Here's an interview with Eric Reeves at Democracy Now, on Sudan's rejection of a draft UN resolution calling for a 17,000-member international security force to be deployed to Darfur (via Coalition for Darfur):
There are many facets to Khartoum's decision. It’s to date paid no real price for its obduracy, its refusal to abide by international norms, either in the North-South conflict, which nominally ended in January 2005, or in its genocidal conduct of war in Darfur. What I am hearing from my sources on the ground and what the Hedi Annabi, the head of U.N. peacekeeping, recently said in a report to the Security Council that I have seen, is that Khartoum is right now planning a massive military offensive in North Darfur, which has been the most violent of the three Darfur states.
If this offensive takes place, there will be massive, massive civilian destruction. I think we're also likely to see a withdrawal of virtually all humanitarian workers. This will leave some 1.2 million people completely dependent on humanitarian aid, without any assistance whatsoever. By my own calculation, some 500,000 people have already died. As many more could die in the coming year if current trends continue.
Only with the deployment of an effective -- and I emphasize effective -- international force can genocidal destruction be brought to a halt. Khartoum gives no sign of capitulating on this, and I'll be very interested to know what Jendayi Frazer, President Bush's envoy to Khartoum, takes with her in the way of sticks and pressures to bring to bear on this recalcitrant regime.
Whatever Jendayi Frazer may take to the talks, the reception she'll get is clear enough:
Angry demonstrators mobbed the car of US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer after she arrived in Sudan, and demanded that she return home.
Frazer was officially greeted by senior officials from the ministries of foreign affairs and international cooperation
But dozens of protesters, chanting slogans and raising banners reading "Go Back Home", "You Want War" and "We Want Peace" showed up at the airport, covered her car with banners and blocked her way before police intervened.
And here's the latest from Reeves:
The final moment of diplomatic truth for Darfur has at last arrived. All evidence suggests that the international community is prepared to acquiesce before the military onslaught Khartoum’s National Islamic Front is preparing for North Darfur, an offensive that will target both rebel military forces and non-Arab civilians who do not support the deeply flawed “Darfur Peace Agreement” (May 5, 2006, Abuja, Nigeria). Fighting in North Darfur over the past two months has increasingly involved collaboration between the forces of Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) faction leader Minni Minawi (a member of the Zaghawa tribe and the only Darfuri signatory to the Abuja agreement) and Khartoum’s regular military. This collaboration has produced attacks that have focused primarily on Fur villages. As Refugees International President Kenneth Bacon reports in a July 21, 2006 letter to President Bush (following an eleven-day assessment mission to Darfur):
“Minawi’s forces are attacking Fur villages in North Darfur. According to the United Nations, some of these attacks show the same signs of genocidal intent demonstrated by the government-back Janjaweed militia---the targeted killing of young men.”
The impending Khartoum-orchestrated offensive has been reported authoritatively by many sources on the ground, as well as by Hedi Annabi (UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping) in a confidential report to the UN Security Council (August 17, 2006). [...]
This is the final stage in Khartoum’s genocidal campaign in Darfur. It occurs against a backdrop of extraordinary suffering and continually declining humanitarian access and resources. In July the UN’s World Food Program was unable to reach almost 500,000 people in need of food relief. More broadly, Annabi stressed in his briefing of the Security Council that:
“humanitarian organizations now have full access to only slightly more than fifty percent of the 3.6 million civilians affected by the conflict [again, there are an additional 350,000 conflict-affected persons in eastern Chad---ER]. If conditions deteriorate further, many humanitarian organizations may be forced to completely withdraw from North Darfur, where more than 1.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.” (Paragraph 4)
Cholera is poised to explode if water sanitation or supplies deteriorate further. A shocking nine humanitarian aid workers were killed in July. Khartoum continues its policy of systematically obstructing and harassing humanitarian workers and operations. We should remember that in June Khartoum “punished” the UN for moving rebel leader and humanitarian coordinator Suleiman Jamous by shutting down all UN operations in Darfur except those of UNICEF and WFP; the same threat still looms for some other “provocation.” Rape has recently soared in the area of the giant Kalma camp south of Nyala, a terrible reality unto itself and a telling barometer of insecurity. Malnutrition rates are rising rapidly. Humanitarian resources and funding are declining just as rapidly. Some 50,000 civilians have been displaced in recent weeks (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks [dateline: Nairobi], August 24, 2006). And the full brunt of renewed violence has yet to be felt, though it is only a matter of days---weeks at most---before this changes.
If under these circumstances the international community is unwilling even to threaten non-consensual intervention to protect civilians and humanitarians in Darfur, then Khartoum may rightly, in full throat, exult in its savage triumph. It is a triumph that has been long in coming; one that might have been stopped with sufficient will at any point; but one that is now terribly close to culmination.