Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Don't Count Your Peacekeepers Before They're Deployed

Sudan has finally agreed to allow a joint UN-AU peacekeeping force of nearly 20,000 soldiers into Darfur to monitor the situation and prevent any further genocide. Sort of.

While the announcement by Sudan is being hailed as a "breakthrough moment" by the African Union, it's not so clear that it's time to breath a sigh of relief for Darfur. Apparently, Sudan is insisting that the force be made up almost entirely of Africans, a demand that makes the deployment all but impossible. According to John Prendergast, a Sudan expert who helps lead Enough Project, “the gulf between the rhetoric of acceptance and the reality of deployment is huge,” and the continued haggling over force makeup “is putting a condition on the deployment which ensures its failure.” Similarly, US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad stated that "if [the acceptance] is conditional, as we hear, that there will be only African troops involved and no non-Africans, that is putting a condition on the acceptance, and that would be unacceptable.”

The UN will examine the plan today. Hopefully, if Sudan is still trying to stall and block the deployment by such insistences, the UN will finally decide to act and punish the genocidal regime. While this is welcome news, I'm certainly not holding my breath.