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Sudan fears US military intervention over Darfur

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The Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir

The Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir. Photograph: Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images

Sudan‘s government is increasingly fearful that the incoming US administration will resort to military intervention to end the six-year-old crisis in Darfur that has killed up to 200,000 people and left 2.7 million homeless, diplomatic sources in Khartoum say.

“There is a great need for us to sound the alarm again about Darfur,” Hillary Clinton, who was endorsed as secretary of state yesterday, told the US Senate this week. “It is a terrible humanitarian crisis compounded by a corrupt and very cruel regime in Khartoum.”

Clinton said the Obama administration, which takes office on Tuesday, was examining a wide range of options, including direct intervention in support of a joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force, known as Unamid, which has struggled to make an impact after beginning operations last year.

“We have spoken about other options, no-fly zones, other sanctions and sanctuaries, looking to deploy the Unamid force to try to protect the refugees but also to repel the militias,” Clinton said. “There is a lot under consideration.” Clinton has previously asserted that the US has a “moral duty” to help Darfurian civilians.

The US accuses Khartoum’s leadership of committing genocide in Darfur. Washington has eschewed direct military involvement since the crisis erupted in 2003, despite growing pressure to act from Sudanese insurgents, exiles, and evangelical Christian groups.

But in a surprise move last week, President George Bush ordered the Pentagon to begin an immediate airlift of vehicles and equipment for the peacekeeping force.

Alain LeRoy, head of UN peacekeeping operations, told the Security Council last month that violence in Darfur was intensifying and stepped-up international involvement was urgently required to avoid a descent into “mayhem”.

Influential US-based pressure groups such as the Save Darfur Coalition and Enough are meanwhile demanding that US president-elect Barack Obama act swiftly to fulfil campaign pledges to take more robust action.

“I will make ending the genocide in Darfur a priority from day one,” Obama said in April. He has also previously backed a toughening of sanctions and said the US might help enforce a no-fly zone.

“Obama is the [ruling] National Congress party’s worst nightmare,” said a diplomat in Khartoum. “They wanted [John] McCain and the Republicans to win. They thought they were pragmatists. They think the Democrats are ideologues. They haven’t forgotten it was the Democrats who bombed them.”

That was a reference to a retaliatory US cruise missile attack on a suspect pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum in 1998, ordered by President Bill Clinton after al-Qaida attacked US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Sudan provided a base for the al-Qaida leader, Osama bin Laden, from 1991 until he moved to Afghanistan in 1996.

A source in Khartoum said Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, was especially alarmed by Obama’s selection of Susan Rice, a former Clinton national security council adviser on Africa, as a cabinet member and US ambassador to the UN.

Rice has spoken passionately in the past of the need for US or Nato air strikes, or a naval blockade of Sudan’s oil exports, to halt the violence in Darfur.

Referring to the 1994 Rwanda genocide, she said: “I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required.”

Bashir felt only “fear and loathing” for Rice and had told aides: “I don’t want to see her face here,” the source said.

Khartoum’s concerns about American intervention extend to southern Sudan, fuelled by reports, denied by the US, that Washington is arming the separatist Sudan People’s Liberation Army.

The SPLA is the military wing of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement with which the north fought a 30-year civil war. Salva Kiir, the SPLM leader and Bashir’s likely rival in elections due later this year, received red carpet treatment by Bush at the White House last week.

“The government knows the US does not arm the SPLA. They’re already heavily armed,” a Khartoum-based diplomat said. “But the US does train them. It helps with logistics, planning, and so on. And they (the SPLA) do need air defence. Whether to provide air defence to the south will be a key question for the Obama administration.”

Fears of direct confrontation with Washington are being fuelled by expectations that the International Criminal Court, backed in this instance by the US, will issue an arrest warrant for Bashir within the coming weeks. The ICC chief prosecutor charged Bashir last year with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity relating to Darfur.

A call this week by a leading Sudanese opposition figure, Hassan al-Turabi, for Bashir to surrender himself to the ICC to avoid further confrontation with the US and the west has added to tensions in Khartoum. According to family members, Turabi was subsequently arreste


Written by torit1955

January 16, 2009 at 8:56 am

Posted in Global

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The Best 50 Years in Cuban History

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By Cuban News Agency

SANTIAGO DE CUBA, Cuba, Jan 1 (acn) Cuban President Raul Castro said Thursday that the 50 years beginning with the revolutionary victory on January 1, 1959, were the most fruitful period in Cuban history.

During his speech to close the commemoration marking the 50th anniversary of that significant date, Raul paid tribute to the historical leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro.

Raul Castro Addressing Cubans On 50 Anniversary of the Revolution

Raul Castro Addressing Cubans On 50 Anniversary of the Revolution

More than 3,000 Santiago de Cuba residents attended the commemoration – representing all Cubans – held in the heroic city of eastern Cuba that was the cradle of the 1959 Revolution.

After recalling several fragments of Fidel’s speeches in some of the country’s key moments, the Cuban President reiterated that one individual doesn’t make history, but that there are indispensable people who are capable of influencing its course, and Fidel, he said, is one of them.

He noted that Fidel has always struggled against what is vain and passing, honoring a maxim by Cuba’s National Hero Jose Marti who wrote: “All of the glory in the world fits in a kernel of corn.”

Cubans listening to Raul's Speech

Cubans listening to Raul's Speech

In this regard, he called on current and future Cuban leaders to follow his example, saying that they should never forget that this is a revolution of the humble, by the humble and for the humble.

He made a call to the country’s leaders to prevent being deceived “by the enemy’s siren songs and be aware that, given its very essence, the enemy will never cease to be aggressive, treacherous and dominant; that they should never distance themselves from our workers, our farmers and the people at large.”

“We should learn from history,” he emphasized. “If they act accordingly, they will always have the support of the people and the moral authority the masses only grant to those who never back away from the struggle.” He warned that, otherwise, “they could end up incapacitated for tackling internal and external dangers and unable to preserve the work that is the fruit of the blood and the sacrifices of many generations of Cubans.”

After dedicating his first thoughts to those who have fallen throughout the Revolution’s long struggle, Raul Castro reviewed historical moments since the days of the attack on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes garrisons, carried out on July 26, 1953. In the rigor of struggle, he said, “we have learned how to transform our dreams into a reality; how to keep our heads cool and our confidence in the face of dangers and threats; how to get over the big setbacks.”

“Those of us who have had the privilege to experience the intensity of this stage of our history are well aware of the truth contained in that alert Fidel issued that January 8, 1959,” during his first speech after entering the capital. Fidel said that a lot remained to be done and that perhaps things would be more difficult later, added Raul.

He recalled that nothing morally valuable has been alien to the whirlwind of revolution in Cuba, a country that, even before January 1st, 1959, began to wipe out dishonor and inequality and paved the way for an entire people.

Raul made reference to the countless aggressions and acts of sabotage Cuba has suffered, including the Bay of Pigs invasion; state terrorism, with its balance of over 3,000 deaths; the plans to assassinate Fidel and other leaders; and the assassination of farmers, fishermen and students.

“One way or another, with more or less aggressiveness, every US administration has tried to impose a regime change in Cuba,” he said, noting that resistance has been the key word in the Cuban vocabulary throughout all these years.

Raul highlighted that the resistance of the Revolution and its people has been firm, free from fanaticism, and based on solid convictions in the willingness of an entire people to defend itself whatever the cost. An example to this statement, he underlined, is the absolute firmness of the Cuban Five, unjustly incarcerated in the United States.

“Today, we are not alone on this side of the ocean facing the empire, as it was the case in the 1960s,” he said, adding that the Revolution is stronger than ever and has never given an inch of its principles.

While reflecting on the future, especially on the next five decades, Raul affirmed that they will also be of permanent struggle and that they won’t be easy years, taking into account the current state of the world.

From the Cuban News Agency

Written by torit1955

January 3, 2009 at 3:40 am

INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP – NEW BRIEFING Ending Zimbabwe’s Nightmare: A Possible Way Forward

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Ending Zimbabwe’s Nightmare: A Possible Way Forward

Pretoria/Brussels, 16 December 2008: A possible route to end Zimbabwe’s nightmare is to quickly establish a non-partisan transitional administration to prepare for new presidential elections in eighteen months and address the disastrous humanitarian and economic conditions now facing the country.

Ending Zimbabwe’s Nightmare: A Possible Way Forward,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, argues that the inter-party negotiations to implement a power-sharing government under the Global Political Agreement are hopelessly deadlocked.  The ZANU-PF regime has repeatedly violated the agreement’s premises by resuming a campaign of violence against Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters and making pre-emptive appointments. The MDC considers, reasonably, that without control of key ministries such as home affairs and treasury and a major share of senior civil service and security posts, it would be reduced to legitimising the status quo. A new approach is required.

“With the meltdown of vital social services, a cholera epidemic that has claimed 1,000 lives, the flight of a third of the population and a third of its remaining citizens facing starvation, Zimbabwe urgently needs a credible and competent government able to inspire confidence at home and abroad”, says Francois Grignon, Director of Crisis Group’s African Program. “A non-partisan transitional administration directed by a neutral Chief Administrator could achieve this”.

Zimbabwe’s parliament – the only legally elected national institution – would prepare a constitutional amendment to establish the transitional administration and would select its head.  Robert Mugabe would stand down, and the positions of president and prime minister would be left empty throughout the life of the transitional administration. Mugabe would be given constitutional guarantees against domestic prosecution and extradition. The notorious Joint Operations Command would be disbanded, and its current members would also benefit from these guarantees as long as they did not participate in activities threatening the country’s stability.

The international community should provide substantial assistance to support the transitional administration as it adopts sound and equitable economic policies and demonstrates that it is exercising executive authority.

“It will take patriotism for Robert Mugabe to step aside and Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC to put their leadership aspirations on hold until new elections, but the crisis demands selfless statesmanship”, says Donald Steinberg, Crisis Group Deputy President for Policy. “The reported shooting attack on Air Marshal Shiri on 13 December should be thoroughly investigated, but not used to justify further repression or a state of emergency”.

Contacts: Andrew Stroehlein (Brussels) +32 (0) 2 541 1635
Kimberly Abbott (Washington) +1 202 785 1601
To contact Crisis Group media please click here
*Read the full Crisis Group report on our website:

The International Crisis Group (Crisis Group) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation covering some 60 crisis-affected countries and territories across four continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict.

Written by torit1955

December 17, 2008 at 8:51 am

Posted in Global

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US Policy for Sudan

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Dear reader,

I thought this piece is of interest this days as US is transitioning from Bush to Obama.

What this space for further development in US Sudan policy

Sudan South North Border Demarcation

Sudan South North Border Demarcation

Written by torit1955

December 15, 2008 at 7:13 am

Posted in Global

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