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Is the usa administration only weak and incompetent..?

4/14/2006 1:56pm

Friday 14 April 2006.
, or is it two-faced [in its Darfur policy]?" --- Washington Post editorial, April 11, 2006

By Eric Reeves

March 13, 2006 The Washington Post editorial (full text of this important statement at has asked the essential question of the Bush administration; tragically, the preponderance of evidence suggests that "two-faced" and disingenuous is the better description. What follows from this ugly reality is a lack of meaningful US policy for Darfur and eastern Chad, with the bleak diplomatic prospect that US leadership will be lacking as the Darfur region enters its period of greatest and most remorseless human destruction. Despite various posturing comments by Mr. Bush about a significant NATO role in Darfur ("NATO stewardship" was his phrase in February), statements from senior NATO officials in Brussels indicate that the role of the Alliance will in fact be highly limited. It is all too clear that senior Bush administration officials, at both the State Department and Pentagon, have failed to communicate effectively with NATO allies in Brussels, leaving a gaping disparity in public statements. The Bush administration has not invested the political and diplomatic capital necessary to sway the Alliance, which moves by notoriously slow consensus.

None of this excuses the European members of NATO in their feckless and shameful response to the Darfur crisis. Particularly in the wake of the war in Iraq, with American military and diplomatic power consumed or squandered, European leadership on Darfur is essential. Yet France, Germany, Italy, the Benelux countries, Spain, and the countries of Eastern Europe---which so long endured their own brutal tyranny---have all been essentially useless in crafting a meaningful Darfur policy. Even the Blair government in the UK has done little more than exhibit the occasional spasm of moral indignation.

The European Union seems to believe that its partial funding of the African Union mission in Darfur exhausts obligations in the face of genocide. Here we should recall that the Parliament of the European Union voted by a margin of 566 to 6 in September 2004 to declare that the realities of Darfur are "tantamount of genocide"---a disingenuous turn of phrase evidently meant to avoid the explicit judgment of "genocide." This evidently freed these many signatories to the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide from their various contractual obligations, preeminently to "prevent" genocide (Article 1). Nonetheless, European acquiescence before genocide (or realities "tantamount to genocide") in Africa remains conspicuous.


But the failures in Europe do not excuse the Bush administration in its own ongoing failure to respond seriously to Darfur. The consequences of this US failure become greater by the day. Very recent reports and news dispatches make clear that not only have Khartoums genocidal ambitions fully bled into neighboring Chad, but Khartoums unconstrained support for Chadian rebels has brought the tenuous government of President Idris Deby to the very brink of collapse. Though Chadian officials claim that the rebels are being defeated, todays rebel attack on NDjamena and the possibility of large-scale army desertions ensure that the military situation is far from resolved. Certainly Khartoums National Islamic Front (NIF) has a strong interest in seeing the rebels succeed in toppling Debys government, and in bringing to power a new government that will be beholden to Khartoum, as Deby himself was when he came to power in a 1990 coup.

Deby declared on December 23, 2005 a "state of belligerence" with Khartoum in response to NIF support for Chadian rebels in a series of attacks in eastern Chad, most notably an attack on the major town of Adr (December 18, 2005). It was clear at the time how significant NIF support for the Chadian rebels had become; Reuters, for example, reported that following the Adr attack, Chadian mutineers/rebels were brought to the hospital in el-Geneina (West Darfur):

"Patients at el-Geneina hospital said between 25-30 fighters injured in a separate attack by Chadian army deserters and allies on the border town of Adr two days ago had been brought to the hospital. But armed soldiers and plain-clothed security men prevented journalists from entering their ward." (Reuters [dateline: el-Geneina], December 20, 2005)

Leaders of the Chadian rebel movements were recently allowed to move freely in Khartoum until brazenly offering a radio interview that virtually advertised the support they enjoyed from the NIF.

But most authoritatively, Human Rights Watch, on the basis of first-hand research in eastern Chad, reported in February 2006 that Khartoum "backs Chadian rebel groups that it allows to operate from bases in Darfur," and that attacks by Khartoums murderous Arab militia allies, the Janjaweed, "appear to be coordinated with those of the Chadian rebels":

"Human Rights Watch found evidence of coordination between Janjaweed militias and the RDL [Chadian rebel group "Rally for Democracy and Freedom"], and there is circumstantial and other evidence that not just the Janjaweed but the RDL receive material and other support from Sudanese government forces. RDL rebels have several bases in Western Darfur around el-Geneina, where Janjaweed militias and RDL rebels are said to occupy nearly adjacent camps (and where the Sudanese government has a substantial military presence. [ ] Eyewitness testimony suggests a military intelligence link between RDL rebels and Janjaweed militias." (Human Rights Watch, "Darfur Bleeds: Recent Cross-Border Violence in Chad," February 2006,

Deby is certainly far from an ideal leader, and his weakness and corruption have understandably led to widespread unhappiness in one of the worlds poorest countries, one struggling with the difficulties of new-found oil wealth. But whatever the political assessment of Deby, and whatever the claims of the Chadian rebels, there are two especially significant issues in the current crisis:

[1] Will Khartoum succeed in bringing to power a rebel front that has received such substantial support (as well as basing in Darfur) that it will in turn acquiesce before continuation of NIF-orchestrated genocide in Darfur and eastern Chad?

[2] What will the consequences of current military conflict in Chad be for humanitarian operations in eastern Chad, especially with the rainy season fast approaching? (Heavy seasonal rains sever the east-west overland routes in Chad, making it impossible to reach the Chad/Darfur border from NDjamena, or even Abeche to the east.)

The latter question is especially urgent, given the extreme security crisis in West Darfur state, immediately to the east of the Chad/Darfur border. The evidence at hand, though far from complete (insecurity prevents proper assessment of the affected civilian populations), is ominous in the extreme. Chadian civilians have been displaced in large numbers---these in addition to the more than 220,000 Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad. Many more have been directly affected by insecurity and violence. We catch a terrible glimpse of the future in a series of dispatches reporting on the armed entry of a rebel group from the United Front for Democratic Change (FUCD) into a large refugee camp two days ago:

"UN relief agencies and other humanitarian groups will pull some of their staff out of a town in eastern Chad threatened by rebel raids, a UN official said on Tuesday [April 11, 2006]. The measure highlighted the deteriorating security situation in the east of the landlocked central African oil producer, where rebels opposed to President Idriss Deby have stepped up attacks in a campaign to disrupt elections next month." [ ]

"A rebel column on Monday temporarily occupied the Chadian village of Koukou Angarana and the nearby Goz Amir refugee camp housing more than 17,000 refugees from Sudans Darfur region, which lies about 100 km (60 miles) away over the border. UN officials said one Chadian gendarme was killed and three others were injured in the raid on the camp, which is about 50 km (30 miles) from the main local town of Goz-Beida. The United Nations and most nongovernmental organizations have decided to reduce staff at a security precaution, UN refugee agency (UNHCR) spokesman Matthew Conway told Reuters." (Reuters [dateline: NDjamena, Chad], April 11, 2006)

This continues a pattern of humanitarian withdrawal and attenuation of humanitarian capacity in eastern Chad that has been evident since shortly after the rebel attack on Adr (again, December 18, 2006).

[Late today the UN World Food Program announced in a press release that, "in its capacity as the UNs lead logistics agency, WFP has begun relocating all non-essential UN and NGO staff and their families from Ndjamena after security conditions deteriorated sharply in Chad this week."]

The UN News Center also reported on the events at the Goz Amir camp for Darfuri refugees:

"The UN refugee agency today voiced extreme concern over growing insecurity in eastern Chad after a large armed group yesterday entered one of its camps sheltering 17,700 Sudanese who have fled vicious attacks in the Darfur region of their homeland. We are extremely concerned, UN High Commissioner for Refugees spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis [said]. The armed group entered the (Goz Amir) camp in the afternoon during a food distribution. This action clearly frightened the refugees and is of deep concern to UNHCR and its partners. A group of 118 staff from various aid groups, including three staff from UNHCR, were unable to leave the camp." (UN News Center, April 11, 2006)

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks also reports on the actions of the rebels:

"Streets are deserted, shops shuttered and conditions tense on Tuesday in the southeastern Chadian towns of Am Timan and Goz Beida after gun-toting rebels continued attacks in the region for a third day after occupying a nearby refugee camp. On Sunday [April 9, 2006] the United Front for Democratic Change (FUCD) rebels headed by Mahamout Nour Ont attacked Haraze Mangueigne, a town on the border with the Central African Republic. On Monday armed rebels also thought to be with the FUCD seized Goz Amir refugee camp outside the village of Koukou---250 kilometres east of Sundays attack and close to the Sudan border---host to 18,000 refugees from the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan. The rebels occupied the camp and accused us of kidnapping the refugees, an aid worker in the camp who asked not to be named told IRIN by satellite phone on Tuesday. They stayed in the camp until the morning, took food and stole satellite phones." (UN IRIN [dateline: NDjamena], April 11, 2006)

Conditions are reported to be calm now, but the vulnerability of these camps and humanitarian operations is total: for Deby is redeploying all his military resources in a bid to retain power; no consideration is given to civilian or humanitarian protection. This also continues a pattern first established by Human Rights Watch in February 2006:

"As of early February 2006, the Chadian army garrisons in Modoyna, Koumou, Koloy, Ade, Aourado, Borota, and Goungour stood empty. Withdrawal [by Chadian government military forces] from these border positions allowed Janjaweed militias to operate unchecked in eastern Chad, with disastrous consequences for civilians." ("Darfur Bleeds," page 6)

These "disastrous consequences for civilians" are only becoming worse, and the military successes of the rebels ensure that Deby and the Chadian army will concentrate more and more of their forces to the west and around NDjamena. Chadian civilians, especially those from the African tribal groups, and Darfuri refugees will bear the brunt of Khartoums ongoing genocidal assault on both sides of the Chad/Darfur border. Janjaweed attacks---already boldly ranging far into Chad---will be even less restrained. These attacks have already been reported in detail, with Human Rights Watch again leading the way:

"Displaced persons in Koloy, most of them Dajo [an African tribal group also targeted by Khartoum and the Janjaweed in Darfur---ER], described a pattern of Janjaweed attacks remarkably consistent with testimony recorded further north, where the Masalit predominate: light-skinned Arabs and some black Arabs wearing Sudanese army khakis and turbans carried out attacks on villages, usually on horses and sometimes on camels."

"Some witnesses remembered seeing white (light colored) desert camouflage uniforms in addition to khaki Sudanese. Some in Koloy said they saw rank and insignia on the attackers uniforms. Eyewitnesses gave Human Rights Watch names of Chadian Arabs they recognized from their villages who had evidently joined the Janjaweed."

"Two well-known Janjaweed militia leaders known to be closely allied to the Sudanese government are likely among those responsible for the violence in the area south of Adr. Hamid Dawai and Abdullah abu Shineibat were among the seven Janjaweed militia leaders named, by the US Department of State in 2004, and in reports by Human Rights Watch and others, as leaders of some of the most abusive Janjaweed forces in West Darfur. Victims of violence in Koloy identify Hamid Dawai, an emir of the Beni Halba tribe and Janjaweed leader in the Terbeba-Arara-Beida triangle of West Darfur, as being behind attacks on their villages. ("Darfur Bleeds," pages 8, 10)

The role of National Islamic Front regular military forces in eastern Chad is also authoritatively established by Human Rights Watch:

"The links between the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed militias in operations in Darfur have been comprehensively documented over the past few years. Human Rights Watch found evidence of apparent Sudanese government involvement in attacks against civilian populations in eastern Chad since early December 2005. Witness accounts and physical evidence indicated that government of Sudan troops and helicopter gunships participated directly in attacks, while many people reported seeing Antonov aircraft approach from Sudan, circle overhead, then return to Sudan in advance of Janjaweed raids; they believe spotters in these aircraft report concentrations of cattle to forces on the ground."

"Human Rights Watch documented four attacks by armed forces based in Darfur between December 5 and 11, 2005, in the prefecture of Goungour, with more than 8,300 mostly Masalit inhabitants in fifty-one hamlets, located eighty kilometers south of Adr. The first two attacks reportedly involved Janjaweed militias backed by government of Sudan soldiers and vehicles and two attack helicopters, which rocketed several areas over a three-day period. Villagers described how they initially believed that Sudanese forces were pursuing Sudanese SLA rebels who were fleeing across the border into Goungour after skirmishes in Darfur. But it became apparent that civilians were the targets, as government of Sudan soldiers and Janjaweed directly attacked twenty-two villages in the Goungour area. Local officials in Goungour told Human Rights Watch that a total of forty-five people were killed over seven days of bloodshed."

"Janjaweed militias between December 16, 2005, and January 5, 2006, attacked, looted and emptied forty villages out of eighty-five in the mostly Masalit prefecture of Borota, one hundred kilometers south of Adr. These attacks were conducted in the company of Sudanese police and soldiers, according to witnesses." ("Darfur Bleeds," pages 11, 12)

Even in February 2006 Human Rights Watch was able to discern clear humanitarian threats emerging from the Khartoum-supported violence against civilians:

"Food security could become an issue if the internally displaced continue to be denied access to food stored in their villages; in any event, food is likely to become a problem for them during the usual hunger gap in advance of the next harvest, in August 2006. The most immediate concern, however, is water---only one well in Borota was working, and some villagers who resorted to drinking surface water suffered from bloody diarrhea. When Human Rights Watch visited, the only well in Koloy was almost completely dry, with only small amounts of muddy water able to be extracted. People who had drawn surface water from the dry riverbed also were suffering from diarrhea. Most local and international nongovernmental organizations suspended their activities between Adr and Modoyna following the December 18, 2005, attack on Adr. Due to insecurity, there has been no monitoring of the Chad-Sudan border by staff of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees since October [2005]."

Human Rights Watch all too presciently concludes its report:

"In the event of a major military engagement between Chadian military forces and any of the rebel groups arrayed against it, international humanitarian operations in eastern Chad could be severely hampered, resulting in a potentially massive disruption to the flow of aid to hundreds of thousands of refugees and Chadian civilians in the region." ("Darfur Bleeds," page 15)

This extraordinary report, based on detailed on-the-ground research, has been fully in the public domain for two months. It has not been qualified, either by other analyses or by new evidence; on the contrary, the realities evident at the time have only become more threatening to civilians and humanitarian operations. A recent wire report with an Adr dateline reports:

"The mounting violence has driven at least 55,000 Chadians from their homes, and camps for Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad are swelling with hundreds of new arrivals each week. Much of the region is beyond the reach of relief agencies, and the UN World Food Program says several thousand people will go hungry in the coming months." (Knight Ridder [dateline: Adr, Chad], April 4, 2006)


The Washington Post recently reported on what the Bush administration would evidently have Americans believe is US policy going forward:

"The Bush administration has settled on the idea of sending up to several hundred NATO advisers to help bolster African Union peacekeeping troops in their efforts to shield villagers in Sudans Darfur region from fighting between government-backed Arab militias and rebel groups, administration officials said. The move would include some US troops and mark a significant expansion of US and allied involvement in the conflict. So far, NATOs role has been limited to airlifting African Union forces to the region and providing a few military specialists to help the peacekeeping contingent."

"The proposal, which still faces uncertain approval within NATO because of concerns that it could be a distraction from operations in Afghanistan, falls well short of more aggressive measures that some have advocated, such as sending ground combat troops or providing air patrols to protect peacekeepers and prevent the bombing of villages. These options have been ruled out as unnecessary at this time, an administration official said. [ ] Plans under consideration envision fewer than 500 NATO advisers." (Washington Post, April 10, 2006)

"These [robust] options [to protect peacekeepers and prevent the bombing of villages] have been ruled out as unnecessary at this time"---such assessment of "necessity" represents unfathomable cynicism.

And "fewer than 500 NATO advisors" is a proposal aptly characterized subsequently by the Washington Post editorial pages:

"Back in 2004, the Bush administration described the killing in Darfur as genocide, then failed to stop it. Then in February of this year, the president spoke of deploying NATO troops to that region of Sudan; now this idea seems in danger of fizzling. According to the [Washington] Posts Bradley Graham and Colum Lynch, the administration has in mind adding fewer than 500 NATO advisers to the existing 6,000-strong African Union peacekeeping contingent. The advisers would be assigned to the African Union headquarters and would not participate directly in field operations. A serious peacekeeping force would require 20,000 or so troops. Unless the administration supplements these proposed advisers with a more serious deployment, it will have capitulated." ("A Presidents Promise: Mr. Bush must not walk away from Darfur," April 11, 2006)

As true as this assessment is, it must be understood in the context of the broader failure of the Bush administration to secure at least general agreement from Brussels before expediently leaking its "proposal." For the "proposal" reported on April 10 by the Washington Post was greeted that same afternoon in Brussels with a peremptory dismissal:

"NATO spokeswoman, Carmen Romero, declined to comment on a report by the Washington Post newspaper that said the US backed a proposal to send several hundred NATO advisers to support an African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur. We are not talking of a NATO force in Darfur, this is out of the question, she said, adding any personnel would be involved only in logistical support or training." (Reuters [dateline: Brussels], April 10, 2006)

"NATO officials gave a cautious response Monday to a [Washington Post] report that the US will propose sending several hundred alliance advisers to beef up an African peacekeeping mission in Sudans violence-wracked Darfur region. NATO military planners are drawing up options for boost the alliances support for the AU force in response to a request last month from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan."

"However, officials at alliance headquarters said the US would struggle to persuade allies to commit so many troops. One official said the military planners were looking at dozens rather than hundreds of NATO experts to support the AU." (Associated Press [dateline: Brussels], April 10, 2006

"Planners were looking at dozens rather than hundreds of NATO experts to support the AU." This is the response of the Europeans countries in NATO to an already transparently inadequate US proposal; this is how Europe would respond to the urgent security needs of civilians in Darfur and eastern Chad, as well as the humanitarians providing a critical but highly tenuous lifeline.

Blame here must certainly be shared: the Bush administration for clearly doing no advance work to secure agreement for a proposal on Darfur, even a grossly inadequate proposal; and the Europeans countries in NATO for shamefully expressing a willing to commit only "dozens" of advisors to stop massive genocidal destruction and to stem the growing insecurity that threatens a wholesale collapse of humanitarian operations in a vast region, including large swathes of eastern Chad, that now far exceeds the size of France.

This response comes as all reports from Abuja, Nigeria suggest that there has been no diplomatic progress between the Darfur insurgency movements and Khartoum on the outstanding issues of power-sharing, wealth-sharing, and security issues. A deadline of April 30th---a little over two weeks from now---has been set by the African Union and endorsed by the UN Security Council. But these talks, extending back to November 2005, have reached a point where negotiations will proceed only with difficult political decisions by the two parties, decisions that have clearly not been made. Moreover, it cannot be emphasized often enough that the National Islamic Front---the only meaningful Sudanese diplomatic representation in Abuja---has never abided by a single agreement with any Sudanese party...not one, not ever. Recent assessments of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (January 2005) between that NIF and the southern Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement offer considerable evidence of the multiple and manifest ways in which the NIF is yet again reneging on a signed commitment.

[See "The Impact of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the New Government of National Unity on Southern Sudan," Human Rights Watch, March 2006; "Sudan: Policy Focus," the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, Winter 2006; and see especially "Sudans Comprehensive Peace Agreement: The Long Road Ahead," International Crisis Group, March 31, 2006,]

In short, there is no evidence of diplomatic progress in Abuja; southern Sudan gives more evidence of NIF bad faith; and the actions by Khartoum in both Chad/Darfur and eastern Sudan give strong evidence that the regime may already be calculating that the costs of further reneging, and ongoing genocide as a domestic security policy, are simply not of sufficient significance---and that the international community will back down before the facile threats of genocidaires (such as President Beshirs declaration that Darfur will become a "graveyard" for any intervening force).


Elsewhere, other actors within the international community are also abjectly failing Darfur. A Reuters dispatch from the UN in New York offers the blunt assessment of a number of observers:

"Efforts to stop atrocities in Sudans Darfur region are unraveling, with a new peacekeeping force uncertain, relief aid under attack and UN sanctions stymied, UN officials and analysts say." (Reuters, April 9, 2006)

The same dispatch reports on the continuing, shamefully prideful actions on the part of the African Union in refusing to recognize the need for urgent and broadly international humanitarian intervention in Darfur:

"AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare recently presented options to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Among them was a UN peacekeeping mission. But Konare also suggested that the AU take command or at least work side by side with UN troops. Such solutions would doom a unified operation, said a top UN official, speaking on condition of anonymity."

Within the UN, Kofi Annans special representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, continues to demonstrate a foolishness and perversity of instinct that has consistently undermined UN policy on Darfur:

"Jan Pronk, the UN envoy for Sudan, warned that any mention of NATO was a red flag to Muslims. Western diplomacy is indeed extremely foolish at the moment, Pronk said." (Reuters, April 9, 2006)

Presumably Pronk doesnt mean here the Muslims being slaughtered in Darfur because of their ethnicity. They have made abundantly clear in a host of ways that they would eagerly welcome NATO or other international troops to protect them, their families, and the possibility of their resuming meaningful lives. Pronk himself has recently called for a force of 20,000 troops: where does he propose that they come from? And does he imagine that countries other than those within NATO can provide the kind of sophisticated military presence, transport capacity, intelligence, and tactical air support that Secretary-General Annan has explicitly called for? It is Pronk who is the fool, a status he has confirmed repeatedly over the past two years.

It was Pronk who was responsible for negotiating away in August 2004 the only meaningful UN Security Council "demand" that has yet been made of Khartoum, viz. that the regime disarm the Janjaweed and bring its leaders to justice. In place of this singularly important "demand" Pronk negotiated instead (also in August 2004) a plan for "safe areas" in Darfur, one that proved as ill-conceived as the "safe areas" plan for Bosnia (it was quietly abandoned by the UN shortly afterwards when it became clear that "the plan" did nothing but offer Khartoum diplomatic cover for its expanding military offensive along the Tawilla/Gereida corridor).

Pronk has also at various points perversely refused to accept the overwhelming evidence that Khartoum has recruited, supplied, and consistently militarily coordinated with the Janjaweed---evidence that was most authoritatively assembled by Human Rights Watch in December 2005 ("Entrenching Impunity: Government Responsibility for International Crimes in Darfur"). And it is Pronk who has also proved adept at angering many within the UN community working in Sudan by insisting on assuming responsibilities that are neither his nor within his competence (an excellent example is Pronks highly unjustified insistence on taking a leading role for himself in the critical Assessment and Evaluation Commission for the north/south peace agreement; see International Crisis Group, "Sudans Comprehensive Peace Agreement: The Long Road Ahead," page 27).

In speaking so foolishly and in such cowardly fashion about the need for robust humanitarian intervention, including use of NATO forces---precisely what has been called for by the UN Secretary-General---Pronk ensures only that the chances of deploying any force, even of the sort he himself has vaguely called for, are increasingly remote.

In another foolish comment by a usually sensible UN official, Juan Mendez, special advisor on the prevention of genocide, has said of Darfur: "Left unattended, the situation may degenerate into genocide" (Deutsche Presse Agentur, April 7, 2006).

This remark has a ghastly irony on the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide---though Mendez had the honesty to declare that "debates about troop strength on the ground and about mandate were very eerily reminiscent of what happened in Rwanda."

In fact, all evidence points, unambiguously, to current genocide in Darfur---to deliberate, ethnically-targeted human destruction that has already claimed in excess of 400,000 lives. Khartoums regular military forces and Janjaweed proxy militia have deliberately destroyed not only the people of the African tribal groups of Darfur, they have "deliberately inflicted on the [African tribal groups] conditions of life calculated to bring about [their] physical destruction in whole or in part" (1948 UN Genocide Convention, Article 2, clause [c]). The evidence here is simply overwhelming (see especially "Darfur: Assault on Survival," Physicians for Human Rights, January 2006, at

Here again, perversely, comments from a UN official (one responsible for "genocide prevention") only diminish the chances of humanitarian intervention to stop ongoing genocide. Precisely because genocide is already occurring, and because all NATO countries are contracting parties to the 1948 UN Genocide Convention, a forthright genocide determination must at the very least bring powerful moral pressure to bear on countries that have so far committed only "dozens" of advisors to stop the vast and accelerating human destruction in Darfur.


The pending "perfect storm of human destruction" (see March 8, 2006 analysis by this writer, looms yet more threateningly as the late spring rains fast approach. Humanitarian reach has already contracted sharply because of uncontrolled violence and attendant insecurity; the rains will sever key transport arteries from both the east and the west. People are already dying, especially among the most vulnerable populations (young children, the very elderly, the sick and malnourished). Eastern Chad is also poised to become a nightmare of human destruction and deprivation.

Is the Bush administration, to reiterate the question of the Washington Post editorial, "only weak and incompetent, or is it two-faced"? It will very soon make no difference to the people of Darfur and eastern Chad---and perhaps that is the ultimately cynical answer the Bush administration has provided itself.

Eric Reeves
Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 413-585-3326
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