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Analysis: In Sudan, A Search for Comprehensive Peace

Council on Foreign Relations

October 11, 2007
Prepared by: Stephanie Hanson

The surprise rebel assault (NPR) on an African Union base in northern Darfur at the end of September was a double blow to the region’s nascent peace process. The attack, which left ten peacekeepers dead, will likely prompt some African countries to reconsider (IHT) their troop contributions to the joint UN/AU force scheduled for deployment by the end of the year. It also calls into question the feasibility of bringing Darfur’s myriad rebel groups to a common negotiating position ahead of peace talks scheduled for October 27 in Tripoli, Libya.

Experts agree that lasting peace will only come to Darfur with a political settlement between the Sudanese government and Darfur’s rebel factions. But the road to such an agreement will be rocky. As this new Backgrounder discusses, Darfur’s rebel groups have splintered since the last round of peace talks (that produced the failed Darfur Peace Agreement), and it’s unclear whether these groups actually represent the interests of Darfur’s people. The UN/AU mediation team has made efforts to consult with non-rebel groups such as women, internally displaced persons, Arab tribes, and civil society organizations. But some analysts say these groups are stakeholders that need to be represented at the negotiation table.

Bringing peace to Darfur may also hinge on Sudan’s neighbors. Libya, Chad, and Eritrea all have vested interests in the conflict and could hinder peace negotiations. Yet “these governments are quite prepared to sabotage the peace process at any moment if they see it to be in their interests,” writes Sudan expert Alex de Waal in the Online Africa Policy Forum.

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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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