The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

October 15, 2023

Reuters: Splintered Darfur Rebels Search For Common Ground. Representatives of seven Darfur rebel groups met in south Sudan on Monday to try to reach a common negotiating position ahead of peace talks with the government. But huge doubts remain about whether Darfur's rapidly fracturing rebel groups will be able to agree on a joint set of grievances and negotiating points before they travel to Libya for the negotiations with Khartoum on October 27. Organizers of the meeting in Juba, capital of south Sudan, said rebels would have up to five days to find common ground. "We will not leave Juba unless we are reunited," said Tadjadine Bechir Niam, from a breakaway faction of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement. "We are ready to give any concessions." The sheer number of rebel groups vying for a place at the negotiating table has proved a headache for the United Nations and the African Union, the Organizers of the Libyan talks. The southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement pulled its ministers from the government on Thursday in a dispute over the 2005 peace agreement on the separate north-south civil war.

New York Times: Peacekeepers Without a Peace to Keep. If anyone needed proof that Darfur has degenerated into a peacekeeper’s nightmare, 30 truckloads of armed men forcefully delivered it two weekends ago. They stormed a small African Union garrison in a dusty village, Haskanita, and massacred 10 African peacekeepers, looted their equipment and torched their base. The attack came as the African Union was preparing for a critical peace conference on Darfur and the United Nations was rushing to assemble a beefed-up force that will total 26,000 soldiers under joint U.N.-African Union command — the largest peacekeeping mission in the world. Is the intervention too late? Or maybe, as some experts argue, too early? The problem with Darfur is that it is not a Kosovo, an East Timor, or a Cyprus, all places where United Nations blue helmets have stepped between well-defined warring parties and stopped the bloodshed. Darfur is experiencing a different, messier kind of war. Though often simplified, the situation in Darfur has become a chaotic free-for-all with many warring pieces, Arab versus Arab, rebel versus rebel, bandit versus bandit, all fighting one another in a desiccated, burned-out wasteland overrun with weapons and increasingly lethal for aid workers and peacekeepers. Roméo Dallaire, the former United Nations commander in Rwanda who was ordered to essentially watch the 1994 genocide there explode before his eyes, said the troops must “go inside the camps, do night patrols and snap inspections, essentially go wherever they need to, without the Sudanese Army or police blocking them.” He said they also need to go after “every one of those splinter groups” and they’ll need the proper gear to do so.

Indianapolis Daily Star: Lighting the way for peace in Darfur. Nineteen year-old Darfur native Mohamad Omar isn't scared anymore.
After being horrified of every plane and helicopter that flew over his village in Darfur, seeing children he grew up with get shot and his neighbors disappear regularly, for the first time in a long time he feels safe. "I felt like I could be killed or disappear at anytime in Sudan," said Omar, who has lived in Fort Wayne with family since June. "Here I feel like I'm in a safe place." Omar was one of several native Darfurians and Hoosier religious and community leaders who met on the campus of Indiana-University Purdue-University Indianapolis on Sunday to rally to urge the international community and especially China to do more for the country. He still hurts for his country. "I know I'm not going to get killed, I'm safe, but I still miss my friends, my country and the people," Omar said. Indianapolis is one of 65 national and five international stops on an symbolic torch relay that began Aug. 9 in Chad, near the Darfur border, exactly one year before the beginning of the 2008 Summer Olympics is Beijing. The torch relay is intended to put pressure on China as the Olympics near. Dream for Darfur, a global advocacy campaign, organized the relay. Rally organizers said they hope state residents will also become more vocal in trying to get the government to act. "Some people ask me why people in Indiana should care. If we don't care about what's going on over there, we are saying that our lives are more important than theirs," said Carol Collins, Indianapolis, who organized the rally. "We know it's genocide, and we have the responsibility of doing something."

The following op-ed by Alex de Waal appeared in Saturday's Los Angeles Times.

From bad to worse in Sudan

Helping bring peace to southern Sudan in 2005 was the Bush administration's finest foreign policy achievement. It is now unraveling, risking a new north-south civil war that would surpass Darfur as a political and humanitarian disaster.

The Darfur advocacy campaigns have familiarized the American public with the suffering and abuse visited on civilians in that region of western Sudan. The people of southern Sudan suffered no less during the years of civil war beginning in 1983. The successive governments in Khartoum had two weapons of choice: freelance militias licensed to raid, burn and plunder; and deliberate famine that starved southern Sudanese to the point where vast tracts of their fertile land are now depopulated. The stakes were undeniably high. Khartoum didn't want to lose control of the south, which has oil. But most of those who live in southern Sudan -- Christians and followers of traditional theistic faiths -- believe that their homeland should separate from northern Sudan and end generations of exploitation by Khartoum's Arab-Islamic elites. Over 20 years, up to 2 million southerners perished.

A concerted diplomatic effort by neighboring African countries, backed by the U.S., Britain and Norway, brought Africa's longest civil war to an end. The Bush administration's commitment to peace was pivotal. In his first months in office, President Bush reversed the previous Clinton policy of backing Sudan's armed opposition -- especially the southern-based Sudan People's Liberation Movement led by John Garang -- in favor of a negotiated accord. U.S. pressure helped make that peace a reality. More important still was a shared vision of a democratically transformed Sudan with a government of national unity that had a place for all, including President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir and the Islamists.

The peace deal was signed in Kenya in January 2005. But, as diplomats noted at the time, the deal was just a beginning; implementing the agreement would be 10 times harder. It includes complex provisions for power sharing, dividing the national wealth, demarcating the internal north-south boundary, integrating government troops and former rebels into joint military units, holding democratic elections in 2009 and holding a referendum in the south on self-determination in 2011. But then Garang died in a helicopter crash, and Vice President Ali Osman Taha, the leading moderate voice in Khartoum, found himself politically marginalized. With Darfur engulfed in war, progress became harder still.

Recent weeks have brought an accelerating drumbeat of warnings that the peace accord is breaking down. Garang's successor as leader of southern Sudan has spoken of a return to war. Southern leaders complain repeatedly that their counterparts from the north, in the National Congress Party, renege on agreements and make key decisions behind their backs. On Thursday, Pagan Amum, secretary-general of the SPLM, announced that his party was pulling out of the unity government until key elements of the peace agreement were fully implemented. Meanwhile, both sides are expanding their armies, aiming -- for now -- to deter the other from initiating a war.

Few Sudanese doubt that a new war would be even more hideous than its predecessor. The south would try to secede; for President Bashir it would be a fight to the death. Millions of southern civilians now live in the north, including in and around the capital, Khartoum. The SPLM has supporters and troops in other parts of the north as well, including the highly combustible Kordofan region. That area, next to Darfur, already is suffering a spillover of that war, and just last week the United Nations warned that violent conflict could erupt there. Potentially compounding disaster, a secessionist war probably would draw in Egypt on Khartoum's side and other neighbors, such as Uganda, in support of the south, and ignite a conflagration throughout the Nile Valley.

The deepening political crisis also poisons the chances for any peaceful resolution of Darfur's conflict. Why should Darfur's rebels make a deal with a government that seems to be collapsing? If it does collapse, the war in Darfur will enter a new and more deadly phase.

The dream of democratic transformation in Sudan is ailing, but it is far from dead. So far, the north-south cease-fire is holding. But the 2005 peace accord urgently needs the full diplomatic strength of the Bush administration behind it -- especially if peace in Sudan is to be any part of the Bush legacy.


The Darfur Daily News is a service of the Save Darfur Coalition.  To subscribe to the Daily News, please email [email protected]. For media inquiries, please contact Ashley Roberts at (202) 478-6181, or [email protected].

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