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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

September 25, 2023

Reuters: Darfur Rebel Leader Says No Truce For Talks. Darfur rebel leader Khalil Ibrahim said on Tuesday he would carry on fighting during upcoming peace talks until a final settlement is reached to end the conflict in western Sudan. Ibrahim, head of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), also said he was dismissing his deputy, Bahr Idriss Abu Garda, accusing him of secret meetings with the government to undermine the movement. "We will not cease fire before we reach a political settlement," Ibrahim told Reuters from Darfur. "Ceasing fire is a termination of the resistance and revolution." Ibrahim, whose group has been the mainstay behind clashes with the army in the far east of Darfur in recent months, said JEM would attend talks but would not lay down arms. "There is no goodwill from the other side. This is only a trick," he said, adding the three rebel movements that negotiated in previous talks until May 2006 had abided by an earlier truce, which the government violated. SLA founder and chairman Abdel Wahed Mohamed el-Nur has said he will not attend peace talks until there is security on the ground. He has few troops in Darfur but commands massive popular support, especially among Darfur's largest Fur tribe. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte has threatened sanctions for those who do not attend talks. Ibrahim, who himself has been sanctioned by Washington, dismissed the threat. "The United States doesn't have carrots for us -- only sticks," he said. "They should know by now that when they threaten they only complicate the situation. "They should stop the threats. It will not help peace."

Associated Press: UN Rights Experts: No Progress in Darfur. Darfur's human rights situation has not improved in recent months despite increased efforts by Sudan's government and the United Nations, a group of U.N. investigators said Monday. Presenting their report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, the team of seven independent experts said they were ''not in a position to report that a clear impact on the ground has been identified yet'' in stamping out abuses and bringing rights violators to justice. The group was delivering its first progress report to the 47-member body since handing Sudan a list of recommendations in June that ranged from the need to investigate attacks against civilians to preventing the recruitment of child soldiers. The new report does not address allegations of Sudanese government atrocities, but noted ''that certain short-term recommendations were not addressed by the government at all.'' The experts will next report to the council in December, shortly before a hybrid force of 26,000 U.N. and African Union soldiers is due to take up peacekeeping operations in the region.

Associated Press: Ban: Leaders Face 'Daunting Challenges'. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said leaders attending this year's annual ministerial meeting of the General Assembly opening Tuesday face more ''daunting challenges'' than ever before -- from global warming to ending the war in Darfur and promoting Mideast peace. The high-level session opens with speeches by Ban and President Bush. Many leaders have been here since Friday when the secretary-general began a series of meetings on key global issues and hotspots -- Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Mideast and climate change. ''This will be a most intense period of multilateral diplomacy ever in the United Nations history, I believe,'' Ban told a press conference last week. ''As we move well into the 21st century, the United Nations is, once again, the global forum where issues are discussed and solutions are hammered out.'' ''Never before in the history of the United Nations, this General Assembly is faced with so many daunting challenges,'' he said. Since he took office, Ban has made about 20 trips, most recently to Sudan, Chad and Libya to press for political support for deployment of a 26,000-strong African Union-U.N. peacekeeping force in Darfur and the Oct. 27 peace negotiations in Libya to end the 4 1/2-year conflict in Darfur.

New York Times: Cracks in the Peace in Oil-Rich Sudan as Old Tensions Fester. The two army camps face off across a muddy road, one for the former rebels, one for the government. The two sides were supposed to have been integrated by now into a single army — marching, living and fighting together for one Sudan. Instead, the soldiers eyeball one another across the narrow divide, with thousands more massing to lay claim to the contested oil fields nearby, seemingly bracing for another long separatist war. This is what peace looks like in Sudan. The much-celebrated treaty that ended decades of civil war between the north and the south, a model the United Nations is hoping to use to stop the bloodshed in Darfur, is at an impasse and in danger of collapsing, according to international experts and officials on each side. “We’re on a path back toward war,” said David Mozersky, the Horn of Africa project director for International Crisis Group, which researches conflicts around the world. “We’re seeing a military buildup on both sides,” he said, and “the partnership between the two sides has broken down.” But critics of the coterie of men who run the country, a group led by Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, say northern leaders have backed away from the greater political reforms that they committed to in the peace treaty — like genuine power sharing, transparency in the oil sector and getting Sudan ready for multiparty elections in 2009. And this may have gloomy implications for Darfur, where rebel leaders have pinned cooperation with the government on some of the very same points.

The following editorial appeared in today's Miami Herald.

China should press Sudan to stop violence in Darfur

Progress in Sudan's bloody Darfur region moves three steps forward and two steps back. That was evident last Friday, at a high-level meeting of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and diplomats from 26 nations. This is a pattern that could be changed by China, Sudan's biggest oil buyer and arms seller.

Cease-fire ignored

Hope for Darfur surged last summer when Sudan agreed to allow an expanded U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force to protect the region's civilians. Then on Friday, Sudan demanded that all the troops come from Africa, though such a force would lack the advanced logistics and equipment from outside the continent that is needed to be effective.

This is only the latest foot-dragging. Sudan continues to rain airstrikes on rebels and civilians alike, though it agreed to a cease-fire in Darfur. Attacks on aid workers have tripled in the last year despite promises of safe passage. Instead of extraditing its humanitarian-affairs minister to face International Criminal Court charges for crimes against humanity, Sudan cynically picked him to co-chair a human-rights panel. The man now is in charge of protecting millions of civilians he is accused of forcing into refugee camps.

Diplomats at last week's United Nations meeting offered Sudan a carrot: The international community will help rebuild the nation if Sudan supports the expanded peacekeeping force and October talks with rebels to end violence in Darfur. This is a good incentive. But almost five years since the conflict started, it is clear that Sudan's government must be forced to do the right thing. The rebels are no saints, either. But for any peace treaty to succeed, there has to be some certainty that all parties will do their part.

Here China can play a key role, thanks to the Olympic Games being held in Beijing in 2008. China is sensitive to any accusations that might tarnish the games as it tries to burnish its global image. Yet criticism is well-earned.

Keep up the pressure

Activists note that China's oil payments have financed Sudan's scorched-Earth campaign, which has killed more than 400,000 Darfurians through violence, disease and starvation. China also has blocked tough U.N. Security Council sanctions on Sudan, one reason the bloodshed continues more than four years since it began. After the criticisms began, China used its influence to get Sudan to agree to more peacekeepers. So there is hope.

China should keep up the pressure by insisting that Sudan cooperate with a multinational force and honor the original timeline set by the Security Council. Stopping weapons sales and condemning Sudan's human-rights abuses would also help China avoid protests at the Olympics.

The following op-ed by Nat Hentoff appeared in Monday's Washington Times.

Bush and China's 'Genocide Olympics'

China's merciless Communist dictators, eager to sanitize their image around the world, are now gladdened by President Bush's acceptance of an invitation from China's president, Hu Jintao, to attend the Summer Olympics in Beijing. His host is a huge investor in the economy of Sudan — perpetrator of what Mr. Bush was the first world leader to call the genocide of black Africans in Darfur. The American president must know that China is making elaborate, expensive preparations, which include reducing air pollution in Beijing, for this legendary international event. There is an intense expectation among China's leaders that hosting (and sharing in) the glories of the quest for the gold medals will change China's image in the world, from that of a merciless dictatorship to the embodiment of the Olympic spirit of harmonious relations among nations.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino said that, although Mr. Bush spoke to Mr. Hu "in a forceful way" during a recent private meeting in Australia about China's disdain for human rights and religious freedom, Mr. Bush was going to attend as a sports fan, not to make a political statement.

Michael Green, former Asia director at the National Security Council in the Bush administration, told the New York Times (Sept. 7), "The bottom line is [the president] just loves sports, and I'm sure he wants to go, like any other guy, because it's going to be exciting. I think he's going to watch." It would be even more exciting if, during what I and others are calling the "Genocide Olympics," officials held an event to test the synchronizing skills of Sudan's camel-riding Janjaweed militias as they burn villages, kill the men, rape the women, carry away the livestock and sometimes throw children into the fires. Sudan's Khartoum government has pledged to disarm the Janjaweed but has shown no inclination to so, let alone punish the leaders.

Mr. Bush is certainly aware that Sudan's chief investor and leading arms supplier is the host of next summer's Olympics. China's leaders are nervous about plans for a worldwide campaign to shame China into exerting its enormous influence to compel the Sudanese government to join civilization. This nervousness extends to a growing movement to boycott the Olympics because of China's obvious complicity in the genocide.

By hobnobbing with the leaders of the People's Republic of China at the Summer Olympics, the sports-loving president will, as Sophie Richardson, an Asia expert at Human Rights Watch, puts it, be giving "an enormous propaganda opportunity" as China strives to erase the image of the young pro-democracy protester standing in front of the army tanks at Tiananmen Square.

Some years ago, it was Mr. Bush, on learning more of the details of the Rwanda genocide, who wrote on what he was reading: "Not on my watch." How can he not realize that in going to watch the exciting games in Beijing, the hosts with whom he consorts will, in time, be responsible for more corpses than the executors of the genocide in Rwanda? Amid all the current talk by Ban Ki-Moon about constructive efforts by the government of Sudan to engage in peace negotiations with the rebels and tribes, also warring with one another, Smith College Professor Eric Reeves (the pre-eminent historian of this genocide) wrote in the Sept. 6 Boston Globe that "though violence in Darfur has mutated... ethnically targeted violence, orchestrated by Khartoum, continues to be chronicled by human rights investigators... The regime continues its indiscriminate aerial bombardment of African villages."

Under increasing danger are the extraordinarily brave humanitarian workers who are also the victims of the violence. Some have been forced to leave; and Mr. Reeves quotes Jan Egeland, former head of U.N. humanitarian operations, stating that "hundreds of thousands would die in the event of humanitarian collapse." Maybe Mr. Bush, sitting in his box seat at the games, will be moved to make "a political statement" to Mr. Hu urging him to tell the government of Sudan that China is considering disinvesting from Sudan if it continues the genocide. The president of China may listen politely, but Beijing continues to insist unwaveringly that it will continue at the U.N. Security Council to protect Sudan from forceful punishment of its crimes against its own people.

Mr. Bush should reconsider and not let his presence at the "Genocide Olympics" in Beijing be recorded as having been on his watch. I also hope that, on reflection, a growing number of the athletes winning a place at the Summer Olympics will decide that receiving a gold medal at an event hosted by a partner in genocide will not be worth the trip.


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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