July 8, 2007:
Attacks against aid workers tripled
in June. Previous to that, there had been about ten attacks a month. But last month, the attacks averaged
one a day. This included 28 aid workers kidnapped (for ransom) and 35 aid
organization vehicles shot at or stolen. The foreign aid workers are seen as a
source of plunder by rebels, tribal militias and Sudanese soldiers in Darfur.
The government has not come out strongly against attacks on foreign aid
workers. In fact, the government has accused the aid workers of supporting
rebels and being hostile to Islam. July 7, 2007: Though it is still accepted as
legal tender, the Sudanese dinar will be phased out in south Sudan. The
"Sudanese pound" will become the official currency. Sudanese pounds have been
in circulation since 2005 but there weren't too many of them. South Sudanese
have complained about the Sudan dinar. They see the "dinar" as being an Arab
currency, and thus a sign of "northern control" over the south. An important
aspect of the 2005 peace deal was that it gave southerners political "equal
footing" with the "northern Arabs."
July 5, 2007: China believes it deserved credit for
persuading Sudan to allow the UN to deploy a "hybrid" peacekeeping force in
Darfur. China urged Sudan to accept the force as being in Sudan's "long-term
and immediate interests." If it sounds like a twisted arm, well, it's a twisted
arm. Chinese diplomats also informed Sudan that they were not pleased to learn that
Chinese-made weapons had ended up in the hands of Darfur's pro-Sudan government
"janjaweed" militias. China got a lot of unfavorable publicity earlier this
year when that story broke.
July 2, 2007: A Chinese oil company signed a 20
year deal to develop a Sudanese offshore oil field.
June 30, 3007: The government reported that the
"peace process" with the Eastern Front guerrilla group is moving forward. Two
groups of Eastern Front fighters have assembled in Kassala (eastern Sudan). The
rebels have agreed to "come in from the bush" in exchange for representation in
Khartoum and political power-sharing in several eastern Sudanese states.
Eritrea helped foster the negotiations between the Eastern Front and the Sudan
government. The two sides reached a settlement in October 2006.
June 28, 2007: France's "summit on Darfur" ended
with little apparent political progress. The summit was held in Paris and
sponsored by France's new president, Nicholas Sarkozy, who managed to get the
major international players to attend (the G-8 nations and China). Sudan
refused to attend. Still, you can bet that China was lobbied extensively. China
buys oil from Sudan and Sudan counts on China to veto any serious UN sanctions.
That noted, China also has interests in its own markets, which include the US
and the EU.