March 13th, 2008 03:24 EST
Chad-Sudan Agreement must include Rebels
By James Butty
Presidents Idriss Deby of Chad and Omar al-Bashir of Sudan are in the Senegalese capital, Dakar to attend a summit of Islamic states which opens Thursday in Dakar. The two leaders are also expected to sign a peace agreement drafted by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade to end years of conflict between Chad and Sudan. But rebel groups from Chad and Sudan say they were not consulted about the proposed agreement and do not believe it would end the fighting.
Omer Ismail is co-founder of Darfur Peace and Development and policy advisor for the Enough Project. From Washington, he told VOA that expectations of a Bashir-Deby agreement represent a lack of vision and constitute bad diplomacy.
“It would be great if there is an agreement between Chad and Sudan to end the hostilities between the two countries. However, President Bashir, before leaving Khartoum for Dakar, he already downplayed the importance of this agreement. This is not new because it is going to take without some of the contestants. These are rebel groups on both sides. And in the absence of the rebels on both sides, this is not going to be an agreement that is going to hold water,” he said.
Ismail commended President Wade for taking the initiative to end the conflict between Chad and Sudan. However, he said President Wade’s effort is going to be in vein.
“This is not the first time that Sudan and Chad are getting together for a peace agreement. It took place in Libya about five times. They did this also in Riyad. The king of Saudi Arabia got them together, they signed an agreement. The Egyptians intervened several times, and guess what, the result was the same. The last skirmish of February second in N’Djamena can testify to that,” Ismail said.
He said even though Chad and Sudan both allegedly support rebel groups on each other’s side of the border, yet it is not a clear-cut conclusion that the rebels should accept whatever agreement their state sponsors decide on.
“That is not as that simple because if we look at the history of the rebellion in Darfur particularly, the rebels started way before any help from Chad ever occur, and Idriss Deby himself at the time said that. I recall in 2004, he came to El Fasher and met Bashir there. And he was on the side of the government of Sudan against the rebels of Darfur until Bashir started helping the Chadian rebels then things changed. But I believe the Chadian rebels are not entirely the creation of Khartoum. They were there. However Khartoum was using them because Khartoum, until this moment, believes in a military solution in Darfur, and they believe the easiest way is to remove Idriss Deby from power, have a government that is loyal to them, and then put the Darfur rebels between the rock and hard place. That is reality of the situation,” he said.
Ismail said the notion of a Bashir-Deby agreement is a lack of vision and bad diplomacy.
“They would like to see this ended, but they don’t know how. And the idea of having to do this proxy or to have somebody else destabilize the other person’s country is easy. Bashir helped Deby to come to power because Bashir was there before. However, this is how alliances and friendships change in that part of the world because it is not built on the interests of the nation; it is built on the convenience of the person,” Ismail said.