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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Darfur: Two Steps Forward - Many Steps Backwards

After several weeks of good news and progress related to Sudan, the New York Times reported on Sunday that the scorched-earth policy which initially led to the US declaring the violence a genocide has returned.

The attacks by the janjaweed, the fearsome Arab militias that came three weeks ago, accompanied by government bombers and followed by the Sudanese Army, were a return to the tactics that terrorized Darfur in the early, bloodiest stages of the conflict.

Such brutal, three-pronged attacks of this scale — involving close coordination of air power, army troops and Arab militias in areas where rebel troops have been — have rarely been seen in the past few years, when the violence became more episodic and fractured. But they resemble the kinds of campaigns that first captured the world’s attention and prompted the Bush administration to call the violence in Darfur genocide.

This is not a good development as the UN Peacekeeping force still isn't fully deployed and able to help protect civilians. Women and children are bearing the brunt of this never-ending violence. While it clear that it is a complicated mess there are also clear paths forward to begin the end.

The Sudan government must allow full access to the country by the UN-AU Peacekeeping force, the government must stop bombing villages and coordinating with rebel groups to eliminate entire populations. Rebel groups must step forward and be willing to negotiate peace and not provoke government action. Both groups should focus on true and lasting peace in Sudan and end the skirmishes for power in neighboring Chad.

The world has had ENOUGH.

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