1/2010 Conflict management: Darfur as a case study
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Paper presented by Gen Martin Luther Agwai (Retd) CFR at CMIS2010.

Paper presented by Gen Martin Luther Agwai (Retd) CFR at CMIS2010.

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1/2010 Conflict management: Darfur as a case study Document Transcript

  • 1. C i v i l - M i l i ta r yw o R k i n G pA p e R s2 0 11CONFLICT MANAGEMENT: DARFUR AS A CASE STUDYGen Martin Luther Agwai (Retd) CFR w w w.c i v m i l co e . gov. au
  • 2. Disclaimer:the views expressed in this Civil-Military Commentary/Civil Military Working Paper/Civil-Military Occasional Paper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflectthe position of aPCMCOE or of any government agency. authors enjoy the academicfreedom to offer new and sometimes controversial perspectives in the interest offurthering debate on key issues.the content is published under a Creative Commons by attribution 3.0 australia(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/au/) licence. all parts of this publicationmay be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, and transmitted by any means withoutthe written permission of the publisher.iSBN: 978-1-921933-00-4Published 2011.Civil-Millitary woRkinG pApeRs ii
  • 3. AbSTRACT the geography of the Sudan is the first challenge of the country. Sudan is the largest country in africa. it is bordered by nine countries; in the north by Egypt, east and north east by Ethiopia and Eritrea, south by Democratic republic of Congo (DrC), Uganda and Kenya, in the west by Central african republic and Chad, and North West by libya. Darfur is in the north western part of the Sudan. Darfur itself is a remote vast region, almost the size to France. it is 2,500 kilometres from the red Sea coast and its infrastructure, particularly roads and airports capable of taking the largest aircraft, is underdeveloped. the environment is austere and highly demanding. Daytime temperatures in the summer regularly exceed 50° Celsius and the rainy season can prevent all road movement across large parts of Darfur for four months. Malaria is rife. it seems that these factors were not fully appreciated when the deployment of african Union/United Nations Operation in Darfur (UNaMiD) was first conceived. this is one of the main reasons why the deployment and sustaining of the main UNaMiD force and its equipment was slower than expected, but i will return to this later. key words: the Sudan, Darfur, underdeveloped infrastructure, demanding environment, UNaMiD Gen Martin Luther Agwai (Retd) CFR General Martin luther agwai has a long and distinguished military career and he is dedicated to peace and security in africa. Following his commissioning in 1972 and before retiring from the Nigerian armed Forces in December 2009, he held several staff and command positions both in Nigeria and abroad, culminating in his promotion to four-star rank and appointment as Chief of Defence Staff. During this time, General agwai also served as Deputy Force Commander of the United Nations (UN) Mission in Sierra leone (UNaM Sil), Deputy Military adviser at the UN in New york, N.y., Force Commander of the african Union (aU) Mission in Sudan (aM iS), and Force Commander of the aU/UN Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNaM iD).Conflict Management: Darfur as a Case Study 1
  • 4. INTRODUCTIONthe geography of the Sudan is the first challenge of the country. Sudan is the largest country in africa. itis bordered by nine countries; in the north by Egypt, east and north east by Ethiopia and Eritrea, south byDemocratic republic of Congo (DrC), Uganda and Kenya, in the west by Central african republic and Chad,and North West by libya. Darfur is in the north western part of the Sudan. Darfur itself is a remote vast region,almost the size to France. it is 2,500 kilometres from the red Sea coast and its infrastructure, particularly roadsand airports capable of taking the largest aircraft, is underdeveloped. the environment is austere and highlydemanding. Daytime temperatures in the summer regularly exceed 50° Celsius and the rainy season can preventall road movement across large parts of Darfur for four months. Malaria is rife. it seems that these factors werenot fully appreciated when the deployment of african Union/United Nations Operation in Darfur (UNaMiD)was first conceived. this is one of the main reasons why the deployment and sustaining of the main UNaMiDforce and its equipment was slower than expected, but i will return to this later.ORIGINS OF THE CONFLICTthe origins of the conflict in Darfur, which has been in a state of humanitarian emergency since 2003, withover 2.5 million people of its six million population displaced, are complex, confusing and have changed overtime. it is better to begin by looking at the external influences, because they are significant, and then focus inon Darfur itself.EXTERNAL FACTORSFirst, the North-South conflict in Sudan has linkages to Darfur in many ways. the people of Darfur sawthat armed conflict achieved a degree of independence for the South. the Sudan People’s liberation army(SPla) has links with the rebel groups in Darfur. there is a mutual interest, not least because it forces theGovernment of Sudan (GoS) to face two fronts.Second, the tension between Sudan and Chad was being played out in western Darfur. Chadian armedOpposition Groups (CaOG) with the support of the GoS, operates out of western Darfur into Chad. it wasthey who launched the audacious attack on Ndjamena in February 2008. On the other side the Darfur Justiceand Equality Movement (JEM) – uses eastern Chad as a safe haven with the support of the Government of Chad.JEM recruits predominantly from the Zaghawa tribe, which is found in both Chad and Sudan and is the sametribe as President idriss Déby of Chad. it was JEM that went to Deby’s aid when CaOG attacked Ndjamena. JEMalso mounted the even more audacious attack in May 2008 on Omdurman on the outskirts of Khartoum. Onthis issue alone there will not be peace in Darfur until the wider Sudan – Chad conflict is fully resolved.Civil-Millitary woRkinG pApeRs 2
  • 5. INTERNAL FACTORSWhereas Southern Sudan is significantly Christian, Darfur is almost entirely Muslim. there is howeverhistorical ethnic differences with part of the population considering themselves to be either african or arab.an outline understanding of the tribal situation is essential. the main non-arab tribes are the Fur, the Massalitand the Zaghawa. they are mostly sedentary farmers and they live and farm in the central part of Darfuraround Jebel Marra. they tend to speak their own languages at home. the arab tribes are dominated by theNorthern and Southern rizeigat, and the Beni Hussein. they are mostly nomadic and semi-nomadic livestockherders, who live in the north and the south. they tend to speak arabic.Historically there have always been disputes within Darfur between the farmers and the nomads overwater and land, but they have traditionally been resolved by tribal traditional councils. this changed in the1980s when the government replaced the tribal councils with government programmes. Given that arabsdominated the government, it soon became clear how any disputes between arabs and africans wouldbe resolved. at the same time, there was a severe drought and disputes became more violent. the tribesbecame even more polarised.1the conflict is based on ethnic and environmental competition between arabs nomads and african farmers.in the decade to come Darfur conflict maybe seen as one of the first climate change wars. as with so manyconflicts, the competition over natural resources of Sudan did play a part. there are those who feel thatPresident al-turabi, was ousted by President al-Bashir when the oil began to flow in 1999 and in retaliation,al-turabi ignited the Darfur civil war. However, it is interesting to note the concern by others interestedparties that most of Sudan’s oil goes to China.2the breaking point came in 2003 when a minority group of african farmers, initially calling themselves theSudanese liberation Movement (SlM), rebelled. tired of the pro-arab prejudice of the government, theyattacked the airport at El Fasher destroying aircraft, and killed around 100 soldiers. to suppress the rebellion,the GoS used the military and also sent in the Janjaweed militia. this only served to escalate the fighting.Sudanese General ibrahim Suleiman explained “When the problems with the rebels started in Darfur, we in thegovernment of Sudan had a number of options. We chose the wrong one. We chose the very worst one.” 3the Sudanese liberation army emerged from an alliance of Fur militiamen and Zaghawa desert fighters. theyreceived SPla assistance in 2003 and shortly thereafter split into two main factions under two charismaticleaders: Minni Minawi from the Zaghawa tribe and abdel Wahid from the Fur.JEM is said to be founded by Darfur islamists. Dr Khalil ibrahim stock and that of the party rose significantly inMay 2008 when JEM launched a surprise attack on Omdurman, a major suburb of Khartoum. Since then JEMhas remain as a strong stake-holder in the conflict with a credible military force.Conflict Management: Darfur as a Case Study 3
  • 6. INTERNATIONAL INTERVENTIONafter the signing of the 2004 Ndjamena Humanitarian Ceasefire agreement on the Conflict in Darfur, it wasrecognised that peacekeepers were required if there was to be any realistic chance of peace. african UnionMission in Sudan (aMiS) was deployed by african Union (aU) as an observer mission in July 2004 to monitorthe agreement.the aU continued its effort to finding a peaceful settlement of the Darfur Conflict in abuja, Nigeria. thisled to the signing of the Darfur Peace agreement (DPa) in May 2006 between the GoS and SlM/ Minni.the DPa was a brave attempt at reconciliation and it did indeed cause violence to subside. However, theinability to achieve a consensus of opinion polarised communities, the internally Displaced Persons (iDPs) splitinto those that were pro-DPa and those that were anti-DPa that caused a significant fragmentation of themovements. aMiS as an observer mission was heavily outnumbered and outgunned by the rebels but it wasalso agreed that the UN would enter the scene to help with the peacekeeping.the UN Security Council then called for 22,500 troops in august 2006 but this was rejected by the GoS whoonly wanted 200 UN peacekeepers. Finally, in July 2007, the government agreed to a hybrid force that waspart african Union, part United Nations. it was called the african Union/ United Nations Hybrid Operationin Darfur, but was known as UNaMiD. there was an insistence, however, that it should be ‘predominantlyafrican in character’.Civil-Millitary woRkinG pApeRs 4
  • 7. CHALLENGESthe scale of the planning for UNaMiD’s deployment was daunting because of the difficult terrain. the stateof the road network surprised even the most experienced movement staff and was a major constraint.Specialist assets were also required. these range from key enablers such as engineers, transport and logisticsunits to more specialised force multipliers such as utility and attack helicopters and fixed-wing surveillanceassets capable of operating by day and by night. the original plan was that the enablers should deploy first.the former aMiS battalions would then be reinforced and the eight new battalions would then deploy. thereality was not so simple. Eighteen months later, enablers and battalions were arriving together and troopContributing Countries (tCCs) were not identified for many of the key assets, particularly utility helicopters.at the same time, of course, the Mission was endeavouring to prosecute its mandate. there are key partsto it: the protection of civilians, the creation of the conditions to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid andthe voluntary return of iDPs and refugees. UNaMiD is a Chapter vii mission, but the lead is very much ahumanitarian one, with an end state of durable peace, security and stability in Darfur. the on ground ontransfer of authority from aMiS to UNaMiD, instead of between the two main rebel movements that startedthe war: JEM and SlM. there were numerous rebel groups, each one consisting of young men with machine-guns determined to fight on the battlefield rather than take their places around the table. you might scarcelybelieve it but there were as many as 30 rebel factions. there is SlM-Minni, SlM-Wahid, SlM-Shafid, SlM-Unity, SlM-Mother, SlM-Free Will, SlM-Peace, the United revolutionary Front, National Movement forreform and Development, JEM, JEM-Peace Wing, JEM-Collective leadership, and these are just the betterknown. So UNaMiD, which is a peacekeeping force, found itself on a battlefield that pitted governmentversus rebels, arab versus arab, african versus african, rebel versus rebel, bandits versus civilians and aidworkers, all against the background of an apparent proxy war between Sudan and Chad.in the mist of all these challenges UNaMiD peacekeepers intervened on a daily basis across the lengthand breadth of Darfur to calm tensions arising from cattle losses, water distribution and land ownership,issues which lie at the heart of the Darfur conflict. these missions were and still are critical, successful andwelcomed by Darfurians, but although they do not make the international headlines, there is no doubt of theirimportance to the people UNaMiD is there to protect. Military and police patrols go out each day seekingto provide the stability that is so desperately required. Some are confidence-building, aimed to provide areassuring presence; others are more mundane firewood patrols, aimed at providing security to the womenwho go out to collect firewood and who could otherwise be raped. Hearts and minds is a phrase that we allrecognised: it is often the most mundane acts that can generate the most goodwill.a further challenge is faced by the logisticians on how to cover the vast distance and get the adequate escortsfor resupply convoys. all logistic resupply is co-ordinated by UN civilians. the military and civilians had to worktogether to get the resupply chain to run properly and this is where our australian colleague Colonel JamesDavey preformed outstandingly well to resupply over 30 locations and routes to many of these locations,are rough, dusty and impassable especially in the rainy season. Mi-8 Hip and Mi-26 Halo heavy lift helicoptersbecome the major resupply tools and water remains a critical asset for all.Conflict Management: Darfur as a Case Study 5
  • 8. UNaMiD within a year of it existence established its impartiality and there was a very positive shift by theDarfur civilian population in attitude towards the Mission. after some intense fighting early 2009 in SouthDarfur, thousands of civilians moved towards the nearest UNaMiD camps at Muhajeria, labado and Graidafor protection. However, the situation in Darfur was significantly complicated by the international CriminalCourt issuing an arrest warrant for the President of Sudan in March 2009. the Mission did a great deal ofplanning to pre-empt a possible backlash against it, but no-one foresaw GoS’s reaction which was to order theimmediate expulsion of 13 NGOs on 4 March 2009.UNaMiD immediately did what it could to help. it took in and secured the vehicles and equipment belongingto the NGOs. it also took over the guarding of a number of warehouses to prevent the contents frombeing looted. it supported a study which was conducted by the humanitarian community to ensure that theremaining aid was redistributed as effectively as possible. in Zam Zam iDPs camp outside El Fasher, UNaMiDhad to provide for the almost 100,000 iDPs, some 40,000 litres of water daily for over five months. this isin step with the “One UN” concept which requires the various UN agencies to work in a more integratedmanner. the lead remains very much a humanitarian one and UNaMiD engagement remained indirect.UNaMiD has made commendable impact on the life of the Darfur people and also assisted in creating aatmosphere conducive for durable peace. While it is agreed that there is still more to be done by the Mission,it has the capability to do more, when some of its challenges are met. Meanwhile, the Mission will continue toimplement its mandate which includes among others:a. Consultation with locals’ and mediation activities.b. Escort duties for vulnerable locals.c. Escort of UN agencies and NGO relief convoys.d. investigation of cease fire violations.the longer term vision is more difficult to identify for a year is a long time in Darfur and a lot can happen.the proxy war between Sudan and Chad and the referenda between North and South Sudan have to beconsidered for a lasting solution to the Darfur conflict. an agreement has been reached between Sudan andChad, the major challenge left is the outcome of the referenda. Sudan is to hold two referenda in January2011 in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace agreement. One referendum is to determine whether theabyei region is to continue to be administered by Khartoum or if it is to become part of the South; while theother is to determine whether Southern Sudan will become an independent state after a six month transitionor to retain the status quo. Whatever is the outcome of the referenda, there will be tension in Sudan asa country and in the entire region. if the South votes for independence it will qualify as an extremely fragilestate, especially when viewed from the instability that exists in its neighbourhood. there remain numerousuncertainties in Sudan as a whole, some of which could indeed make life difficult for UNaMiD.4Civil-Millitary woRkinG pApeRs 6
  • 9. CONCLUSIONthe causes of the Darfur conflict are tribal, ethnic, political and environmental – a potent mix. Darfur posesnumerous challenges, constraints and opportunities. these ranges from the obvious, such as the climate andthe terrain, to the much more subtle: the highly complicated political situation with numerous rebel groups,instability, and the competition for strategic resources in the region. i would like to think that UNaMiD is seenas a genuine bringer of peace, and that the people of Darfur can at last enjoy some of the security which theyhave been denied for so long. But, it is going to be difficult for it has been tough and it remains dangerousfor the peacekeepers. More over, the causes of the conflict have become complex, confusing and havechanged over time, but the progress that has been achieved is actually encouraging. the internal humanitariancommunity has continued to keep and sustain hundreds of thousands in Darfur while the rebels dither aboutpeace talks; on another level international involvement in the conflict has also served to prolong the crisis. 5Suffice to say, the aU, the UN and UNaMiD have a tremendous challenge ahead. However, the success of theMission will depend on the political commitment of the protagonists to the peace process. the success of thepeacekeepers in particular depends on the readiness of the parties involved in the Darfur conflict to committo peace and to make the political compromises inherent to any peace process. Whatever is the outcome ofthe Darfur conflict, the peacekeepers should be reminded of the epitaph on the war memorial at Kohima inindia which states what their fallen colleagues are saying to them: “When you go home, tell them of us and say: For your tomorrow, we gave our today”6the international community should continue to support UNaMiD and the people of Sudan in theirmediation and reconciliation efforts until the country comes to peace with itself.Endnotes1 annotated Conflict Cases: the Darfur region of the Sudan. Cate Malek, 2005.2 Council on Foreign relations: ‘China, africa and Oil’. http//www.cfr.org/publication/9557/6 June 2008.3 How did Darfur Happen? The New York Times, Scott anderson. 17 Oct 04.4 iPi Policy Paper, the Sudan referenda: What role for international actors?, Paul romita, 27 October, 2010.5 Darfur - the road to Peace, Dr David Hoile, 3rd revised Edition published april, 2008. www.espac.org6 the epitaph is on the memorial of the 2nd British Division in the cemetery. it is attributed to John Maxwell Edmonds (1875–1958) and is thought to have been inspired by the epitaph written by Simonides to honour the Greeks who fell at the Battle of thermopylae in 480BC.Conflict Management: Darfur as a Case Study 7