- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 20, 2006

JOHANNESBURG — African security analysts blasted the West yesterday for ignoring conflicts on the continent, especially the continuing crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region, to focus on the war on terror.

“Darfur has been on the table for a long time now, and at least 200,000 people have been displaced,” said Festus Aboagye, who heads the peace missions program at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies.

“Do you need a million people to die before the international community moves in?” Mr. Aboagye said. “Genocide should not be used as the justification for intervention.”

The Ghanaian military analyst said at a seminar that Western disengagement from peacekeeping in Africa started in the 1990s, with “the watershed” being the Oct. 3, 1993, U.S. raid on Somalia, in which 18 U.S. Marines were killed and two Black Hawk helicopters lost, prompting the United Nations to pull out its forces.

“But there are over 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, although more than 2,500 American soldiers have died there,” Mr. Aboagye said. “Since the end of the Cold War, Africa has ceased to be of strategic importance to the West, which is now focusing on al Qaeda.”

The criticism of Western apathy came hours before a U.N. summit on Darfur at which Sudan was expected to consent to extending the mandate of a cash-strapped African Union force in the troubled region.

The mandate of the 7,000-strong AU force expires Sept. 30.

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