Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Stop the genocide in eastern Sudan

I've been meaning for two weeks to write another essay on the genocide in Darfur, eastern Sudan, but there's been so much material, I haven't had time to sort it. But this editorial from the Botswanan newspaper The Reporter captures my opinion very concisely.

I note how the editorial points out the futility of wasting time arguing whether what's happening in Darfur is really genocide or "only" ethnic cleansing.

What needs to be done?

The starting point is quite clearly immediate international sanctions against the Sudanese regime, who are almost universally believed to funding, arming and organizing the massacring militias. These sanctions must include an arms embargo.

Sanctions must also include a deadline, in the near future, for the regime to reign in the militias. Not for them to promise to do so, which they did weeks ago, but to actually do so. Since the regime pretends they want the massacres to stop and that they are allegedly not coordinating the militias, the international community must call their bluff by offering to "help" them deal with the problem that they claim not to be the authors of.

If they reject this offer, then the deadline must also include a warning that an international intervention, authorized by the UN and by the African Union (AU), will be conducted. If the regime continues to thumb its nose and continue supporting the massacres, then the intervention must occur. The Arab League could, for once, stop whining about Israel for a few seconds and join in the pressure against Sudan.

Any intervention must be done by African Union and/or Arab League troops with technical assistance and funding from the European Union and the US. It is important that the intervention be done by an AU or Arab force. A western-led force will immediately lead to charges of imperialism and will necessarily stoke the fires of Arab nationalism and domestic Sudanese resistance, no matter how legitimate the cause or illegitimate the targeted. Simply put, a western-led intervention in Darfur can't be successful because of the pot it would stir up. An AU intervention would be much harder to tar with the 'neo-colonialist' brush.

The AU is a new organization whose founders hope will be more relevant that the lethargic Organization of African Unity (OAU) it replaced. It has a dynamic leader in Alpha Oumar Konare, the former Malian president. But it has a big handicap. Although the AU has a new structure, it has the same member states that rendered the OAU irrelevant. Whether Konare's exurbence will prevail over the collective inertia of Africa's governments remains to be seen.

The lives of millions of Sudanese depends on it.

**


From: The Reporter of Gaborone, Botswana

Darfur - Africa See No Evil, Speak No Evil
Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)
EDITORIAL
July 21, 2004
Posted to the web July 22, 2004


INTERNATIONAL reaction to the tragedy playing out in the Darfur region of Sudan (in which government-supported Arab militias have killed more than 30 000 black Muslims, and left more than a million others without shelter or enough food and water) has attracted outrage from everywhere else, except - of course - in Africa.

Africa's muted response is best summed up by the communiqué that was issued after the heads of state summit in Addis Ababa two weeks back: "Though the crisis in Darfur is grave, with unacceptable levels of deaths, human suffering, and destruction of homes and infrastructure, the situation cannot be defined as genocide."

Trust Africa's leaders to always choose the backseat, and leave the driving to others, even in matters that are of immediate concern to Africans.

While the continent is in denial (how else do you explain the statement that seeks to qualify the human misery that is going on?), British liberal democrat leader, Charles Kennedy, says the situation in Sudan is exactly what African leaders say it is not: a genocide in the style of what happened in Rwanda exactly a decade back. Once again, a whole continent is sleeping soundly while a raging fire razes its hut to the ground. In the meantime, it is left to the likes of Kofi Annan, Colin Powell and Tony Blair to speak up against the Sudanese crisis. It looks increasingly likely that action, if any, will be initiated from outside Africa's borders.

The indecisiveness and inaction - in the face of a calamity of this magnitude - prove one thing: Africa is in want of leaders with the courage to rise up to the challenges of the day. Today's generation of leaders has not graduated from the victim mentality that gripped the post-colonial leadership. Close to 50 years after the departure of former colonial powers, African leaders still blame colonialism for all the continent's ills, most of which stem from avarice by the ruling class and its cronies; and total disregard for good governance. So many years after independence, African leaders still expect the world, as of right, to clean their mess. The Darfur crisis is a case in point.


**

Want to help: go to MSF's website (Doctors Without Borders)

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