|TELEPHONE DIPLOMACY DOES NOT WORK ON DARFUR
15 November 2007
As predicted in an earlier unforum, the Sirte Conference on Darfur got nowhere -- preparation through
"telephone diplomacy" did not work in that phoneless hapless neighbourhood. The thought that Colonel Ghaddafi and the
Chadian President could sort it out by a magic wand was the same as expecting two dinosaurs like Jan Eliasson and
Salem Salem to accomplish an immediately workable arrangement.
Since January when Ban Ki-moon took over, we hailed his priority interest in that destitute part of Sudan, but
cautioned that his list of advisors would be taken round in circles -- the same people that his predecessor employed.
At least Mr. Ban himself managed a more impressive visit. Instead of building on it through personal involvement,
he somehow was led to believe that a Libya preparing to join the Security Council would be more ready and able
to deliver. The October meeting in Sirte was billed as a make or break event. Not
only did the main political parties -- and senior players -- stay away but there was that farcical air of dressing up
minor militant figures in three piece western suits -- they looked ridiculous. As did their hosts. But that did not faze
Eliasson, who has never met a microphone he did not love to hug. Let us clarify that his sweat and toil in
hot and humid Africa when he could have been enjoying the Swedish fjords is not all lost. It is appreciated to the
degree it is useful. Beyond that it becomes counterproductive. Particularly that he is stuck with a partner like the
long-winded, baggage-ridden Salem.
When President Bashir is not playing fair; when the Sudanese government delivery is seriously disappointing; Ban Ki-moon
will have to keep all parties honest with a different set of rules and different kind of players. Keeping the old
approach is not "continuity with change" but -- as we have repeated -- continuity with farce.
And the farce got more embarrassing when politicians, diplomats and media were assembled in a Darfur spot
to watch a "historic" telephone call to U.N. headquarters by some obscure U.N. official from a desolate joint
U.N./African office which is not even functional.
An obscure "Rudolphe Adada" declared to the Associated Press that "it is a great day for the United Nations
and the Africa Union." The man also had a spokesman, an Ali Hamati who borrowed liberally from the first astronauts by
stating that although it was a small step in Darfur, it was "a huge move towards the final assumption of full
control"! Both admitted, however, that a joint mission "still faces lack of pledges for specialized units" but
profusely thanked the Sudanese government for making the telephone call possible.
Just a reminder to everyone: over 200,000 people have been killed during the last four years. And a reminder to
and Hamati": Even the U.N. Secretary General has been very careful in avoiding lavish praise on the Sudan government
Yet those "telephone diplomats" continue their farcical pursuits unabated. And while the nine differing rebel
groups are gunning for everyone including one another, those failed megaphone mediators who had
accomplished NOTHING thus far are seriously talking about bringing fighters together through workshops and seminars!
For people in the region to take you seriously, Get Serious.