Come On, Abdalmahmoud

I’m willing to grant that certain logistical and bureaucratic delays on the part of the UN have played a significant role in slowing the deployment of the UN-AU joint peacekeeping force to Darfur. But this? Please.

Sudan’s Ambassador Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem rejected the idea that Khartoum was at all responsible for delays in deploying the joint U.N.-AU peacekeeping mission (UNAMID).

He said his government was doing everything in its power to ensure that the U.N. target was met. Le Roy said he expected that only half of the 26,000 UNAMID peacekeepers would be on the ground in Darfur by the end of the year.

“If there are delays, it’s because of the United Nations,” Abdalhaleem told Reuters, adding that he hoped Le Roy would create better ties with Sudan than his predecessor.

The new UN peacekeeping chief’s honest assessment of the deployment rate in Darfur should not be taken as license to blast the UN for not meeting its target. The host government’s cooperation — particularly in the politically contentious and logistically difficult case of Darfur — is absolutely crucial in securing full deployment of as large and ambitious a peacekeeping force as UNAMID, so it goes without saying that, unless the UN simply isn’t trying to deploy, the government in Khartoum bears at least some responsibility for the delays.

Of course, when others have claimed that the government has persistently withheld visas, imposed arbitrary and draconian regulations, held up the transport of vital supplies, stolen fuel, and even attacked neutral peacekeepers, it isn’t exactly fully committed to facilitating the deployment of a robust international force on its territory. Ambassador Abdalhaleem’s statement seems designed to deflect attention from his own government’s obstructionism, but it flies in the face of far too many facts to be taken at all seriously.