first thoughts - sudan


Blair says that Britain has a "moral responsibility" for the decisions taken by the Sudanese government. Why? Because Britain misruled the Sudan until 1956? Does he think we have a right to interfere wherever the flag of empire flew, or could it be that southern Sudan has become a significant oil exporter?

Hilary Benn, Minister for Aid, threatens that if Sudan's government does not disarm the Janjawid, "further action will follow". Perhaps he is going to follow General Gordon into Sudan on a quest for imperial glory, forgetting how that story ended in disaster? Or maybe he wants to impose even harsher sanctions on one of the poorest countries in the world, a move guaranteed to worsen their suffering.

Yet the USA, backed as usual by the EU, has proposed a draft resolution for stronger sanctions, on top of the sanctions imposed since 1996 and extended in 2001. The USA has already been responsible for the destruction of Sudan's only pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum in 1998, causing thousands of casualties by depriving the Sudanese people of life-saving drugs.

Intervention by Western troops would also worsen the suffering and prolong the hostilities. The Sudanese people must be allowed to settle their own affairs, without outside interference.