|Africa News Digest
LaRouche Rep Challenges Susan Rice on Africa War Policy
EIR's Lawrence Freeman confronted former Assistant Secretary of State for Africa in the Clinton Administration Susan Rice when she spoke about Sudan at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies on Feb. 21. Freeman told Rice, who is now with the Brookings Institution, that her plan to confront the government of Sudan militarily, with the involvement of other African countries, would ignite asymmetric war in the Horn of Africa. Rice responded that he showed the same lack of logic "as LaRouche and his publications."
Freeman challenged her advocacy of upgrading a military base in Chad for use by the U.S. military for flights over Sudan, and the deployment of 1,500 troops from Djibouti to attack Sudan to force the government to accept the deployment of over 20,000 UN troops. He said that this would destabilize the region in a way similar to what Cheney et al., are doing in Iraq.
Sudan, Chad Seek To End Violence in Darfur, Eastern Chad
Sudan and Chad announced that they would redouble efforts to end violence in Darfur and eastern Chad, after a heads of State summit in Tripoli, Libya, which ended of Feb. 23. It was attended by the Presidents of Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, and Libya.
The statement issued after the summit said that the governments of both countries are committed to respect the sovereignty of one another, not to interfere in the internal affairs of the other country, refrain from any hostile activity against one another, and to work for full normalization of their relations.
Sudan President Omar al-Bashir said, "We are opening a new page in Chad-Sudan relations with political will on both sides." He added: God willing, we will transcend all obstacles and all our bitterness.
An adviser to Bashir, Majzoub al-Khalifa, said Bashir and Chad President Idriss Deby had agreed to step up implementation of an agreement of February 2006, requiring that the two countries stop insurgents from setting up bases on their territories, and also to end propaganda against one another. He added that "mechanisms of observation" would be set up to monitor any attempt to smuggle weapons across the frontier.
Deby stated: "We regret all the violations we have witnessed and we are hoping to open a true and clean page. I hope the brothers in Darfur will reach a peaceful solution to the dangerous humanitarian situation." He added: I wish the mechanism to apply this decision be set up as soon as possible to be able to restore confidence between Chad and Sudan.
In February last year, Sudan and Chad agreed that they should form joint forces to patrol their common border to stop any military infiltration from one country to the other. The summit which just ended was intended to reactivate this agreement. The effort to get anti-government rebels from Sudan to attend the summit to actively take part in the negotiations, did not succeed. They only observed the proceedings.
New Attempt To Bring UN Troops into Darfur
An attempt is being made to internationalize the crisis in western Sudan by getting UN troops into Darfur through the back door.
Since Sudan has consistently refused to allow UN troops to come into Darfur, a drive is being mounted to get a 10,000-man UN military force into eastern Chad, an area that borders Darfur. The week beginning Feb. 26, the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations is expected to brief the Security Council on options for a UN mission in Chad.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Feb. 20 recommended peacekeeping operations for Chad and the Central African Republic, to deal with the Darfur conflict in Sudan. Ban favors the option of 10,900 troops, plus aircraft. He has called for a much smaller force for the Central African Republic.
There has been a big upturn in attacks on aid suppliers in eastern Chad during February, along with worsening inter-communal violence in the region. Some of this is being blamed on Janjaweed militias. Sudan is blamed for arming this militia, and thus for the violence.
The Janjaweed militias actually first appeared in Chad, and were later armed by Libya, well before the Darfur crisis was ever triggered. On Feb. 15, Chad reportedly reversed its policy, and agreed to exempt U.S. citizens from International Criminal Court legal action on Chadian soil.
This move has opened the way for grants of U.S. military transfers to Chad, along with surplus U.S. defense equipment, putting Dick Cheney et al. in the position to get military materiel to those forces who want to fuel the conflict. So far, Chad has reluctant to allow in UN peacekeeping forces, and Ban confirmed this.
Sudan's critics refuse to look at the conditions that are feeding the unrest. A UN news bulletin reported by a South African news wire on Feb. 19 reported a deadly clash between tribes in Darfur over land, which killed 150. The two tribes clashed over grazing land in South Darfur state the week before the report was issued.
"It's clashes over grazing land. The density of cattle and the lack of pasture and water turns friction into direct clashes," said the governor of the state.
Darfur is an arid area the size of France, has been ravaged by violence since 2003, when rebels took up arms. The Bush Administration and the American press call the violence genocide, a term European governments have been reluctant to use, and which Khartoum rejects.
Bashir Scores Western Press Coverage of Darfur Crisis
Speaking via satellite to a Nation of Islam conference in Detroit, Michigan Feb. 23, Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir acknowledged that Sudan was facing a "problem" in Darfur, but placed the blame squarely on rebel groups which did not sign on to a peace agreement concluded in Abuja, Nigeria in May 2006.
"There is a problem, and the main cause of that problem is the rebellion ... we've done everything possible to try to convince those who bore arms against the state and the people ... but all efforts and mediation failed," he said.
He added that, "There's a discourse in Western media about the number of people killed in these events, and a lot of organizations and the American media refer to imaginary numbers, up to 400,000 dead. All these are false." He said that the actual number was closer to 9,000 dead.
He dismissed claims of ethnic cleansing in Darfur, saying: "Talk of Arabs killing blacks is a lie. The government of Sudan is a government of blacks, with all different ethnic backgrounds.... We're all Africans, we're all black."
Bashir pointed out that Darfur's non-signatory rebel groups had refused to negotiate with Khartoum during the just-held Feb. 23 summit in Tripoli, Libya, attended by the rebels.
The rebels, however, said they had gone to Libya to observe, that they did not intend to engage in talks with Khartoum, and that their priority was to unite Darfur rebel factions.
Bashir rejected Security Council resolution 1706, which calls for the deployment of some 22,500 UN peacekeepers and police to take over the African Union mission in Darfur, saying it would effectively place Sudan under UN control. He said that Sudan could accept more African Union peacekeeperswith UN support. He also stated that Sudan would hold elections in 2008 and 2009, monitored by regional and international bodies.
Western Pressure Encourages Sudan Rebels Not To Negotiate
The European Parliament passed a resolution on Darfur Feb. 15, accusing Sudan of war crimes and crimes against humanity, which calls on EU member states to make equipment available in the region for the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Darfur, and calls for sanctions against Sudan. Britain's Foreign Office Minister for Africa, Lord David Triesman, threatened Feb. 21 that Sudan will face new sanctions unless it keeps agreements to promote peace in Darfur. This posture, like that of the United States and its press, only encourages the anti-Sudan rebels to hold out, and not negotiate a settlement.
Encouraging the rebels even more, the International Criminal Court will name Sudanese officials as Darfur War Crimes Suspects on Feb. 27, according to the UN News Service from New York. The ICC's chief prosecutor will name Sudanese officials accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region, a United Nations spokesperson said.
A peace agreement was signed in Abuja on May 5, 2006 by the Sudan government and the main Darfur rebel faction. But two other rebel groups that took part in the talks in the Nigerian capital have rejected the agreement, and violence has continued unabated, hampering relief efforts.