The United States sent a revised U.N. draft resolution on Sudan to Security Council ambassadors Tuesday, keeping the threat of sanctions and calling on the Sudanese government to disarm Arab militias blamed for killing thousands in the western region of Darfur.
Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said his country would retaliate against any foreign troops, reflecting concerns among some Arabs that the United States plans to follow its invasion of Iraq with an attempt to remake the region.
The new text would increase pressure on the Sudanese government to stop the violence but does not contain other significant changes. Delegations opposed to the inclusion of a sanctions threat said it needed more work.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who spent the weekend calling his counterparts worldwide on the issue, spoke to Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos on the phone Tuesday and planned to raise Sudan during talks with leaders in Egypt.
A British official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the opposition was not expected to be strong, with international attention riveted on what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Diplomats said another concern was timing, with some delegations objecting to the U.S. push for a vote this week.
U.S. hopes for vote Thursday or Friday
The new draft — the second in less than a week — was discussed by ambassadors of the 15-nation Security Council on Tuesday, and more consultations were scheduled Wednesday. Stuart Holliday, the U.S. deputy ambassador to the United Nations, said he hoped for a vote Thursday or Friday.
The new draft retains the same timetable for assessing progress on apprehending and bringing to justice the pro-government Arab militias known as Janjaweed who have launched a brutal campaign to drive out black African farmers.
But it adds a clause calling on the Sudanese government to “fulfill its commitments to disarm the Janjaweed militias,” as Khartoum agreed to do in a July 3 agreement with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
“It’s better than the first draft, but it’s not yet the best,” Pakistan’s U.N. Ambassador Munir Akram said. “We still have some concerns with regard to the use of a reference of sanctions.”
‘The government is responsible’
Ismail, during a visit to Turkey, said his government was ready to fulfill its pledge to disarm the militias “faithfully and in full transparency,” but separate rebels and human rights groups have accused the government of reneging on previous agreements.
“We admit that the government is responsible to bring back law and order, the government is responsible to disarm the militia and arrest the Janjaweed,” Ismail said.
The resolution calls on Annan to report every 30 days “and expresses its intention to consider further actions, including the imposition of sanctions on the government of Sudan, in the event of noncompliance.”
An arms embargo would apply to individuals, groups or governments that supply the Janjaweed or rebel groups.
The new text also includes more references to the African Union, including “full support” for the union-led cease-fire commission and monitoring mission in Darfur.
Three countries expressed opposition
Russia, Pakistan and China had expressed opposition to the threat of sanctions and called for Sudan to be given sufficient time to meet its commitments under the July 3 agreement. The agreement included a promise to crack down on the pro-government Arab militias, improve security and provide better access for relief efforts.
The 17-month Darfur conflict, which has been called “genocide” by the U.S. Congress, has killed up to 30,000 civilians, most of them black villagers, displaced more than 1 million and left some 2.2 million in urgent need of food or medical attention.
Darfur’s troubles stem from long-standing tensions between nomadic Arab tribes and their African farming neighbors over dwindling water and agricultural land. Those tensions exploded into violence in February 2003, when two African rebel groups took up arms over what they regard as unjust treatment by the government.
U.S. and humanitarian officials have accused the Sudanese government of backing the Janjaweed — a claim the government denies.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf also called for the international community to “use all political means” to resolve the crisis, according to a statement from Pakistan’s U.N. mission.
Musharraf had spoken with Annan and Powell to call for diplomacy that “averts the need or rationale of sanctions or the threat of sanctions,” the statement said.