AU-UN Force Commander Speaks Out

The force commander of the AU-UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Gen. Martin Luther Agwai, grants an interview to Newsweek International. The frustration he expresses is palpable. Via the DARFUR blog:

You’ve warned the international community not to set its expectations too high. Why?

The resolution that created this hybrid [peacekeeping] operation is not a secret document, so many people have read that the force is to have 20,000 troops. I have had telephone calls from different organizations and individuals congratulating me that I now have 20,000 troops. Unfortunately, as you and I know now, we don’t even know the troop contributors, so how can we talk about what those troops will do? Those people who are calling me will see nothing happening on the ground and feel disappointed. That is why I have already cautioned people not to expect too much because there is not much happening on the ground.

So you’re saying things aren’t changing fast enough?

Definitely. I am very concerned. I accepted the job because I wanted to give it my best, and I can only give it my best and be judged by the world depending on the resources available to me. And the resources are not forthcoming. They are not giving me 20,000 [troops], not to mention the equipment the troops will use, not to mention the other staff we will need in the mission. Nothing. So I am really, really concerned.

Plus, there’s no peace deal yet. How can you be expected to provide security when there’s no peace deal?

Lack of peace on the ground is definitely another big challenge because we are here as peacekeepers, and our job would be easier and smoother if there were a peace deal brokered for us. Unfortunately, right now, there is no peace to keep. So it has become another Herculean task to see that people are protected. We hope the talks in Libya [scheduled to start Oct. 27] result in an acceptable, comprehensive peace agreement for us and for every party involved.

Essentially, the general is saying that he has no troops to keep a peace that does not exist–and, in any case, he does not expect troops will be made available to him in the near future. Until member states pony up, it is hard to see how the situation on the ground can change for the better. This includes providing the force with proper financial and diplomatic support. A Security Council peacekeeping authorization is basically useless unless member states are willing to back it up by providing troops and funding for the mission.