Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Darfur, Again

Western policy is in near despair over Darfur, and governments are turning to Russia and China to see if they can put pressure on the Sudanese government to accept a UN peacekeeping force.

The problem is that while the government of Sudan has said the current and cash-starved 7,000-strong force from the African Union can stay after its current mandate runs out at the end of September, it insists that the AU troops cannot be incorporated into a more powerful replacement UN force of up to 17,300 soldiers and more than 3,000 police.
It said that such a UN force, mandated only last week by the Security Council, would violate its sovereignty and suggested that it was a bridgehead for the removal of an Islamic-oriented government. Furthermore, it hinted that the force might attract Islamic fighters to combat it, because Osama Bin Laden has already identified Darfur as a battlefield.

Instead, the government says it intends to send its own troops to fight against the rebel forces that did not accept the recent peace deal agreed in Nigeria, especially the National Redemption Front. This is the worst possibility since any increase in fighting, making the provision of aid difficult or impossible. What else needs to be remembered is that Africa does not always follow the script. The African Union force apparently does not even have enough money to pull its troops out, so it might stay anyway and if a deal can be worked out, it might yet form part of a UN force.

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