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Sudan: Walking Loudly, Carrying a Toothpick
Apr 22, 2007 (070422)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
"The UN Security Council, the EU, and the Bush administration are
expert at threatening to punish those who commit atrocities and
obstruct peace-building efforts, but equally skilled at not
following through. It's business as usual in Sudan. For the U.S. in
particular, instead of walking softly and carrying a big stick, the
Bush administration has been walking loudly and carrying a
toothpick." - John Prendergast
Prendergast also quotes an unnamed U.S. diplomat involved in Sudan
policy as saying, "The U.S. doesn't have to understand the dynamics
of the Sudan; we just need to help them move forward." Prendergast
adds: "Disinterest in history leads to its repetition, as we are
seeing in Darfur, where all the mistakes that were made for years
by the international community in the deadly southern Sudanese war
are being made again. Willful ignorance results in bad policy, and
costs lives. Darfur negotiations."
The United Nations is now preparing a "heavy support package" for
the African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, after longdelayed
acceptance from the Khartoum government, continued military
action by the government is a grim confirmation of Prendergast's
analysis that the international community is still being
outmaneuvered by the Sudanese government. After repeatedly
threatening "Plan B" sanctions, on April 18 U.S. President George
Bush again threatened and again postponed stronger action.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a brief UN News report on the
most recent developments, and excerpts from an extensive March 2007
analysis by Prendergast on what doesn't and what might work to stop
the violence in Darfur.
Another AfricaFocus Bulletin being sent out today contains excerpts
from a new report from Reporters without Borders calling for
international media to pay attention to Sudanese reality and
particularly the insights of the diverse Sudanese civil society and
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on Sudan and additional
background, see http://www.africafocus.org/country/sudan.php
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++
Ban Ki-moon voices 'deep concern' at reports of arms flights into
18 April 2007 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed deep
concern today at evidence presented to Security Council members of
the flying of arms and heavy weapons into the war-torn region of
Darfur, a direct violation of a United Nations embargo.
Mr. Ban "is especially troubled by reports that private or national
aircraft have been illegally provided with UN markings and used for
military purposes," according to a statement released by his
spokesperson at UN Headquarters in New York.
"If further substantiated, such actions would be in clear violation
of international law and in contravention of the UN's international
A senior UN official told journalists today that there had been
three sightings recently of planes with illegal UN markings one
over Darfur, one over a Government-controlled area in neighbouring
Chad and one over the Central African Republic (CAR).
In the statement, Mr. Ban pledged to work closely with the Security
Council on the issue, and expected full cooperation from the
Sudanese Government and other States "to provide prompt
clarification" about the aircraft.
Since 2003 more than 200,000 people have been killed and at least
2 million others forced to leave their homes to escape fighting
between Government forces, allied Janjaweed militias and rebel
groups. Entire villages have been burned down during the clashes.
Concern has mounted recently that the conflict may spill into Chad
and the CAR, and earlier this year Mr. Ban described Darfur as the
scene of the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
On Monday, Mr. Ban and the Council both welcomed Sudan's
announcement confirming that it accepts the entire "heavy support
package" of troops, police officers, civilian staff and helicopters
which the UN will provide to the existing and overstretched African
Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in Darfur.
The heavy support package is the second phase of a three-step plan
that is supposed to culminate in a hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force
of approximately 17,000 troops and 3,000 police officers. This
force is to be staffed mainly by Africans.
Under the support package, which is expected to cost $300 million
over its first six months, the UN will supply more than 2,200
troops, 350 police and 1,100 civilian staff to the AU mission,
known as AMIS. Helicopters will also be deployed. The UN is already
providing a $21 million "light support package" which includes
police advisers, civilian staff, technical support and other
How to Resolve the World's Hottest War
By John Prendergast, International Crisis Group
ENOUGH Strategy Paper 1 March 2007
[John Prendergast is Senior Advisor at the International Crisis
Group. His forthcoming book, Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End
Genocide in Darfur and Beyond, co-authored with actor/activist Don
Cheadle, is available in late April. The mission of ENOUGH, a joint
initiative of the International Crisis Group and the Center for
American Progress, is to end crimes against humanity in Darfur,
northern Uganda and eastern Congo, and to prevent future mass
atrocities wherever they may occur.]
Though it has garnered the concern and condemnation of governments
worldwide and triggered unprecedented grassroots activism in the
United States, the crisis in Darfur continues to intensify. In
response to what both the legislative and executive branches of the
U.S. government have repeatedly called genocide, the gulf between
rhetoric and action on the part of the Bush administration is
profound. What is driving U.S. policy and that of the broader
international community is a strategy of constructive engagement
with the Khartoum regime driven either by considerations of
counterterrorism (United States), commercial connections (China,
Russia, and some other Asian and European countries), and
solidarity (Arab League). Four years into the Darfur crisis, it is
imperative to take a fresh look at what has led to successful
outcomes in past efforts to affect the Khartoum regime, and what is
urgently needed today.
A policy of gentle persuasion interrupted occasionally with public
statements and resolutions that suggest but do not lead to
increased pressure on Khartoum has encouraged the Sudanese regime
to intensify its divide and destroy policy in Darfur, particularly
in the aftermath of the May 2006 signing of the deeply fl awed
Darfur Peace Agreement. Regime offi cials have heard the message
loud and clear: crime pays. President Omar Hassan al-Bashir felt so
emboldened in early March that, in a letter to Secretary General
Ban Ki Moon, he clearly rejected an internationally negotiated plan
to deploy a United Nations/African Union hybrid force.
But on the heels of four years of failing to act effectively upon
the international responsibility to protect civilians, there are
finally signs of a pulse within the global crisis response
- The International Criminal Court is pressing forward with
indictments of a senior Sudanese offi cial and a Janjaweed militia
leader for crimes against humanity, and is preparing more cases
- The Bush administration is suggesting that it may soon move
forward on the implementation of some elements of long-threatened
"Plan B" punitive measures
- The Blair government has indicated its intention to raise in the
U.N. Security Council the imposition of targeted sanctions against
key merchants of violence in Darfur, the extension of the arms
embargo on the government of Sudan, and perhaps an enforcement
mechanism for the ban on offensive military fl ights by the
government of Sudan.
Enough is Enough
The international community cannot credibly claim to have done
enough unless and until all measures have been employed to promote
an effective and durable peace agreement, ensure the protection of
civilians, and punish the perpetrators for their complicity in one
of the worst crimes against humanity in the world today.
But if these signs of change mark a new beginning, and if the
United States, United Kingdom, ICC, and other signifi cant actors
rapidly follow these initial moves with more substantial actions,
particularly through the U.N. Security Council, the horrors in
Darfur can be brought to a swift conclusion.
Most importantly, President Bush has fi nally decided that the
present course of U.S. policy is inadequate and must be buttressed
by more robust measures. Unfortunately, dissent, disagreement, and
interagency turf battles within the "Principals Committee" of
leading cabinet secretaries mandated to deal with foreign policy
continue to stifl e the implementation of multilateral punitive
measures that would, if pursued aggressively, alter the political
calculations in Khartoum. The Principals have met six times in the
past four months to discuss ways to ratchet up U.S. pressure on
Khartoum, but most of the proposed policies have been rejected or
Others, such as additional fi nancial sanctions against Sudanese
companies, will be irrelevant unless they are multilateral and the
agencies tasked to carry them out devote signifi cant resources to
monitoring and enforcement, which in most cases would require
additional resources for those agencies given competing demands.
The United States has had strong unilateral sanctions in place
against Sudan since 1997, and the best way to isolate the
perpetrators of mass atrocities in Darfur is intense diplomacy
aimed at imposing similar measures multilaterally. It is
unfortunate, not only for the United States but more so for the
victim's of Khartoum's policies, that the president's request for
a muscular policy response to mass atrocities in Darfur has not
yielded the robust set of actions and high-level diplomacy that are
so urgently required.
Hope and unrealized intent are insufficient to influence the
Khartoum regime, and "Plan B," as currently configured, is too
little, too unilateral, and very, very late. In order to break the
logjam on more meaningful action, President Bush must act
decisively and instruct the Principals Committee to finalize a much
more robust plan that ratchets up the pressure rapidly in response
to continuing obstruction and destruction `y Khartoum.
Such a plan which must be implemented multilaterally would mark an
important reversal from an approach that Khartoum has viewed as all
bark and no bite. It would also refl ect the fact that no single
punitive measure in and of itself is likely to have much economic
or legal impact, but the political impact of an array of measures
that would steadily ratchet up the real pressure on Khartoum and
gradually isolate regime officials as international pariahs would
force a change in behavior in due course. Such pressures would aim
to support a peace and protection initiative that would seek a new
or significantly amended peace deal and a U.N./A.U. hybrid force
focused on protecting civilian populations.
Ultimately, President Bush will have to decide that the United
States must pursue multiple objectives in Sudan with singular
intensity. Currently, counterterrorism efforts remain the unspoken
elephant in the Situation Room (the room for Principals Committee
meetings inside the White House) preventing a more robust U.S.
policy. While Washington and its allies must continue to ensure
that the Sudanese remain sources of information for the war on
terrorism, they must merge this counterterrorism imperative with
the equally compelling goals of ending the crisis in Darfur and
ensuring the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace
Agreement for southern Sudan. Walking, chewing gum, and whistling
at the same time are prerequisites for a successful policy in
The stakes could not be higher. Time is running out for huge swaths
of Darfur. Insecurity is increasing, and humanitarian access is
shrinking rapidly. The State Department recently reported that a
staggering 1,500 villages have been damaged or destroyed in Darfur.
Mortality rates are set to skyrocket as the crisis metastasizes
into Chad and the Central African Republic. Furthermore, the
already shaky implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement
between the government and the southern Sudan-based Sudan People's
Liberation Movement is increasingly at risk because of profound
disagreements over what to do about Darfur between the ruling party
and the SPLM. Perhaps most ominously, recent withdrawals of aid
personnel in response to targeted violence threaten to result in
widespread famine and increased epidemics, as well as much more
violence as the last external witnesses are removed from the scene.
American and other policy-makers are ignoring Sudan's own recent
history, and thus the bulk of the most potentially effective policy
instruments are still on the shelf. This paper outlines three
highly relevant historical lessons, and puts forward a
comprehensive policy that brings together all of the available
tools in a unified framework focused on promoting peace, protecting
people, and punishing perpetrators, the "3 P's" of confronting
This strategy paper lays out these required actions, arguing that
no single initiative will be sufficient for success. All six sides
of the following policy Rubik's Cube must align and be pursued
simultaneously by the international community, led by U.S.
policy-makers in the executive and legislative branches and citizen
- Support rebel unity
- Build an effective peace process
- Secure full-time, high-level U.S. diplomacy
- Accelerate military planning and action for protection
- Impose punitive measures now
- Ramp up global citizen activism
Since the ruling National Congress Party (formerly the National
Islamic Front) came to power in a 1989 military coup, sound policy
choices by the international community have forced the regime to
reverse abusive or threatening policies on three separate
occasions. The three cases examined here are the regime's support
for international terrorism, its pursuit of a military solution in
southern Sudan, and its unleashing of militias that led to the
resurgence of slavery. Understanding why regime officials made
these U-turns is critical to constructing a successful strategy for
[see full report for detailed account of the three cases]
What Doesn't Work
History has shown what works; now for the history lesson about what
doesn't work. After 18 years of empirical evidence regarding the
reactions of ruling party officials in Khartoum, the tactics that
have failed to change their behavior and calculations are obvious.
Yet the international community and the Bush administration in
particular continues to pursue the following policies and
initiatives that repeat the same mistakes over and over again.
- Drive-by diplomacy: As long as the various envoys are part-time
and their roles are not clearly delineated in an international
division of labor, Khartoum offi cials will run rings around the
- Intermittent peacemaking: As long as there is no clear,
transparent, urgent peace initiative that coordinates closely among
the relevant international actors and brings the necessary
leverage to the table there will be no peace in Darfur.
- Constructive engagement: As long as governments pursue policies
of gentle persuasion and eschew punitive measures, using only
carrots but no sticks, the Khartoum regime will continue to pursue
a military solution to Darfur.
- Barking without biting: As long as the Bush administration and
the U.N. Security Council continue to threaten punitive measures
and then fail to implement them when their edicts are ignored, the
Khartoum regime will be emboldened to intensify its divide and
destroy policy in Darfur.
- Stove-piped policy: As long as the United States has three
separate policy lenses those for Darfur, southern Sudan, and
intelligence sharing and there is no one comprehensive policy that
demands progress on all three fronts simultaneously, regime offi
cials will believe that U.S. fear over loss of intelligence access
and the failure of the southern Sudan peace deal will effectively
protect them from stronger measures in response to Darfur.
- Cart before the horse: As long as the international community
puts much more effort into deploying an A.U./U.N. hybrid
peacekeeping mission than it does in taking the tough stands
necessary to negotiate a peace deal that would make a peacekeeping
force more relevant and effective, then the regime in Khartoum will
slow-roll deployment of critical U.N. assets and continue to give
the false impression that change is forthcoming.
[see full report for detailed alternate policy proposals]
The Necessary Sea Change
Reversing course and pursuing a pressure-based strategy for Darfur
is not without obstacles. Both U.S. and European offi cials have
other interests at stake, with Washington focused on Khartoum's
counter-terrorism cooperation and our European allies sticking to
their belief in quiet diplomacy, with some eager to maintain access
to investments in the Sudanese oil sector. Distracted by the crisis
in Iraq and wary of the risks of non-consensual intervention, the
international community has offered up neither the leadership nor
the persistence needed to craft a solution. While issuing repeated
statements of concern and alarm, the international community has
failed utterly to act on its responsibility to protect the citizens
of Darfur, and has instead chosen to offer rhetorical backing for
a non-existent peacekeeping force at a time when there is no peace
to keep. The policy status quo has failed the people of Darfur.
Activist efforts have raised awareness but not moved that status
quo suffi ciently. The current approaches of both policymakers and
activists must be rethought and reformed.
The central paradigm shift must be to move away from the current
policy of constructive engagement without any leverage (with gentle
persuasion being the preferred tool) to a more muscular policy
focused on walking softly and carrying and using a bigger stick.
Unfulfilled threats and appeals should be replaced quickly with
punitive measures backing a robust peace and protection initiative.
We may not know the names of the victims in Darfur, but we know the
names of the orchestrators of the policy that led to their deaths.
Until that fundamental sea change in the overall approach to the
crisis occurs, Darfur's suffering will continue and intensify. And
the longer activists continue to pursue piecemeal and uncoordinated
advocacy initiatives, the further away a durable solution will be
for the people of Darfur.
There is hope. The growing constituency in the U.S. focused on
countering the atrocities in Darfur is expanding by the day. The
crescendo of activism has been heard and noted in Washington, and
has resulted in the fi rst baby steps by the Bush administration
towards a more muscular policy towards a regime it accuses of
committing genocide, though President Bush must wade into the
paralyzing interagency battles and make clear decisions to
implement specific punitive measures, and then fi nd the staff and
resources to oversee these measures.
The kinds of actions spelled out here in this paper for the most
part will not require major resources or huge numbers of personnel.
The Horn of Africa is of significant strategic interest to the
U.S., and of commercial and humanitarian interest to a number of
U.S. allies, so real policy investments can be justifi ed. But most
importantly, the moral credibility and leadership capacity of the
U.S. is on the line, after throwing down the genocide gauntlet and
making Sudan a major priority of the current administration.
Ultimately, the key to the right policy lies in politics and the
effectiveness of political activism. Just as during the antiapartheid
movement in the 1980s and early 1990s, the political will
necessary to properly confront the atrocities in Darfur is
politically malleable, and the backbones of elected offi cials will
potentially stiffen if the activist community is successful in
making enough noise to render the status quo politically
unacceptable, and perhaps some day even politically costly.
AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication
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a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus
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