Cartum ao serviço dos Estados Unidos

The Black Star News,
Commentary, Paul Moorcraft,
June 29, 2007

Editor's note: The Bush administration continues to send contradictory signals about its priorities in Africa and begs the question about whether statecraft or spycraft is driving U.S. policy decisions.

The U.S. administration is genuinely concerned about the Darfur tragedy, but it also needs Khartoum's support in the long war against al-Qaeda. Hence the high-level CIA presence at a somewhat surreal intelligence summit earlier this month in the Sudanese capital.

Khartoum was the venue for a week-long conference of all the heads of African intelligence agencies, to which -- bizarrely -- a small number of journalists was invited. In the same week that Washington tightened the sanctions screw, Khartoum wanted to underscore that it had the support of its brothers on the continent. It was also intended to show that Africa could set its own intelligence agenda, sidestepping the flawed policies of U.S. President George Bush.

Khartoum hosted the fourth conference of the Committee for Intelligence and Security Systems in Africa (CISSA), which operates under the African Union (AU) umbrella. At least 46 African agencies were present, plus nearly all the main western intelligence agencies. The senior CIA and British Secret Service representatives were naturally wary of publicity: Sudan is, according to Washington, still listed as a state sponsor of terrorism.

As it happens, Khartoum has bent over backwards to provide intelligence to the west, especially on al-Qaeda's penetration of north Africa. In addition, it was reported that Khartoum is providing intelligence on jihadist operations in Iraq.

CIA attendance was a public statement in itself. Top western spooks mingled fraternally with their opposite numbers in Sudan's National Security and Intelligence Service (NISS). Its chief, Salah Al-Din Abdulla Mohamed, was in good spirits, back-slapping his western counterparts and even dancing on stage, while a band entertained the visitors at the imposing new intelligence headquarters in Khartoum.

In the past year, the Pentagon has beefed up its new U.S. Africa Command with an investment of $50 million. So far this is big on geography, but light on troops, for a structure that will eventually cover nearly all of Africa. U.S. military and intelligence experts know that they have to recover from the Somalia syndrome and concentrate on the Mahgreb and sub-Saharan Africa, which are perceived as a growing front in the war on al-Qaeda. Recent Islamic terrorist attacks in Algeria, Morocco and northern Nigeria, as well as Islamic extremist resurgence in Somalia following the invasion by Ethiopia, added extra urgency to the summit.

Some of the sentimental "suits" in the U.S. administration may shed real tears for the Darfurians, but the hard-nosed warriors know that Sudan is a vital element in regional security. Hence the paradox of Washington imposing sanctions in the same week that it sends a top intelligence delegation to Khartoum.

Sudan's leader, President Omar Al-Bashir, has long resisted United Nations (UN) demands for blue-hatted peacekeepers to enter Darfur. A U.N. military intervention without Khartoum's permission would be seen as an invasion, and could prompt a jihad to match Iraq and Afghanistan.


Guerrilha karen, em território birmanês

Vinte e sete pessoas foram mortas e 11 ficaram feridas, a semana passada, quando rebeldes do grupo étnico karen atacaram dois autocarros de passageiros no Sueste da Birmânia, país asiático a que a junta militar que o governa chama desde 1989 União de Myanmar.

Dez pessoas foram mortas e três feridas quinta-feira no estado de Karen (a que os autonomistas chamam Kawthoolei), perto da fronteira com a Tailândia. As restantes pereceram sexta-feira no vizinho estado de Kayah, conforme noticiou ontem o jornal oficioso Nova Luz de Myanmar.

A União Nacional Karen é um grupo armado que combate desde 1948 as autoridades birmanesas, sendo a sua luta pela independência a mais antiga de que há conhecimento em todo o mundo. Afirma representar um povo de origem mongol que teria chegado à região antes dos birmaneses, que depois o subjugaram; e que esse povo é hoje em dia constituído por sete milhões de indivíduos, sem contar os 400.000 que vivem já do outro lado da fronteira, nas colinas da Tailândia.


Darfur, o conflito insolúvel

A secretária de Estado Norte-americana, Condoleezza Rice, voltou ontem a avisar o Sudão de que não deve eximir-se à promessa de que aceita uma força internacional híbrida, de mais de 20.000 soldados e polícias, para ajudar a resolver a crise humanitária que no Darfur já matou centenas de milhares de pessoas e correu com alguns milhões para longe das suas terras. Ao dirigir-se para a conferência que hoje principia em Paris sobre este problema, Rice pediu que toda a gente diga a Cartum de forma inequívoca que não pode furtar-se ao cumprimento daquilo com que se compromete. Entretanto, a China anunciou que vai enviar para o terreno 275 soldados de engenharia, de modo a que se possa constituir a força conjunta das Nações Unidas e da União Africana (UA), força essa que o Sudão insiste que terá de ser colocada sob comando africano e constituída essencialmente por soldados da África. Isto apesar de até agora um contingente de 7.000 homens mobilizado pela UA pouco ter conseguido fazer para resolver a crise.


Aumenta a pressão sobre Mugabe

O embaixador britânico em Harare, Christopher Dell, declarou ontem ao Guardian que a inflacção no Zimbabwe atingirá um milhão e meio por cento no fim do ano e levará à queda do Presidente Robert Mugabe. No mercado negro já eram ontem necessários quase 200.000 dólares zimbabweanos para se conseguir um dólar dos Estados Unidos.


Os EUA servem-se do Sudão

PARIS: Once home to Osama Bin Laden, Sudan is an invaluable ally in the US-led war on terror but the cooperation may be allowing Khartoum to resist pressure to end the bloodshed in Darfur, experts say.

Sudan bowed to US demands to expel the Al Qaeda leader in 1996 and has since offered vital assistance to fight extremists, prompting the US State Department to label Khartoum “an important partner in the war on terror.”

The Los Angeles Times reported this week that Khartoum’s spies had gathered information for the United States about the insurgency in Iraq as Sudan is a crossroads for fighters making their way to the war-torn nation.

Sudan has also helped track the turmoil in Somalia, working to cultivate contacts with the Islamic Courts Union and other militias to try to locate Al Qaeda suspects hiding there, the report said.

While the United States has accused Khartoum of committing atrocities in Darfur and imposed economic sanctions, President George W. Bush faces criticism that he is soft-pedalling to avoid losing Sudanese cooperation on terrorism.

“The US is conflicted,” said Colin Thomas-Jensen, an analyst for the International Crisis Group think tank.

“On the one hand, there’s sincere concern in the White House, certainly a lot of pressure from the US Congress to deal with the atrocities in Darfur, but the overriding strategic objective of the US in the Horn of Africa is fighting terrorism and so these two issues are now clashing.”

Sudan this week agreed to allow the United Nations to deploy peacekeepers alongside a poorly-equipped African Union force serving in Darfur, where 200,000 people have been killed and more than two million people displaced in violence.

The Darfur conflict began in 2003 when an ethnic minority rose up against the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum, which then enlisted the Janjaweed militia group to help crush the rebellion. afp