ME and Ophelia

Thursday, July 29, 2004

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Is this planet earth?

World Vision Australia chief executive Reverend Tim Costello had just visited the Kalma camp in Sudan's war-torn Darfur region, where 70,000 Sudanese refugees huddled under humpies of wood and plastic, their only respite from the pitiless African sun. "Nothing prepares you for the incredible heat," Mr Costello said by telephone last night immediately after his visit.

"It was the rawest expression of humanity I've ever seen. You ask yourself, is this planet earth?"

"The camp stretches for five kilometres and it's utterly exposed. As far as the eye can see there are people under small humpies with five or six people crowded underneath -- it's absolutely mind-blowing."

He said the Sudan crisis, which has been described as like Rwanda in slow motion, was hanging by a thread and the lives of more than a million people were at stake.

"It is without a doubt the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today," he said. "But it's not hopeless and a holocaust can be prevented.
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African Union preparing plans to send a force to Darfur

Yesterday's Guardian report "Sudan to face 'genocide' inquiry" says the US and British governments are gathering evidence to determine whether genocide is being committed in the Darfur. The report states the Foreign Office said that it would not shy away from uncomfortable conclusions, even though a declaration of genocide would invoke a legal obligation to intervene.

Today's Telegraph reports on the UN security council preparing to vote on a resolution warning Sudan to protect civilians or face sanctions in 30 days and in the meantime putting a weapons embargo on armed groups in Darfur.

Seven of the Council's 15 members are putting pressure on America to soften the threat of imposing sanctions. Four are: Russia, China, Algeria and Pakistan. Who are the other three are that are still putting self interest before the lives of people? Seems they are the countries with the most interest in Sudan's oil and arms but with the least concern over human rights abuses. How much, if anything, are those seven countries contributing to the humanitarian assistance, does anyone know?

Sudan's foreign minister, said Sudan would retaliate if troops were sent in. If GoS are confident their troops will obey orders to fight those sent in to provide a safe corridor for aid, how come Sudanese troops are not obeying their government's orders to fight and disarm their Arab militias? They've had enough years.

The Africa Union has a small force of 300 soldiers preparing to leave for Sudan to protect its military observers re the south Sudan conflict. Today it announced it is preparing plans to send a peacekeeping force to Darfur, which is in the western region of Sudan (a separate conflict).
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Meanwhile, in Darfur, Sudan ...
It's genocide

The Death Dealers.

ImageHosted by

July 29: Amnesty International USA just passed a resolution declaring the situation in Sudan a genocide. This resolution has been officially sent to the Amnesty International International Secretariat in London, which will make a final determination on behalf of Amnesty International groups worldwide.
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A multi-part plan and joint civilian-military team

According to a BBC report, there are precedents for using troops not to attack a central government but to provide security for refugees. After the Gulf War in 1991 the US, Britain and others set up safe areas for the Kurdish refugees from Iraq who flooded over the mountains into Turkey.

The report says the serious international concern about Darfur might lead to a limited form of military intervention, but such action is likely to be aimed mainly at securing aid. And that a strategy of pressure on the government of Sudan is being tried first.

The British government's strategy is one of getting aid to the distressed and dying and of putting pressure on the Sudan government by threatening sanctions. Planning is already under way. Britain is thinking about a joint civilian-military team, according to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who is going to Sudan at the end of next month.

British Development Minister Hilary Benn, who has played a leading role for the British government over Sudan has outlined a multi-part plan - get money for aid, provide that aid, ensure security for it, pressure the Sudanese government to provide safety for the people and finally get a political settlement of the underlying rebellion.

"If the situation does not improve very soon, " says Mr Benn, " the UN Security Council should adopt the draft US-sponsored resolution, which the UK strongly supports, to make it absolutely clear that further action will follow."

In other developments:

The European Union as a whole has now added its voice to the above warnings. The government in Sudan is in no doubt about world opinion.

▪ UN secretary-general Kofi Annan is pressing governments for more aid for Darfur, as the Security Council considers threatening the Sudanese Government with sanctions over its role in the humanitarian crisis in the region.
[Full Story]

▪ A report by African observers in the Sudanese region of Darfur says civilians were chained and burned alive during an attack by Arab Janjaweed militia earlier this month.
[Full Story]

▪ The United States has presented a new version of its draft resolution on Sudan to the United Nations Security Council and is hoping for a vote by the end of the week.
[Full Story] Update: U.S. cuts 'sanctions' in Sudan text.

July 29: Hassan al-Turabi 'to be released'
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Powell to rally Egypt over Darfur during Cairo talks

Last week Egypt appeared to side with Sudan. Yesterday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell was in Cairo meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to seek support for tough measures to resolve the Darfur crisis.

I recall reading something about Sudan being accused (years ago) of trying to assassinate President Mubarak. Note this excerpt from report on Sudan and relations with Egypt, Libya, Iran and USA:

"In January 1995 Egypt rejected a request by Sudan to refer the dispute over the Halaib border area to a meeting of the OAU´s council of Ministers of Foreign affairs in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

On 26 June relations suffered a further, serious setback after the attempted assassination of President Mubarak of Egypt on his arrival in Addis Ababa to attend the annual conference of the OAU there. The Egyptian Government immediately accused Sudan of complicity in the attack, and the OAU made the same allegation in September.

There was evidence of increasing economic and military links between Sudan and Iran in 1991. Some 2,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards were allegedly dispatched to Sudan to assist with the training of the Sudanese army, and in December President Rafsanjani of Iran made an official visit to Sudan, during which a trade agreement between the two countries was concluded.

In November 1993 Iran was reported to have financed Sudan´s purchase of some 20 Chinese ground-attack aircraft. In April 1996 the Government was reported to be granting the Iranian navy the use of marine facilities in exchange for financial assistance for the purchase of arms although, in response to a Sudanese request for military aid in 1997, Iran provided assistance only with military maintenance. "
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Kenyan press attacks Sudan over Darfur

Another excellent round-up yesterday from BBC Monitoring based in Caversham in southern England (it selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages - and is also where top British blogger Scaryduck works):

Several newspapers in Kenya have launched scathing attacks on the Sudanese government over the conflict in the troubled western region of Darfur. One influential daily called the Sudanese government "racist... and undemocratic". This hardening of language comes as Kenya plays host to long-running peace talks between the Sudanese government and the southern SPLA rebels, which are now being overshadowed by the Darfur crisis. Excerpts:
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Says what is required in Sudan is either regime change ... or partition

A commentary in The East African Standard described what is happening in Darfur as a "pogrom" committed by "the racist, fundamentalist and undemocratic Sudanese state". "What is required for peace in Sudan is either regime change... or partition"

"The Darfur pogrom is part of a historic continuum in which successive Arab governments have sought to entirely destroy black Africans in this bi-racial nation," the paper said. "What is required for peace in Sudan is either regime change... or partition."

The paper urged the African Union and the Arab League to stop their "hypocrisy" and to take more robust steps to end Khartoum's "genocidal policy" in Darfur. "The Janjaweed are President Al-Bashir's creation... It is stupid for a government to let thugs loose ".
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Calls Janjaweed 'thugs'

Kenyan daily The People called for an investigation into charges of ethnic cleansing in Darfur. "There is... a need for an international commission of inquiry... to examine evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity... as well as allegations of genocide."
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Says Janjaweed are President Bashir's creation

A commenter in Kenya's most popular paper, the Daily Nation, accused Sudanese President Bashir of creating the Arab militia group, the Janjaweed, to carry out the alleged ethnic cleansing campaign. "The Janjaweed are President Al-Bashir's creation," it argued. "It is stupid for a government to let thugs loose."
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And help fix Sudan relations with the U.S.

July 28: GoS wants Turkey to help fix Sudan relations with the U.S. Turkey, Iran and Yemen sent a letter to the U.N. not to apply sanctions to Sudan. I couldn't recall anything on Sudan and Iran so googled for some background (see next post below re Egypt).

Sudan asking Turkey for mediation? A week or two ago they were asking Libya to sponsor "talks". Who knows if the U.S. is even speaking to Khartoum any more. Seems to me it's said all its got to say to Khartoum. The world needs to see GoS deeds and actions - not more words.

A few weeks ago I'd read that Yemen had offered the U.S. some troops for Iraq - and if needed some could be used for Sudan. All I know about Iran is that it was invaded and attacked by its neighbour Iraq - seemingly out of the blue for no good reason. Iraq lost, which is why - as part of the agreement of Iraq's surrender - the U.N. inspectors had to spend so many years in Iraq to ensure it was not stockpiling weapons to attack with again.

Note, a curious statement in a Turkish report: "Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail held high-level talks with Turkish officials in Ankara at the beginning of this week, seeking assurances that Turkey has no hand in the ongoing violence."

Update July 30: BBC report Sudan hails 'softer' Darfur draft: "Seven Security Council members - Pakistan, China, Russia, Algeria, Angola, the Philippines and Brazil - had pushed for the reference to sanctions to be removed because they believe Khartoum needs more time to act."

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 7/29/2004
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