Sudan: Death Before Dishonor

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August 26, 2006: The U.S. and Great Britain have taken the diplomatic lead in attempting to create a UN peacekeeping force for Darfur. The August 25 accusation that Sudan was preparing new offensive operations isn't the only problem. The UN and the U.S. both believe that rebel groups which did not sign the May 5 Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) are also rearming for another round of heavy fighting. Sudan has suggested it could beef up its police and military presence in Darfur and take care of peacekeeping duties. Sudan said that it would send an additional 10,000 to 10,500 troops. The UN, the rebels, the U.S., and western European nations dismiss Sudan's suggestion as absurd. They cite evidence that Sudan is preparing for another round of civil war. The U.S. and France want the UN to authorize a Darfur peacekeeping force of at least 17,000 troops and 3,000 police. Interestingly, 7,000 of the troops would come from the present African Union (AU) peacekeeping force. The Sudan government bitterly opposes a UN-led force, calling such a force "neo-colonial." That's also absurd, but the argument gets at least some rhetorical traction in Africa.
August 25, 2006: The U.S. accused the Sudan government of rearming militias and preparing to move new pro-government forces into Darfur. The U.S. statement was quite explicit and said that Sudan "is preparing an offensive" in Darfur. Such a move would destroy the May 5 DPA. The U.S. does not consider Sudanese government forces to be neutral. Of course the Sudanese government forces aren't—they are belligerents. The war began in early 2003 when rebels attacked a government security outpost. Sudan responded by sending in more government troops and arming "Arab" janjaweed militias. The militias began attacking tribes suspected of supporting the rebels. A UN source said that the Darfur conflict has killed over 200,000 people since the war began in early 2003. 2.5 million people have been forced from their homes.
August 24, 2006: The African Union (AU) reported that two Rwandan peacekeepers assigned to the AU's Darfur peacekeeping force died in an ambush on August 19. Three other peacekeepers were wounded. A U.S. spokesman said that the AU force's capabilities are "declining every day." The AU force's capabilities were never very good. The AU has approximately 7,000 peacekeepers in the field. The force lacks heavy firepower and sufficient transportation to conduct recon patrols and protect aid convoys. Officially the AU force runs out of money at the end of September, though a number of diplomats indicate there is money enough to keep the force deployed through mid-October. Two more weeks is not a lot of leeway, however. The AU's African Mission in Sudan (AMIS) was deployed to help monitor a ceasefire agreement reached in April 2004. The hapless force has become a target of rebel groups, government security forces, and bandits.
August 22, 2006: The Sudan government reported that efforts to end tribal violence in south-east Sudan had led to the turn-in of over 1,200 light infantry weapons. The weapons were collected in the town of Akobo. All of the weapons, however, many not have been collected peacefully. There are several reports of Sudan military units (composed of former Sudan Peoples Liberation Army rebels) forcibly disarming tribesmen.
August 18, 2006: Eritrea continues to mediate peace talks between the Sudan government and rebels in eastern Sudan. Unlike Darfur (on the other side of Sudan), these peace talks seem to be making headway. Sudanese and Eritrean sources reported that negotiators are now "haggling" over money to fund development programs in eastern Sudan.

 

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