Africa Report

Congress considers Sudan action. According to an April 26 article by Margaret Talev in the Sudan Tribune, the US Congress is considering action to help stop the violence and suffering in Sudan:
Seven months after President Bush declared that a conflict in a remote swath of Africa amounts to genocide, several members of Congress are pushing for more substantive U.S. intervention in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Displaced Sudanese women build a makeshift tut in Otash camp on the outskirts of Nyala town in Sudan's South Darfur region. (AFP).

They say the West has a moral obligation to do more to stop the killings, rapes, destruction and food shortages estimated to have killed 180,000 or more people and displaced 2 million.

At least 10 proposals before the House and Senate this year address this two-year-old struggle, which has pitted Arabs against non-Arab blacks, nomads against farmers and Muslims against Muslims, and brought an agricultural economy to its knees.

The proposals include emergency relief funds added to the supplemental Iraq war spending bill, but also more controversial ideas:

• A long-shot effort to suspend trading of stocks for international companies with business in Sudan.

• Calls for enforcing no-fly zones, and for pressuring the United Nations and NATO to send thousands of troops.

• Authorization for use of military force by the United States.

A lack of consensus persists over how deeply the United States should involve itself.

The military is spread thin with its involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other concerns include the risks in intervening in yet another Islamic conflict, the lack of pressing U.S. economic or national security interests in Darfur, and resistance from nations, including China and Russia, that have oil and weapons investments tied to Sudan.


Said Eric Reeves, a Smith College English professor who has spent the past several years on leave as a full-time Sudan researcher: "We are talking about a country that's right in the heart of Africa, on the volatile border between Islamic and non-Islamic Africa, between Arab and [black] Africa in a racial sense.

"It is very possibly a powder keg. It's a reason for us to call into serious question the geopolitical wisdom of talking a good game but not really doing what needs to be done."

Canada may send 150 troops to Sudan. The CBC reports that Canada may send as many as 150 peacekeeping troops to Sudan: 'Canada is reported ready to send up to 150 military personnel as peacekeepers to war-torn Sudan. A child refugee from Darfur washes clothes outside her shack at the Iridimi refugee camp near Iriba in eastern Chad, September 2004. Ottawa would also donate some used military equipment and increase its humanitarian aid for the northeast African country. An official announcement is coming in the next few days, the Canadian Press reported Saturday. The federal government has already earmarked $20 million in aid for Sudan. And Gen. Rick Hillier told CBC News Friday that Canada was making plans to send troops to the Darfur region of Sudan by the end of the summer. ...'

CIA - Khartoum meetings alleged. An article by Norm Dixon, appearing in Green Left Weekly and posted at Passion of the Present, alleges that a secret meeting between CIA officials and General Salah Abdallah Gosh of Sudan's secret police indicates an ongoing relationship between the Khartoum regime and the Bush Administration. The article, which draws heavily on a piece by Ken Silverstein in the Los Angeles Times, states:
Ken Silverstein, writing in the April 29 Los Angeles Times, reported that US government officials revealed to him that, in the previous week, “the CIA sent an executive jet ... to ferry the chief of Sudan’s intelligence agency [General Salah Abdallah Gosh] to Washington for secret meetings sealing Khartoum’s sensitive and previously veiled partnership with the administration”.

Gosh is almost certainly among the scores of Khartoum officials named in a sealed United Nations file as being responsible for “crimes against humanity” in Darfur provinces, in western Sudan. The UN Security Council voted on March 31 to refer the file to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

As Sudan expert and human rights advocate Eric Reeves () points out: “Gosh is directly responsible for tens of thousands of extra-judicial executions, killings, ‘disappearances’, as well as countless instances of torture, illegal imprisonment and other violations of international law.”

According to the LA Times report, Washington has cooperated closely with the Islamist dictatorship’s secret police, the Mukhabarat, since before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US. Following 9/11 attacks, which Khartoum immediately condemned, the relationship has steadily deepened.

The secret alliance has continued to strengthen despite the Mukhabarat’s central role in directing and arming the Arab-chauvinist janjaweed bandit gangs, which are spearheading the persecution of Darfur’s non-Arabic speaking farmers.

The article further charges that 'US and European governments have refused to provide adequate funds, equipment and logistics to African Union (AU) soldiers deployed as cease-fire monitors in Darfur, the only force in a position to prevent or discourage attacks on civilians. Only 2300 of the 3500-4000 troops originally promised to be in place have been able to deploy, and even they have taken around six months to arrive.'

Ivory Coast talks fail to reach deal. 'Representatives of the rebels and army in Ivory Coast have failed to reach agreement on a disarmament timetable after five days of talks,' the BBC reports. 'But they did say they would meet again in the next few days. Under a peace agreement mediated by South Africa in April, government forces and rebels who control the north were due to lay down arms this month. Both sides began pulling back heavy weapons from the front-line last month, as part of the agreement. The prime minister's representative, Alain Richard Donwahi, said the talks in Ivory Coast's capital, Yamoussoukro, had been positive. A timetable would be presented to military chiefs from both sides next Friday for approval, he was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.'