No More Delay on Darfur
|New York Times, 19 Avril 2007|
Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, attaches as little value to the promises he makes to the international community as he does to the lives of the many thousands of people who are being murdered in Darfur. A newly disclosed United Nations report highlights his brazen duplicity, describing how the Sudanese government painted false U.N. insignia on an air force plane being used to deliver bombs to Darfur.
After months of threats President Bush proposed a package of economic sanctions on Mr. Bashir’s Sudan yesterday and called for an expanded Security Council arms embargo. He also raised the possibility of the international community’s imposing a military no-flight-zone over Darfur to block aircraft from bombing and strafing villages.
Tougher American sanctions — and tougher action from the Security Council — are long overdue. Unfortunately, Mr. Bush decided to delay them further to give the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, more time to try to cut a deal with Sudan to admit an international peacekeeping force that may be too small to stop the killing.
Mr. Bashir has a record of making only the most limited concessions and then violating agreements with impunity. And Mr. Ban has an unfortunate habit of taking Mr. Bashir at his word. The immediate application of tougher American sanctions would have usefully strengthened Mr. Ban’s hand.
This crisis will not end without a large and well-armed peacekeeping force — to protect civilians and desperately needed aid workers — and that is exactly what Mr. Bashir has not agreed to. Khartoum and Darfur’s rebel groups also need to be pressured and shepherded into a political agreement that can ensure enough stability so the peacekeepers can eventually be withdrawn.
More than four years into Darfur’s nightmare, at least 200,000 people are dead and more than 2.5 million displaced, and the numbers are climbing. If the millions of lives still at risk are to be saved, there is no time for further delay.