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Darfur talks lead to definition of “roles”…and it only took four years

Posted by Stephen on April 20, 2007

200,000 people are dead and 2.2 million have fled the country of Darfur during a conflict which began when rebels from ethnic African tribes rose up against the central government. The government is accused of responding by unleashing the Janjaweed militias of Arab nomads, blamed for indiscriminate killing.

Now, after four years of bloodshed, civil war, and examples of genocide, the United Nations, the African Union, and the government of Sudan have signed a joint agreement that “defines their respective roles in Darfur,” says the official Saudi news agency.

Saudi King Abdullah said the agreement “will support Sudan’s unity, security, stability and peace.”

In November the U.N. and Sudan agreed on a three-stage plan to strengthen the undermanned and out gunned AU peacekeeping force of 7,000 in Darfur. It was to culminate in the deployment of a joint AU-U.N. force with 17,000 troops and 3,000 police officers.

The first phase consisted of a light support package of U.N. police advisers, civilian staff and additional resources and technical support. It has already been sent to Darfur.

The U.N., AU and Sudan agreed on a second phase last Monday which included more than 3,000 U.N. troops, police, and other personnel and substantial aviation and logistics equipment. However, Sudan rejected a proposal to include six attack helicopters.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has backed off from the final stage, saying he would only allow a larger AU force, with technical and logistical support from the United Nations. He maintains that deployment of U.N. troops would violate Sudan’s sovereignty.

The actions of the Sudanese government demand international action. While the U.N. criticizes American involvement in Iraq, stating that unilateral action taken by the West was wrong, they sit idly by and watch the slaughter of defenseless women and children in a country they refuse to confront.

The more talk of change by international leaders, the more static the environment gets. The answer provided by the U.N. is to take four years to sign an accord that does nothing to deter the current course taken by the government or their allies which include Al Qaeda.

The government in Khartoum, accused of fomenting violence in Darfur, has continued to thumb its nose at the international community and more than two million people find themselves uprooted from their homes. As a result Darfur is one of the most volatile regions in Africa. One moment relief workers are told they can operate in the area, the next they find their permits withdrawn. Much of this troubled region is left unmonitored.

The Red Cross won’t go in either. It takes a lot for the International Committee of the Red Cross to pack up and leave, but after an incident back in December in which their compound was attacked by gunmen in the town of Kutum the choice was made to move out of the area.

Sudan continues to criticize the international media for “exaggerating” the conflict in Darfur and still seeks to portray the crisis as a western plot to undermine Islam. With UK Prime Minister Tony Blair now using “war on terror” when he speaks of Darfur, he may be shooting himself in the foot.

As the conflict in Darfur deepens, it is spilling over into eastern Chad, where more than 230,000 Sudanese refugees have now fled to escape the fighting. The crisis is taking on a regional dimension as the two countries accuse each other of supporting destabilizing forces.

The U.N. has displayed the same weakness that it displays in regions around the world. Perhaps in the next four years they will advance a discussion that defines murder, genocide, and rape. Then again, the Sudanese have defined those things already with the apparent blessing of that very same United Nations.

Stephen Winslow is the executive editor of Conservative Viewpoints.

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One Response to “Darfur talks lead to definition of “roles”…and it only took four years”

  1. I couldn’t agree more on the need to act in Darfur and I’m glad that Conservative Viewpoints has taken up this issue that has not received the attention in the big media that such a shocking genocide deserves.

    The U.N. has been weak here, but I wonder how much they can really do without leadership from the USA? It’s encouraging that Capitol Hill seems to be getting more concerned about Darfur. But where’s leadership from the White House?

    Of course, U.S. forces are quite busy in Iraq and Afghanistan now. But if we signal an intention to seriously confront the tinpot dictatorship of Sudan, we can assemble a true Coalition of the Willing that will share responsiblity among the world’s leading democractic powers without unduly burdening the U.S. military or the American taxpayer.

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