Dar­fur in peril

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

When Pres­i­dent Bush hosted Su­danese Vice Pres­i­dent Salva Kiir on Nov. 15, he made a small but promis­ing step to­ward al­le­vi­at­ing the hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in Su­dan. Un­for­tu­nately, it ap­pears the White House meet­ing could be just an­other per­func­tory cour­tesy that will yield few con­crete re­sults in im­prov­ing the con­di­tion of some 2.5 mil­lion refugees and pre­vent­ing vi­o­lence against African Union peace­keep­ers in the re­gion. We hope this is not the case.

Mr. Kiir con­demned the Su­danese gov­ern­ment for deal­ing in bad faith. But while his brave de­fi­ance against the Su­danese pres­i­dent Lt. Gen Omar Bashir’s regime is com­mend­able, his re­fusal to par­tic­i­pate in the coun­try’s gov­ern­ment un­less Gen. Bashir co­op­er­ates in im­ple­ment­ing the Com­pre­hen­sive Peace Agree­ment, largely a U.S.-bro­kered deal, could back­fire. It ap­pears that ex­ter­nal forces from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity — China, for in­stance, has per­haps the great­est fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment in the re­gion but has been tepid in work­ing for its sta­bil­ity ó will be needed to com­pel Khartoum to re­duce the vi­o­lence per­pe­trated by Gen. Bashir’s po­lit­i­cal part­ners and ad­here to his prom­ises of peace.

Un­for­tu­nate as well is the fact that the United Na­tions is lag­ging in its im­ple­men­ta­tion of its much-her­alded U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 1769, and a key U.N. of­fi­cial ad­mit­ted as much the day be­fore the Bush-Kiir meet­ing. U.N. rep­re­sen­ta­tives have failed to meet mul­ti­ple goals out­lined in Res­o­lu­tion 1769, a $3.4 bil­lion plan to send some 31,000 sol­diers and peace­keep­ers to the re­gion by Dec. 31 of this year in what would be the United Na­tions’ most ex­pan­sive mis­sion. But un­til that man­power ar­rives, the ex­ist­ing un­der­manned and un­der-equipped African Union force, which has strug­gled in Dar- fur since 2004 with min­i­mal suc­cess, will con­tinue to flail and face at­tacks from rebel mil­i­tants.

A top U.N. of­fi­cial on Nov. 14 not only crit­i­cized Khartoum for re­sist­ing con­tri­bu­tions from Nordic na­tions and oth­ers, in­clud­ing Nepal and Thai­land, but he also warned that other U.N. mem­bers need to bol­ster hu­man­i­tar­ian and peace ef­forts by of­fer­ing he­li­copters and other ma­teriel for safety and se­cu­rity pur­poses. “If those is­sues are not ad­dressed very shortly, it means the mis­sion in 2008 will not be able to make the dif­fer­ence that the world wants it to make and that it may be­come a fail­ure,” said Jean-Marie Gue­henno, the U.N. un­der­sec­re­tary-gen­eral for peace­keep­ing op­er­a­tions.

It is laud­able that Mr. Kiir is mak­ing the rounds in seek­ing as­sis­tance for the plight of South­ern Su­dan, of which he is pres­i­dent. But we hope his trav­els are not in vain. Par­ti­san Wash­ing­ton pol­i­tics is play­ing a dev­il­ish role.

Mr. Bush has asked Congress to ap­prove $725 mil­lion for ef­forts in Dar­fur, ini­tially at­tach­ing his re­quest to a $50 bil­lion emer­gency sup­ple­men­tal bill largely con­tain­ing funds for the con­flict in Iraq. Sadly, this $725 mil­lion re­quest, along with $70 mil­lion Mr. Kiir has re­quested for help to ad­min­is­ter demo­cratic elec­tions in 2009, were re­jected by House Democrats, who chose not to in­clude them in the Iraq funds ap­proved by the lower cham­ber on Nov. 14. A Demo­cratic lead­er­ship aide told The Wash­ing­ton Times that con­gres­sional lead­ers plan to ap­prove th­ese Dar­fur funds some­time next month.

We hope con­gres­sional Democrats live up to this prom­ise. Oth­er­wise, Democrats will be re­ject­ing the U.N. time­line for Res­o­lu­tion 1769, al­low­ing the hap­less peo­ple of Su­dan to fall prey to need­less par­ti­san wran­glings.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.