Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Losing Patience

The pressure's growing on Sudan to let an international peacekeeping force into its Darfur province, which has been devastated by mass slaughter over the last four years. The US, Britain and others are talking about extending sanctions and other measures including a no-fly zone, if Sudan continues to refuse to let the UN troops in.

Although Sudan will probably try to delay things a bit longer, it looks like the force will finally get on the ground sooner rather than later. The arrival of the troops won't guarantee the violence will finish, but it should mean the end of large-scale systematic killing. That should also prevent the fighting from spreading further into neighbouring Chad and the Central African Republic. But all of that will be just a preamble to the really important stuff - peace talks.

Last year's attempt at an agreement failed because not all the various factions in Darfur were on board. Once the UN's allowed in to make things a bit more stable though, discussions with a genuine chance of success should be possible. If the US, Britain and others are going to beat the Sudanese government with the stick of sanctions, they need to offer all sides the carrot of talks too. Otherwise not only will there be no chance of a deal, there'll be no chance of stopping the killing either.

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