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Analysis: On Darfur, Impasse or Progress?

Council on Foreign Relations

April 19, 2007
Prepared by: Stephanie Hanson

As the one-year anniversary of the Darfur peace agreement approaches, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir seems, once again, to have agreed to some form of UN peacekeeping presence in the region. This week he approved the deployment of a “heavy-support package” (AP) that will include roughly two thousand troops and six helicopter gunships. Given Bashir’s history with such agreements (two last year, one earlier this year), as well as new evidence that Sudan is flying arms to Darfur (NYT) in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, many officials say this is likely just another diplomatic feint. But some, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, express optimism that UN troops will actually hit the ground.

In a speech on April 18 at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, President Bush made his most extensive remarks on Darfur in nearly a year, describing the situation as “genocide” and outlining a concrete plan of sanctions to be implemented “in a short period of time” if Bashir does not fulfill his commitment to allow the UN support forces. Bush had originally planned to impose the sanctions he described but was convinced to postpone them (WashPost) by the UN secretary-general.

This latest twist in Darfur’s tragic story comes as humanitarian access to the region continues to be curtailed. Fighting on the ground has grown to encompass some fifteen different rebel groups and several localized tribal conflicts. The Sudanese government has created an “increasingly chaotic” environment, Andrew S. Natsios, U.S. special envoy to Sudan, said in testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 11. The conflict has also spread across Sudan’s borders to neighbors Chad and the Central Africa Republic, as this Backgrounder explains.

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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on with specific permission from the Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to

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