Sudan: February 1, 2005

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Apparently the Sudanese government is once again using its An-24 transports as bomber aircraft in the Darfur region. The An-24 is a two engine Russian aircraft, developed in the 1960s to replace pre-World War II American DC-3s. An-24s can carry up to 50 passengers, or five tons of cargo. Sudan have some of the An-26 versions of the An-24, which has a rear ramp, which bombs are rolled out of. The African Union and various relief agencies report that Sudanese planes bombed the village of Rahad Kabolong in North Darfur state. The attack took place on January 26 and left more than 100 people dead. Some 9000 people fled the village and the surrounding area after the air attack. A monitoring team reported that most of the dead were women and children. As of January 31, the government continued to deny that the air raid took place. The United Nations called the attack a major ceasefire violation-- which of course it was. The UN, however, still refuses to call the Sudanese war in Darfur a genocide. Sudan's strategy is "ethnic cleansing" at its worst, and that ethnic cleansing met the conditions for genocidal war in Bosnia. International law defines genocide as attacks having the "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group." Sudan's strategy is to attack villages, uproot the population, and force the people to flee to refugee camps in Chad. The US government has called the Sudanese war a genocidal war. If international political pressure fails to stop the air attacks in Darfur, how can they be countered? Post 9/11, the US isn't about to pass out Stinger missiles like it did in Afghanistan. The risk that the missiles could end up in terrorist hands is simply too great. If the UN and EU really are outraged by the Sudanese air attacks, they could declare a "no fly zone" in Sudan's Darfur region. The no-fly zone in Darfur would operate like the no-fly zones the US and Britain enforced over northern and southern Iraq after 1991. A dozen French and German fighter aircraft based in Chad could protect the defenseless Darfurian villages from air attack. Is this a likely scenario? Of course it isn't--at the moment the political will does not exist in the UN and EU to take such a decisive military action. Imposing a no-fly zone, however, would save lives.


 

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