The World from Berlin 'Darfur Will not Be Pacified by Military Means'

The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday approved sending 26,000 peacekeepers to the conflict-wracked Darfur region of Sudan. The government in Khartoum has endorsed the UN resolution, but German newspapers have doubts about the mission's chances.


Patients wait to be seen by a doctor at a clinic assisted by the African Union Mission in the Sudan.
AFP

Patients wait to be seen by a doctor at a clinic assisted by the African Union Mission in the Sudan.

Four years of conflict in the western Sudanese region of Darfur has killed at least 200,000 and left 2.5 million homeless. It began when ethnic African tribes rebelled against what they saw as neglect and discrimination by the Arab-dominated government in the capital Khartoum.

The government is accused of retaliating by unleashing a militia of Arab nomads known as the janjaweed which has raped and slaughtered civilians, although Khartoum denies this.

Now the United Nations Security Council has agreed on a peacekeeping force for the region -- the first joint operation by the African Union and the United Nations -- which, if deployed fully, would be the largest peacekeeping operation in the world.

Germany, while welcoming the plan, has decided not to contribute troops to the mission, saying that its military is already overstretched by other foreign peacekeeping operations, primarily in Afghanistan and Kosovo.

German newspapers also hailed the peacekeeping plan, but some wondered if in its current form it could really bring an end to the carnage.

Conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:

"Only optimists expect that (UN) troops will be at full strength in Darfur by the end of 2007 -- more than four years after the beginning of the murders there. Until then, the regime (in Khartoum) will do all it can to calm the situation in its own way. Khartoum fears nothing greater than seeing the free movement of its armed forces restricted by UN soldiers."

"Darfur will not be pacified by military means, so it is all the more important that peace talks get going again. This weekend a large number of rebel groups in Arusha, which have often been at violent odds with one another, aim to stake out common positions. The result could be talks with Khartoum in September. However, quick resolutions are not expected because the government will likely demand painful compromises."

Center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

"The compromise is a success for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has up to now been rather colorless. He recognized early on that Darfur is the most important test for his authority and that of the UN."

"The conflict has local, political origins, but also global ones. It has been exacerbated by the fact that the region has been suffering from drought for years, thought to be a result of the warming of the Indian Ocean. Nomads and farmers, who long lived peacefully side by side, are suddenly fighting for land and water. Ban has declared the Darfur drama a herald of future global crises: a fight for survival triggered by global warming."

"If 26,000 peacekeepers can even be gathered by the end of 2007, they will be monitoring a region the size of France. The rebel groups are so fragmented, that peace talks are not possible. The blue helmets will have to prepare themselves for a conflict that, at least initially, could remain violent. No wonder then that the Europeans would rather not send any of their own soldiers to the Sudanese steppes."

Left-wing Die Tageszeitung writes:

"The UN Security Council had hardly decided to send blue helmets into Sudan's crisis region when the Sudanese government resorted to its old tactics: it would accept the UN resolution and work together with global body, said Sudanese diplomats. Then, however, they stressed that the resolution meant that UN troops in Darfur had to get permission from the Sudanese government before any action is undertaken to protect civilians. It is glaring proof of the inadequacy of UN diplomacy."

"Actually, it was a 'robust' deployment force which was planned that would protect the oppressed population in Darfur from the murderous militias, which are being directed by the Sudanese government. But after weeks of negotiations behind the scenes, what has resulted is what always comes out of the Security Council: the lowest common denominator upon which the interventionists in the US, the dictators in China and the waverers in the EU can agree."

Center-right Die Welt wrote:

"The German government has explained it will not send any soldiers, saying it is already operating at full capacity through its missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan. That's true and the decision is the right one. The staffing of the peacekeeping force should be primarily an Arabic and African affair. After all, the perpetrators and some of the victims are Muslims."

"However, the question arises as to why a conflict which so many have described as genocide, has gotten so little attention in this country. The Middle East conflict, which has resulted in many fewer victims, makes it almost daily into the nightly news. The UN mission could change that, namely because there will now be pictures where up to now there have only been admonitory words."

-- 1:30 p.m. CET

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