Sudan: Attacks On Aid Workers Increase

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July 8, 2007: Attacks against aid workers tripled in June. Previous to that, there had been about ten attacks a month. But last month, the attacks averaged one a day. This included 28 aid workers kidnapped (for ransom) and 35 aid organization vehicles shot at or stolen. The foreign aid workers are seen as a source of plunder by rebels, tribal militias and Sudanese soldiers in Darfur. The government has not come out strongly against attacks on foreign aid workers. In fact, the government has accused the aid workers of supporting rebels and being hostile to Islam. July 7, 2007: Though it is still accepted as legal tender, the Sudanese dinar will be phased out in south Sudan. The "Sudanese pound" will become the official currency. Sudanese pounds have been in circulation since 2005 but there weren't too many of them. South Sudanese have complained about the Sudan dinar. They see the "dinar" as being an Arab currency, and thus a sign of "northern control" over the south. An important aspect of the 2005 peace deal was that it gave southerners political "equal footing" with the "northern Arabs."

July 5, 2007: China believes it deserved credit for persuading Sudan to allow the UN to deploy a "hybrid" peacekeeping force in Darfur. China urged Sudan to accept the force as being in Sudan's "long-term and immediate interests." If it sounds like a twisted arm, well, it's a twisted arm. Chinese diplomats also informed Sudan that they were not pleased to learn that Chinese-made weapons had ended up in the hands of Darfur's pro-Sudan government "janjaweed" militias. China got a lot of unfavorable publicity earlier this year when that story broke.

July 2, 2007: A Chinese oil company signed a 20 year deal to develop a Sudanese offshore oil field.

June 30, 3007: The government reported that the "peace process" with the Eastern Front guerrilla group is moving forward. Two groups of Eastern Front fighters have assembled in Kassala (eastern Sudan). The rebels have agreed to "come in from the bush" in exchange for representation in Khartoum and political power-sharing in several eastern Sudanese states. Eritrea helped foster the negotiations between the Eastern Front and the Sudan government. The two sides reached a settlement in October 2006.

June 28, 2007: France's "summit on Darfur" ended with little apparent political progress. The summit was held in Paris and sponsored by France's new president, Nicholas Sarkozy, who managed to get the major international players to attend (the G-8 nations and China). Sudan refused to attend. Still, you can bet that China was lobbied extensively. China buys oil from Sudan and Sudan counts on China to veto any serious UN sanctions. That noted, China also has interests in its own markets, which include the US and the EU.

 

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