|Africa News Digest
Pressure Against Sudan Government Surges
Sudan has been hit by a barrage of propaganda attacks from UN-related institutions, U.S.-based groups who blame the Sudan government as solely responsible for the violence in Darfur, and U.S. and British institutions. The propaganda attacks make it more difficult to negotiate a settlement between the Sudan government and the anti-government rebels in Darfur.
On March 12, a team of investigators for the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council issued a report which accused Sudan "of orchestrating and participating" in crimes in Darfur that include rape, murder, and kidnapping. This team was headed by Nobel peace laureate Jody Williams. The investigative team was created at the special emergency UNSC session on Darfur last December, a session that Western countries pushed for.
The team's report says the crisis is so grave that the international community should send international peacekeeping forces to Darfur whether the Sudanese government approved or not, and makes the case for council members and the wider UN to push for international intervention, sanctions, and war crimes prosecutions.
On March 13, the Save Darfur Coalition issued a statement by Lawrence Rossin saying that the humanitarian situation in Darfur is worsening, and Rossin, Save Darfur's international coordinator (formerly a U.S. ambassador and a State Department official with crisis-management experience) said that violence is worsening because of internal communal fighting which threatens to result in "death on a massive scale."
Neither the UN team nor Rossin raised the issue of how the rebel groups, and the local groups fighting each other, got their weapons. The UN and Rossin called for bringing in aircraft to enforce a no-fly zone in Sudan, bringing in UN troops, and stringent economic sanctions. The UN group also called for full support for the International Criminal Court (ICC) proceedings against Sudanese officials, and also stated that UN member-states should use their national courts to prosecute individuals suspected of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
U.S. 'Impatient' With Sudan 'Delaying Tactics'
U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said on March 13 that the Administration was increasingly impatient over what he called Sudan's "delaying tactics." "The U.S. and other members of the international community are going to have to think seriously about implementing additional measures to deal with the humanitarian crisis in Darfur," Casey warned. Britain said it wanted the Security Council to extend UN sanctions against Sudan: "I would put down a resolution on sanctions next week ... that I would expect to get ... adopted," UK's Ambassador to the UN, Emyr Jones Parry, told reporters March 14.
That same day, there was an example of a nation using its courts against Sudan, as had been called for by the UN team. In a trial dealing with charges brought by relatives of American victims of the Oct. 12, 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, who are seeking damages from Sudan for that attack, U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar, in Norfolk, Virginia, ruled that Sudan was responsible for the bombing of the Cole. One of the "experts" on terrorism who testified was former CIA director and prominent neo-con James Woolsey. The experts charged that Sudan gave safe haven to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network since 1991, long before Yemeni operatives attacked the Cole.
The former Speaker of the Sudan Parliament, Hassan al-Turabi, reportedly protected bin Laden's operations in Sudan in the 1990s. Turabi was thrown out of the government in December 1999. He was again put into prison in March 2004, and was released in June 2005. He has been connected to one of the anti-government rebel groups in Darfur, the Justice and Equality Movement. He called for the overthrow of the Sudan government in February of this year. Judge Doumar may not be aware of this irony.
The accusations of war crimes brought against two Sudanese officials by the ICC was welcomed by U.S.-based groups who are calling for armed intervention into Sudan by UN troops. While this may have some propaganda value for those who blame the Sudan government for everything that is happening in Darfur, this puts the Bush Administration in a quandary.