US Involvement in the Crisis in Darfur
Since the end of the Cold War, Africa has been a continent rife with violence mainly in the form of civil war. This can be attributed greatly to the halt of economic and political progress after the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, no longer needed to compete in Africa. Now that the rivalry has subsided neither country has any real reasons, economic or political, to have as large of a presence In the Post-Cold War era.
Not only do these countries receive significantly less ald during this period of history, the governments In the continent have lost ome of the already little control they had by no longer being able to pit Washington and Moscow against each other (Perlez, 1992). In July of 2003 Amnesty International first made reports on the conflict In Darfur, followed by International Crlsls Group In December. Since this time the area has received a large amount of attention from the International community.
Following the massive amount of media coverage. e united Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Mukesh Kapila named Darfur the “world’s greatest humanitarian crisis. ” While there is an greement of the international community that ethnic groups have been targeted and that crimes against humanity have occurred, there has been debate about whether genocide has or has not occurred, and it is this debate that the United States and the United Nations disagree on, which will be described later in greater detail after a brief history of the conflict. On one side of the war is the Janjaweed militia aided by the Sudanese military.
The Janjaweed is composed mainly of Arab Abbala tribes of the north Rezeigat region, who are traditionally camel-herding nomads. The other side is made up of ifferent rebel groups such as the Sudan Liberation Army (SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement GEM), both of which come mainly from the non-Arab Fur, Zaghawa, and Massaleit ethnic groups who are traditionally land-tillers. The beginning of the conflict in Darfur is generally said to be February 26, 2003 when the Darfur Liberation Front (DLF) took credit for an attack on Golo, but some conflicts had begun before this.
Rebel groups are said to have sworn oaths to together protect their villages from government-sponsored attacks in 2001, with the Sudanese government being aware of a unified movement against them since a 2002 attack In Golo. The rebels took serious ground on March 25, 2003 when they took control of Tine, a garrison town on the border with Chad where they gained a great deal of arms and supplies. The Sudanese President Omar al-Bashlr ordered the army to the town, but their forces were already depleted due to the Second Sudanese Clvll War and another group of rebels attaclnga pipeline to Port Sudan.
A month later the SLA and capturing 32 Including the Commander of the base. The attack on al Fashir was a turning point for the embarrassed Sudanese government who then enlisted the help of the Janjaweed who they had first began irecting to control an uprising in Massalit from 1996-1999. Although the government still denies their support, they supplied the militia with communication equipment, artillery, and other supplies, making it a paramilitary force the rebel groups were incomparable to. By 2004 several thousand people, whom were mainly non-Arab, were killed, and over 100,000 refugees entered Chad.
At this time it became apparent that only non-Arab villages were being targeted by the Janjaweed. This, along with the brutal methods of murder, has prompted some in the international to label the conflict as an incidence of genocide (Timeline of the war of Darfur). Since this time, several cease fire agreements have been attempted, starting with the April 8 Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement between the Sudanese government, the SLA, and the JEM in 2004 which was brokered by Chad, followed by the Ceasefire Commission created by the African Union (AU) to monitor the groups compliance.
However, like all subsequent cease fire agreement, this was not effective and Chad declared its hostility toward Sudan after an attack lead by the Sudanese government on the town of Adr in Chad which killed three hundred rebels in December 2005. The violence in this area has only increased since the beginning of this conflicts, so much so that the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned Sudan of the risks of being labeled as genocide.
Aid workers in the area say that the military tactics are comparable to what occurred during the Rwanda Genocide with the killing and dismemberment of civilians including women and children which signify that ethnic cleansing is occurring. Aside from deaths caused by militant groups, it is projected that more than 350,000 people in the area will die from starvation and isease because humanitarian aid has been cut off due to the violence (‘Dozens killed’ in Sudan attack). The U. S. became involved in the conflict when U. S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert B.
Zoelick helped to facilitate the May Agreement of 2006 with the AU which called for disarmament of the Janjaweed, and for rebel forces to be disbanded and incorporated into the Sudanese army. The agreement was signed by the Sudanese government and a faction of the SLA, but rejected by the JEM and other factions of the SLA. Fighting continued, and later in the year Annan called for a deployment of 8,000 international peacekeepers to Darfur to reinforce the 7,000 AU troops. The Sudanese government made their opposition to this very clear, causing the United States to issue a warning of the consequences of their opposition (Parameswaran, 2006).
However, ignoring this warning, Sudan refused to attend a United Nations Security Council meeting on August 24, 2006 about plans to deploy the UN peacekeeping force prompting the US State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs to warn of a security crisis if they did not comply. Even after these warnings, violence still ensued and on October 2 the UN suspended their plan because of the strong pposition by the Sudanese government, sending only 200 UN troops (US warns of a security crisis in Darfur unless UN force deploys).
Another interesting aspect of the United States involvement in the war some, such as Noam Chomsky say is its role in the development of the conflict. The A1-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum North, Sudan the largest pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum which employed over 300 workers, produced medicine both for human and veterinary use, mainly producing anti-malaria medicines. The factory was destroyed in 1998 by the US after attacks on US embassies in Africa. The government had also believed that the factory was producing VX nerve agent, and was tied to the terrorist group al-Qaeda.
However, these findings were denied by the plant owners, the Sudanese government, and members of the international community. Noam Chomsky has claimed that the bombing of A1-Shifa was a horrific crime committed by the United States Government and it may have caused the deaths of several hundreds of thousands of Sudanese people from diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis because they did not have access to the medications that were only produced by the plant in that area.
Human Rights Watch reported that after the bombing relief efforts were halted that supplied food to the areas of Sudan effected by famine caused by the Sudanese civil war, because the Americans who ran them feared retaliation (A1-Shifa pharmaceutical factory). In May 2006, the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur organized by United Nations “concluded that the Government of the Sudan has not pursued a policy of genocide [though] international offences such as the crimes against humanity and war crimes that have been committed in Darfur may be no less serious and heinous than genocide.
However, the United States government, NGOs, and other world leaders have chosen decided to label the ongoing war as genocide. The conflict was declared a “genocide” by United States Secretary of State Colin Powell on September 9, 2004 in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But since then, no other permanent member of the United Nations Security Council has followed, and in January 2005 the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 1564 of 2004, issued a report to the Secretary-General stating that “the Government of the Sudan has not pursued a olicy of genocide.
Nevertheless, the Commission cautioned that “The conclusion that no genocidal policy has been pursued and implemented in Darfur by the Government authorities, directly or through the militias under their control, should not be taken in any way as detracting from the gravity of the crimes perpetrated in that region. International offences such as the crimes against humanity and war crimes that have been committed in Darfur may be no less serious and heinous than genocide,” (Kessler).
After the U. S. break with the UN the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act of 2006, as passed which enacted specific economic and legal sanctions on the government of Sudan (Walker, 2008). In a 2004 statement about the crisis, President Bush restated his feelings and the standing of the United States and described the countries involvement.
He stated that the US supports a strong Security Council Resolution, and that after sending Secretary Colin Powell to interview victims at refugee camps, they have determined independently that genocide in fact has taken place and urged the international community and the United Nations to further investigate their findings. On Tuesday May 29, 2007 Bush announced new sanctions against Sudan as a punishment for Sudan’s reluctance in ending the war and for not allowing a United Nations peacekeeping force into the country.
The sanctions mainly target Sudan’s highly profitable oil business, by excluding thirty companies controlled by the region’s government from the American banking system and from doing business with American individuals and companies, as well as blocking the international assets of several individuals. Two of them are Sudanese government officials, Ahmad Muhammed Harun and Awad Ibn Auf, the latter the countrys head of ilitary intelligence and security.
The third, Khalil Ibrahim, is the leader of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (President’s statement on violence in Darfur, Sudan). Also, in 2007 the United Nations Security Council authorized the United Nations- African Union hybrid peacekeeping force which the US has committed $100 million to train and supply the battalions (U. S. response to the situation in Darfur). In February 2007, the International Criminal Court accused Ahmed Harun, a government minister, and Ali Kushayb, a commander of the Janjaweed militia of 51 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Later in the year, the ICC filed 10 charges of war crimes against the President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir due to what they called a campaign of murder, rape and mass deportation in the region (Walker, 2008). Although the Bush administration unsigned the Rome Statute which ratified the ICC in 2002, they have shown support for their investigation to prosecute humanitarian crimes committed in Darfur.
Although they had planned on vetoing the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1593 which referred the Darfur case to the ICC in 2005, the US simply refrained from voting due to a great deal of internal nd global pressure to do something concrete on the issue. The US special envoy to Sudan, Richard Williamson, stated the US had no plans in stopping the persecution of war crime suspects by the ICC, and that they are preparing themselves for what the prosecutors will decide (US will not interfere in ICC Darfur proceedings: official).
Perhaps the United States’ hesitation to take any real action in the region of Darfur is to allow the International Criminal Court to rule on the issue. However, it is also possible that the US’s seemingly on the fence position is the lack of economic motives o enter the country along with the outcry from the media to take action. Works Citied A1-Shifa pharmaceutical factory.