Shelling and postponement in Darfur
A day after after military shelling killed a mother and her child in South Darfur, the government in North Darfur announced that there would be a postponement of the visit of the Sudanese and Chadian Presidents and the Emir of Qatar in order to signify the completion of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur. Initially signed in 2011, it was meant to help harbor a lasting peace in the region, something it felt it had achieved.
The scheduled meeting on July 18th was said to be adjourned to an unspecified later date, and marked yet another setback for the agreement which has utterly failed in its attempts to bring about a cessation of hostilities in Darfur. The Darfur Regional Authority (DRA) was the body designed by the agreement to carry out the four-year mandate, yet was extended by Presidential Decree for another year due to lack of progress.
In 2016 it was announced that its objectives had largely been realized, while the supposedly ‘minor’ problems would be transferred from the DRA and into a government initiative in order to continue and finalize the mission. What is painfully obvious is that the Sudanese government, as well as the leaders of Chad and Qatar, have understood that the peace agreement has completely failed yet are unwilling to admit it. Sunday’s shelling of civilian areas, perpetuated by Sudanese troops, demonstrates the complete disregard for the five-year attempt to normalize the security situation, and the fruitlessness of such agreements which can be shrugged off in importance at a moment’s notice.
It is likely due to embarassment that the leaders of Qatar and Chad chose not to visit the region. Doing so would undermine their credibility and the credibility of their diplomatic power, showing their funding and efforts created nothing of value. By not attending, attention is not placed on Darfur while they’re there, meaning that a connection between their efforts and the continuing violence cannot be effectively established.
Bashir however, faces no such risk. For over 13 years he has defied the international community and continued his campaign of genocide unabated, ignored supposedly binding agreements and evaded ICC arrest warrants. He has no credibility yet is still in power, meaning that he believes he can convey his indifference to any international agreement.
The murder of mother and child on Sunday adds two more to his body count, and prompted international actors to distance themselves further and further away from creating a peace deal. Instead of doing so, these actors must double down in their efforts to implement their original mandate, and place higher pressure on Bashir, who has embarrassed them and thwarted their efforts.