Darfur, Oh, Darfur

KUALA LUMPUR: The story below by Bernama left me wondering why we are so slow when it comes to Darfur.

I remembered, last year, when the peacekeeping mission to Lebanon was announced, Malaysia was tripping its heels to get its troops there.

This time around, it is strangely in a slow motion mode. No one is talking about the number of troops to be sent, just considering and waiting. They even sent a special envoy to check what is going on down there! Which is to me, a clear indication of our wariness of sending troops there.

For Unifil, we offered 1,500 troops even before the UN make an offer. In the end, after much wrangling, we got 300 troops.

For Darfur, its not only Malaysia that is in a slow-motion mode. Even the more shriller Indonesia only promised a contingent of 150 policemen.

Last year for UNIFIL, Indonesia even went to the extent of contacting the Israelis to get its permission to sent troops (some 3,000 of them) to Lebanon. UN finally approved about 1,000.

I cannot speak on behalf of the Indonesians but for Malaysia, I believe the experience of Somalia still rang high in Mindef.

Facing Israelis is simply wonderful but the civil war in Darfur is something else. It is an almost perfect copy of what had happened in Somalia in 1998.

Like the Somalians, all the people of Darfur wants peace and prosperity. The problem is that they want it for their tribe and themselves. Others be damned.

Keeping the peace for our “brothers” in Darfur will be tricky especially when Malaysia has a large economic presence in Sudan and neighbouring, Chad.

In the end, I believe we will send some 100 policemen and Mercy to Darfur for the PKO. It is good PR. But no troops. They are bound for Lebanon, you see.

–Malaysian Defence

Malaysia Still Considering Joining UN Peacekeeping In Sudan
General
August 06, 2007 20:45 PM

By Alan Ting and Sakina Mohamed

LANGKAWI, Aug 6 (Bernama) — Malaysia is still considering sending peacekeeping troops to Sudan’s western region of Darfur under the United Nations banner, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Monday.

“We are considering participating. They (Sudan) are very happy if we can go,” he said at the end of the second day of the three-day Langkawi International Dialogue 2007 here.

Earlier this month Malaysia had sent Datuk Syed Ariff Fadzillah, its special envoy to Sudan, on a fact finding mission to help Malaysia decide whether to take part in the UN peacekeeping force there.

Abdullah said Sudan president Omar Hassan had conveyed his wish, during their bilateral meeting on Sunday, to have Malaysian peace keeping personnel in his country.

Sudan also wants Malaysia to be involved in the reconstruction of Darfur so that that displaced people of Darfur could return to their homes.

“They also have to be given assistance in terms of food, medicine, water and education for their children,” said Abdullah.

Malaysia, he said, will not be able to provide Sudan with everything that it needs and where Malaysia lacks, these could be obtained from other countries or from the UN programmes.

The Darfur conflict is a complex crisis involving the Sudanese military, militant groups and a variety of rebel groups. Millions have been displaced by the conflict which began in February 2003.

In the latest development, foreign reports, citing UN and African Union mediators today, said Darfur rebel factions meeting in Tanzania want “final” talks on peace with Sudan’s government within months.

Asked on his bilateral meeting with Zimbabwe President Robert Gabriel Mugabe on Sunday, Abdullah said nothing specific was discussed.

As for his bilateral meeting with Uganda president Yoweri Museveni, Abdullah said apart from bilateral issues, Museveni extended his invitation to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kampala in late November.

Meanwhile, at a separate press conference here earlier, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said Malaysia is waiting for the UN to make a formal decision on having a peacekeeping force in Darfur.

Under the peacekeeping proposal, the African Union is to take responsibility for some 26,000 multinational troops under the UN flag, said Syed Hamid.

— BERNAMA

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