ME and Ophelia

Sunday, July 18, 2004

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Defies United Nations and European Union

Following the recent visit of Powell and Annan to Darfur and Khartoum, the Government of Sudan continues to defy the UN (comprising 191 sovereign states, including the US and UK) and the European Union (comprising 25 European countries, including the UK).

In the week following Powell and Annan's visit to Khartoum, it took three days of arm twisting with GoS at a summit meeting of the African Union (AU) to get them to agree to allow 270 AU-led armed troops to protect the ceasefire observers and provide security for the aid and humanitarian assistance on the ground.

One report states "this shows the continent's old taboo of silence about human rights abuses is under pressure as never before. Confidential wording of the protection force's mandate stipulates that they protect only AU observers. The primary responsibility for protecting the displaced people rests with the Sudanese government but AU officials said after the summit that the protection force could not stand idly by if they saw civilians being attacked. The GoS strongly objected to incoming AU troops guarding anything other than the AU ceasefire observers, saying it alone is responsible for the security of Darfur's people and can protect its own civilians."
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On July 13 it was reported that Sudan says 3,000 police already in Darfur.

Other reports mention the 6,000 armed policemen and troops that Bashir promised to Powell to protect refugees by the end of this month - are simply Janjaweeds kitted out with new gear and police uniforms, which is like arranging for the foxes to guard the chickens.

Like Jim Moore says: you can't make this stuff up.
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To monitor Darfur border

On July 11 Sudan agreed with Chad to deploy a joint force along their troubled border, Chad national radio reported. The agreement was reached between Sudan's President Omar al-Beshir and his Chadian counterpart Idriss Deby at a summit meeting in the Sudanese town of Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state located 20 kilometers from the border.

It will be interesting to see how the two Presidents get along. Not a lot of what Bashir says in public comes true.
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Most British readers will probably smile at what AA Gill says about the French in his report from the ground in Chad published in last week's Sunday Times. Here's an excerpt from the report with some information on Chad:

"Chad is about the size of Germany, with a population of just 9m. It isn't quite the poorest country on Earth any more, but it is way down there: 80% of the population live below the poverty line, 80% work the sand. Its primary exports are a handkerchief of cotton, a few cattle and a near-monopoly of the world's gum arabic needs. Gum arabic is essential in the manufacture of good-quality watercolours.

Chad has no airline, no railways, it has 33,400 kilometres of road, but only 267 kilometres of them are tarmacked. Life expectancy is 48 years, and only if you don't expect much. It does, though, have a glut of human diversity: 200 ethnic groups.

Chad has three pressing problems. It has the black curse of Africa: unexploited oil. It has the same flag as Romania, and it has between 100,000 and 200,000 refugees. It has gone to the UN to protest about the flag business.

To get about, you either hitch a lift on a lorry, hire a four-wheel-drive and stutter across the desert, or beg a seat on one of the small humanitarian flights that sustain a skeletal relief effort. After a couple of days hanging out in the two-storey breeze-block and barbed wire boredom of Ndjamena, we managed to get a flight into the east. At the airport the top-secret French Mirage fighters screamed secretly into the shimmering morning air to spy on North Africa.

The French can never actually leave their old colonies. They hang around like gun-toting divorced husbands. We fly to Abeche, which puts up with another French base; legionnaires lounging in the shadow of their Jeeps, sporting nut-hugging camouflage shorts and coquettish little berets. For all their surly elan, they always look like the backing group for the Village People".
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July 15: Egypt said Thursday (July 15) that neighboring Sudan needs more time and help to restore peace in Darfur and should not be threatened. Egypt may seek to send observers to join the African Union-led mission monitoring a truce between the Sudanese government and rebel groups in Sudan's war-torn western Darfur region. Sounds good. But read on ... in the following excerpt: looks like the Egyptians got hoodwinked, or are siding with GoS:

"The problem of Darfur is complicated and not a simple one that can be resolved by imposing sanctions," argued Egypt's Presidential spokesman Fatah. He said Sudan should be given a chance to implement the commitments it made to the international community regarding Darfur. "The Sudanese government sees that it is capable of controlling the situation and disarming the factions," he added. Sudan only requested logistical, humanitarian and material support as it goes about implementing the commitments it made, according to the Egyptian presidential spokesman. "And they have Egypt's support in this direction," he added.
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The first foreign troops on Sudanese soil by July 30, 2004:

Following an agreement at the recent AU summit, a protection force are soon to start a 12-month observer mission in Sudan. The mission will comprise 120 observers — including EU and U.S. military observers — and a protection force of 270 troops. The armed troops are being drawn from units in the AU states of Rwanda, Nigeria, Botswana and Tanzania. They will be led by the AU and funded by the EU at a cost of 26 million USD.

Their mission will be to protect the ceasefire observers and provide security for the aid and humanitarian assistance on the ground. They will be the first foreign troops to set foot on Sudanese soil, which goes to show how things are changing in Africa.
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Note, the EU supports AU led peacekeeping missions from its new 250 million euros Africa Peace Facility fund, so it seems feasbile the EU could support a larger mission in Sudan.
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As part of the UN SHIRBRIG group

A few days ago I found a Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) report dated April 1, 2004.

My guess is that several hundred "observers" in the guise of aid workers etc., have been sent to Sudan by the UN and EU in unnoticeable small numbers these past two months to see what is going on in western Sudan, gather evidence and witness statements, test entry visas, bureacracy, hold ups etc. Excerpt:

"Denmark announced Thursday that it has agreed to send army troops to Sudan as part of the United Nations (UN) SHIRBRIG group. Speaking to Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), the Danish Foreign Ministry in charge of the Sudan file, Michael Braad, said, "The Foreign Affairs Committee at the Parliament approved yesterday the suggestion of the Foreign Minister, Per Stig Moller, to send troops to this country which is suffering from civil war."

He said that 45 soldiers will be sent to Sudan, but affirmed that medical and humanitarian aid will also be sent. Braad added, "Denmark has stood ready since last year to send troops to Sudan despite the fact that it was not asked to do so by the UN."

He went on to explain that Danish preparations come as part of the country's participation in the SHIRBRIG group, which is made up of 16 countries and aims to be present in conflict areas in the world until the UN can take control of matters in them."
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Turabi and others detained for alleged plot to overthrow GoS

Ref next post above, here is some more news dated April 1, 2004. BBC reports on the closure of Sudan's Islamist party HQ. Excerpt:

"Sudanese authorities are reported to have shut down the headquarters of the party of the main opposition Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi. Mr Turabi was detained along with several opposition politicians and army officers over an alleged plot to overthrow President Omar al-Bashir.

He has denied his party - the Popular Congress Party (PCP) - was involved. Officials have also accused the alleged coup-plotters of links with rebels in the western province of Darfur.

Mr Turabi told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme before his arrest said there had been "tension within the army" but there had not been an attempt to overthrow the government. He said he felt the government was trying to aggravate the situation to prepare the ground for his arrest and to ban the PCP completely.

The opposition leader is a former ally of Mr Bashir, who came to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989. Mr Turabi was previously detained in 2001 after a power struggle with Mr Bashir - and was released from house arrest in October last year.

The BBC's Alfred Taban in Khartoum says the city's former governor, Badr-Eldin Taha has gone into hiding, accused of supporting the Darfur rebels.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 7/18/2004
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