April 23, 2007
By Peter Brookes
Despite endless rounds of shadowboxing with the dodgy Sudanese
government over the ongoing nightmare in Darfur, United Nations
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is asking us to give appeasement, er,
diplomacy, one more chance.
That's not going to help: It's going to take some highly
credible threats to get Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir to end
what many call the 21st century's first genocide.
What kind of threats? Before I detail that, let's review why
diplomacy alone is a guaranteed bust.
The U.N. attempts to stop Khartoum's ethnic cleansing have been
feckless. At last count, the campaign by Sudanese government forces
and their Arab-Muslim "Janjaweed" henchmen against Muslim Africans
in Darfur has left 200,000 dead, 2 million refugees and 4 million
Bashir has made a mockery of U.N. efforts to stem the violence
since the Security Council passed its first resolution on Darfur in
He's made promise after promise to stop the chaos and carnage,
yet it continues unabated. Now the ever-worsening humanitarian
disaster is spilling over Sudan's borders into neighboring Chad and
the Central African Republic.
Last week, a "confidential" U.N. report disclosed that Khartoum
is still moving weapons into Darfur, in violation of
Security Council resolutions. Bashir's boys are even disguising
Sudanese aircraft to look like U.N. planes. (Khartoum denied all
Yet Ban calls for still more
diplomacy. Indeed, as the White House was getting ready last week
to propose U.S. economic sanctions against the Khartoum regime, Ban
frantically waved off the move.
Why? Because - after five months of hemming and hawing - Sudan
has (again) reversed itself. It now says it will allow
the deployment of a U.N. "heavy-support package" to augment the
7,000 beleaguered African Union troops in Darfur.
Fine. The U.N. Blue Helmets - 3,000 troops and police, plus six
helicopter gunships - will support the A.U. Green Helmets. That
means a force of 10,000 trying to bring peace and stability to an
area the size of Texas.
Of course, the United Nations hopes to add another 10,000
peacekeepers (more appropriately called "peacemakers," since peace
doesn't exist). But there's no telling if Sudan will agree to a
"hybrid" U.N./A.U. force - or how long it'll take to get boots on
the ground. (Sudan is insisting new troops be African, surely so
that Khartoum can pull strings with their capitals to guide and
limit their operations.)
The initial 3,000 Blue Helmets won't get there until the end of
June, at the earliest - assuming Turtle Bay can round up enough
brave souls. How many more Darfuris will perish by then? How many
more rapes? How many more refugees?
Political reconciliation between Khartoum and the Darfuri rebels
- who demand more representation in the central government and
wealth-sharing and less discrimination - is fundamental to ending
the violence. But that now looks more distant than ever.
Only one of three major rebel groups signed the 2006 peace
agreement reached at U.S. urging. Now there are as many as 15 rebel
groups - making an inclusive peace agreement a Herculean task.
Can the slaughter be stopped in the meantime? Not with the small
U.N. and A.U. forces now proposed - not even if they have a robust
mandate (meaning authorization to take offensive action if necessary)
under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter.
First, a serious effort has to expect more reversals and
backsliding by Khartoum on its promises. The United Nations needs
to establish firm benchmarks and deadlines for ending the violence,
disarming the Janjaweed and starting peace negotiations. (Yes, it's
appalling that this hasn't been done yet - welcome to "feel good"
Second, back up those deadlines with punitive economic and
financial sanctions. If Khartoum fails to meet the benchmarks, hit
Sure, China will run interference for Sudan at Turtle Bay - but
a group of like-minded nations could be "cherry-picked" for
Even without Security Council approval, American and European
Union countries, India and Japan could all curtail financial and
business dealings with, and investment in, Sudan. They could also
freeze the assets of Sudanese officials responsible for the death
and destruction in Darfur.
Third, recognize that the current arms embargo is meaningless
without international efforts to tighten it.
There will still be smuggling, especially out of Egypt, but
better enforcement could hamper Sudanese government and Janajweed
This last option requires U.S. military planning. The Pentagon
should look at what it would take to set up a no-fly zone over
Darfur - probably out of neighboring Chad. No easy proposition, but
the mere suggestion of a U.S. - or, better yet, NATO - no-fly zone
over Darfur would give Khartoum heart palpitations.
The slaughter in Sudan can be stopped - but only if the world is
up for joining the United States in some serious arm-twisting. If
other nations don't find the political spine to do so, things are
only likely to get worse in Darfur.
Brookes is a senior fellow at The Heritage
Foundation and the author of "A Devil's Triangle: Terrorism, WMD
and Rogue States."
First appeared in New York Post
Despite endless rounds of shadowboxing with the dodgy Sudanese government over the ongoing nightmare in Darfur, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is asking us to give appeasement, er, diplomacy, one more chance.
Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs
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