Abuja accord on Darfur conflict unlikely to ease Western pressure on Sudan

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Tahir Mahmoud

Jumada' al-Ula' 05, 1427 2006-06-01

World

by Tahir Mahmoud (World, Crescent International Vol. 35, No. 4, Jumada' al-Ula', 1427)

UN secretary general Kofi Annan, under pressure from the US and zionist-Christian groups, dispatched Lakhdar Brahimi to Sudan on May 25 to coordinate the deployment of UN peacekeeping troops in Darfur after the Darfur accord signed in Abuja, capital of Nigeria, on May 5. The 85-page document, hammered out by African mediators over five months, was delayed by another two weeks because the Darfur ‘rebel' factions were not prepared to sign it. Despite pressure from the US and Britain, only two of the three groups signed the accord that the Sudanese government had accepted without reservations.

The accord calls for the establishment of a Transnational Darfur Regional Authority: a Government of National Unity in Sudan in which the rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), would have effective representation, and a Darfurian nominated by the rebels would be the fourth ranking member of the government inKhartoum. The three western states of Darfur would determine, by a referendum to be held in three years' time, whether to remain part of Sudan or secede. All these articles would be incorporated into the Sudanese constitution. The Accord was delayed because the Darfurians insisted that their representative should hold the rank of vice-president. Sudan already has two vice-presidents; adding a third would be ridiculous, but such is the nature of the demands of the Darfurians that they were prepared to scuttle a deal put together by the heads of 53 African states after five months of discussion. Even so, a faction of the SLA, headed by Abdul Wahid al-Nour, refused to sign and walked out. The other faction, led by Minna Minnawi, signed the agreement. Within days, fighting had broken out between the two SLA factions.

At the moment 7,000 African Union member troops are deployed in Darfur, but lack of equipment is hampering their effectiveness. Instead of giving them proper equipment, the West insists on deploying NATO forces. Such blatant racism was given UN cover when the Security Council passed a resolution on May 16 demanding that Sudan allow deployment of UN troops. Pressure was also exerted on the African Union to agree to this demand. Immediately after the Security Council vote was passed unanimously, Russia, China and Qatar made it known that deployment of UN troops should have the prior approval of the Sudanese government. John Bolton, US ambassador to the UN, declared that Sudan would face unspecified "consequences" if it impeded the deployment of such forces. In other words, it was the US that had pushed for the Security Council resolution and bullied African countries to support it.

After the resolution, UN secretary general Annan dispatched his emissaries to Sudan. Both Annan and Brahimi are from Africa, the former from Ghana, the latter from Algeria, but their mission, as assigned by their western masters, is the same: to break up Africa's largest Muslim country. Sudan has been under intense Western pressure to allow UN troops—read Western troops—into Darfur, in a similar fashion to those deployed in South Sudan for the eventual break-up of the country, since the Darfur crisis erupted in February 2003. Since then, fighting between Western-backed militias and the Janjaweed, a government-backed militia, has resulted directly in the deaths of tens of thousands of people. Hundreds of thousands have died as a result of famine and starvation. Neighbouring Chad has also been involved in the conflict in a region that is virtually 100 percent Muslim.

It is a mark of the nature of the propaganda against Sudan that the conflict is presented as one between Africans and Arabs, despite the fact that everyone in Darfur is Muslim. The Christian-Muslim excuse that was peddled for decades during the Western-backed rebellion in the South could not be trotted out in Darfur because there are no Christians there. Inter-marriages are very common among different tribal groups in Darfur, but this fact is deliberately suppressed because the intention is to emphasise petty differences so that the West and thezionists have a pretext to interfere in Sudan's internal affairs. On April 27 rallies were organized in cities across North America under the title "Scream for Darfur". While organizers insisted this was a spontaneous desire to help the people of Darfur and had nothing to do with zionist propaganda, Gal Beckerman inadvertently let the cat out of the bag when writing in the Jerusalem Post (April 27): he proudly proclaimed that this was the result of the efforts of US Jewish organizations. Interestingly, African Americans pointedly stayed away from such rallies, including the NAACP and the Africa Conflict group.

Meanwhile, UN representative Brahimi was accompanied to Khartoum by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hédi Annabi for detailed talks about strengthening the African Union (AU) and UN peacekeeping forces there after the Security Council called for an assessment team to be deployed to Darfur. At the May 25 press conference in Khartoum, Brahimi said that in talks with President Omar Bashir and several other senior Sudanese officials "we agreed that in the coming days the United Nations and the African Union will send a joint assessment mission to Sudan." His visit and subsequent announcement followed an earlier telephone conversation between Bashir and Annan. The mission would undertake an assessment of all the requirements for a possible handover to the UN from the 7,000-strong peacekeeping AU Mission In Sudan (AMIS). AMIS itself would have to be strengthened immediately, Brahimi said, since it would bear the initial responsibility of helping to implement the Darfur Peace Agreement. The proposed assessment team would return to Khartoum for one more round of consultations, he said, before reporting to Annan and AU Commission chairperson Alpha Oumar Konaré.

"These activities would be undertaken without prejudice to the future decisions that the Government of National Unity, the African Union and the United Nations may take on this issue," Mr. Brahimi stressed. In talks that were useful to the UN and may also have been useful to Sudan, he said: "I reassured my interlocutors that the intention of the United Nations was to help them and the people of Darfur successfully implement the agreement signed in Abuja (Nigeria) on 5 May, by using all the resources at its disposal." This would mean adding, as an extension of the UN Mission In Sudan (UNMIS) in South Sudan, a multidimensional presence in Darfur, including humanitarian assistance, human-rights observers and support for voluntary returns and longer-term recovery, as well as security, he said.

The Sudanese could be forgiven for not taking UN pronouncements at face value. After all, far from coming to the assistance of a sovereign UN-member state whose integrity is being undermined by secessionist rebels backed by external forces, Sudan is under pressure to sign its own death warrant. Until March, Sudan had resisted the deployment of UN troops. It appears that Khartoum has been unable to resist any more. It is facing a slow death through "agreements" in which Muslims and Africans themselves are being used to facilitate its demise.

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