A block of U.N. Security Council members pushed on Monday for action on proposals to punish individuals believed to be blocking peace in Sudan's troubled Darfur region, but ran into opposition that left the yearlong deadlock unresolved.Absolutely pathetic.
While the United States, Britain, Denmark and France argued certain individuals should be quickly designated as sanctions targets, China, Russia and Qatar called for more delay, U.N. diplomats said after closed-door talks on the way ahead in Darfur.
The council voted nearly a year ago to authorize sanctions against individuals blocking the peace process or violating a U.N. arms embargo, and U.N. experts last December gave the council a secret list of 17 people it said should be punished.
The list remained confidential until Feb. 17, when details appeared on the Web site of The American Prospect. Additional details were published last week including by Reuters, leading to speculation the 15-nation council would now quickly move ahead with freezes on travel and assets of those on the list.
But council members instead denounced the leaks.
But China, which relies on Sudan for oil and opposes U.N. sanctions as a matter of policy, and Qatar, the council's sole Arab member, called the experts' evidence unreliable and recommended a fresh start in compiling sanctions targets.
Russia, meanwhile, argued sanctions might damage peace efforts, diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the discussions took place behind closed doors.
On the other hand, congratulations to the Daily Star of Lebanon for this editorial; this is the first such a statement that I have seen coming from any Middle Eastern media outlet
For over three years, in the western Sudanese province of Darfur, government-backed militias have been terrorizing, killing and raping civilians. It is baffling that a crisis of such magnitude - with up to 300,000 people killed and some 2.4 million civilians forced to flee their homes - could be ignored and forgotten for so long. We could blame the United Nations for not responding quickly to the crisis, we could blame the media for not drawing enough attention to the atrocities and we could blame Western governments and citizens for caring too little about the plight of African villagers. But the greater burden of responsibility for the tragedy lies closer to home, where regional officials are still allowing the killings to take place.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is quick to lay blame on others for the death and displacement of his citizens. He has charged that the West has invented a "conspiracy" to plunder his country's resources, and denied his government's well-documented participation in the killings. On Monday, Bashir reiterated this same theme while warning that "Darfur will be a graveyard for any foreign troops" that might intervene. But it is Bashir's own failure to protect the lives and livelihoods of its citizens that has invited external intervention. This failure has already forced Bashir to withdraw his bid for the African Union presidency, and it will probably soon force the international community to send peacekeeping troops. If foreign troops arrive in Sudan, Bashir will have only himself to blame.