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AFRICA, CONTINENT OF ORGANISED PILLAGE PAGE 8
ETHNIC CLEANSING AND A STRUGGLE OVER OIL
Sudan: genocide in Darfur
JUAN MARTINEZ: ‘Untitled’ (2006)
Secrets and lies WHAT is the most apt epithet for European governments caught
tured. The Italian secret services are accused of helping CIA agents in Milan to kidnap
in the act of colluding with a foreign agency in abducting
Imam Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, who was transported to Egypt and
suspects who were then transported to secret prisons and tortured? It is hard to imagine
a more flagrant violation of human rights, a violation committed by states that are forever
prating about their respect for the law. Two recent events bear witness to the pre
vailing schizophrenia. On 7 February representatives of most European governments
incarcerated in Tora prison, south of Cairo, where he was allegedly raped and tortured (3).
This wholesale violation of human rights could not have taken place without the know
ledge of the staﬀ of the EU High Representative for the common foreign and security
policy, Javier Solana, and his colleague, the EU counter-terrorism coordinator, Gijs de
assembled in Paris and solemnly signed a United Nations convention against enforced
disappearances that prohibits secret detention (1). On 14 February the European parlia
ment in Strasbourg adopted a report accusing the same governments of colluding with the
United States Central Intelligence Agency in secret abduction operations.
According to that report (2) at least 1,245 ﬂ ights operated by the CIA stopped over at
European airports between the end of 2001 and the end of 2005, many of them transport
ing victims of extraordinary rendition to the illegal detention centre at Guantánamo or to
prisons in countries such as Egypt or Morocco where torture is common practice. It is now
clear that European governments were well aware of the criminal nature of these secret
ﬂ ights. Some did not just turn a blind eye: Poland and Romania are suspected of having
set up mini-Guantánamos on their territory, where people abducted in Pakistan, Afghani
stan or elsewhere were held pending transfer to their ﬁ nal destination.
The British government is suspected of participating in the abduction and abuse of
suspects, as are the Swedish and Austrian governments. The German authorities are
accused of knowing about the abduction of Khaled al-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese
origin who was taken to Afghanistan and tor
Vries. In an eloquent gesture, De Vries chose to resign, warning that the democratic states
must conduct the ﬁ ght against terrorism with regard for the law, and that the massive abuses
at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, combined with the CIA abductions, have destroyed the
credibility of the US and of Europe (4). All those who participated in these abduc
tions, those who gave the orders as well as those who carried them out, must fear the
the law and reﬂ ect on the fate of Maria Estela Martinez Peron (Isabelita), former president
of Argentina, where the authorities engaged in political abduction on a massive scale in
the name of counter-terrorism. Peron has just been arrested in Madrid and charged with the
enforced disappearance of a student, Hector Faguetti, 31 years ago, in February 1976.
Justice may be slow but it is inexorable. IGNACIO RAMONET
TRANSLATED BY BARBARA WILSON
(1) UN Convention for the protection of all persons from
enforced disappearance; 60 countries (including Chile,
Argentina and Uruguay, but not the US) have signed the
convention, which must be ratiﬁ ed by at least 20 states in
order to enter into force.
(3) Legal proceedings opened on 16 February, before a court
in Milan, against 26 CIA agents and six members of the
Italian secret services, accused of organising the enforced
disappearance of Imam Abu Omar in February 2003.
(4) Reported in El Pais , Madrid, 17 February 2007.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Kosovo: the future’s still dangerous despite UN decision page 2
Spain: right wing capitalises on the unresolved past page 4
Palestine: one state, two nations — possibilities for accord page 5
US: can Congress block Bush’s Middle Eastern plans? page 6
Mozambique: life near the bottom of the development list page 9
Energy: oil nations gain power
and the majors lose it page 12
Debate: the return of God is not an inevitability page 14
Middle East: deﬁ ning dictatorship and democracy page 16
The Darfur conﬂ ict, which has already left 400,000 dead, has destabilised Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic. At a summit in Cannes last month, all three countries agreed to respect each other’s territorial integrity, but the diplomatic activity conceals an international political deadlock over potential oil wealth.
BY GÉRARD PRUNIER
TWO million people have fled Darfur
in northwest Sudan since 2003, 250,000 of them since last August (1),
and the resources of neighbouring Chad are suffering from the strain of 250,000
refugees. The conflict has left 400,000 dead in four years. Aid workers from the United
Nations and NGOs have had to move camps 31 times to escape attacks, although this did not
prevent the arrest of several aid workers on 19 January in Nyala; they were beaten with
rifle butts by the Sudanese police. Twelve aid workers were killed during massacres and
five others have disappeared. The Islamic government in Khartoum
justiﬁ es frequent air raids by claiming their victims are rebels who refused to sign the
Abuja “peace” treaty in Nigeria on 5 May 2006 (2). In reality, the Sudanese government is
trying to prevent the ﬁ ghters from holding a congress that would unify their movement
and enable them to start negotiations with the support of the international community (3).
The UN and the African Union (AU) have been powerless in the face of this disaster,
producing only symbolic measures and stalling tactics. For the past two years the African
Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), an inter African military force of 7,500 men, has been
deployed in Darfur. A dozen African countries contribute contingents but most come from
Rwanda and Nigeria. The force is totally ineffectual. At least 30,000 men would be needed
for an area the size of Darfur, 500,000 sq km. AMIS is under-equipped and has a
ludicrously restrictive mandate: soldiers may not carry out oﬀ ensive patrols and may only
negotiate. They are there to count the dead. The international force requires political
determination to end the massacres that both the AU and the UN refuse to qualify as geno
cide. The powerless African soldiers admit in private: “We’re no use here at all”.
AMIS is almost entirely ﬁ nanced by the European Union; the US makes a nominal
contribution. On 31 August 2006 the UN conceded a lack of results and adopted resolution
1706 to deploy a UN intervention force. But the resolution has not been implemented because
the Sudanese government has yet to approve the deployment. Diplomats have ﬂ own to
Khartoum to persuade President Bashir to change his mind.
His objections are astonishing. He accuses
the UN of wanting to re-colonise the Sudan,
and claims that the force is merely a cover for the West to enable it to get hold of Sudanese
oil (4). He also says the international forces have “peddled Aids” (5) and he has threatened
to use special Iraq-type suicide units against the peace troops.
These justiﬁ cations are fanciful. Jan Pronk, the former UN special representative in
Sudan who was expelled from the country last November for having criticised the Sudanese
army, explains in his blog: “On more than one occasion high political oﬃ cials in Sudan
have told me that they had weighed the risk of non-compliance with Security Council reso
lutions against the risk of compliance. Noncompliance might bring them in conﬂ ict with
the council and its members: sanctions and threats against the regime.
“Compliance would entail a diﬀ erent risk: domestic opposition and eﬀ orts to change the
regime from within. They had compared and weighed those risks meticulously, they told
me, and they had come to a rational conclusion: the risk of compliance would be much
greater than the risk of non-compliance. They have been proven right.”
The Sudanese government fears that the UN forces may act as the secular arm of the
International Criminal Court, which for the past two years has held a UN-compiled list of
war criminals. The list has never been made public but it is likely that several important
members of the Sudanese government are on it, possibly even Bashir. It would be a great
boost to the opposition if these were to be prosecuted: the ghost of Slobodan Milosevic
hovers over the Islamists in Khartoum. Although the Sudanese government will
not permit the deployment of UN troops, it encourages the international community to
continue ﬁ nancing AMIS, precisely because it serves no purpose. This arrangement is hypoc
risy. The Europeans and the Americans turn a blind eye to the ineﬃ ciency of the African
forces because it makes them appear to be doing something. On 23 January the British
government said it would provide another $28.8m to AMIS, although British diplomats
have conﬁ rmed in private that they do not believe these forces will be able to protect
civilians in Darfur from the Janjaweed.
Continued on page 10