August 13, 2007: The government brokered a peace
deal between rival Arab tribes in south Darfur. Fighter there had killed over
140 people in the last few weeks. While
Arab tribal militias have done most of the government dirty work in Darfur (driving
non-Arab tribesmen from their villages), there are still ancient rivalries
between all tribes in the area.
August 12, 2007: UN peacekeeping operates on the "pledge system." Member
nations agree to provide troops ("pledge troops") for a specific peacekeeping
operation. Even if the peacekeeping operation is well-planned (a big if) and
well-funded, planners always remain uncertain. Often pledges are not fulfilled.
One example is Somalia. So far only Uganda has supplied troops. Getting troops
for Darfur has also been a problem, though the UN reports that it has received
a significant number of pledges for infantry soldiers. Not surprisingly, many
African nations are promising ground troops. Rwanda, Ethiopia and Egypt have
promised contingents, as have Uganda, Nigeria, and Tanzania. Jordan, Malaysia,
and Bangladesh (the last three are
predominantly Muslim countries) have also promised infantry. However,
specialists troops (ie, communications, medical, engineers, mechanics, etc) are
missing. So far no nations has firmly agreed to supply attack helicopters (and
attack helos like the AH-64 are superb weapon systems for an operation in
Darfur). Logistics support will also be a huge problem. At the moment the UN is
actually considering supplying Darfur from Port Sudan - which is located on the
Red Sea, on the other side of Sudan. Darfur is in the middle of Africa. That's
a long way for trucks to roll. Any Darfur operation will need a lot of air
transport support. That means the UN needs the US Air Force, with its fleet of
C-17s and C-130s.
August 10, 2007: Several large-scale firefights
have broken out in the last ten days. The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)
confirmed that its troops had captured the town of Adila on August 1. Adila is
a railroad terminal for the line running east to Khartoum. Fighting in the area
continued for several days. On August 9 the Sudanese military claimed its
troops re-took Adila. The Sudanese government forces and their janjaweed
militia allies took a beating in the fighting with over 100 soldiers and
militiamen killed in the battles. Ten JEM fighters were killed.
Darfur rebels claimed that Sudan Air Force planes
bombed four different villages in Sudan. There was no independent confirmation
of the claims.
August 8, 2007: Members of the JEM Darfur rebel
group claimed that they shot down a Sudan Air Force MiG-29 fighter which was
operating in Darfur. The rebels claimed the aircraft went down south of the
town of Adila. The Sudanese government denied the allegation. However, rebels
with the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) said that they believed a Sudan
government jet had crashed due to mechanical failure. This is another one of
those "who do you believe" stories. Shooting down a MiG-29 is quite a trick, if
the plane is piloted by a competent pilot. It is a very modern aircraft. It is
also much harder to service than a turbo-prop aircraft (like the Antonov
transports the Sudan government typically uses as bombers). It's more likely if
one crashed it went down due to mechanical failure.
August 7, 2007: The south Sudan government has
begun demobilizing 25, 021 soldiers. The
process has begun despite funding delays from UN sources. The funds are
for "support packages" for the demobilized troops. The support packages include
tools, farm implements, seeds, and other supplies to ease the transition back
to civilian life. The Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (essentially the army of
south Sudan) still has 160,000 to 170,000 troops.
August 6, 2007: Eight Darfur rebel factions agreed
to a common negotiating platform for upcoming peace negotiations with the Sudan
government. In the past these "united fronts" have dissolved as factions
disagreed and in some cases turned their guns on one another. The UN, however,
has finally approved a major peacekeeping force for Darfur. That's a
significant political change. It also means rebel groups that don't get with
the peace program won't get a slice of the aid and development funds the
peacekeepers will bring with them.