Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The NIF and it's destructive influence in Sudan

Eric Reeves is a professor who is intimately involved in the situation in Darfur, and his article is posted below - very lengthy - but it shows how the National Islamic Front is basically trying to destroy the progress of the South and how it is affecting the situation in the West, in Chad, and in the East.

As the International Community Postures, Sudan's Many Crises DeepenPosted by: ereeves on Feb 14, 2006 - 06:33 PM News
Darfur, Chad, Eastern Sudan, Southern Sudan---all remain victims of National Islamic Front tyranny and brutalityEric ReevesFebruary 14, 2006Yesterday’s meeting at the White House between President George W. Bush and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appears to have been a cautiously amicable affair. No deadlines were set, no firm commitments made, no explicit promises extracted, no mention made of the conspicuous realities of genocide in Darfur. Annan’s language of recent weeks, calling for a robust humanitarian intervention in Darfur---with significant Western involvement---was nowhere in evidence. The US for its part seemed happy with the day’s noncommittal vagueness, professionally rendered by State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. Asked whether the US was willing to contribute troops to the mooted Darfur mission, McCormack would say only: "‘It's really premature to speculate about what the needs would be in terms of logistics, in terms of airlift, in terms of actual troops. And certainly in that regard, premature to speculate on what the US contribution might be.’" (Reuters [Washington, DC], February 13, 2006)For the thousands of Darfuris who die every month; for the more than 2 million internally displaced persons and refugees whose survival remains precarious; for the more than 3.5 million people in need of food and medical assistance; for these dying and acutely vulnerable civilians, the notion that commitment to humanitarian intervention is “premature” must be thoroughly unintelligible. And yet half way through February, the US has managed---during its month-long Presidency of the Security Council---to introduce but one “Statement,” and this enabling only contingency planning for a UN mission to replace the radically inadequate AU observer mission. There has been no authorizing resolution for a UN peacemaking mission; nor is there any firm US commitment to introduce such an authorizing resolution. Nor is there a clear willingness on the part of the US to use its political and diplomatic leverage to move Permanent Members of the Security Council toward accepting such a resolution. China and Russia are known to be resisting interference in the “internal matters” of Sudan; the French are also widely known to be extremely reluctant to authorize a UN mission for Darfur. Yet there is no evidence of US efforts to move these veto-wielding nations closer to support for what Annan has at least declared to be needed. US Ambassador John Bolton several months ago insisted that he was tired of words and reports on Darfur and wanted “action.” Bolton went so far as to block a presentation to the Security Council by UN special advisor for the prevention of genocide, Juan Mendez (Mendez’s report was in fact one of the few important UN documents of recent months). So where is the gruff Mr. Bolton’s commitment to “action” now? Perhaps he, like Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer, has been ordered to toe the line in a new Bush administration “minimalist” assessment of Darfur: it’s not the site of genocide (it becomes daily clearer that this administration has reneged on its previous genocide determination), but rather what Frazer recently called "a series of small attacks and incidents."It is, of course, not simply the US that is failing Darfur. But the people of this tortured land might be forgiven for asking how we moved any closer, with yesterday’s White House meeting, to what Annan had previously described as the necessary mission in Darfur. Annan has spoken of the need for “tactical air support, helicopters, and the ability to respond very quickly.” Asked if such a force would include rich countries, like the US and European nations, Annan has repeatedly said, “Those are the countries with the kind of capabilities we will need, so when the time comes, we will be turning to them. We will need very sophisticated equipment, logistical support. I will be turning to governments with capacity to join in that peacekeeping operation if we were to be given the mandate.”But today NATO also made clear it has no intention of providing its own forces---those with the equipment, training, and resources described by Annan---to an international mission in Darfur:“NATO allies would look kindly on new appeals for back-up help to African troops in Sudan's violent Darfur region, but rule out for now a major deployment of their own, NATO diplomats said on Tuesday [February 14, 2006].”"‘The focus [of NATO] is more about extending our support role in the transition from an AU to a blue helmet (United Nations) force,’ said the diplomat, who requested anonymity.” (Reuters [dateline: Brussels], February 14, 2006)Echoing comments by the US Statement Department, a NATO official added that because “there has been no formal UN or AU request for [NATO] even to consider providing more help, [ ] it is simply too early for any kind of formal discussion” (Reuters [dateline: Brussels], February 14, 2006).The same Reuters dispatch from Brussels reports:“US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick stressed at a conference in Munich this month the need for ‘African solutions for African problems’ and said he hoped many of the AU forces would be retained within a future UN operation.”There is such a fundamental cleavage between the language that Annan has used and the language of those he has declared himself ready to ask for help in Darfur, that we must wonder: is Annan merely posturing? Is he really fully using the moral leverage of his office to move urgently toward humanitarian intervention in Darfur, of the sort recommended by numerous human rights and policy organizations? Or is this an elaborate exercise in self-exculpation by a UN leader who has failed Darfur in so many ways during the past three years?It is certainly now clear that Annan’s White House strategy has done very little to further the move toward forceful humanitarian intervention in Darfur--all that can provide security for those who continue to be so acutely at risk. His efforts will offer little encouragement, for example, to the International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch, which earlier this month wrote to President Bush and the Security Council (again, of which the US is President), urging,“[T]hat the Security Council authorize, on an urgent basis, a transition of the African Union force in Darfur to a UN mission under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Such a mission should have a strong and clear mandate that will allow it to protect itself and civilians by force if necessary, and to disarm and disband the government-sponsored Janjaweed forces that have confiscated land or pose a threat to the civilian population. The mission should also be specifically empowered to provide appropriate assistance to the International Criminal Court's investigations in Darfur including the arrest of individuals indicted for crimes against humanity and war crimes. [I]t should be a force large enough to provide security throughout Darfur---some 20,000 strong---with capabilities that, realistically, only countries with significant military assets and mobility will be able to provide.” The “urgent basis” for authorizing transformation of the AU force into a robust UN force is nowhere in evidence. Instead, the Bush administration and NATO declare than any discussion of their contribution to such a mission is “premature.” And at the UN, dilatory US leadership of the Security Council seems content with a “Presidential Statement” and non-binding talk of a possible authorizing resolution. This guarantees that “premature” will be the governing description of US and European sense of commitment to Darfur for the foreseeable future---and that the morally slovenly mantra of “African solutions for African problems” will define the futures of millions of Darfuris.In short, the moment of real opportunity for Darfur is passing with the month of February and US Presidency of the Security Council. Vague contingency planning---for an excessively limited force---is all the action that Bush, Bolton, Frazer and the State Department are willing to push for. The Europeans and NATO are providing ample support for such a callous response. For its part, the UK seems merely foolish with its threat of additional sanctions against Khartoum and the leaders of the Darfur insurgency. The UN passed a sanctions resolution, supposedly targeting the NIF genocidaires and recalcitrant rebel leaders, almost a year ago; to date, not a single sanction on any individual has been imposed. Britain’s self-described “tough message” (February 13, 2006) is little more than self-congratulatory bluster amidst Darfur’s catastrophe.But what must be recognized along with the callous indifference to the fate of so many in Darfur is that this lack of response sends a potent message to the architects of genocide in Khartoum, to the National Islamic Front that daily dominates more completely the merely notional “Government of National Unity” in Sudan. And this message has implications not only for Darfur, but for the escalating violence in eastern Chad, for southern Sudan and a collapsing “Comprehensive Peace Agreement, for Eastern Sudan (the next site of NIF genocide)---and for the civilians who throughout Sudan continue to be the victims of arbitrary arrest and torture by the NIF security apparatus, as Amnesty International yet again reported in two separate dispatches yesterday (February 13, 2006).A refusal to respond to the bad faith and genocidal predations of the National Islamic Front---whether proceeding from commercial interests in Sudan, the pursuit of intelligence in the “war on terror,” or sheer indifference---will have multiple consequences in the region, consequences that should give pause to even the crudest calculation of self-interest by international actors.CHADAs Human Rights Watch has recently reported,“The Darfur conflict is spilling over into Chad. Human Rights Watch recently documented dozens of coordinated cross-border raids by Janjaweed militias and Chadian rebels supported by the Sudanese government from bases in Darfur. Since December [2005], their attacks on Chadian border villages have resulted in dozens of civilians killed and injured, and displaced thousands of people in eastern Chad. Sudanese government troops, vehicles, and aerial support were sued during several of the attacks in December.” (Press release, February 10, 2006)Even more ominously, in a lengthier report of February 5, 2006, Human Rights Watch finds:“Militias based in Darfur are launching cross-border raids on villages in Chad on an almost daily basis, killing civilians, burning villages, and stealing cattle in a pattern of attacks that show signs of ethnic bias, Human Rights Watch said today [February 5, 2006]. Human Rights Watch researchers documented numerous cross-border attacks on Chadian villages along the border between Adré, Adé, and Modoyna in eastern Chad since early December 2005. Most of the attacks were by Sudanese and Chadian militiamen from Darfur, some with apparent Sudanese government backing, including helicopter gunship support.”“Tens of thousands of people are now displaced internally within Chad by the violence. Most of the victims are from the Dajo and Masalit ethnic groups, which live on both sides of the international border. Chadian Arabs living in the same area appear to enjoy immunity from attack, although some have left their homes and taken refuge in Sudan, apparently for fear of reprisals.” (“Darfur: New Attacks in Chad Documented,” February 5, 2006; at The Dajo and Massaleit are among the non-Arab or African tribal populations that have suffered most from Khartoum’s genocidal assault in Darfur. As Human Rights Watch rightly declared:“Sudan’s policy of arming militias and letting them loose is spilling over the border, and civilians have no protection from their attacks, in Darfur or in Chad. Human Rights Watch said that the situation had increased the need for an expanded, robust international force not only in Darfur but along the Chadian border, with a mandate to protect civilians and disarm the armed groups.”But this is precisely the force that the Bush administration and NATO are refusing to accept in any meaningful or urgent way, thereby increasing the likelihood of a “hot war” between Chad and Sudan. Artillery exchanges have been reported across the border; the el-Geneina (West Darfur) airport is protected by heavily dug-in mortar and military positions. The December 2005 attack on Adré (Chad) by Chadian military mutineers was clearly supported by Khartoum, and those mutineers wounded in the failed assault were treated in el-Geneina hospital with the protection of Khartoum’s military intelligence (Reuters [dateline: el-Geneina], December 20, 2005].As a result of this attack on Adré, as Human Rights Watch also reports,“the border area south of Adré became more vulnerable to militia attacks following a December 18, 2005 attack on Adré by Chadian rebels opposed to the government in N’Djamena. The Chadian rebels operate from bases in Darfur and are allegedly supported by the Sudanese government. The attack on Adré prompted the Chadian government to redeploy its forces away from border villages south of the town, leaving large areas at the mercy of uniformed militiamen riding horses and camels who have attacked and looted dozens of villages in the past six weeks.”“The increasing attacks on villages in Chad, as well as on camps and aid workers in West Darfur in the past few months, have made the region extremely dangerous for international humanitarian groups. Therefore, only a few are currently operating in the border area. Many of the people displaced in Chad lost most of their harvest and cattle as a result of the attacks, and are living in makeshift straw huts, dependent on handouts from host villagers. Food shortages may become critical in the coming weeks as food stocks are depleted.”“‘Security in Eastern Chad and West Darfur are closely interconnected. If no preventive action is taken it may only be a matter of time before the refugee camps in Chad are also threatened,’ said [HRW Africa Director Peter] Takirambudde. ‘The Security Council must act at once to prevent more Chadian civilians from suffering the nightmare next door.’”“Human Rights Watch researchers in the Chadian region of Borota, south of Adré, documented several attacks by Janjaweed militia since mid-December. Forty of the 85 villages comprising Borota have been attacked, and all forty have been abandoned by villagers, who are now homeless. In several attacks between December 16 and January 20, sixteen villagers were killed and six were wounded. The latest attack, on January 20, occurred at night while Human Rights Watch researchers were staying in the village.”“The central village of Borota has a population of 6,850, but since the attacks began, it has swollen to more than 10,000. The village has only one working well and food stocks are severely depleted.” “Dozens of witnesses, who were interviewed separately, described the attackers as ethnic Arabs visibly different from the local population, wearing Sudanese army khakis and speaking Sudanese Arabic. They wore green, white, or yellow turbans, rode horses or sometimes camels, and came from over the Sudan border to the east.” (“Darfur: New Attacks in Chad Documented,” February 5, 2006)This is the crisis that the US, NATO, and European is prepared wait on, declaring that a firm commitment to halt these new Khartoum-orchestrated atrocities is “premature.”THE EASTA superb new analysis of the crisis in Eastern Sudan has recently been published by Julie Flint in The Daily Star/Lebanon (“The Looming Conflict in Eastern Sudan,” February 7, 2006; Flint offers a compelling picture of what the people of the East, primarily the Beja, have endured at the hands of successive regimes in Khartoum, but most conspicuously under the National Islamic Front:“Eastern Sudan is one of the richest and the poorest regions of Sudan. It has some of the most fertile agricultural land in the country; gas, gold and other minerals; livestock; fisheries and possibly even oil. Port Sudan, capital of Red Sea State, is the country's major seaport and export terminal. It is the terminus for three pipelines worth more than $1 billion and has recently begun tempting foreign tourists with cheap flights and expensive hotels. But in the slums of Port Sudan, the Beja and other pastoralists displaced from the surrounding rural areas by drought, the seizure of prime land and food shortages live on less than $1 a day. Until the Darfur conflict began---and perhaps even now---more babies and more children were dying in Red Sea State than in any other part of Sudan. Easterners have even more reason than Darfurians to be aggrieved.”“Eastern Sudan's plight is not so very different from that of Sudan's other peripheries. The region is marginalized politically, exploited economically and neglected every which way. The [north/south] Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) has accomplished nothing in this regard.”The significance of the oil pipeline system running through this region can hardly be overstated. The Beja, who make up the bulk of the Eastern Front rebel group, are on the verge of war with Khartoum---with no credible peace forum in sight. Khartoum’s response to any threat to its strategically important oil infrastructure will certainly be genocidal. But in fact the people of Red Sea and Kassala Provinces, like those of Darfur Province, are already suffering terribly. Out of this ghastly suffering will emerge a new form of warfare in Sudan. Flint reports:"‘The slums in which the Beja live in Port Sudan are one of the most horrific sights you can imagine,’ says one of the very few outsiders who has met some of the men---and women---who are ready to kill themselves to make their voices heard. ‘Displaced camps in Darfur are manifestly better. These people have seen all their livestock die. Their children are constantly sick with malaria and diarrhea and many are dying because of inadequate nutrition and access to drugs. They see the big roads, the bright lights and the hotels, the rich Sudanese living in their fancy houses and they say: “What's the point of living if you don't have enough money to feed your children? Better to sacrifice yourself.”’”Though “conventional” insurgency warfare is likely to begin in the town of Hamesh Koreb with the withdrawal of southern Sudan People’s Liberation Army forces (the date for scheduled withdrawal has already passed), Flint stresses that,“another battle threatens in the cities---and perhaps not only in the cities of the East---where suicide bombers are ready to attack a range of targets, including economic targets, should all hope of justice die. These potential attackers are believed to number in the hundreds. The figure may be an exaggeration, but their readiness, and determination, are certain. From being a tiny minority in Port Sudan for most of the last century, the Beja alone now account for at least half the city's population. They and other destitute urban pastoralists have seen the initial, stunning successes of the Darfur rebels, Khartoum's crushing response and, as in Southern Sudan in earlier years, the subsequent failure to make any headway using conventional tactics.”Flint’s grim conclusion cannot be ignored by those who have an interest in Sudan that extends beyond securing terrorist intelligence:“Any counterinsurgency campaign in eastern Sudan will be run by those who ran the war in Darfur. The security apparatus of the Sudanese state is unchanged. Eastern Sudan is not only a challenge to the international partners who drove through the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, turning a blind eye to the death in Darfur. It is a litmus test for the unity government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement’s ability to make the leopard change its spots. Most importantly, it is life or death for people who have already been patient long enough.”Genocidal counterinsurgency is indeed guaranteed by the very people who engineered the ethnic destruction of the African peoples of Darfur, including Major General Saleh Abdallah Gosh, head of Khartoum’s brutal National Security and Intelligence Service, the Mukhabarat. Gosh is highlighted in an important op/ed in today’s Los Angeles Times by John Prendergast of the International Crisis Group. Of Gosh, Prendergast writes:“From 2003 on, he helped plan, organize and execute the vicious counterinsurgency campaign in Darfur in his position as chief of Sudan's security agency. Such a resume should have put Gosh on trial for terrorism or war crimes. Instead, the CIA has made him one of its favored interlocutors on terrorism, according to US officials, even flying him by private jet to Virginia for a debriefing last year. Further, the United States has pressed the United Nations not to include Gosh on the list of people who should be subject to sanctions, with the expectation that Gosh will continue to provide information about Al Qaeda suspects. Gosh boasted to the Los Angeles Times last year that Sudan has ‘a strong partnership with the CIA.’” (“Our Friend, An Architect of the Genocide in Darfur,” Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2006)This is the inescapable context in which to assess President Bush’s refusal to push urgently for meaningful humanitarian intervention in Darfur. Moreover, the US decision to seek Gosh’s removal from the list of those to be sanctioned by the UN makes a mockery of yesterday’s threats from Britain:"‘The international community is not going to allow those individuals who are responsible for gross human rights violations or blocking the peace process to escape the consequences of their actions,’ [British Foreign Secretary Jack] Straw told the delegates [at peace talks in Abuja]. ‘We know who these people are,’ he said, adding that Britain would not hesitate to put forward new names for inclusion on a list of people from both sides already being considered by the UN Security Council's Sanctions Committee.” (Reuters [dateline: Abuja], February 14, 2006)Gosh must surely enjoy the futility of such bluster from the Foreign Secretary of a country that in summer 2004 declared it was prepared to send a brigade (approximately 5,000 soldiers) to stop genocide in Darfur. That Straw, who is the most senior British official to declare the realities of Darfur to be genocide, is reduced to such unpersuasive threats must add considerably to Major General Gosh’s amusement.Prendergast’s conclusion asks the right question about the US relationship with Gosh, one that has much larger implications for US policy under the Bush administration:“Gosh is the tip of the iceberg of a disturbing policy that undermines US moral leadership in exchange for drivels of information that could be had simply by squeezing Khartoum harder. How many more Darfurian lives must be sacrificed on the altar of expediency?”THE SOUTHFlint’s suggestion---that the crisis in Eastern Sudan is a “litmus test for the unity government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement’s ability to make the leopard [the Khartoum regime] change its spots”---is surely right; but the results of the “litmus test” are already available, especially if we look to Khartoum’s refusal to share power in a meaningful way with the SPLM. Certainly the evidence of this refusal is everywhere. Yassir Arman, head of the SPLM’s parliamentary bloc in the new “Government of National Unity,” recently complained vigorously about the dictatorial powers still enjoyed by President Omar el-Bashir in the form of so-called “Presidential decrees”:“The former southern rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) threatened to take its northern partners to the constitutional court if they forced controversial presidential decrees, known as provisional orders, through parliament without consultation. ‘Those provisional orders are violating the constitution and the peace agreement,’ Yasir Arman, the head of the SPLM’s parliamentary bloc, told a news conference.”“He said if no solution was reached the SPLM would vote against all the presidential decrees, issued before the coalition government was formed, and would take the matter to the constitutional court. The laws include an armed forces act which allows any policeman to open fire at his own discretion and provides criminal immunity to officers in the armed forces when dealing with citizens, SPLM lawyer Ghazi Suleiman said.” “The decrees also include a law governing the work of non-governmental organisations in Sudan, which would require them to put funds into bank accounts run by the government and allowed authorities to eject any NGO which publicly disagreed with government policy.” (Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], February 2, 2006)Since the National Islamic Front (which has innocuously re-named itself the National Congress Party) guaranteed itself a 52% majority in the supposed “Parliament,” we have a spectacular example within the Government of National Unity of the “tyranny of democracy”:"‘These are just bad laws,’ said Suleiman. Under the deal the northern ruling National Congress Party has 52 percent of government and the 450-seat legislative. The SPLM has 28 percent. Presidential decrees cannot be amended by parliament and need only a 50 percent majority to pass. But Suleiman said the National Congress Party could not use their majority to force the laws through. ‘If so, the peace agreement would collapse,’ he said. ‘This is not a majority-minority government, it is a marriage and it needs partners.’”But “Presidential decrees” are only an especially conspicuous example of the National Islamic Front’s efforts to renege on meaningful power-sharing. A report from the UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (January 9, 2006) offers a more comprehensive assessment, citing in particular the assessment of distinguished and courageous Sudanese journalist Alfred Taban:“In the new Government of National Unity, the National Congress Party (NCP) retained the key ministries of energy and mining, defence, interior, finance and justice. ‘In terms of political power and the economic sector, the NCP kept full control over the key ministries, and this is creating a credibility problem,’ said Alfred Taban, editor of the Khartoum Monitor, an independent newspaper. ‘The SPLM/A and many southerners were very disappointed and lost faith in the intentions of the NCP.’ Other observers in the region believed the NCP was still firmly in charge. Besides retaining key ministries, the party dominated the presidency and its advisory council. The NCP was also able to exert a degree of control over ministries they had handed over to the SPLM/A through shadow bureaucracies comprised of NCP loyalists.”Moreover, there is growing evidence that the NIF is refusing to share oil wealth with Southern Sudan as it promised under the terms of the wealth-sharing agreement (Southern Sudan is supposed to receive 50% of revenues from southern oil production). Instead, the NIF is stonewalling on the formation of a boundary commission to determine the north/south border in oil-rich Upper Nile Province, and thus the location of key oil production sites (now all claimed by Khartoum as “northern”).The NIF has also reneged on its commitment to abide by the terms of the Abyei Protocol, which represented a key compromise in the final negotiation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The Protocol (Article 5.1) provides that “There shall be established by the Presidency, an Abyei Boundaries Commission to define and demarcate the areas of the nine Ngok Dinka Chiefdoms [the Abyei Area].” The findings of a distinguished international panel that made up the Abyei Boundaries Commission were submitted to the new Government of National Unity last summer (the full report, dated July 14, 2005, is available in PDF format at The Sudan Tribune, Instead of accepting the report, el-Bashir and the NIF have refused to release or act on its findings and recommendations. This, in turn, has contributed to a highly unstable situation in the Abyei area, which remains a potential flashpoint for resumed war in the south. As a recent UN “Sudan Humanitarian Overview” (January 1-February 1, 2006) reports, Khartoum’s actions have left Abyei without a civil administration, thus forcing humanitarian organizations and the UN to operate “without appropriate interlocutors and access to populations. Added to this, [NIF] national security has been severely limiting movement, and humanitarian access is being denied in areas north of Abyei town” (page 6).Reneging on signed agreements, obstructing humanitarian relief, pitting ethnic groups against one another (in Abyei, primarily the Ngok Dinka and the Arab Misseriya)---these are the staples of National Islamic Front policy for all of Sudan. It is deeply unreasonable for the international community to expect that the SPLM will be able to take meaningful part in a “Government of National Unity” when it receives so little support in holding Khartoum accountable for its refusal to honor the terms of the CPA. Whether it is wealth-sharing, power-sharing, boundary demarcation, or the terms of the security protocol, there is nothing but bad faith on the part of the National Islamic Front. The SPLM is powerless by itself to enforce the terms of the CPA---it requires international assistance of a sort that is nowhere in evidence. The only leverage the SPLM possesses is military strength, and consequently the prospect of resumed war has grown terribly distinct. There could be no greater squandering of the diplomatic efforts that went into the forging of the CPA, from the initial breakthrough at Machkos (Kenya) in July 2002 through to the final agreement in Nairobi (January 9, 2005).It is cynically expedient to expect Darfur, Eastern Sudan, and the other marginalized areas of this tortured country to be able to resolve their various crises alone. Unless there is vastly increased political, diplomatic, and economic pressure on Khartoum, the NIF will simply calculate that occasional international bluster and condemnation is the only real price it will pay for genocide as an ongoing domestic security policy. Whether in the Nuba Mountains, the oil regions of southern Sudan, Darfur, or soon in Eastern Sudan, the NIF has repeatedly shown itself willing to destroy groups on an ethnic and racial basis to further its ends---the arrogation of national power and wealth.This is the fundamental truth that Kofi Annan, George Bush, Jack Straw, and other western diplomats and military officials refuse to speak. Until they do, Khartoum will conclude that there is no price to pay for ongoing genocide.This is abject moral failure that leaves the people of Sudan betrayed in deepest consequence.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Newsletter for Feb

This is my latest newsletter enjoy :)

Dear friends,
I am at about 75% of my monthly goal and 92% of my one time goal, so I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!! Currently, I am awaiting two partnerships with churches and several other individuals who might want to partner with me, and am hoping to wrap up my support raising season very soon.

In the meantime, International Christian Concern has given me the privilege of serving the persecuted church, albeit from my city of almost seven years now, Houston, Texas. I’m hoping to send some articles that I have written for our publication. In addition, I have been posting news worthy items on our website. This past week, I interviewed an Egyptian man, Majed El Shafie. His journey has taken him from the prisons of Cairo, Egypt to Vancouver, Canada where he has founded an organization to promote the needs of the persecuted. His life radically changed when he became a Christian as a law student in Alexandria, and started a church that grew to 24,000 people… in just two years!! It was an encouragement to me – that God can and will use anyone, who would be willing to lay down their life. He will bless them; He will give them courage, and empower them to accomplish what is deemed impossible. I cannot wait for you to read the remainder of Majed’s story. Along with these opportunities to promote awareness, I have started corresponding with Christians in East African countries, as they share their own testimonies, news that may or may not be picked up by the media, and strategies of how we can further support and promote the needs of those suffering for their faith.

Before I make my way to Sudan, it seems Sudan is coming to me. A month ago, I was doing work on my computer in the neighborhood coffee shop I frequent. On my desktop appears a map of Sudan, which was in plain view when a young man nudged me from the back and informed me that was his country. His name is Mohamed and he grew up as a Muslim in the capitol of Sudan. He came from an influential family tied to the central government. We talked for over two hours, and we agreed to meet again so he can assist me with Arabic. It has been a gift to hear his perspective about life in Sudan, aspects of culture that I would never learn from reading a book.

I will leave you with a verse that was used at the President’s Annual prayer breakfast. The guest speaker was Bono from the music group U2, who happens to be passionate about bringing awareness to the impoverished, those that many have written off as hopeless. The scripture (Isaiah 58) was foundational to his plea for Africa:

“If you would let the oppressed go free, that you would break every yoke. That you would bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked you would cover them... If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday.”

May we all remember that Jesus is with the marginalized, the broken hearted, the weary of spirit. They are close to His heart and His desire for the body… that their joy would be our joy, and their sorrow, our sorrow…

In His Service,
Jennifer DiMaggio

Monday, January 23, 2006

Minorities at grave risk

Iraq Tops Nations With Minorities at Grave RiskJim Lobe WASHINGTON, Jan 19 (IPS) -

Iraq tops a list of countries whose minorities find themselves most at risk of persecution and even mass killing at the start of 2006, according to a new threat index released Thursday by the London-based Minority Rights Group International (MRG). The index, the centrepiece of MRG's 2006 edition of the "State of the World Minorities" report, lists minorities in Sudan, including African tribes in Darfur that the U.S. government has said have been subject to "genocide", and Somalia as the next most threatened, followed by Afghanistan and Burma/Myanmar. African countries -- led by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Burundi and Angola -- make up most of the rest of the 15 countries whose minorities are considered most at risk, according to the index, which is based on the compilation of 10 major indicators that MRG believes are strong predictors of mass killings.

Uganda, Ethiopia, and Cote d'Ivoire, where clashes Wednesday between U.N. peacekeepers and demonstrators threatened a reconciliation process designed to reunite the predominantly Muslim northern and the mainly Christian southern parts of the country after four years of effective separation, were also included among the top 15. The report, which was written before the latest clashes, called the situation in Cote D'Ivoire "extremely dangerous" due to the degree of ethnic polarisation between north and south and the prevalence of hate speech by political militias there.

The 213-page report, which describes the plight of minorities throughout the world, is published annually by MRG, an advocate of the rights of minorities, particularly those often overlooked by the mainstream western media, for more than 30 years.

Yet the threat of mass violence remains, according to MRG, which said its new index is designed to focus global attention on the most threatening -- if sometimes obscure -- situations. The threat index is based on a variety of studies produced by academics and government and inter-governmental agencies over the past 20 years, particularly one by conflict historian Barbara Harff that was commissioned by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and published in 2003.

It identified with a high degree of accuracy six preconditions that determined whether or not civil conflicts or regime collapses that took place between 1955 and 1997 had led to genocide or political mass murder. The key preconditions -- not all of which had to be met for mass killings to have taken place -- included the existence of political upheaval; the closed and minority character of ruling elites; past incidents of mass killings; and the degree to which the country's economy was open to foreign trade. All of the key factors, however, were present in the Rwanda genocide and in Sudan today, according to the report. MRG's new index is based largely on that model, according to Mark Lattimer, MRG's executive director. It uses a basket of 10 variables, including the World Bank's indicators of democracy and good governance; measures of the prevailing level of conflict developed by the University of Maryland's Centre for International Development and Conflict Management; indicators of group division and elite factionalisation; and the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development's credit risk ratings which, among other things, assesses a country's openness to foreign trade and investment. "The threat table tries to identify the states where the threat is greatest, and, when we ran the figures, Iraq came out on top," Lattimer told IPS, adding that all groups in Iraq, including the majority Shi'a population, were under threat as a result of the growing ethnic and sectarian divisions that have developed since the U.S. invasion in March 2003. "We now have a situation where, when the election results come out, we'll be looking at a government with a political composition that is totally divided by sect or by ethnicity," he said, noting that all the leading political parties got support from their own sect or ethnic group in the December elections. "At the same time, we've got a country which is sliding further and further into civil war. Clearly, we have very grave violence both on the part of the Sunni insurgents, but also on behalf of government forces against Sunni civilians. At the same time, the smaller minorities in the country, including the Turkmen and Christians and others, have almost no effective political representation." On Sudan, the report noted that repression against the African tribes in Darfur continues, while it noted that the peace agreement between Khartoum and African groups in the south was in danger of collapse, and non-Arab groups in the centre and east of the country remained under threat. Aside from Darfur, according to the report, conflicts in Africa were not getting the attention they deserved. "The DRC has been an outstanding example of that for seven years," Lattimer said. "We've seen wars that have led to the deaths of millions of people, and yet it is rarely reported in the western press." He noted that, while the plight of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) get some media attention, the plight and continued persecution of Burma's minorities, particularly those in Karen and Shan states, receive virtually none at all. Aside from Africa, Burma, and Afghanistan, other countries included in the top 15 where minorities were most threatened included Indonesia (10), Russia (14), and the Philippines (15). The report noted that Indonesia's ranking did not take into account the recent peace agreement between the government and rebels in Aceh, although it stressed that the ongoing conflict in Papua remained a major concern. In some cases, according to the report, governments used the U.S.-led "war on terror" as a justification for repressing their minorities. Such a strategy, however, was likely to backfire in the long run by creating new divisions and fuelling instability.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Above the law or beneath it?

On the NPR i listened to the beginning of the Alito hearings. I didn't find the senator's appeals very appealing - many talked about abortion, apparently the only issue important when it comes to choosing a Supreme. I did find that I can identify with Sam - He has Italitan, Catholic roots - and the man likes baseball. He only gave a little intro to his life and to law - that no one is above or beneath it.... tomorrow we will see if he believes the Court should be apart of the legislative branch, or just stick to interpreting the Constitution.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Nostalgic Christmas

This Christmas has felt very commercial and over the top this year. Chestnuts have been roasting over the open fire since before Thanksgiving, the frenzy in the stores is just now reaching a feverish pitch.

It's good to remember the simpler things...

Have a great Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Hope burns brightly

Even more so, let the hope of the gospel of peace burn brightly in the nation of Iraq...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Church burning

I saw this on Virtue Online, a Christian/Anglican site.

December 2005

SUDAN: CHURCH BURNED A church in Khartoum, Sudan, was set on fire on October 18th. The building, a simple traditional structure of bamboo reeds, wooden poles and mud with a straw roof, was completely burned. The church of 200 worshippers has existed in the building since 1980, and until now have experienced no problems. On the Sunday following the arson attack they met to worship in the church ruins.Sudan's first post-war government, which was inaugurated in the third week of September, has yet to respond to the incident. The day after the fire church leaders filed a case at the police station in El-Thawra district. On Monday 24th Rev Yousaf El-Denger Z Kodi reported the arson in detail to the general secretary of the Sudan Inter-Religious Council (SIRC). The church has now submitted a written report to the SIRC, holding the national unity government of Sudan responsible for solving the crime and providing protection to all churches in Sudan. The peace agreement signed in January 2005 guarantees "to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground", including religion. Pray that religious tensions will not be sparked in Sudan following this attack. Pray that Christians will be protected from harm. Pray for the newly established national unity government in Sudan, that they will seek to uphold the guarantee in the peace agreement to protect its citizens from discrimination. Pray for wisdom and courage as they establish their governance over the country.

Kick off the Christmas season off right and donate a goat!

I saw on the World Vision website, they have a gift catalogue, and there are so many
great options to aid someone in the third world. You can mobilize a woman to help her
get an education, bring shelter and aid to the millions of children orphaned because
of HIV/AIDS. Or, the most requested donation was buying a goat: read below to
discover the limitless ways a family can use a goat.

Provide a Goat$75

The early morning bleating of a dairy goat is a happy sound for children.
They know it's ready to be milked! A goat provides a family with fresh milk,
cheese and added income when they sell offspring, and any extra food at the
market. Our best-value, best-selling gift, every year!