Skip to main content

What to Do about Darfur? A Debate between John Prendergast and Alex de Waal

What to Do about Darfur? Audio and Transcript


JOHN HEFFERNAN: Okay. Can everybody hear me? I think we are going to get started, and for some of the stragglers that come in we do have plenty of seats here today. My name is John Heffernan, and I am the Director of the Genocide Prevention Initiative here at the Holocaust Museum. On behalf of the United States Holocaust Museum, and our co-sponsors for this event, the Social Science Research Council, ENOUGH, and Genocide Intervention Network, I would like to welcome you here this morning to What To Do About Darfur. Here at the Museum, we seek to honor the memory of the Holocaust by teaching millions about unchecked hatred, anti-Semitism and preventing genocide. In our ongoing effort to build a community of conscience that cares about stopping genocide today, we try to bring about a better understanding of, in this case, what is happening in Darfur, and in doing so, we invite speakers to the Museum, a variety of people, to talk about Darfur. Today we have two leading voices with whom we have closely worked over the years. Both John and Alex have an ongoing relationship with the Museum and we are honored to have them here today. We look forward to your analysis and your insight and to hopefully share with us, again, what to do about Darfur today. Today we are also honored to have with us as a moderator of this discussion Akwe Amosu. For many of you Akwe does not need an introduction, and in fact, she warned me that I was not to give her a “Washington introduction,” and I will honor that. But Akwe is a senior policy analyst for the Open Society Institute where she focuses on Africa. She has broad experience in Africa affairs and has written extensively on the most pressing issues affecting the continent. Before coming to Open Society Institute, she worked for over twenty years as an award winning journalist and radio producer for All Africa and the BBC. So I will turn it over to Akwe. Thank you.

AKWE AMOSU: Thank you very much. And I am honored to be here in an institution that does so much to keep this critical issue at the forefront of people’s minds. Our two guests, Alex de Waal, and John Prendergast, have in their different ways made a huge contribution to international understanding on what has happened in Darfur. Why it has happened, what should be done to try and restore safety and peace to the hundreds and thousands of civilians whose lives have been made miserable by the conflict and manipulation of the conflict. We can take some satisfaction that worked hard for public campaigns have achieved. The huge ground swell of grassroots of opinion here and in other parts of the world, against the carnage and abuse, echoed in at least some circles among legislators and officials. But, of course, we need and demand much more progress. And the problem is, how can it be achieved? There are genuine and legitimate differences about that. For some, the political process on the ground has to be primary. For others, protection of civilians is an urgent priority that has to happen no matter what political processes continue in the background. For others, China is at the heart of this issue, and needs to be put under heavy pressure. Others see the identification of the Olympics as a target as a hugely dangerous strategy. And in other instances, differences lie not so much at the level of opinion but at the level of knowledge. Anyone who has read something of the history of this conflict knows just how complex is the range of actors and interests on the ground in Darfur, and more broadly in Sudan, and beyond that, in Chad, in Libya, in Eritrea, in Ethiopia. Do the proposals for action that are on the table take account of that complexity? We all need to sort through and try to understand the diverse and divergent points of view if we want to make progress, and that is why we are here today. We are going to first hear from both Alex and John separately. I will follow-up with a few questions to try and tease out some of the clear points of difference between them, and then we will open up the floor, and hopefully we will have plenty of time for questions at the end. So, it is my privilege to introduce John Prendergast, needs no introduction in Washington. He is on leave from his position at the International Crisis Group in order to help build an organization called ENOUGH, which he co-founded with Gail Smith of The Center for American Progress. Previously John worked at the White House and State Department during the Clinton Administration where he was involved in a number of peace processes throughout Africa. John has also worked for members of Congress, the United Nations, human rights organizations, and think tanks. He has authored eight book on Africa, the latest of which he co-authored with actor/activist Don Cheadle entitled “Not on our Watch.” John travels regularly in Africa, and works on peace making initiatives awareness raising involving network news programs, celebrities and politicians, and of course, here in Washington, among policymakers. John.

JOHN PRENDERGAST: Thank you Akwe and John. First we had Mohammed Ali and George Foreman, the Rumble in the Jungle. Second we had the Yankees and Red Sox, truly good versus evil. Now we have Alex de Waal and John Prendergast. Let us get ready to rumble. Before I start, I need to explain a couple things, I think, about why we are here today for a debate. This is in fact a debate, not a discussion, but Alex and I share a number of similarities that I want you all to know before we get into it. We have both been peace process insiders. We both worked on peace processes. We have both been negotiators for significant peace deals in Africa. We have both been advisors to cabinet officials in different countries. We have both been human rights researchers. You will not find two people who crave to be on the ground in Africa and particularly in one of our, obviously, our most beloved countries, Sudan, than Alex and I. You will not find two authors of books that have been in the top million in, sitting on the same panel together, and we are both policy wonks at heart. So those are the similarities, and I think there are a lot more, Alex, you know that we share. But we have one major difference, I think, I would argue. And I changed over the last, I think, probably two years. One, two years into the Bush Administration I basically changed. I changed significantly. I became converted into the term called activist that we all know and love so well. For example, last night, I am sure Alex, to prepare for this debate, read The Economist and the Financial Times, and I watched Jon Stewart. The life of an activist is not that bad it turns out. Anyways, so it is a different kind of thing, so you are going to see a different emphasis today, and so we come from this issue at a little bit of a different juncture. Our experiences are frankly the same. Our base of experience, almost there is no daylight between the two, but the approach that we take now is very different, and this may come up. So I wanted that, to explain that. The second point I want to bring is for the audience for this kind of thing. Ambassador Negraponte, you can come down now. It is okay, you do not have to hide. No, actually, he is not here because that is not our audience. Our audience today are activists and people who aspire to try to do the right thing when it comes to such a horribly complex and difficult issue as Darfur. The vast majority that show up in churches, in synagogues, in university settings, and town halls all across the United States, and arguably in other countries increasingly now we are seeing, these people who are budding activists who reject the notion of standing idly by while something… and quibble all day about what it is. If it is genocide, if it is crimes against humanity, if it is a vicious inter-nesting conflict, it is all of those things, but they are not going to stand by, and they are taking their foreign policy, our foreign policy into our hands. This is exciting to me. It is they that have put this issue on the map in the United States. Not International Crisis Group or Africa rights papers, frankly. And I want to just note my profound respect for the vast majority of people here or who are huddled around their computers to listen to this thing on the Internet over the course of the day. We actually have a responsibility, I think, up here to give them ideas and to give them hope, and so I want us to try to do that as constructively as we can. Finally, the third point is, that the issues, and it is just really echoing Akwe’s main point is, the issues are very complicated. Let us not forget the Iraq study group had seventy-nine recommendations. They did not have one or two, and most of those recommendations were immediately rejected, and now they are coming back to them. Lots of diversity of views, we are going to be up here with a lot of points of agreement and disagreement. I do not think it is a sign of terrible internal schisms and divisions within the movement or the constituency on Darfur. It is a diverse group who has a lot of different ideas and a lot of different angles. Remember the seventy-nine recommendations. There are not one or two or three things that are going to answer the bell here. There are a lot of things that have to go on for the crisis in Darfur to eventually come to an end. We don’t need to sweep this diversity view under the rug. We need to celebrate it, and I thank the Holocaust Museum for doing that. Now my ten minutes starts. Whoops, technicality. Well, we will see how harsh a moderator we have today. There is a solution though, to Darfur. It is multi-faceted, but there is a solution, and it is a solution that is born of the experiences that Alex and I have had for decades in Africa. ENOUGH, the group that I am working with now has kind of put it forward in a very simplistic way to say there are three P’s to crisis response in this kind of situation, and if you want to apply them in the Congo, if you want to apply them to Northern Uganda, and any other crisis around the world. There are three essential ingredients to the solution of any of these major crises. And those three P’s are peace-making, protection, and punishment. And those are the three ingredients that will bring an end to the crisis in Darfur today. And the peace-making is obvious. This one, both Alex and I have dedicated our lives to. There has to be a singular peace process that everyone accepts, that is backed by significant leverage with competent mediation that steers everyone that is involved in the conflict into the same general direction herding those cats to the holy grail of a comprehensive, implement-able peace deal. We do not have that now. It is not the hardest thing in the world to do. We have example after example in Africa that, that is the way to get a peace deal, is you create the partnership between Africans. We have the African Union, and outsiders who bring leverage to the table whether it is Americans or others, and we will talk about that in a minute, Americans, Europeans, and other actors who care about the issues, and you drive the parties towards a verifiable implement-able peace deal. That is the first P. The second P is Protection. While we are working assiduously to get a peace deal, at the very same time there has to be increased efforts, global efforts to protect the people of Darfur. My contention is, and I do not know what Alex’s view is, we will have to hear it, is the vast majority of violence still is either being orchestrated or perpetrated directly or indirectly by the government of Sudan through its own forces, through its new Benedict Arnold militia, Minni Minnawi’s forces or through the Janjaweed loose network of militias that they have armed and supported to undermine stability and cohesion in Darfur. So there has to be protection from those elements, as well as rebel groups where attacking civilians and for some of the inner communal violence that occurs. So the agreement internationally is around this hybrid force. No one in their right mind believes the hybrid forces enough, but it is where we are. It’s the card that has been dealt. There is one entity in the world that is opposed to it, and that happens to be the government of Sudan. There may be a few rebel outliers who are opposed to it. They will come into line if we can get agreement from the government, if we have a real diplomatic effort. So we need to get that force on the ground and it needs to be empowered with a mandate that at least acknowledges the critical importance of protection to civilians. The critical importance of protecting women who are trying to collect firewood, the critical importance of protecting people who are moving between or within these internally displaced camps who are being attacked, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Peace and protection, those are our objectives. How do we get them? The third P. Punishment. Unless there is some form of accountability, unless there is a cost to rebel or government or militia leaders who are sowing violence and dissent, who are obstructing peace or protection, unless there is a cost to their actions they, frankly, it would be irrational for them to change their behavior. It is absolutely intuitive and empirically demonstrable on the ground in eighteen years of the life of this regime when there has been a cost for their actions they have changed their policies. For four years, not inexplicably, but rather explicably, we do not have enough time to explain it. Hopefully we will discuss it in the discussion. For four years the international community has not imposed a cost on those that are committing atrocities, those that are obstructing peace and protection. And now, there is finally consideration of those measures. We need to impose serious cost. Both incentives and pressures need to be deployed in the context of the diplomatic surge to get the peace deal, and in the context of the deployment of troops lead by the United Nations, mandated and controlled by the United Nations in that hybrid force. That is the answer to Darfur. You can debate the details until the cows come home, but that is the broad infrastructure, the architecture of a solution for Darfur. We know it, the United Nations Secretary General knows it. The Security Council knows it. It is just a matter now of the stiffening of the backbone which is only going to occur if people like us in this room and the fabulous activist network, are successful in increasing the temperature enough that the President of the United States feels compelled to act diplomatically and lead the coalition within the Security Council to do it. So the obstacles to this, why if it is so obvious and so simple, why are we not doing it? Very, very quickly, it is worth understanding it because if we understand it better we will be able to then advocate policies that address those obstacles. The reason why the United States is not leading the Security Council in pressing for a real solution in Darfur is two-fold. First, there are bigger fish to fry. Darfur, despite the beautiful rhetoric, despite the speech that President Bush gave in this very building five or six weeks ago, and every other speech we have heard from the world leaders over the last four years about how much they are hurt, and how much they hurt for the people of Darfur. Darfur is still a tier two issue, and we can drive it, politically drive it up to a tier one issue. Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Lebanon, these are the issues that are going to get, and Afghanistan, these are the issues that are going to get the oxygen, and they are going to receive most of the effort, in New York, in the Security Council, when the United States, and the Brits, and others push and press and cajole to get these resolutions through. The very huge difference, the biggest defining difference between Darfur and Iran, for example, is the level to which the United States, and the Brits, and others are wiling to expend leverage on behalf of the issue, the objective that they have. We are not yet – the American government despite all of the rhetoric is not yet willing to expend leverage in New York. I have talked to some of the perm reps over the last week. I have talked to a number of people working in New York. Imagine, President Bush announces Plan B yesterday. It is all unilateral. He tips his hat and says “we are going to start consulting about a United Nations Security Council Resolution about Dar…” the one that might have made a difference in Plan B we have not even started working on it. Why? Because we do not have the votes. So why not do something about the votes? Because there are other higher priority issues. That is where we are, and the only way we are going to move that, oh, I think I can do that. The only way we can do that is if we can ramp up the pressure. Now I am going to close… Okay, so that’s the first reason is, that the oxygen’s being sucked up by the others. There is a second reason and we will go into it if you want, in the discussion, is the counter-terrorism relationship between Washington and Khartoum. That continues to be a drag on action with the CIA, with the Intelligence community, in the room discussing what to do about Darfur, still saying that the Khartoum authorities are still giving us actionable information. That is a damper on us taking action, significant action, robust action. I am not talking about military action, so do not set up the straw man. I am talking about significant diplomatic action to move this thing forward. We are not doing it partially because we still are getting quality information. President Bush said it very, very clearly. You are either with us or you are with the terrorists. Khartoum made a serious decision, after 9/11 we are going to be with these guys. At least appear to be with these guys, and we will give them a little bit of information. We will bleed it out and we will do it. Here is what I am going to close with, the opportunity, the extraordinary golden opportunity that with every passing hour we are squandering. For every passing hour we do not act on this opportunity I am about to tell you, one time only deal, 9.99. We are literally allowing more and more Darfurians to perish. The opportunity is this. The missing ingredient to get peace and protection for Darfurians is leverage, is bringing leverage to the table. Another word for it is punishment. Another word for it is incentives and pressures, is that leverage that is brought to the table by significant actors in the international community who have some measure of influence over the actors on the ground. There are three significant international actors who have the most leverage, France, China, and the United States. Incredible moment; France has an election, shockingly a pro-American candidate wins the election, expresses his willingness to work with the United States on transatlantic issues of major concern, and says he cares deeply about Darfur and wants something to do about it. And by the way, which country indirectly or directly has the most leverage over the rebels in Darfur? It is through Chad, it is France. And France has huge investments in the oil sector in Sudan. So they are a key actor. China. We all know the Beijing argument. We can talk about it. The Beijing Olympics argument, we can talk about it. They have named their envoy. They want to play ball. They want to do it in a different way though. They are never going to condemn the Sudanese regime. They are never going to broach the sovereignty question. They could be a partner with us privately in a good cop/bad cop scenario, if we work it. The United States has finally turned the corner with this Plan B, though it is grossly inadequate, it is a start. Washington, Paris, Beijing, the road to peace, the road to the end of the crisis in Darfur runs through those three countries. We need to form an axis for peace for Darfur. We need diplomatic leadership from President Bush to work together with two actors we do not normally work together on to achieve a foreign policy objective together and bring leverage to the table, and end this crisis.

AKWE AMOSU: Thank you, John. And thanks to your nifty expansion for your allotted time. I am going to allocate Alex four more minutes, which is less than you took. [laughter]

JOHN PRENDERGAST: Only fair. [laughter]

AKWE AMOSU: Go ahead Alex. No, let me introduce you first. Alex de Waal is a program director at the Social Science Research Council in New York, engaged on projects involving HIV and AIDS and social transformation, and on emergencies and humanitarian action. He is also a fellow of the Global Equity Initiative at Harvard, which is a partner in a consortium with the SSRC working on AIDS and government issues, and he is a Director of Justice Africa, in London. In his twenty year career, de Waal has studied the social, political, and health dimensions of famine, of war, genocide, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic especially in Horn of Africa, and the Great Lakes. He has been at the forefront of mobilizing African and international responses to these problems. de Waal’s books include Famine that Kills Darfur, Sudan 1984/’85, and Facing Genocide, the Nuber of Sudan, published in 1995. He is the editor and lead author of Islam and its Enemies in the Horn of Africa, published in 2004, and most recently author with Julie Flint of, Darfur, a Short History of a Long War, and AIDS and power, Why there is no political crisis yet, published last year. Alex earned his doctorate in Social Anthropology from Oxford University. The floor is yours.

ALEX DE WAAL: Thank you. Akwe, thank you. Akwe, what you did not mention is that I considered myself to be an activist right from the time when I was a student, and actually I wrote the first international human rights report on this current government in Sudan just fifty days after it took power, and spent really most of the 1990’s trying to organize a Sudanese human rights organization and Sudanese human rights activists to agitate for human rights in Sudan. Particularly the neglected issues like the Nuba, and so perhaps my trajectory has been slightly more in a different direction coming out of activism more into the policy and peace-making. And what I would like to emphasize that whatever our differences, John and I share far more in common than what may separate us, and I am sure you are all here expecting sparks to fly, and I hope they will. I hope we will really get into some of the issues that do differ from us. But I think it is important to emphasize what we share is a passion for human rights, for humanitarianism, for the basic dignity and rights of people in Sudan and elsewhere in the world. And I think that is what motivates us. But I think that motivation has recently led to some quite significant differences of opinion on what to do over Darfur, and that is what I’m going to come to. But by way of introduction I just want to quote from an article I wrote in 2004, at the height of those offensives launched by the Sudan government, orchestrated by military intelligence with the Janjaweed at the forefront in the spring of 2004. The article was called “Counter Insurgency on the Cheap,” and I wrote, “This is not the genocidal campaign of a government at the height of its ideological hubris as was the 1992 Jihad against the Nuba, or coldly determine to secure natural resources as when it sought to clear the oil fields of Southern Sudan of their troublesome inhabitants. This is the routine cruelty of a security cabal. It is humanity withered by years in power. It is genocide by force of habit.” Now my point here was that the atrocities in Darfur had similarities with and differences from the military campaigns with which we had become so wearingly depressingly familiar over the previous twenty years in Sudan. Now the motto of the Social Science Research Center is, “necessary knowledge.” And what I want to do is very briefly run over five points that I think are “necessary knowledge” about what has happened and is happening in Sudan, and then I want to look at action, what I believe we should do next. I will not dwell on the points we agree on so much as the points we disagree on because I think that is where it will get interesting. The first: Darfur is the most recent instance of counter insurgency in Sudan. Sudan’s wars follow a pattern, and Sudan is part of that pattern, and we have seen that pattern over the years. It is a pattern in which the Sudan government faces a military threat and if the Army cannot respond to that threat, the Army is not sufficiently well organized, not sufficiently well staffed, does not have the leadership or determination military intelligence takes over. They use proxies who may arm indiscriminately. They go out on the rampage and cause mayhem. We saw this in the South, we saw it in the Nuba Mountains, we saw it perhaps a little bit less in Eastern Sudan, and we saw it in Darfur. Darfur is different in that there is much less of an ideological motive. I would not call this government as an Islamic government so much as a post-Islamic government. The people in power, they realize their agenda of political Islam is failed. In a way they are fighting over simply power over the ruins of that project. The similarities, too, is that after those massive campaigns, those campaigns that verge in the genocidal cross the boundary of genocidal as in the Nuba Mountains, as in the South, in the late 80’s under the previous government interested, not under this one. In the oil fields, etcetera, in the late 1990’s, what you have is a demoralized, fractured society. The weight of that assault fractures society. You have massive displacement, many more people killed by hunger and disease than actually killed by violence. It demoralizes society. The traditional authority structures that hold people together are fractured. The rebels fragment. The rebels fight each other. Some of them join the government. Some of them stay in opposition. Some become pawns of neighboring countries. And those proxies that the government has armed, they also fragment. The government does not really control. It does its best to control, but sometimes they go over to the other side. We saw this in the South. Some of these militias they arm went to the other side. They signed peace agreements. The government tries to bring many of them in by incorporating them into the armed forces. So the government, there is a command responsibility for the great majority of the violence, and indirect responsibility as the author of the ongoing crisis. But the situation in the aftermath of those genocidal offenses is different to what is happening during them. The biggest difference that we have between Darfur and the South is that we have a relief operation that is remarkably effective. We had a big relief operation over many years in the South that only reached a fraction of the people. We have a relief operation in Darfur today that reaches more than two-thirds of the people. That is an extraordinary achievement. It has brought down death rates to pretty much normal levels among the people whom it does serve, and visitors to the other areas report, okay, people are suffering hardship, but there is no starvation, there is no famine. So that relief effort is tremendously successful. Let us sustain it. Let us not jeopardize it. So that is the second part. Today what we face is a shattered society and the aftermath of genocidal counter insurgents. We do not have ongoing genocidal massacre today. We do not have an ongoing famine today. We have a very nasty war. We have government offences against the rebels, which tend to fail. They tend to be wiped out. There have been two in the last year. We have violence by some of the militia as in localized very nasty ethnic cleansing. We have fighting between groups of the government have themselves armed. One of the major sources of loss of life was two militias, Arab militias armed by the government fighting each other. But the most important thing we have is, we have that enormous crime still standing uncorrected. We have two million or more people displaced from their homes, intensely demoralized. I was talking a couple of days ago to people in an internally displaced persons [IDP] camp in Nyala on the phone and they were saying, “we do not feel like human beings. We were never rich. We were never wealthy, but at least we had some control over our lives, we had a society that we considered ours, now we have nothing, and that society needs to be put back together.” Number three: What is driving Sudan’s crisis? Where is the real center of gravity? Where do we really need to look for a long term solution? I would say two things. Number one is an incredible disparity between in power and wealth between the center and the peripheral. Khartoum and its environs, it’s a middle income country. It is like Jordan. It is like wealthier parts of Egypt. Khartoum, as a city, has more than half the wealth income of Sudan as a whole. Surrounded by incredible destitution and poverty, incredible disparities. And the second fact is a dysfunctional government. This government is deeply, intensely, dysfunctional, has multiple senses of power. It is very good at one thing, hanging onto power. It is desperately bad at doing other things, of coordinating. The ambassador is hit. I am sure he has difficulty knowing who to report to. I mean, he is supposed to report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but he has external security, he has the party, he has the presidency. He probably does not know who is his boss from one day to another, who is the most powerful person whom he is supposed to be getting instructions from, and it is a difficulty because you cannot… Bashir is powerful enough to say no. You can also say no to anything. To say yes, much more difficult. He is not powerful enough to do that, and one of the real difficulties is that what often appears from the outside is incredible Machiavellian cunning and scheming. Actually comes about because of constantly shifting power games within the elite, and if a senior member of the government is more fearful of his own colleagues than he is of President Bush, it is very, very hard to get real traction off that government. But the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the 2005 North/South peace deal, is, I think, a mechanism for getting a coherent government and addressing many of these problems. Let us think of that as a long term solution. Necessary knowledge four: The human rights, the humanitarian response. This is where advocacy has been effective. We have, I think, a remarkably good, if fragile humanitarian response, and the human rights issues are really out there on the agenda. The International Criminal Court is on the case, etcetera. That advocacy which I completely support, I think has been remarkably successful. The politics, this is where I think I begin to have some problems. We have a good idea, and this is point number five, we have a good idea of what can work, a consistent, cohesive, consensual, clear international policy. Pressure can work, but pressure by whom? For what? What sort of pressure? And I notice John, in his opening remarks, did not mention the credible threat of military action. It is something that he has mentioned. In the past it is there, in the ENOUGH paper, it is there in International Crisis Group’s. It is a point I want to get back to. I disagree with him on interpreting what his changed policy in the past if he is implying credible threat of military action as being part of the pressure that has changed government policy. I actually beg to disagree insofar as its U.S. policy in terms of bringing an end to Saddam’s support for terrorism that was military pressure from neighboring countries. It is not difficult to demonstrate, the pressure delivers, but to what end? If President Bashir believes that the end result of the pressure of the policies that he will end up like Saddam Hussein, no amount of pressure is going to get him to shift. I think the key thing is, we need to know exactly, what is the outcome. What are we asking this government to do, and I think what is on the table at the moment does not add up to a solution. I think there are three points that I want to make as to what should be a solution if I have a few minutes in which to make them. The first point is, let us put the A Team on the peace process. The first P that John mentioned is peace. Great, I completely agree. But in practice it has not been the first P, it has been down the list. I ask, regularly senior officials in this government, in the United Nations, and elsewhere, “How do you spend your time?” Very, very little time is spent on the peace process. The peace process gets the leftovers. Almost all the effort and energy is going into trying to get this protection force on the ground. I was an advisor to the African Union mediation during the peace talks. I gave advice, it was not always followed. But I was there watching this very difficult mediation exercise go ahead, and one of the things that was most striking was how little and how low level the engagement was from western powers, from the United Nations, from the United States. We got people like Robert Zellick, about to go to the World Bank, right at the end, but for months and months I ran the security discussions for a couple of months. We did not have a single U.S. person full-time assigned to our team. We had a couple of people who came in and out on one week visits, though simply was not that investment. If you go to the United Nations, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, which is the lead for Sudan, they have sixteen people working on this African Union/United Nations hybrid. They have one working on the rest of Sudan. They did not have a single person working full-time on the peace process. This is totally disproportionate I think, so put the A Team on the peace process. Why? Because we need real peace in Darfur, because we need real peace in Sudan. Because it will show that we are serious about solving the overall problem and putting a proper peace agreement together, and I will come back to why that is important. And second, and lastly, a real agreement is needed if a protection force is do its job. If a protection force is sent without a proper agreement it will not be very effective. It is a simple reality that in the middle of ongoing hostilities. A United Nations force is unable to do very much. It cannot disarm the Janjaweed certainly. It can do only limited civilian protection. There is a fear that the United Nations-African Union hybrid will actually have the worst of both organizations, the worst of the United Nations, the worst of the African Union. It may end up being just an expensive ornament to the real problem, which brings me to the second thing. Develop a real security plan for Darfur. The whole discussion has been about numbers, about mandate, about armor, about what color helmets they should wear. The real security issues have not been addressed. These troops will need to be there for five, six, seven years. They will need to leave with Darfur stable, and a real security mission will be ninety percent community outreach, political liaison. Ten percent force or the use of force. John and I are both familiar with the Nuba Mountains where there was a peace agreement. A cease fire was signed in 2002. The Nuba Mountains was in many ways very similar to Darfur. Smaller scale, but very similar. Twenty unarmed ceasefire monitors kept a ceasefire there for three years, a battalion, six hundred fully armed United Nations troops in the last couple of years have done a much worse job. The reason if you work with communities, if you use the communities as your eyes and your ears, your force multiplier, then you can get things done. John used to call this frontline diplomacy. It is needed. It is much more important, I think, than the question of whether they have attack helicopters, whether they have armored personnel carriers and so on. Yes, a robust force will be needed for those exceptional situations, but the key thing is to have a proper security plan, and we do not have that, and in the absence of that I really suspect that this United Nations-African Union force is not going to do very much. Last thing, take coercive military action off the agenda. And this is a point where John testified before Congress and in the ENOUGH paper. He speaks about credible threat of military action. He also says that there have been enough threats that have been made and not followed up upon. I agree. There have been so many threats made that have not translated into reality. If there is to be a credible threat of military action, a militarily enforced no-fly zone, nonconsensual deployment, then actually it means planning for it. It actually means being ready to do it, and the way that the politics are going at the moment, the likelihood is that we will be on that road and it would actually happen. A number of senior Democrats, Susan Rice, Tony Lake, Joe Biden most recently, have talked about using force. Have talked about taking out the Sudanese Air Force, putting NATO troops, nonconsensually on the ground, etcetera. Now your position, as I understand it, is different. As I understand it, your position John, is that you want all this pressure of sanctions, etcetera, to get the Sudan government to agree to the deployment of this United Nations/African Union force which would make it unnecessary.

JOHN PRENDERGAST: Peace and protection. Do not leave it out.

ALEX DE WAAL: Okay. Peace.



JOHN PRENDERGAST: Peace and protection. Security plan A Team.



AKWE AMOSU: [UI sentence]

ALEX DE WAAL: But you are still talking about credible military... I want to know...

JOHN PRENDERGAST: Let me make that point.

ALEX DE WAAL: Okay, you can come... because I want to know where you stand on that. It confused me, frankly. I followed what you were saying and I know you felt I was misrepresenting you. So I am looking for some...

JOHN PRENDERGAST: You mean I am smarter than you? This is exciting for me. Because he is doubly smarter than me.

AKWE AMOSU: Okay, guys. Your last few seconds Alex.

ALEX DE WAAL: I think that this level of bellicose rhetoric is already getting in the way of a solution. I think this needs to be completely taken off the table because we will not make progress unless coercive military action, is ruled out. I hope I will get a chance to explain that. Last. Let us focus on the center of gravity which is peace, national peace, and let us be ahead of the curve. Let us not react to a situation as it was three, four years ago.

AKWE AMOSU: Thank you very much Alex. I hope that reference to the bellicose rhetoric was about what goes on outside this room, not what is about to happen. I want to obviously pass it back to you John, and ask you, obviously, to tackle that question of military intervention whether real or the threat of is genuinely helpful or not. But I think I would like you also not to lose sight of the earlier point...

JOHN PRENDERGAST: Yes, thank you.

AKWE AMOSU: ... that relates to whether enough effort is being made to find a peaceful solution. The peace effort that does not, as Alex sees it, have the A Team work it.

JOHN PRENDERGAST: Thank you so much, and actually, if I can take, six, thirty, forty-five seconds to just...

AKWE AMOSU: Not again.

JOHN PRENDERGAST: make a couple of very quick comments about the earlier points about the situation. Because this is a debate about what to do, and Alex very helpfully spelled out what is happening on the ground, and I just want to make a couple of points of diversions that can be clear. I do not believe this is genocide by force of habit as Alex quoted himself saying two years ago. They learned from past counter insurgency campaigns how to do it better. In the South, they plucked off a few leaders, Southern leaders, Southern Benedict Arnolds, and those Southern Benedict Arnolds went back to SPLA eventually. So they learned better that you have got to go deep down. You have got to drill down and sow confusion and dissent and inner-communal rivalries deeper than just at the leadership level, and they have done this with extraordinary precision in Darfur. Anarchy and chaos with the objective of government policy in Darfur, you see, so now to take the snap shot today and say, gee, it is really complicated. There are a lot of different actors, it is chaotic, is not to understand that this was in fact the intention of the policy. I want to put that out there first. Secondly, that there is some big division within the government of Sudan. Certainly there are tremendous power rivalries. We totally agree. We have had to navigate those together and separately over the last eighteen years, Alex and I, in our different guises and different professional roles, and they are power games. But I would differ only to say, and I do not know if we are actually differing to say that there are constants. There are people who stay on top, and those are the people in my view that we ought to be targeting with sanctions. They unfortunately happen to be the same people who Langley, who our Central Intelligence Agency is liaising with on our counter terrorism. Very, very smart, they put these guys forward. They are the orchestrators of the policies in Darfur, same people who have been the point people on counter terrorism cooperation. Saleh Gosh, Nafi ali Nafi, these kind of people, these are the ones we ought to be going after, and I am going to not rest until our activist community names the names. We do not know the hundreds of thousands of names who have died in Darfur, but we know the people who are primarily responsible, and at the very least we ought to be able to impose targeted sanctions, some slap on the wrist to these guys for what they are doing. Now we are going into the questions. The A Team, where is the disagreement? I think I just said precisely that. There is a crying need to find, to create what we already know how to create, which is a credible peace process that has competent negotiators at the point, and which has leverage in the form of key countries that can bring it to the table in support of one process. And we have got to have full-time people in the field, not some part-time special envoy who also teaches Georgetown. We need a full-time team of people from the United States, the European Union, and any other entity that wants to contribute to a solution. It is all a matter of coordinating and finding a way forward, but that is where we are going. So Alex and I do not disagree what at all on this. On the protection, I think it is very important. The second P, Protection, is another way. And you have added a nuance, a level of nuance that is very important for all of you to understand, that is extraordinarily important. That it is not going to be because there is a bunch of soldiers with guns and attack helicopters that bring some security to Darfur. It is going to be the mission that is deployed with whatever number it is. The number is 22 or 20,000. That is all we can squeeze out of an international agreement, fine. But it has got to have what Alex is talking about as part of any peace-keeping or peace enforcement mission is the supplementary personnel that do the political negotiations on the ground, that support these deployments of force, that navigate the very complex inter-communal issues that are going to plague Darfur for many years to come. That is going to be the key to success in this larger mission. So we have got to get the numbers on the ground with appropriate equipment, absolutely. But we also have to support the infrastructure to do the protection because protection and the Responsibility to Protect is not a military only thing. I cannot imagine we disagree on these things. You just said it. But where we disagree is on, let me answer your question, on the military issue, and that is, and it is really, as you saw. We both put forward peace and protection, need that. I brought a third P to the table which is punishment. We need to bring leverage to the table. We do that, in my view, by creating a cost. One of the things that I think in the arsenal of things we need to bring to the table that gives us leverage to get peace and protection is concerted, responsible, transparent planning for potential military operations to undertake both ground and air with one objective, protect civilian life. What in the hell is this international Responsibility to Protect? If the situation deteriorates, there are one million people who are beyond the reach of international humanitarian assistance right now. Yes, the assistance approach has been a remarkable success where it has been able to reach, but the United Nations, not me, says there are about a million people who they cannot reach, who the entire system cannot reach. Now, if that number significantly increases, if there are increasing attacks against displace camps, whatever the scenario is, and we can talk about scenario building, it would be credibly irresponsible for military planners in NATO, the United Nations, the United States, the Brits, the European Union, not to be thinking about these scenarios, not to be planning for these scenarios. Because if there is a large scale cut-off in humanitarian assistance, as the government did many times in Southern Sudan, and hundreds and thousands of people died as a result, and Alex wrote books about it. If we cannot get a planning process that is underway so that, that… then we have failed. Rwanda, we were totally, the world was totally unprepared to respond in a hundred days. We have had four years to prepare. I just believe that a transparent planning process would give us some additional leverage for the peace and protection, but it would also prepare us more responsibly if it needed to come to the point where we needed military force to protect civilian life. That is what I am talking about when I talk about planning for military operations, and nothing more. And it is not for invasion purposes, it is not regime change. That might be the best scenario, but I know there is no realistic possibility of that right now. What I am talking about is the international Responsibility to Protect and operationalizing that. And all I am talking about right now is planning. There is no straw man [UI].

AKWE AMOSU: Alex, certainly answer those points, but also say something about what you think is the real possibility of getting any traction with the government in Khartoum. If you really believe that a political process is critical, and that it is critical to a Responsibility to Protect mission succeeding, then what real possibility is there if that being achieved given the skepticism that John [UI].

ALEX DE WAAL: I think one of the major obstacles to that being achieved is, that the moment the Sudan government thinks that whatever it does it will get hit out of Washington, and that if the next U.S. Presidential election brings a Democrat to the White House, the old Clinton administration policy of regime change will come back, and therefore the thinking of the security chiefs in Khartoum is, why should we give an inch now if we are just going to be hammered like Saddam Hussein? And that is their reading of it, I assure you. Because over the month after President Bush made his speech here and said to Khartoum, you have thirty days in which to stand up this heavy support package to the African Union, to make progress, etcetera, there was a flurry of activity to try and do a short term search. Bring some United Nations personnel to Darfur, and the security chiefs in Khartoum said, this is a great idea, but what we think will happen is, we will do it, and either Washington will say, this is just a game. You are just bringing someone from South Sudan. You are not really doing the business, or we will have the sanctions slapped on us anyway so why do we move, and that level of distrust of complete collapse of confidence is a problem, and it is a problem because many people, not all, within that government believe that there is a regime change card that is going to come out sooner or later, maybe at the end of near year. And I think that in order for us to get some traction we need to have, as you say, transparency in our objectives, and I think that the transparent objective should be consensual. It should be that we get the Comprehensive Peace Agreement which has a mechanism for regime change. It is called elections. Has elections on the table, make that the centerpiece. Make it clear that the escalation of different measures, sanctions, etcetera, etcetera, does not include military action. I think when you have that then you might get some... then I think we have a possibility of getting some serious traction. I think that the strongest argument that I have heard for prioritizing protection over peace is peace is a long term process. A protection can be done immediately. The experience of Darfur actually suggests...

JOHN PRENDERGAST: Who is making that argument? I have never heard it. You read that. I do not see...

ALEX DE WAAL: [UI sentence] let us put the priority on the peace process. An argument often comes from the floor saying a peace process takes a long while. In the meantime what we need is protection.

JOHN PRENDERGAST: So they are saying do both?

ALEX DE WAAL: Yes, but they are saying...

JOHN PRENDERGAST: They are not saying prioritize. You have got to understand this Alex. You are misrepresenting what our view is, and it is a collective view. We need to do both equally vigorously. You are right. Too much energy has gone into protection. You’re absolutely right. Let me acknowledge, let me say it again. You are right. The problem is we’re not doing both at the same time and pushing them equally. I cannot imagine we disagree about that.

ALEX DE WAAL: Okay, that is good. And what I hope is that when ENOUGH and International Crisis Group comes out with their reports you give as much attention to the detail of peace as you do to the protection.

JOHN PRENDERGAST: The last 60-page report of International Crisis Group was the peace process. God, it was way too long. I am sorry if we clogged up your inboxes.

AKWE AMOSU: Alex, sorry to interrupt you. The impression is being given that somehow if enough attention was given to the political process, the peace-making negotiation that it would be fine. That all these various parties would sit around the table and agree that we need to do something, and the only thing that is missing right now is sufficient attention to do that. Whereas in fact, as you know, and that we all know, shifting of agencies very strong doubt within the government that there is any interest in it for them to make a deal of this kind, and so you need to tell us how you believe it could be done.

ALEX DE WAAL: The politics of getting peace has become more and more aversive the last couple of years. I mean, the reason a year ago why I advocated very strongly for the Darfur Peace Agreement, although it was a flawed agreement, was I felt this is one chance we have for getting the Darfurians property into the peace process, making that work. Getting them into the electoral process, civil politics, etcetera, because I knew, I feared that it was going to get much more complicated, has got much more complicated. It has got hideously more complicated in that you have involvement of neighboring countries. You have the fragmentation of the rebel movements, etcetera. There is no quick fix now. But the lack of attention to the peace process has been absolutely shocking in this government, in the United Nations, frankly in the African Union as well over the last year. What we can do is, we cannot get a quick fix. Obviously this process is going to take a long time. Now, it could have been done a year or eighteen months ago. It cannott be done quickly now. But that can at least get people towards the confidence that their interests are going to be looked after which can allow for the type of mission design and strategic vision, strategic objective of a protection force so that it is not a fundamental threat to the interests of any of the communities in Darfur. At the moment, one of the reasons why the Sudan government and its allies in Darfur are really digging in their heels is they think that this force is a fundamental threat to them. They think it is there to take out. This may be a misreading.


ALEX DE WAAL: But there needs to be... a lot of reassurance needs to be done on that.

JOHN PRENDERGAST: You are right again. It is a failure of diplomacy. Anyone in this room, anyone in the US government, anyone in the world who is concerned about Darfur can have their opinions about what the right answer is. But ultimately the truth is, the Bush Administration does not have a policy of regime change and they are no where hear that. They will never have a policy regime change in Sudan. They have too many eggs in too many other baskets around the world to go mucking around in another place that is not as important. The Clinton Administration despite your best efforts to paint it that way never had a policy of regime change. There was a great debate internally and it went up to principals a number of times but it was vetoed every time. No regime change. That is not our policy. So there it is. That is the facts. Now here is the point. The failure of diplomacy is this, is the United States needs to be very clear to the government of Sudan, and Sudan’s regime has been very clever, played the United States like a violin over the last six years. How they have done that is, they have divided it up. They have made a whole effort go into trying to deal with the Southern peace deal, then a whole other effort to go into Darfur, and there is a whole other group of people that deal with the counter terrorism stuff. We have stove pipe policy here in the United States government. There is no comprehensive Sudan policy. What needs to happen, and I am very curious to see whether we might agree on this, is a very clear statement that counters this idea that the United States is out for regime change. Door number one and door number two. Danforth used to kind of talk about this, but he got it only about Southern Sudan. Door number one, you implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement as you agree to it. We don’t want… you do not change it, don’t have to do anything more, just agree to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and implement what you already agreed to. Participate in credible peace process that is the international community’s responsibility to get one together. Allow the hybrid force in which you already agreed to and then stonewalled, and continue to cooperate on counter terrorism, and by the way, you agreed to the elections, you are absolutely right. Now let us see a free and fair process unfold and that is a slippery slope to regime transformation. You do those things and normalization, assistance, World Bank support, all the rest of it, an international integration, trade agreements, all the rest, if you continue to obstruct the deployment of a force in Darfur. If you continue to undermine efforts to get a peace process started you cannot possibly argue that bombing the site of the rebel groups as they try to figure out a way to bring their issues cohesively is not trying to undermine the peace process. There just could not be a more graphic illustration of that. If you continue to undermine efforts to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, you continue to hold it as a threat over our heads that you’re going to stop cooperating on CT issues, and if you undermine the electoral process there are going to be consequences. We are not trying to change the regime. We cannot get that agreement within the administration, couldn’t get it in the last administration, but there will be serious consequences, and here is the future that you face. Most of you will be indicted for war crimes in the International Criminal Court because we are going to turn over information. Most of you are going to be subject to targeted sanctions. We are going to put a spotlight on you, put scarlet letters on you, and say you people are war criminals and international pariahs and we are going to push you out. That is the outcome of door number two. Make your choice.

AKWE AMOSU: Okay, Alex. A short rebuttal [UI phrase].

ALEX DE WAAL: A question to you. Is credible threat of military action still on the table? I mean, do you have a disagreement with Joe Biden and Susan Rice?

JOHN PRENDERGAST: But see, shockingly, maybe to you, those are not the people who are in charge in the United States right now, and the people that are in charge in the United States right now, that is not a credible option. It is fine in my view to have voices in the community of people who care about Sudan to talk about different ideas. To push the envelop to say we need to do more, and if you boil down what Biden is saying, he is talking about accelerated planning within NATO so that they can figure out what to do in the event that things happen. Now Susan and Tony have a different view about the way you could use strategic air strikes to influence the government of Sudan. I do not happen to agree with that, but it is a point of view that is out on the table. Can we really… it is shocking to me, frankly, Alex. You spend so much time talking about an Op-ed that Susan and Tony and Don Paine wrote, and do not talk about John Bolton, who spent months up in the Security Council basically threatening something the United States did not have, which is, troops to sign up to 1706 to a United Nations military intervention, whatever word you want to use. He was not using non-consensual deployment of force or whatever the code words were for this thing, and not one soldier would sign up for that. Not one country was going to send in troops. It was the height of hubris, and that, to me, is the thing we ought to be concerned about. Not people writing Op-eds in the Washington Post. That is good, diversity. Let us get the views on the table. If fact, if I was a mediator right now sitting at the table with the Sudanese government and rebels, I would like it if I had Frank Wolf behind me saying to the Chinese we are going to boycott the Olympics. I would like it if I had Tony Lake behind me saying, you know, we ought to start bombing in five minutes. We need leverage. And you can go to the table with these guys and say the barbarians are at the gate, what do you want to do? We do not have policy. We are not going to be in charge much longer, let’s get this thing done. Let us work with the Chinese. Let us work with the French. Let us work with the United Nations security council and get this thing done. Let us get a peace deal for Darfur, let us get a credible security force and let us move to this thing. I do not think it is a bad thing to have a diversity of voices out there who are… if it is used properly in the good cop/bad cop scenario, the oldest trick in the book in diplomacy. If it is used properly by those that are responsible for doing the diplomacy and who are in charge of our policy right now, if they use that, they can actually make, I think much bigger gains then they would if everyone was just quiet. If there was no activist community, if no one gave a rat’s ass about what was going on to people in Darfur today.

AKWE AMOSU: Alex, short statement and then I am going to open it up.

ALEX DE WAAL: I am all for diversity of your opinion. I simply wanted clarity on what your opinion was on this.

JOHN PRENDERGAST: You got it, I hope.

ALEX DE WAAL: I am not sure I got complete clarity on exactly what it was you would be advocating if you were...

JOHN PRENDERGAST: Can I do it again, Akwe?


ALEX DE WAAL: ... if you were in the next administration or whatever. I simply want to make the point that the success of the North/South peace process, for me, was the clarity of the ultimate objective which was peace. A peace that the government of Sudan would accept even though it had many provisions that the government was really quite unhappy with. It was consistently pursued. It made the civilian protection an adjunct to the peace process. People were being killed in South Sudan during that peace process, and it was painful keeping that process on track. It was a multi-lateral thing, and at that time the US had a lot more leverage on the global stage than it does now post-Iraq. I think we need to be realistic in that relatively modest objectives can be achieved in Sudan, and I think that the bellicose rhetoric that comes from some quarters in this city is sowing that confusion and I think that those who are influential in the advocacy community need to, as you are doing now, focus on really what is the center of gravity of this problem which is the political and the diplomatic.

JOHN PRENDERGAST: One last point. Just one last point, it is thirty seconds and it is actually a point that I think we would agree on, and that is, that in the context of this peace process one of the things you have talked a lot about what were the ingredients in Nirash, in the peace process between the government and SPLA. One of the things that is completely and totally lacking in the process today is vision about the end state. You know, we talk all day long about getting the rebels together so they can have a harmonizing position. We talk about jamming the government so that they will sit at the table. What is missing is a clear explanation of what needs to happen to have peace in Darfur. What are the three or four things that are missing from the existing Darfur Peace Agreement that need to be added and modified to that agreement so that the rebels can come to the table and there can be an implemental deal. It is a vision. So it is putting teams together, it is getting them working 24-hours a day and seven days a week in the field and it is outlining a vision. Not some process road map that they are talking about now, a vision of the end state. We had that because we had Dr. John and [UI name] putting forward ideas because, of course, most people don’t have any ideas, and that is the sad truth it turns out, but I think there is enough intellectual fire power in this room and in the international community to come up with three or four things that ought to be the end state for peace in Darfur, and then pushing those and flogging those relentlessly with the rebel groups and the government so the people can see the way forward. They do not see the way forward right now, and that is why we have such divisions.


ALEX DE WAAL: One twist on that. I completely agree. I would just say that the people of Darfur come with those three, four ideas if possible.

AKWE AMOSU: So we have several questions which have not been addressed so far. Where does China fit into this situation? With the US’s international stock, at least in some quarters, being seen as less strong than it has been in the past, can it corral and encourage enough of an international consensus around this issue to get a resolution in the United Nations Security Council, and should the Olympic games be seen as a target in the forthcoming period to try and focus minds in Khartoum and in Beijing on this issue, and several other issues that come up or have been alluded to in the slip screen. So I would like to make comments and ask questions. Please keep them short. I am not going to say you can only ask questions, but please do not take five minutes to make a speech. Make it succinct and short and please identify yourselves before you speak so we know who you are and who you represent. Thank you. I will take you sir.


UF: [UI sentence – no microphone] ... China and France can be brought into this, and for that matter, what other players might be useful, Egypt for instance?

AKWE AMOSU: Thank you, sir.

CB: I’m Cindy Bewell. I work with Congressman Jim McGovern. There are two ways to look at a no-fly zone. Do you see a no-fly zone as a protective measure or do you see no-fly zone as coercive military force? I guess I would like an answer on that.

AKWE AMOSU: Thank you. [UI]

UM: Yes, hi, John and Alex. I guess I sort of cut my teeth as an activist in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, and in those days there was a lot of talk about sanctions. There was a big international movement… I mean, John, you remind me of a Darfur version of Randal Robinson sometimes. I really admire that. But the fact of the matter is that the sanctions, the international diplomacy were really a minor story in the case of South Africa. The real action was in South Africa, and I think the same thing is true in Sudan, that the problem in Sudan can only be solved by the Sudanese themselves. And as you know there is a mechanism for that in the CPA. There are elections that are supposed to take place within two years, and I was a little bit concerned. I’m generally concerned in the debate about Darfur that the CPA is really losing out. I think that was an enormous achievement led by the United States that should not be allowed to disappear. I just wonder if you might comment on how the prospect of elections, I mean, there is a certain amount of pluralism in Sudan. It is not this sort of totalitarian thing despite the security cabal that exists there. I mean there is a free press, some independent press. There is the SPLM. There are many political parties that are working openly in Sudan. Isn’t there some potential there for a solution to the crisis of Darfur in the political process?

AKWE AMOSU: Thank you. Please stay in line. I’m going to come back to the table and ask you to be extremely brief in your responses if you can. We need to make room for some other questions. We’ll start with you Alex

ALEX DE WAAL: Okay. On the last point, I think the CPA is absolutely pivotal and Darfur peace agreement only makes sense as a buttress to the CPA, and the CPA is running into serious problems. I think we need to pay attention to other flash pots in Sudan. It would be a particular tragedy if all our attention is focused on Darfur [UI phrase] and there is real potential for very serious problems in those areas. It also relates to the vision issue. It is very difficult to have a vision for Darfur separate from the vision for Sudan as a whole. I would argue, there is a debate going on at the moment within the African Union and the United Nations as to whether the actual peace process very shortly ought to shift away from the Darfur only peace process to focusing on Sudan as a whole. That is very preliminary, and so just to sketch a couple of responses to that. On the no-fly zone. The real question of the no-fly zone is how it is enforced. There is a long standing commitment in the Sudan government a prohibition on offensive military flights. It has not been monitored, and it can be monitored from the ground in accordance with the provisions of the Darfur Peace Agreement, which is not happening. The recourse would be reporting to the African Union, and Peace and Security Council and to the United Nations Security Council in bringing non-coercive measures to bear, shaming to start off with, and sanctioning, etcetera, or it can be enforced militarily. I am against military enforcement. I think that would be an act of war. I think it would have incalculable consequences in terms of repercussions against humanitarian operations, etcetera. So I would see ground monitoring of the existing ban on offensive military flights as being the first key step, which as I said, has not been taken. In terms of getting China to the table, the Chinese envoy was recently in Darfur and made a couple of points. One of which I thought was absolutely outrageous, which is, he said this is just ordinary poverty that he was seeing. He did not see anything particularly wrong. I do not have his exact quote.


ALEX DE WAAL: But he also said there needed to be a credible peace process which I think is correct. I think we have at the moment, because China is responding to the pressure. The prospect of a boycott of the Olympic Games is really worrying the Chinese very, very deeply. It has been a superbly effective campaigning strategy. A note of warning on that. When you have a strategy like that you always need to define your end product. You need to define when you have succeeded. You need to call off the dogs because we are going to want to engage with China for a long time. So if China actually does most of what is being asked for it, I think we should respond by saying “that is fine.” We should attend the Olympics. Not allow the campaign to run and allow the Tibetans or Burmese to jump on it because then next time we ask the Chinese to do something they will say these guys cannot be relied upon. So just a word of warning, or a caution [UI] on sort of the science of activism [UI] The last point, I think we have a sort of multi-lateral moment emerging with the Chinese coming in, the French wanting to play a role, the British still in the game.

JOHN PRENDERGAST: Good. In reverse order there, just starting with the last one. The Chinese, wow. You have a government that has been closed and uninterested in human rights issues and what human rights campaigners have to say about any of the issues they are facing around the globe because of their policies. All of a sudden opening up with some political vulnerability because they themselves want to paint a portrait of China that is new and different, and so it is an exciting opportunity to really press and push and the naming of their special envoy despite his comments on the ground. We just have to ignore what they say in public and work very closely with the Chinese, I think. Work privately because they have leverage and can bring it to [UI] I am very excited by the nuance in the campaigning that Mia Farrow brought when she, at that hearing we were together at, us three, when she said something along the lines of: there is this genocide Olympics campaign, but our view is that you need to put a question mark at the end of it. Give the Chinese an opening as Alex said. If they do comply, if they become a constructive actor rather than destructive as they have been, give them a chance. Let us work it out, see what happens, and if they do all the things that they are supposed to do, and help bring about a solution in Darfur rather than fan the flames and keep sending arms, and keep running interference for this regime then we can, as Alex says, call off the dogs. Cindy, on your question of no-fly zones, I had a couple hours with President Kagame from Rwanda just last month on the border of Rwanda and Uganda, and we talked about a lot of stuff, but we actually took an hour or so on Darfur. He said, “look, if you gave the African Union, if you gave my forces all the right equipment, the necessary infrastructure, the political elements, he understands that as well as you and I do, to undertake the operation that I think, and if we still had non-compliance from Khartoum on a lot of issues that they were still pressing their ground offensives, then I would argue, he said, for a no-fly zone.” But in the existing environment where the African Union is buttoned down, hunkered down, bunkered down, whatever the right word is, and is unable to undertake operations that are of any relevance on the ground to protection of civilians, if you do this kind of a thing it would be highly irresponsible. I would underline the word highly. I think this advocacy effort or the legislative or activists or any efforts that press for a no-fly zone without any context simply just don’t understand what could possibly happen. The Hippocratic oath, don’t forget it, first do no harm, I would add, don’t make matters worse. If we just pressed a no-fly zone only to go shoot down a few aircraft or hit them when they are on the tarmac or whatever the ideas are and had no planning for ground forces that might have to go in if the Sudanese government said, you know what? That’s pretty much all they got, those cowards. They can shoot something from the sky, but they’re not going to send any forces in, let’s just cut off the humanitarian aid access. Let us do it for two months. Turn the tap off. Eventually people will get so hot that they’ll start talking about intervention, and then they will turn it back on. In the meantime, tens of thousands of people will die because of this effort. Let us not let testosterone drive our policy. Let us let cold calculations and rational calculations about what might happen on the ground drive it. If we are going to introduce military elements into our strategy we need to do so responsibly. We need to do it transparently, we need to do it focused on protection and it needs to be ground and air. It cannot just simply be air assets. The final thing, Dave, your question about election, the US took the eye off the ball with CPA. They made grandiose promises from Secretary Powell on down about what they were going to do. There is a lot of money flowing, but the attention, the diplomatic attention that you need to bird dog the partners, the signatories to get forward movement in the implementation the CPA does not exist because all of the oxygen is being sucked out by Darfur. And your point is, the elections are a central element of that. Absolutely, it’s one of the most important elements of the CPA, and we need to be all over that. It’s party building, it is institution building, it is Sudanese solutions to the Sudanese problems, all that stuff. We need a Sudan policy. We don’t have one. After all this rhetoric we still don’t have a cohesive, comprehensive Sudan policy in the United States government, the deals that walk and chews gum and whistles at the same time. You need to focus on Darfur’s CPA, and counter terrorism CPA including all of the elements of that, including the elections. We need to have that policy. We need to take the personnel. Look, the Secretary of State has said transformation of diplomacy. Get people out of wherever, Stockholm or so, and send them to these places because that is where we are going to make a difference in Sudan. We need a big mission in Juba. We need a big mission in Khartoum to engage the Sudanese twenty-four hours. We need a big mission in Chad, in Eritrea, and other places which are going to have to be part of the solution. The point is, remarkably, again, China and France I would argue may have the biggest stake of any other countries in the world in stability in Southern Sudan. Why? Because they are the two biggest investors in the oil sector. They have got the biggest concessions. Malaysia and India have bigger investments in terms of dollar value than the French, but they have larger [UI] and it is remarkable to me that the United States and France and China are not working together assiduously to implement the CPA and to get a peace deal in Darfur. It is in our and their fundamental strategic interests, what is going on here?

AKWE AMOSU: Okay. Thank you, sir. Can you please identify yourself for us?

ZACH: Thank you. I’m Zach. I am from Campus Progress right down the hall from ENOUGH. You mentioned just now about how the Bush Administration wants to maintain ties with Khartoum for counter terrorism purposes, and I am curious if what you think needs to be done to convince the government, if they are willing to cut those ties to save Darfur, and if there is something we can do to change it, and if not, do we just have to wait for a new administration?

AKWE AMOSU: Thank you. Mr. Ambassador.

UM: Thank you very much [UI] I do not agree with the structure Mr. Prendergast has put, peace, protection, and punishment. But we think the emphasis is not on this sequence. It is not like peace first, protection, and then punishment. This is simply because after the Darfur Peace Agreement we have the United States and the international community have backed off of the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement and Sudan have allowed American diplomats [Jendayi] Frazer was there, Robert Zoellick was there, and they are meeting with the rebels inside Sudan with the permission of the government and with knowledge, and we encourage that effect, but they did not yield anything. So is this the role of the government to put these rebels, to give them an agenda to put them on the table or it is the international community to bring them to peace and pressure them to come there? This is number one. The second is the diplomatic action. We have no diplomatic action in the U.N. We think that, we have agreed to the light package, the heavy package, and now on the third package of the hybrid force [UI] with the United Nations We are negotiating with them and we are honoring that framework is international community including the United States or Europe or France or the others. Are they backing this presence or not? They are not backing it because now we are on the second heavy protection package and nobody is giving materials and nobody is giving soldiers. As to the protection we think it is very important to protect the people in Darfur, and this is why we agree that the African Union is there. The African Union needs only logistical support. Why the international community is not giving the African Union the support they need? We think the African Union is the best force to protect the people in Darfur simply because since their presence there we just have resistance of several fatal incidences against them. If we have international force coming now without a framework, without a peace agreement then we are going to enter into a vicious circle of what is happening now in Iraq and what is happening in Afghanistan and we do not want to repeat that. Last point is, about the US leverage. I do not think the United States have any leverage on Sudan, and they voluntarily put themselves outside. I was surprised yesterday to hear from the sanctions, the list of companies is a sugar factory in Sudan. This is the area where I grow. It was this sugar factory, it producing around sixty tons of sugar and is serving the communities there. What is the point in just sanctioning such a company? It was initiated two years after [UI] with Sudan, that is in ’57 by German donation serving the community of Sudan, and they were astonished to find it now, yesterday to find it on the list of the companies against Sudan. What is the point he said. They are just alienating the people of Sudan in this very uncalculated and very irrational way of punishing the people of Sudan, and they are rallying the people now, the government. Thank you.

AKWE AMOSU: Thank you, sir. One more over here, sir.

UM: Thank you. [UI name] of Sudan also. I think...

AKWE AMOSU: Because we’ve got so few, so little time, if you don’t mind, I won’t take two contributions from the Embassy, if you don’t mind. Because we [UI phase].

UM: [UI sentence].

AKWE AMOSU: And I gave an extra time to make sure that there was full [UI].

UM: I respect that.

AKWE AMOSU: Okay. Is that all right? Thank you very much, sir.

UM2: The US has been in the region of the Horn of Africa a lot now with Djibouti and in Somalia as you have written extensively about and what we see there is, even with the first intervention, United Nations intervention in Somalia back in the early ’90’s, is that there is this sort of romantic sentimentalism about the state of Africa, famine, and genocide. We come in and we get behind it, and we have bracelets and we have celebrating it, and we go over for these very brief stays, and the African people realize this. That we usually come very briefly, and we only try and stop, and we bring protection and we threaten punishment, and after the sentimentalism and politics leave we leave those people basically to die. And these conflicts, as he mentioned, have been in this region for a long, long time. Why is it only now that people are coming to the forefront and to, the question really is, what about the issues of inequality, poverty, and geography, which are the root causes of conflict in the Horn of Africa, and when are we actually going to take time to address those, even though they are less romantic?

AKWE AMOSU: Okay. Thank you very much. John, will you go first.

JOHN PRENDERGAST: The first point about counter terrorism. Zach asked, should we not just cut our ties, be prepared to cut our ties with Khartoum on account of terrorism stuff in order to make the necessary transition to a more robust policy. I will return to my point earlier about the need for a comprehensive Sudan policy. We need to have specific and clear objectives what we want to have happen. First we need the Comprehensive Peace Agreement implemented. Second, we need Darfur stabilized, and third, we need a continuing cooperation and larger counter terrorism efforts. I do not see any reason why we need to compromise in any of these three fundamentally important points. We cannot allow whatever you want to call it in Darfur, if it is genocide or mass atrocities or terrible civil war or [UI] conflict. We cannot allow that to continue. We cannot allow one of the most significant conflict resolution achievements of the last decade to fritter away, and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to implode and we go back to a war that will be even more destructive than what we have seen in Darfur. We cannot allow a country that has a government that has significant information about the networks that are of concern to the United States and people around the world to sit on that information and not share it. We just need to be clear, and, again, door one or door two. Give them a choice if they want to go down the right path, there will be significant benefits as we integrate Sudan back into the global community. If they want to go down door number two, and obstruct and destroy and not cooperate, then there will be consequences, very clear. The Ambassador’s points, I would just return back to you on your point about the need for negotiations and the government’s preparations for negotiations is please just stop bombing the sites of the rebel meetings where they are trying to come to a cohesive position about how they can negotiate in good faith. If you wouldn’t bomb [UI] and there are other elements besides the government of Sudan that has air assets to be undertaking these bombings. If you were not bombing them, if you were not buying off some of these guys, they would have a better chance of coming to the peace table and getting a peace deal that would allow us to normalize relations more quickly. You say yes in letters to the African Union deployment and the heavy support package, the phase two of the thing. You say yes in letters. You say yes to forums like this, but you say no on the ground bureaucratically. I mean, my forces cannot be deployed to Sudan is because the housing, and this seems like a lame excuse, but the housing is supposed to be constructed. They cannot get the materials out of customs in Port Sudan. So you have got this kind of backlog of the necessary logistical things to happen to make the heavy support package and the light support package work, but those are irrelevant. If you are not going to agree to something you already agreed to, you are not going to agree to the hybrid. Having this heavy support package and light support package is fundamentally irrelevant to the lives of the Darfurian people. We need the hybrid force to deploy rapidly. As long as the government of Sudan is opposed to that deployment as it has made fundamentally clear by the president, by [UI] by other people then we’ve got a serious problem with the Sudanese government, and I would want to also highlight the fact that we actually agree on two things, which I’m very excited about, maybe the first time. First thing we agree on, the international community indeed has failed to equip the African Union forces to the extent… you know, we had a ten year promise, Alex and I know very well. The French, the Americans, and the Brits particularly over the last ten years three administrations in Washington Bush one, Clinton, Bush two, promised that if the Africans would train that we’ll equip when they finally deploy. So they trained. We worked on all these different programs over the last ten to fifteen years to train soldiers to do peace keeping operations, finally the African Union gets their moment to shine, and the international community frankly drops the ball, and does not equip sufficiently so you get people like Kagame saying, well I think we might have to pull out. It is no longer tenable for us to stay here because all the promises that were made were now broken. So we agree, number one, on that. We also agree that it was kind of silly to see the United States yesterday sanctioning a couple of different entities. We already have sanctions on 130 entities unilaterally. The Sudanese oil sector has grown up for the last ten years around those sanctions. They know how to circumvent them. It is absolutely ludicrous, frankly, for the United States to roll out something called Plan B, which has a few more companies that get sanctioned who already were ready for it, and it just creates subsidiaries in a different name and then they can go on and continue to do their business. So we might agree in fact that, that sugar company, I have no idea about the specifics, but it probably seems to me fairly absurd that, that is the company unilaterally we are going to sanction rather than working through the Security Council going after the firms that are underwriting the oil sector, that are providing the resources for the government to buy arms to kill people in Darfur.


ALEX DE WAAL: I will be very quick. First to respond to the Ambassador. I think what Senator Danforth always said, I forget his exact words, to the effect of “show me, don’t tell me.” And I think he was a very effective intermediatary in that he insisted on results rather than statements. But also, along with that, he defined the finishing line like you said. Come to that finishing line then we will respond, which brings me to the second point, which is: as well as threats being credible, promises need to be credible, and sadly the promises made by the US and the international community to Sudan and on Darfur have not been credible. I was in the final session of the Darfur peace talks where Robert Zoellick read out the personal letters from President Bush to Minni Mannawi and then to [UI] in which he promised that the US would be actively involved in implementing the Darfur Peace Agreement. It has not happened, and the credible promises is, I think, the other component of active engagement. And that also, and I am afraid I missed your name, the speaker from this side, the question from this side. There is always this problem with Africa that there is a short term sentimental engagement in that it fades, and let us make this different, and I think what is very encouraging about the fact that we really have a grassroots movement on Darfur, something that I think many of us never ever anticipate. This is something that we hope can be sustained over a long period of time.

AKWE AMOSU: We have room for two more questions. Sir.

UM: I am Masaya Uchino, an associate of Genocide Intervention Network. Quick question about the peace process. Given the complexity of the ethnic composition of both Darfur and Sudan, which I have largely learned about from Alex’s books actually, do you think it is possible for the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Darfur Peace Agreement, or some other comprehensive peace proposal to take into account all the different ethnic and tribal conflicts so that after the peace proposal is implemented, future violence from various tribal or ethnic conflicts can arise in the future after this conflict and prevent those conflicts to arise, more human rights violations and even genocides, which is entirely possible based on the history of Sudan?

AKWE AMOSU: Thank you.

DANIELLE: I just want to thank you both. This has been incredibly inspiring. My name is Danielle and I’m from the St. Louis Darfur Coalition. I have kind of a question to piggyback the question about the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. I have been very concerned about the fact that John Prendergast mentioned that we are building a CAA listening post in Khartoum, and that it is common knowledge that a huge embassy is being built in Khartoum. There is also evidence that we are currently supporting Sudan People’s Liberation Movement [SPLM] forces in Southern Sudan. Meanwhile, Southern Sudan is growing its military rather rapidly in response to the pending 2011 decision on whether they will secede from Sudan. So my question is, I feel like there is a little bit of, our government is sending a bit of a mixed message to the government of Sudan, and so I am wondering: we have done a lot of work on the ground in terms of through our legislature working to engage with the Sudanese government and yet, I feel like our State Department is not necessarily as transparent in what it is doing and it is not necessarily clear that our State Department is working towards the same goals as our legislature and our grassroots movement is working towards. So I am concerned about what we can do [UI phase].

AKWE AMOSU: Thank you very much. I’m going to ask the two panelists to incorporate their answers to those questions into their closing statements, and I think, where did we start before? I think we started with you, John, last time so I think we should start with you Alex [UI sentence].

ALEX DE WAAL: Okay. Let me respond to both those points because I think they focus on two of the core issues which is taking the Darfur peace process down and up, if you like. Taking it down there’s a national peace agreement like the comprehensive peace agreement or a sub-national one like the Darfur peace agreement, cannot possibly take account of all the complexities of a society like Sudan, and the Darfur peace agreement has this provision for the Darfur dialogue and consultation, and the preliminary consultations for that are happening now. That’s why I’ve been on the phone to Darfur a lot in the last week, and it’s been really fascinating. This is really the first opportunity that many of the community leaders in Darfur have had to speak openly and frankly, and what’s coming across is really very interesting. And I think one thing that perhaps happened here is a briefing from that process in a couple of months time because even many of the tribal chiefs who have been appointed by the government, you put them in a forum with their peers and they speak. They say, we don’t like this government. We don’t like the way it’s handling Darfur. They also don’t like the rebels. They call them “Our Boys.” They say, “They’ve misbehaved. They haven’t represented us. They’ve mislead us. They’re not capable of delivering one peace. We need a peace process that incorporates us,” and that’s why I’m not being very specific about the peace process right now while I gave us perhaps a rather disappointing answer about specificities about how the peace process can move forward. Because I think the last years formulate don’t work. I think we could have had a peace agreement in Abuja, which could then have led to more things. I don’t think that formula of just the rebels and the government can any longer work, but exactly what the formula is we need to work on that a bit more.

AKWE AMOSU: So can I just ask you what that means? Do you mean that there need to be unarmed parties involved in the talks?

ALEX DE WAAL: Possibly that. But also bear in mind that every community is armed. That the majority of weapons in Darfur are not in the hands of the government, not in the hands of the militia, not in the hands of the rebels, they’re in the hands of community defense groups. And the long time stabilization of Darfur involves some sort of reciprocal arrangement for stabilization among these groups. These are the people who will police Darfur. If you want to get rid of the Janjaweed, the U.N. can’t do it. The Sudan government can’t do it. The only way of doing it is isolating these groups within Darfur, and getting the support of the most powerful groups in Darfur that are the self-defense militia. The most single most powerful armed militia in Darfur is the militia of the [UI] out of Darfur, which has stayed neutral. The most powerful Arab militia in Darfur has been neutral in this conflict. Now get these people on your side and then you can squeeze those really troublesome Janjaweed and deal with them. That was the trajectory of our security negotiations in Abuja in the first quarter of last year. That was cut short because there was an artificial deadline imposed on the peace talks. So what you have in the Darfur peace agreement is a real mess of security arrangements because the concepts have not been fully developed. But that is the direction… those are the concepts that will be emerging from this Darur/Darfur dialogue and consultation. It is a security process, a political process, and ultimately a peace process. It needs external support, and it cannot function on its own. Protection force is required. In terms of the Sudan as a whole, we do need a long term vision. We can’t continue with this adhockery, these multiple agendas, this lack of transparency, this confusion. These agendas cancel each other out. If you try and rush something through to achieve something else, you try and rush a peace process because you want the Sudan government’s signature on a piece of paper so you can do something else, you end up with nothing. That long term vision is lacking. It’s lacking among the Sudanese themselves at the moment. It’s lacking in the international community. It’s lacking within the US government, and I think having a broader discussion about the future of Sudan is absolutely essential. After the North/South peace agreement there was a South/South dialogue. There is supposed to be a Darfur/Darfur dialogue. Where is the Sudan/Sudan dialogue? Where is the opportunity for the Sudanese really to come together and resolve this problem democratically, and there is a tradition of free speech of civil society, of frankly, democracy in Sudan, and I believe that can re-emerge, and really supporting those Sudanese efforts is, I think the ultimately what should be our strategic objective. Having defined that, I think then our immediate steps must be specified with that in mind.

AKWE AMOSU: Thank you very much Alex. John.

JOHN PRENDERGAST: Okay. I want to mass the first question of this last thing, and then the last question of the last one, both basically different sides of the same coin. The last question, the last one, didn’t get your name there, was the root causes issue, and then the [UI] question about investing inter-communal community building. I think that where we would agree probably very strongly is, in any peace mission, in any post conflict reconstruction agenda there needs to be a very serious assessment of the unique challenges that Darfur presents both with respect to the poverty and declining and deteriorating resource base that exists in Darfur and the competition that resulted from that, that was able to be used and flamed by the regime as part of its divide and destroy strategy in Darfur, and then therefore the inevitable surge in resources that flow into Darfur and oppose conflict situation should address fundamentally those root causes of poverty and root causes of inter-communal conflict and declining resource base that, and we’re not going to be able to solve it. The Sudanese are going to have to adapt to it, Darfurians are going to have to adapt to it, but we can help support that adaptation through all the lesions that we learned over the years in development around the world and the mistakes that have been made in so many places because so much of what happened in Rwanda in ’94, so much of what happened in Darfur now is partially a result of bad development policies that created tensions. That created problems that eventually led to power grabs and the use of force in ways that we see are so destructive. Danielle, last point that I can make here. Ultimately there’s no military solution to the crisis in Darfur. There’s no military solution by the government of Sudan. There’s no military solution by the rebels, and particularly there’s no military solution from the international community. We need to supplement and prioritize the peace and protection side by side equally, just to reinforce that point, and to reinforce the second point or the third point is peace and protection and all that comes with it is we’re going to have to additional leverage to have a chance at having a peace deal, having a chance at having a deployment of protection [UI] that we talked about and we’re going to need that leverage by creating specific costs for the commission of atrocities, creating specific costs for the obstruction of those peace and protection objectives. Plan B is an inadequate cost as we all understand. It needs to be beefed up. It needs to be multi-lateralized and not just go after little sugar companies, but really go after multi-laterally the companies that actually are helping to underwrite the arms purchases that lead to destruction in Darfur, and it has to be then most importantly supplemented by a major diplomatic surge. We need a diplomatic cell in Nairobi that’s focused on Darfur. That’s focused on CPA implementation. That’s focused on getting a resolution to the increasing quagmire in Somalia that’s focused on the Northern Uganda peace deal that’s inches away if we only invest in it. That’s focused on helping support inter-communal reconciliation in Eastern Congo to reduce the violence, the core violence that’s still there. We need to be involved in these places, and sometimes it will just be our ideas and sometimes it will be our leverage. But that’s what the United States ought to be all about. There is a solution to Darfur. We’ve talked a lot today, but there is solution. We know how to get an end state to some of these crises. We’ve seen it over and over again in Africa. Sierra Leone, Liberia, Burundi, etcetera, Southern Sudan, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. So for those activists out there and those people that have been struggling so hard for so long with seeming so little success, don’t give up hope. We’re getting closer and closer to a solution. We’re going to have to raise the temperature a little higher. We’re going to have to push a little bit harder to get out policy makers to take notice and to take the rights kinds of actions to bring an end to the horrors to the people of Darfur. Thank you very much.

AKWE AMOSU: Thank you very much to you both.

JOHN HEFFERNAN: And thank you, all of you for coming this morning. We really appreciate it, and I’d like to thank both Alex and John for your insights. I think we started off with some diverse voices and it seems like some of these divergent points have come together, perhaps. And I would also very much like to thank Akwe for keeping the peace up there. So, thanks so much.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Some four years into the conflict in Darfur, during which the Government of Sudan committed genocide, there remain considerable challenges to ending the conflict and protecting civilians. What should be the top priorities? What are the best strategies for realizing a sustainable peace? Who will protect civilians and how? In this podcast, two leading Sudan analysts, John Prendergast and Alex de Waal, debated these and other questions.

Hear the complete audio and read the transcript above.