Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Genocide Diplomacy

The capitol of Sudan, Khartoum, recently had rebel forces advance to the outskirts of the city in a bid to overthrow one of the world's most vicious and brutal dictators, President al-Bashir. Although unsuccessful in their attempt, the rebel forces did manage to breach the city until forced to retreat by Sudanese army regulars.

The attempted overthrow of al-Bashir has had the ripple effect of arbitrary round ups and torturing of educators, politicians not deemed loyal enough to al-Bashir, former rebel group leaders that are a part of the coalition government, and those of Darfurian origin, whose only crime was being in the capitol city. Al-Bashir's thoughts on torture most certainly don't reflect the thinking of western countries, as many a victim have hands cut off, faces and chests sliced deep to leave scars, women are routinely gang raped, all in an attempt to terrorize the population of Sudan into submission.

Diplomacy has been ongoing for more than five years now. With the United States entering into full scale diplomatic efforts only after much pressure from aid groups, citizens, and the governments of the European Union, it seems as though it is a case of much too little, way too late. Freezing the assets of a few Sudanese companies that had been trading in stolen money for dollars through U.S. banks was such a feeble response to the murder of what aid workers and European media say is at least a half a million people.

The African Union's attempts at diplomacy with al-Bashir were successful to a point. al-Bashir allowed African Union peacekeeping forces into the Darfur region, but with the express conditions that those forces would not intervene in actions going on outside of the many refugee camps. With that diplomatic condition set, and with only 7,000 initial A.U. troops allowed into Darfur, the killings, maiming, mass rapes, and burning of villages continued unabated. Some villages in sight of A.U. forces were burned to the ground with the people still inside. People who thought that they were safe due to the A.U. forces presence, but not knowing that all the A.U. soldiers could do was stand by helplessly.

Outraged by al-Bashir's broken promises to the A.U., African countries began calling on the international community for help. Slow to respond, just as in the massacre in Rwanda, the western countries started their own round of diplomatic efforts with al-Bashir. Promises were extracted of not carpet bombing villages, or sending in Janjaweed militias to execute entire populations of towns. The politicos would all head home thinking of the good they had done and how many lives they might have just saved, only to land on the tarmacs of their respective countries to the news that the 'devils on horseback' and the Sudanese air force had destroyed yet another village, and killed another thousand people.

When outraged western governments complained to the Sudanese government that they were breaking the very agreements they had just signed, Sudanese Foreign Minister Al-Sammani Al-Wasila Al-Sammani declared that these were internal Sudanese matters and that the claims were greatly exaggerated. The lies of the government of Sudan became even more evident as more and more video and photographs taken by aid workers was smuggled out of the country and western media outlets were treated to the sights of genocide on a mass scale. Burned, naked bodies of women, children hacked to death with machetes to save on ammunition, villages torched or being bombarded from the air, video of a village's entire male population being lined up and mowed down, were among just some of the atrocities that were proven to be true of the al-Bashir regime.

More rounds of negotiations ensued, with all involved ever mindful of the looming presence of representatives of the Chinese government lurking in the background, their only interest their nation's investments in Sudan's oil industry. Pleas were made to the government of China to force al-Bashir to stop the killings, but China could care less what the Sudanese government was doing so long as the oil kept flowing.

Years of promises extracted, then last second mind changing by al-Bashir became the norm for the people of Darfur, who now huddled in makeshift camps, suffered malnutrition, diseases, and death. Aid workers cried out to the world for help, but only Chad allowed Darfurian refugees into their country. But even that dried up fairly quickly when the Chadian government realized just how many refugees there were. Millions upon millions tried to get across the border, but had to be turned away. And so the killing continued.

The United Nations finally got a force in place in Darfur by threatening to basically cut Sudan off from the rest of the world with an economic blockade. But once again, al-Bashir had aces up his sleeve. He knew that China would veto any such resolution, but in the interests of placating the world wide outrage, he allowed the U.N. to send in a force of 27,000 peace keepers. Once on the ground, al-Bashir once again reneged on his promises and demanded that the U.N. soldiers be under the command of and integrated into, the African Union forces. And that they also be under the same conditions as the A.U. soldiers. Under intense pressure, the U.N. acquiesced, and the killing continues as though no one ever negotiated with Sudan's government to begin with. The neutered U.N. forces once again have to sit idly by as innocents are slaughtered, just as they had to do in Rwanda years before.

Sudan's People's Liberation Movement, a former rebel group from Southern Sudan, but now part of the Sudanese government, has declared in no uncertain terms after the latest crack down that this arbitrary arresting of innocent people, and the killing in Darfur must end, or they may go back and start fighting again. Says Yasir Arman of the SPLM: "We are saying the security forces should stop the arbitrary arrest of Darfuris. It is a violation of the constitution and it is damaging and harming the social fabric of our society. We also condemn in the strongest terms the torture of detainees, which is a grave violation of the constitution."

With the backing of the Chadian government, rebel groups in Sudan's south may be gearing up for all out warfare. The Zaghawa tribe, the main rebel faction in the south, is already grumbling and staging preparatory raids into the north. But as bad as this may seem, at least the rebels in the south have weapons to defend themselves with, and should another Sudanese civil war ensue, it will not be for lack of diplomatic efforts on the part of the world community. The U.S. still sends envoys to speak to this satanic monster in Sudan's capitol to this day. The same monster who at one time harbored Osama Bin Laden. The same monster who ordered the slaughter of innocents and the torturing of children.

Diplomacy has been tried with al-Bashir time and time again, and proven to be ineffective to the point of wasting the time of all involved. If there was ever a case for the enforcement by the U.N. of a no fly zone, Sudan and it's government have given the world every reason they need. The breaking of every treaty he has ever signed, and the unwillingness of their country of patronage, China, to force an end to the genocide, may force an even wider conflict in the form of another civil war that spills over into neighboring countries. The only diplomatic effort al-Bashir understands is in the form of a cruise missile heading directly for his headquarters.

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