Monday, May 09, 2005

Darfur Part IV

This is the fourth section of a Darfur proposed solution submitted to Congress. For the background, read Part I, Part II, and Part III


Estimates of the number of troops needed to constitute an effective peacekeeping force in Darfur vary widely. Professor Eric Reeves of Smith College has written that “authoritative military assessments” put the number at 50,000. The African Union has agreed to provide 3,500 soldiers, although only 1,405 troops had been deployed as of March 4, 2005.

On March 24, 2005, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to send 10,000 troops and more than 700 civilian police to southern Sudan for an initial period of six months to support the peace agreement between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A, which ended more than two decades of civil strife between the north and south .

After considerable analysis and discussion, it has become apparent that it is virtually impossible to come up with any meaningful estimate of the number of troops or their makeup, that would be required. The refugee problem is complicated by the sheer magnitude of the number of people involved (1.85 million), the complicity of the Khartoum government in the terroristic activities of the Janjaweed militias, the sabotaging by the militias of relief activities, (including the murder of unarmed relief workers), the geographic location of the camps, and the harsh climatic conditions prevailing in the area. To suggest a number at this point would be completely arbitrary, given the limited information available regarding the overall situation.

A number of factors need to be evaluated before even considering the deployment of a peacekeeping force. A few of them are as follows:

1. The reaction of the Sudanese government to the insertion of a peacekeeping team into their state. Without their approval and support, it is likely that any peacekeeping effort by a third party force must fail. The government would have to commit at the very least to adopting a neutral position and “no fly” zones over the camps and areas in which the force would be stationed. Given their actions to date, this may not be a realistic expectation. Without Khartoum’s approval, the peacekeepers could find themselves in another Mogadishu.

2. The reaction of the other African nations to the concept of a peacekeeping force. Would they support such a proposal or regard an action of this nature as a blow to the sovereignty of the nations of Africa?

3. Who would provide the troops and support personnel, in what numbers, and for what length of time? The United States, which is one of the few nations in the world that can project and support armed forces in foreign locations, is stretched to the breaking point by its present commitments around the world, most notably in Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq. It is hard to imagine another nation taking the lead in sponsoring a peacekeeping force in Darfur, although for political reasons an alternative force may be necessary. A United Nations sponsored group may be the only answer. Regardless of the source of the unit, the nation or group providing the troops will determine the number it is willing to commit, and for what length of time.

4. What is the mission statement of the peacekeeping unit? Is it to patrol actively and defend the refugees and relief workers aggressively, or is it merely to observe and monitor the situation?

5. What are the rules of engagement? Given the savagery exhibited by the janjaweed to date, this needs to be spelled out clearly. Even a passive monitoring force has to have the ability to defend itself. When the shooting starts, what do the peacekeepers do?

6. How will the cost of the peacekeeping effort be funded? This is a critical question. Who foots the bill and for how much? As stated in Section III A above, $176 million has been contributed to the A.U. ceasefire monitoring mission by the international community.

7. A peacekeeping force must integrate its actions with diplomatic efforts to relieve the existing situation. In the long run, diplomatic efforts by the U.S., Great Britain, and other nations, coupled with international pressure on the government of the Sudan, may offer the best hope for bettering the refugees’ situation.

8. What is the exit strategy? If a force is provided, what is the time frame projected for its involvement and when and how does it extricate itself from the country.

Given the fact that the Sudanese government has not acted against the Janjaweed militias, has provided them with arms and monetary support, has not provided information on the size of the militia units, their leadership, or government troop units in the area, and generally appears predisposed to continue the suppression and elimination of its African citizens, it is probably unrealistic to think that a peacekeeping unit of sufficient size and possessing the armament necessary to defend the IPDs effectively can be deployed in Sudan at this time. The Blair five point program (discussed below), while recommending only a limited number of 3,500 African Union troops as monitors, may be most workable proposed troop deployment plan.

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