Thursday, August 31, 2006

UK's Lord Triesman says Darfur's headed for humanitarian disaster

Reuters via The Star 31 Aug 2006. Excerpt:
Darfur is headed for a humanitarian calamity unless Sudan's Khartoum-based government ends renewed fighting in the western region and allows a UN peacekeeping force in, Britain said today.

Hours ahead of a UN Security Council vote on a US-British resolution proposing up to 22,500 U.N. troops for Darfur, British Foreign Office Minister David Triesman said the humanitarian crisis there had reached a decisive moment.

Rebels have reported renewed fighting in the north of the region in the last two days between the government and rebel groups who refused to sign a May peace accord.

"The chances of the humanitarian and food distribution operations working in an environment where war has broken out again are very, very poor indeed," Triesman said.

"We were in a bad situation two days ago. We are rapidly going towards a calamity."

"The vital thing to say is that this resolution does address the international humanitarian catastrophe and it does address the security issues which would make it possible to do something about that catastrophe," Triesman said.

Triesman was adamant that the resolution was no threat to Sudan's government.

"This is very strongly about the UN providing the security in which the humanitarian effort can succeed.

Darfur rebels say govt attacks as UN vote nears

"It is now clear that the wrangling over the deployment of international forces has turned into a confrontation between the Sudanese people and foreign parties," said the state-owned Sudan Vision paper in an editorial on Thursday. - Reuters via Sudan Tribune 31 Aug 2006.

Sudan rejects UN Darfur resolution as illegal

Aug 31 2006 Reuters:
Sudan rejected a Security Council resolution passed on Thursday to deploy more than 20,000 U.N. troops and police to its violent Darfur region as illegal and contravening a May peace accord, officials said.

"Our stand is very clear, that the Sudanese government has not been consulted and it is not appropriate to pass a resolution before they seek the permission of Sudan," said Presidential Advisor Ali Tamim Fartak.

The presidential advisor responsible for Darfur, Majzoub al-Khalifa, told Al Jazeera television that the resolution was completely rejected by Sudan.

"We completely reject this resolution ... which is illegal," he said. "This resolution is opposing the Darfur peace agreement."

The Security Council vote on Thursday was 12 in favour, with abstentions from Russia, China and Qatar, the only Arab council member, despite Sudanese and Arab requests the vote be postponed.

But the troops cannot be deployed until Sudan agrees. The United Nations wants to replace or absorb an African Union force in Darfur, which has funds until mid-October and whose mandate expires on Sept. 30.

TEXT: UN Resolution 1706

Genocide Intervention Network has made the text of the UN resolution [pdf] available - see link to pdf copy at Coalition for Darfur.

Reactions to Resolution

Aug 31 2006 Genocide Intervention Network: "Sudan should immediately allow the expansion of the current UN force in Southern Sudan into Darfur," says GI-Net Executive Director Mark Hanis.

Reactions from Save Darfur and Human Rights First - see Coalition for Darfur.

Aug 31 2006 Vatican Radio: Peace Hopes for Sudan - Reverend James Alexander works in Sudan for the World Council of Churches. He says though there is hope for peace with this new vote, there is still much ambiguity.

TEXT- Sudan's plan for restoration of stability in Darfur

Today, Sudan Tribune published copy of Sudan's plan for Darfur in Arabic and English.

Click here to read TEXT- Sudan's plan for restoration of stability in Darfur

UN Security Council approves UN Resolution 1706 to create a UN peacekeeping force for Darfur, inviting Khartoum to consent

The UN Security Council today voted to create a UN peacekeeping force for Darfur, but the troops would be deployed only with the approval of the Sudanese government, IRIN reported Aug 30. Excerpt:
Resolution 1706, backed by the United States and Britain, passed with 12 votes and three abstentions: China, Russia and Qatar. It provides for the transfer of African Union peacekeepers currently in Darfur to the UN force.

"Paragraph one of the resolution invites the government of Sudan to consent to deployment, though nothing in this language requires their consent," John Bolton, US ambassador to the UN, told council members after the vote. "We expect their full and unconditional cooperation and support with the new UN peacekeeping force. Failure on the government of Sudan's part to do so will significantly undermine the Darfur peace agreement and prolong the humanitarian crisis in Darfur."

Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya told reporters before entering the council chamber that China disagreed with the timing of the resolution.

In his explanation of the vote, Wang said, "We feel [the vote] ... will not stop further deterioration of the situation in Darfur ... and will cause problems in implementing the Darfur peace process".

China had complained that the draft resolution seemed to impose the UN force on Sudan.

Last-minute changes to the resolution on Wednesday appeared to address this issue by reaffirming the council's "strong commitment to the sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial integrity of Sudan, which would be unaffected by transition to a United Nations operation in Darfur".

"The council is here to help Sudan not threaten it. It is here to aid Sudan, not undermine it," said Karen Pierce, deputy British ambassador to the UN.
- - -

Email just received from Save Darfur Coalition

Dear Supporter,

I have critical news to report.

This morning, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution authorizing a peacekeeping force in Darfur. The presence of a peacekeeping force is the only measure that will provide the security the people of Darfur desperately need.

This morning's vote is unmistakable evidence of the effectiveness that the pressure you, and hundreds of thousands of Darfur activists like you, have applied to world leaders. The international community has shown that the will now exists to end the genocide in Darfur.

Yet, before peacekeepers can be deployed, the resolution says the Sudanese government must first agree to permit them.

This means that we cannot yet let up on the pressure. One way to continue to make your voice heard is to attend the "Save Darfur Now: Voices to End Genocide" rally and concert in New York City's Central Park on September 17. Click here for more information.

If you cannot make it to New York, there are other September 17 events taking place all over the country and the world as part of a Global Day for Darfur. For more information on US events, click here. And for more information on international events, click here.
As always, thank you for everything you do.


David Rubenstein
Save Darfur Coalition

Save Darfur Coalition is wrong to give up on AU (Daniel Davies)

Another great piece at Comment is free Aug 30, 2006 by British economist Daniel Davies. I'm copying the whole thing here below (except for hyperlinks) because I agree with what Daniel says. I hope it is true that "the central message that the Save Darfur Coalition will be promoting in New York on September 17 is similar to that of Jan Egeland: peace on all sides, funding for the humanitarian effort and resumption of the peace talks and Darfur dialogue." When is the Darfur dialogue to commence? Why hasn't a date been set?
Drawing distinctions in Darfur
There is an important difference between the humanitarian lobby for Darfur and the military intervention lobby.

Following on from my last piece about Darfur, I've had an interesting email exchange with David Rubinstein, coordinator of the Save Darfur Coalition. He wanted to point out that the SDC is not a part of the "Darfur intervention lobby", and that it shouldn't be placed in the same bracket as those who see Darfur as yet another test case for military action in accordance with the doctrine of Responsibility To Protect.

I disagree with David on a number of points: I think that SDC is wrong to implicitly give up on the African Union Mission In Sudan (AMIS) by making the deployment of a UN force a key demand (but right to insist that in the meantime, AMIS and the humanitarian relief effort should be immediately and fully funded). I also think that a number of groups which seem to be affiliated with the SDC website (specifically, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Res Publica/ and the Stop Genocide Now campaign) appear to be promoting an agenda which goes well beyond the humanitarian campaign of SDC and into demands for either coercive military intervention or the break-up of Sudan as a state. And finally, I don't agree with the SDC's emphasis on referring to the humanitarian crisis in Darfur as a genocide; this is not what the UN commission found to be the case, and the campaign in the west to have Darfur designated as a genocide appears to be very caught up with the belief of the Darfur intervention lobby that this would create an automatic legal trigger justifying military action.

However, the central message that the SDC will be promoting in New York on September 17 is similar to that of Jan Egeland: peace on all sides, funding for the humanitarian effort and resumption of the peace talks and Darfur dialogue. As a result, I think I was probably unfair in failing to draw a distinction between the specific organisation SDC and the more general "Darfur lobby". I'll apologise to David for this and it seems to me that the programme the SDC will be pushing is a sensible one.

There remains, however, a very large and vocal lobby for "Darfur intervention", and I think my broader critique of this tendency remains valid. The question is: why do you think you know so much better than the United Nations what the United Nations ought to be doing? If you are so certain that something must be done, why have you no specific proposal for what must be done? And most importantly, has the experience of Iraq and Afghanistan really been such a success that you are prepared to export the model to a country with poor food security? There seems to be an inverse correlation between the amount that people seem to know about Darfur and the amount of violence that they think the solution to the crisis will contain.

The Euston Manifesto Group is planning a meeting entitled "Darfur: An Urgent Case For Humanitarian Intervention", on September 5. I have applied for tickets and if possible, will try to make the point that there surely ought to be at least a question mark in that title.
Excellent Daniel. Loved these two new think pieces of yours. Why can't everyone just pull together? Look forward to reading your follow up. [Click into Daniel's commentary to see hyperlinks provided]

UN: There can be no military solution to Darfur war (Daniel Davies)

"Ill-informed demands for unspecified action are counterproductive, and it is dangerous to let the rebels believe that they have a supporting army when they don't," writes British economist Daniel Davies in great commentary today at the Guardian's Comment is free. Copy:
There is apparently going to be a major "Save Darfur" march across the USA on September. Since the "Save Darfur Coalition" clearly have their hearts in the right place, I don't want to sound like I'm criticising them. However, I am very worried that the coalition seems to be quite short of a specific plan for saving Darfur, and is thus rather vulnerable to being exploited by people who do not have the best interests of Darfur at heart. (This would hardly be the first time that a well-intentioned humanitarian campaign got hijacked by dangerous ideologues.) For this reason, I suggest below a few concrete proposals and outline the dangers posed by the current campaign.

In May, I was writing about the peace agreement in Darfur as the only realistic prospect for improving the situation there and suggesting that developed world commentators should shut up for a while and give it a chance. It appears that I was doubly wrong; nobody shut up and it did not have a chance. There was a period in June and early July when the level of violence was definitely abating and it looked as if the holdout groups could be brought into the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), but instead, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) has fallen apart into a myriad of factions and a new and extremely violent guerrilla force (the National Redemption Front or NRF) has been formed. Things are now, according to Jan Egeland and Jan Pronk, the two commentators who I trust the most - as bad as they have been for at least two years.

Although the situation is as bad or worse than it was before the peace agreement, it is now bad in a different way. Most of the violence is now being carried out not by the Sudanese state and Janjaweed irregular militias, but by the various rebel group factions.

Drawing distinctions can get quite confusing. The convention is that each SLA faction is named after its main commander. Thus, SLA/Minawi is Minni Minnawi's faction, which is the largest, mainly identified with the Zarghawa tribe, and which signed the peace agreement. (I use the word "tribe" because it is conventional, but note that it is a racially loaded word and these groups ought to be thought of as ethnicities rather than as organised tribal power structures.)

During the Abuja peace talks, Abdel Whalid Mohammed el-Nur split from Minawi, forming the group that is now known as SLA/Whalid or SLA/Nur (and which is better represented among the Fur tribe). The SLA/Nur also split during the talks, as 19 of its military commanders accused Nur himself of harbouring dictatorial ambitions. This group is known as SLA/G19.

As well as the SLA, the other main rebel grouping was the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a group which had its roots in Hassan al-Turabi's Islamist movement, but which appeared (to Jan Pronk at least) to have dropped most of its specifically Islamic demands in the peace negotiations and probably ought to be regarded as a Sudanese political movement rather than a Darfuri nationalist one. The JEM has always been very violent, opposed to peace, and has always seemed to be very well resourced with weapons and money. It has now blocked with SLA/G19 to form the National Redemption Front (NRF), and the worst of the violence over the last few weeks has been taking place as the NRF has taken over territory in North Darfur that was previously held by SLA/Minnawi.

The situation in the refugee camps has become unspeakably grim. SLA/Nur has allegedly been press-ganging men into joining their militia, while other rebel factions, private militias and freelance Janjaweed have been running riot around the camps, attacking and raping women as they venture out to collect firewood. The proportion of Sudan that is accessible to aid agencies keeps shrinking, and the donor community has failed to fund the aid effort properly. Mass starvation is now imminent.

The Khartoum government have not actually been responsible for the majority of the violence. However, they also bear their share of responsibility for the current disaster. Most press coverage appears to be criticising them most severely for refusing to allow a UN peacekeeping force to be brought in. However, they have stubbornly required that every rebel group sign the DPA before they are prepared to negotiate with them, which has resulted in the effective disbanding of the Ceasefire Commission and made diplomacy far more difficult than it needed to be. Even worse, Khartoum has decided that by failing to sign the agreement, the holdout rebel factions have become "terrorists" and subsequently permitted the Sudanese national army to suppress them. Observers in north Darfur have been witnessing the amassing of troops and helicopters, suggesting a forthcoming attack on the NRF forces in support of SLA/Minnawi. Such a large attack would be bound to have significant civilian casualties, even if carried out with the best of intentions, and the world is right not to trust the Sudanese government.

So what is to be done? Well, the demand that has been made for the last several months is for a UN peacekeeping force to be put into Sudan. But this is not nearly specific enough. A UN peacekeeping force is not a panacea and has no specific magical ability to keep peace. In order to do better than the existing AU force, any UN peacekeeping force would have to either a) be much larger or b) have very different mission terms and rules of engagement.

The first of these possibilities - a much bigger UN peacekeeping force - raises as many questions as it answers. The implicit message from a number of western governments is that they are not prepared to fund the African Union mission properly, but would make much more resources available for a UN mission. I don't understand why anyone would take this point of view. There is no reason to believe that African troops are incompetent, or that they are incompetently led, or that they are partisan. The international community just seems to be allergic to funding a mission to Darfur unless it is the UN getting the credit. This seems so incomprehensible to me that I have to believe that the international community is being insincere, and that they are using the lack of a UN force as a fig leaf to cover up a general reluctance to commit resources. I'm agnostic here. The important issue is clearly to get a properly resourced peacekeeping force guarding the refugee camps as soon as possible. It's very doubtful that any feasible size of peacekeeping force could have a material effect on the factional conflicts, but genuine help could be given here.

The second possibility - that a UN peacekeeping force could have different mission terms or rules of engagement - is part of the whole problem. If we look through the rhetoric about "colonialism", the reason that Khartoum doesn't want a UN mission in Sudan is that they suspect that such a mission would at a minimum start arresting them on International Criminal Court charges and quite likely be the prelude to a removal of the Khartoum government and a partition of Sudan into separate countries.

A lot of the organisations affiliated to the Save Darfur coalition do in fact want to see Sudan broken up, and this is one of the first reasons why I think that some of the statements of the coalition have been highly counterproductive to the aim of getting a proper peacekeeping force put in place. When people like Eric Reeves start talking about a "non-consensual deployment of UN troops" (I don't know why he can't bring himself to use the word "invasion"), and are treated as mainstream commentators by the Save Darfur lobby, it is not surprising that the Sudanese government is suspicious of the true motives of the humanitarian lobby.

Neither Pronk nor Egeland view a "non-consensual deployment" as a realistic option, because of course it isn't. It would involve fighting a war against the Sudanese army which could only end in Sudan requiring a similar reconstruction effort to that needed in Iraq or Afghanistan, neither of which have gone so well as to make a neutral observer think it would be a good idea to try a repeat in a country with poor food security. Looking back at the list of what is going wrong in Darfur, they are all currently consequences of anarchy.

Promoting more anarchy seems like a bad idea. Sudan does not yet exhibit all the worst problems of Somalia, Iraq Afghanistan and Congo, but it has a plentiful supply of nascent warlords, insurgents, Islamists and border resource disputes, so it could yet show us exactly how bad things could be. Some things, unfortunately, cannot be achieved by force, and the fact that their absence is an intolerable state of affairs does not in and of itself mean that it is worth giving violence a try anyway.

As well as making it diplomatically more difficult for a peacekeeping force to be put in place, there are two more baleful effects of the more militant wing of the "Save Darfur" lobby. First, there is a kind of catch-22 effect created by the lobby's insistent focus on the evils of the Khartoum regime as the sole cause of the problems. In order to create a meaningful peace in Darfur, everyone has to sign up to the DPA or its successor treaties. However, at present, every group that signs the agreement is being treated as if they were cronies of Khartoum and therefore obvious enemies of the Darfurians. This has to be unconstructive; at present, humanitarian organisations are being stigmatised and having their impartiality called into question, which interferes with their ability to do their job.

And more perniciously, as I said in the earlier piece, there is a real danger of creating perverse incentives for the Darfurian rebels (who, one has to emphasise, are responsible for the current slaughter more than anyone). If a mass movement in the west appears to be simultaneously calling for a decapitation of the Khartoum government and denigrating the peace agreement, then this must surely encourage the rebel groups to follow the NRF strategy rather than joining the peace agreement.

So what should we be asking for? I can't think of anything more sensible or realistic than Jan Egeland's suggestions, which I'd summarise as follows:

1. A diplomatic effort to persuade Sudan's government to stand down its military operation and allow a UN force into Sudan. This is not as macho and satisfying as an invasion but it will be less horribly destructive. Even if this means giving commitments about ICC prosecutions that turn to ashes in our mouths, it is the only way forward that does not involve disastrous loss of life. Certainly, if the UN is going to retain the credibility of its peacekeeping operations, it needs to establish the principle that they are not fronts for an invasion and regime change, and anyone interested in humanitarian intervention ought to respect that.

2. Proper funding of the African Union mission and the relief effort, now and unconditionally. It is a scandal that funding has been delayed for these vital operations because of the negotiations over the UN force. Contrary to what news reports might suggest, the full title of AMIS is not "The Poorly Equipped And Funded African Union Mission". It is poorly equipped and funded because a lot of donor nations made big promises to fund it. A promise they have not kept.

3. Respect for the peace process and even-handedness among all parties to the conflict. As Egeland says, there can be no military solution. No indication should be given at all to the NRF that they can gain more outside the peace process than within it, or that they can depend on a UN force being sent to protect them if they start an attack on SLA/Minnawi. Similarly, Khartoum and SLA/MInnawi need to be held to the terms of the ceasefire they have agreed and not allowed to believe that they can weasel out of it by pretending to be carrying out anti-terrorist activities.

Once more, Darfur is on a knife edge, and once more there is considerable potential to make things worse. And so once more, there is a positive duty on all western commentators to be sure that before opening their mouths, they know what they are talking about.
Great. Well said Daniel. Thanks.

China emerges as world's third largest food aid donor, UN agency says

In the same year it stopped receiving food aid from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), China emerged as the world's third largest food aid donor in 2005, according to the latest annual Food Aid Monitor from INTERFAIS, the International Food Aid Information System, the agency said today. - 20 July 2006 UN News Centre.

JEM-Ibrahim leader says Draft UN resolution undermines sustainable peace in Darfur

Chairperson of Darfur rebel group JEM, Khalil Ibrahim, criticised the draft UN Resolution, saying it undermines the right of Darfur people for political solution and for a sustainable peace in Darfur, Sudan Tribune reported today - excerpt:
[Ibrahim] told Radio France Internationale, that this Draft resolution tries to impose unacceptable peace of Abuja while Darfur people reject this agreement.

Khalil Ibrahim, who rejected to sign the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) last May, considers priority must be to find an agreement over the demands of the Darfur holdout rebels groups constituting the majority in the troubled region.

"Increasing the number of the troops only will not solve the problem of Darfur, but the political solution should come first. The DPA should be reconsidered and made comprehensive and then, the international troops should come to maintain the peace process," he said.
He's got a nerve. How come he is permitted residency in France?

Sudan's Taha not in favour of UNMIS in Darfur

Taha who was in favour of the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur, shifted his position and started since one week to denounce any role of international force in Darfur. - SudanTribune - UN draft resolution shows US voracity for oil 30 Aug 2006.

Sudanese riot police teargas protestors and Reuters vehicle

"They give out sweets at one protest and tear gas bombs at the other," said one Sudanese bystander.- Reuters via Gulf Times 31 Aug 2006.

War looms again over Sudan's Darfur (Lydia Polgreen)

International Herald Tribune
By Lydia Polgreen The New York Times
August 30, 2006

War looms again over Darfur

There is plenty of frantic shuttle diplomacy happening in the corridors of power in Khartoum, Washington and New York to avoid a new bloodbath in Darfur.

But here in the tense heart of the region, where the bombs will drop and the bullets will fly, everyone is nervously watching the Ilyushin cargo planes landing on El Fasher's busy airstrip, their holds packed with the stuff of war: troops, trucks, bombs and guns.

"The planes land, day after day, week after week, night after night," said a foreign military official at the airport who had seen the planes land and unload their cargoes.

As negotiations over a proposed UN force to shore up the shaky peace in Darfur limp along with no sign of compromise, the opposing sides in the conflict seem headed toward a large-scale military confrontation.

"Unfortunately, things seem to be headed in that direction," said General Collins Ihekire, commander of the beleaguered 7,000-member African Union force that is enforcing a fragile peace agreement between the government and one rebel group.

Nearly four months after signing the agreement, the government is preparing a new assault against the rebel groups that refused to sign, bringing Darfur to the edge of a new abyss, perhaps the deepest it has faced.

The conflict has killed hundreds of thousands of people and forced 2.5 million to flee their homes. But that may be a prelude to the deaths likely to come from fighting, hunger and disease.

In the past few months, killings of aid workers and hijackings of their vehicles, mostly by rebel groups, have forced aid groups to curtail programs to feed, clothe and shelter hundreds of thousands of people.

"We have less access now than we did in 2004 when things were really bad," said a senior aid official in El Fasher, speaking on the condition of anonymity because outspoken aid workers have been sanctioned and expelled by the government. "If there were a major military offensive you could be looking at a complete evacuation of humanitarian workers in North Darfur, which would leave millions without a lifeline."

Diplomatically, Sudan has taken a hard line, refusing to allow any international peacekeepers other than the small and powerless African Union force already in place, despite a request from the union to hand over its command to the United Nations.

A visit to Khartoum this week by Jendayi Frazer, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, failed to produce an agreement, and Sudan has so far snubbed the United Nations, potentially leaving the people of Darfur without any international peacekeepers to protect them.

The African Union force has enough money to keep going only until Sept. 30, when its mandate ends. It is perpetually running short of fuel, food and equipment, and its suppliers - like its soldiers - have waited months for payment and are reluctant to make new deliveries.

Worse, the force is finding itself increasingly drawn into battles between the government and the rebels.

Rebel leaders deny they were involved in an ambush on a fuel convoy this month in which two Rwandan soldiers were killed, but they say that the African Union is biased in any case because it brokered a peace agreement that they reject.

Most ominous is the looming confrontation between government troops and rebel holdouts, set to take place on a battlefield that is home to a quarter- million people and could easily set off a chain of battles across Darfur.

"In terms of loss of life it could dwarf the killings in 2003 and 2004," said a senior aid official, asking not to be named.

In that period alone, at least 180,000 people died from attacks on villages by government forces and their allied Arab militias, known as the janjaweed, and in battles with non-Arab rebel groups seeking greater power for their fellow tribesmen in the long marginalized region. The violence brought on widespread hunger and disease, often the most lethal killers here.

El Fasher was once a sleepy state capital in an impoverished, backward part of Sudan. Now it is a garrison town swarming with government troops in crisp new uniforms driving shiny trucks mounted with guns.

The government has made no secret of its intentions - it submitted a plan to the Security Council this month in response to a resolution calling for 20,000 UN troops here. Instead, the government said it planned to use 10,500 of its own troops to crush the rebellion, a move that would violate the peace agreement it just signed, according to Ihekire.

The rebel movements that refused to sign the Darfur Peace Agreement have massed in a vast swath of territory north of here, gaining strength and flexing their muscle in attacks on government troops and its allies, as well as on the African Union forces.

In an interview deep in the territory they hold, commanders of the new rebel alliance, the National Redemption Front, said they were ready for a fight. "Our capabilities are unlimited, on the air and on the ground, to repel them," said Jarnabi Abdul Kareem, a commander.

The splintering and reforming of the rebel groups in the chaotic period since the peace agreement was signed was evident in their makeshift logos. On one truck, the initials of the rebel group had been changed so many times that the jumble of acronyms had become a collection of illegible smears.

Seated in a circle under a thorny tree, leaders of the front, joined in collective hatred for the signers of the peace agreement, say they came back to the battlefield reluctantly. "We are holding arms in our left hand but an olive branch in our right," said Abubakar Hamid Nour, a commander of the Justice and Equality Movement, an Islamist group that has joined with a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army to fight the government.

The battles over this patch of earth have already exacted a terrible toll. On the outskirts of Hashaba, people displaced by the fighting as far back as 2003 have settled, their camps becoming semi-permanent villages. There are few men here - just a handful among dozens of drawn-faced women and wiry children with ochre-tinted hair, a telltale sign of malnourishment.

At a clinic run by the International Rescue Committee, an aid organization, Hassan Ibrahim Isaac said he opens the clinic every day, writing futile prescriptions for the sicknesses that kill here: malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia. But the clinic's pharmacy ran out of antibiotics and anti-malarial drugs long ago.

"I still come because I don't want people to give up hope," Isaac said. "But now fewer people come. They know I have nothing to give them."

Military officials for the African Union said the new government assault could take shape in two ways - government troops could build up along an axis between El Fasher and the towns of Mellit and Kutum, using a scissor-like advance aided by Antonov bombers and attack helicopters to wipe out as many rebels as they can, then force the rest to flee north.

Another possibility is that the government will attack from the south, where it holds ground north of El Fasher, and airlift troops to swoop down from the north as well.

Bombing attacks on Kulkul, a town that has changed hands several times in the chaotic period since the Darfur Peace Agreement was signed but had been a stronghold of the newly united rebel groups, already have pushed those rebels north to Umm Sidir and beyond, African Union commanders said.

Armed conflict on a vast scale seems so likely and the hope of a UN peacekeeping force arriving to ease the tensions so distant that a joke has been making the rounds of the military and aid officials here: The most important peacekeeper in Darfur now is the rain.

It turns the rough, dusty tracks that crisscross the arid plains and mountains into impassable bogs, and swells once-dry riverbeds into rivers easily capable of carrying off a Toyota Landcruiser, the military vehicle of choice.

But the rains end in the next couple of weeks.

Sudanese forces seizing laptops to scan for porn

Reuters/tvnz Aug 31, 2006:
Sudanese security forces have begun temporarily seizing laptop computers entering the country to check information stored on them as part of new security measures.

A state security source said on Wednesday the procedure was introduced because pornographic films and photographs were entering Sudan. "We return the laptops after one day," he said.

UN officials, aid agency workers, businessmen and journalists who regularly visit Sudan worry, however, that the security of sensitive and confidential information such as medical, legal and financial records could be at risk.

"They could download email systems, passwords, even get into people's bank accounts," said one source in Khartoum's aid community, who declined to be named for fear of retribution.

Other innocent material could also be construed to be subversive, like maps or photos, the source added.
Seizing laptops to stop porn entering a country doesn't make sense. The material the Sudanese government say it is concerned about doesn't need to be carried into Sudan. It can be transmitted over the Internet. Avoid taking modern gadgets to Sudan, I guess. Sudan doesn't do its image of being in the dark ages much good when it makes such backward moves. Why aren't Sudanese officials focusing on munitions entering the country and crime?

African countries shun fibre-optic cable deal

African countries shun fibre-optic cable deal, Reuters/ST reported today.
Only seven out of 23 countries signed the accord for the long-delayed East African Submarine System (EASSy), which aims to slash phone and Internet costs.

Only Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda signed the protocol in Kigali.

The EASSy cable was originally expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2008. The project is expected to cut Internet costs to nearly one third of current levels over the next five years and boost investment in Africa.
Back to the dark ages. Africa is putting itself behind the rest of the world.

Illicit ivory sales globally is being driven by new demand from China - Poachers kill 100 elephants in Chad

Greedy moronic barbarians. The remains of 100 African elephants killed for their tusks have been found in Chad not far from Darfur, conservationists said on Wednesday. - Reuters report excerpt:
The discovery was made earlier this month by a team led by Mike Fay, a renowned conservationist and explorer with the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society and National Geographic.

"... his team discovered five separate elephant massacre sites totalling 100 individuals during a survey made August 3-11 from their small plane," Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said in a statement.

WCS said most of the animals had their tusks removed and more than 50 of them appeared to have been slain just days before the team found their carcasses.
Note the report tells us wildlife groups say a rise in illicit ivory sales globally is being driven by new demand from China and that elephants are especially at risk in lawless or violence-prone regions where their tusks are a ready source of income. Sad.

Red Cross worker killed in Darfur after abduction�

Reuters 31 Aug 2006 excerpt:
A Sudanese national working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who was abducted in Darfur by an armed group two weeks ago, is dead, the humanitarian agency said on Wednesday.

The Swiss-based agency said that it had not yet recovered the body of the 31-year-old man, who was not named, nor had it any details of how he was killed.

The man was abducted east of the Jebel Marra mountains in north Darfur on August 16 after an ICRC team was stopped by an armed group -- also not identified in the statement.

The team had been distributing food and the man was forced to drive one of two vehicles stolen in the attack, the agency said.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sudanese Thinker: Debating UN Troops & the Conspiracies

Excerpt from Drima's blog entry at The Sudanese Thinker - Debating UN Troops & the Conspiracies:
If people want to talk about Darfur from a humanitarian perspective, then UN troops will make things worse and Darfur will become a warzone. However if people want to talk about Darfur from a political perspective, then a bloody revolution is the only way to settle the problem. Both are bad scenarios and that's why I support strengthening the AU troops. Nobody is opposed to them and if strengthened they can provide the protection needed in Darfur. I don't understand why it's so hard for others to understand that.
Me neither, Drima. Thanks. I'd like to see a joint force of everyone pulling together for the sake of Sudan's children.

US, UK seek quick vote on UN force for Darfur - UN Resolution requires Sudan's consent before actual deployment

Reuters report via Washington Post via CFD 30 Aug 2006 - excerpt:
Britain and the United States called for a vote on Thursday on a U.N. resolution to allow the United Nations to begin assembling a peacekeeping force for Sudan's Darfur region, despite opposition from the government in Khartoum.

The resolution would require the Sudanese government's consent before actual deployment, but Western powers expect Khartoum to eventually accept a U.N. presence in Darfur, as it already has in southern Sudan.

"I think council colleagues understand why we really do need to act" in Darfur, British U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said on Tuesday after two weeks of Security Council deliberations on the measure drafted by Washington and London.

"Our judgment here is that we think we've found a formulation that would win acceptance on the council and achieve the objective we've been seeking, which is the early transfer of (peacekeeping) responsibility in Darfur to the United Nations," said U.S. Ambassador John Bolton.

The envoys spoke with reporters a day after U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland warned the 15-nation council of a looming new humanitarian disaster in Darfur and said U.N. inaction could lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths.

The two ambassadors said a revised text would be circulated before council talks set for Wednesday.

Diplomats said it would state explicitly that the force could go in only with the Sudan government's consent, since council members agreed deployment would be impossible without it.

"It will address consent among other issues and will be clear on how the transition will take place," Jones Parry said.

Highlights from revised UN Resolution for UN troops in Darfur circulated Aug 29

Britain and the US on Tuesday circulated a revised UN Security Council resolution on a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur to take over from 7000 Africa Union troops. Following are highlights from the six-page, 2600-word draft that both countries hope to put to a vote on Thursday. [via Reuters/IOL 30 Aug 2006]:
Deployment Of Force

- To deploy a peacekeeping force in Darfur "on the basis of the acceptance" by the Sudan government, as an addition to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), which has 10 000 personnel in southern Sudan.

- Creates an UNMIS mission in Darfur of up to 22 600 military and police personnel: 17 300 military, 3300 police and 2000 in formed police units.

The final number has not yet been agreed.

- Asks UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to consult with African Union and Sudanese parties on a plan and timetable for transition from the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) to a UN operation.

Deployment should begin no later than October 1.

During the transition AMIS is to be provided with air assets, ground mobility training, engineering and logistics and mobile communications capacity.


- Support implementation of the May 5 Darfur Peace Agreement; investigate violations; establish a buffer or demilitarised zones inside and around camps of villagers driven from their homes.

- Monitor armed groups in Darfur and along Sudan's borders with Chad and the Central African Republic.

- Help develop a disarmament program for combatants and their families.

- Work with the national police, including training and restructuring and mentoring and monitor their performance on joint patrols; help support an independence judiciary and professional corrections system to combat impunity.

- Help co-ordinate voluntary return of refugees and other displaced people to their homes by establishing the necessary security conditions.

Mandate Provisions Under Chapter (which allows use of force)

- UNMIS is authorised to "use all necessary means" within its capabilities to protect UN personnel and facilities; prevent disruption of the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement by armed groups, and prevent attacks and threats against civilians.

- UNMIS is to seize or collect arms whose presence in Darfur is in violation of the peace agreements and to "dispose of such arms and related material as appropriate."

Chad, Central Africa Republic

- Sets up political, humanitarian, military and civilian police liaison officers in key locations in Chad, where Sudan refugees had fled and villagers along the Sudanese border have been evicted from their homes.

If necessary, the same system can be set up in the Central African Republic.

- Requests Annan to report to the Security Council on the protection of civilians in refugee and displaced persons camps in Chad and on how to improve the security situation on the Chadian side of the border with Sudan.


The measure threatens, in response to a request by the African Union, to impose sanctions, such as an an asset freeze or travel ban, against any individual or group that violates or attempts to block the implementation of the Darfur agreement or commits human rights violations.

US's Frazer took up with Sudanese president the arrest of journalist Paul Salopek - Sudan to send envoy to US to discuss Bush plea for Darfur

AP report Aug 29 via ST Aug 30:
Sudan's president is sending an envoy to Washington to discuss a request by President Bush to allow a UN force into the war-torn Darfur region, a State Department spokesman said Tuesday.

The request was delivered to President Omar al-Bashir by Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi E. Frazer in a meeting at his home, spokesman Tom Casey said.

"She made a very clear case of what U.S. policy is, and he certainly listened to what she had to say," Casey said.

"President Bashir said in response to the message from the president that he would be sending an envoy to Washington and that he would then provide a direct response," Casey said.

The Sudanese president has opposed a U.N. force on Sudanese territory and has said he plans to send government troops to Darfur to pacify the region.

Frazer also took up with the Sudanese president the arrest of an American journalist by pro-government forces in the Darfur region.

The reporter, Paul Salopek of the Chicago Tribune, his driver and interpreter were arrested Aug. 6. He was charged with espionage, passing information illegally, writing "false news" and entering the African country without a visa.

The State Department has said any judicial process should be fair and speedy.

Casey said he did not know what al-Bashir's response might have been. He said Salopek was in good health and receiving frequent visits from U.S. diplomats assigned to the country.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a U.S. official said later there was no foundation to the spy charges but that some technical violation of immigration regulations could not be ruled out.
- - -

Aug 29 2006 AP report via ST: Sudan to consider case of US journalist accused of spying:
President Bashir said during a meeting with Frazer that he would consider Chicago Tribune reporter Paul Salopek's "case out of a humanitarian standpoint," said Bashir's spokesman Mahjud Fadul Bedry.

Despite saying he would consider Salopek's case, al-Bashir also said Tuesday that the conflict in Darfur was "exaggerated by the Western media by repeatedly publishing allegations of ethnic cleansing and rape," Bedry said.

Sudanese leader meets with US's Frazer after snub

Sudan's president met with US Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer in the capital Khartoum on Tuesday after failing to secure a meeting with him a day earlier, John Bolton, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said.

Frazer went to Khartoum at the weekend to deliver a strong message to Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir that he must accept UN peacekeeping troops in the war-torn western Darfur region. She extended her stay on Monday after she was unable to meet with him.

"My understanding is he (Bashir) was maybe too busy yesterday but he did meet with her this morning," Bolton told reporters at UN headquarters in New York. "I know that she saw President Bashir."

He said he had no details of what was said during the meeting, however.

Source: Reuters 29 Aug 2006.

Norway to call international conference on Darfur

Norway's Minister of International Development, Erik Solheim, is to call an international emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the crisis in Darfur, Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported on Tuesday.

Full story by Xinhua via People's Daily Online

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Uganda Sudan Border Project - Stephen Alvarez photos

Excerpt from The Uganda Sudan Border Project:
For the past four years, photographer Stephen Alvarez has journeyed to the Uganda Sudan border area to document the effects of civil war and rebel insurgencies and the plight of refugees, night commuters, and civilians attempting to rebuild their lives.

Prints are available for purchase, all proceeds will suport the education of children at Amazing Grace Orphanage in Adjumani, Uganda and its sister orphanage, St Bartholomew's, in Kajo Keji, Sudan.

Susan Tabi founded Amazing Grace Orphanage in Adjumani, Uganda in 1994 to care for orphans of the Sudanese civil war. Ebzon Wudu joined her to help with admin of the orphanage.

Amazing Grace cares for over 30 children. The facility has 5 dorms, an office, kitchen and bathrooms. The team of 7 caretakers has created livestock and agricultural projects to help support themselves and the children.

Uganda: ICC still calling for Kony's arrest

Take this report and change the name of Kony to Bashir (and Uganda to Sudan) to get an idea of what Khartoum regime and its followers must be thinking when it comes to Darfur rebels getting UN troops onside.

Aug 28 2006 Reuters/CFD ICC Still Calling for Kony's Arrest:
International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors said on Monday they still hoped for the arrest of leaders of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) despite an offer of amnesty by Uganda under the terms of a truce.

Leaders of the cult-like rebels, who are infamous for massacring civilians, mutilating survivors and kidnapping thousands of children, are wanted by the Hague-based Court to face war crimes charges.

"We believe that the countries or the states which have an obligation to execute the arrest warrant will do so," the court's deputy prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told journalists.

"We still maintain that because we think those persons who bear the greatest responsibility should not go unpunished."

He was speaking at a news conference called to discuss a separate case and reiterating the Court's position.

The ICC issued arrest warrants against LRA leader Joseph Kony and his deputies last year but has no police force to hunt down its targets, so must rely on Ugandan, Sudanese and former southern Sudanese rebel troops to bring them to justice.

Under the terms of a truce agreed on Saturday, Uganda has offered amnesty to LRA leaders, including those hunted by the ICC, if they abandon their hideouts and assemble at two Sudanese camps within the next three weeks to thrash out a final deal.

The LRA said all leaders including the ICC indictees would come to the camps.

Asked about Uganda's truce offer, Bensouda said: "We certainly hope that they will execute the warrant that has been issued against the top leaders of the LRA."

Uganda begins ceasefire with LRA

Excerpt from BBC report today:
A ceasefire between Uganda's government and the Lord's Resistance Army rebels has come into force.

The truce, signed on Saturday, gives rebels three weeks to assemble at points in southern Sudan where the regional government will protect them.

Comprehensive peace talks are then meant to start. Uganda has pledged that it will not try to attack the rebels.

Thousands have died during the 20-year conflict in northern Uganda, and more than one million have fled their homes.

The ceasefire took effect at 0600 local time (0300 GMT) on Tuesday.

Ugandan army spokesman Maj Felix Kulayigye told the BBC that so far the truce was holding.

Monday, August 28, 2006

UN's Jan Egeland warns of looming catastrophe in Darfur

The United Nations' most senior humanitarian official issued a dire warning today about the situation in Darfur, stating that "a man-made catastrophe of an unprecedented scale" looms within weeks unless the Security Council acts immediately to deal with the spiralling violence, looting and internal displacement. Full story at UN News Centre 28 Aug 2006.

Dark Clouds Over Darfur

Dark Clouds Over Darfur

This may be symbolic for AMIS. The NRF and certain breakaway factions of JEM has threatened to target AMIS. They do not agree with what the DPA stands for. (Photo and caption courtesy Werner, Soldier of Africa 27 Aug 2006)

Changing of the Guard in Darfur

Changing of the Guard

Changing of the guard. This is the first time I have really photographed this daily occurrence in our base. (Photo and caption by Werner of Soldier of Africa 27 Aug 2006)

Dinner Time in Darfur

Dinner Time in Darfur

We asked the protection force to prepare the dinner for last night and they did a real good job of it. Not only was the food very good, but the catering staff also dressed very nicely. I believe that the food makes any function good or bad. (Photo and caption by Werner of Soldier of Africa 27 Aug 2006)

SLM faction says Sudan Mujahideen are transported to camps in Darfur's Sarf, Omrah and Kabkabya janjaweed controlled zones

Sudan Tribune Aug 25, 2006 (PARIS):
A Darfur rebel group accused the Sudanese government of transporting Islamists Arab groups to Darfur region in order to train them to face the eventual arrival of United Nations force to the region.

According to a press statement by a faction of rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) signed by Esamedin Al Haj, Sudanese government transports Arab Mujahideen in night flights after the curfew to Nyala and Al-Fasher airports.

Al-Haj added that the Mujahideen are transported to camps in Sarf, Omrah and Kabkabya, areas known as Janjaweed controlled zones.

Sudanese ruling National Congress Party officials renew since several months opposition to UN takeover of the peacekeeping mission in the trouble region of Darfur.

Sudanese Islamist leaders say they will take up arms against United Nations peacekeepers if they deploy to Darfur, and some have warned they will also fight the Khartoum government if it agrees to the force.

President al-Bashir, who swore to lead personally the resistance to a U.N. force, renewed Sudan's rejection to any UN forces in Darfur, considering the draft resolution forwarded by Britain to the Security Council in this regard as a colonial attempt against, a matter which Sudan would not allow.

Despite Sudan's objections, the United States and Britain have introduced a Security Council draft resolution that would deploy up to 17,000 troops and 3,000 police in Darfur, where an overstretched African Union force is monitoring a shaky truce.

The Islamist NCP mobilizes its militias like Popular Defence Forces and Dababin to fight international forces in Darfur.

Leaders of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, have called on Muslims to fight any U.N. force in Darfur and while the diplomatic wrangling continues, Khartoum's many Islamic groups have delivered a clear message.

Sudan hosted bin Laden in the 1990s, relations soured and under U.S. and regional pressure Khartoum asked him to leave in 1996. But it is not excluded that Sudanese security service renewed contacts with Islamist groups.

Sudan reiterates rejection of UN force in Darfur, calling for African peacekeepers to be strengthened

AP report 28 Aug 2006 via Easy bourse - excerpt:
A senior US diplomat Jendayi Frazer left Sudan without meeting President Omar al-Bashir after Khartoum rejected demands that it approve the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers in war-torn Darfur.

Frazer departed Sudan late Sunday, a day before the UN Security Council was to discuss a draft resolution on the peacekeepers.

Frazer had been expected to deliver a message from US President George W Bush to al-Bashir.

Sudanese President al-Bashir was unable to meet the American diplomat "due to his crowded schedule," the president's office said.

Instead, Frazer handed the message to presidential adviser Majzoub al-Khalifa Ahmed, who in turn gave her a message from al-Bashir repeating his rejection of the U.N. force, presidential spokesman Mahjub Badry, told reporters.

Instead of the UN force, al-Bashir has called for the African peacekeepers to be strengthened - and he has said he plans to send Sudanese troops to Darfur to pacify the region.

Ismail: Sudan has proposed to boost the AU force in Darfur

Anything that boosts the African Union force in Darfur is better than nothing. News reports from a year or two ago in Sudan Watch archives, show that the late John Garang proposed to help Darfur by suggesting a joint force of 30,000 troops for Darfur - 10,000 each from SPLM/AU/GoS. I don't understand why what Khartoum is proposing can't be made to work, especially if 2,000 UNMIS monitors were deployed with enough of the right equipment and helicopters. A year or so ago, some pundits said Darfur rebels would never agree to such an arrangement. Too bad. John Garang wouldn't have made such an offer if he didn't think it would work.

Sudan Tribune Aug 27, 2006 (KHARTOUM):
Sudan reiterated its rejection to transfer of the mandate of the African Union troops to an United Nation force, instead Khartoum proposed to boost the AU force in the region.

Presidential Advisor, Mustafa Osman Ismail told the press after a meeting with US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jenday Frazer that he renewed Sudan's opposition to UN peacekeepers in Darfur.

Ismail further indicated that Sudan has proposed to boost the AU force deployed in Darfur. Further, the government intends to deploy regular troops in the strife-torn Darfur region, besides troops of the former Darfur rebel groups signatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA).

The Arab League backed this proposal last week. Sudanese president told UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that Khartoum would deploy 10,500 Sudanese troops to Darfur to provide security. However, Frazer had stressed before its arrival to Khartoum that the Sudanese forces "aren't considered neutral and so we don't feel that the people of Darfur will get any comfort" from such a move.

Ismail said they have informed Frazer that US should gives a chance for the implementation of the PDA signed on 5 May, and to allow the president of the Darfur interim authority, Minni Minawi, to form his administration.

Ismail said he told Frazer that tension would increase if a UN resolution was approved to pave way for an international force in Darfur.

The US assistant secretary of state for African affairs did not get much during two other meetings held with the Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol and Majzoub al-Khalifa who headed the government delegation to Darfur peace talks.

Lam Akol said he discussed with the visiting US official the government position that is opposed to the transition as well as the US vision in favour of the UN takeover of the AU mission in Darfur.

Sudanese presidential advisor Majzoub al-Khalifa Ahmed said a transfer of authority from African Union to UN troops would "imply lack of confidence by the UN in the African Union," adding that Khartoum continued to back the AU.

He further added "Sudan's decision is to stick with the African Union. As for their demand for a UN role - yes - but only in humanitarian assistance and in the strengthening of the AU forces - participation in strengthening the humanitarian role and support for the African forces so that they can complete their mandate of organizing security."

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sudan's Darfur plan envisages a joint force of 26,500 GoS/SLM-Minnawi troops by year end

Eric Reeves' latest opinion piece [hat tip POTP ] - excerpt:
As it [Sudan gov't] refuses an invitation even to discuss the UN Security Council resolution on security in Darfur, what has Khartoum proposed instead? Our best guide is again the report of Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hedi Annabi (to the Security Council, August 17, 2006):

"the plan does not indicate a willingness on the part of the Government of Sudan to agree to a transition to a United Nations operation in Darfur. In addition, the plan seeks to address the security situation outside the framework of the relevant Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) bodies. In particular, it envisages the combined deployment of 26,500 additional Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM)/Minni Minawi troops to Darfur by the end of the year. As members of this Council will appreciate, this would not only be inconsistent with the DPA's restriction on military deployments outside of agreed areas of control, but would also violate the arms embargo imposed by the Security Council in paragraph 7 of resolution 1591 (2005)." (Paragraph 8)

CHAD: NRF rebels aim to extend in South Darfur & Jebel Marra

Via Sudan Vision and African News Dimension Aug 27, 2006:
Reports from Sudanese-Chadian borders indicate that a Chadian cargo of gasoline and petrol is expected to be delivered to the National Redemption Front which rejects the DPA in the regions of Bahai and Al-Tina inside the Chadian frontiers.

Information obtained by Sudan Vision from Chad asserted that the process is being carried through follow up and coordination by Adam Ali Shogar in N'djamena. They added that the Redemption Front needs those supplies to achieve its objectives of extending in South Darfur and Jebel Marra after it occupied Kalkal and Sabah regions, which are still under their control.

Observers stated that the support processes by Chad for Darfur rebels who reject the DPA are still going despite all the agreement and means of understanding signed between the Sudanese and Chadian governments and despite Chad's pledges of abstaining support for rebels.

A Redemption Front force, led by Hassan Bijo, had recently stopped and robbed (17) tankers which contain Avgas that belonged to the African Union and some organizations on their way between Al-Fashir and Um Kadoda and at about (20) kilometers from Um Kadoda.

Information indicate that the whole cargo arrived at Bir Mazza region where Commander Adam Bakhit is stationed and the cargo is on its way to Chad to be swapped for ordinary fuel, arms or land-cruiser vehicles.

These same observers stated that Chad might be unable or unwilling for some internal or external reasons to stop support for groups rejecting the DPA. They asserted that such support will definitely disturb Darfur as well as regional peace and will violate the agreements and all memos and pledges between the two governments.

It is worth noting that a senior delegation from has arrived in Khartoum headed by the Chadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Alami. It is believed that the Sudanese government will deliver to him a strong message on the continued Chadian support to rebels, especially at a time when Sudan is striving hard to implement the DPA in accordance to visions of international intervention, which is still rejected by the Sudanese government.

US envoy Frazer gets a chilly welcome and a "NO" from Sudanese president

Sudan has reserved a chilly welcome to US envoy Jendayi Frazer who arrived yesterday to persuade a defiant president to accept the deployment of UN peacekeepers in Darfur, Sudan Tribune reported 27 Aug 2006. Excerpt:
After the angry mob at the Khartoum Airport orchestrated by the ruling National Congress Party, Sudanese president Omer al-Bashir said that Frazer's mission would do little to change his country'sposition.

"We will not hand over our country to international forces, whether Frazer comes here or not... Frazer might be accustomed to hearing 'yes' from many leaders but here she'll get a 'no'," Beshir said Sunday.

Bashir was speaking before a meeting with the Sudanese journalist in Diaspora. It was not immediately clear who Frazer would be meeting during her visit.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Reeves: If Khartoum's massive military offensive in N Darfur takes place, there will be massive civilian destruction

Coalition for Darfur points today to an interview with Eric Reeves at Democracy Now! Excerpt:
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about this latest news and the reaction of the Sudanese government?

ERIC REEVES: There are many facets to Khartoum's decision. It's to date paid no real price for its obduracy, its refusal to abide by international norms, either in the North-South conflict, which nominally ended in January 2005, or in its genocidal conduct of war in Darfur. What I am hearing from my sources on the ground and what the Hedi Annabi, the head of U.N. peacekeeping, recently said in a report to the Security Council that I have seen, is that Khartoum is right now planning a massive military offensive in North Darfur, which has been the most violent of the three Darfur states.

If this offensive takes place, there will be massive, massive civilian destruction. I think we're also likely to see a withdrawal of virtually all humanitarian workers. This will leave some 1.2 million people completely dependent on humanitarian aid, without any assistance whatsoever. By my own calculation, some 500,000 people have already died. As many more could die in the coming year if current trends continue.

Only with the deployment of an effective -- and I emphasize effective -- international force can genocidal destruction be brought to a halt. Khartoum gives no sign of capitulating on this, and I'll be very interested to know what Jendayi Frazer, President Bush's envoy to Khartoum, takes with her in the way of sticks and pressures to bring to bear on this recalcitrant regime.

AU and European diplomats say Taha had in private agreed last year to a UN takeover in Darfur

Reuters' Opheera McDoom report 26 Aug 2006 - Pressure Mounts on Sudan to Accept UN Force [via CFD] excerpt:
"... any reported divisions between Bashir and his deputy on a UN presence in Darfur have disappeared with Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha's first direct and public rebuke of the international community.

"Dialogue is maintained with the international community and it is one of the principles of the foreign policy of Sudan, but it does not mean surrender and cancellation of the national identity and the national will," the state news agency SUNA quoted Taha as saying on Thursday.

AU and European diplomats say Taha had in private agreed last year to a UN takeover in Darfur once a peace deal was reached. Since the AU-brokered deal was signed in May, Taha had kept largely quiet on the issue.

In contrast Bashir has made speeches almost daily for the past few weeks, on each occasion making sure to repeat his rejection of the force.

One Western diplomat who declined to be named said: "I think there is little to be positive about at this stage." [edit]

Bashir depicts a U.N. presence in Darfur as a Western attempt to colonise Sudan. But other politicians say his party is worried the troops would be used to arrest officials likely to be indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigating alleged war crimes in the region.

"(There are some who) don't want to accept the U.N. forces if this at the end will mean the signature of their own death certificates," said Ghazi Suleiman, a member of parliament for the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), which formed a coalition government with the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in 2005.

He said the SPLM would not be part of any confrontation with the international community and said privately Bashir's only worry was about the mandate of the U.N. troops.

"There are reactionary statements but when it comes to real diplomacy real decision-making, the president just wants to be satisfied about the mandate of these forces," Suleiman added.

Sudan's implementing Darfur Peace Agreement with no need for permission or input from UN or anyone else (Polgreen)

Copy of commentary by Lydia Polgreen, New York Times 26 Aug 2006 [US to press Sudan's leader to accept UN Force - hat tip POTP] Excerpt:
Sudan's foreign minister, Lam Akol, said in an interview here [Khartoum] that the plan to use troops to pacify Darfur is already in motion.

"With this plan, we are implementing the Darfur Peace Agreement," Mr Akol said. "We do not need the permission or the input of the United Nations or anyone else." [ ...]

Mr Morrison, who proposed the blueprint that led to United States engagement with Sudan to end its war in the south even before Sept 11, said with little leverage left, the United States should focus on preventing the total collapse of the vast aid effort in Darfur, a lifeline to millions, and on stopping the bloodbath of that the impending onslaught by the Sudanese Army would surely cause.

"I don't mean to pretend there is any fix here," Mr. Morrison said. "What is an option is to face up to a fact that we are in a slide right now and we need to push back and contain the slide to prevent a catastrophe."

Sudanese protesters mob US envoy's car

Angry demonstrators mobbed the car of US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer after she arrived in Sudan, and demanded that she return home.


Photo: Dozens of protesters, chanting slogans and raising banners reading "Go Back Home", "You Want War" and "We Want Peace" showed up at the airport, covered her car with banners and blocked her way before police intervened. (AFP) Full story Sudan Tribune 26 Aug 2006.


Photo: Sudanese demonstrators cover the windshield of the official vehicle of U.S. diplomat to Africa, Jendayi Frazer, with placards as she leaves the airport in Khartoum, August 26, 2006. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdalah)


Photo: U.S. diplomat to Africa, Jendayi Frazer, smiles as she arrives in Khartoum, August 26, 2006. As pressure mounts on Sudan to accept UN troops in Darfur, the Khartoum government is closing ranks in defiance, rising fears of a deadlock that could hasten Darfur's descent into chaos. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdalah)

Friday, August 25, 2006

US warns of security crisis in Darfur unless UN force deploys

Note the last line of this excerpt (from VOA report 25 Aug 2006) tells us Frazer said she does not expect a Chinese veto of the resolution enabling the new UN force, despite reservations expressed by Beijing:
The U.S. State Department's Africa policy chief warned Friday of a severe deterioration in security conditions in Sudan's western Darfur region, unless a proposed United Nations force is allowed to deploy. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer is heading to Sudan for a new effort to persuade authorities to accept an upgraded peacekeeping presence.

Assistant Secretary Frazer gave the grim assessment as she prepared to depart for Khartoum to deliver a message from President Bush to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, urging him to end delaying tactics and accept a revamped Darfur security force.

She said that with Sudan threatening a new military offensive in Darfur, and local rebel groups apparently making similar plans, the security situation could lurch out of control unless the proposed upgrade of the current African Union monitoring mission into a full-scale U.N. peacekeeping force goes forward:

"We're very concerned. It's not just the government of Sudan that's preparing for an offensive. We also have heard reports that the non-signatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement, the National Resistance Movement and others, are also preparing and rearming themselves and preparing for an offensive. So we think the security environment is deteriorating and deteriorating very quickly and we're extremely concerned about this," she said.

When they signed the Darfur peace accord in Nigeria in May, leaders of the Khartoum government signaled acceptance of the plan to upgrade the current seven-thousand member A.U. mission into a much larger United Nations force.

But they have since reneged, with President Bashir even suggesting that Sudan might forcibly resist the introduction of U.N. soldiers.

Assistant Secretary Frazer said one reason for her hastily arranged mission will be to brief the Sudanese leader on details of the peacekeeping plan, and counter complaints by the Sudanese government that it has not been adequately consulted. "We believe that we have consulted them. But we will go the last mile to make sure that we have been able to directly talk to them about the re-hatting (converting) of this force and what U.S. intentions are. This is, of course coordinated with other international actors who I think are delivering a very similar message. But I think that the key to success in Darfur in terms of getting a credible, non-partisan, as such, peacekeeping force there, is for the international community to act together," she said.

The African Union mission has suffered from logistical and budget problems and its mandate expires at the end of September.

Frazer said the United States and its allies want a Security Council resolution enacted by the end of this month that will authorize the force upgrade.

The State Department official said more than five thousand of the best-trained A.U. troops would form the nucleus of the United Nations force on October first, and at least 12,000 more U.N. soldiers would be phased in later.

She said if the transformation was not to occur until the beginning of next year, as some U.N. officials have proposed, the situation in Darfur could slide back to the level of violence that prevailed in 2004, which the United States termed genocide.

In the talk with reporters which immediately preceded her departure for Khartoum, Frazer said she did not expect a Chinese veto of the resolution enabling the new force, despite reservations expressed by Beijing.

Photo: Assistant Secretary Frazer (Aug. 24): "I will stress the United States commitment to ending the suffering of the people of Darfur. We cannot let the violence and atrocities continue. We cannot let humanitarian workers and peacekeepers continue to come under attack and we cannot let the DPA (Darfur Peace Agreement) fail." [Hat tip POTP]

Aug 25 2006 U.S. Department of State report on Assistant Secretary Frazer: Travel to Khartoum, Sudan.

See Remarks by Frazer 24 Aug 2006.

Aug 25 2006 Reuter's Sue Fleming report: US Says Darfur Is Getting Worse, U.N. Must Go In- "We believe that the time to act is now and that there can't be further delay," Frazer told reporters. "The security environment is deteriorating and deteriorating very quickly."

US says UN force needed to stop Sudan offensive in Darfur

Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer spoke to reporters hours before leaving for Sudan to exhort Sudanese officials to accept the presence of a UN peacekeeping force, Sudan Tribune reported Aug 25, 2006. Excerpt:
Frazer said the people of Darfur wouldn't regard government troops as a neutral force because of Khartoum's record of supporting Janjaweed militias who have terrorized the region.

At the same time, she said, the abuses of anti-government rebel forces in Darfur shouldn't be ignored.

Frazer, who will meet with el-Bashir in the coming days, said she is willing to go the "last mile" to overcome his opposition to a UN force.

The financially strapped 7,000-strong AU force now deployed in Darfur is to cease to exist on Sept. 30. Under a proposal that Frazer says has broad backing in the UN Security Council, the Africans would be "rehatted" as a U.N. force the next day and eventually be joined by other soldiers.

Unless the UN force can be created, there will be no force in place in Darfur "to stop this government from carrying out what has been the genocide," Frazer said.

She predicted that her mission to Khartoum will be successful.

"I'm fully confident there will be a transition to a UN force," she said.

Vatican Radio: Keeping Peace in Darfur

Vatican Radio news report 25 Aug 2006:
Hopes for peace in Darfur have suffered after Sudan rejected a proposal for peacekeepers from the United Nations. Tens of thousands of people have died and 2.5 million been driven from their homes by violence in Darfur since early 2003. Marina Peter is the director of Sudan Focal Point Europe, an international network of mainly church-based organisations working in the region. She said the chances of reaching agreement over a peacekeeping force were bleak...

PHR condemns Sudanese gov't plan

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) strongly condemns the Government of Sudan's plans to send 10,500 of its own troops to quell continuing violence in Darfur, and calls on the UN Security Council instead to pass the resolution expediting the deployment of a robust UN force to the region. Full report via Coalition for Darfur.

I wonder if it could be possible for the proposed 10,500 Sudanese troops being deployed to Darfur to act as a peackeeping force and operate under the same mandate (not Chapter 6 or 7) as that of the African Union mission in Darfur.

Sudanese Islamists threaten to fight UN Darfur force

Reuters' Opheera McDoom report 25 Aug 2006 via ReliefWeb - excerpt:
Khartoum's many Islamic groups have delivered a clear message.

"We categorically refuse U.N. troops in Darfur," said Abdel Wahhab Mohamed Ali Ahmed, head of the Sudanese higher council for the coordination of Islamic groups, formed last year.

"And if they come we will fight them until they leave."

The council is composed of representatives from Sudan's main Islamist movements, including Ansar al-Sunna and the Hizb ut-Tahrir group, outlawed in neighbouring Egypt.

"The colonialists have united all the Muslim groups in Sudan ... and we support the government in this position," said Ahmed Malik, another member of the higher council.

University professor and respected Islamist preacher Sadiq al-Hajj Abu Dafirah said any U.N. troops had to be given the choice to convert to Islam or leave the country.

"We will use dialogue but finally we would be obliged to fight them if they don't see the validity of our arguments," he said. He added talks could last years.

"A Muslim, when he is forced to fight, does so with sorrow."

Al Qaeda's statements on Sudan raise the spectre of a wider conflict, that could draw in foreign fighters. Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri have said their movement would fight in Darfur if U.N. troops deploy.

While Sudan hosted bin Laden in the 1990s, relations soured and under U.S. and regional pressure Khartoum asked him to leave in 1996. In April this year, Bin Laden criticised Sudan for agreeing the U.S.-backed peace deal for the north-south war.

Sudan's Islamists say they are not entirely in agreement with Al Qaeda's methods but Ahmed said they would happily take help from anyone to prevent U.N. troops deploying.

"We have camps here and we are training. We are ready."

Others, like preacher Abu Dafirah, were more circumspect.

"I'm sorry to say that yes (Al Qaeda) would find some support here," he said.

The United Nations is aware of the hostility.

It recently raised its security level in Khartoum, where hundreds of U.N. staff live and work, because of what officials called "credible threats to their security."

Islamist leaders said even Bashir would have cause to fear them if he gave in to international pressure on a Darfur force.

"Bashir cannot give in now, his people would not respect him, even his wife would not respect him if he did," said Malik.

Ahmed sai if Bashir's government agreed to allow U.N. troops in Darfur, "Then we will fight them too."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Bush sends envoy to Sudan to push for 2,000 UN troops in Darfur by Oct 1

The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer, announced Thursday that she will travel to Sudan on Friday.

The secretary said she would carry a letter from US President GW Bush stating the need for urgent action to halt the violence in Darfur. She said the goal would be to get the first few thousand troops on the ground by October 1. - VOA 24 Aug 2006.

UN Security Council to meet Monday on Darfur without Khartoum attendance

The UN Security Council will hold a meeting next week to discuss Darfur despite Khartoum's refusal to participate, the council president said Thursday.

The meeting on Monday will discuss further a draft resolution by the US and Britain to transfer the AU peacekeeping operation in Darfur to the UN, a move opposed by Khartoum.

Full report by DPA 24 Aug 2006 via M&C.

Sudan's leader postpones UN meeting on Darfur

Sudanese President Bashir on Wednesday declined an invitation to attend a UN Security Council next week to explain his plan to deploy more than 10,000 Sudanese troops to Darfur instead of a UN peacekeeping operation, DPA/M&C reported today - excerpt:
Al-Bashir said such a meeting was welcome to consolidate the peace process in Darfur.

But he added, 'In view of having a fruitful discussion of the council on the matter, with the effective participation of regional organizations strongly engaged in the situation in Darfur, we deem it appropriate to postpone the meeting to enable better preparations.'

There was no immediate response from Effah-Apenteng as the council had no formal meeting on Wednesday. The three organizations invited [the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference and African Union] did not respond.

Sudan rejects draft UN Security Council resolution on Darfur

Sudan's ruling party has rejected a US-UK draft Security Council resolution to deploy UN peacekeepers in Darfur, saying it would violate national sovereignty, the official media reported Thursday: Aug 24 2006 AP report via Sudan Tribune Sudan rejects draft UN Security Council resolution on Darfur - excerpt:
According to Radio Omdurman and the SUNA news agency, the draft was discussed by the National Congress Party's ruling council and a parliamentary group chaired by President Omar al-Bashir at a meeting Wednesday night.

"The draft resolution is worse than the previous ones because it constitutes an attempt to impose complete guardianship on the Sudan," lawmaker Ghazi Salah Eldin Atabani said after the meeting.

"It did not pay any consideration to the bodies set up for implementation of the Darfur peace agreement and was not presented to the Sudanese authorities."

He said any council member who supported the draft would be considered an enemy of Sudan.
Sudanese Popular Defence Forces

Photo: Members of the Sudanese Popular Defence Forces, hold knifes and guns while another carries a banner with Arabic writing reading 'Death to America' during a demonstration, in Kartoum, Sudan, Mar 8, 2006. (AP)

Aug 24 2006 Sapa/AFP report by Mohammed Ali Saeed in Khartoum via Mail & Guardian: Sudan reiterates rejection of UN peacekeepers
"The draft resolution is worse than previous ones as it is an attempt to impose complete tutelage on the Sudan," National Congress Party chairperson Ghazi Salah Eldin Atabani was quoted as saying after a meeting on Wednesday.

"Any state that sponsors this draft resolution will be regarded as assuming a hostile attitude against the Sudan," said the official, describing the draft as "unacceptable and not negotiable under any sort of pressure".
UPDATE: Aug 24 2006 IRIN via ReliefWeb: Sudanese President Omer Al-Bashir has called on the United Nations Security Council to "be patient" in resolving the conflict in Darfur and indicated, in a letter to the Council President earlier this week, that the UK-US draft resolution for a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur was unacceptable to Khartoum.

"We request the Security Council to be patient and not to be in a hurry to adopt a new resolution on the matter, and to allow the government of the Sudan sufficient time to resolve the situation in Darfur," according to the August 21 letter to Council President, Ghanian Ambassador Nana Effah-Apentang.

Sudan's leader asks UNSC to delay UN force to give him time to bring peace to Darfur

My take on the following excerpt from today's AP report by Edith Lederer is that Sudanese President Bashir has explained in writing to the UN Security Council that Sudan's six-month plan for Darfur is to implement the Darfur Peace Agreement calling for GoS/AU/UN to "return security and humanitarian situation in Darfur to normal", that he wants to be given time to succeed in this within six months, and urges the Council to delay transferring peacekeeping duties to a UN force because such a force would lead to violence and UNMANAGEABLE CONFRONTATIONS among all parties in Darfur, including the UN forces. Also, I take the President's letter to mean Sudan won't be explaining its plan further to an open UN Security Council next week. Ball appears now to be in Arab League court. Everyone has to pull together to fund the AU in Darfur for 6 months from Sep 30 and ensure it receives the right equipment asap.

Excerpt from AP report Aug 23, 2006 (via
Sudan's president asked the UN Security Council to give him time to bring peace to conflict-wracked Darfur and urged it to delay action on transferring peacekeeping duties to a UN force, according to a letter circulated Wednesday.

Omar al-Bashir said there was strong opposition from residents and leaders in Darfur to the UN force and warned that deployment would lead "to acts of violence and unmanageable confrontations among all parties in Darfur, including the United Nations forces."

Al-Bashir's letter seeking more time to restore peace appeared to be a response to an invitation from the current Security Council president to the Sudanese government and other key players in Darfur to a meeting Monday to discuss the draft resolution.

The Security Council was scheduled to meet Thursday morning to discuss Al-Bashir's letter.

In the letter, Al-Bashir said he wants to concentrate on implementing the peace agreement under a six-month plan he already submitted to Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He said it calls for the government, in cooperation with the African Union and U.N. agencies, to "return the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur to normal."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Floods kill 27, damage 10,000 houses in Sudan - AU soldiers battle sand, rain, mud

The Blue and White Nile rivers, which meet in Khartoum, are threatening government ministries and the Republican Palace as the water in the capital rose to less than a metre below Nile street, home to the government's main buildings, Reuters' Opheera McDoom reported today:
Tens of thousands of square kilometres of farmland, in a country where most people depend on agriculture as a way of life, have been engulfed by the water.

A boy washes rickshaw

A boy washes a rickshaw in the overflowing Nile river in Omdurman

Aug 22, 2006: A boy washes a rickshaw in the overflowing Nile river in Omdurman, near Khartoum Aug 22, 2006. (Reuters/Candace Feit)

Rain storm

Rain Storm

Aug 22, 2006: Yesterday morning we had a very large rain storm that lasted about ten to twenty minutes. (Soldier of Africa in Darfur, W Sudan)

Alotta water

Alotta water

Aug 22, 2006: As you can see from this photo a lot of water flowed off in a very short time. For some reason water in Darfur stays on the surface for hours and does not sink into the earth like in South Africa. (Soldier of Africa in Darfur, W Sudan)

Well stuck

Well stuck

Aug 20, 2006: This APC deviated just slightly from the road and this was the result. These vehicles are armoured so they weigh many tonnes. Not only do they sink away easily, but if we are not careful we may damage certain areas of road like drifts and cause major problems for the local population. Under the surface of a drift an APC may leave very deep furrows, which can trap the vehicles of the local population passing through. (Soldier of Africa in Darfur, W Sudan)

Stuck in the mud

Stuck in the mud

Aug 15, 2006: Being stuck in the sand has just changed to being stuck in the mud. George, one of the EU reps, from Slovakia managed to drive into this wadi. I pulled him out with my vehicle. The guy in white is our interpreter. He used to be the headmaster of one of the local schools. (Soldier of Africa in Darfur, W Sudan)



Aug 15, 2006: Another photo to show where George got stuck. The harder road was about ten metres further to the left, where we crossed. (Soldier of Africa in Darfur, W Sudan)

Green day

Green Day

Aug 15, 2006: Hard to imagine that less than two months ago this was all just sand, now it is green. We were on our way to Ushara Hadahid, a very small village for a confidence building patrol this morning. (Soldier of Africa in Darfur, W Sudan)

Start of a Sandstorm

Start of a Sandstorm

Aug 14, 2006: Yesterday afternoon we had another sandstorm and as usual afterwards a lot of rain. This photo does not do it justice. The wind was so strong I held onto the hardboard door in my tent lest it be blown off. (Soldier of Africa in Darfur, W Sudan)

Inaugural meeting of Sector 3 Cease Fire Commission (CFC)

Inaugural meeting of Sector 3 Cease Fire Commission (CFC)

Aug 15, 2006: Yesterday afternoon we had the inaugural meeting of the new Sector 3 Cease Fire Commission (CFC). Hopefully we will have success as they monitor the implementation of the DPA (Darfur Peace Agreement). (Soldier of Africa in Darfur, W Sudan)

New MILOB in Darfur

New MILOB in Darfur

Aug 23, 2006: Capt Modipa is a new MILOB [military observer] from Pretoria. He arrived here yesterday. Good luck with your deployment. Poor guy. (Soldier of Africa in Darfur, W Sudan)

Detention of Sudanese journalists in Khartoum and Marawi

SOAT Human Rights Alert: 23 August 2006 - excerpt:
On 16 August 2006 at 02:30am, approximately twenty police officers arrested Naser Eldien Ahmed Altayeb, (26 yrs), journalist working for the Arabic daily, Alayam newspaper. Following his arrest, Mr. Naser Eldien was taken to a nearby police vehicle. Inside the car, Mr. Naser Eldien was beaten with sticks by two of the arresting officers.

Mr. Naser Eldien was arrested whilst reporting on the forced relocation of residents at Dar al Salaam, situated 20 miles South of Khartoum in Algazera province following a Court Order to evict the residents. The residents of Dar al Salaam, mainly IDPs from Southern Sudan and Darfur have resided in the area for over two decades and have refused to move pending a suitable alternative, which they were negotiating with the government. The land in Dar al Salaam has been sold to an Egyptian businessperson who planned to develop the land as a Theme Park.

In a separate incident, on 15 August 2006, at 02:00am, four journalists were detained and prevented from entering Amri, Marawi, Northern Sudan. The journalists had travelled to Marawi to report on the plight of thousands of people made homeless following flood caused by heavy rains on 10 August 2006, which destroyed all the homes constructed by the government to house the displaced population in the region. The details of the journalists are as follows:

1. Mougahed Abdalla; Ray Alshab Daily Newspaper

2. Aboulgasiem Farahna; Alowan Daily Newspaper

3. Moutaz Mahjoob; Al Adwaa Daily Newspaper

4. Mouheb Maher; Al Sudani Daily newspaper