Sudan: No One Wants to Pacify Darfur


February 16, 2006: NATO nations are willing to increase logistics support for a UN peacekeeping effort in Sudan's Darfur region, but are reluctant to commit troops. European nations and the US want to see an increase in African troop support. The fact is, even two elite European light infantry battalions, supported by troop-carrying helicopters, attack helicopters, and some strike aircraft, would vastly improve the peacekeeping force's capabilities. NATO could also provide maintenance capabilities for light armor serving with the UN force.

However, given that the conflict is ethnic, tribal, irregular, and propelled by shrinking resources (over a decade of the Sahara desert expanding into the semi-arid Sahel region to the south, destroying pasture for the nomads), peacekeeping won't be easy. No matter who you send in. In the battle between nomads and farmers, the government has backed the nomads, and given them a license to kill. They have already cleared over a million farmers off their land, and moved the herds in. Peacekeepers, whether African or European, will have an interesting time reversing that.

February 14, 2006: Sudan reported that it will double its daily oil output by the end of 2006. Sudan currently produces 330,000 barrels a day (bpd). Divvying up the oil profits is now the central issue between "north" Sudan (Muslim) and "south" Sudan (the predominantly animist and Christian area).

Sudan's President Omar al Bashir urged the people of south Sudan (the tribes, really) to help expel the remaining Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels. The LRA is a Ugandan rebel group. al Bashir wants the LRA removed within one month.

A spokesman for the Darfur rebel group the Sudan Liberation Army claimed that rebels troops had shot down a Sudan government helicopter. The Sudan government confirmed that a helicopter had been lost in the region but did not confirm that it was lost to rebel fire.

February 11, 2006: Chad and Sudan agreed to work together to solve security issues along the Chad-Sudan border. Libya acted as the go-between in the deal. Sudan and Chad specifically agreed to stop harboring and encouraging rebel groups on their territory. Sudan has accused Chad of supporting anti-Sudanese groups and Chad has accused Sudan of supporting anti-Chadian government insurgents.

February 9, 2006: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked the US to contribute troops to a UN peacekeeping force in Sudan's western Darfur region. The US currently provides logistic support (mostly airlift) to the African Union peacekeeping and monitoring force in Darfur. The European Union, Russia, and to a limited extent China, can provide some airlift, but the US is the only nation with the capability to provide sustained, long-range logistical support to a large force in eastern Chad and western Sudan. By "large force" we mean at least 15,000 to 20,000 troops with supporting helicopters and light armored vehicles.

February 7, 2006: The Sudan government said that the Chad government had rejected a "three way" security proposal. Sudan had suggested that Chad, Sudan, and the Central African Republic (CAR) establish and conduct joint patrols along their borders.




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