On Sudan, Tour of Heglig & Talk of $1B Harm, US Draft Is Out, Darfur
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, April 26, updated -- While the UN Security Council met on
Darfur Thursday morning, sources told Inner City Press that the US would use
the meeting to circulate a draft resolution supporting the African Union
communique on Sudan and South Sudan.
When the closed door consultations ended, three Council members told Inner
City Press they had just gotten the draft -- "and the US wants action right
away," one of them complained. Inner City Press reported this, and a half an
hour later US Ambassador Susan Rice confirmed the draft was out.
But another issue lurked: the serious damage to the oil facilities at
Heglig. Several Council members said their Ambassadors in Khartoum had been
taken the day before down to Heglig and were "shocked" by the level of
destruction. One member spoke of pictures, of a $1 billion repair cost and
work to take up to a year.
Another, a Sudan supporter, even described what he called South Sudan's
sabotage of Heglig as a "war crime," saying "you can kill people directly or
by denying a country half its income." The goal in this scenario, however,
seems to be regime change and not starvation. Regime change through
Inner City Press asked Ambassador Susan Rice about Heglig and its relation
to the resolution and situation between the two Sudans. She said again that
it is not clear who caused the damage: "there are multiple ways that this
could have been caused by the fighting between the parties, by sabotage, by
either or both sides, or indeed by aerial bombardment, which was utilized by
Khartoum in trying to dislodge the SPLA forces from Heglig."
Rice confirmed the trip of Ambassadors down to Heglig. She said the
"draft is really primarily focused on reinforcing the African Union decision
of a couple of days ago."
When Sudan's Permanent Representative Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman came
after Rice to the stakeout, Inner City Press asked him if his government
supports the communique. We are a member of the African Union, he said, but
that does not mean that the AU should be "used" by UN Security Council
members. Later he said that the communique's timelines -- he mentioned "one
week" -- were too tight.
One still wanted the view of South Sudan's Representative Agnes Oswaha;
even in her absence of Heglig it can be said that the oil from South Sudan's
Unity State transited through there, meaning Juba loses too, even if the oil
transfer fee were settled.
Much less focus was given to the morning's ostensibly subject, Darfur. UN
Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous is proposing to reduce and redeploy the
UNAMID mission's posts. In the Council's open meeting he painted an
improving, some say Pollyanna picture of Darfur including North Darfur.
When the meeting ended, South Africa's Permanent Representative Baso Sangqu
expressed concern that pulling out too late could lead to a "backlash" and
the need to return. It recalled Timor Leste, where the UN pulled out then
rushed back in after violence.
Inner City Press asked US Ambassador Rice about this critique. She said
the US "hardly sanguine about the security situation. We see that the
violence is escalating in four or five regions of Darfur, and we're
particularly concerned about North Darfur and Jebel Marra... The way we
understand the proposals by DPKO is not to really think of it as a
downsizing but, rather, a right-sizing so that the personnel that they have
are ones that are, first of all, optimally equipped and trained. There's
been some issues with that, I think you know."
UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant told Inner City Press that many
of the posts proposed for elimination were not presently filled -- "phantom
posts" -- and that some of the peacekeepers to be rotated out hadn't
necessarily done a perfect job.
Rice on camera more charitably said "as you know," some have not had the
right equipment and training. It brought to mind a scandal in which a
Nepalese battalion deployed with armored personnel carriers that did not
work. This in term brought to mind Haiti and MINUSTAH -- but that's another
story. Watch this site.
From the US Mission to the UN transcript:
Inner City Press: On Darfur, Ambassador Sangqu of South Africa just said
he's at least concerned of this idea of reducing the force size, such that
there could be kind of a backlash. I think it happened in East Timor, for
example. At one time, the UN pulled out. Does the U.S. think that things are
going as well in Darfur as it seemed that Mr. Ladsous was saying, that-at
least in the north and on the borders? And on Sudan / South Sudan: I've
heard that the U.S. ambassador and other ambassadors are going to actually
visit Heglig and see the damage. I want to know if that's true and how that
relates to the issues in your draft resolution and in trying to get the two
parties negotiating. Do you think that this-I've heard that it's as much as
a billion dollars of damage or long-term repair. What's the relation between
that fact on the ground and what you want to see the two parties do?
Ambassador Rice: Well, on Heglig, I think it is the case that the government
in Khartoum was trying to organize to take some diplomats down to Heglig. I
don't-I think what is clear is that there has been damage. I don't know that
we have reliable cost estimates on that. What is most unclear is how the
damage was caused, and I discussed this the other day. There are multiple
ways that this could have been caused by the fighting between the parties,
by sabotage, by either or both sides, or indeed by aerial bombardment, which
was utilized by Khartoum in trying to dislodge the SPLA forces from
Heglig-or maybe come combination thereof. It doesn't factor directly into
the draft we're discussing because the draft is really primarily focused on
reinforcing the African Union decision of a couple of days ago.
Going back to Darfur, remind me again of what-
Inner City Press: There's a concern expressed by South Africa and maybe
others that, if you pull out too quickly, you might have to go back in as
took place in Timor Leste.
Ambassador Rice: Well, first of all, from a U.S. point of view, we're hardly
sanguine about the security situation. We see that the violence is
escalating in four or five regions of Darfur, and we're particularly
concerned about North Darfur and Jebel Marra. So this remains a very
insecure, very serious situation. The way we understand the proposals by
DPKO is not to really think of it as a downsizing but, rather, a
right-sizing so that the personnel that they have are ones that are, first
of all, optimally equipped and trained. There's been some issues with that,
I think you know. Secondly, that the police component is configured to be
maximally effective and to be deployed in areas where they can have the
greatest beneficial impact in terms of protecting civilians. There have been
issues with air assets having been grounded by the
government-underutilized-so I think they're trying to address those as well.
So, obviously the Council will have further opportunity to delve into these
recommendations, as I said, when we do the mandate renewal. But certainly
from our point of view, I don't think it's correct to view it as a
downsizing but, rather, trying to align the personnel resources and
equipment on the ground with the needs as they are today, as opposed to when
the force was originally mandated.
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Received on Thu Apr 26 2012 - 19:21:57 EDT