Imperialists Saving Darfur, Sudan: Talk is Cheap!
Continuation of Civil War in the Summits and Conferences
By Mike Chimenti
The last few months have seen many high level conferences and summits with representatives from every major imperialist country and multilateral organization, as well as leaders from some of the rebel factions in Darfur. At each step along the way, imperialists have been tightening the noose around Sudan and opening new avenues for attack.
UN: A Lion Without Teeth
On July 31st, United Nations (UN) Resolution 1769 was officially ratified. The deal, worked out at a meeting on June 12th, is a three-way agreement between the UN, African Union (AU) and the Sudanese government allowing 26,000 foreign military “peacekeepers” into the Darfur region of Sudan. This new resolution was the reason behind the recent Paris Conference which saw the G8 nations, the EU, UN and AU all sit down, without the Sudanese government, to discuss how they would “solve” the crisis in Darfur. While the “international community” is hailing the passing of Resolution 1769 as the savior of people in Darfur, it was not so long ago that a similar resolution was given the same praise.
In August of 2006, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) passed Resolution 1706, which prophesied the deployment of 17,300 foreign soldiers and 3,300 civilian support staff to Darfur under the banner of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). Unfortunately for the imperialists trying to invade Sudan while waving the light blue flags of the UN, they were never able to muster the money or soldiers needed to actually deploy the force. Regardless of the complete absence of any boots on the ground, in October 2006, the UNGA felt compelled to extend the mission until April 30, 2007, marking a full year since the passing of the original resolution.
During the course of this entire year, the imperialists constantly beat the drum of war against the government of Sudan, claiming to be concerned only with the suffering of Darfuris, and not the billions of dollars of oil and gold buried beneath the land that millions of poor Sudanese live on.
Under the terms of the July 31st resolution, the UN will establish the United Nations Assistance Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). The end of October 2007 marks the end of the preparation period in which the UN will prepare to subsume the 7,000 soldier AU force already in Darfur. By December 31, they are then to be ready to command not only the military mission, but to coordinate and administer the “humanitarian” mission which the Assistant Secretary General for the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations characterized as “unprecedented”. In an interview with the New York Times, Jane Hall Lute (the above mentioned Secretary) said, “This is a logistical and administrative undertaking, the kind of which is, for us in the United Nations, unprecedented.”
The New Mission: The Old Mission with a New Face!
The details of the new mission are extremely vague. No concrete troop or personnel commitments from any countries have yet been made, and according to Secretary Lute, “It’s premature at this point to say definitively what the exact composition of the force will be like.” However, some countries have been quick to reassert their desire to get in on the plunder of Sudan. Notably, the government of Canada (on behalf of Canadian oil and mining companies already in Sudan) announced an additional $48 million dollars for the hybrid UN-AU force only two days after the resolution was passed. The EU, France and other countries made similar announcements in the days just prior to the ratification of the resolution.
With the rich imperialist countries offering to foot large portions of the bill, the hunt is on for countries that can contribute the actual soldiers on the ground. The wording of Resolution 1769 calls for the military force to be made up primarily of soldiers from other African countries. But, as things stand, the outlook for assembling such a large army of African soldiers is bleak. The AU already has 7,000 soldiers on the ground in Darfur, and the AU’s most recent “peacekeeping” mission, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) “is on the verge of folding because of a lack of financial and logistical support, as well as trained troops …”, according to Dr. Wafula Okumu, head of the Security Analysis Programme at the Institute for Strategic Studies in Pretoria. So far, the AU has been able to muster only 1,500 troops for a force that was supposed to number 8,000 and was meant to relieve the 15,000 Ethiopian soldiers, backed by the US, that invaded Somalia in December of last year.
The AU isn’t the only group of countries unlikely to be willing or able to scrounge up enough soldiers to make the dreams of Resolution 1769 a reality. While the US continues to sink deeper into the quagmire of Iraq, NATO countries are stretched to the breaking point trying to hold their ground against an increasingly effective and widespread resistance in Afghanistan. And with anti-war sentiment on the rise in North America and Europe, significant troop contributions from the imperialist countries become more politically dangerous everyday.
With their armies weakened by the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the imperialist countries are already discussing the use of private military contractors to make the occupation of Sudan a reality. According to Secretary Lute, the UN is looking “at commercial contractors for certain aspects of support in the area.” With the annual budget for UNAMID expected to surpass $2 billion per year, no one is forecasting a shortage in available contractors.
But while the UN embarks on this unprecedented mission, the precedents being set in some of its other missions are a grim indication of what will happen in Darfur if the UN is able to implement the newest plans of its imperial puppeteers.
On July 21st, the UN announced they were beginning an internal investigation into new allegations of child sexual abuse by as many as 800 UN “peacekeepers” in the Ivory Coast. This investigation is only the newest in a long string of sexual exploitation scandals that have marred almost every UN “peacekeeping” mission around the world, including the ongoing UN mission in southern Sudan.
Two days later, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a letter that they had written to Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, regarding an investigation into gold and weapons smuggling involving UN “peacekeepers” in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the letter, HRW criticized the UN for the “lack of transparency in the process, the slow progress of the investigation, and most important, the continuing lack of accountability.” The original charges were filed with the UN in December of 2005 and implicated several members of the UN force. On July 13th 2007, Guéhenno told the BBC that the case was “now closed” with no charges laid, despite the fact that the UN’s own investigation showed that at least one officer had committed the crimes.
Whether or not the UN’s newest mission becomes reality, the passing of this newest resolution is yet another step in the long run plans of imperialism to isolate, weaken, invade and plunder Sudan. Over the last few months, increasing US sanctions against Sudan have begun to hurt Chinese investments in the country to the point that China has reversed its previous stance of “non-interference” in Khartoum’s affairs. On April 11, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Zhai Jun, after meeting with Sudanese President Omar al Bashir, told reporters, "My main task during the visit [was]…urging the Sudanese side to show flexibility toward" UN Resolution 1706. Shortly after this statement, the Sudanese government agreed to accept the UN’s “Heavy Support Package”, an additional 3,000 foreign troops as well as an increase in the amount of military hardware and aircraft allowed in Darfur.
In addition to the sanctions and threats of invasion, the recent Arusha Summit held in Tanzania on August 3rd saw the AU and UN meet with different rebel groups from Darfur. Although two of the largest rebel organizations, the Sudan Liberation Movement and Sudan Liberation Army-Unity, were absent from the talks, on August 6 Jan Eliasson, Special UN Envoy to Darfur, claimed that the rebel factions had reached a “common platform” and were ready for “final negotiations” with Khartoum.
With a new, larger military force given legitimacy by the UN and economic sanctions beginning to take effect, the imperialists have now succeeded in grouping different rebel factions on the side of “peace” in order to increase the political and diplomatic pressure on Khartoum, all the while preparing for war while they manipulate the honest and human compassion of millions of well-intentioned people across the world.
Whether under the UN or AU, separately or combined in a “hybrid force”, we must continue to oppose any military intervention in Sudan and join with our Sudanese brothers and sisters in demanding:
No to Invasion of Sudan!
US/UN Hands of Sudan!
Hands Off Africa!
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