Alex on The Kojo Nnamdi Show
Alex appeared today, along with Mark Schneider of the International Crisis Group, on Kojo Nmandi’s show for NPR. Alex clashed with Mark on the issue of whether one should use a “scalpel” or a “hatchet” to remove Bashir from power. You can listen to the audio online; here are a few choice excerpts from what Alex had to say:
ON REACTIONS BY THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMUNITY: “There was a quite stunning naiveté at play here. With one breath [human rights groups] were saying [the Sudanese] government is responsible for some of the most heinous crimes on the book (which indeed is correct) and on the other they were saying, well, if they are given the right incentives and the right pressure, and they’re threatened with an arrest warrant, they’ll just come along tamely. The [Sudanese] government made it absolutely clear that it regarded the arrest warrant as an declaration of war, a game changer in which the existing arrangements whereby it allowed an operation that was feeding some three or four million people in Darfur with a great deal of independence and a huge amount of success, that the agreements under which this was allowed to continue, would be jeopardized. It said the UN presence would be jeopardized, the peacekeepers would be jeopardized, too, because it regarded this as a fight to the death, an attempt at regime change. And to be frank, that’s what it is. . . . It’s really regime change by judicial activism, and they’ve recognized it as that and of course they’re digging in. And they’ve called our bluff and I don’t see a way out of it.”
ON DEPARTURE OF AID AND PEACEKEEPING GROUPS: “And how was it possible for the accumulated wisdom of the international community not to see the blindingly obvious fact that it was in the interests of three or so million victims of the atrocities of this war to be kept alive by a continuing aid operation which the government had clearly threatened to close down. And yet this issue was not even debated at the UN Security Council. It was brought up by the African Union, it was brought up by a number of people such as myself and completely ignored, and now we are facing that reality. . . . The [Sudanese] government has allowed peacekeepers in; it’s allowed an extraordinarily effective humanitarian operation to proceed. We’ve seen levels of violence reduced. More than 90 percent of those who were killed in Darfur were killed in 2003–2004. Yes, the comprehensive peace agreement between North and South has been imperfectly implemented, but the imperfect implementation has brought peace to 80 percent of Sudanese that they never knew in an entire generation. And we are putting all that on the line just for the symbolism of saying we want one man in the dock.”
ON VICTIMS’ NEED FOR JUSTICE: “[I]t’s absolutely true that millions of Darfurian victims””I’ve spoken to many of them myself””demand justice. And when they talk about justice, they don’t just mean vetting Bashir in court. For them, that is an emotional satisfaction, and a right. They talk about restorative justice. They talk about returning to their homes. They talk about compensation. They talk about being able to resume the life they’ve lost. I do not see how what has happened over the last week has taken a single step forward in terms of all those other components of justice, as well as exposing them to the very grave danger of hunger, of disease, of further violence, of the fact that the thousands of international witnesses who were there in Darfur, whose very presence was so important in bringing down the level of violence””not of course to anything like zero, but very considerably down nonetheless””those people have gone.”
ON THE POSSIBILITY OF WAR: Anybody who has any familiarity, who has lived in Sudan, knows that what you do is you negotiate, you give [Sudanese politicians] a soft landing, a place to land. And huge progress has been made in the last few years most notably in the north-south peace agreement, [and] in bringing down the levels of violence in Darfur by 90 percent by doing precisely that. If you put their backs against the wall as was done 15 years ago, when you isolate them internationally, turn them into pariahs, then they’re going to fight, and millions may die.”
ON THE UPCOMING SUDANESE ELECTIONS: “[I]t’s absolutely correct that [the ICC is] on a collision course with the elections. The vision of the elections and the comprehensive peace agreement was that this was the opportunity, the first step in democratic transformation. No one had any illusions that this was going to be the be-all and end-all, these were not going to be like U.S. elections, but they were going to be a step in that direction. And President Bashir was even contemplating stepping down. . . . I can’t say for sure whether that was true or not but certainly now Bashir has absolutely no option but to fix that election so that he wins. . . . And the use of the elections as a cynical ploy for him to gain legitimacy and stay in power is such an insult to the vision of democratic transformation that was adopted not only by the former Southern rebels, the SPLM, but also by many in his own party.”
Mr de Waal,
You have a strong voice of reason. Thank you for your honest, neutral, and critical insights on the subject of a completely isolated and misunderstood country and peoples.
Are we faced with naive people( as Alex seems to assume) or with politically and ideologically motivated activists and crisis creators ? How does one explain the fact that Predergast who has openly opposed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 05 and opposed the Darfur Peace Agreement in 06 continues to claim that he and the different organisations he represents(International Crisis Group/Enough or any future mask ) really care about the welfare and safety of the people of Darfur and Sudan?
In a most significant lecture at Georgetown University , the former US envoy to Sudan ,Andrew Natsios, said on 30 March that he was a hard-liner vis-a-vis
Sudan ;but has now changed his mind.He was honest enough to say that the C P Agreement enabled two million southern Sudanese to return home and that President Bashir delivers what he promises ( including $4 billion to the South). He also explained that death in Darfur took place mainly in 03 and 04 and that most of the casualties happened because of displacement not physical assault. He repeated some very harsh words about the Sudanese government ; but concluded that only a negotiated political settlements will save Darfur.
Mr Prendergast and Mr Fowler (of Save Darfur Coalition) insist on a path of sanctions and even military action against Sudan . Their real interest -one suspects- is regime change ; because they see Darfur as part of the Middle East Arab -Israeli conflict.Even with this in mind they are wrong,because they side with Israeli hawks and militarists ; not with peace-loving Israelis who do not reject the Arab Leagues’ peace offer and accept the principle of two states in Palestine.Sudan does not call for throwing the Israelis(with their nuclear arsenal !) in the sea and embraces the 2 state solution . Targeting Sudan is not reasonale because creating chaos in Sudan will( as Natsios said) threaten stability in all nine neighbouring contries .That cant be in the interest of the West ;but it seems to be in the interest of M. Fowler and Mr Prendergast .