Sudan: Can't Touch Me

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November 12,2008: Sudan has successfully called on its Arab and other foreign allies to pressure the UN to get war crimes charges dropped against the Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. Charges have not been officially dropped, but prosecutors are stymied by pro-Arab and pro-Sudan UN bureaucrats. The government has successfully waged a propaganda war against the International Criminal Court, threatening violence against nearly 10,000 UN peacekeepers and relief personnel in Darfur, if an arrest warrant is issued for Bashir (who openly boasts, in speeches throughout Sudan, that he has crushed Western attempts to officially accuse him of war crimes) is ever issued.

November 11, 2008: Since the beginning of the African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in Darfur, the US Air Force has helped transport troop contingents from participating nations. The same goes for supporting UNAMID, the AU-UN "hybrid" peacekeeping force. In the next few weeks the USAF will help move deliver both new Ethiopian and Egyptian peacekeepers into Darfur. Actually, the US provides a great deal of logistical support to UN missions. No other air force has the USAF's transport capacity.

November 10, 2008: Kenya has agreed to help train civil service personnel working for the Government of South Sudan (GOSS). The Kenyan statement emphasized "training in management skills" and said the training program was in part the fulfillment of a pledge made in 2005 after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed between northern (national government) and south Sudan. That's well and good, but the GOSS acts increasingly as a separate government which regards Kenya as an ally. Recall the Somali pirates who hijacked a Ukraine freighter loaded with tanks and other weapons. The bill of lading said Kenya. The likely destination? Juba, the capital of the GOSS. At least one spokesman for the GOSS has asked for a US-led peacekeeping force in southern Sudan, to insure that the CPA is enforced. The UN already has a peacekeeping force in southern Sudan. Why ask? Could be "Obama politics." Kenya looks at Barack Obama's election with great pride. Kenya and GOSS may assume they will have a great deal of influence on US policy in the region.

November 8, 2008: The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has said that it is interested in Qatar's Darfur peace proposal. The Qataris have offered to serve as mediators and though the peace plan lacks specifics, Qatari diplomats have visited Sudan and made presentations to both the government and some of the rebel factions. JEM said in early November that it was considering sending an official delegation to Qatar. Qatar has offered to mediate in other regional conflicts, including Lebanon. Qatar has had some success, and there are several reasons. Qatar has oil money. It is also the home of Al-Jazeera, the Arabic news service. The Qataris are also Moslems, and the fighting in Darfur often pits "Arabized" Moslem tribes against "African" Moslem tribes. The "Arabized," however, is something the Qataris have to watch. Many Darfuris distrust Arab peace initiatives because they suspect they will favor the "Islamist" national government.

November 7, 2008: The national government and the GOSS continue to grapple over the national census. Since April 2008, when the first stage of the census was conducted, several tens of thousands of refugees have returned to southern Sudan.

November 2, 2008: The national government stated that it would improve security for Chinese workers. The kidnapping and murder of Chinese oil workers is a huge political problem for the government, since it relies on China for "political protection" in the UN Security Council. Five Chinese oil workers were murdered in late October after being kidnapped on October 18. Four other were rescued.

 

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