Darfur, The State of Things

Gérard Prunier in Le Monde Diplomatique:

Why is the international response so weak? The US position is ambiguous. Beneath the firm entreaties is a mixture of tricks, double talk and impotence. Since 11 September 2001 Washington has considered that Khartoum has earned a good behaviour ticket in the fight against terrorism. The Sudanese secret services have a good cop, bad cop routine in which Nafi Ali Nafi, former interior minister and adviser to Bashir, plays the bad cop, while his deputy, Salah Abdallah “Gosh”, plays the good guy. Ali Nafi is denounced as an extremist while Gosh (one of the main authors of repression in Darfur) is invited to discussions with the CIA and considered an ally in the war against terror.

The practical results of this compromising collaboration have yet to be seen. Washington’s official declarations remain firm but are not followed up by concrete measures even when encouraged by President George Bush’s own political allies. California’s Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, passed a law obliging California public bodies to sell any shares in US or foreign companies working in Sudan. This disinvestment policy, which enabled human rights activists to force the Canadian oil company Talisman Energy to withdraw from Sudan in 2003, was not supported by the White House. The first victim of US double-dealing was Bush’s own special envoy, Andrew Natsios, former director of the US Agency for International Development. When he ran out of resources he threatened Bush with a mysterious plan B if plan A, which was UN deployment, failed. When pressed by journalists, Natsios was unable to provide any details about plan B.