Sudan’s war criminals

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I continue to hear even some journalists adhering to the myth that the New York Times largely determines the priority of daily news. But, as I tell journalism students, if that is your primary source, you’re going to miss a lot. For example, the New York Sun’s diligent U.N. correspondent, Benny Avni, keeps breaking news on the contrast between the U.N. Security Council’s repellent realpolitik and the unapologetic candor and impatience of our committed U.N. Ambassador John Bolton’s fight for human rights.

With the number of corpses in Darfur steadily mounting, and President Bush again seriously involved in confronting what he has accurately called the genocide there, Mr. Bolton has been pressing hard to get the United Nations moving against the resistance of the government of Sudan, the perpetrator of the genocide.

Among Mr. Bolton’s goals is sending a U.N. force, with possible NATO components, into Darfur to bolster the present small, beleaguered African Union contingent. He is also proposing targeted U.N. sanctions against some of the chief organizers of the genocide in the Sudanese government. (Britain is also working on a resolution that could lead to warrants from the International Criminal Court against the architects of the genocide.)

The three members of the U.N. Security Council blocking Mr. Bolton’s proposed measures are Russia, China and Qatar. Qatar — home of the Al Jazeera TV network but also with strong military ties to the United States — represents the Arab states in the decision-making U.N. Security Council.

As Mr. Avni reports, although U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan recently spent a weekend in Qatar, he did not even discuss Sudan during his visit. Nor did he discuss the need for targeted sanctions against Sudanese officials and their Janjaweed militia involved in the atrocities that have slaughtered so many thousands and devastated the villages of black Africans in Darfur, and who are now also killing and raping refugees in neighboring Chad.

Qatar, resisting these sanctions, was supported by the United States in becoming part of the powerful U.N. Security Council. But like the other Arab states at the United Nations, Qatar appears indifferent to the genocide in Darfur, even though both the killers and the victims are Muslims.

Mr. Annan, remembering his deadly silence during the genocide in Rwanda, is not indifferent to the new genocide. Last year, as the New York Sun reports, he appointed a U.N. panel of experts who wrote “a confidential report that identified 17 Sudanese officials as having impeded peace and committed crimes against humanity in Darfur.”

Mr. Bolton, the Sun adds, has been urging the Security Council to impose sanctions on “the eight most obvious names” in that report commissioned by Mr. Annan. The Financial Times, much concerned with these crimes against humanity, has published some of the names allegedly included in the report by the U.N. panel of experts.

Among them is Sudan’s director of intelligence, Salah Abdalla Gosh, who has been working with the CIA to corral terrorists in Sudan and other countries; the interior minister (Elzubier Bashir Taha); and the defense minister (Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein).

According to American Prospect magazine, a possible future list may include, as it certainly should, Sudan’s ruthless president, Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir. But what about the leaders of Mr. Bashir’s auxiliary murderers and gang-rapers, the Janjaweed?

Meanwhile, the government of Sudan is taking a very hard line against any possibility of a U.N. peacekeeping force being deployed in Darfur, saying it will withdraw from the African Union if it happens. According to Jan Pronk, the U.N.’s special representative for Sudan, the Khartoum government “has sent delegations to many countries in the world in order to plead its case: Let the African Union stay and let the U.N. not come,” according to the March 1 New York Times.

Mr. Pronk is himself warning that a too-hasty involvement of U.N. forces could lead to “retaliation” by al Qaeda elements that he says are already embedded in Khartoum. Really? But the Sudanese government claims that its intelligence operatives are expert in finding these al Qaeda terrorists. So why doesn’t Sudan arrest those terrorists purportedly under its very nose?

In this country, among groups deeply concerned with this genocide is a Pennsylvania coalition of the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Lehigh Valley; the Institute for Jewish Christian Understanding at Muhlenberg College; and representatives of Amnesty International and the Allentown Roman Catholic Diocese, along with a student organization. Their message: “In Darfur’s suffering, we see the same kind of genocidal design that terrorized Jews and non-Jews in Nazi Germany.”

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