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EU, U.N. Fail to Foil Sudanese Genocide
Oil, arms sales have some nations demanding compromise in resolutions to stop the bloodshed
Alexander Krabbe (internews)     Print Article 
Published 2004-08-25 15:11 (KST)   
Earlier this month, near the German Parliament in Berlin, the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) put together a symbolic refugee camp next to a large cemetery in order to symbolize the ongoing genocide in Sudan's Western province of Darfour.

The well-respected organization blames the European Union for playing down the potential consequences for the region's black African population. Where recent United Nations reports speak of more than 50,000 civilians killed, the GfbV estimates there are more than 120,000 victims.

Several independent observers estimate that between 500 and 2,500 people are killed by the government-backed militia in Darfour every day. The number of Sudanese refugees is between 1.5 and 2 million.

Meanwhile, the main headlines of the so-called "established" media focus more on the record $49 per barrel oil price and the conflict in Iraq. Death and misery in West Sudan seem to be far from the minds of people around the world.

After a meeting on August 8, experts from the European Union, under the direction of EU Foreign Minister Xavier Solana, explained that the Darfour crisis should not be considered "genocide," though they condemned the mass-displacement and massacres of innocent civilians.

By contrast, at the end of July the U.S. Congress voted to classify the crimes taking place in Sudan as "genocide" with regard to the overwhelming numbers of war crimes in Darfour and the documented connections between the massacres and the government.

On a Sudan visit in late July, Bill Frist, the Republican senator from Tennessee, insisted that there was an ongoing genocide in Darfour. Another Republican senator, Sam Brownback, told a press conference on July 12: "The atrocities that are continuing today in Darfour are unconscionable, and this is why the U.S. Congress must take immediate and decisive action."

Washington's relatively strong U.N. resolution condemning the Arab-led government in Khartoum, however, was unable to be passed in the United Nation's General Assembly without its text first being diluted.

China, Russia and most Arab states objected to the "overly" strong resolution to end the conflict. Eventually, the original resolution's recommendations, which included military pressure on Sudan's government, were reworked into an ill-defined threat of "consequences" against Khartoum if the devastation and massacres by the Arab militia didn't cease within a period of 30 days. The countdown started on July 30 when the resolution was passed.

To understand why China has such a low priority in international engagement in Sudan, it is important to consider its oil investments in the East African country. The fallout from international military engagement could endanger Khartoum's will to further cooperate with Beijing if it supports U.N. efforts.

Similarly Russia is continuing to sell "Antonov" and "MIG"-class combat aircraft to Sudan. These are the same aircraft used by the Sudanese Air Force for bombing civilian targets, and thus effectively support the genocide.

The refusal of Arab states to ratify the U.N. resolution can be understood in terms of Arab "brotherhood" with the Janjaweed militia and the Arab dominated government.

Given that the most optimistic estimates say 500 citizens are murdered in Darfour every day, the U.N. deadline appears to be willing to allow at least 15,000 more deaths before its resolution comes into effect. But if other factors such as disease and hunger due to loss of agricultural production are taken into account, there will be far more civilian victims in the near-term.

Forgotten, ignored and later hypocritically regretted, the Sudanese genocide reminds many international observers of the Rwanda disaster in 1994. Mission failed.

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Alexander Krabbe is a German medical student at Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University of Greifswald, Pomerania.
©2004 OhmyNews

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