Sudan: Fake UN Aircraft Used as Bombers

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April 20, 2007: China says it opposes any new sanctions against Sudan. In light of revelations about Sudanese military reinforcements in Darfur and the use of airplanes with fake UN markings, the US and Britain advocated stiffer UN sanctions. China, however, said that the UN needs to "focus" on the task of putting a peacekeeping force into Darfur. China has a UN Security Council veto. China also buys approximately 65 percent of Sudan's daily oil exports. Sudan is also a major buyer of Chinese weaponry. China convinced the government to accept more AU/UN peacekeepers, apparently making the argument that such an additional force would not be able to halt the government ethnic cleansing program in Darfue.

April 19, 2007: The US and Great Britain accused Sudan's government of using aircraft disguised as UN aircraft to ship weapons into Darfur. The aircraft may also have been used to bomb targets in Darfur. Sudan uses transport aircraft as improvised bombers (the bombs are just pushed out the door, and are usually aimed at large targets, like towns or refugee camps).

The US and Great Britain accused Sudan of violating UN restrictions on weapons shipments into the Darfur region. Sudan appears to be caught red-handed. UN photos leaked to the press showed Russian-made turbo-prop transports paid white and marked with the letters "UN." Sudan responded by saying that it was merely moving permitted equipment around the country. Sudan, however, has been dealt a huge political setback - a real information victory for the UN and Sudan's critics. The US and Great Britain say that this is the evidence that proves (as if there were any doubts) that Sudan is violating the May 5, 2006 peace agreement and continuing to wage a genocidal war in Darfur. A photo of one of the planes ended up on the front page of the NY Times on April 17. The letters "UN" (in Latin letters) are visible on the left wing. The plans is parked on an airfield apron in Darfur. The plane is not a UN plane. The "leaked" UN report said that Sudanese aircraft operate out of Darfur's three main airfields, El Geneina, Nyala and El Fasher. The leaked report asserted that the planes are used as bombers. The report was put together by a panel of five people working for the UN Security Council and focuses on the time period of September 2006 to March 2007. The leaked report included this line: "The panel believes the use of white aircraft by the government constitutes a deliberate attempt to conceal the identity of these aircraft such that from a moderate distance they resemble United Nations (aircraft) or AMIS (the African Union peacekeeping force) Mi-8 helicopters used in Darfur."

April 17, 2007: Sudan and Chad have created a "joint military committee" to monitor their border conflict. The committee will meet for the first time on May 1. Sudan and Chad want to stop the cross-border raids by rebel groups. Eritrea and Libya are now providing observers along the Sudan-Chad border.

April 16, 2007: The Sudan government said that it would allow an "interim force" (UN support for the African Union force) to operate in Darfur. Specifically, Sudan agreed to let the UN deploy its "heavy support package" (HSP) for the African Union peacekeeping force. The HSP would consist of up to 3,000 military policemen, six attack helicopters, and other logistics support equipment. This is a major shift by Sudan. The six attack helicopters are a minimal force, but in Darfur's open areas they are deadly weapons, particularly if employed against horse and Land Cruiser-mounted janjaweed militia fighters. The US wants to move from the HSP to a larger "hybrid" UN-AU peacekeeping force. That force would deploy up to 21,000 troops and policemen. Sudan is unlikely to allow that, because the pro-government militia would be very vulnerable. The government cannot afford to have the pro-government Arab militias in Darfur defeated. That would encourage other Arab, and non-Arab, tribes to rebel as well.

 

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