Peacekeeping authority is transferred from the previous African Union force to a joint A.U.-U.N. force as ordered by the U.N. Security Council. But the Sudanese government undercuts the mission with a list of bureaucratic hurdles, which Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno reported to the Security Council in November.
Returning to its earlier demand for an all-African force, Sudan refuses troops from Thailand, Nepal, Norway and Sweden. It also withholds land promised to the mission, restricts U.N. helicopter deployments, refuses U.N. aircraft permission to fly at night, reserves the authority to shut down peacekeepers' communications during government military operations, and proposes that peacekeepers must provide "advance notification to the Government for all staff, troop and asset movements related to UNAMID."
As the joint U.N.-A.U. force takes over, President Bush tightens U.S. sanctions against Sudan by signing the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act. It authorizes state and local governments in the U.S. "to divest assets in companies that conduct business operations in Sudan, to prohibit United States Government contracts with such companies, and for other purposes."
But within hours, American diplomat John Granville and his driver are gunned down in Khartoum, and a Sudanese Army officer is later arrested in connection with the shooting. The same month, the U.N. accuses Sudanese soldiers of firing on a convoy of peacekeepers.
The fragile 2005 peace agreement between northern Khartoum and the semi-autonomous southern Sudan government is on the verge of collapse, after fighting in late May "obliterates" the town of Abyei, which lies in a contested oil-rich region on the north-south border.
A Foreign Affairs analysis published this month has former U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Andrew S. Natsios examining how the spiraling violence in western and southern Sudan may drag the entire country to "disintegration." Describing how entwined the conflicts have become (he asserts, for example, that janjaweed leader Musa Hilal was given his government position to prevent his defection to the South) Natsios argues that the international community should pursue diplomacy rather than military intervention. (A U.S. diplomatic document recently obtained by The New York Times indicates the U.S. may be heading in just such a direction.)
Nearly a year has passed since the U.N. Security Council ordered the creation of a joint U.N.-A.U. peacekeeping force of 26,000 troops. The force still has only 9,000 troops, lacks equipment that it has requested from member states and continues to be stymied by political obstacles.
Meanwhile, two men indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court remain at large: Ahmad Harun was named minister of humanitarian affairs -- giving the suspected janjaweed organizer oversight of peacekeepers and refugees -- and Ali Kushayb was captured but released. Another suspected janjaweed ringleader, Musa Hilal, was named as a special adviser to the Khartoum government. Sudanese ambassador to the U.N. Abdelmahmood Abdelhaleem has denied that the government is interfering in peacekeeping efforts and insists that the charges brought by the ICC are false.
Experts continue to debate the wisdom of intervention: Sudan scholar Alex de Waal, who critiqued the peacekeeping plan when he was interviewed for FRONTLINE's report, On Our Watch, wrote in his essay "Why Darfur intervention is a mistake" that "UN patrols around the displaced camps could stop many of these [civilian] killings and monitors following army operations can deter others. I am all for this. But let us not pretend that they would stop the war." And in a piece for The New York Times, Warren Hoge considers Darfur's wider implications for the United Nations' "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine.