How to End the Genocide in DARFUR and Why It Won't Happen

By Mills, Brendon J. | Military Review, July/August 2009 | Go to article overview

How to End the Genocide in DARFUR and Why It Won't Happen


Mills, Brendon J., Military Review


ON 25 APRIL 2003, two rebel groups, the Sudanese Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement, attacked the El Fasher airport in Darfur, Sudan, killing 75 Sudanese government troops and destroying seven government aircraft.1 In response, the Sudanese government in Khartoum began a counterinsurgency campaign to end the rebellion in western Darfur by using proxy militias with the support of government air and ground forces. Four hundred thousand people have died because of that counterinsurgency campaign, and another 1.3 million have been displaced.2 If a genocide were to occur in the United States that affected the same percentage of its population, 20 million Americans would the and 65 million others would be displaced persons.3

The world responded to the violence in Darfur with two operations. The first, the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), began in 2004. The African Union Mission in Sudan at first monitored the Addis Ababa Agreement of 28 May 2004, which established a temporary ceasefire between the government and the Sudan Liberation Army; however, both sides violated the cease-fire, and the AMIS remained as an observer, powerless to stop the violence.4 In 2005, AMIS received a broader mandate to protect civilians on the ground, but the African troops that made up AMIS's peacekeeping force proved too few and unqualified to end the genocide.

The second (and current) operation to bring peace to Darfur, United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), is under the auspices of both the UN and African Union, yet, like AMIS, it lacks the ability to stop the genocide. In July of 2007, the UN Security Council, recognizing the failure of the AMIS, passed Resolution 1769, which authorized organizing 24,000 troops for Darfur while providing a strong mandate to protect civilians there as well.5 This resolution, however, has not delivered peace to Darfur.

The main reason for UNAMID's lack of success is that UNAMID, like AMIS, has only low-quality African troops at its disposal. The Sudanese government ensured that no first-world troops deployed to Darfur by refusing to accept Resolution 1769 unless it contained a status of forces agreement mandating that Western militaries intervene only if African troops could not.6 The Sudanese government was able to achieve this agreement because, as The New York Times' Lydia Polgreen reported, "When previous large (peacekeeping) missions were organized in Congo, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the central governments in those countries had collapsed or were so weak that they had little choice but to accept peacekeepers."7

Unfortunately, because of its oil reserves and ties to first-world countries, the Sudanese government remains relatively strong and can maintain its claims to sovereignty and dictate the nature of the peacekeeping force within its borders.8

Without a high-quality military force partaking in operations, UNAMID cannot succeed. According to Polgreen:

Even the troops that are in place [in Darfur], the old African Union force and two new battalions [of UN forces], lack essential equipment, like sufficient armored personnel carriers and helicopters, to carry out even the most rudimentary of peacekeeping tasks.9 Some even had to buy their own paint to turn their green helmets United Nations blue.10

In addition, UNAMID has neither the mandate nor the forces to end the Sudanese government's air operations against civilians. Without properly equipped and trained troops or the means to stop the air strikes against civilian targets, UNAMID will continue to fail; clearly, peacekeeping operations in Darfur must change in order to end genocide in that region.

No-Fly Zone and Peacekeeping

As the world's preeminent military and economic power, the United States is the sole actor who can bring about the change in peacekeeping that Darfur needs to achieve peace. In a speech at the Naval Academy in 2007, Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, advocated sending Blackwater (now called "Xe"), the private military contractor, into Darfur to end the genocide for the bargain price of $40 million. …

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