From Washington Post, Dec. 27, comes an analysis on Sudan:
A Shift on Darfur
THE BUSH administration signaled a new course on Sudan last week, and none too soon. A month ago it made the mistake of turning the diplomatic spotlight away from Darfur, where Sudan's government is perpetrating genocide, to peace talks between the government and rebels in the south. But now Stuart Holliday, the administration's third-ranking representative at the United Nations, has suggested that U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan should visit Darfur to refocus the world's attention on the genocide. Mr. Holliday and Mr. Annan have also revived discussion of U.N. sanctions on Sudan's government.
The renewed emphasis on Darfur has been forced by events on the ground. After the United States sponsored a U.N. resolution last month that shifted attention away from Darfur, the government felt free to resume its killing there. On Dec. 8 it launched an air attack on a village called Marlla; on Dec. 11 it attacked another village, Ishma; the next day the government's allies in the Janjaweed death squads looted and burned other settlements nearby. On Dec. 18 the government followed up with a helicopter assault on the village of Labado, torching its buildings before moving on to other targets; again, the Janjaweed looted and destroyed property in the wake of the government attacks. Darfur's rebel groups, whose violence had been contained by the hope that international intervention might protect them, have grown more desperate and vicious. Perhaps hoping to provoke a reaction that would draw the world back into the crisis, the rebels have attacked police outposts and relief convoys, sometimes killing aid workers.
The result is that the tenuous gains of the summer, when Darfur briefly grabbed the world's attention, have been partly undone. Access for humanitarian workers, which the government blocked earlier this year as part of its policy of eradicating civilians, has deteriorated: Relief workers are being denied visas, and the Sudan chief for the aid agency Oxfam has been ordered out of the country. Violence is compounding the problem. Last week, following the deaths of four employees, Save the Children withdrew 350 workers from Darfur who had been delivering food and medical supplies to 250,000 people. Meanwhile, the opportunity created by the government's agreement to allow in cease-fire monitors from the African Union has been clumsily exploited. The troops are arriving at a snail's pace. And peace talks between the government and Darfur's rebels broke up Dec. 21 without results.
The United States has done more than any other country to control this catastrophe, which may already have claimed 300,000 lives. It has been frustrated by China and Russia, which have sold weapons to Sudan and used their muscle on the U.N. Security Council to undermine a push for sanctions; by the sluggishness of the African Union, which accounts for the slow deployment; and by the need to preserve diplomatic capital for the war on terrorism and for Iraq. But the Bush administration must press for tougher action. It must revive the threat of U.N. sanctions, which succeeded in restraining Sudan's government over the summer, and be ready to face down a possible Chinese or Russian veto; it must push for a peacekeeping presence. It must persist in this effort because the administration itself determined three months ago that Darfur's killings amount to genocide -- a policy of targeting ethnic Africans in the region and killing as many as possible.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company