrahim said in an interview with the French Language RFI, that the Principal Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Taye-Brook Zerihoun, had indicated in a meeting Monday with acting Foreign Minister Sidiq Mutaraf that the transport of Darfur rebel leader Suleiman Jamous was made in good faith and in humanitarian bases.

He further said Zerihoum had reiterated his engagement to respect agreement between Sudan and the United Nation and to notify details of UN flights to the Sudanese aviation authorities as it is stipulated in the agreement.

"Sudan has accepted the clarifications presented by the UN deputy envoy and the suspension is removed" said the Sudanese official.
Note, I'm taking this opportunity to say the Sudan Tribune regularly publishes reprints of reports without crediting sources. It's annoying to have to work the sources of their reprints. Why don't they name their sources? It makes them appear sloppy and dodgy. The word plagiarism [the act of appropriating the literary composition of another author, or excerpts, ideas, or passages therefrom, and passing the material off as one's own creation] springs to mind here.

Half an hour later, Sudan Tribune published a fresh reprint entitled Sudan lifts suspension of UN operations in Darfur.

Here's another peeve about the Sudan Tribune: not knowing who is behind it and why they feel the need to remain anonymous. Simply listing themselves as "Sudan Ltd," their "About us" says:
"SudanTribune is a non profit web site based in France. Its goals are to promote plural information, democratic and free debate on Sudan. Contacts: More information, comments ... please contact us [they simply provide an email address]
Webhosting information:
Agence des Medias Numerique
12-14 Rond Point Des Champs Elysees
75008 Paris
Tel: 0033 892 55 66 77
I am noting this issue now because it has niggled me for a few years and I'm starting to notice biases in their selection of reports, especially when it comes to particular rebel groups. I hate propaganda. This is a personal weblog, I can say whatever I wish. I do not claim to be a writer, journalist, whaterver. I'm not trying to manipulate news. I'm simply interested in learning the truth of matters and, as far as is possible, to know what is really going on. I do not care to be indoctrinated by people with hidden agendas and/or a religious and/or political bent.

Southern Sudan is emerging as a strong contender for investors interested in emerging markets

Copy of article at The Standard - Business News Propertywatch 22 June 2006 - Boom across the border:


As peace returns to Southern Sudan, a property market boom is in the making. Kenneth Kwama was there to find out who's in the race

Charles Anyama has always wanted to move opposite the crowd.

In 2000, when most investors were still hesitant to venture in war-torn South Sudan, he decided to set up an investment and property company there.

The company -- Nile Bay General Works -- now has a dominant presence in Juba's real estate scene and is one of Southern Sudan biggest developers.

Southern Sudan is emerging as a strong contender for investors interested in emerging markets.

Business was not good until last year when Sudanese leaders signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) treaty, giving both business and peace a chance.

"Since then many Kenyans have flocked in here to invest in the real estate business," Anyama says. "Just like in Nairobi, the commercial property market in Southern Sudan is alive and booming."

The change in fortunes is attributed to an influx of United Nations staff, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and relief agencies-all competing for housing and office space. An Sh14 billion multi-donor trust fund, set up by the international community, to aid the reconstruction of the war-ravaged region, has aided the process.

Exorbitant monthly rents

The region should be a strong contender for investors interested in emerging markets. It's biggest city, Juba, has a winning combination of what valuers price. Liberal tax regimes, good return on investment and now, security.

Lack of expertise among locals has left Kenyan property developers, including construction companies and sub-contractors, competing among themselves. Hundreds of up-coming construction sites dot downtown neighbourhoods. In most places, the houses under construction have either been booked or paid for.

Prospective tenants and buyers have been forced to offer sweetheart deals to developers and landowners, exorbitant monthly rents, with several years of contracted stay.

Some Kenyans with extra bucks to spare are in there big time, hoping to fetch quick returns. The majority are property developers who have either been edged out of the Kenyan market by stiff competition or are simply looking for quick returns on their investments.

One Kenyan investor, Rose Nyamunga, is running a restaurant with cottages that cost between US$120 and US$150. Her immediate plan is to built apartments in the 20-acre plot that she co-owns with a native Sudanese in Juba.

"The good thing about building in Juba is that you are guaranteed of tenants," she says. This is because demand is not only higher than the supply but is growing at a faster pace.

International attention

Nyamunga says a number of businesspeople, especially from the US are settling in Southern Sudan with the result that housing and rent prices are skyrocketing.

Her desire to build apartments has been fired by the fact that most rental property in Juba is either temporary or semi-permanent. She gives the example of her restaurant, Rock City that has had to operate in tents. Even the cottages have been constructed from this material.

"I think it would make more business sense to have something more decent and durable," she says.

But while most investors may be dreaming of a property market that will offer high yields and capital growth at the same time, Anyama says identifying the right market is vital to realising such dreams.

"With so much international attention on Sudan as an emerging property market, it is difficult to know where to begin," he says. Anyama says this is the reason he and his partners decided to set up the company to guide investors on the Sudanese property market.

Anyama says the requirement by Sudanese investment law that any foreigner wishing to own property should partner with a Sudanese is spoiling the party.

Big gamble

This has left the vast market to a few daring real estate developers, mostly from Kenya, Uganda and Eritrea. To some extent, the small number of investors in real estate has meant that demand for housing has outstripped supply and is driving up rental yields.

"Others say it's risky to invest here, but I think the risk is worth taking," he adds.

"What you need to do is to seek professional advice, work with reliable agents and always be willing to do your homework."

Though Sudan's property market could be a bit difficult to navigate, Anyama says it is possible to link up with locals as required by law and start on a property that is sure to yield high returns.

Investing in such property markets can be a big gamble but this comes along whenever one is investing in any new territory. For those daring enough to take the risk, the returns are far higher than what one could dream of in more secure markets such as Kenya's.

A one-bedroom apartment, just 10 minutes drive outside Juba, where some Eritreans have put up residential houses goes for about US$1000.

"The rental yields are very high and one is almost guaranteed healthy returns compared to what property of that kind could yield in Nairobi," says Anyama.

Speculators' market

The downside, however, is that constructing a house in Juba is not an easy task.

The cost of building materials, which are mainly sourced from Kenya and Uganda, is high. Labour is also expensive and one needs about US$70 (about Sh5,000) to hire a plumber for just one day.

Part of these costs are, however, set to come down with the entry of Kenyan firms such East African Portland Cement Company (EAPCC) into the market. EAPCC's Managing Director Zakayo Ole Mapelu says the company is exploring ways of reducing overhead costs to make its products competitive.

One major concern with Juba is that it is a speculators' market with various investors teaming up with locals -- as is required by the country's investment law -- to put up houses.

"The biggest impediment to owning property in Southern Sudan is that land belongs to the community," Anyama says.

Good research

This means you can't buy from an individual, but developers are allowed to lease for long periods and even renew the leases. One should, however, understand that all property markets, not just those that are emerging, carry risks.

The key to success of any investment is good research. Patrick Jakino, a Kenyan investor, who owns a construction company-Building Concepts and has been working for the regional government as a consultant, says gathering as much information as possible and keeping up to date with market trends is vital to making a smooth investment.

Gathering of such information would also help one move smoothly into other towns like Rumbek and Yei, which are also magnets for traders and other workers.

"It is important to get the facts right. While the potential to make immediate returns on investment is always there, there is also possibility of business getting disrupted by sporadic violence," warns Jakino.

Despite these fears, developers are optimistic.

They speculate that 10 years down the road, Sudan's property market will also take off in much the same way as Kenya's has over the past five years. But the rewards, it seems, will only be there for those brave enough to start early.

Further reading

2nd International Investment & Trade Conference for Sudan 12 - 14 September, 2006, Khartoum.

East Standard article - Society: Sudan here we come by Kenneth Kwama.

June 26 2006 IPS - South Sudanese teenager transforms pain into art: A repatriation exercise started by the UNHCR in December has seen only 1,500 refugees head home - a fraction of the total number of Sudanese in Kenya. Kakuma camp in the north-west of the country has over 90,000 refugees, mostly from Sudan. "There is no infrastructure, no schools, and the international community needs to be involved in these development projects," UNHCR head Antonio Guterres said of the situation in Sudan while addressing reporters in Nairobi, June 18.

Libyan leader to meet Darfur rebel groups July 2, 2006

Unsourced article (Tripoli) at Sudan Tribune dated June 24, 2006 says Libyan leader to meet Darfur rebel groups next month - excerpt:
The Libyan leader invited the different Darfur rebel groups in a bid to convince opposed groups to sign the African Union brokered Darfur Peace Agreement signed in Abuja on 5 May.

Reliable sources confirmed the participation of the three Darfur rebel groups saying delegations are heading to Tripoli to attend a meeting convened by the Libyan leader Muammer Gadhafi to discuss the reasons of their refusal to sign Darfur Peace Agreement. The meeting is planned for Sunday 2 July.

The rebel SLM al-Nur faction and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) refuse to sign Darfur Peace Agreement, saying Khartoum has to meet crucial demands related to militias' disarmament, power sharing and individual compensations for Darfur affected civilians.

Rebel sources said "without genuine guaranties from Gadhafi on how Khartoum will meet their demands" the two rebel groups will reject the Libyan initiative.

The holdout rebel groups, particularly SLM-al-Nur, intend to exploit the after 5 May mounting popularity and the regular protests organized by the Darfurians in western Sudan and Khartoum against the signed peace deal, to demand full satisfaction to their demands.

Minawi approves the Libyan move as he is in difficulty with the rejection of a deal that he signed without the approval of his delegation and faces probable troubles within his group.

Earlier in June, the Sudanese First Vice-President Salva Kiir tried to hold such meeting but the holdout rebel groups rejected his initiative only Minawi went to the meeting in southern Sudan.

2nd International Investment & Trade Conference for Sudan

2nd International Investment & Trade Conference for Sudan, 12 - 14 September 2006, Friendship Hall, Khartoum, Sudan, held under the auspices of The Ministry of Investment of Sudan. See website Sudan Invest 2006.
Source: Boxed advertisement at top of Sudan Tribune articles.

Sudan says it could assume Darfur peacekeeping mission - SPLM proposal of joint force of 10,000 GoS/SPLM troops to help AU

Unsourced SudanTribune article dated June 25, 2006 (KHARTOUM) says the Sudanese government reiterated its rejection of the UN force, affirming its readiness to assume peacekeeping mission in Darfur if the African Union does not extend its mission in Darfur after the 30 September. Excerpt::
The Sudanese cabinet has renewed its refuse to the transfer of the African Union forces mission in Darfur to international forces. This came in the regular meeting of the Council of Ministers, chaired by the President Omer al-Bashir.

The Council of Ministers asserted Sudan readiness to assume the task of peace keeping if the African Union abandoned its mandate in Darfur.

Sudanese Junior Finance minister, Lhual Deng, renewed Thursday SPLM proposal of the deployment of a joint unit of 10,000 Sudanese army and SPLA saying it could help a beleaguered African Union force keep the peace in Darfur.

Deng was speaking after two days of talks in The Hague by representatives of the main rebel group, the government and international organizations including the U.N., World Bank and African Union on rebuilding Darfur.

The mandate of AU struggling 7,000-strong force in Darfur will expire on September 30.

Sudan rejects the U.N. mission saying it would attract foreign fighters and ignite an Iraq-style conflict.

Some critics say Khartoum objects because it fears U.N. soldiers may be used to arrest officials likely to be indicted by the International Criminal Court investigating alleged war crimes in Darfur.

An African Union-mediated May 5 peace deal for Sudan’s west was signed by only one of three rebel negotiating factions in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

Sudanese military delegation continues it visit to Pakistan

Sudanese Lt-Gen Staff Mohamed Faiz Youcef Ahmadani, deputy chief of staff of the Land Forces for Operations and Training, and his 12-member entourage continue their visit to Pakistan, hold meetings with military officials, visiting army establishements, says an unsourced SudanTribune article from Rawalpindi (Pakistan?) dated June 25, 2006 - excerpt:
The Sudanese Lt-Gen Ahmadani called on Pakistani Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Ehsanul Haq and spent a busy day here on Saturday.

They visited the Joint Staff Headquarters, General Headquarters (GHQ), Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POS) Wah and Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT), Pakistani newspaper The News reported.

During their visit to the Joint Staff Headquarter, Lt-Gen Ahmadani and his delegation called on Gen Ehsanul Haq, remained with him for some time and discussed matters of professional interest.

At the GHQ the delegation called on Inspector-General Training and Evaluation Lt Mohamed Masood Aslam and discussed matters of professional interest during the meeting.

Earlier, the Sudanese delegation visited POD at Wah and the HIT. They went round various shops and appreciated the standard of defence productions.
Note, June 22 2006 Telegraph UK report by David Blair claims Pakistani terrorist groups in Darfur vow to fight UN force.

Sudanese FM says SLA-Minnawi's rebel Suleiman Jamous had face covered during transfer by UN officials

Excerpt from unsourced Sudan Tribune article (Khartoum) dated June 25, 2006 - Sudan summons UN envoy to explain logistical help to rebel leader:
Foreign ministry spokesman Jamal Mohamed Ibrahim said that UN envoy Jan Pronk had been summoned to give an explanation Monday of the alleged helicopter ride given to the Darfur rebel leader.

The foreign ministry said Suleiman Jamous, a dissident member from the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM)-Minawi, was taken Saturday from the main Darfur town of Al-Fasher to South Kordofan state on a UN helicopter flight.

On 20 May, Jamous, who was the former SLM-Minawi humanitarian coordinator, had been arrested and tortured by his group for opposition to the Darfur Peace Agreement.

He was released to the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) from Muzbat on 22 June 2006. He was taken to Al Fasher, the capital of North Darfur State, where he remained under UN protection. UN human rights monitors were allowed to visit him on 14 June 2006.

According to a humanitarian source, Jamous was appreciated by the UN and ONGs aid workers in Darfur for his good collaboration and competence.

"It was clear that the act was planned to take place behind the back of the Sudanese authorities," a statement issued late Saturday said.

Ibrahim said the rebel leader had his face covered during the transfer, in what he said was a clear indication that the UN officials travelling on the same flight were attempting to hide the man from the authorities.

The foreign ministry said it considered the incident "a flagrant violation of the country’s sovereignty and a violation of the agreement under which the UN operates in Sudan."

UN spokesperson Radhia Achouri said she could not confirm that the rebel leader had indeed travelled on a UN flight and refused to comment on Khartoum’s reaction.

The holdout SLM led by Abdelwahid al-Nur condemned the UN suspension, saying Khartoum was determined to continue killing the people Darfur.

"By suspending the UN mission in Darfur, the government of Sudan is preparing to finalize the last chapter of its genocidal policy in the absence of the direct supervision of the international community," the faction’s spokesperson Jaffer Monro charged in a press statement.

He called on the world body to expedite the deployment of UN peacekeepers.
June 26 2006 Belfast Telegraph - Sudan pulls plug on UN operations in war-torn Darfur - "He was picked up by the UN helicopter between el-Fasher and Musbat," Mr Ibrahim said, referring to areas in North Darfur. "The authorities were not consulted, no permission was asked for, and it was clear negligence," he said, adding it was a "flagrant violation" of the sovereignty of Sudan.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Darfur national Special Court fails-IJT

International Justice Tribune article (Paris) 26 June 2006:
On June 13, 2005, a week after the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) had announced the opening of an investigation into Darfur, the Sudanese government created a special court with the intention of trying "160 suspects."

In his report to the Security Council one year later, the ICC prosecutor stated, "So far the Special Court has conducted six trials of less than thirty suspects. The cases include four incidents of armed robbery, one incident of receipt of stolen goods, two cases of possession of firearms without a license, one case of intentional wounding, two cases of murder and one case of rape. [...]

The President of the Special Court has stated that no cases involving serious violations of international humanitarian law were ready for trial and that the six cases selected were in fact chosen from the case files lying before the ordinary Courts."

In a report published on June 8, Human Rights Watch counted thirteen cases before the three chambers of the Darfur special court. One of these trials, being held in Nyala, involved the murder of 28 people on October 23, 2005 by Janjawid militias in the village of Tama. However, the three defendants - two border intelligence officers and one civilian - were acquitted of murder and convicted for theft.

The other cases are mostly ordinary criminal matters. According to Human Rights Watch, "Unless there is a reversal of policy on the part of Khartoum and real political will to punish past atrocities and prevent further crimes, the [Special Court on Darfur] will continue to fail to provide any form of accountability or justice for the crimes in Darfur. This failure is all the more stark given that the ICC will only prosecute a limited number of cases and cannot, by itself, provide justice to the thousands of victims of crimes in Darfur."

UN suspension will be lifted when SRSG Jan Pronk clarifies UNMIS' position says Sudanese FM

Further to this morning's news - Sudan suspends UN work in Darfur over UN airlift of SLA-Minnawi's Suleiman Jamous - a report at Xinhua/ST this evening reveals UN denies being informed of suspension; Sudanese FM says the suspension will be lifted when SRSG Jan Pronk clarifies UNMIS' position. Excerpt:
A UN spokesperson denied here on Sunday that the world body had been officially informed of the Sudanese government's decision to suspend UN activities in the country's troubled western region of Darfur.

"We have not received any formal or official notification on the decision from the Sudanese government," Radhia Achouri, spokeswoman of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), told Xinhua.

"We cannot make comments on what we have seen in the press media," the spokeswoman added.

Meanwhile, a Sudanese official source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Xinhua that the decision to suspend UN activities in Darfur was made because an UN helicopter had transported Suleiman Adam Jamous, a senior member of a Darfur rebel group who rejected a peace agreement, without consultations with the Sudanese government.

He also said that since Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Sudan Jan Pronk was currently in the Dutch capital Amsterdam, the Sudanese Foreign Ministry was to summon another UNMIS official instead to clarify the incident.

On Saturday night, the Sudanese government ordered Darfur local authorities to suspend UN activities in the region except humanitarian work of the World Food Program (WFP) and other international aid agencies.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese Foreign Ministry announced in a statement that the government had to take this decision because the UNMIS overstepped its mandate by airlifting the leader of the Darfur rebel movement al-Fashir to Masbad and then to Kadugli. All of the three towns were located in Darfur.

"The suspension will be lifted when the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Sudan (Pronk) clarifies the UNMIS' position," the statement added.

What matters is what the majority of Sudanese think the UN's intentions are - so far they all believe the UN's intentions are sinister

Here is a copy of a blog entry by a brilliant young male Sudanese student in Malaysia who very amusingly blogs under the name of Drima at The Sudanese Thinker. After two years of blogging Darfur, it's a relief for me to read Drima's take on Darfur as it echoes most of what I am saying or thinking here. I thought I was a lone voice. Thanks Drima. Keep on blogging!
They're Banging Their Heads Against One Another

Reinforce the damn AU you retards. The AU knows peace in Sudan is vital to peace in countries surrounding it so they should present a stronger commitment from their side given the current situation. A few days ago Omar Al-Bashir said he will never allow UN troops as long as he was in power. When you read what he said in Arabic, you can immediately tell he's very serious since his language was strong.
I swear that there will not be any international military intervention in Darfur as long as I am in power
The UN's intention doesn't matter. What matters is what the majority of Sudanese think the UN's intentions are and so far they all believe the UN's intentions are sinister. They believe it is a Jewish conspiracy. Emotions are very stirred up right now. I called a friend in Sudan and he told me there were random demonstrations in Khartoum against the deployment of UN troops. Nothing major anyways. The only reason the Sudanese opposition supports the UN troops is because they want to see the Sudanese government go down down and further down to their knees. They want to see officials being arrested and they want to see havock being recked on them. I would love to see the same thing but not at the expense of the hundreds of thousands of innocents in Darfur. No way!

The best part is that the UN and the South African President are all pretending they didn't hear what Bashir said. They're not taking him seriously. There's still a lot of time left in which endless things can happen. You still remember the troops can only be deployed early next year right? With the clear clash that I see now, I have a feeling things might turn worst. Nobody wants to listen to anybody. Everybody chooses what they want to believe and the different beliefs seen so far are very opposing. They're becoming more opposing by the day. That's why I'm worried.

Photo: Drima Heading Into the Unknown

Excerpt from Drima's blog entry Darfur: the Situation So Far June 2006:
Meanwhile I'm really getting p*ssed off and mad at the amount of garbage so called self-proclaimed professionals are churning out about the Darfur conflict. I have no idea where on earth they get their so called facts. They're on a mission to marginalize the former terrorism harboring Sudanese government as much as possible. They're using this conflict and blowing it out of proportions to pin every single tiny problem on the Sudanese government. Hey, guess what? Fine by me because believe me I'm certainly no fan of my "most favorite" corrupted dictatorship that is the greatest disease Sudan has ever known aka the bloody Sudanese government. However why not marginalize it the proper way? Why spread and market such garbage? This isn't helpful. In order to solve a problem, one must understand it well first. Such distorted information only adds to the problem.