Khartoum has ordered the UN envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk of the Netherlands, out of their country after he wrote on his personal blog that the Sudanese army was actually losing in the Darfur region and that morale among the troops was at an all time low. From the government's perspective, his comments amounted to psychological warfare. Having read the last few entries, I can hardly see what the fuss would be about -- unless Sudan actually has WMD and is preparing a "final solution" for the southern and western parts of the country -- much like when Saddam Hussein gassed the Kurds in 1988.
Here is the "offensive passage" from his blog on October 14th:
First, the SAF has lost two major battles, last month in Umm Sidir and this week in Karakaya. The losses seem to have been very high. Reports speak about hundreds of casualties in each of the two battles with many wounded and many taken as prisoner. The morale in the Government army in North Darfur has gone down. Some generals have been sacked; soldiers have refused to fight. The Government has responded by directing more troops and equipment from elsewhere to the region and by mobilizing Arab militia. This is a dangerous development. Security Council Resolutions which forbid armed mobilization are being violated. The use of militia with ties with the Janjaweed recalls the events in 2003 and 2004. During that period of the conflict systematic militia attacks, supported
or at least allowed by the SAF, led to atrocious crimes. Moreover, a confrontation with Chad is not impossible. It seems that SAF is receiving support from Chadian rebels on Sudanese soil, while the NRF/JEM/G19 coalition is supported by Chadian authorities.
Second, the fighting amongst rebel groups has decreased. It started soon after the signing of the DPA, in particular between SLA/Minnie Minnawi and SLA/Abdul Wahid, and also with the G19. Presently the SLA/Minnie Minnawi seems to restrict itself to a defensive posture. His forces even withdraw if there is a risk of being attacked. However, this may be only a temporary phenomenon.
Further splits within the movements are bound to result in internal fights. Commanders on the ground get disconnected from each other and from the leadership of their movement. During my recent visit to the Jebel Mara I was struck by the total distrust between commanders of SLA/Abdul Wahid and SLA/Minnie Minnawi, accusing each other to take sides with ‘enemies’, including
even the Government. To us, having regular and intensive contacts with all of them, this seems preposterous, but rumors are easily believed in Darfur.
Third, the Government has benefited from this rather chaotic pattern in various ways. It has been able to bar rebel groups that did not sign the DPA, including those who had given up fighting, from participating in the DPA institutions, in particular the Cease Fire Commission (CFC). In this way the
Sudanese Armed Forces, together with Arab militia, can continue to attack non-signatory parties, without risking that such a violation of the DPA will be raised in the CFC, let alone condemned and sanctioned. The Government has also made use of the general confusion by making secret overtures to some of these groups, irrespective of their stance. It is also trying to persuade prominent individual members of these groups, is it intellectuals or commanders, to associate themselves with the DPA through the Government. This provides these individuals with some status – and promises. However, the result is that these people get marginalized and are regarded as enemies by the movements to which they used to belong. All this adds to the chaotic pattern at the political
A series of initiatives to organize a conference in order to bring the various rebel movements together is the fourth phenomenon. The SLM/Abdul Shafei wing intends to organize such a conference in the Jebel Mara, in order to re-unite the SLM and to elect a new leadership. However, Abdul Wahid refuses to participate and Minnie Minnawi will not be invited. Some Western countries try to organize a similar conference, but only for non-signatories who have not taken up arms. Western countries were the first to label non-signatories as ‘outlaws’ that should be punished for their refusal to sign. They also insisted on the exclusion of these movements from the Cease Fire Commission. This attitude may turn out to be a handicap, but this can be overcome by diplomacy
and guarantees. A greater handicap, however, will be an exclusion of the still fighting parties. These parties are the core of a third effort, this time made by the Government of Eritrea. Eritrea is trying to unite all movements behind the NRF. It aims at a central role in the next stage of the peace process, like it presently is playing in the negotiations, in Asmara, about East Sudan. To many parties as well as to the Government, this initiative lacks credibility.
Of course Sudan thinks it's a provocation. The truth always is.
As a Christian, I am absolutely appalled by what's been going on in Darfur. However, the civil war in that country has affected both Christians and Muslims. 2 million had been displaced even before the Darfur crisis began, and I simply can't understand what could be accomplished by forcing refugees into Chad, Ethiopia and Somalia. Those countries have problems of their own and enough.
It may be true that the United Nations is only convenient for the United States when it is seen as cooperative, such as with the current situation in North Korea. Contempt for the world body, however, must not be tolerated. Either Sudan agrees to a peacekeeping and peacemaking force and allows all refugees to rebuild their lives, or the country will be expelled from the UN -- as Serbia was for a period during the early 1990s. Lest we forget, the country's government once harboured Osama Bin Laden; and has been named both an unindicted co-conspirator in the 9/11 atrocities, and co-defendant in a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against the known interests linked to Al Qaeda.
If the morale is as bad as Pronk suggests it is, the need for international intervention is absolutely critical and it must be done now. There are now three countries on my list where there should definitely be regime change -- where the government has acted with such impunity and total disregard that it deserves to be swiped away. Iraq was a problem child, and committed some truly inhumane acts under Saddam Hussein, but it never crossed the final frontier to where some countries in Europe were in the 1930s. The first country where regime change could be morally justified under St. Augustine's theory of just war is Burma, the second is Zimbabwe -- and the third is Sudan.
Dubya might actually be convinced on Sudan, if for no other reason than it has oil as well as a humanitarian crisis.
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