Sudan: The Anti-Khartoum Front

KHARTOUM/BERLIN/TEL AVIV | | sudanusa

KHARTOUM/BERLIN/TEL AVIV (Own report) - The government in Berlin is increasing pressure on Khartoum. A decision was taken Dec. 15 concerning an extension of the deployment of the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) in Sudan. The Sudanese government must allow UN troops into the civil war torn region of Darfur, insists the Human Rights Parliamentary Committee of the German Bundestag, otherwise the EU should impose sanctions on this East African nation. Since Tuesday Dec. 12, at the insistence of Brussels, the United Nations Human Rights Council has also been negotiating a resolution concerning Darfur. What counts now is "to develop crisis scenarios as soon as possible", is heard in the parliamentary group of the government ruling Christian Democrat, CDU/CSU parties. The development in Sudan was also a theme of discussion during the Israeli Prime Minister's recent visit to Berlin. The current pressure on Khartoum is advantageous to the West Sudanese rebel militias and is a continuation of nearly 15 years of persistent attempts to overthrow the Islamic Sudanese government, with the aid of African forces. As Dr. Helmut Strizek, an expert in African affairs, explained in a discussion with german-foreign-policy.com, already in the 90s - under the pretext of human rights - the anti-Khartoum front made use of various rebel militias and East African military regimes. Behind these attempts are geo-strategic considerations and the immense reserves of resources, discovered in Sudan since the 70s.

Conflict Party

On Friday Dec. 15, the Bundestag extended the mandate to June 2, 2007 for the Bundeswehr's deployment in Sudan. As decided by the German cabinet at the end of November, up to 200 supplementary German soldiers are to be held in reserve for being dispatched to Darfur, in support of African Union (AU) troops. Logistical measures, particularly air transport, are intended. The AU is to protect the civilian population against encroachments in the civil war torn region in Western Sudan, but is, itself, becoming increasingly a party to the conflict. In the past few weeks, its units were attacked on several occasions by local inhabitants, on the weekend an AU soldier killed several demonstrators.

UN Troops

While debate persists around a possible expansion of the Bundeswehr mandate, the Berlin government is increasing pressure on Khartoum. The Sudanese government must accept "UN troops in Darfur (...)", states a declaration adopted on November 29 by the Bundestag's Committee for Human Rights and Humanitarian Assistance - an open threat.[1] Though the head of state, Omar al-Bashir, welcomes UN aid for the AU units deployed in Darfur, nevertheless he still refuses to allow troops under UN command into his country. Background to Khartoum's refusal, is the continuous promotion of Western Sudanese rebel militias by western states, including Germany. The western UN members - seeking to weaken the central government in Khartoum - are the driving force behind a UN intervention in Sudan.

Promotion

The most recent example of the German contribution to the anti-Khartoum front is the declaration of the Bundestag's Committee for Human Rights, which makes reference to the abortive May 2006 peace agreement. At the time, the Sudanese government and a contingent of the Darfur rebels signed an agreement, meant to end the civil war, which had been negotiated by international mediators. The majority of the Western Sudanese rebels declined the agreement and continued their combat. The parliamentarians in Berlin allege today, that the continuation of the civil war is Khartoum's fault. "President Omar al-Bashir's government launched a new military offensive (...) in the summer" explained the declaration, without mentioning the rebel assaults simultaneously occurring.[2] Since the beginning of the civil war "only Khartoum's counter-attacks are criticized, but not the persistent attacks by the rebels", says the Africa expert, Dr. Helmut Strizek in his discussion with german-foreign-policy.com.[3] This was already the case when nearly 700 Sudanese policemen were massacred at the beginning of 2003, with which the militias in Darfur initiated the civil war.

Interests

As Strizek emphasizes, the western positioning in the Darfur conflict is the current continuation of an anti-Khartoum strategy, whose origins lie in the early 90s. The US government decided in October 1993 - following the death of several US soldiers in Somalia - to pull their troops out of Africa and to achieve American interests on the continent with the help of African surrogates. The Sudanese government was viewed as a principal adversary at the time. In 1989, Islamic forces took power in a coup, threatening US objectives: the exploitation of the newly discovered oil reserves in this East African nation. In the quest for African and Middle Eastern natural resource reserves, the opinion had become generally accepted in Washington, that it was necessary to take a confrontational course with uncooperative native elites.[4] Alongside the governments of Libya, Iraq and Iran, the government in Khartoum was also targeted.

Military and Rebels

Since 1993, Washington has consistently supported Eastern African forces that could be brought to oppose the Sudanese government. "Military regimes were brought to or kept in power" [5], is how Strizek describes the US strategy. This strategy benefited cooperative military rulers, such as the president of Uganda or the former rebel, and current president of Rwanda. Washington also included into his anti-Khartoum front, the South Sudanese rebel army SPLA (the "Sudan People's Liberation Army"), with its US-trained military leader, John Garang. As Strizek recalls, at the end of 1997, US Foreign Minister, Madeleine Albright, even publicly requested that Garang take power in the Sudanese capital. Washington was happy about German cooperation in setting up its African anti-Khartoum front. As with the Southern Sudanese forces under John Garang, the government of Rwanda, which came to power in 1994 with the victory of the rebel army, could likewise rely on German assistance. Paul Kagame, the Rwandan rebel leader at the time, was - like the SPLA leader John Garang - also trained in the USA.

France

The Berlin government's support for the rebels of Darfur is on a continuum with Washington's anti-Khartoum policy, supported by the German government since the 90s. As Strizek emphasizes in his discussion with german-foreign-policy.com, this takes place at the expense of France: Paris, who had already criticized the 1998 US bombing attack on the Sudanese capital, "is still against a total debilitation of the Sudanese central state and pleads (...) for a more careful approach to the resolution of the Darfur conflict".[6]

The German Role

In the meantime, demands are being heard in the German capital, that the German role in the western anti-Khartoum front should be enhanced with German concepts. "The German government will have to place the topic on the agenda during its EU and G8 chairmanship," demands Christian Ruck, spokesperson for development policy of the CDU/CSU Bundestag group.[7] "Crisis scenarios must be prepared as soon as possible." And the deployment of western troops in Darfur, demanded by the USA, is no longer the sole solution.

Please read also the Interview with Dr. Helmut Strizek.

Please read also: Die Bahn zur Unabhängigkeit, Nucleus of a Germ, Deutsche Geschäfte, Soldaten für Ostafrika, Heißer Frieden, Soldering Technique, Nation building, Großer Befürworter, New Sudan, "Wie im Kongo", Überall dabei and Handfeste Interessen.

Die Sudan-Karte entstammt den Wikimedia Commons und steht unter der GNU-FDL. Bearbeitung: german-foreign-policy.com.

[1], [2] Frieden für Darfur. Interfraktionelle Erklärung der Fraktionen CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP und Bündnis 90/Die Grünen des Ausschusses für Menschenrechte und humanitäre Hilfe; Berlin 29.11.2006
[3] Mit Rebellen gegen Khartum; interview with Dr. Helmut Strizek, 12.12.2006
[4] "Samuel P. Huntington beschreibt in seinem Buch über den Zusammenstoß der Zivilisationen, wie in den USA im Jahre 1993 innerhalb von sechs Monaten eine neue anti-islamische Frontlinie aufgebaut wurde." Helmut Strizek: Kongo/Zaire - Ruanda - Burundi. Stabilität durch erneute Militärherrschaft? Studie zur "neuen Ordnung" in Zentralafrika, München/Köln/London 1998
[5], [6] Mit Rebellen gegen Khartum; interview with Dr. Helmut Strizek, 12.12.2006
[7] Ruck: Bundesregierung muss mit den internationalen Partnern Handlungsoptionen für den Sudan erarbeiten; Pressemitteilung der CDU/CSU-Bundestagsfraktion 12.12.2006