Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Devil in Darfur

Editorial from the Wall Street Journal May 6, 2006 on the recent peace agreement between the largest Darfur rebel groups and the government which concludes that the United States is the only  body which can effectively intervene to stop the genocide....

At last, the news about Darfur appears to be good. In
Abuja, Nigeria yesterday, the government of Khartoum and the largest of
the Darfuri rebel factions, the Sudan Liberation Army, agreed to a
peace deal. Terms include disarming the Arab Janjaweed militia, a proxy
force through which Khartoum has killed 200,000 Darfuris and sent
another two million into exile. The deal also calls for compensating
refugees, transferring some of the government's oil wealth to the
region and enlisting thousands of Darfuri rebels into the regular
Sudanese Army.

It sounds promising, and if it sticks it will be a
diplomatic triumph for the Bush Administration, which has so far
provided $1 billion in humanitarian aid to the region and which sent
Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick to help arrange the deal.

But we have seen Sudanese governments violate too many
previous agreements to place too much stock in this one. Between 1983
and 2005, Khartoum killed as many as two million people (and enslaved
hundreds of thousands) in its war against the black Christians of
southern Sudan. That war itself began when Khartoum violated the 1972
Addis Ababa Accords, which had ended a previous civil war, in a bid to
Islamicize the south.

In 1989, current Sudanese President Omar Bashir took
power in a coup to prevent the ratification of a peace deal. In 1997,
he agreed to a "Declaration of Principles," spelling out the elements
of a workable peace deal. Mr. Bashir also co-opted factional leaders of
the rebel movement by offering them government jobs in exchange for
cooperation against their erstwhile allies. But his war against the
south continued, ending only in 2005 after the rebel movement under
John Garang achieved a military stalemate. Garang was killed in a
helicopter crash later that year.

Mr. Bashir has established a similar pattern in
Darfur, a war which began as Khartoum's battles against the south were
ending. In April 2004, his government signed the Humanitarian Ceasefire
Agreement with rebel groups in N'Djamena, Chad. But Khartoum continued
to kill Darfuris via the Janjaweed. In November, Mr. Bashir agreed to
grant unrestricted access to humanitarian aid groups.

Yet as Jan Egeland, the United Nations' emergency
relief coordinator, wrote in our pages Thursday, "Aid workers in Darfur
are forced to cope with threats, intimidation and an Orwellian
nightmare of unending bureaucratic restrictions [by the Sudanese
government] that effectively -- and intentionally -- impede our ability
to help those in need."

Put simply, Sudan's track record inspires no
confidence that it will abide by the agreement it has now signed.
Unlike the 2005 deal with Garang, Khartoum isn't under any serious
military pressure from the rebels, nor is there any looming threat of
external military intervention. It may serve Mr. Bashir's purposes to
co-opt the main rebel faction, not least as a way of breaking the back
of the movement and destroying the rebels who remain. That doesn't bode
well for ordinary Darfuris, whose most realistic hope of salvation is
their ability to mount an effective self-defense.

A larger problem is the unwillingness of the
international community to treat Sudan as the outlaw state it is. While
unsparing in his criticism of Khartoum, Mr. Egeland is at pains to
emphasize violence "by all sides." When the U.N. Security Council voted
to sanction four Sudanese individuals, two of them were rebel leaders.
More broadly, the Darfur crisis is a reminder that the very
institutions that, prior to the Iraq war, were said to be the only
legitimate arbiters of international intervention turn out to be the
least helpful when intervention is most needed.

At a regional level, the African Union has done what
it can to broker peace and has sent a poorly equipped and operationally
limited 7,000-man force to police Darfur, an area the size of France.
The AU's efforts are at least well-intended. This is more than can be
said for the Arab League, which held its most recent summit in Khartoum
and has backed Mr. Bashir to the hilt.

America's allies in Europe have rejected an
Administration proposal to deploy NATO forces to Darfur. The U.N.'s
humanitarian agencies have done yeoman work to feed and shelter
refugees. But the Security Council has been unable to impose broad and
effective sanctions on Khartoum thanks to Chinese and Russian

This leaves the United States, the only country in the
world with the capability and, potentially, the will to aid Darfuris
and every other group threatened with genocide or brutal oppression.
President Bush has certainly been engaged with the crisis in Darfur,
more so than any of his alleged moral betters in places such as France
and Sweden. Yet having endured so much opprobrium and resistance to his
last two acts of international hygiene -- the liberation of Afghanistan
and Iraq -- it's no wonder he's reluctant to carry another burden,
particularly when American interests are not directly at stake.

There's a lesson here for all of those liberal
internationalists who now demand the Administration "do something" in
Darfur: If you want to stop genocide, don't shackle the world's only

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