"The situation is spiraling downward on the ground and retreating backwards on a daily basis in New York, Washington and Brussels," home of NATO, said John Prendergast of the International Crisis Group think tank.
"A fragile consensus has collapsed under the weight of the Sudan government's artful diplomacy campaign," Prendergast told Reuters. "It played chicken with the broad international community, and once again the international community drove off the road."
The main bulwark against abuses is the cash-strapped African Union which, under pressure from its Arab members who often side with Khartoum, is hesitating to merge its 7,000 troops with a U.N. force.
AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare recently presented options to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Among them was a U.N. peacekeeping mission. But Konare also suggested that the AU take command or at least work side by side with U.N. troops. Such solutions would doom a unified operation, said a top U.N. official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Prendergast believes the Bush administration needs to send a special envoy to Arab nations and AU members, from Egypt to South Africa, to convince them the United Nations or NATO, which has been suggested as augmenting a U.N. force, was not trying to take over the country.
Sudan has not consented to an enlarged military operation, refused a Darfur visit by the U.N. humanitarian coordinator, Jan Egeland, a Norwegian, and then banned the Norwegian Refugee Council that cared for 90,000 people driven from their homes.
"The situation continues to deteriorate," said Juan Mendez, Annan's envoy for the prevention of genocide.
"We have engaged in half measures and those half measures have not been sufficient to protect and show signs of unraveling," Mendez, an Argentine human rights lawyer, told a news conference.
He said Sudan had "played games," like refusing to give the AU jet fuel, banning it from importing armored personnel carriers or allowing non-African trainers to join them.
The Darfur conflict erupted in early 2003 when mostly non-Arab tribes took up arms accusing the Arab-dominated Khartoum government of neglect.
The government retaliated by arming mainly Arab militia, known as Janjaweed, who began a campaign of murder, rape, arson and plunder that drove 2 million villagers into squalid camps. Khartoum denies responsibility.
Meanwhile, rebel groups proliferated, spreading more misery.
Mendez and others hope for an AU ceasefire deal that could be verified and perhaps be signed by April 30. Still, he says the mandate of the AU has to be strengthened because people often have to be "suffering right under the nose of the AU forces before they can act."
'PARTICIPATION IN GENOCIDE'
The United States is outspoken. U.S. Ambassador John Bolton has said he believes "with a high degree of certainty that the Sudan government has been involved in and indeed directing things like gross abuses of human rights and participation in the genocide."
But he said Washington had to check evidence before the United States could agree to put any Sudanese government official on a U.N. list of sanctions that include a travel ban and an assets freeze.
Russia and China oppose all sanctions, even though the Security Council called for them in a resolution a year ago.
But most agree that U.S. or NATO troops cannot enter Darfur as a unit without attracting Islamic militants. However, individual NATO members could help with logistics and air cover.
Jan Pronk, the U.N. envoy for Sudan, warned that any mention of NATO was a red flag to Muslims. "Western diplomacy is indeed extremely foolish at the moment," he said.
Prendergast agreed. "What we (U.S.) have done, is undertaken diplomacy through public assertions that tend to alienate everyone," but without having a military strategy.
If all fails, Prendergast predicted, the United States will blame the United Nations, the Europeans and the Africans while Khartoum ensures "that none of the stated objectives of our policy are actually implemented."
They were the ones' who have been f*ing around getting on Sudan's and other Arab nations and AU nerves in tghe region with that idiot Bolton yapping to his buddies like he does about Iran.
So they will try to fault everyone else when they never had a plan in the first place, just like Iraq, and probably like Iran and North Korea. What a great nation we have running the world, or so it pretends to believe.