What the United States Can Do to End the Crisis in Sudan
ED GORDON, host:
From NPR News this is NEWS AND NOTES. I'm Ed Gordon.
The spotlight is back on the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. This week the United Nation's Security Council voted to impose sanctions related to the violence there. Four men accused of war crimes have been banned from traveling abroad and their assets have been frozen. So far the conflict has left over 200,000 people dead and forced millions from their homes.
President Bush has voiced his support for an intervention in Darfur and his Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer, personally helped broker a peace treaty in Sudan's South. But what can the Bush administration do if anything to resolve the crisis in Sudan, once and for all?
Assistant Secretary Frazer spoke with NPR's Farai Chideya.
FARAI CHIDEYA reporting:
The president has broken ranks with others in his administration, in calling for an end to the violence in Darfur. So why haven't we gotten involved as nation yet?
Assistant Secretary JENDAYI FRAZIER (Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs): Well, we are very much involved, and the President Bush leads his administration in our response to Sudan. In particular, our involvement has included working with the African Union; on one hand trying to broker a peace agreement, which a comprehensive accord was put on the table in Abuja, Nigeria for final negotiation.
And we have a very senior team in Abuja working on--with the AU on getting the peace agreement. Secondly, we've been working very much with the African Union on their force in Darfur. It's about 7,000 now. We've created the base camps for it; we're providing assistance and funding for it. And what President Bush has done, is led the way on calling for the United Nations to re-hat that force so that we can expand it. And then finally, we are providing assistance to the millions of people in Sudan who have been displaced by this conflict.
CHIDEYA: Now, this is a conflict where basically, villagers have been kicked out by a militia which apparently is allied with the government. And you used a term that I've never heard before, re-hat; what does that mean?
Ms. FRAZER: This is something that we did in Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire, before, as well as in Burundi. The African Union forces there are all coming from Africa. And what we would do is make that an international peace keeping rather than a regional peace keeping operation. And we would look, for instance, to the Pakistanis or Indians or other force contributors, including African countries, to expand that force from about 7,000 to at least 14,000.
We're also looking to assist it in the interim, trying to provide planning, logistics, communication, intelligence; so that it will be a more capable force. And that's that where the president, President Bush, has called for NATO to assist in the immediate term, as well as help to prepare for that transition to a United Nations international force.
CHIDEYA: Jendayi, how do you understand violence? What I mean by that is, that violence obviously is a force that can kill people, but it's also a force that can save lives. How do you understand what the appropriate use of violence would be in this case, and how the U.S. would get involved?
Ms. FRAZER: Well, I think that, in this situation, what we're talking about is securing the lives of individuals. And so whoever is threatening those lives, has to be stopped. And that's why we are putting emphasis both on a peace agreement--between the rebel forces who are also carrying out some of the killing of innocent people.
The government has to control the Janjaweed--the militia that it itself created--so that they can stop attacking innocent people. But if they don't do so, we need an international force with the capability to stop it, to defend those innocent people. We would hope that with the peace agreement in Abuja and with the consent of the government of Sudan--who has allowed a UN force to go, for instance, in Southern Sudan--that we could avoid further violence.
CHIDEYA: You said that the Janjaweed militia is something that the government has created. That's something that the government of the Sudan would say, no, we didn't create it. They're acting without our permission.
What's the position of the U.S. government on that?
Ms. FRAZER: The government of Sudan has clearly armed and supported the Janjaweed. There is absolutely no doubt about that. It may be the case that, over time, they've lost control--complete control over the Janjaweed, but nevertheless, they're still responsible. And one of the first things we have to do is get the government to disarm those Janjaweed. That's part of what they're trying to accomplish with the peace accord. There are three elements, power sharing, wealth sharing, and the security arrangements. And that is really a peace accord that's intended to end the marginalization of the people of Darfur and to bring security back to that area.
CHIDEYA: You phrase your comments in the context of a U.S. that operates within an international community, including the United Nations. But in the past, you know, five, six years, the United States has not operated necessarily within an international framework. We have been kind of mavericks out on our own.
Are we truly willing to work with an international community? And if so, what are the benefits and risks?
Ms. FRAZER: Well, the United States, over the last five or six years, has always been in the lead. We have gotten Security Council resolutions passed in almost all of the international conflicts that have taken place over the last few years. We've had an international framework, through UN Security Council resolutions, which authorize our action.
So we are working very closely with the UN. And this has been the way in which we've approached all of the conflict and conflict resolution situations in Africa, but also, I would argue, more globally.
CHIDEYA: Jendayi Frazer, thank you so much.
Ms. FRAZER: Thank you very much.
GORDON: That was NPR's Farai Chideya speaking with Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer.
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