Category Archive 'Sudan'

23 Dec 2020

Don’t You Feel Better Now?

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24 Jan 2010

“Proportionality in Modern Asymmetrical Wars”

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I would give the following paper by Amichai Cohen, International Law professor at Ono Academic College, Israel, a gentlemanly C.


Armed conflicts of this type have sometimes been termed “asymmetrical” –- an adjective used principally with reference to the fact that the protagonists are a state, with all its might and force, and an organization with few heavy arms and a limited number of fighters. But such conflicts are also asymmetrical in a more complicated sense: they are fought between a state, in possession of sound reasons for following the laws of armed conflicts (LOAC) or international humanitarian law (IHL), and a high incentive and organizational obligation to do so, on the one hand, and on the other hand, an organization that almost never follows these rules and has very little incentive to do so.

States involved in these conflicts mostly attempt to follow, or are expected by the international community to follow, IHL as detailed in customary international law, in the Geneva Conventions, and in other sources of applicable international law. However, it has become increasingly difficult to abide by these laws, mainly because of the novel nature of the problems that constantly arise. This brief review will only deal with two of the most prominent of such problems:

    The first is how to apply the rule forbidding indiscriminate attacks on a civilian population when the enemy deliberately operates from within that environment. Direct attacks against civilians are of course always forbidden. However, what are
    the appropriate norms that a state should apply when the only possible way of fighting the enemy involves risking the lives of civilians whom the enemy is using for its own protection?

    A second problem arises from the fact that non-state actors are not susceptible to the range of formal and informal sanction which may be used against states. Since international law is not policed effectively, non-state actors may readily assume
    that their violations of the laws of war, including those mentioned above, will not be punished by law. For example, they may target civilians of the state actor in the knowledge that there exists very small chance that they will be punished for
    doing so by any international judicial body. Consequently, while one side to the conflict behaves in accordance with IHL, the other considers itself to be free of the limitations imposed by these rules.

Read the whole thing.

My criticism is that, although Professor Cohen does a workmanlike academic job of dividing alternative perspectives into models, his fundamental approach is fundamentally far too abstract, unempiric, and ahistoric.

Restricting consideration of the practical responses to terrorism, guerrilla warfare, and violations of the laws and customs of war to a small number of very recent, poorly handled examples which occurred under the leadership of democratic governments, which obviously failed satisfactorily to implement or articulate clear policies, was a fundamental mistake.

The world did not suddenly spring into existence in 1993. “Assymetrical warfare” and the cynical exploitation of the chivalrous instincts and humanitarian values of honorable and civilized armies by outlaws and barbarians has always been part of the human experience. Military commanders from Classical Antiquity down to WWII frequently dealt with decisive effect with the same problems without scandalizing posterity by cruelty and excesses.

Professor Cohen is too satisfied with the classification of perspectives into “models,” and too cautious and timid about identifying explicitly the major and important role played in the fraudulent framing of the issue as presented to the public by dishonest and ideologically biased humanitarian organizations and the media.

02 Nov 2009

Air Crew Awarded Medals For 2006 Sudan Confrontation


Air Force Times:

11 airmen and six National Guardsmen from Guam flew into Al Fashir, in Darfur, Sudan with an Air Force HC-30 transport to pick up six locked duffel bags at the request of military liaisons from the US Embassy.

Sudanese military personnel were loading blue explosive canisters onto an Antonov-26 transport, for use against civilians in Darfur, while UN humanitarian workers were loading the wounded and dead onto helicopters.

As the American Air Force plane began to taxi for take off, the crew received a sudden order to abort departure.

(A) Sudanese intelligence officer had called PAT 332 back because he was worried the aircraft’s FLIR ball had recorded images of the blue canisters being loaded onto the An-26.

Then, nine Sudanese intelligence and military officers — led by the one who ordered PAT 332 to return — rushed up. They began accusing the crew members of espionage and demanded to search the plane.

(Maj. James) Woosley denied the request. The Sudanese officers yelled at Woosley and (navigator Capt. Jesse) Enfield, threatening to kill them. They ordered Woosley to pick one officer to leave the plane to pay a $400 landing fee. Not wanting one officer to go alone, he sent (co pilots 1st Lt. John Cuddy) Cuddy and (1st Lt. Timothy) Saxton.

About this time, Woosley went back into the plane. He ordered the crew members to put on their body armor and conceal handguns underneath their uniforms since he had told the Sudanese that they were unarmed. …

Sudanese soldiers then demanded to inspect the duffel bags. Assured by the U.S. military liaisons there was no classified material inside, Woosley agreed. Without the key to open the bags, though, Enfield and one U.S. military liaison cut open the bags for the Sudanese to search.

Angry at finding only clothes and personal possessions, the Sudanese officers demanded to know why Woosley and Enfield would fly from Djibouti to Darfur to pick up duffel bags. Both officers relayed the story about the father-to-be and told the Sudanese officers the U.S. Embassy could corroborate their mission.

That answer didn’t satisfy the Sudanese. About 20 Sudanese soldiers joined the nine officers and circled Woosley and Enfield. One grabbed Woosley, and another slapped his sunglasses off his head.

Woosley and Enfield pushed through the crowd and got back onto the aircraft. Cuddy and Saxton had also returned. The U.S. military liaison told the crew members the Sudanese officials planned to arrest them for espionage and have them executed.

A Sudanese soldier then asked Woosley if there were any women on board. The crew had two female members, Staff Sgt. Kelly Hall, flying crew chief, and Senior Airman Kimberley Vanhaaster, loadmaster. When Woosley answered yes, the soldier countered that women didn’t belong in the military. He said the women would be raped and sold once the crew was arrested. He then asked to see the women. Woosley said no. When Woosley got back on the plane, he had Hall and Vanhaaster move to the middle of the aircraft, where they were harder to spot. …

After 6 p.m., two trucks carrying about 50 Sudanese soldiers drove up next to the HC-130. The soldiers, carrying AK47s, emptied out of the trucks and took firing positions around the aircraft. Soldiers positioned two .50-caliber machine guns and one rocket-propelled grenade launcher near the tail and multiple 7.62mm machine guns with tripods on the sides of the plane. An old firetruck drove up and parked in front of the plane’s nose, cutting off the crew’s exit.

Outmanned and outgunned, the crew members and guardsmen maintained their defensive positions. …

After 6 p.m., two trucks carrying about 50 Sudanese soldiers drove up next to the HC-130. The soldiers, carrying AK47s, emptied out of the trucks and took firing positions around the aircraft. Soldiers positioned two .50-caliber machine guns and one rocket-propelled grenade launcher near the tail and multiple 7.62mm machine guns with tripods on the sides of the plane. An old firetruck drove up and parked in front of the plane’s nose, cutting off the crew’s exit.

Outmanned and outgunned, the crew members and guardsmen maintained their defensive positions. …

More than four hours after being ordered back to the ramp, a U.S. military liaison demanded to speak with the airfield commander, a Sudanese colonel. The colonel told the liaison he would have to consult with his superior, a lieutenant general. None of the documents reviewed by Air Force Times explained why the liaison didn’t ask to speak with the colonel sooner.

The colonel stepped out of the room. When he returned, he told the liaison the aircrew could leave after paying a landing fee. The liaison explained the fee had already been paid; the colonel didn’t ask for proof of payment and told him the crew could leave. This time, it was the liaison’s turn to leave the room. He radioed Woosley with the news.

The Sudanese soldiers backed up and the firetruck drove off.

Woosley and the crew members became blurs of motion, getting the plane ready for takeoff in eight minutes instead of the usual 30.

PAT 332 taxied to the runway for a second time. This time, the wheels left the ground.

Hat tip to George Smiley.

01 Dec 2007

Muslims Miffed Again

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AFP photo
AFP photo

The Guardian:

Carrying swords and machetes and waving green Islamic flags, protesters marched through the streets of Khartoum yesterday demanding the execution of British teacher Gillian Gibbons. “No one lives who insults the prophet,” read one of the banners outside the British embassy.

More than 1,000 Muslim demonstrators in the Sudanese capital called for her to be shot or stabbed for insulting Islam after her pupils called a teddy bear Muhammad.

Gibbons, 54, of Liverpool, was sentenced on Thursday night to 15 days in jail followed by deportation in a case that has attracted international condemnation. …

While many in Khartoum thought the arrest was harsh – the Sudanese blogosphere is awash with derision aimed at the authorities – leaflets were distributed at some mosques calling for protests against Gibbons after Friday prayers.

Some protesters arrived at Khartoum’s central mosque on foot, waving knives, clubs and ceremonial swords. Others came on the back of pick-up trucks, covered in printed banners and flags. Initially, the atmosphere was jovial, as the first groups of men moved towards Martyrs Square in front of the president’s palace in central Khartoum. Passersby shook their fists in encouragement and motorists honked their horns. But the mood soon darkened as the crowd swelled to more than 1,000.

Organisers shouted encouragement through megaphones. The crowd responded with traditional Islamic chants, extolling Allah, urging the death of anyone who insulted the prophet Muhammad. Newspaper pictures of Gibbons were burned on a makeshift stage at the heart of Martyrs Square. One protester was seen making a stabbing gesture with his sword. A group of men shouted: “She must be killed by the sword.”

Men wearing traditional robes and turbans leaned out of car windows waving swords and machete-like blades. Individuals shouted threats at western journalists, shouting: “You must go”, and drawing their fingers across their throats.

There was little doubt the protest had been carefully orchestrated. The banners waved by marchers and tied to the front of vehicles had all been pre-printed. Before the verdict, imams across the city also focused on the case in their sermons. One address, broadcast on national radio, accused Gibbons of purposefully comparing the prophet to a bear – an animal that was “alien” to Sudan, he said. “She deserved what she got,” he added.

The police did not intervene, indicating that the protest received the official approval of the authorities. Unauthorised protests held by opposition and other groups in Khartoum have in the past been broken up with teargas.

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