Friday, December 3, 2021

Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

Europe step up sanctions warnings to Sudan

By Nima Elbagir

KHARTOUM, July 25 (Reuters) – The United States and Europe stepped up warnings on Sunday of sanctions unless Sudan halts a conflict in its Darfur region, and Australia said it was likely to contribute troops to any U.N. peacekeeping mission.

Meanwhile, many observers said rebels in the arid western region were obstructing peace efforts in the expectation that what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis would force the international community to intervene.

Germany said Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell agreed in phone talks that “sanctions will be unavoidable if the (Khartoum) government does not meet its self-set commitments in Darfur”.

Many countries have demanded Khartoum disarm Arab militias accused of mounting a scorched earth policy against black Africans in Darfur that the U.S. Congress has branded genocide. The U.N. says some 30,000 people have been killed.

Germany and other European nations that opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq have found common cause with Washington over Darfur as television images show camps of destitute refugees — among the 1.5 million the U.N. says have been displaced by fighting.

CHINA, RUSSIA OPPOSE SANCTIONS

A U.S.-drafted resolution seeking to threaten oil-producing Sudan with sanctions remains stalled in the U.N. Security Council by China and Russia — two of the five veto-wielding permanent members.

Khartoum has said it is improving security and aid distribution in Darfur.

The Netherlands, which holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, said sanctions were not needed yet but the international community would eventually impose them if Khartoum did not act.

“It’s true that there is an improvement (in Darfur), but it isn’t enough,” Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot said after talks with Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail.

“If the situation does not visibly improve, then sanctions will almost surely be brought by the international community,” Bot was quoted as saying by the Dutch news agency ANP.

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier begins a three-day trip to Africa on Monday with a visit to Darfur, in another sign of European pressure on Khartoum.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Australia was likely to contribute a small number of troops to any U.N. peacekeeping mission.

“There’s a good chance that we will send some troops to Sudan,” Downer told Nine Network television.

BRITAIN KEEPS OPEN MIND ON TROOPS

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has not ruled out military intervention and Britain’s top commander has said he could send 5,000 troops.

Attempts to reach a political solution in Darfur stumbled last week when the two main rebel groups refused to take part in talks after the government turned down six preconditions.

A key rebel demand is the disarmament of the Arab militias, known as Janjaweed.

The rebels accuse the militias of killing and raping villagers and then razing homes. The rebels say the government armed the militias, a charge Khartoum denies, and both sides trade accusations of violating a ceasefire agreed in April.

“It is obvious that the rebels feel that if they agitate enough they can force the hand of the international community and bring about an intervention on the ground,” said a Western observer in Khartoum.

The observer, who declined to be named, said it was going to be almost impossible for the government to disarm or convince militia leaders of the need for disarmament while the rebels carried on breaking the ceasefire.

REBEL CALL FOR INTERNATIONAL INTERVENTION

Abdel-Wahid Mohammed Ahmed el-Nur, a leader of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), called for international military forces to be sent to Darfur.

El-Nur, speaking by satellite telephone from Darfur, did not say whether the SLM would be going to the talks in Addis Ababa with the government as the U.N. announced on Friday.

The leader of the other main rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, said on Saturday there would be no talks with the government until the Janjaweed were disarmed.

As aid agencies in neighbouring Chad braced for an influx of 200,000 more refugees from Darfur, Pope John Paul urged the international community to help put a stop to the conflict.

“The war (in Darfur), which has intensified in these months, has brought more poverty, desperation and death,” the pope said at his summer residence. “How can we remain indifferent?.”

(Additional reporting by Amil Khan in Cairo)