[Marxism] No to military intervention in Darfur

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Nov 25 12:04:15 MST 2006

LRB | Vol. 28 No. 23 dated 30 November 2006 | Alex de Waal
‘I will not sign’
Alex de Waal writes about the Darfur peace negotiations

Military intervention won’t stop the killing. 
Those who are clamouring for troops to fight 
their way into Darfur are suffering from a 
salvation delusion. It’s a simple reality that UN 
troops can’t stop an ongoing war, and their 
record at protecting civilians is far from 
perfect. Moreover, the idea of Bush and Blair 
acting as global moral arbiters doesn’t travel 
well. The crisis in Darfur is political. It’s a 
civil war, and like all wars it needs a political 
settlement. Late in the night of 16 November Kofi 
Annan chaired a meeting at the African Union 
headquarters in Addis Ababa at which he, the AU 
and the UN Security Council reaffirmed this basic 
fact. When he promised to bring the government of 
Sudan and the rebels who are still fighting 
around the table within weeks, the outgoing UN 
secretary general was adopting a simple and 
correct rationale: fix the politics first and the 
peacekeeping will follow. It’s not a distant 
hope: the political differences are small.

Long neglected conflicts first exploded in 
February 2003, when the newly formed Sudan 
Liberation Movement (SLM) launched guerrilla 
raids on government garrisons, and the government 
responded with its well-tested counter-insurgency 
tool of unleashing militia – in this case the 
Janjawiid, drawn from Darfur’s indigenous Arabs. 
It was three years before a workable peace 
agreement was tabled. And it very nearly 
succeeded. Everything hinged on a few weeks this 
May, when the Darfur Peace Agreement was 
finalised and signed by the Sudan government and 
one of the rebel factions. Had the leader of the 
main part of the Sudan Liberation Movement also 
signed, the current crisis would not have 
happened. To understand why Darfur is in such 
straits today, and how the recent efforts of the 
UN and the AU can help it escape, it’s necessary 
to focus on the politics of the negotiations.

The Inter-Sudanese Talks on the Conflict in 
Darfur began inauspiciously in the Chadian 
capital, N’djamena, in April 2004, with an 
unworkable ceasefire agreement. The Chadian 
foreign minister ordered an extra sentence to be 
handwritten into the Sudan government’s copy of 
the agreement, specifying that the rebel forces 
had to go to camps and disarm. The Sudan 
Liberation Movement had a signed and stamped 
version without this provision – which they had 
rejected as suicidal. There was a second, equally 
fatal short cut: the agreement had no maps 
attached, and so there were no details about 
which territory was controlled by each side. A 
month later, when the first African Union 
ceasefire observers arrived in Darfur, they 
didn’t know which troops were supposed to be 
where, or whom to blame when one side accused the 
other of encroaching on its territory. From the 
start, the African Union Mission in Sudan was mission impossible.

full: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n23/waal01_.html

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