|Africa News Digest
CFR Announces Policy Shift for Horn of Africa
The March/April issue of Foreign Affairs, put out by the New York Council on Foreign Relations, says that it is time to dump the policy of the Bush Administration in the Horn of Africa, because it is too narrowly focussed on "stemming the spread of terrorism and extremist ideologies." The article asserts that "counterterrorism now consumes U.S. policy in the Greater Horn," adding that as result, "the Bush Administration has too often nurtured relationships with autocratic leaders and favored covert and military action over diplomacy. Sometimes that has even included fêting in Langley Sudanese officials suspected of having a hand in the massacres in Darfur or handing suitcases full of cash to warlords on the streets of Mogadishu." It singles out Sudan as "the main culprit" in the region.
The article calls for an escalation against the nations of the Horn via: 1) a wide-ranging, multilateral Greater Horn initiative to stop the conflicts in the region, a "resolution cell in the region, staffed by senior diplomats reporting to the State Dept."; 2) boosting the peacekeeping capacity, which should be led by the UN (because the Africans can't be depended on to handle it); 3) the United States must get more leverage by using multilateral punitive measures"such as prosecutions by the International Criminal Court, targeted sanctions against senior officials and rebels, and oil embargoes and other instruments of economic pressure."
For Sudan in particular, UN troops under UN command are explicitly called for, and "the international community should urgently plan for deploying ground and air forces to protect civilians without Khartoum's consent." The freezing the assets of senior Sudan government officials and their businesses, impose travel bans on them, and send information about them to the International Criminal Court.
Sudan is a primary focus, but the same approach is called for with respect to other crises in the area, involving Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Chad, and the Central African Republic.
One of the Foreign Affairs authors is John Prendergast, a senior advisor at the International Crisis Group in Washington. He worked in the White House and U.S. State Department during the Clinton Administration. The CFR's goal, as publicity around the Darfur crisis is whipped up internationally, is to ensnare the Democrats into supporting this nation-busting policy, while saying absolutely nothing about who has been arming the numerous opposition rebel factions in Sudan, and other countries in the Horn.
Sudan Government Minister Named War Crimes Suspect
On Feb. 27, the International Criminal Court announced the names of two Sudanese war crimes suspects. One is Ahmad Haroun, a Minister of State in the cabinet. The other person named is a Darfur militia leader, Ali Kushayb. It is thought that he is already in the custody of the Sudan government for attacks in Darfur in which he was involved.
Sudan has always said that its courts were capable of trying Darfur's war criminals.
Justice Minister Ali al-Mardi said "We would never accept that any Sudanese national stand trial outside the national legal framework even if he was among those who took up arms and fought against the government." Al-Mardi dismissed the allegations against his fellow minister, saying that Haroun had been in charge of the police service, and had never handed out money or weapons to militias in Darfur.
Speaking on the subject of a UN military intervention into Sudan, President Omar al-Bashir said Feb. 26, in reference to UN resolution 1706, which calls for a UN intervention: "That plan to transform the peacekeeping job in Darfur from the African Union to the UN held a hidden agenda aimed at putting Sudan under UN trusteeship."
In the recent period, the African Union and the UN had taken a more conciliatory position with respect to Sudan. A more positive approach was reportedly being used to help the peace process, and to achieve a new ceasefire with the rebels. The move by the ICC pushes that possibility into the background.
Sudan Sets Up Special Court
On Feb. 25, the government of Sudan set up a special court to try people for incidents in Darfur. The Ministry of Justice said the accused belonged to the Sudanese armed forces and the government-allied popular defense forces. They will be put on trial next week, for crimes in 2003, including murder, kidnapping, and arson. The move came two days before the International Criminal Court charged two Sudanese as war criminals. Sudan said the ICC has no jurisdiction over its nationals, and will not allow any nationals to be tried outside Sudan.
Iran, Sudan Presidents Score Bush Administration, Pledge To Cooperate
Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad completed a two-day visit to Sudan, March 1, in the context of mounting pressure being orchestrated against Sudan, by stirring up conflicts both internally and on its borders. The unrest is being used as a pretext to flood the region with UN troops, and eliminate the nation-states in the region.
Both Presidents attacked the Bush Administration for provoking sectarian violence throughout the Middle East. Sudan President Omar al-Bashir said: "As you know, a well-known outside power with an interest in weakening Islamic forces ... stands behind all these attempts. Our sole weapon in facing these attempts is unity." Bashir said that Iran-Sudan cooperation would be raised in various fields, in particular, economic and scientific domains.
During Ahmadinejad's visit, Sudanese Defense Minister Gen. Abdul Rahim Hussein said that "both Sudan and Iran are being subjected to similar international challenges, particularly from the Untied States in its attempt to rearrange the Middle East."
On Jan. 17, Hussein had concluded a visit to Iran, during which he met his counterpart Mustafa Najar, and discussed arms procurement, according to the Middle East newsline. At the time of their meeting, there were reports that they were discussing weapons sales and training for Khartoum's military and security forces.
"I have visited Iran's defense industry and facilities, and I have noticed that Iran has gained advanced levels of technology which made me glad," Hussein said after his visit.
Conyers Demands 'Vulture Funds' End Preying on Africa
On Feb. 15, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, met with President Bush to demand an end to "the most insidious form of greed" practiced by "investors [who] set up 'vulture funds' to purchase the debt of poor African nations." The practice he called on Bush to halt is described in a press release issued by his office: "In this insidious practice, investors set up 'vulture funds' to purchase the debt of poor African nations for pennies-on-the-dollar, just as these debts are about to be forgiven by the lending nation. These 'vulture funds' then sue the debtor country for far greater amounts than the debt they purchased, adding interest and fees. Under the threat of national bankruptcy, many nations capitulate." Conyers, who said Bush has the authority to stay such actions against foreign governments, said, "It is disgraceful that poor nations emerging from debt have been swindled by unscrupulous investors."
Potential for Another Conflict on Sudan's Borders Emerges
The Feb. 27 breakdown of talks between Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA)an armed opposition movementadds one more potential conflict in the area surrounding Sudan, which would bolster the campaign to get UN troops to come in to take control of the region.
LRA leader Joseph Kony, who is wanted by the ICC for war crimes, agreed to a ceasefire with the Uganda government in September 2006. The ceasefire expired Feb. 27. The LRA withdrew from talks mediated by Sudan for its extension, which were taking place in Juba, Sudan, on Feb. 26.
In addition to fighters in Uganda, Kony has soldiers in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and in Chad, and contributes to the violence for which many are calling for a UN intervention. He communicates via satellite phone from his locations in the African bush.
Chad, under pressure to accept a UN troop presence, however announced Feb. 28 that they are opposed to a UN force in Chad.
The breakdown in talks may create problems for Uganda's deployment of peacekeeping troops to Somalia, which began at the end of February, but in limited numbers. The Somali capital, Mogadishu in recent weeks has suffered the worst unrest since Ethiopia and the Bush Administration intervened militarily last December.