Friday, July 16, 2010

The possible upcoming war in Sudan

A couple of days ago we linked to a press release that said that Sudan was unprepared for an upcoming referendum on southern independence. A coalition of humanitarian and human rights organizations called from urgent action from heads of state.

Instead of preparing for independence, Sudan seems to be preparing for war. The Sudan government doesn't want the south to break away because most of the country's oil sits in the south. The UN Security Council could do something about Sudan in meetings today but it seems unlikely. The international community and the US government has not done enough to stand in the way of this possible war.

From his New York Times blog, writer Nicholas Kristof sheds more light on the Sudan predicament that lies in front of the UN security council.

The U.N. Security Council is expected to meet today to discuss African peace and security issues, including how to prevent mass atrocities there. Presumably the Security Council will again refuse to address seriously the most important African peace issue — the prospect of a new north-south war in Sudan in the coming months.

It is so frustrating to see what’s unfolding in Sudan these days. It looks like one of those old-time Westerns where two trains are steaming toward each other on the same track. You know it’s going to end badly — and yet it’s difficult to get attention until disaster happens.

Now that the International Criminal Court has indicted Sudanese President Bashir for genocide, as well as war crimes and crimes against humanity, you might think that the Security Council would focus on avoiding such a war. But it has pretty much tried to avoid the subject. As for the Obama administration, it has refused to put serious pressure on Khartoum, and the policy seems to me to be failing. One measure of that is the recent crackdowns in northern Sudan on civil society there, perhaps a warm-up to the new war.

The Bush administration managed to get the CPA that brought the referendum and a respite from Sudanese war. If the Obama administration blows it so that war resumes, that will be a serious black mark for the White House. As a recent op-ed in the Times by Dave Eggers and John Prendergast noted correctly:

This is President Obama’s Rwanda moment, and it is unfolding now, in slow motion. It is not too late to prevent the coming war in Sudan, and protect the peace we helped build five short years ago.

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