Darfur: Why is the Doha Process Failing? And Who is Responsible? (III)
Part 3: Why Mr. Bassole and Company Must Go
On Mr. Djibril Bassole
1- Darfur conflict is not Togo and the “Inter-Togolese Dialogue” process. It is not Niger and Tuareg. It is not Cote d` Ivoire either. Mr. Bassole was involved in all those with President Blaise Campaore`. In Darfur, he does not have the direct support of his President or the knowledge of the West African region and its language (French).
2- Mr. Bassole was Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation (FA) Minister under President Campaore from June 2007 to September 2008.15 months of “International Diplomacy” seemed to have been enough to qualify him for the job.
3- Before his FA portfolio, he was in charge of security in Burkina Faso for 7 years. It is unfortunate for Darfur that all the lenses of all the regional stakeholders seem to be the security lens. He never came to a position of leadership through the ballot boxes to learn how to win over human beings and win their hearts and minds.
4- His boss (President) has been in power for 23 years. Two years more than President Beshir. Mr. Bassole may not be able to conceive “Power Sharing” or “Compromise”. Those terms are taboo in dictatorial language.
5- We raised our hats before for Ambassador Alan Goulty(1) before he engaged in the IGAD file as UK Representative; he took a sabbatical and did a degree in Conflict Management at Harvard and took Sudan as his study case. In Doha, we do not see the Max Plancks, The Goulty(s), the ICGs, the JAM(2) , Concordis, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, John Young(3) , Prendergast and the Clingendaels. Who then is generating and developing options? Who is doing the research needed for the Process? Where are the skills to facilitate? Do proper “Gathering Process” to replace the current Bazaar? UNAMID’s selection of IDPs to go to Doha representing Darfur Society (as wrong as their presence in Track I may be), is being subjected to vetting of GOS/NCP.
6- IDPs and Refugees were flown to Doha in July and it is rumoured that they were offered “incentives” to bless Doha and LJM as the only legitimate apparatus. That was dashed. They were up to the level of responsibility expected of them. They insisted that JEM and SLM-A/W must be in the process. They reiterated the ceilings of demands of both JEM and SPL-A/W as basic demands. Now Mr. Bassole has adopted those “pre-requisites” of Abdulwahid. GOS were knocked off their feet as they thought that LJM was an easy target to be driven to sign an agreement by July 15th. LJM position was certainly buttressed by the strong avocation of the IDPs and Refugees for their basic rights.
7- The news also goes that the Refugees have left in discontent after making their point that without JEM and SLM mainstreams there will be no solutions. That is not a surprise for anyone who read the survey report of “24 hours for Darfur of New York(4) “.
8- The IDPs were thought to be a different story and no one knew what their composition and affiliation were, now that many of the “Real” IDPs have declined to participate. They were a massive disappointment to Mediation as they stood their grounds and made demands that are not far from those of the two mainstream Movements JEM and SLM. The communiqué of the “collective” Darfur Society (IDPs representatives, Refugees Representatives and Darfur Society Representatives) was issued July 15th, 2010 and has set the initial tone for any future rounds of talk in Doha or elsewhere.
9- The IDPs (those who participated in Doha and those who did not) have paid a very high price with their lives in Kalma and Humeidiyya. Have you noticed how Ibrahim Gambari and Djibril Bassole have “shut up”? South Darfur authorities are already implementing the new “Darfur: Towards a New Strategy for Achieving Comprehensive Peace, Security and Development”.
10- Conflict Management under the difficult and sensitive conditions we have for Darfur has two main enemies: State Actors and biased and ignorant media(5) . We have both in Doha. Between Presidents Beshir, Deby, Mubarak, Gaddafi, Afworki and with Emir Hamad and Ministers Bin Jassim and Al Mahmoud, we have an uncoordinated team of political players with varying and changing political prejudices. The Arab Media lacks constructive criticism and honest coverage. State controlled media can only be biased to the “party line” of the State. The international credible media is no longer interested in Darfur and less interested in its Political File.
11- In the IGAD Process and with the more formidable IGAD Partners Forum (IPF), several countries had positively impacting presence through very powerful political actors. They did not only act as funders for the Process, but also as “Pro Bono” Think Tank for the parties. They managed to isolate and bar any “spoilers” from encroaching on the Process. (Egypt and the NDA as example). They made sure with Mediation that ONLY Primary Stakeholders(6) who can impact on the conflict were in the room.
12- Communities and Societies have their own Track II or Track III forums. That is more graceful than having them on the margin as “observers” in Track I. At one time, Canada was interested in helping with such Track II; but Mediation were not enthusiastic.
13- The “International Observers” that show up in Doha now (when they show up), are junior diplomats or consultants-turned-diplomats. Does anyone REALLY care?
14- When there is no solid and durable Declaration of Principles (DOP), any product is susceptible to infringements or even de facto abrogation. This happened to the Document of “Goodwill” between JEM and GOS of February 17th 2009 and one year later the same fate faced the “Framework Agreement” of February 23rd, 2010 between the same parties. In both agreements both Al mahmoud and Bassole are witnesses (But there are no guarantors).
15- Now Mr. Bassole is challenged: The Libyans are coming! A new “Initiative” declared by Mahgoub Hussien, By barring JEM’s Dr. Khalil from entering N’Djamena, Chad gave a God-sent gift to Libya. Weapons supplies to JEM were coming from Libya anyway (JEM are denying that), but through Chad. Now they can come directly . Khartoum is doomed if they quarrel with Tripoli and are doomed if they do not; and accept the status quo. Dr. Khalil has been very quiet for the last four weeks. We call this “ducking” and it is a wise policy at this time and conditions. The International Community being used to noises and tactics of “we are still here” may be misinterpreting this ducking for lack of interest or resourcefulness.
16- Mr. Bassole was very crude when he flew to N’Djamena and offered Dr. Khalil travel documents if he would go back to Doha. A rather pathetic approach. No one in his right mind would negotiate “Under duress”, but we presume Mr. Bassole does not know what that means.
17- A possible scenario is that JEM/Libya will wait for Doha/Bassole to deal with and complete an agreement through the current talks between GOS and LJM and/or recess the talks and either of those will burn the LJM team and their document agreement of March 18th 2010 will go into the same dust bin of Fashoda September 20th 1997, Khartoum April 21st 1997, , Cairo with NDA/DUP June 18th 2005, Protocol on the Enhancement of the Security Arrangements Abuja November 9th 2004, Ceasefire agreement with Abdulwahid Abache September 3rd 2003 and Djibouti with Umma among Others(8) . Would Mr. Bassole wish to end his engagement like that? Join the Ian Pronks, Sam Iboks and the Salems?
18- Then the game will start between GOS/NCP and JEM. The borders between Sudan and Libya are officially closed as of July 1st 2010. The borders between Sudan and Libya are 383 KM of the Libyan Dessert and hell-on-earth. This is compared to 1360 KM between Chad and Sudan that gave more porosity to JEM. Libya has 1055 KM of borders with Chad that are practically no-man’s land.
19- Or will JEM go to Uganda and deeper into Black Africa and away from the futile Arab arena?
20- GOS seems to have buttressed itself behind its new “Strategy” and will no longer have to have to go to a Tripoli or anywhere else unless their new “Strategy” fails. Will Doha/Mr. Bassole have any business to do if LJM’s business is done or fails and JEM is not returning? When the flames die, both parties will come to the table under international pressure emanating from an aggravated “Humanitarian Crisis”.
21- Qatar, Doha and Minister Al Mahmoud shall be there and all they would have lost is a few million Cubic Feet of Natural Gas traded for part of the cost of the expenses of the long feast and party of 8 months so far! I say part of the cost as the main spending is from a “Trust Fund” in which many nations are contributing. The Qataris are not footing all the bills.
22- In Khartoum on July 20th 2008 Mr. Bassole said “It is not mission impossible”. Exactly two years later, it is still “Mission Impossible” for him. Even worse, his lack of leadership and over-reliance on shuttle diplomacy, have made the situation worse. “Elbowing” by Minister Al Mahmoud and party did not help either. There are more splinter groups, more “bullies” and Track I and Track II mixed together for results that may prove catastrophic.
23- After Gen Gration’s “stampede” and globe-trotting, where is he now-a-days? It seems that Darfur has fallen through his cracks. He has now proposed a triangular link road between the capitals of the three Darfur States’ capital(9) . But will only fund the $45 million for building the new villages close to the road. That is at the centre of NCP/GOS new “Strategy”. But the road linkage will cost about $2 billion! Movements and formations of Darfur do not even want to see him.
24- Now more on Mr. Bassole(10) :
a- In Paris, Mr. Bassole asks the GOS/NCP for the following steps (In public and not in the Process in Doha or a secret meeting in Khartoum): 1- Improve the security situation: Isn’t that what Abdulwahid kept saying for ages? 2- Cessation of hostilities: Isn’t that what JEM and Abdulwahid have been asking for? 3- Facilitate the return of IDPs/Refugees to their homelands: Isn’t that the universal demand of all the movements and the aggrieved parties in Darfur? 4- Reconstruction of Darfur so that it would have “Normal economic activities”. Isn’t that Post Conflict Reconstruction? Does he really expect that to happen during the conflict?
b- Mr. Bassole has wondered who is representing Darfurians. Isn’t it LJM? Solely and exclusively? If not, what and why is he mediating them and GOS? Why has he been knocked off his feet when JEM froze their participation?
c- We are told be an eye witness that all that Mr. Bassolé does when he meets with Rebel Leaders is to “Plea to them” to engage! With Abdulwahid it was actually pathetic. He has no options to offer. No incentives to offer. No new windows to offer.
d- Now he is turning into an African Politician confirming the robustness of the Chad-Sudan agreement and the correctness of Deby’s actions against Dr. Khalil. He may not know that Deby is on a hot tin roof now from his Zaghawa aides. Reversal is not at all ruled out.
e- The controversial Mr. Bassole dared to criticise BOTH Mr. Abdulwahid and Dr. Khalil Ibrahim. That is taboo in Mediation. He does not know or has forgotten that when the legendary Nelson Mandela criticized the rebels of Burundi after a mediation session he was managing, he burnt himself as “Mediator”. Now so did Bassole. And we ALL cannot walk in the empty shoes of Mandela.
f- Then he contradicts himself in the event of the Arab Press Club in Paris by saying: “If Khalil and Abdulwahid wish to join in, they are welcome if not, we are proceeding”. But then he says (and he knows) that there is need for a comprehensive settlement!!
g- Then he makes a rather condemning statement that should never come out of a Mediator: A Judgement: That the situation of the Movements is to the pleasure of GOS/NCP as they do not have to give any concessions! I am not sure if the UN and AU listen to what he says. This is taboo in Mediation. This man is acting as a State Actor and not as Mediator. Chose one Mr. Bassole.
h- The big question is: Why does he have to talk so much? He is advised to go back to the record of General Lazarus Sumbeiywo in IGAD and the Record of Yamani Gabriab in Asmara.
25- On the 25th of June 2010 Mr. Bassole described Abdulwahid’s prerequisites as “obstructive”. In the same date, he reiterated those prerequisites are important steps for GOS to do if peace is to be achieved!
26- On June 7th 2010 Minister Al Mahmoud stated in the last session of that round of the process that “Darfur people have chosen their representatives”. That was less than wise. Why then is he hosting a Process if the people have said their word?
27- Just after it became known that JEM could not go back to/through Chad, PM Hamad bin Jassim told JEM when they asked for a plane to take them to Asmara that he will provide the plane but he cannot guarantee where it will land. That was said when Khalil requested a plane weeks before JEM”s departure to Cairo. He was wrong and he was not diplomatic. It is such non-thoughtful comments that may hurt JEM for long and work to bar them from returning to Doha.
28- On July 6th 2010, Mr. Bassole called on Khartoum to “stop violence and restore confidence”. He went on to tell Dr. Ghazi to “reduce tensions”, “seeking an end to all armed hostilities”. He went on to request facilitation of all the selected Darfur Society (he calls them civil society) to attend the July 12th event in Doha with only LJM talking to GOS. Regrettably Darfur Society got entangled between President Mbeki and Mr. Bassole and their tensions. Mr. Bassole brings down the file of Darfur Society when the chips of Doha are down.
29- We have been informed by credible sources in JEM that Mr. Bassole has told the German Government false and distorted analysis about JEM’s position. That he advised a member of the House of Lords in London not to facilitate any meetings between JEM and the British Government for fear that it will harden their position. This “back-biting” is dishonourable and will harden JEMs position not to deal with Mr. Bassole.
30- Totally contrary to Mr. Bassole’s statement in New York, Gambari says they cannot confirm the UN/AU can conclude peace by the end of the year, but they will try their best. To put us in some despair, he confirmed that UNAMID forces are on the ground at 92% and CIVPOL at 84% from the designed numbers(11) . And the war goes on and the violence goes on. Is UNAMID REALLY capable of defending the Civilian Population even where they are deployed? Even if the mandate is strengthened? He needs “One transport plane” unless Al Sahafa Daily is mistaken and he needs “Early Warning Systems”. That is all.
31- The “Level of Effort” of UNAMID in Darfur now is about one peacekeeper for every 25 Square Kilometres (20,000 for 493000 Sq Km) of territory. In Iraq’s current invasion at its peak it is one soldier for every 2.7 Sq. Km. (160,000 for 438,000 Sq. Km.). In Desert Storm 1991 it was 2.5 soldiers for every Sq. Km. (956,000 for 438,000 Sq Km). In Afghanistan at its peak, the Combined Allied Forces were 391,600 forces for an area of 647,000 Sq. Km. giving one soldier for every 1.6 Sq. K. How can UNAMID do the Job?
32- Dr. Ghazi has called for “re-inventing” of Doha Process. That means the “invention” is not working. Would one who is engaged in Mediation and who respects himself (as Joint Mediator) have resigned after such a strong statement? This came after he stated that”… the process did not achieve the desired outcome” Flat on Mr. Bassole’s face!
33- Dr. Ghazi listed four very interesting spheres of activities(12) . 1- Delivering dividends to the people. 2- Building institutions of governance in Darfur. 3- Peace and humanitarian issues. 4- Relations with neighbouring countries. This is a mix of “in conflict activities” and post conflict activities. They are all valid provided there is “vehicle” to deliver peace in Darfur. That vehicle, or “Doha”, is in limbo.
34- It will be interesting to find out the contents of the message from President Bashir to Emir Hamad bin Khalifa delivered at low-profile by Ambassador Ibrahim Fagiri to Minister Al Mahmoud on July 1st, 2010.
35- If Libya decides to enter the game afresh, Mr. Bassole will be out of business whence he sees to the recession of the talk between GOS and LJM or their failure and break up.
36- If not, I see JEM raising the ceiling of their demands for reformation of the process in their 9 points document(13) to include a 10th point requesting the removal of Mr. Bassole.
37- The Movements, as well, are finding it difficult to differentiate between “negotiation” and “process”, between content and process. JEM came out of that when they wrote their 9 points request for reform of Mediation to Ban Ki-moon.
38- One never gets a second chance to make a first impression. Mr. Bassole and company have moved from failure to failure. The puzzling question is: Why is Mr. Bassole still there? Why doesn’t the “Knight Dismount” gracefully admitting failure or more palatably, “lack of cooperation”! This way another possible person, process, country or mechanism may be available to pick up the pieces. But do Africans resign?
39- Mr. Bassole cannot be the only “constant” in the Political Process and should not be allowed to wreck more lives and get paid for that.
40- Some of the blood currently being spilled in Darfur since May 2010 (Government or Armed Movements makes no difference) lies squarely in the hands of Djibril Bassole and company and their failure to manage the Process(14) .
(1) Ex UK Ambassador to Sudan
(2) Joint Assessment Mission
(3) Canadian Analyst on Sudan/HOA
(4) “Darfurian Voices: Documenting Darfurian Refugees Views”-under finalization.
(5) Read John Burton
(6) Those who can impact positively or negatively on the conflict. i.e.: Those with military power
(7) Small Arms Survey Gení¨ve
(8) Read Subsahara Note D04
(9) Fasher, Nyala and Giniena
(10) Refer to his Sharq Al Awsat and other Media press releases in Paris June 24th, 2010
(11) Al Sahafa Daily 07/07/2010
(12) Sudan Tribune 07/07/10
(13) See JEM’s document to Ban Ki-moon. On June 6th, 2010. A “must read”. If JEM stick to their guns, we may have a viable process in Doha.
(14) 600 lives lost in May 2010 and an estimated 220 in June 2010.