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Sudan: Why Doesn't Bush Act on Darfur?
Dec 29, 2006 (061229)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
"The crisis in Sudan's Darfur region is intensifying without a
meaningful response from the White House [despite President Bush's
promise not to allow genocide 'on his watch'] Perhaps Harvard professor
Samantha Power's tongue-in-cheek theory is correct: The memo was
inadvertently placed on top of the president's wristwatch, and he
didn't want it to happen again. But if Bush's expressions of
concern for the victims in Darfur are genuine, then why isn't his
administration taking real action?" - John Prendergast
In an op-ed article last month, included in this issue of
AfricaFocus Bulletin, Prendergast analyzes the reasons behind U.S.
policy on Darfur and why rhetoric about "genocide" seems to have
little connection to actual policy. Also included below are
reflections on Darfur by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his
"farewell address" on December 11, and an earlier more detailed
statement by the Secretary-General on Darfur.
Another AfricaFocus Bulletin sent out today contains an analysis of
the abortive Darfur peace talks. For earlier AfricaFocus Bulletin's
on Sudan, and links to additional information, visit
[Note that these two year-end analyses are slightly longer than
normal for AfricaFocus Bulletin. This is because, in my view, they
are very useful in analyzing the outlook for Darfur in the coming
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++
"So How Come We Haven't Stopped It?"
John Prendergast in The Washington Post
19 November 2006
The Washington Post
[John Prendergast, senior adviser at the International Crisis Group
(ICG), was director of African affairs at the National Security
Council during the Clinton administration. This and other
commentary and reports from ICG are available at
Early in his first term, President Bush received a National
Security Council memo outlining the world's inaction regarding the
genocide in Rwanda. In what may have been a burst of indignation
and bravado, the president wrote in the margin of the memo, "Not on
Five years later, and nearly four years into what Bush himself has
repeatedly called genocide, the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region is
intensifying without a meaningful response from the White House.
Perhaps Harvard professor Samantha Power's tongue-in-cheek theory
is correct: The memo was inadvertently placed on top of the
president's wristwatch, and he didn't want it to happen again. But
if Bush's expressions of concern for the victims in Darfur are
genuine, then why isn't his administration taking real action?
The answer is one of the great untold stories of this young
century, one in which human rights principles clash with post-9/11
counterterrorism imperatives. During my visits to Darfur in the
past few months, I've heard testimony from Darfurians that villages
are still burned to the ground, women are still gang-raped by
Janjaweed militias and civilians are still terrorized by the
Sudanese air force's bombings. As Darfur descends further into
hell, all signs explaining the United States' pathetic response
point to one man: Osama bin Laden.
In the early 1990s, bin Laden lived in Sudan, the guest of the very
regime responsible for the Darfur atrocities. At the time, bin
Laden's main local interlocutor was an official named Salah
Abdallah Gosh. After 9/11, however, Gosh became a more active
counterterrorism partner: detaining terrorism suspects and turning
them over to the United States; expelling Islamic extremists; and
raiding suspected terrorists' homes and handing evidence to the
FBI. Gosh's current job as head of security for the government also
gives him a lead role in the regime's counterinsurgency strategy,
which relies on the Janjaweed militias to destroy non-Arab villages
The deepening intelligence-sharing relationship between Washington
and Khartoum blunted any U.S. response to the state-sponsored
violence that exploded in Darfur in 2003 and 2004. U.S. officials
have told my colleague Colin Thomas-Jensen and me that access to
Gosh's information would be jeopardized if the Bush administration
confronted Khartoum on Darfur. And since 2001, the administration
had been pursuing a peace deal between southern Sudanese rebels and
the regime in Khartoum -- a deal aimed at placating U.S. Christian
groups that had long demanded action on behalf of Christian
minorities in southern Sudan. The administration didn't want to
undermine that process by hammering Khartoum over Darfur.
The people of Darfur never had a chance.
The term "genocide" became a point of contention in the 2004
presidential campaign, with Democratic candidate John F. Kerry and
a united Congress calling on Bush to use it. Finally, on Sept. 9,
2004, then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell testified to the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee that "genocide has been
committed in Darfur and that the government of Sudan and the
Janjaweed bear responsibility -- and genocide may still be
Powell continued: "[N]o new action is dictated by this
determination. We have been doing everything we can to get the
Sudanese government to act responsibly."
Everything? The U.N. convention on genocide -- which the United
States signed in 1948 and ratified 40 years later -- requires
signatories to seek to prevent and punish the crime of genocide.
But instead of being tried for war crimes, Gosh was flown to
Langley last year to be debriefed by CIA officials. As a U.S.
official told the Los Angeles Times, "The agency's view was that
the Sudanese are helping us on terrorism and it was proud to bring
him over. They didn't care about the political implications."
In the eyes of many intelligence officials, Gosh and other Sudanese
informants have become more valuable for U.S. counterterrorism
objectives over the past six months because of the unfolding
political upheaval in Somalia. The CIA has long pursued al-Qaeda
affiliates implicated in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in
East Africa. To this end, Washington began secretly funding
warlords in Somalia to pursue terrorism suspects. But this strategy
backfired: Somali Islamists have taken control of much of southern
Somalia, with hard-liners protecting al-Qaeda affiliates. Many
leading Somali Islamists have ties to Gosh, a fact Khartoum
exploits to strengthen counterterrorism links with Washington.
U.S. inaction on Darfur has continued in the face of the most
energetic campaign by U.S. citizens on an African issue since the
anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. But so far, mobilization
by Christian, Jewish, African American and student groups has
failed to move the administration's policy.
Indeed, Washington's constructive engagement with the Sudanese
regime is as ineffective and morally bankrupt as the Reagan
administration's approach to the apartheid regime in South Africa.
During Bush's first term, the State Department wanted increased
dialogue with Iraq, Iran and North Korea, but lost out to the
Pentagon and Vice President Cheney. As consolation, the department
took the lead on Sudan, shifting from the Clinton administration
policy of isolation and pressure to one of engagement.
That policy has endured as Darfur continues to burn. Along with
Powell, former deputy secretary Robert B. Zoellick and Jendayi
Frazer, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, remained
staunch advocates for engaging with Khartoum. In August, Frazer
told reporters: "We believe that President Bashir and the Sudanese
government want peace in Darfur." U.S. government sources have said
that administration officials recently offered to lift some
unilateral trade and investment sanctions imposed during the
Clinton administration and move toward normalizing relations in
exchange for Sudan's acceptance of U.N. peacekeepers. Khartoum
Now, as the mayhem in Darfur escalates, Bush may have run out of
patience. Administration officials say he regularly complains to
national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley that more must be done.
But to address both the administration's counterterrorism and human
rights goals will require overcoming policy inertia and ignorance
about the nature of the Khartoum regime -- two requirements perhaps
beyond the reach of Bush's current team.
Consider prior efforts to influence the regime in Sudan. In 1995,
Sudanese officials were implicated in the attempted assassination
of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Responding to the regime's
failure to extradite terrorism suspects, the U.N. Security Council
imposed travel restrictions on Sudanese officials and sanctions
against Sudan Airways. Feeling pressured, the regime dismantled
terrorist training camps and revoked passports given to known
terrorists. And when the regime faced the prospect of a united
armed rebellion in 2005, it signed a deal with southern-based
Clearly, diplomatic, economic and military pressure can have an
impact -- both in pursuit of an end to the Darfur crisis and in the
ability to access important counterterrorism information.
Last week, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, the United States
and other governments moved closer to a deal with Khartoum allowing
for a stronger peacekeeping force in Darfur. However, the regime
retains control of the timing of new deployments. The likely result
is that a few hundred more observers will arrive in the next six
months. More peacekeepers will help only if there is a new peace
deal and the Janjaweed militias begin to be dismantled.
The problem remains leverage. Possible pressure points include the
threat of sanctions on Sudanese companies owned by ruling party
officials doing business abroad; capital-market sanctions on
foreign firms dealing with the regime; NATO planning to deploy
forces to Darfur; and sharing information with the International
Criminal Court to accelerate indictments of Khartoum officials for
crimes against humanity.
Khartoum has taken the measure of the United States; it understands
that from time to time the president may use the word "genocide"
and that the State Department may issue a strongly worded statement
to mollify religious activists. But walking loudly and carrying a
toothpick only emboldens the regime to escalate its attacks in
President Clinton often says that the biggest regret he has about
his presidency was not responding effectively to the Rwandan
genocide. If Bush does not change course, he may someday echo
Clinton, lamenting that hundreds of thousands of Darfurian lives
were needlessly extinguished -- on his watch.
Excerpts on Darfur from farewell address by Kofi Annan
[Excerpted from slightly abridged version of UN Secretary General
Kofi Annan's farewell address at the Harry S. Truman Presidential
Museum and Library in Independence, Mo. Source: CBC News in Depth
(http://www.cbc.ca). Full text is available on http://www.un.org]
My first lesson is that, in today's world, the security of every
one of us is linked to that of everyone else. ,,, no nation can
make itself secure by seeking supremacy over all others. We all
share responsibility for each other's security, and only by working
to make each other secure can we hope to achieve lasting security
I would add that this responsibility is not simply a matter of
states being ready to come to each other's aid when attacked,
important though that is. It also includes our shared
responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes,
ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity - a responsibility
solemnly accepted by all nations at last year's UN summit.
That means that respect for national sovereignty can no longer be
used as a shield by governments intent on massacring their own
people, or as an excuse for the rest of us to do nothing when such
heinous crimes are committed.
But, as Truman said, "If we should pay merely lip service to
inspiring ideals, and later do violence to simple justice, we would
draw down upon us the bitter wrath of generations yet unborn."
And when I look at the murder, rape and starvation to which the
people of Darfur are being subjected, I fear that we have not got
far beyond "lip service."
The lesson here is that high-sounding doctrines like the
"responsibility to protect" will remain pure rhetoric unless and
until those with the power to intervene effectively by exerting
political, economic or, in the last resort, military muscle are
prepared to take the lead.
Lesson four, accountability
My fourth lesson ... is that governments must be accountable for
their actions in the international arena, as well as in the
Today the actions of one state can often have a decisive effect on
the lives of people in other states. So does it not owe some
account to those other states and their citizens, as well as to its
own? I believe it does.
As things stand, accountability between states is highly skewed.
Poor and weak states are easily held to account, because they need
foreign assistance. But large and powerful states, whose actions
have the greatest impact on others, can be constrained only by
their own people, working through their domestic institutions.
That gives the people and institutions of such powerful states a
special responsibility to take account of global views and
interests, as well as national ones.
Sudan: Secretary-General Kofi Annan reiterates call for
immediate, unconditional cessation of hostilities in Darfur
30 November 2006
Following is the message by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to
the Summit Meeting of the African Union Peace and Security
Council in Abuja, delivered today by Jean-Marie Gué‚henno,
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations:
Few crises have demanded the attention and energy of the United
Nations more than the one that continues to unfold in Darfur.
While progress has been made in efforts to alleviate the
suffering and resolve the political situation, far more remains
to be done if this brutal and tragic conflict is to be brought
to an end.
Indeed, even as you meet, fighting continues between the
Government of Sudan and the parties that have not signed the
Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA). There has also been violence
between rebel groups, including those that have committed
themselves to peace. Armed militias continue to attack civilian
populations. And there has been no let-up in rape and other
Over the past six months, approximately 220,000 more people have
been driven from their homes. Although that is fewer than in the
previous six months, it is still wholly unacceptable, especially
after the signing of the peace accord.
Moreover, violence and insecurity have significantly reduced
humanitarian access to the displaced and to others in need.
Approximately one third of the vulnerable populations in Darfur
are now "out of bounds" for the humanitarian relief community.
Not since the early days of the crisis has access been so
The high-level meeting two weeks ago in Addis Ababa gave AU
(African Union) member States -- including, of course, Sudan --
as well as the Permanent Members of the Security Council, the
League of Arab States and the European Union, an opportunity to
engage in frank and detailed discussions on the way forward.
Let me stress in particular the great importance I attach to the
partnership between the African Union and the United Nations.
Our organizations cooperate very constructively on a wide range
of common concerns, and are working very closely to address this
crisis. AU troops in Darfur have performed very well given the
demanding conditions, the limitations of their mandate, weak
logistical support and funding difficulties. AU representatives
have also provided crucial help in mediating peace talks. We
must all do our utmost to build on these significant
As you know, a number of important agreements were reached in
First, the meeting agreed that the political process must be
re-energized, and the Peace Agreement made more inclusive. The
participants also stressed that the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and
Consultation (DDDC) is an important complementary component of
the peace process.
Second, the meeting stressed that the ceasefire mechanisms must
be made to function effectively, and that all parties must be
held accountable for their actions. The reign of impunity in
Darfur must end.
Third, it agreed that the peacekeeping presence must have the
troops, capacity and financing needed to help restore security,
protect civilians and implement the security aspects of the
It was also agreed to resolve the peacekeeping impasse through
a three-phased approach.
Currently, in the first phase, the United Nations is providing
the African Union Mission in Sudan with a "light support
package" consisting of a modest number of military staff
officers and police advisers, as well as material and equipment.
This package is being implemented transparently, in full
cooperation with the Government of Sudan. Let me once again
express my gratitude to President Bashir for supporting the
package and the tripartite mechanism, involving the Government,
the AU and the UN, that is facilitating its implementation.
The second phase will consist of a "heavy support package" aimed
at strengthening AMIS's capacity.
The third and final phase is to consist of an AU-UN hybrid
operation. The operation will have a predominantly African
character, with troops coming from African countries to the
extent possible. The United Nations could provide funding,
day-to-day support and guidance from the Department of
Peacekeeping Operations, and an ability to identify and deploy
capabilities and troops which may not be available among AU
In principle, the hybrid operation would reflect the
recommendations that evolved from the joint AU-UN technical
assessment mission carried out this past June. This mission,
which met with the Government of Sudan, concluded that
approximately 17,000 troops and 3,000 civilian police would be
required to help implement the tasks emanating from the DPA in
full and on time.
The UN Security Council is now looking to this Summit in Abuja
for decisions that will facilitate the Addis agreement's rapid
The Government of Sudan, for its part, endorsed the phased
approach, but noted that it would require further consultations
on two elements of the hybrid operation: the size of the
military contingent; and the joint appointment of the special
representative and force commander.
President Bashir has informed me that he will be providing a
written response on these issues, which we look forward to
receiving. In the meantime, it is important to reiterate what
was understood by participants at the Addis Ababa meeting: that
the phased approach is a package, which makes sense when taken
in its totality, including the hybrid phase, in which the United
Nations would provide command and control structures, where the
force would reach the levels I have just mentioned and where key
senior officials would be double-hatted.
If the first two phases do not lead us to this result, and if
there is not clarity that this is the agreed way forward, then
it is highly unlikely that the Security Council will authorize
United Nations funding for peacekeeping in Darfur. The Council
will not agree to commit what could amount to a billion and a
half dollars a year without the minimal compromise conditions
arrived at in Addis Ababa. This was made clear by Permanent
Members during our discussions in Addis Ababa and reiterated
subsequently in New York, when the Secretary-General briefed the
full Council on the issue.
It is vital that we ensure the continuation of a peacekeeping
presence in Darfur, and that we make it as effective as
possible. We cannot afford to compromise on that. The magnitude
of the crisis requires a force with a robust mandate and a sound
concept of operations. At the same time, a strong civilian
component is needed to assist the parties in implementing the
DPA and in supporting the many institutions envisaged by the
While we will continue to make every effort to expedite delivery
of the light and heavy support packages, such assistance is no
substitute for the financial support which AMIS will continue to
require while the possibility of UN funding is being pursued.
AMIS partners must be prepared to continue to help in the
interim -- a point I have stressed to the Security Council.
We are all familiar with the funding difficulties faced by AMIS
and the concerns of both the AU Commission and its partners that
financing for the AU force has been inconsistent, unpredictable
and open-ended. In this respect, AMIS partners have made clear
that critical additional funding will also hinge on achieving
the clarity on the way forward, which I spoke about a moment
And as we plan for the future, we must stay focused on events on
the ground. I was very disappointed to learn that, even during
the high-level meeting in Addis Ababa, there was no pause in the
violence. Let me stress again that all parties must cease
hostilities immediately and unconditionally. If violence
persists, all o ur efforts to renew the political process, to
strengthen the ceasefire mechanisms, and to put in place a
sustainable peacekeeping presence will be in vain.
Let us also remember that, while peacekeeping can bolster and
build confidence in a political process, it is no substitute for
the will of the parties involved to reject violence and pursue
a negotiated resolution of their differences. This requires a
transparent and sustainable process, which rewards those who
commit to dialogue. Expediency and short-term alliances of
convenience will not bring lasting results.
This is why it was agreed in Addis that there is a need to
broaden the base for peace in Darfur. The United Nations and
African Union were asked to lead an all-inclusive process --
with DPA signatories and non-signatories -- in an effort to
resolve outstanding issues by the end of the year. Your support
will be essential for the success of this endeavour. We must
concentrate our energies on a common goal, within a common
framework, in a coordinated and cooperative manner.
The Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultation must be an integral
part of the renewed political process. The Darfurians themselves
must be the ultimate custodians of peace, and the DDDC is the
forum for ensuring that peace takes root. I look forward to
seeing it convened as soon as possible.
There is also a strong regional dimension to the Darfur crisis.
Hundreds of thousands of Darfurians have taken refuge in Chad
and the Central African Republic. A UN assessment mission is
exploring options for ensuring their safety and improving
overall regional stability.
Relations between Chad and Sudan have been particularly tense in
recent months, with each accusing the other of supporting its
opposition groups. I welcomed the signing of the Tripoli
agreement in July, which sought to de-escalate the tension, as
well as recent follow-up meetings focused on fostering a safer,
more stable regional environment. The United Nations stands
ready to assist in these efforts.
Your deliberations today are critically important for putting us
firmly on the road to resolving the crisis in Darfur. Together,
we must continue to work towards one crucial goal: bringing an
end to the violence, and restoring to its people the right to
live a normal life free of fear, with hope for a better future.
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