The following is a translation from a recent Arabic political analysis Q&A.
Question: The Darfur issue continues to remain hot and intensify, especially of late. Is Darfur becoming a region similar to the separated southern Sudan? Or is it different, will it simply be given more administrative powers and remain part of Sudan? What has happened to the issue of International forces with the African forces, which was raised in various statements and conferences, the last of which was the Darfur conference held in Libya on 28th April, 2007 C.E.
(We have dwelt at length on the subject of Darfur in reply to a question on 28th July, 2004 C.E.)
The Darfur issue is different in certain aspects from the issue of southern Sudan. The situation of southern Sudan is that it is discussed as a separate territory independent from Sudan to serve as base for the United States for political and military purposes in Africa. In other words, America is not content with having its agents as rulers in certain African countries like the Sudan for instance. It wants to have its bases to serve as launching points, which is why it did every thing it could to prepare the script for the Nevasha Accord and it ensured that the Europeans are kept out of the whole process. The Nevasha Accord calls for separating southern Sudan and holding a reference six years after signing of the accord in January 2005 C.E. Furthermore, according to the Nevasha accord, the southern Sudan is like an independent country with immediate effect with its own armed forces and separate funds. Further, Abie, a province in the central Sudan is being considered a disputed territory between the north and the south, just because there is a revolutionary movement underway there.
The problem in Darfur is of Europe’s (Britain and France) making, because they left with southern Sudan’s problem without achieving any results, hence they seek to incite the issue to enforce their presence, if not wholly then at least as back-seat riders with the US in order to achieve their long cherished goals in Darfur.
The problem in Darfur started as any other tribal conflict over pastures, agriculture and water. This would sometimes intensify and heat up over such issues between tribes of African origin and those of Arab origin. At that stage it was possible for the Sudanese government to resolve the issue had it taken serious steps in that direction. But the US was then engaged in the dispute of southern Sudan and wanted the Sudanese government as well as the southern rebels to work towards solving the issue of the south before focusing on Darfur for an autonomous self-government for resolving the inter-clan disputes. Hence the Darfur issue practically remained out of focus during that period and was put off until a solution to the south’s problem was worked out.
Europe was aware of American preoccupation with the southern Sudan and that it aimed to delay a solution for Darfur. Therefore Europe saw an opportunity to influence the Darfur solution while the US and the Sudanese government, an ally of the US were engaged in the south.
France began to supply arms and ammunition to the rebels through Chad on the pretext of protecting their farms, lands and homes and this resulted in spreading of arms on a massive scale. Thus the situation heated up and exploded which resulted in murders, arson, destruction and violation of individual honour.........France continued to supply arms to the rebels through Chad and provided safe haven for those who rebelled against the Sudanese government. On the other hand Britain indulged in trumpeting the cause of the rebels using its media muscle in order to keep the atmosphere hot and the issue alive. The Sudanese government on its part assisted the Janjoud militia.
Thus the Darfur problem came into existence and ultimately reached the doorsteps of the United Nations where Britain supported France’s stand for military intervention. On the other hand, the US pressured Sudan to solve the conflict within a specific time frame. Now the conflict was raging and France prepared its forces to intervene and actually sent them close to the Darfur border in Chad as a sign of flexing its muscle. Blair on his part proposed sending 5000 of British forces on 22nd July, 2004 C.E. On the same day the US submitted to the UNSC a proposal ‘warning Sudan to set the matter right with in a month or face consequences’.
This continued until January 2005 C.E when the Nevasha Accord was signed which pushed the south Sudan issue to the back-burner and attention was focused on Darfur. Later the Abuja Accord was reached on 5th July, 2005 C.E.
Both these accords placed south Sudan on course for independence while wide ranging autonomy was proposed for Darfur. These accords fell short of declaring full independence for Darfur in the near future, but nevertheless prepared ground for its eventual independence at amore opportune time just as always has happened with states that have wide ranging autonomy.
America insisted that military forces intervening in Darfur for restoring peace be from the Organisation of African Unity. This was to keep the two permanent members of the Security Council away. Now this reached appoint of give-and-take, where the US wanted African forces while Europe worked to have an international force. The US wanted international resolutions giving a deadline to Sudan to comply or face consequences, while Europe worked for resolution to have international force immediately without any deadline being given. This became a conflict where the strong prevailed. There appears to be compromise solution where the actual forces will be African but supported by a some what smaller UN force.
America initiated this process but all along worked to delay a solution for as long as possible. It sent its Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte who toured Darfur on 14th April, 2007 and returned to Khartoum where he announced that ‘human situation has improved in the region’ but added that it was not enough and asked Khartoum to accept the international forces along with the UN force.
When the Sudanese Foreign Minister announced on 16th April, 2007 C.E that his country accepts the second stage of the UN plan for supporting the African forces, Negroponte responded by saying that it was not enough. But what actually delayed the matter was Blair’s announcement on 18th April, 2007 C.E that a resolution will be placed before the Security Council for imposing sanctions on Sudan. Blair added that the happenings in Darfur are a frightening scandal for the international community. Indeed Europe had lost its nerves because it could not get the resolution for the international peace keeping force that it wanted. The US realised that it was time to go for a compromise solution; hence Bush announced the same day that he had decided to give the UN Secretary General more time to work with President al- Basheer to send an international force and added that the Sudanese President al-Basheer seizes his last opportunity to work positively with the Secretary General and meet the just demands of the international community. It was now clear that America was settling for a compromise solution of having a small international force to support the African forces.
This was meant to put pressure on Basheer, who was opposed to the international force because of US pressure on him to reject such a force. Now the same US were demanding from him to accept it. This is why he practically exploded on 19th April shouting that America was behind all the woes in Sudan!
However, no agent can sustain such a statement for long, therefore on 22nd April, 2007; the Sudanese government announced that it welcomes the UN Secretary General.
It can now be said that an international force along with the African forces has become a reality and the strengths of the respective powers will determine the size, numbers and power of such a force.
If one monitors the recent Darfur conference in Libya he will find the various parties to this conflict attending the conference on 28th April, 2007 C.E: the representative of America, the representative of Britain, the representative of France, the representative of United Nations, the representative of African Unity along with foreign ministers of Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Eritrea and Libya.
It is the same parties who are responsible for the conflict in the first place who are working out a solution!
13th Rabee’ ul akhir, 1428 A.H
30th April, 2007.