Friday, December 16, 2016

“Sudan is Poised to Explode: Not the moment for rapprochement with a genocidal regime”

Sudan is Poised to Explode: Not the moment for rapprochement with a genocidal regime”
Washington Post (“Global Opinions”), December 16, 2016 [final edits; URL not yet assigned]
By Eric Reeves
During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama called Darfur a “stain on our souls.” As president, he re-iterated his charge that the regime in Khartoum was responsible for genocide. But in stark contrast to his rhetoric as a senator and a presidential candidate, President Obama's administration has sought rapprochement with the very same regime that he had long excoriated.
Indeed, all his moral indignation has mattered very little in the eight years during which U.S. policy toward the regime has been guided by the view of Obama’s former special envoy for Sudan, Princeton Lyman:
“We [the Obama administration] do not want to see the ouster of the [Khartoum] regime, nor regime change. We want to see the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures.” (Interview with Asharq al-Awsat, December 3, 2011)
These words—never disavowed—can make no sense in the context of continuing genocide in Darfur, including this year’s massive scorched earth campaign in Jebel Marra, the heart of Darfur.  They make no sense of continuing war against the civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, caught up in yet another “center-periphery” conflict that has defined the governing policies of the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime since it came to power by military coup 27 years.  During that time, millions of Sudanese have been killed, displaced, or had their lives rendered horrors of mere survival.
The people of Sudan—all the people of Sudan not part of the regime’s gigantic kleptocracy—wish to see regime change.  Their views have been clear for years, however fractious the political parties and alliances, however troubled the coalition of armed opposition forces.  They live in an economy devastated by more than two decades of gross economic mismanagementthat has left the people of this potentially rich country living lives of destitution, facing soaring inflation, a lack of critical imported goods (including food, cooking oil, and essential medicines), water shortages, and crippling external debt.  That debt was $13 billion when the NIF/NCP came to power; it now exceeds $50 billion, an increase largely due to profligate military spending and the massive expansion of security services. 
An extraordinary popular uprising began in September 2013, extending to many of Sudan’s cities.  The regime’s response? Amnesty International established on the basis of morgue visits that “shoot to kill” orders had clearly been issued, given the disproportionate number of corpses with fatal bullet wounds to the head and torso.  Some 200 were murdered in Khartoum/Omdurman; more than twice that were killed elsewhere, although the regime has ensured we have no firm figures.
This coming Monday, December 19, will be a day of mass civil disobedience throughout Sudan; it has exploded through social media in a way I have not seen in 18 years of full-time research on Sudan and its multiple wars and crises.  Indeed, this “hash-tag” uprising (#Dec19Disobedience) gives all signs of being the moment in which we will see the outlines of Sudan’s “Arab Spring.”  
Belatedly recognizing what a threat the events of December 19 have become, President Omar al-Bashir—wanted by the International Criminal Court on multiple counts of genocide and massive crimes against humanity in Darfur—has issued a clear, unambiguous, and taunting warning:
“If you want to overthrow the regime, why don’t you criticise us in the streets? I will tell you why. We know that you will not come, as you know very well what happened in the past.” (December 12, 2016)
The “past” invoked here is al-Bashir’s decision in September 2013 to issue “shoot to kill” orders.
The Obama administration has one last opportunity to move beyond Lyman’s shamefully disingenuous assessment of the regime and its ambitions.  Too much has been sacrificed to this expedient view in the name of securing counter-terrorism cooperation from Khartoum, which hosted Osama bin Laden during al-Qaeda’s formative years (1992 – 1996).  The U.S. must issue—before December 19—a clear warning that disproportionate use of force will be a major obstacle to any improvement in relations between Washington and Khartoum.
On the other hand, if the Obama administration remains silent, it will be complicit in the large-scale bloodshed that looks increasingly likely come Monday.
[Eric Reeves has written extensively on Sudan for almost two decades; he is a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights]

-- 
Eric Reeves, Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights

Twitter@SudanReeves

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

South Africa’s Refusal To Arrest Sudan’s Al-Bashir Unlawful

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrives in Khartoum, Sudan from Johannesburg on June 15, 2015. South Africa's Supreme Court has ruled that Bashir should have been arrested when he visited South Africa.EBRAHIM HAMID/AFP/Getty Images

South Africa’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the government on Tuesday and ruled that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir should have been arrested in the country in 2015.

Bashir, who visited South Africa for an African Union summit in June 2015, is subject to an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and war crimes linkedo the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region. He denies the charges.

A court in the South African capital Pretoria ruled on June 14 that Bashir
should not be allowed to leave the country until an application calling for his arrest had been heard, but Bashir later left South Africa. The South African government had applied to the Supreme Court to have the ruling overturned, arguing that all delegates attending the summit were subject to diplomatic immunity.

Ruling on Tuesday, the Supreme Court rejected the government’s appeal and said that its failure to arrest Bashir "was inconsistent with South Africa’s obligations in terms of the Rome Statute...and unlawful," according to Reuters. The Rome Statute is a treaty setting out the crimes that fall within the ICC’s jurisdiction, which South Africa signed in 1998. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

“Vast carnage in Jebel Marra (Central Darfur) fails to spur the international community

On February 11, 2016 the New York Times published my brief and summary account of the current crises in Darfur, most particularly the extension of Khartoum’s genocidal counter-insurgency campaign to the west—from “East Jebel Marra” in North Darfur to the Jebel Marra massif itself, in the very center of Darfur (the eastern tip of Jebel Marra juts far into North Darfur). Fighting today remains undiminished and some of the implications and consequences of this onslaught, which began in earnest in mid-January 2016, are already clear.
[A scalable map of Jebel Marra can be found here]
UN figures suggest that many tens of thousands of people—overwhelmingly children and women—have already been displaced, many to harsh areas with little or no humanitarian relief capacity. Some 40,000 have fled to East Jebel Marra, the site of so much genocidal violence over the past three years. Others have fled west and south. Radio Dabanga (see below) reports that by the third week of January, “At least 60,000 people from 40 villages around Soreng in Rokoro locality in Central Darfur, fled their homes.” The UN reports that altogether almost 50,000 civilians were displaced in January alone. We may be certain certain that well over 100,000 civilians will have been displaced by spring planting season, and thus unable to grow critically needed food. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>

Friday, February 19, 2016

Sudan: United States Calls for End of Violence in Jebel Marra, Darfur

The United States is deeply concerned about the increased violence against civilians and the grave humanitarian situation in and around Jebel Marra, Darfur. Initial attacks by the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid opposition group on Sudanese armed forces prompted a response by Sudan’s military that included aerial bombardments despite the UN Security Council demand that Sudan cease offensive military flights over Darfur. These attacks have forced 73,000 people to flee their homes, and thousands more are trapped in the conflict zone of Jebel Marra without access to aid.
 
The United States calls on both the Government of Sudan and the armed movements of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) to re-commit to their cessation of hostilities declarations for Darfur and in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. We welcome the recent absence of major offensive action in South Kordofan and urge all parties to show the same restraint in Darfur and also in Blue Nile state, where government and opposition forces each carried out attacks last month.
 
There is no military solution to Sudan’s internal conflicts. We call on the Government of Sudan and the SRF to de-escalate the violence and work with the African Union and others to agree to a comprehensive cessation of hostilities agreement that will allow immediate and unfettered humanitarian access for Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile. We also urge the government to create an environment conducive to the participation of armed movements and other political opposition parties in a comprehensive and inclusive national dialogue that addresses systemic governance issues in Sudan.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The World’s Abandonment of Darfur,” The Washington Post, May 16, 2015

By Eric Reeves
The Darfur genocide in western Sudan—the first genocide of the 21st century and the longest one in more than a century—is about to achieve another distinction. It will be the first genocide in
which the victims are abandoned. An international peacekeeping force designed to halt violence against civilians and humanitarians—the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur, or UNAMID—is on the verge of being gutted and perhaps eliminated altogether.
This is so despite the fact that some 3 million people have been internally displaced or turned into refugees; almost 500,000 were displaced last year alone. Mortality estimates vary, but we must of necessity speak of several hundred thousands of deaths—perhaps half a million—from violence and its consequences, and mortality rates are rising. The victims come overwhelmingly from the non-Arab tribal groups that have been targeted from the beginning of Khartoum’s brutal counter-insurgency against rebel forces.

Although it’s been reported on only fitfully, planning for UNAMID’S diminished future is well underway. Among the planners? The génocidaires of the regime in Khartoum, who insist that the “exit strategy”—agreed to in principle by the U.N. Security Council in August—be executed
as rapidly as possible. The force has already been cut by 10,000 and stands at approximately at 17,000 uniformed personnel. The regime wants another 15,000 gone this year.
Criticism of UNAMID is longstanding; indeed it preceded deployment of the civilian-protection mission in January 2008. For the mission was set up to fail, largely because Khartoum was given excessive control over the deployment of personnel and equipment. This led to poor troop quality, with the regime rejecting many highly qualified peacekeeping contributions (such as a Swedish-Norwegian engineering battalion). Essential weaponry and aircraft were also denied. Despite a status-of-forces agreement that was supposed to give UNAMID unrestricted access, Khartoum has systematically obstructed, delayed or compromised countless protection and monitoring missions.

As badly as UNAMID has performed, however, it is all that allows international humanitarian organizations to remain in Darfur. If UNAMID withdraws, or is hopelessly compromised, these organizations may well be forced to end their work. To date, some 25 to 30 international relief organizations have been expelled by Khartoum or withdrawn because of insecurity. This has occurred against a backdrop of extreme malnutrition in many locations, a desperate lack of clean water and sanitation, and a rapidly collapsing system for providing primary medical care.
Decisions about reconfiguring UNAMID are being made at this very moment, and yet we hear nothing of significance from the Obama administration about the urgency of preserving key elements of the force. Yes, a facile international chorus has declared “Darfur won’t be abandoned,” but there are reasons to be skeptical. Leading this chorus is the expedient Hervé Ladsous, head of U.N. peacekeeping operations, who not so long ago argued that a drawdown of UNAMID was justified by improved security conditions, even as violence has escalated for three years. Read more >>>>>>>>

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Is Britain not bothered about raped children in Darfur?

Eight years ago, David Cameron said: 'We cannot remain silent in the face of this horror'


On 31 October, when most of our children were playing trick or treat, 200 women and girls (as young as seven) in Darfur were raped. According to locals, the perpetrators were the Sudanese Armed Forces. One month later, the victims of this egregious assault are no closer to justice.

Rape has been a weapon of war in Darfur for decades. The attack in the village of Tabit, however, is on an unprecedented scale. Despite numerous sources verifying it, the discredited hybrid United Nations/African Union force (Unamid) issued a press release that claimed: "None of those interviewed confirmed that any incident of rape took place in Tabit." What the release didn't say is that, according to a Unamid officer, military personnel accompanied the Unamid delegation so, "no one could speak freely".
Unamid's chicanery emerges at the same time as a UN investigation exonerated the force of previous allegations of cover-up. Despite finding instances in which Unamid officials withheld evidence indicating the culpability of Sudanese government forces in crimes against civilians and peacekeepers, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon concluded: "There was no evidence to support the allegation that Unamid intentionally sought to cover up crimes against civilians."
To the uninitiated, withholding evidence of crimes against civilians may sound like a cover-up. But in UN land, unless the scandalous event was the result of an intentional cover-up, and you can prove it, it doesn't count.
Where is the UK in all this? Instead of calling for an independent investigation into the mass rape in Tabit at the time, our government diverted attention away from it. Issuing a press release about food vouchers for displaced people in Darfur (440,000 beneficiaries over seven months) was, in my view, an act of either wilful obfuscation or gross ineptitude.
The cash/vouchers have been in place since 2011, but there's no evidence that I could find that anyone other than the government of Sudan benefits from the UK's £11m contribution. A local UN official told me he was unaware of the scheme. The three million Darfuris living in camps want reinstatement of the humanitarian organisations expelled by the genocidal regime in 2009. Not gimmicks. Read full story >>>>

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Security Council Press Statement on Darfur

19 November 2014

The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President Gary Quinlan (Australia):
 
The members of the Security Council expressed their concern at the allegations reported in the media of mass rape in Thabit, North Darfur, on 30 and 31 October 2014. They called on the Government of Sudan to conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations. They called on the Government of Sudan to fulfil its obligation to allow, in accordance with the Agreement between the United Nations, the African Union and the Government of Sudan concerning the status of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, the full and unrestricted freedom of movement without delay throughout Darfur to UNAMID, so as to enable them to conduct a full and transparent investigation, without interference, and verify whether these incidents have occurred. They further called on the Government of Sudan to ensure accountability, if the allegations are verified.
They noted that proper access to Thabit and its population for UNAMID is essential to conducting a full investigation into the allegations in order to determine their veracity and, if verified, to ensure accountability.
http://www.un.org/press/en/2014/sc11658.doc.htm