Sudan: The China Syndrome


February 26, 2008: The Sudan Air Force has conducted a another series of bombing raids in Dafur, hitting the Jebel Moun region (west Darfur, near the Chad border – some reports refer to the area Jebel Moon). The government describes the Jebel Moun region as "a rebel area" but today claimed it was in "total control" of West Darfur State. This is quite a claim.

February 24, 2008: Responding to criticism from Europe and Hollywood, Chinese diplomats have begun publicly criticizing the Sudanese government for continuing to attack civilians in Darfur. China is particularly sensitive to claims that its arms sales are "fueling" the Darfur conflict. China says that since 2006 it has supplied only eight percent of Sudan's weapons. Call it "Olympic diplomacy." China hosts the Olympics this coming summer and does not want the Olympics to be a forum for Darfur activists targeting China. Yet it is very likely the Olympics will be exactly that. Sudan has shown no political interest in ending the conflict. Yes, Chinese criticism gets the attention of the Islamist government in Sudan, and the government pays some rhetorical obeisance to Beijing, but in Darfur the janjaweed continue to attack black African farmers and Sudanese aircraft bomb rebel positions (sometimes) and villages (frequently).

February 21, 2008: The army has attacked three town in the Jebel Moun region. The ground attacks were supported by air strikes (delivered by Antonov transports rigged as bombers) and helicopters. The UN was aiding 10,000 new refugees who had fled into Chad from Sudan to escape the attacks in Jebel Moun.

February 17, 2008: Over 100 civilians have died since the Sudanese government launched a series of ground attacks on February 8. These attacks are seen as a new "offensive." That indicates they are planned and coordinated. So far only 9,000 soldiers and police have deployed with UNAMID. The force is supposed to grow to 26,000 troops and police. Nigerian general Martin Luther Agwai, the UNAMID commander, has repeated his request for more transport helicopters. The peacekeeping force needs a minimum of 18 transport helicopters. The transport helicopters provide the peacekeepers with the ability to quickly move observers and light infantry forces to threatened areas. Until the force gets sufficient transport helicopters it will simply not be effective.


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