WASHINGTON - President Bush, increasing pressure on Sudan, said Wednesday the U.S. will tighten economic penalties and impose new ones if Sudan’s leader does not act quickly to stop the bloodshed in Darfur.
Bush said Omar al-Bashir’s government must allow U.N. support forces, facilitate deployment of a full U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force, end support of militias and let humanitarian aid get through.
“The world needs to act,” Bush said. “If President al-Bashir does not meet his obligations, the United States of America will act.”
Bush said the U.S. would bar certain companies from participating in the U.S. financial system, punish individuals responsible for violence and issue new penalties against Sudan’s government.
More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced in the four-year conflict. It began when rebels from ethnic African tribes rose up against the Arab-led central government. The Khartoum government is accused of responding by unleashing the janjaweed militias of Arab nomads, who are blamed for indiscriminate killing. The government denies the charges.
Feingold wants action
Sen. Russ Feingold, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, said Congress has called for many of the steps Bush outlined.
“What is needed now is their quick and effective implementation and enforcement,” said Feingold, D-Wis. “We are long past the point of warnings.”
The current force of 7,000 AU peacekeepers has been unable to stop the fighting. About 2.5 million people have been driven from their homes and are living in poorly protected camps in the province and eastern Chad.
The United Nations and U.S. have pushed Sudan to accept thousands more U.N. troops to build up a combined AU-U.N. force of 20,000. Al-Bashir repeatedly has rejected a U.N. force, but his recent agreement to accept 3,000 U.N. troops could be a sign that the pressure is beginning to have an effect.
Sudan’s government, however, has reversed position in the past after appearing to agree to a peacekeeping mission.
“His regime makes promises, signs agreements and makes pledges — only to hedge, qualify and renege on their commitments,” said David C. Rubenstein, director of the Save Darfur Coalition. “President Bashir has been one broken promise after another, and we fear this concession may be an extension of that trend.”
Bush said he wants to give U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon more time to pursue diplomatic efforts. But Bush said the U.S. would take action if al-Bashir does not move quickly. Bush did not say how long he would wait.
The Treasury Department will tighten economic penalties, allowing the Bush administration to block any of the Sudan government’s dollar transactions in the U.S. Also, 29 companies owned or controlled by the Sudanese government will join a list that makes it a crime for American companies and individuals to do business with them.
People held responsible for the violence in Darfur will face similar financial penalties, “calling the world’s attention to their crimes,” Bush said.
Rice to draft new resolution
Bush is directing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to prepare a U.N. Security Council resolution for new penalties against Sudan’s government and those found to be violating human rights or obstructing peace.
The resolution would expand an embargo on arms sales, prohibit Sudan’s government from conducting offensive military flights over Darfur and strengthen the U.S. ability to monitor and report any violations, Bush said.
“That kind of diplomatic interaction is going to be replicated all around the globe, with the thought in mind that we may well have to act on a Security Council resolution,” department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters. “This is designed to send a clear message of the seriousness of our intent.”
What Darfur needs is a UN Peacekeeping Force, and not a half-assed one, like Rwanda, and it needs one now, not later, not in 3 months when al-Bashir has had his 3 strikes. NOW. Between 200,000-400,000 are already dead, millions displaced and causing a strain on other African nations already struggling to survive. Thirteen years later, Rwanda is still reeling from the genocide that we let happen. Yup, the United States and Bill Clinton (that's for you, T1 (-;) and Madeleine Albright stood and watched stultified as images of children and women being hacked to death by machetes streamed into our living rooms. Congress sat and scratched their asses. One million people were murdered in a matter of months. The UN peacekeepers sent there were not allowed to open fire against men who were beating people to death in the streets in broad daylight, their criteria for assassination based soley on their appearance. The UN military's job was to get the white people out, and "keep the status quo." No weapons, no acts of war, when a peace-keeping body equipped with guns and tanks could have crushed the genocide in a matter of days, when the UN knew that the plans for this genocide were in place, where there were major weapons caches, and who the leaders were. The United States could've scrambled Rwanda's radio broadcasts, which had been overtaken by Hutu rebels and was being aired throughout the cities and towns in Rwanda with anti-Tutsi propaganda, urging Hutu men and boys to "crush the Tutsi cockroaches." But oh, would that be a violation of the first amendment? Hmmm, too tough to say, better do nothing, best to just say "oh Somalia went badly, we can't intervene in these "acts of genocide." '' By the time the United States (and many other countries in the EU, I can't blame the US entirely for their ignorance of the situation) and the United Nations decided that something should happen and that UN troops should be deployed to Rwanda, it was too late. COWARDICE! President Bush agreed when he took office. He looked at that Rwanda report and wrote on it "Not on my watch." Guess what, Mr. President, you've been watching it for 3 years. Maybe it's not happening as quickly, maybe the issues are a little less clear, but it's happening under our noses and it needs to stop. I can only hope that the United States and the UN will take these issues seriously and act quickly.
Skulls in Nyarabuye, Rwanda where hundreds were hacked to death in a church. The cracks in the skull were caused machetes.