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Darfur wasn't genocide and Sudan is not a terrorist state - Guardian, UK

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  • Zafar Khan
    Darfur wasn t genocide and Sudan is not a terrorist state Even MI6 and the CIA are frustrated by the attitude of US neocons and the Christian right towards the
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 9, 2005
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      Darfur wasn't genocide and Sudan is not a terrorist

      Even MI6 and the CIA are frustrated by the attitude of
      US neocons and the Christian right towards the
      Sudanese conflicts

      Jonathan Steele in Khartoum
      Friday October 7, 2005
      The Guardian


      Question: when do Bush administration officials cuddle
      up to leaders of states that the US describes as
      sponsors of international terrorism? Answer: when they
      are in Khartoum. I know because I saw it the other
      day. It was in the garden of the headquarters of
      Sudan's intelligence service, not far from the Nile.
      Fairy lights twinkled on wires draped round palm
      trees. African drummers played. Sadly, no alcohol was
      served, but clearly there was something in the air.

      Article continues


      Up stepped a senior CIA agent. In full view of the
      assembled company, he gave General Salah Abdallah
      Gosh, Sudan's intelligence boss, a bear hug. The
      general responded by handing over a goody-bag, wrapped
      in shiny green paper. Next up was a senior MI6
      official, with the same effusive routine - hug,
      hand-shake, bag of presents.
      We were attending the closing dinner of a two-day
      conference of African counter-terrorism officials, to
      which the US and the UK were invited as observers. The
      western spooks were less than happy to have the press
      on hand, especially as their names were called out.
      But loss of anonymity was a small price for the
      excellent cooperation both agencies believe Sudan is
      giving in the campaign to keep tabs on Somali, Saudi
      and other Arab fundamentalists who pass through its

      Pragmatic Britain has had polite relations with
      Sudan's Islamist government since it took power in a
      military coup in 1989. Ideological Washington has not.
      Bill Clinton designated Sudan a terrorist state in
      1993 and later slapped on trade sanctions, partly
      under pressure from Congress and America's Christian

      US officials have produced no proof that Sudan
      finances, trains or harbours terrorists, and the Bush
      people would probably lift the bans if they could. But
      once on the terrorism-sponsor list, few countries
      manage to get off. It is a rare case where the great
      warrior on terror finds himself trapped by US
      politicians even more extreme than himself.

      Bush's Sudan policy contains other big contradictions.
      As secretary of state last year, Colin Powell
      described the conflict in the western region of Darfur
      as "genocide". He had hesitated for months, because a
      finding of genocide requires a state to take immediate
      action to stop it. Yet what did the US do next?
      Nothing, or at least no more than many other states,
      including Britain, which did not want the genocide
      label to be lightly used, and so devalued.

      The US supported an armed African Union (AU) mission
      to monitor a ceasefire and protect humanitarian
      relief. It pressed for a peace deal. More reluctantly
      than any other state, it supported an inquiry that
      could lead to indictments of Sudanese leaders at the
      international criminal court. But Washington's lack of
      follow-through showed that, as with the terrorism
      label, the genocide finding was a sop to the Christian
      right and anti-Islamist neocons.

      Coverage of Darfur has dwindled, but AU monitors, as
      well as UN officials in Khartoum, report a marked
      improvement since last year's campaign of rape and
      killing left close to 200,000 dead and forced 2
      million to flee. Janjaweed militias, usually backed by
      the government in clashes with rebel groups, were
      behind most of the atrocities.

      Thriving on bad news - typical was Caroline
      Moorehead's Letter from Darfur in the New York Review
      of Books this summer - commentators who still write
      about Darfur often thunder away without any sense of
      time or context. In fact, the UN secretary general's
      latest report to the security council points out that
      the influx of 12,500 aid workers has "averted a
      humanitarian catastrophe, with no major outbreaks of
      disease or famine". Patrols by the hundreds of AU
      monitors have reduced violence and other human-rights

      The report attacks the government for not disarming
      the Janjaweed or holding enough people accountable for
      last year's atrocities, but it blames the rebels for
      most of this year's abductions of civilians and
      attacks on aid convoys.

      In recent weeks there has been a turn for the worse. A
      new chain of tit-for-tat violence is developing.
      Janjaweed forces attacked a displaced people's camp in
      western Darfur last week, an unprecedented assault on
      a sanctuary in which at least 30 people died, and AU
      monitors report that government helicopter gunships
      were seen over the camp. This may have been
      retaliation for a rebel seizure of a town a few days

      To its credit, Washington has stepped up efforts to
      get the anti-government rebels to stop blocking the
      peace talks now under way in Abuja. As inter-ethnic
      tensions among the rebels grow stronger, leaders of
      the Zaghawa, the main fighters, are unwilling to
      attend despite face-to-face pleas from US and UN
      diplomats urging them to accept the model that ended
      the much longer war between the government and the

      Former southern rebels, who recently joined the
      Islamists in Sudan's new government of national unity,
      will soon go to Abuja for the first time, to act as
      mediators if necessary. This is a big step forward. As
      Riek Machar, the new vice-president of south Sudan
      told me in Juba last week: "We believe we are the
      people who can crack the issue of Darfur. We have
      experience of negotiating a settlement with the group
      governing in Khartoum. We will take that experience to
      Abuja. The liberation movements have confidence in

      Even if peace were agreed, implementation would be
      rocky. The north-south deal has made a poor start. The
      Arab-led former ruling party denied its new southern
      partners any of Sudan's key ministries; this will not
      encourage the Darfurians. UN analysts believe
      peace-building in Darfur will be harder than in the
      south. "Destruction progressed over 20 years in the
      south, and it wasn't mainly done by locals. It was
      done by the Sudanese army and militias from outside.
      In Darfur you've had dozens of ethnic groups clashing
      ... Some won, some lost, and it has been very quick.
      Bitterness and hatred are still raw," said one

      Grim though it has been, this was not genocide or
      classic ethnic cleansing. Many of the displaced moved
      to camps a few kilometres from their homes.
      Professionals and intellectuals were not targeted, as
      in Rwanda. Darfur was, and is, the outgrowth of a
      struggle between farmers and nomads rather than a
      Balkan-style fight for the same piece of land. Finding
      a solution is not helped by turning the violence into
      a battle of good versus evil or launching another
      Arab-bashing crusade.

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