Sudan: Mass Murder in Slow Motion


June 17, 2007: The government continues to get away with murder. Although not as rapid as the Rwanda mass murder in 1994, Darfur will end up with just as many dead. It's Rwanda in slow motion. It shows how difficult it is to halt large scale atrocities like this. It requires a lot more than passionate pledges of "never again."

June 16, 2007: It's well and good that Sudan has agreed to let the UN and AU deploy a "hybrid" peacekeeping force. However, international perseverance remains in doubt. What happens if and when international peacekeepers get into a heavy firefight with Sudanese military forces and rebel forces? What happens with peacekeepers cause "collateral" civilian casualties? Will international leaders flinch? Given the chaos of Darfur, there's a good chance peacekeepers could engage in combat action against "unaffiliated" tribal militias as well. The big word is credibility. Consider the problems plaguing the AU's force. AU peacekeepers have complained of "uncertain" mission instructions - lack of clarity on Rules of Engagement (when to use force). Operational leadership has been virtually non-existent, which is one reason logistics support has been so badly managed. Financing for the AU mission has also been iffy. There are still equipment issues (including lack of light armor, wheeled vehicles, and air assets). Communications systems have proven to be grossly inadequate. But that's the way the Sudanese government has wanted it.

The UN's "light support package" (LSP is the acronym) was designed to improve the AU peacekeeping forces command and control capabilities by improving planning and communications. It was also supposed to include 36 light armored vehicles, but according to UN sources, those vehicles have not been given to the AU force. As of the end of May the UN had sent 42 military, 32 police and 25 civilian personnel to help with the planning and communications issues..

The UN's "heavy support package" (HSP) is a much more serious effort with 300 additional police and 2,250 military personnel supported around 1,100 civilians. It would be the "bridge force" to the full scale "hybrid" force Sudan agreed to let the UN and AU deploy by the end of 2007. The military personnel would handle an entire range of mission infrastructure needs: communications, logistics, engineering, transportation, and medical services. There will also be an aviation (helicopter) component.

June 13, 2007: Sudan refused to participate in an international conference on Darfur. France proposed having a conference in Paris. The Sudan government said it had not been "consulted" about the conference. Look for more initiatives like this from France's new government. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has put resolving Darfur near the top of his policy initiatives.

June 12, 2007: At the end of a two-day meeting with African Union (AU) and UN representatives, Sudan's government agreed to allow deployment of a "hybrid" peacekeeping force in Darfur. The AU and UN would share responsibilities for directing the operation (hence the term "hybrid). The precise number of troops has yet to be determined, but the UN has plans for a force ranging in size from 17,000 to 21,000 (which is probably why some sources refer to a force of 19,000).

In August 2006 the UN Security Council voted to expand the UN's current peacekeeping mission in south Sudan to include Darfur. In Fall 2006 the UN produced the concept for a "hybrid" force to be deployed in three phases.




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