Sudanese Intransigence, Unabated Genocide, UN Impotence, and American Silence

A beacon of human rights in the world, obviously I am talking about the Islamic Republic of Sudan, which has arrested a mild-mannered British schoolteacher, Ms. Gillian Gibbons. Her blasphemous sin was that she created a class exercise in which young children came up with a favorite name for a teddy bear. Collectively everyone came up with the name Mohammed. Viola! Wow! You have seriously committed a sin. Because, you see god needs to be protected by us human beings. The Sudanese government pounced on this hapless schoolteacher and charged her with defaming the prophet and inciting religious hatred. She now faces 6 months jail sentence, 40 lashes, and a substantial fine.

Now, this bizarre move is particularly concerning when the Sudanese are demonstrating extraordinary intransigence in allowing the United Nations Security Council sanctioned 26,000 peacekeepers into Darfur to prevent the further extermination of the Fur people and other non-Arab minorities. Sudan has already eliminated Scandinavian countries, particularly Netherlands from the list, for their role in publishing the high controversial cartoons depicting Islam in a poor light. The various efforts made by Sudan to block the non-African countries from actively participating the peace mission is a complete reversal of the agreement that Sudan made with the UN Secretary-General earlier this year.

Obviously, Sudan is making every effort to block the scheduled start of the UN Peacekeeping on Jan 1, 2008. Maybe they can wipe out few thousand more in the interim.

It is really galling about the whole thing is that the United States and the United Nations are dancing to the highly unpredictable beats of the Sudanese government; they are dilly-dallying by making vacuous and empty threats. Where are the F-16s, F-18s, and F-22s when we need them most? What Sudan badly needs is some serious Shock and Awe or a kick in the shins. Unfortunately, gutless Washington politicians seem to be stuck in Groundhog Day mentality and the toothless UN does not have the moral courage or the necessary authority to stop the ongoing genocide.

And for the record, the United States official deemed what is happening in Sudan as “Acts of Genocide,” according to the statement made by US President on Sept. 9th, 2004.

Genocide and Complex Humanitarian Emergency

The UN brokered peace deal, which would bring in 27,000 UN peacekeepers into the conflict-riven country of Sudan, especially to its western province of Darfur can’t come any sooner. Since the conflict began in the early part of this decade at a minimum 200,000 people have died and at least 2 million have been displaced and according Jan Egeland of the United Nations, a monumental humanitarian problem is growing that is affecting more than 4 million people in the middle of resource-rich North-Central Africa. 

Recently, African Union troops who were maintaining a very fragile peace came under fire and 10 African Union troops were killed by none other than Darfurian rebel forces. In a sustained attack the AU camp was completely overrun and the weapons cache was looted by the rebel forces. The AU troops are there to protect the Darfurian people (or the ethnic Fur group), but with the attacks the AU troops have vacated their base camp. This does not augur well for refugees and other unarmed civilians; they are likely to bear the brunt of the violence and catastrophic human rights violations. With the Darfurian rebel groups, the Sudanese military, the Sudanese government backed Janjaweed militia, and the African Union troops, the situation on the ground is extremely volatile.  Many states may now develop cold feet and fear sending their troops into harms way.

If this tells us anything, it tells us that humanitarian interventions are complex and costly. But, more importantly, it indicates that more than 50 years after independence, Sub-Saharan African states are struggling to construct a viable and functional nation-state that can offer a modicum of basic security that would allow the people to go about their daily business without being killed or maimed. If the UN is to successfully implement its ambitious Millennium Development Goals, it has to definitely start with the very basic, but extraordinarily complex task of building peace from the bottom up. In this case, the presence of UN troops is a short-term solution, in the long-run the African states have to figure out how to divide their wealth, compromise and live peacefully, instead of playing out their ethnic hatreds. However, this is easier said than done.

List of Daunting World Problems

The UN Secretary General has come with up a list of daunting world problems, and I strongly agree with him.  Here is the summary version of the list that he presented at the start of the General Assembly Session at the United Nations today

  • Combating global warming
  • Fighting poverty
  • Ending the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region
  • An end to violence, an end to occupation, the creation of a Palestinian state at peace with itself and Israel, and a comprehensive regional peace between Israel and the Arab world
  • Fixing Iraq, “the whole world’s problem”
  • Promoting political negotiations and national reconciliation, and dealing with drug trafficking and terrorism in Afghanistan

 Let me add a few more items to the list that Sec-Gen Ban Ki-Moon did not mention: 

  • Dealing with Unstable Iran
  • Dealing with Polluting China
  • Dealing with China’s growing influence in the developing world and its reluctance promote democracy and freedoms in various parts of the world.

 Did I miss anything? Feel free to add to the list of daunting global problems.

Genocidal and Cynical Sudan

The Special Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has gathered strong evidence showing that Ahmad Muhammad Harun, former Minister of State for the Interior of the Government of the Sudan, and Ali Kushayb, a leader of the Militia/Janjaweed, jointly committed crimes against the civilian population in Darfur. According to the evidence collected by the ICC over 20 month period the ICC special prosecutor’s office believes that

“there are reasonable grounds to believe that Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb, (also known as Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman) bear criminal responsibility in relation to 51 counts of alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes. The evidence shows they acted together, and with others, with the common purpose of carrying out attacks against the civilian populations. The crimes were allegedly committed during attacks on the villages and towns of Kodoom, Bindisi, Mukjar, and Arawala in West Darfur between August 2003 and March 2004. The Prosecution has focused on some of the most serious incidents and the individuals who, according to the evidence, bear the greatest responsibility for those incidents. In early 2003, Ahmad Harun was appointed as head of the “Darfur Security desk”. The most prominent of his coordination tasks was his management of, and personal participation in, the recruitment, funding and arming of Militia/Janjaweed – forces that would ultimately number in the tens of thousands. During a public meeting, Ahmad Harun said that as the head of the “Darfur Security desk”, he had been given “all the power and authority to kill or forgive whoever in Darfur for the sake of peace and security.”

In an extraordinarily cynical move, the Sudanese government has appointed the genocidal Ahmad Muhammad Harun to form its own Human Rights Committee to investigate human rights violations in Darfur. This clearly demonstrates that the Sudanese government has no desire to address the barbaric tragedy in Darfur or any interest in bringing the perpetrators to justice. As the NY Times Editorial correctly points out, the actions of the Sudanese governments need to be strongly condemned by the United States and the United Nations. The INTERPOL has a search warrant out for Ahmad Muhammad Harun and we sincerely hope they get him.

What I Saw in Darfur: Untangling the Knots of a Complex Crisis-Ban Ki Moon

The current UN Sec-General, Ban-ki-Moon has filed a report on the Darfur Crisis after his recent visit in today’s Washington Post.  It is gut-wrenching stuff; simply amazing that even the UN Sec-Gen is not able to do anything about this crisis and its complexity.

The Sec-Gen Ban laments that the “rebels battle the government; the government battles the rebels. Yet the reality is more complicated. Lately, the fighting often as not pits tribe against tribe, warlord against warlord. Nor is the crisis confined to Darfur. It has spilled over borders, destabilizing the region. Darfur is also an environmental crisis–a conflict that grew at least in part from desertification, ecological degradation and a scarcity of resources, foremost among them water.” He argues that “there can be no single solution to this crisis. Darfur is a case study in complexity. If peace is to come, it must take into account all the elements that gave rise to the conflict.”

On the UN efforts, the Secretary General argues that the UN has “made a good start,” and the “UNSC has authorized the deployment of 26,000 multinational peacekeepers, jointly conducted by the United Nations and the African Union (AU).”Secretary Ban further argues that “no peacekeeping mission can succeed without a peace to keep,” and that we also need to look urgently “for a political settlement.” Moreover, he also assures the world that the “Khartoum government of President Omar al-Bashir” has indeed “renewed its unqualified commitment to support the peacekeeping mission ” and “comprehensive peace talks.” The next round of political negotiations is going to take place of all places in Libya on Oct. 27, under the joint A.U.-U.N. leadership.Most importantly, Ban concludes his article, by identifying the need for comprehensive political and economic development solutions by arguing that “we must deal with all of them-security, politics, resources, water, and humanitarian and development issues.”