[ While Khartoum’s denials of evil-doing are doubtless disingenuous, it is unfortunate that Bush’s foreign policy record has paved the way for Sudan’s semi-plausible, cynical argument regarding the motives behind pressure from the U.S. Thanks to David Donahoe for forwarding this article. –BL ]
by Tsegaye Tadesse
ADDIS ABABA – Washington is using the Darfur crisis as a pretext to topple the Sudanese government, Khartoum’s envoy to the African Union (AU) said on Tuesday.
Ousman Alsaid also told reporters Western military intervention in its remote western region would risk splitting Africa’s largest country and unsettling its neighbors.
“The U.S. government is using the crisis in Darfur to bring down the government of Sudan,” he said on the sidelines of a meeting on Darfur of the 53-state AU’s peace and security council.
His remarks were the latest attempt by Sudan to compare outside criticism over Darfur with U.S.-led pressure on Iraq before the war which ousted Saddam Hussein and was opposed by Arab states.
“The policy of the government of Sudan is not liked by the U.S. administration so the Americans are targeting the government of Sudan because of it political stance,” he said, indicating Sudan’s anti-American policies on prominent Arab issues such as Iraq and the Israel/Palestinian dispute.
Washington is expected to call a U.N. vote this week on a U.S.-drafted resolution threatening Sudan with sanctions over Darfur, where the U.N. says one million have been displaced and 30,000 more killed.
The European Union on Monday called on the United Nations to consider imposing sanctions on Arab League member Sudan if it does not neutralize Arab militia which have been attacking African communities. U.S. Congress has called the campaign a genocide.
Attacking what he said was a British contingency plan to send troops to Darfur, Alsaid said Western military intervention could lead to the fragmentation of Sudan. “This in turn could destabilize the nine countries neighboring the Sudan,” he said.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said the world must act on Darfur and has not ruled out a British military role, though he was vague about what that meant. Australia says it could send troops as U.N. peacekeepers.
Referring to the statements of both countries, Alsaid said: “It shows that these countries did not learn from the difficult situation they are facing through their intervention in Iraq.”
He said the AU, the two-year-old successor to the former Organization of African Unity, should be allowed to mediate a solution in concert with an East African peace forum called the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.
“If the newly born AU fails then it could be considered a failure of Africa as a whole, because Sudan is a microcosm of Africa,” he said.
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, current AU chairman, will talk to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other African leaders on peace initiatives in Sudan and Ivory Coast on Thursday.
The AU is trying to revive stalled peace talks between warring parties. It had been hoping to send 270 troops to protect 60 AU cease-fire observers in Darfur by the end of July, but the organization says the effort may be delayed by logistical difficulties.