By Eric Reeves
Editor’s Note: The following is a timely, yet saddening report by Sudan Expert Eric Reeves, reprinted in part from the Sudan Tribune (http://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article45575). The UN Security Council has essentially told the murderous regime of Omar al Bashir that it doesn’t care what he does to his countrymen in Darfur, South Kordofan, and the Blue Nile areas of Sudan. The marginalized people in these areas, including Sudan’s Christian minority, receive at best nothing more than verbal sympathy, while they are slowly driven from their homes or bombed into submission. PPF continues to work in what way we can to bring attention to this sad state of affairs, as well as physical relief to the suffering. Thank you for faithfully supporting these efforts.
February 18, 2013 – The retreat on the part of the United Nations Security Council in responding to Khartoum’s continuous aerial military assaults on civilians in Darfur could not be clearer. In Resolution 1591 (March 2005) the Security Council had “demanded,”
“that the Government of Sudan, in accordance with its commitments under the 8 April 2004 N’djamena Ceasefire Agreement and the 9 November 2004 Abuja Security Protocol, immediately cease conducting offensive military flights in and over the Darfur region, and invites the African Union Ceasefire Commission to share pertinent information as appropriate in this regard with the Secretary-General, the Committee, or the [UN] Panel of Experts established under paragraph 3(b).”
On February 14, 2013—eight years and 500 UN Security Council resolutions later—this was reduced to the vague and tepid “demand,”
“that the [combatant] parties to the conflict exercise restraint and cease military action of all kind, including aerial bombardments….”
Rather than note the number of aerial attacks that have occurred, and their destructiveness within the civilian population—particularly in the Jebel Marra area, but throughout Darfur—aerial bombardment was simply one among many kinds of “military action.” No mention was made of the fact that literally hundreds of aerial attacks have been conducted in violation of Resolution 1591. In turn, this silence sends a clear message to Khartoum: “although we are obliged to say something publicly, we will not hold you accountable for these attacks, and will do as much as we can to equivocate in linking them to military actions by rebel groups…”
[T]he Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) is now broadly representative of the marginalized populations of Darfur, Blue Nile, South Kordofan, and eastern Sudan—and is working explicitly for regime change. The SRF comprises not only Darfuri rebel groups, but also the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North (South Kordofan and Blue Nile), and the Eastern Front. Moreover, in an historic alliance, the coalition of political forces in northern Sudan known as the National Consensus Forces (NCF) signed a political agreement with the SRF in Kampala on January 5, 2013. It commits the coalition to removing the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime by political and military means.
In repudiating such broadly representative efforts by the Sudanese people to escape twenty-four years of vicious tyranny, the UN Security Council has decided that it will support Khartoum’s génocidaires and the principle of “national sovereignty” rather than those who suffer and die as a result of the regime’s continuing barbarism. It is this same commitment to “national sovereignty” that has immobilized the Security Council in the face of Khartoum’s continuing blockade of humanitarian relief to almost 1 million people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. And it is this same commitment that leads to the Security Council’s looking away from more than a year and a half of relentless aerial attacks on civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile…
Such aerial attacks are now a constant, and extend well back in time. In December 2010 Khartoum bombed Kiir Adem (Northern Bahr el-Ghazal)—shortly before the Southern self-determination referendum (January 9, 2011); Khartoum denied the attack, but an Associated Press journalist present at the time confirmed the bombing. In November 2011—five months after it had begun its bombing campaign in South Kordofan, Khartoum’s military forces bombed the Yida refugee camp in Unity State, South Sudan. Khartoum again baldly denied the attack, but it was confirmed by a UN team on the ground, as well as by reporters for the BBC and Reuters who were present during the actual bombing attack. UN cowardice and disingenuousness, however, leave Khartoum’s UN ambassador unembarrassed as he makes the most absurd claims. Following the bombing of the Yida refugee camp,
“The Sudanese UN ambassador, Dafalla Haj Osman vehemently denied that SAF carried out any bombings inside their southern neighbour’s territories. “There is no aerial bombardment; we did not exercise any kind of military activity outside our borders,” he told reporters following the UNSC session on Sudan. Asked about confirmation from the BBC and Reuters correspondents at the scene, the Sudanese envoy suggested that the two are ’biased media’ outlets that are favouring rebels.” (Sudan Tribune, November 11, 2011)
In surveying the civilian destruction and suffering in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, one must conclude that the “Responsibility to Protect,” embodied in the Outcome Document unanimously adopted by the General Assembly (September 2005) and subsequently by the Security Council itself, has no legal or moral force…
Khartoum persists in its barbaric ways because the world refuses to take the suffering and destruction in Darfur seriously, and nowhere is this more conspicuous than within the United Nations. The National Islamic Front/National Congress Party long ago calculated that it could simply outwait the international community on “changing the demography of Darfur,” in the words of notorious Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal. It has taken a full ten years, but success for Hilal and his partners in Khartoum is now in sight.
Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College, has published extensively on Sudan, nationally and internationally, for more than a decade. He is author of A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide.