QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
JERRY FOWLER: John, thank you very much. I was going to announce our program on Guinea-Bissau, but I guess I won’t. I was also very impressed with how you said you had four points, and I’m now up to number 25. But thank you. That was at least laying out all the things imaginable that could be done.
We have at the bottom of the aisle here a microphone for comments, questions, input by the audience. I encourage you to move toward the microphone now. I am happy to have as many people here today as we do, and that’s why we have to hold this in this room. I wish it were a little bit less formal, but that’s the way this room is set up. I hope we can have some discussion now and other people who have been in Chad recently, maybe even some who have been in Darfur, if you have input, I would love to hear that.
While people are working their way up toward the microphone, I just want to start with a question for the panelists, and it does in some ways, I guess, pick up on what John has laid out here, which is kind of a maximalist program. But I am wondering, especially from Omer and from Jemera, if I could get your view on in the next four weeks, i.e., in the time before the rains really start coming, what are the most imperative things that can be and need to be done at the international level to at least make progress and reduce the damage that is being done?
JEMERA RONE: Thank you--well, maybe I shouldn’t thank you for that question, because that is really very difficult. Obviously, there were people who were around during the 1988 famine where about 250,000 people died in Southern Sudan, largely because of the Government’s obstructionist policies, but for other reasons, too. So a cross-border operation was initiated from Southern Sudan in 1989.
There was another famine in 1998 in Southern Sudan despite the cross-border operation that was almost all caused by human rights abuses, scorched earth and so forth--the same pattern that is being followed in Darfur today was used in Southern Sudan during the 20-year war. The government to its shame consciously takes advantage of ethnic divisions among the population and goes to the ethnic group that is hostile to the group that has taken up arms--not that all the civilians are taking up arms, but there are the civilians and then there are the young men or middle-aged men who take up arms. And as a result, and operating in their own area, the government finds it hard to get over them. They have done this time and time again. They turn to the ethnic rivals more or less that have ongoing friction or tension over one thing or another. They arm them, and they turn them loose on the social base of the rebels, punishing civilians, and try to just decimate, as Julie said, and wipe out the support and drive them out of the territory where the rebels are located, because that is where they started from. Then, to add to that, stripping assets from the civilian population and forcing them into poverty . This loot ,of course, is the reward for the looters, for the ethnic militia that the government has armed.
Then, they cut off all the aid that would reach these civilians but for their interminable bureaucratic blockages.
That pattern has repeated in the South in many different locations with many different ethnic groups. So it is a pattern that in the short term, for the government’s immediate counter-insurgency aims, pushes rebels off some of the land; it doesn’t do away with them forever, and it turns a lot more people into rebels, but for the short term, they have more fighting forces that have no compunction since they have government blessing--they are never going to be punished for looting, raping, killing, burning, et cetera. They will never be punished. They can do what they want to these people who might have some goods that they want. They know what they are doing, and that’s why they went to these groups to begin with, because they know they are enemies already, or potentially some kind of enemy.
This has made it very hard in the South to have reconciliation among Southerners even after this Naivasha Agreement has been signed. There are still enormous differences and hostilities and grievances and men in arms who are not part of the peace process in the South. And this is the same situation that is being created or has been created in Darfur. It’s just that in Darfur, it has unfolded with breathtaking speed much more than we saw in the South. There are a million people who are internally displaced after little more than a war. It took a few more years in the South, but they even surpassed this in the South.
This has really been unexpected, I think, on the part of the international community. That is one reason why they are coming down so hard on civilian population--and this goes back to the needs of the relief operation--one reason they are coming down so hard is that this is a sensitive area, this is not the South with people who have a very, very different culture, different religions, and so on and so forth. This is an area that is considered to be part of Northern Sudan. It is more culturally integrated. It is certainly the same religion. And this poses a threat to the cohesion of Sudan, assuming the South breaks away, after the South breaks away. They are very much afraid that the whole thing will splinter off into small little countries.
Also, they are coming down hard on this civilian population and the rebels because they don’t want these people to follow the example of the SPLA, take up arms, and finally get a share in government. So they want to teach them a lesson. They also want to stop all the other people who are potentially rebels in other parts of the North who have the same grievances--the people in the East or people in the center. It goes on. There is no end of marginalized groups in Sudan who have no share in power, no share in resources.
They see the SPLA after 20 years of armed struggle has, with the incredible backing of the international community on pressure on the government to settle, finally got some kind of agreement with the government to share power in some way and to share wealth. Obviously, this is going to give people ideas, and this is the first--other than the SPLA--group that seems to have had a chance of getting somewhere, so they are really coming down hard on them, and they don’t want a precedent. They don’t want the North to splinter up. They don’t want a precedent for other people to try to gain power.
On the other hand, this is sort of a dilemma of their own making because they are not sharing power and they are not sharing wealth under anything else but the barrel of a gun, basically, or forced negotiations with rebel groups. If Sudan didn’t have the governance problems--we say “governance” now--if they didn’t rule by human rights abuses, and there were more participation in government and real concern and not the usual pattern of all the elite hoarding everything in the center, and everybody else can drop off the face of the earth, then yes, maybe it would be a different country, but that’s not the country it is.
This is an ongoing problem, and the government is trying to say that this is not of their making; these are more or less ancient tribal hatreds--we have heard that before, and it wasn’t any more true in Rwanda than it is here. These are not just nomads, as everyone has pointed out. They have been really encouraged to flower, as it were, into this sort of monster by the government, which had every bit of knowledge about what they were doing.
I was approached by a member of one of the Arab groups in Darfur who wanted us to cover abuses by the SLA, which we are very eager to do, but there is a problem that if we can’t get access to where we are, it is a little hard to interview the witnesses. But he told me sure, the government has trained them, didn’t arm them--they had a lot of arms, but they gave them new arms--and they trained them, and that was solely to go after these three ethnic groups, the Zaghawa, the Fur, and the Masalit. That’s why we call it ethnic cleansing, because it is targeted on three ethnic groups. And he added that if they--the Arab groups--he was from the Beni Halba -- if they were rebels and challenging Khartoum, then Khartoum would go to these three that they are now fighting and give them guns so that they could go after the Arabs.
So he acknowledged what is very clear to a lot of people, that this is a counterinsurgency strategy that is somewhat effective in that you can summon up a lot of people on an ethnic basis to take up arms and move, and they know who they are going after, and these people have been enemies for a while anyway. But it is also just a recipe for further chaos. I think people in Darfur know full well what is happening.
The last point I’d make--we really do emphasize the need to reverse the ethnic cleansing. None of these are easy things, and I think we all should be ready for a fairly long haul on this in that there isn’t a silver bullet, and there is not really a quick solution, and we are not going to get the African Union or the Security Council or anybody to just take charge of the situation and roll forward. We have to keep in mind what we think the long-term goal is and keep going after it, and I would say that that should be to reverse the ethnic cleansing.
The nomadic population--we have to understand what motivates them aside from attachment to the cattle--maybe that’s enough--to find a way to encourage them to leave the areas they have occupied, not as nomads--they are not there occasionally to water their cattle or camels; they are there to occupy and hold this land for the time being. We need to understand better what will encourage them to leave without an enormous military presence, because I don’t think we are going to get an enormous military presence.
JERRY FOWLER: Thanks. Did you want to add something quickly?
OMER ISMAIL: If I am going to add anything that the international community should do besides the things that I talked about, first, the humanitarian situation is really bad, and we have to be able to reach these people today--and not only to just dump food there. John talked about the train and the substantial number of tonnage that we will have to take to Darfur; with that, we have to bring in--and I think he also talked about this--the personnel to run it, the international relief workers that are going to come in and press Khartoum to stop these tactics. Somebody comes in today and they tell you, “We’ll give you the permit,” and then they go, and they have to have the permit to work in Darfur, and by the time you are actually working, you will have three days left of your time in Sudan, where you cannot accomplish anything.
But also, the reverse of ethnic cleansing, I agree with that point, and the importance of that is these people were killed because of that land, and we have to bring them back. We have to bring them back to what is rightfully theirs and not allow anybody to take that away from them, because that is their livelihood, and how to bring these people back is important in terms of the social fabric of the Darfurian people themselves.
So these are the things that I would add to that. Thank you.
JERRY FOWLER: Why don’t we go ahead and take all three comments.
QUESTION: Don Krauss [ph], Citizens for Global Solutions. Jerry, thank you for pulling this panel together. It was very good. First, a plug. Citizens for Global Solutions and Refugees International have an organizational sign-on letter, and we have cribbed liberally from ICG’s recommendations, that is going to President Bush. If you are a member of an organization, and your organization can sign onto something like this, see myself or [inaudible], and we have copies of it here.
A quick question. Right now, the International Criminal Court is opening investigations in Uganda and Congo. Why are none of the organizations actually calling for Security Council referral of the situation in Sudan to the International Criminal Court? This is exactly the kind of situation the Court was designed for. I know it is a long shot politically, but why is that call not being made?
QUESTION: I am Kate Bransingham [ph], from the Brookings-SAIS Project on Internal Displacement. My question has to do with forced return. I am wondering if somebody on the panel can comment on that. I have seen some reports that the Government is reporting return, I think, before IDPs and areas have been secured. If somebody has any information on that, I would appreciate it.
QUESTION: Hi. My name is Adi Takre [ph] with Amnesty International. I have a question about the international presence that is hopefully going to reduce or stop the human rights violations, the ceasefire monitoring team. Why are we still allowing the discussion to focus on 40 or 60 persons to cover an area the size of 200,000 square miles? Is the route really through the AU? Is that the only game in town, or is there a real chance that we can get a larger presence or something through the UN Security Council, and if that is the route, does the United States have the political will and the moral authority now to try to get it through the Security Council.
JERRY FOWLER: Can I just ask you--does Amnesty have a recommendation on that?
QUESTION: We’ll say whatever Human Rights Watch says.
JERRY FOWLER: History has just been made. Nazirai, why don’t you go ahead.
QUESTION: I am Nazirai Alkurk [ph], with [inaudible] Services. I have just returned from a long trip to the region, and I had the pleasure to cross paths with Jerry at a certain point in time toward the end of my trip and the beginning of yours.
My question has to do with the impact of this conflict on Chad. Do any of you believe at all that Sudan has an interest in destabilizing Chad--because what I saw along the border was very worrying. I saw refugees, militias, whoever they are, armed. I saw quite obviously the Chad military is positioned over there. I saw lots of weapons. Some of these weapons are getting into some of the refugee camps. But along the border, even in pockets where refugees are, the weapons are there. My feeling, too, is that the militia is mixed with the refugees, et cetera, so it is very difficult to distinguish who is whom.
So again my question is: Is there any interest, and if there is no interest, why all these incursions? Are they just going after the refugees? Is there any other political interest? I would like to have more of a feeling for what is going on there.
And if I am allowed another very quick question--also when I was there, I heard many different--people see things differently. Some would say that it is the Sudanese military that is behind the Janjaweed. Some would say that it is the government, the President. Again, is there really a central policy, military, the politicians in Khartoum who are behind what is going on, or do you see some division, too, and now that the Janjaweed are becoming quite a force on their own even though they still have the support of the Sudanese military?
I read the ICG report and what it said about what went on doing the peace process. Thank you so much. It was sad, but it was very interesting to read what you guys said about the peace process. Thank you.
JERRY FOWLER: Why don’t we go ahead and take those real quick, and then we’ll come back to you. Let’s start with the ICC question.
JEMERA RONE: Are we going to take one question at a time?
JERRY FOWLER: Well--
JEMERA RONE: Okay, I’ll just go through briefly--
JERRY FOWLER: Briefly.
JEMERA RONE: --starting with the Brookings question on IDPs. There is information on ReliefWeb, a weekly bulletin from the UN, an update from Khartoum that details some incidents that they know about where local government officials have tried to force people to return to unsafe situations because they want to present an appearance of normalcy to the international community. That is a very big problem, and that really does warrant people’s attention.
Why not call for referral to the ICC by the Security Council? That is a very good idea, and I think it’s a question of timing and preparation of the people at the Security Council that you are going to be lobbying to ask for this. So it is just an issue of timing and tactics as far as we are concerned, because there is a lot of indication there is more than enough to warrant a referral to the ICC.
Why are we still talking about just 60 persons for peace monitors? That’s a very good point. We don’t think that this should be handled solely by the AU, but the Security Council is realistically going to give them a certain amount of time to get off the ground if they do what they are supposed to do. It could have a good effect.
If there are problems, as there are bound to be, then that is the time, and this is just an issue of timing. I think I did indicate that the Security Council is the institution that we think is the most capable and fit by past experience, also because it is the top international body, political body, and they are the ones that should be dealing with this. This is a major worldwide emergency, not only in humanitarian terms but also in human rights terms, and they have got to deal with it. Their own officials have called this “ethnic cleansing.” They can’t turn their backs on it. They can’t fob it off on the AU.
Does the U.S. have the political will or the moral standing? I think was the question. We’ll see.
Government interest in destabilizing Chad--I thought John was going to get to that, so I’ll let him.
JOHN PRENDERGAST: Just to plow some of that ground very briefly, Jerry.
JERRY FOWLER: One point, not four points.
JOHN PRENDERGAST: Yes. This will be 1(a), (b), and (c). Tactics is right, Jemera, absolutely on ICC. I think if you go straight for the ICC jugular, then the ICC becomes the issue, not the atrocities. So I think there has to be the architecture put in place by the Security Council by having one of these commissions, panels, or whatever you call them, go out there and rapidly make the assessment that then creates the foundation for the case of either--and we’ll have to see--referral or looking at some kind of special accountability measure.
On the ceasefire monitors, I think the advocacy effort should steadily press for an increase in numbers and geographical scope. And of course, if Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch agree on this, then who could oppose that?
In Chad, there is a lot going on, of course, and this is why it has now finally seeped into the Security Council for no other reason than it is a threat to international peace and security once it crossed the border, and there is no way that the Security Council can any longer deny that nor sweep it under the rug. The government in Sudan wants a compliant ally in N’Djamena that cooperates with it in intelligence and security matters, and it has that with President Debi. It doesn’t have that with the senior military ranks in the Chadian Army. The senior Zaghawa officers are working directly with the SLA, so it is a very divided government, a very haphazard policymaking process, if you can even call it a process. And the Chadian Government is very nervous about the very destabilizing impact that the Darfur crisis is having on it, and we have seen now over the last week, week and a half, two different incidents [inaudible] rumblings in the military -- hiccups -- some of which are focused on payment and other issues, but others are very, very specifically disagreeing on how Chadian policy is unfolding with respect to the Darfur situation.
OMER ISMAIL: Quick comments. The forced returns are true. There are reports talking about some people that the government is trying to detain, but actually, to me, knowing the government of Sudan, they don’t want to detain the people forcibly or otherwise. They want to create that illusion that some people have returned, and they will do that by building villages and having the Janjaweed living there, and they claim that these are the people who returned to these [inaudible].
It is all about deceit, and the government of Sudan is very good at that. So that is what is concerning the forced return. Otherwise, they have six or seven camps that they control today. Some of them are big camps like the one in Wadi Kutum and they control about 80,000 people, the militia and the government. Why don’t they just--using, for lack of a better term--why don’t they just herd them back and build those villages? They don’t want to do that, but they want to create that illusion that there are people who return. So that is with respect to this.
As to the conflict in Chad, as John Prendergast has said, there was some hiccup. What we know from the reports that are coming out there, they have already started. It is as if it is some army personnel that are disgruntled because of [inaudible], but the truth of the matter is that the top brass in the army said we cannot win the government of Sudan and lose the [inaudible], our kin.
That is what is going on in Chad, and the reason that we say the issue in Darfur is political is because if it is not addressed that way, then the whole subregion will be in a tailspin. And with the petrol in Chad, and the further interest of people as far as Cameroon, they are making use of that pipeline that is going in there, there is a lot of interest of a lot of people there, and if nothing is being done, rest assured that not only Chad but Central Africa and as far as Cameroon, the whole place is going to be destabilized as a result of this insurgence and this instability in Darfur.
JERRY FOWLER: Julie, did you have some comments particularly on the issue of weapons along the border?
JULIE FLINT: A couple of things, issues of the Janjaweed. One of the reasons the Janjaweed go to Chad is that they view the refugees in Chad as their property. Everyone I talked to who actually had a conversation with the Janjaweed, the Janjaweed would say to them: “Even if you take your cows to Chad, we will come and get them, because those cows are our cows.” This is the old mentality of the slave. The Masalit is their slave, and what the Masalit family produces is their property, so they will get it no matter where it is, whether it is in Chad or in Darfur.
I think that is really a homegrown motive. I don’t believe that there is a political manipulation behind all of the reasons for the Janjaweed incursion. Although I did hear that the big political issue in Chad--and I’m not an expert at all on Chad--is Debi trying to extend his term, and there were suggestions to me that some of the opposition to Debi were supporting the Janjaweed in order to destabilize Debi as he tries to extend his power and essentially become President for life. I don’t know whether there is any truth to that.
Janjaweed and whether they are completely supported by all levels of government--in a way, I think that’s the wrong question. We saw in the [inaudible] I believe the government had genocidal intentions in [inaudible]. It couldn’t carry them out because the government wasn’t [inaudible]. Not everybody supported that genocidal intent.
The key thing about the Janjaweed is that it enjoys immunity at every level from everyone in the government of Sudan. Nobody opposes it. So whether they actively support it or not is not the right question. The question is who is opposing it, and the answer is absolutely nobody.
The SLA believes--this is just amusing--that it killed the main Janjaweed in Darfur, a fellow called Musa Hilal, who was sentenced to jail and served time in jail for murdering Masalit civilians. He was released, I understand, at the behest of [inaudible] and the former governor of North Darfur, who came from the same tribe in Um Jalul. The SLA believes it killed him.
I actually got hold of his telephone number, and I dialed his [inaudible] phone number with a friend in London to see if he was alive or dead. And somebody answered, and we said, “Could we speak to [inaudible], please?” And this voice said, “Who are you?” And we said, “We are [inaudible] and Julie. Who are you?” And he said, “I am Sheik Musa Hilal [phonetic],” which was a tremendous disappointment, because I had hoped he was dead, to be frank; he was a terrible fellow.
Anyhow, he was alive and talking at the other end of the phone, and sort of being the devil’s advocate, I said, “My gosh, Sheik Musa, this must be a terrible time for you with the government neutralizing.” “Don’t you worry, Julie,” he said. “We are absolutely find. We are guarding the camps. We are guarding the border. We are the camp police, we are the border police, side-by-side with the army. We are working with the army, and we are all wearing army uniforms now.”
So here is this man saying a month after the ceasefire, “I still believe I enjoy the full support of the government of Sudan.” Absolutely nobody is opposing them. They are slipping sideways into the security forces, into the police, into the army, changing their clothes--some of them wear them to start with. Absolutely nobody opposes them, and I cannot stress enough how frightened the people are of the Janjaweed. Every time I went across the border, villagers would come running to me, saying, “Don’t go, don’t go. It’s not safe. Stay here with us.” They are absolutely terrified of the Janjaweed. Unless you get a strong force there, even to show the will to restrain this force--which nobody has shown so far in Sudan--people will not go back to their homes, and if they don’t go back to their homes, they will die.
JERRY FOWLER: Thirty seconds.
OMER ISMAIL: Thirty seconds about Musa Hilal and whether he is dead or alive. It is a rumor that the government of Sudan is encouraging, because they were issuing death certificates for the people who were named by the international community as the heads of the Janjaweed, so if there is any question or any ICC--when it happens, any sort of taking these people to court--then, oh, these guys died in the battles in Darfur. And conversely, they are issuing some birth certificates for some of the Janjaweed coming outside of Darfur, mainly from Central Africa and Chad, so that they can claim the land. These are all the tactics that these people apply with respect to the Janjaweed.
JULIE FLINT: But in fact the government of Sudan--sorry, very briefly--it is actually the SLA who say that they killed Musa Hilal. They gave me great detail, chapter and verse, of how they killed him, where they killed him, what battle they killed him in, and how many government soldiers they killed. The government may be capitalizing on it, but the SLA genuinely believes it killed him.
JERRY FOWLER: Yes?
QUESTION: Good afternoon. I am Amira Woods [ph], with Foreign Policy and Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies.Thank you. This has been incredibly informative and very timely, and I think you have really covered well the political, the humanitarian, the historical elements of the conflict.
I am wondering about the economic element, and Omer, your comments were kind of leading in that direction a moment ago. But I am really interested in oil, the politics of oil, and the extent to which that is having implications not only in the Darfur crisis but in broader Sudan, and I am wondering if our panelists can comment on that. Thank you.
JERRY FOWLER: Dan?
QUESTION: I was hoping the panelists could perhaps shed some light on how the conflict in Darfur is impacting the playing out in Khartoum, particularly with all the reports of coup attempts and security around that. Are they significant, or are they just a [inaudible]?
Also, is there a significant percentage of the Sudanese military command that is from the Darfur area or of the affected ethnic groups?
JERRY FOWLER: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Chris Anameier, representing myself here today. At the risk of sounding like an ultra hawk in this hallowed hall of peace here, let me ask this, and specifically directed at Mr. Realpolitik here, John Prendergast. In keeping with your exhortation to ramp up the pressure on Khartoum, and in keeping with Julie’s desire to see people return home, how bad an idea is it--to take a page out of recent U.S. history, our support for Croatia during the Balkans crisis; channeling of arms via Guinea to Liberia--to simply start pumping some arms into the SLA and JEM?
JERRY FOWLER: All right.
JOHN PRENDERGAST: This guy is getting married on Sunday. There is obviously something going horribly wrong with him. I think we had better delay at least, if not call it off.
These are great questions, a good way to end it. I think they really get to the heart of some things that are going on here. Let’s talk first about the oil in the North and developments in Khartoum, just a couple of points. The last time I met with Al-Jaz, the energy minister, who is maybe the third or fourth guy in the hierarchy of the National Congress Party, he was very adamant that there was enough oil in the North that the North does not need the South anymore, and it is too painful and too much of a drain on their central agenda, so what is the point. If the Southerners don’t want to do this [inaudible], and he has stressed this issue very, very strongly in the internal debates.
There is a larger--which I’m sure he provides support to--movement that is growing amongst circles within the National Islamic Front that would push this agenda, this secession agenda--let’s secede from the South on our terms rather than wait for six years while this bloody process just gets dragged on and on, and we have international monitors crawling all over the country, all of our agendas being undermined and destabilized, and with a microscope being watched. Let’s just cut it off.
Clearly, a lot went on. I think in addition to the delaying tactics that the government employed over the last five months, part of the reason for that--the larger reason was to gain the space for and cover for the ethnic cleansing in Darfur--part of it was for Taha to consolidate his position and ensure that the way he envisioned going forward was going to be the way it happened. That feeds into this issue of the Darfur military, which I’m sure you’ll say a little bit more on. There have been purges, executions, and of course, retirements in the army and in the security services of people who were not with the program on this ethnic cleansing campaign. There were a lot of people and still continue to be a lot of people who are not with the program, because a lot of them came from Darfur and simply realized that this is again, as Julie and Jemera have indicated, a recipe for just creating additional recruits for the next decade against them.
But that struggle internally, I think Taha won again, and I do think that the people who have been replaced are those who were suspect in their royalties, and those who are now in firm control, particularly of the security apparatus. Many of you may have recognized that all of the disparate elements of the security structure, a very, very complex security structure in the Sudan, were unified under one command under Salah Gosh, and his commander is a very, very close ally of Taha and of course was the principal negotiator for the Government in N’Djamena. So Taha won the internal struggle, and I think he has moved the ball forward internally with this reelection, stolen election internally, of this fundamentalist group in Khartoum against [inaudible], and he has come out first among equals.
That quick question about the U.S. supporting the opposition, if the ethnic cleansing campaign was continuing--I think the ethnic cleansing campaign ended in February or March; the government accomplished most of its objectives. The population of the Masalit, the Fur, and the Zaghawa areas has largely depopulated into these camps. They finished the job. There may be other rounds down the road depending on what the objectives are, but those objectives being finished, if the SLA and JEM had been more successful in opposing that--which was almost impossible because it was purely aimed at civilians. The SLA and JEM were busy fighting the government in locations and the Janjaweed later in the engagement--then maybe you could start to debate how do we stop this.
But it is over, and now it is a question of, as Jemera said, reversing it, because it is reversible, exerting international pressure and Security Council action, and through negotiations, which I think at the end of the day I agree with. If you dilute this regime via SPLA or via SLA and JEM eventually, via opposition parties who eventually will become part and parcel of the various branches of the government through elections three years from now and beyond, that that is probably the best way and only way realistically to moderate the behavior of this regime in the absence of a political will to do long along either lines you are suggesting or a more frontal approach of opposing the government directly, with force, in opposition to the kinds of atrocities that it is committing.
There is a way, given the tools that exist internationally if we use them, to moderate behavior, to reverse some of the worst depredation, and to prevent a sort of humanitarian holocaust from unfolding by the end of this year.
OMER ISMAIL: Thanks. The economics of Darfur are meager, as it is already destroyed. There is nothing left of it. For years and years, since Darfur became part of the greater Sudan, 1916-1917, and then through independence and today, we don’t see any kind of development. There is not a single development project in Darfur. There are 160 kilometers of single-lane roads--we can find that between here and Baltimore--in a country the size of France. Telecommunications--there is nothing there.
Maybe--Mr. [indecipherable] is here, talking about Al-Jaz and his aspersions. They are not experts on oil by any stretch of the imagination, and I don’t know how much economically viable it is to extract oil from Darfur, but there are reports that the Government of Sudan is dragging its feet in Naivasha. That serves several purposes. One of them is to utilize as much oil as they can out of the oil of the South, because when they separate, they will go with their oil; so we can extract as much and the leave the oil [inaudible] in reserve that we can use at a latter date.
Part of that is the oil in Darfur, and that is why the ethnic cleansing is taking place. They are moving some people from the areas rich in oil. Nobody knows what areas are they and what people are sitting in this sea of oil. We don’t know that, but this is part of the things that people talk about.
With respect to the supporters of [inaudible] or the people who are captured in Khartoum or arrested elsewhere in the country, I think the elements inside the Sudanese army, or whatever is left of it--there is no Sudanese army per se, by the way; they are government militias. There is no Sudanese army. All the professionals in the army--and this army has been emptied of its professional elements a long time ago, and they are just government militias that are sitting there, wearing uniforms.
Even though there are some elements of the leftover army that are there, they don’t want to fight in Darfur. And there were a lot of people who came to their units, and said, “We are not going to fight this war.” That is why there were huge redeployments of personnel in Darfur. And they make use of the cessation of hostilities in the South to redeploy their troops at will. Twenty-seven thousand troops were changed since March of 2003 because most of these guys, the elements from Darfur, they changed them and sent them somewhere else. They are doing that also today because they are bringing in the Janjaweed to give them uniforms and to become regular army so they can move them out of Darfur, and these courts and trials will not reach them.
Anyway, some elements like that, they refused, and some of the officers with them as well. That is why they went on a rampage, and they captured these people and took them in. Turabi utilized the situation in Darfur to sharply criticize the government. The government in turn is using Turabi as somebody that the international community hates to tell the people in the international community the role of Turabi, we threw him out the door, he wants to come through the window by using the situation in Darfur. It is a game of politics between Turabi and the government. They both know how to play that game very well.
As for Chris and your suggestion, we can talk about this.
JERRY FOWLER: If I could ask Jemera and Julie very briefly, we’re going to have to move out, because the Museum will be closing shortly.
JULIE FLINT: On the issue of weapons, I’m sure it was meant as a joke that they absolutely don’t need weapons. Everywhere I go, rebels always ask me for weapons, saying “Will you ask the British government to give us weapons?” I have to say the SLA didn’t ask me that.
I think one thing which would be useful if the conflict resumed would be, if possible, a no-fly zone, because the planes are a big problem, and they put people to flight. People say, “This is the government,” and they go; they simply leave their villages. Some way of neutralizing the planes would be good, and [inaudible] helicopter gunships. Small arms, there are plenty of, and if you give it to the SLA today instead of [inaudible] tomorrow, it won’t help at all.
JULIE FLINT: Yes, I think that would be helpful. I’m not sure of the extent of aerial bombardment, but it has happened a lot inside in the Fur area and on the edges of the Masalit area. It is something they are terrified of. They hadn’t seen the gunships before the last few months in the Masalit area, and when they hear them, they run. So they don’t need bullets, because they run when they hear the helicopters. If there were some way of neutralizing the planes if the conflict resumes in some shape or form, I think it would be very good and much welcome.
JEMERA RONE: I feel a little out of my element in military discussions. Besides, I find them a big distraction, because all these hormones or something rush into the discussion, and the military takes over, and we don’t always get to the other subjects that carry less adrenaline.
Oil--there are maps on the Human Rights Watch website [http://www.hrw.org/reports/2003/sudan1103/2.htm], maps of Sudan that we used in the oil report, that show that there is an oil concession that juts into Southern Darfur, and that is Block 6 that is own by the China National Petroleum Company. There is other oil there, and there may be other concessions that have been sold off, but one of the oil bassins extends from Southern Sudan up through Upper Nile, Bahr al-Ghazal, up into Darfur, and there may be oil there. I think they know by looking at the satellite maps. We don’t know about that.
But there has been talk that perhaps the Sudan government would like to link up to the Chad-Cameroon pipeline--and you are aware there is another whole group of people in Washington following with great interest the World Bank prototype for development of Chad and Cameroon, wisely using resources from this enormous project. Although it hasn’t been a great success so far, because off the bat, Debi, the President of Chad, managed to get a signing bonus from the oil companies which promptly disappeared--several billion dollars.
CRS has done a lot of work on this in Cameroon particularly. So there is this convergence of interests, but people that I have talked to think that it is very unlikely that the Sudan government would put a pipeline from the southern or the central oil fields of Sudan into Chad, then down from Cameroon into basically the Atlantic Ocean, because that would have to take it through a lot of countries, plus Chad is a cauldron of ethnic rivalries and constant small rebel groups and so forth. We’ll probably find out a lot more about those in coming months, but it does not appear to be a very stable place to put a pipeline. So I think we have yet to find out more about the oil and see how it develops.
There is some basis for saying that the JEM, the Justice and Equality Movement, which is the rebel group that I think has more of Zaghawa than the others do and is one of the two rebel groups, for saying that they have some ties to Turabi, because some of their people used to be with Turabi’s political party. They say they are not now. I talked to one two years ago who was in exile, and he told me that he was an Islamic militant, and he had helped form the Popular Defense Force contingent when they went to fight in the South. They were deployed quite a lot in the South and also in the East and so forth. And he became very disillusioned with the government and al-Bashir and his party, and broke off with Turabi, but then said that he was not in Turabi’s party anymore; he was a spokesperson in Europe for the JEM.
There are these political ties which lead people to wonder what is going on, and are any of the weapons that they see from international Islamist money, and exactly what is Turabi doing, because he is very wiley, and you can expect him to try to find his way back into power one way or another. But as Omer said, this is kind of an internal game. But Turabi is in jail now, there is no question about that, and a lot of his party is now really disabled, and these are people who the current government has always been afraid of them challenging them from the “I am more Islamic than you” side. They have followers. They have had followers in Darfur. We knew that because there were strikes there, teachers on paid salary organized in part by these Turabi people. So that is a big question. But Turabi didn’t make the situation in Darfur. He has tried to ride the wave, but he is not influencing the fundamentals on the ground.
JERRY FOWLER: That is kind of an abrupt conclusion, but we are getting to where we are going to have to leave the Museum. I would like to thank all of you for coming, and I’d like to ask you to join me in thanking our panelists.
And I should just reiterate--you can keep track of the events we are having here by going to our website, which is www.CommitteeOnConscience.org. Thank you very much.