Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Khartoum's Strategy for Sustaining Genocide in Darfur: 

Present evidence of the regime's tactics and goals

Eric Reeves
September 28, 2004

Khartoum's National Islamic Front regime is acutely aware of growing
international condemnation of genocidal destruction in Darfur, and the increasingly
insistent (if variously motivated) calls for action. But the regime's response has
not been to halt the genocide, or to rein in the brutal Janjaweed militia that
continue to terrorize civilian populations, or to permit an African Union
peacekeeping force to provide security to more than 2 million internally displaced
persons. On the contrary, the regime is as committed as ever to the systematic,
deliberate destruction of the African tribal populations of Darfur and their
agricultural economy. These efforts have now enjoyed unconscionably great

Signs of this ongoing success are everywhere. In the near- to medium-term, as
many as 150,000 people are set to flee from Darfur into Chad to escape
genocidal violence. Agricultural production has not resumed in Darfur, nor are there
signs that the means for such resumption are at hand, even if security were
improved. But in fact villages and rural areas remain far too insecure, and people
continue to flood into already vastly overcrowded camps for displaced persons.
Malnutrition is biting ever more deeply into the lives of people in these
camps, especially children under five. Fewer than half the people in need are
receiving food assistance. The UN's World Health Organization estimates, very
conservatively, that up to 10,000 are dying every month in the camps from disease
and malnutrition, and that more than 50,000 have died since April 2004
alone---and this is in camps to which there is humanitarian access. Camps without such
access, and the hundreds of thousands trapped beyond reach in rural areas of
Darfur, are experiencing much higher mortality rates.

Genocidal destruction has already claimed between 250,000 and 300,000 lives if
we assess both violent deaths as well as deaths from disease and malnutrition
over the past 19 months (see September 15, 2004 global mortality analysis by
this writer; available upon request). This total is now growing very rapidly, and
the deliberately engineered shortfalls in food evident throughout Darfur ensure
that the famine conditions on which the US Agency for International Development
has projected mortality rates will require an ever greater denominator (see
"Projected Mortality Rates in Darfur, 2004-2005"
(http://www.usaid.gov/locations/sub-saharan_africa/sudan/cmr_darfur.pdf). Senior
relief officials indicate that the number of war-affected persons may climb to
over 3 million within a month, as assessments include more of the highly
distressed populations in remoter parts of Darfur.


Darfur's rising profile and growing international outrage suggest that we may
see some shifts in the genocidal tactics that have guided Khartoum over the past

The obstruction of humanitarian assistance will be less conspicuous, in part
because the rains and insecurity have already made delivery of aid terribly
belated as well as dramatically insufficient. Insecurity in the rural areas will be
allowed in ways that continue to paralyze agricultural production, as Khartoum
refuses to fulfill its July 3, 2004 commitment to UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan to disarm the Janjaweed. Additionally, Khartoum is content to see many tens
of thousands of increasingly desperate civilians flee to Chad through a
harrowing gauntlet of marauding Janjaweed forces. Further, the terribly threatening
policy of inducing or forcibly expelling displaced persons from camps in Darfur
will continue as circumstances permit (see below). And Khartoum will use
ongoing insecurity in many areas as cover for continuing efforts to obscure or
obliterate evidence of mass executions and other genocidal atrocities.

But the primary means by which genocide is sustained are now political and
diplomatic in nature. Realizing that maintaining the status quo ensures a final
solution to the insurgency in Darfur, Khartoum will play for time, make various
new commitments, renege and re-negotiate, and above all attempt to diffuse the
focus of diplomacy. Thus the regime will likely resume north-south peace
negotiations in Naivasha (Kenya) as a means of deflecting some attention from Darfur,
though without a real commitment to complete negotiations on a comprehensive
cease-fire or to implement previously negotiated agreements on security
arrangements. The Darfur peace talks that recently collapsed in Abuja (Nigeria) will
also likely resume at some point, though again the regime will make no good-faith
efforts to achieve a true political settlement or to address urgent security
issues. And no doubt "changing the subject" will extend to ongoing claims by the
regime of coup attempts in the capital city (a third "attempt" has conveniently
received extensive news coverage in recent days).

And while Khartoum may negotiate an increase in the number of African Union
(AU) forces deployed to Darfur, the regime will strenuously resist any expansion
of mandate to include peacekeeping. Meanwhile, the present AU monitoring force
will continue to face contrived fuel shortages and other obstacles, thereby
preventing the movement of investigators to sites of reported atrocities.

Significantly, Khartoum will also continue to use the current international
focus on Darfur as the occasion to increase military redeployments and supplies to
southern Sudan. According to the Verification and Monitoring Team (VMT) and
extremely reliable regional sources, the regime has also recently moved Janjaweed
forces from Darfur to Abyei, Eastern Upper Nile, and Southern Blue Nile (the
Damazin area in particular). Such actions are flagrant violations of the October
2002 cessation of hostilities agreement, now only fitfully monitored by the VMT
created in February 2003. Militia forces allied with the regime (the SSDF) are
being used as a means of forcing re-negotiation of the key protocol on security
arrangements, arduously negotiated in Naivasha (Kenya) a year ago. These
militia are now increasingly garrisoned in towns, instead of rural areas, so as to
make defection to the southern SPLM more difficult.

Those who doubt the genocidal resourcefulness of the National Islamic Front
(NIF) have clearly not observed this regime in action over the past 15 years of
tyrannical rule. The Nuba Mountains in the early 1990s and the scorched-earth
civilian clearances in the oil regions of southern Sudan beginning in the late
1990s should incinerate such doubt. But so long as there are those who accept
the NIF as a legitimate government, and as a negotiating partner to be "engaged"
in presumed good faith, the regime will take advantage of such naiveté to
advance its goals. Recent negotiations between Khartoum and Kofi Annan's special
representative Jan Pronk make this painfully clear.


For some weeks now, Khartoum has signaled that it will accept an increase in
the number of African Union forces in Darfur, so long as there is no change in
mandate, i.e., the sole purpose of additional troops in the region would be to
protect the very small AU monitoring force (now numbering 154 observers,
according to Human Rights Watch). They would not be there as peacekeepers with a
robust mandate to protect civilians and provide security in the camp areas. Since
the 310 Nigerian and Rwandan troops presently deployed already have such
protection as their sole mandate, it is quite unclear how 3,000 to 5,000 additional
troops could be meaningfully deployed if such protection is their only mandate.

There are two explanations of the peculiar diplomatic dance that seems to be
going on, in which neither Kofi Annan nor Jan Pronk nor US Secretary of State
Colin Powell nor European Union leaders refer to a peacekeeping mandate---all
carefully avoid using the word "peacekeeping," and indeed Secretary Powell today
explicitly eschewed the word in a radio interview (transcript of Powell interview
on the Michael Reagan radio program, provided by the State Department,
September 28, 2004):

[1] There has been a "backdoor" arrangement made in which the AU troops will
be deployed, with the implicit understanding that they will in fact, if not in
name, have a peacekeeping/civilian protection mandate. The under-the-table quid
pro quo arrangement is that the international community will not refer to these
troops as "peacekeepers," thereby allowing Khartoum to save face and plausibly
deny that it has accepted any infringement on its national sovereignty (clearly
implied by an international "peacekeeping" force). This would account for the
public talk by Annan, Powell, and others about the urgent need to "protect
civilians in Darfur," even as it is clear that what they need are peacekeepers to
protect them from Khartoum's regular and Janjaweed militia forces.

[2] On the other hand, it is clearly possible, and indeed likely, that
Khartoum has entered into no such implicit understanding: the regime will allow the AU
force to deploy, but cleave insistently to the highly restricted mandate that
governs the 464 monitors/troops presently deployed. The regime will point to
repeated public statement by senior officials (including the lead negotiator in
Abuja, Nigeria) that have indeed been quite clear and insistent in refusing to
countenance any expanded mandate. The regime will work energetically to ensure
that this mandate is not exceeded, and will threaten to expel troops that seek
to perform other functions, including protecting civilians.

Whether there has been an under-the-table quid pro quo or not, Khartoum's
behavior is certain to be the same: restrict as much as possible the movement of
troops, create gratuitous logistical difficulties, and generally impede
operations. Khartoum's relentlessly effective obstruction of humanitarian aid from
November 2003 to July 2004 (and still continuing, if less conspicuously) offers the
best guidance in understanding how resourceful the regime can be.

To be sure, from the African Union perspective, this is a key first challenge
for the new organization in a peacekeeping operation in Africa. Much rides on
achieving a full measure of success in Darfur. Moreover, the international
community is clearly counting on deployment of AU troops that may be subsequently
augmented by Western logistics, transport, and material assistance. With the
full dissipation of previous talk of deploying non-African troops to Darfur (the
UK had earlier in the summer spoken of deploying a full brigade---5,000
troops), the AU force is the only near-term means of responding to extreme levels of
civilian insecurity and the primary tools of genocidal destruction. A failure
of the AU force to deploy effectively would bode poorly for future such
operations, and would leave the international community transparently impotent in the
face of continuing genocide.

But we must bear in mind that the 3,000 to 5,000 troops presently contemplated
are not nearly sufficient for a true peacekeeping mission in an area the size
of France---facing threats from not only the insurgency forces, but
regime-allied militia (Janjaweed) forces, pervasive banditry that has come in the wake of
conflict, as well as Khartoum's regular military, security, and "police" forces
(recent reports from the ground confirm that the new police forces are
predominantly either Janjaweed or paramilitary forces). Darfur itself is remote and an
extremely difficult theater in which to operate, and Khartoum is adept at
creating transport and other problems. Credible assessments by military experts
suggest that the necessary peacekeeping force is in the range of 50,000 troops.

Even full deployment, with a robust mandate, of the presently contemplated
force of 3,000 to 5,000 troops cannot stop the genocide---only mitigate human
destruction in the camps and secure some of the humanitarian operations and
corridors. Moreover, according to Secretary Powell the time-frame for deployment of AU
forces, which lack meaningful transport and logistical capacity of their own,
is likely two months, and this may well stretch into December 2004 (transcript
of Powell interview on the Michael Reagan radio program, provided by the State
Department, September 28, 2004).


"Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring
about its physical destruction in whole or in part" (Article 2, section [c] of
the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide)

The Janjaweed remain Khartoum's primary instrument of genocidal destruction,
though it should never be forgotten that this brutal militia force continues to
be armed, supplied, and supported by Khartoum, even as the regime makes fully
clear that these murderous men operate with full impunity. Genocide in present
circumstances will be sustained by the Janjaweed in several ways:

[1] Control of the camps for displaced persons through intimidation, including
executions and the use of rape as a weapon of war.

UN High Commissioner Louise Arbour is only the most recent in a very long
parade of human rights investigators to find that Darfur's camps are "prisons
without walls" (BBC, September 25, 2004). These reports began with the shocking
authority of an April 2004 UN inter-agency investigation of conditions at the
Kailek camp (South Darfur). Seasoned humanitarian workers found there "survivors of
acts of mass murder"---victims of war crimes that "are very painful for us, and
they remind us of the brutalities of the Rwanda genocide" ("Report: A United
Nations Inter-Agency fact-finding and humanitarian needs assessment mission,
Kailek, South Darfur, 24 April 2004"; available upon request).

The UN team found that "the circumstances of the internally displaced persons
in Kailek [must] be described as imprisonment."

The team found that, "with a under five child mortality rate of 8-9 children
per day due to malnutrition, and with the Government of Sudan security
representatives permanently located in the town without having reported this phenomena to
the UN, despite it having taken place for several weeks, [this] also indicates
a local policy of forced starvation."

The team found that, "the numerous testimonies collected by the team,
substantiated by the actual observations on the ground, particularly the longstanding
prevention of access to food, alludes to a strategy of systematic and deliberate
starvation being enforced by the Government of Sudan and its security forces on
the ground."

The team found that, "the Government of Sudan has deliberately deceived the
United Nations by repeatedly refuting claims to the seriousness of the situation
in Kailek as well as having actively resisted the need for intervention by
preventing the UN access to the area."

And the team also found that, "despite having been directly informed of the
grave findings made by the UN mission in Kailek, the Government of Sudan continues
to stall any concrete actions related to this urgent relocation."

"Strategy of systematic and deliberate starvation," "imprisonment," a "policy
of forced starvation," an unreported "child mortality rate of 8-9 per day," and
the continued obstruction of humanitarian aid for this critically distressed,
forcibly confined population---and the explicit comparison, by professional
humanitarian aid workers, to Rwanda.
("Report: A United Nations Inter-Agency fact-finding and humanitarian needs
assessment mission, Kailek, South Darfur, 24 April 2004"

[2] We do not know how many Kaileks there are or have been; but if security
has improved in many camps, this has been accompanied by an ominous new goal of
forcing displaced persons to leave the camps and return to "their villages." As
aid workers have repeatedly declared, such expulsions are death sentences,
given the ongoing presence of the Janjaweed and the total lack of food in destroyed
villages to which people have been forced to return. Despite Khartoum's
nominal agreement with the UN to abandon its previously official policy of forced or
induced expulsions, there are many signs that the regime continues to deceive,
bribe, intimidate, and coerce people into leaving. These efforts are reported
in considerable detail in a recent account by The Guardian (September 26, 2004,
dateline Darfur):

[3] While the Janjaweed are continuing brutal attacks against displaced
African populations throughout Darfur, the consequences in West Darfur are
particularly troubling. As the rains slowly come to an end over the next half-month,
Darfuri refugees in Chad will again become extremely vulnerable to attacks, as
presently rain-swollen wadis (river beds), which serve as a barrier to movement by
the Janjaweed, dry out. At the same time, many tens of thousands of displaced
persons in Darfur will also seek to make the crossing into Chad to escape
Janjaweed violence. A series of recent wire reports and UN dispatches make clear
that West Darfur and eastern Chad will be the site of especially intense
genocidal destruction.

Officials of the UN High Commission for Refugees have recently reported that at
least another 100,000 people will flee to Chad over the next seven months:

"100,000 is the figure [of Darfuris fleeing into Chad] we think we will reach
before the next rainy season, that is to say, May. And that's on the optimistic
side, it could be as many as 150,000, [UNHCR coordinator for Chad Kinsley
Amaning] told the UN Integrated Regional Information Networks in his office in the
Chadian capital of N'Djamena." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks,
September 27, 2004)

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees suggests the possibility of 170,000 new
refugees through 2005 (Associated Press, September 27, 2004), and even this may
well be an understatement.

Chad is already desperately overwhelmed by more than 200,000 refugees from
Darfur (perhaps as many as 230,000). Competition over water and grazing land has
led to increased tensions that could easily grow violent. An additional 150,000
to 170,000 food-dependent refugees, entering a region that has seen its meager
resources exhausted, could cause an explosion of violence.

Some refugees have recently attempted to return to Darfur, sometimes with the
encouragement of regime officials. But this is a cynically destructive ploy.
Associated Press reports from al-Geneina (West Darfur):

"Armed militiamen surged into a western border area where some Darfur refugees
attempted to return to their raided village, UN security officials said Sunday.
[ ] [Khartoum's] Social Affairs Minister Habib Mouktoun told [UN High
Commissioner for Refugees Ruud] Lubbers, 'and we are welcoming them.' But the movement
of armed militia, reported by UN refugee security authorities around the border
village of Abu Surug, could jeopardize efforts to convince refugees to go
home." (Associated Press, September 26, 2004)

A few refugees did attempt to return to Abu Surug, but were attacked by
Janjaweed. In a dispatch the following day (September 27, 2004), the Associated Press
again reported (from Seleah, West Darfur) on the fate of refugees in Chad
attempting to return to Darfur:

"Sudanese officials drove up to the creek near the Chad border where Alam
Abdulla Hassan was hiding with her family three months ago: 'It's safe now in
Darfur. You can go home,' Hassan recalls them saying. So the family of refugees [ ]
came back, and was attacked last Wednesday [September 22, 2004]." (Associated
Press, September 28, 2004)

Inside and around the camps of Darfur, security conditions remain brutally
forbidding. A 40-year old mother of seven, whose husband was killed by the
Janjaweed, declared simply, "If we leave the camp, we die" (Associated Press,
September 26, 2004).

[4] "UN Security officials in Darfur cited other alleged instances of
continuing unrest, showing a photograph of a wounded, bandaged 2-year-old boy.
Villagers said Janjaweed militia threw the boy into the flames of his home when they
torched his village of Jebal Marra last week [third week of September 2004]."
(Associated Press, September 26, 2004)

This ghastly Janjaweed tactic of burning children alive is reported on today by
the BBC:

"Trauma nurse Roberta Gately, who works for the International Rescue Committee
aid agency, tells BBC News Online about a horrific aspect of the conflict which
has not been widely reported---children being burnt alive." (BBC, September 28,
2004, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3698094.stm)

Such atrocities help to explain why most displaced persons within walking
distance of Chad are desperate to flee. From Riyad Camp (West Darfur) Reuters
reports that,

"some 10,000 people in this camp on the outskirts of the rundown capital of
West Darfur state [al-Geneina] say they remain hungry. They squat, waiting---for
help that may never come. 'We are waiting for the United Nations to come with
their forces,' said Ayoub Ismail. 'If they don't come, we will go to Chad.'
But the UN is not sending peacekeeping forces to Sudan's remote west."
(Reuters, September 26, 2004)

It is only acute fear of the Janjaweed that now prevents more people from
crossing into Chad; as malnutrition and disease claim more victims, more and more
people will overcome this fear, and risk death to reach what they believe will be
security and food across the border.

But the reality in Chad is far different, especially in camps close to the
Chad/Darfur border. The UN's Integrated Regional Information Networks reports not
only concern about the inhospitable and remote nature of the areas in eastern
Chad, but dismay at what are already chronic shortages of critical supplies:

"Even before a new wave of [up to 150,000] refugees, aid workers at the 10
Chadian camps along the eastern border with Darfur are already struggling to cope
with chronic shortages of water and shelter materials and a precarious supply of
food. Several [aid officials] admit in private that the situation is teetering
on the brink." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, September 27,

"Teetering on the brink"...of mass human destruction, deliberately orchestrated
by the regime in Khartoum over more than a year. These people will die not as
part of some natural calamity, nor as the victims of "collateral damage" in
war. They have been intentionally brought to this desperate situation by Khartoum
and its Janjaweed militia. The violence that is calculated to produce
displacement of the sort reported here is ongoing, its effects are clearly known and
intended, and its targets almost exclusively the African tribal populations of


As the number of war-affected persons in Darfur continues to climb, there is
less and less need for violence as a means of human destruction. The
war-affected population is now so large and vulnerable that absent immediate, substantial
humanitarian intervention, we may be sure that hundreds of thousands will die,
and that ongoing morbidity and deferred mortality will affect countless
thousands of other human beings. The very conservative estimate of war-affected
persons in Darfur in the most recent "Darfur Humanitarian Profile" (Number 6,
September 2004; UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) is over 2.3
million, including an estimate for previously unassessed areas
(http://www.who.int/disasters/repo/14756.pdf). This does not include the more
than 200,000 refugees in Chad, who bring the total to over 2.5 million in the
larger humanitarian theater. And there are many reasons for thinking that this
immense figure still understates considerably.

The status quo is fully adequate to genocidal ambitions, and as a consequence
Khartoum's political strategy largely entails sustaining present insecurity in
the camps and the rural areas of Darfur, forcing people into Chad, and allowing
genocide-by-attrition to proceed for the foreseeable future.

In the various negotiating venues in which Khartoum's diplomatic behavior can
be observed, it is clear that there is no significant movement toward a
political settlement with the Darfur insurgents, or toward meaningful negotiations
about security, or toward completion of a final peace agreement with southern
Sudan. The regime has manipulated talks in Abuja (Nigeria) with UN political
assistance, has reneged on every security agreement entered into with UN officials in
Khartoum, and has yet to give any indication of a willingness to resume final
talks in Naivasha (Kenya) to complete a comprehensive cease-fire agreement or to
negotiate modalities of implementation for the various protocols on security,
wealth-sharing, power-sharing, or any of the key issues.

Most recently, Ruud Lubbers, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, has provided a
revealing example of what negotiations with the National Islamic Front are
likely to yield. From Abeche (Chad), Lubbers declared that "the Sudanese
government has seen the writing on the wall and is likely to grant some autonomy to the
violence-wracked Darfur region" (Agence France-Presse interview with Ruud
Lubbers, September 26, 2004). Lubbers went on to declare the Khartoum was
"increasingly buckling under world opinion": "[The government of] Sudan knows that and I
think will give Darfur limited autonomy under the framework of Khartoum's
territorial integrity" (Agence France-Presse, September 26, 2004).

The naive fatuousness of these comments is exceeded only by the danger they
represent to any international effort to bring effective pressure to bear on
Khartoum. For of course "autonomy" can only mean political autonomy, and thus can
have meaning only in the context of a political settlement. And it is precisely
a political settlement that Khartoum has resolutely refused to discuss in
negotiations in Abuja. Indeed, despite news reports suggesting that intransigence
on the part of the insurgents caused the collapse in the Abuja negotiations, it
was in fact Khartoum's refusal to engage in meaningful discussions of critical
security issues. Political issues were never truly broached. Lubbers'
suggestion that somehow autonomy has already been secured is inaccurate and

To be sure, Khartoum's duplicitous foreign minister Mustafa Ismail declared in
an interview with Reuters at the UN in New York that,

"a federal system along the lines of Germany, Nigeria, the United States or
Canada would help the northeast African nation better cope with its vast size and
ethnic and religious diversity." (Reuters, September 27, 2004)

But this was purely for international public consumption; there is no reason
whatsoever to assume that the statement has any meaning in itself. Indeed,
federalism runs directly counter to the primary ideological and political goals of
the National Islamic Front for Sudan. Unsurprisingly, Ismail's reported support
for the notion of Sudanese federalism at the UN was immediately repudiated in
Khartoum, as Agence France-Presse today reports:

"Naguib al-Khair Abdel Wahab [of Khartoum's foreign ministry] was quoted as
saying that self-rule for the non-Arab minorities of Darfur was an issue that
would not be considered until a later stage in troubled peace talks with rebel
negotiators in Nigeria. He rejected calls from Lubbers, the UN High Commissioner
for Refugees who arrived here Monday, for an immediate pledge of a genuinely
federal constitution for all regions of Sudan to address the grievances of the
Darfur minorities, the Al-Sahafa reported. The government would insist on
'political arrangements which will be based on principles endorsed by the government in
the constitution and Naivasha protocols,' he said." (Agence France-Presse,
September, 28, 2004)

Not only does this make clear that Foreign Minister Ismail's comments at the UN
are hardly official policy, but Abdel Wahab's reference to a "federalism" based
on the Naivasha protocols is a bitter irony. For these protocols have yet to
be endorsed in a final peace agreement between Khartoum and southern Sudan.
Khartoum has suspended negotiations on the final procedural steps to establish a
comprehensive cease-fire and the actual means of implementing the Naivasha
protocols. And there is still no clear indication of when Khartoum will politically
commit to completing these negotiations. As SPLM spokesman Yaser Arman
recently noted:

"'We are worried about the maneuvers by the Khartoum side. There is a strong
tendency for them to buy time,' said [Arman]. [ ] Arman said the [SPLM] had
heard that the government [of Sudan] planned to send [First Vice President Ali
Osman] Taha to Kenya for only three days and then hand negotiations over to
committees, which might not finish until December." (Reuters [Cairo], September 26,

Such delay would permit Khartoum to continue to receive 100% of oil revenues
from current production in southern Sudan. Moreover, if the regime decides to
resume war in the south in order to seize control of all oil resources, the
current delay in securing a final peace agreement leaves in place a highly
advantageous "no war-no peace" situation. Most large-scale hostilities have stopped in
the south, though the Shilluk Kingdom has seen brutal violence and the
displacement of over 100,000 people, and serious fighting still occurs sporadically.
But Khartoum steadily continues to ship large supplies of armaments into
southern Sudan, and there are now numerous, highly authoritative reports of
substantial increases in weapons and ammunition flowing into oil-rich Eastern Upper Nile,
Nasir in particular.


By refusing to plan for humanitarian intervention, the international community
sends an unmistakable message to Khartoum: there will be no such intervention.
The massive increase in transport and logistical capacity necessary to provide
adequate food, medicine, shelter, and clean water will not be provided; the
military protection of displaced civilians and humanitarian relief efforts will
not be provided; restoration of security in the rural areas will not occur, and
thus the present camps will become relentlessly more permanent sites for
increasingly concentrated displaced populations.

An African Union force of 3,000 to 5,000 troops would certainly provide some
increased security in the region, though only if deployed with the peacekeeping
mandate Khartoum now so relentlessly refuses to accept. But such a force is not
nearly adequate to the demands of the required humanitarian intervention, nor
can it be deployed rapidly. It may eventually change in some measure the
genocidal status quo, but not in ways that can avert hundreds of thousands of
additional deaths over the near- and long-term.

Such an AU force certainly cannot restore security to the rural areas of
Darfur; it cannot provide the means for a resumption of agricultural production; it
cannot enforce a political settlement; it can at best, if it secures a robust
peacekeeping mandate, put a tense and fragile cease-fire partially in place,
perhaps by December 2004.

The international community must ask of itself, and be insistently asked: "Is
such a limited and slow-moving response to genocide acceptable? Are we prepared
to accept the future deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings
for lack of appropriate action?" The reluctance in so many quarters to ask
these questions explicitly provides us our grim answer.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063


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