Sudan to execute diplomat killers
Four men in Sudan have been sentenced to death for the killing of a US diplomat and his driver last year.
John Granville and driver Abdel Rahman Abbas died after gunmen opened fire on their car early on New Year's Day.
"We sentence the first four defendants to death by hanging," Reuters news agency quoted Judge Sayed Ahmed al-Badri as saying.
Earlier, the US embassy in Khartoum urged its citizens to keep a low profile if there was a guilty verdict.
A fifth man, who had provided the men with the weapon but did not participate in the murder, was sentenced to two years in prison at the court in the capital, Khartoum.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Gérard was caught before he could flee Delft, and imprisoned. He was tortured before his trial on 13 July, where he was sentenced to be brutally — even by the standards of that time — killed. The magistrates sentenced that the right hand of Gérard should be burned off with a red-hot iron, that his flesh should be torn from his bones with pincers in six different places, that he should be quartered and disemboweled alive, that his heart should be torn from his bosom and flung in his face, and that, finally, his head should be cut off.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
• Bring together members of Darfuri civil societydoctors, educators, leaders, and businesspeople among themto form a common negotiating platform, so that there can be constructive peace talks (since the most plausible path to a solution is a negotiated peace agreement). A prominent Sudanese tycoon and philanthropist, Mo Ibrahim, is now pushing this approach in a project called Mandate Darfur. Sudan's government blocked the Mandate Darfur peace talks this spring, with barely a murmur of protest from around the world, and it's crucial that international pressure be focused on Khartoum to allow this initiative to proceed. This may be Sudan's best hope.
• Apply pressure on the Sudanese government to make concessions so that such a negotiated deal is more likely, while also putting pressure on Abdel Wahid and the rebels. One of the basic problems is that the international community hasn't applied credible sticks or carrots to Khartoum. Carrots are difficult politically, but we can do more with sanctions (especially, going after the wealth of the Sudanese leaders in foreign banks), with international pressure from Arab countries (here Qatar has been helpful), and with military measures.
• These military measures can include a no-fly zone. This doesn't mean shooting any planes out of the air. Rather, when a Sudanese military aircraft bombs civilians in defiance of the UN ban on offensive military flights, Western forces can destroy a Sudanese fighter plane or helicopter gunship on the ground a few days later. For this purpose, the US could use aircraft from its military base in Djibouti, and France could use aircraft at its base in Abeché, in Chad. In a classified memo to the White House last year, the special envoy for Sudan, Ambassador Richard Williamson, also outlined other possible military measures, including jamming all telephones, radio signals, and television signals in Khartoum.
• Nudge China into suspending arms deliveries to Sudan. This would terrify the Khartoum regime, at a time when it is arming for renewed war with the south, for China is its main arms supplier and trainer of its military pilots. China won't suspend its oil purchases from Sudan, but it is conceivable that China would suspend military sales (which yield modest sums for China relative to the cost to its image).
• Encourage some elements in the official Sudanese leadership to overthrow President Bashir, by suggesting that if this happens and they take steps to end the violence in Darfur, the US will normalize relations with Sudan. The other leaders will not be indicted by the ICC, so if they remove Bashir they can remove the albatross from Sudan's neck. These other leaders also have blood on their hands, but they are far better than Bashir.
• Give a signal that the US has no objection to its allies selling anti-aircraft missiles to south Sudan (that is easier than providing the missiles ourselves). This would deny Khartoum air control over the south, and thus reduce the chance that the north will attack the south and revive the north–south civil war.
Friday, June 19, 2009
A number of very recent papers on political economy provide the opportunity for some speculative thinking on the likely complex interrelated process of political and economic transformation. Robinson and Torvik (2009), for example, develop a model of an autocracy that can choose to reward voters through patronage and also punish voters through violence. In their model, voters who are less ideologically committed to the regime or its opposition, that is, swing voters, are under many conditions more likely to be the victims of violence. The reasoning is simple: by virtue of being swing voters, they are relatively more expensive to secure to the ruling regime, and so the regime may find it more effective to use violence to exclude the swing voters from the electoral process. A recent working paper by Kasara (2009) finds evidence very much consistent with the model: the post-electoral violence in
A related model by Brender and Drazen (2009) examines the tradeoff between generating mass support for democracy versus buying off elites who are potential spoilers of a democratic transition. In
Acemoglu, Egorov and Sonin (2009) offer some modeling results on the very knotty question of the likely dynamics of coalitational authoritarianism, which is especially relevant to
Acemoglu, Daron, Georgy Egorov, and Konstantin Sonin, “Do Juntas Lead to Personal Rule?” American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings 2009, 99:2, 298–303.
Brender, Adi, and Allan Drazen. 2009. "Consolidation of New Democracy, Mass Attitudes, and Clientelism." American Economic Review, 99(2): 304–09.
Robinson , James and Ragnar Torvik, 2009. "The Real Swing Voter's Curse," forthcoming in American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings, and NBER Working Papers 14799, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Darfur, the westernmost region of Sudan, has been embroiled since 2003 in violent conflict that has resulted in the internal displacement of over 2 million people, many of whom are living in temporary camps. USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) has been one of the key US Government entities providing funding for humanitarian organizations working in Darfur. One component of humanitarian relief for the region’s internally displaced persons (IDPs) has been the introduction and promotion of fuel-efficient stove (FES) programs. An increasing number of humanitarian organizations are requesting funds to implement these programs throughout Darfur.
FES can deliver numerous benefits to end-user households, including fuel and time savings, reduced exposure to smoke, and lessened risks of fires and burns. Programs promoting FES therefore seem well-suited to IDP settings, where such multi-sectoral benefits typically are urgently needed but difficult to achieve given staff and resource constraints and difficult logistical conditions.
To better understand FES program drivers and outcomes, the USAID evaluation in Darfur examined four types of FES being promoted by three different non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to ascertain whether the stoves were indeed reducing fuel consumption. In addition, the evaluation team sought to identify behavioral and programmatic factors that influenced the likelihood that the FES programs would meet their fuel savings and other goals. The evaluation revealed a considerable range in stove performance and implementation strategies. Given the small sample set, the data should not be considered definitive, but rather as indicators of areas where improvements can be made.
Key findings of the evaluation include:
•Darfur is one of the world’s most challenging places to undertake humanitarian assistance. Field staff work in dangerous conditions, turnover is high, logistics are challenging, and access to the camps can be difficult to obtain. Despite these obstacles, all of the NGOs whose programs were reviewed had succeeded in disseminating stoves to large numbers of camp residents.
•Stove performance tests conducted by the evaluation team revealed that one stove seemed consistently to consume significantly less fuel than the traditional three-stone fire; several performed slightly better or worse than the three-stone fire; and one stove consistently consumed more fuel than the three-stone fire. Fuel efficiency did not increase proportionately with the cost/design sophistication of the stoves tested.
•The NGO programs reviewed did not incorporate sufficient monitoring and evaluation systems to guide their performance or validate their results. When data was collected, it was not disseminated adequately throughout the organization or the surrounding community.
•Several of the NGOs had sought outside expertise to introduce new stove models and strengthen their FES programs. However, promotion/dissemination of multiple technologies stretched the management capacity of the programs.
•NGOs need to spend more time on end-user education, to ensure that behavior change messages are transmitted effectively and that beneficiaries know how to use their stoves to obtain maximum benefits.
•Beneficiaries typically were enthusiastic about their stoves. However, many stated that they experienced difficulty maintaining the stoves, particularly after donor support had ended.
Focus group discussions and one-on-one interviews revealed that IDPs in Darfur are very interested in new cooking technologies, and especially welcome benefits that improve their overall quality of life (such as reductions in the incidence of fires and burns). The evaluation team concluded that the promotion of FES remains a valid intervention for humanitarian assistance programs, but recommends that donors and implementers strive for realistic, consistently attainable fuel efficiency performance.
This will require the following steps:
•Stronger monitoring and evaluation protocols that will need to be implemented throughout the life of the program (not just at the beginning and end). The monitoring and evaluation criteria should incorporate a variety of both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods, in order to identify and address discrepancies between end-user feedback and stove performance tests.
•Workshop-centered production utilizing paid specialists, in order to improve quality control and maintain stove design parameters.
•Regular training for beneficiaries on how to maintain their stoves (particularly mudstoves, which crack with time), along with safe access to materials needed for repair.
In addition, the introduction of market-based principles into the stove production and distribution process should be explored. For instance, charging a minimal amount for each stove might help improve the quality of the stoves (and the sustainability of the programs) by giving end-users a vested interest in their stoves’ performance and creating mini-markets for various stove services (i.e., repairs). This can be achieved, however, only if all NGOs working in a given area adopt the same strategy, which will require greater planning and coordination at the camp level.
Monday, June 8, 2009
The other recommendation is to bring pressure on Deby to desist from supporting his proxy militias. But this advice is at odds with the recommendation of the South Sudan disarmament briefings (to be reviewed tomorrow) which suggest that "unilateral" disarmament is likely a bad idea, generating a vicious circle of neighboring militias taking advantage of local power vacuums, creating incentives for rearmament after killings, and compounding the problem of local distrust.
Finally, Tubiana recommends more local development assistance, specifically mentioning "nomadic Arabs" to maintain their way of lives. Some specificity would have been useful: I am curious what exactly he has in mind other than the usual provision of veterinary services. I've always wondered whether development organizations have *anything* to offer to pastoralists. They just know so much more than any development expert. Of course, he may just mean the usual social services of regular markets, education, and health.
There are two ways to read the reports. One is if you were some action-oriented person tasked with doing something in a region covered by some of the reports. They would be invaluable for giving you an idea of the recent situation and nature of armed groups in the area. Like a briefing. Probably better than George Bush was getting on Iraq. Reading them gives you an idea of what questions to ask. Did the "White Army" disband or get some command structure? They almost cry out for a table with assistants pushing armies around on a large map... the generals with their whiskeys receiving telegrams. One wonders whether the real commanders on the ground find them useful, or naive?
A second way to read the reports is to say they confirm that a general state of armed mobilization exists in much of peripheral Sudan, and armed entities of 1000+ men are readily available to spoil the CPA. So the situation is very dangerous for everyone. of course, any close observer of the region knows this, and does not need to be convinced of the powderkeg. But then... what? Do the reports contain specific suggestions for policy innovation beyond the standard invocation to do more and do better? Here the reports are less inspiring. But perhaps the problem lies with those needing policy inspiration, hoping to complex problems of war with a clever insight. Unhappy the land that need heroes, and all that.
But on to the specific suggestions of the authors.
Julie Flint and collaborators, in "The drift back to war: Insecurity and militarization in the Nuba Mountains", describe the apparent proliferation of new armed groups in the area, the deep dissatisfaction of much of the population with the interim period, and the absence of any joint effort by the SPLA and NCP to establish a process leading towards peace. It is great reporting, thorough and balanced. But their first suggestion is for "UNMIS to reorient and refocus " on the transitional areas of Abyei and South Kordofan. Do more, do better. The second suggestion is for an "internationally-sponsored plan", but the briefing catalogs the failure of the quite detailed CPA implementation plan (especially the Joint Integrated Forces) as applied to the Nuba Mountains. So what should the new plan contain that the old one did not?
I'll permit myself a snarky aside. Flint (presumably) towards the end blames, among others, "an international community distracted by Darfur", and yet she, with Alex de Waal, is co-author of probably the major book-length treatment of that war. If the international community spent 10 hours each reading that book, we're talking thousands of hours of distraction. Glass house and stones, Ms. Flint, don't mix.
Returning to the issue, what should the new plan contain that the old one did not, I feel honest in admitting to be stumped, though of course this has never been my area of expertise. But somehow I imagine that the experts too are stumped, in which case more humility may be in order. But I can think outside the box. (1) How about regularly publishing satellite imagery to both sides and the public showing structures of encampments etc., ground-truthed with UNMIS commentary? perhaps this is already being done though it does not seem to be easily accessible. (2) How about working with both sides to "uniform" their irregular militias. In my limited experience, irregulars love uniforms, and that may be a big step to reducing conflict, because they don't like their uniforms being shot full of holes. (3) How about a "joint-fly" zone that says for every flying sorty that the SAF has the UNMIS will provide and offer a comparable flying sorty to SPLA for the same duration. Bomb for bomb, I mean. They can outfit a special plane with large buffalo horns so that it will be clear it is not a relief flight. We usually don't think of the third-party "peacemakers" as escalating, but sometimes the threat of escalation can achieve deescalation, no?
Friday, June 5, 2009
24 April 2008
A new approach to Darfur: Shake hands with the devil
Andrew Natsios, a former U.S. special representative to the Sudan, argues in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs for a more pragmatic approach towards Darfur and peace in Sudan.
In brief: We’ve tried the stick, he says, and it ended in failure. So we need to think about the carrot.
What few successes the international community has helped to create—the signing of the peace agreement between north and south, for instance—were the result of conciliation and diplomacy, not of hard-line actions and words. Coming from Natsios, a former hard-liner, this is powerful stuff.
Natsios also takes a wary and critical view of the "save Darfur" crusaders:
The [ruling party’s] leaders are worried that U.S. policy might change to their disadvantage under the next U.S. President and that they have only until the end of 2008 to improve relations with Washington—a point I have reinforced in all of my conversations with them.
Unfortunately, rapprochement may face substantial resistance in the United States because the erroneous impression that tens of thousands of civilians continue to be slaughtered in Darfur is driving both a confrontational advocacy campaign and aggressive congressional action.
(Timely related article: Matt Damon leads the star-studded protests on Darfur day of action)
What I like best about Natsios' article is his ability to communicate the complexity of the situation and the nuances of different polies and events, without losing the reader in the innumerable details of ethnic groups, locations, and armed group leaders. I don’t know enough about Darfur to fully endorse his view, but his is one of the best (short) synopses of the situation I have read.
Also worth reading is Alex de Waal's short book on Darfur.
Also interesting in this issue of Foreign Affairs: Michael Ross on the coming oil conflicts, and Séverine Autesserre on what the international community is doing wrong in DRC.
Posted by Chris Blattman
Labels: conflict, Darfur, foreign policy, United States
Commentary on Natsios
“the Janjaweed militias, an Arab supremacist movement,” is probably not the right way to label the very irregular militias. There is very little evidence to suggest they are a “movement” in the way readers of Foreign Affairs would understand the word.
Right in the very first paragraph Natsios reverts to very problematic language of Arab versus African, and even worse, goes right back to using “tribe” with no sociological nuance.
In the next line, the 250,000 dead are “Sudanese”… what happened to the “African tribes”?
The same line elides the distinction between “internally displaced persons” and refugees. Of all people, Natsios knows the distinction- but hey, the insurgents in Iraq are all al-Qaeda backed by Iran, right?
“Both the Democratic and the Republican candidates for president have put Darfur on their foreign policy agendas.” Pretty laughable, that.
Simplification started in previous paragraph carries over and will be developed throughout: the problem in Sudan is of various tribes (the Arabs here, the Africans there, the animist and Christians down below) who do not get along. Natsios writes, “new strains in these groups' relations nearly broke out into a full-scale war”… here we all thought the strains were between named and organized political groupings that represent or claim to represent certain segments of the varied population- the National Congress Party and the SPLM….
Natsios starts wearing the reader down: only two possibilities are allowed: “either the country holds free and fair multiparty elections and ends two decades of autocratic rule or it disintegrates, plunging this volatile region into its most severe crisis yet.” Only the Darfur advocates want the plunging disintegration, everyone else wants elections and peace.
You can almost hear the police horn, “Good people of the United States, go back inside, nothing to see here, go back inside please.”
“The Bush administration can still help avert such a disaster.” Surely unwitting, but the implication lingers- nobody else really can help avert this disaster. Certainly not the Darfur activists.
“Washington spends a disproportionate amount of its staffing and budgetary resources on resolving the crisis in Darfur rather than on supporting the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.” Meaning, all the Darfur activists take up a lot of our valuable time. It is a strange implication too: the two parties signed a peace agreement, and peace returned. Meanwhile there is an active war zone, with 2 million displaced. But this war zone and those displaced, and the threat continued war poses to the peace, should not receive “disproportionate” attention.
“...peace cannot be achieved in Darfur if it is not secured between the north and the south. “ One could just as easily have written, “...peace cannot be achieved between the north and the south if it is not secured in Darfur.” Natsios frames again as an absolute, a fact, when of course this is an opinion. “In my opinion, peace, etc.”
“The best way for Washington to proceed, moreover, is not by confronting Khartoum but by engaging it, even in the face of likely objections from the Darfur advocacy community.”
Again, the basic gist of the article is to frame the problem in Darfur as a problem exacerbated by the Darfur activists… if they would just go away, the “practical policies” could take care of the situation, just as they did (you surely recall) during the period 2003-2005 leading up the the CPA. Oh, right, but nevermind, the "practical policies" didn't actually do much in the previous 20 years of civil war 1983-2003(sparked you recall by the U.S. ally Jaafar Nimeiri’s government in a power play to secure oil revenues for the north… Chevron, Bechtel, conspiracy theories, all you crazies out there… get to work!)
More on Natsios... how much credibility to give to his opinion?
How about the following quote from 2003 when he was administrator of USAID planning reconstruction of Iraq, interviewed on Nightline:
Well, in terms of the American taxpayers contribution, I do, this is it for the US. The rest of the rebuilding of Iraq will be done by other countries who have already made pledges, Britain, Germany, Norway, Japan, Canada, and Iraqi oil revenues, eventually in several years, when it's up and running and there's a new government that's been democratically elected, will finish the job with their own revenues. They're going to get in $20 billion a year in oil revenues. But the American part of this will be 1.7 billion. We have no plans for any further-on funding for this.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Honestly, it seems never to have occurred to de Waal that the purpose of all the visits is precisely to make government officials stop doing bad things, because when you do bad things you have to answer questions all the time from lots of foreign officials! Reminds me of how after the Iraq war they found the hundreds of thousands of letters written by Amnesty folks about political prisoners, unopened. Maybe there should have been more international visitors and fewer letters? De Waal seems to imply an email would be fine:
"Dear Mr. President,
It has come to my attention that 2.5 million persons continue living in IDP camps in Darfur because of continued insecurity due in large part to your unwillingness to enter into genuine cease-fires with a number of small rebel groups in the region. I was thinking of a high profile visit to Khartoum and perhaps even Darfur to express my fervent desire that you and your government do more to enable these 2.5 million persons to return to their homes. But after some thought, I decided that most likely this was of course what you were already doing, 24/7. So my visit would just have been a distraction. In fact, as I think about it, I have decided not to send this email, because I know you would then have to spend some of your valuable time drafting a response.
Yours sincerely if I had sent the email,