Sudan: November 19, 2004

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Though the violence in Sudan's Darfur region is escalating, the long war in Sudan's south between the government and the SPLA continues to wind down. The government and southern rebels signed an official agreement at a special meeting of the UN Security Council. They pledged to reach a final accord by January 2005. How this will work out over the next few years remains unclear. The SPLA wants a share of oil revenues and the Sudanese government is reluctant to reach any real agreement on that issue.

The situation in Darfur is once again deteriorating. As of November 16, various African Union nations had pledged 3,300 troops to the peacekeeping effort in Darfur. However, only 500 to 700 peacekeepers are currently "on the ground." The peacekeepers simply lack the mobility to even monitor, much less control an area roughly the size of Texas. Logistical support through Chad is a nightmare. The US, Britain, and Holland are providing air transports to lift AU peacekeepers. The US Air Force lifted a lead Nigerian contingent into the region on October 28. On November 17 Germany said it would contribute airlift capability. 

Despite the deployment of African Union peacekeepers to the region, Sudanese government troops and Muslim militias continue to violate the April 2004 ceasefire accord During the first two weeks of November, several villages were raided by Muslim militias on market days. Market day raids not only sow terror, they disrupt economic activity and food distribution -- all part of the government's strategy of ethnic cleansing by forcing African villagers to flee. The town of Tawilla (North Darfur province) was a specific target of a market day raid. These attacks follow the November 11 conclusion of a round of peace talks in Nigeria between the government and a Darfur rebel negotiating team. Those talks produced a "new" agreement on handling refugees but little else. Another round of talks is scheduled for some time in December.  The government is clearly pursuing a policy of driving non-Arabs (primarily farmers) from the region. What's ironic is that many of the non-Arabs are Muslim

 

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