The United States may be the world’s only military superpower, but attempts by the Bush administration to get its way in northeastern Africa are meeting with resistance.
The latest rebuke to U.S. imperialism is taking place in Sudan, where the Khartoum government has rejected a proposal by the U.S. and Britain to send in a UN peacekeeping force to restore order in Sudan’s western Darfur region.
The Bush administration has proposed a 17,000-member-strong force to take over from what they claim is an ill-equipped and underfunded African Union mission, which has proven unable to prevent killings, rape and internal displacement of civilians in the region. The Sudanese government proposes instead to deploy 10,500 Sudanese soldiers to restore peace in Darfur.
In recent weeks the U.S. has stepped up pressure on Khartoum through diplomatic channels and by asking the UN Security Council to approve a UN military intervention with or without Sudanese approval.
Last week U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer traveled to Khartoum to cajole the government into accepting the UN force, but she left essentially empty-handed. All she obtained was a letter addressed to President George W. Bush in which Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir reiterated his firm opposition to the deployment of UN troops.
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council, which is meeting on Darfur as the World goes to press, has been deadlocked on the deployment. The U.S. accused China, Sudan’s largest trading partner, of blocking the proposal.
In a letter made public on Aug. 24, Bashir urged the Security Council to be patient and not to be in a hurry to adopt a new resolution on Darfur, and to allow Sudan to resolve the situation and to concentrate on implementing the peace agreement which was signed last May between his government and the largest of the Darfuri rebel organizations. He also urged greater international support for the peacekeeping forces of the African Union.
Many in Africa and the Arab world fear that the proposal to deploy UN troops is a cover for U.S. designs for the permanent stationing of NATO forces in Darfur. Sudan is a significant oil producer, producing over 330,000 barrels a day, and U.S. oil companies seek greater control of this vital resource. A NATO-led force would undoubtedly strengthen U.S. domination of the area.
U.S. imperialism is also reeling from the failure of the Somali people to accept the U.S.-backed “national government” with very limited representation set up in the town of Baidoa.
After 13 years of near-anarchy in southern Somalia, the warlords were driven out of Mogadishu by an Islamist movement, the Union of Islamic Courts, which has been consolidating its hold over most of the South. The UIC grew from the grass roots, from ordinary people who rejected the constant strife and yearned for stability, peace and the resumption of basic government services. The U.S. and Ethiopia are accusing the movement of having terrorist ties, thereby justifying an Ethiopian military intervention.
Meanwhile, peace talks in Asmara, Eritrea, between the Sudanese government and eastern Sudan rebels, aimed at finding stability, have made progress on development issues, officials said. Negotiators from Khartoum and the Eastern Front rebel group recessed the latest round of negotiations in Asmara after coming to a “basis of agreement” on sharing of wealth and power.
The Eastern Front was created last year by the region’s largest ethnic group, the Beja, and the Rashidiya Arabs, and has similar aims to its better-known counterparts in Sudan’s western Darfur region: greater autonomy and control of resources.
And after 20 years of bloodshed, peace is imminent in northern Uganda, where the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army on Aug. 28 ordered its forces to prepare for a truce with the government under which they will move to neutral camps in southern Sudan while negotiations proceed for a permanent resolution of the conflict.
It is hoped that the talks in Juba, in autonomous southern Sudan, will end northern Uganda’s conflict, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced nearly 2 million people since the LRA took leadership of a regional rebellion in 1988.