The Fallout of Frivolous Intervention: World Inaction on the Sudan Situation
The Congressional resolution calls on President Bush to take action with or without a coalition. The evidence appears more compelling than the WMD of Iraq. The proposed UN resolution avoids even a threat of sanctions against Sudan, and is opposed by three Council members: China, Russia and Pakistan. It gives Sudan 30 days to show progress on stopping the killing by the militias, or the Council will consider economic sanctions.
This country is already reeling with the consequences of having IMF loans that they cannot repay, and they are suffering from drought that may be the cause of the struggle for water that seems, in part, behind the Janjaweed's aggression. ("Janjaweed militiamen are primarily members of nomadic 'Arab' tribes who've long been at odds with Darfur's settled "African" farmers, who are darker-skinned," wrote Brendan I. Koerner in "Who are the Janjaweed?," posted on Slate).
The country is 80% agriculture, but there is oil in the south. Coincidentally (perhaps) a Russian company, Stroitransgaz, has won a bid to construct a 366-kilometer-long pipeline for the Sudan's leading oil company, Petrodar Operating Co. This is in a news release today out of Moscow. This could account for Russia's reticence on a strong resolution against Sudan for assisting the Janjaweed as has been alleged by observers on the scene.
Even Colin Powell on his recent visit to Sudan expressed alarm in very strong language and addressed Khartoum as the source of the problem. He did stop short of using the 'genocide' word and the State Department has an investigation underway to interview a couple of hundred citizens in the area in order to make a determination of genocide. NGOs, such as Amnesty International, are not as conflicted about using the "G" word. They report seeing numerous limbs sticking out of the ground in makeshift graves.
Other neighboring countries, also members of the UN, think Sudan needs more time to stop a genocide. There is some chance that the African Union may mount a peacekeeping force. Sudan alleges a conspiracy against it, citing the example of Iraq. Could it also be that in the wake of the dishonest invasion of Iraq by a fabricated "coalition of the willing," the world community of nations is now paralyzed to inaction for fear of being accused of nefarious motives? Add this to the mounting costs of the Iraq misadventure.
J. Russell Tyldesley, an insurance executive, writes from Catonsville, Md. He recommends visiting Passion Of The Present's site for constantly updated information on the Sudan situation.
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This story was published on July 29, 2004.