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Sudan Continues to Outfox the West

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Sudan’s brazen rejection of international rules and standards and the West’s feckless response continue to amaze me.

Refugees International just issued a report detailing violations of a United Nations Security Council Resolution designed to bar Khartoum from transferring arms to Darfur without UNSC approval. The RI report, citing evidence gathered by a UN panel of experts, lists a number of serious violations of the arms embargo, including the arrival of three Chinese “Fantan” ground attack jets in Darfur and two Russian Mi-24 attack helicopters.

I have seen rocket casings in Darfur with both Chinese and Russian markings on them. These were fired from the air on defenseless towns destroyed by government forces and government-backed militias. By some estimates 400,000 people have died in Darfur during five years of fighting and some 2.5 million have been displaced.

What has the U.S. done? It has called for a stronger arms embargo but done little to secure one or to punish the people who violate it.

Sudan’s president, Omar al Bashir, continues to travel and hob-nob with leaders around the world. In the last month or so he has been in Portugal and Turkey. Neither the UN, the U.S. nor the European Union has done anything to place travel and other restrictions on him, despite his government’s violation of the arms embargo.

Violating the arms embargo is not all al Bashir as done. Last April, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against Ahmed Haroun charging him with crimes against humanity and war crimes in connection with attacks in Darfur. The Khartoum government denied he was guilty and then went out of its way to thumb its nose at the ICC. According to Human Rights Watch, Haroun was named co-chair of a committee established to hear complaints from victims of human rights abuses and then it made him the government’s liaison with the new UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur. Khartoum has repeatedly delayed and obstructed the deployment of the expanded peacekeeping force.

Earlier this month, President al Bashir named Musa Hilal, one of the most notorious leaders of the government supported militias responsible for most of the killing in Darfur to a government post. Hilal, the Sudanese president said, had “contributed greatly to the stability and security in the region.”

President George Bush has accused the Sudanese government of sponsoring genocide in Darfur. The U.S. response—or lack of effective response—will be part of his legacy.

By Ken Bacon

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