"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


darfur watch

This is the best news to come out of Sudan in quite some time: the government will allow 3,000 UN peacekeepers - with attack helicopters - to deploy in Darfur to support the 7,000-member, underfunded & undermandated African Union peacekeeping contingent that is already there.. It appears that increasing pressure from the Chinese (who were themselves under pressure from the interantional community) paid off.

The question now is whether the government of Sudan will stand by its commitment and actually allow the deployment. We'll also see how long it actually takes to get enough peacekeepers committed and deployed into the territory. There are several issues that haven't been settled (such as whether non-African peacekeepers will be allowed in and the details of control and command (which is a very important issue)), not to mention the still-open question of whether the third stage of UN/AU peacekeeper deployment will be allowed in the future. That's the mission that will make a difference; a territory the size of Darfur needs 17,000 peacekeepers and 3,000 police if anything is to change.

I hope against hope that this deployment, and the later, larger one, will actually happen. The Sudanese government is notoriously untrustworthy on these types of agreements.

I will also be interested to know how this deployment affects the MONUC mission in the Congo. My sense is that some MONUC officials (not the actual soldiers) seem to be ready to move on to Darfur - it's the next big thing, while the excitement in Congo is largely over. There's no question that less of a UN peacekeeping presence would hurt stability and democracy in the DRC. It's too early for MONUC to draw down, but if Sudan allows a full contingent in, we'll likely see the size of the force (and its accompanying civilian bureaucracy) diminished.



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