The UN Security Council and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have voiced approval of Sudan?s acceptance of the middle phase of a three-stage plan for eventually deploying 20-thousand UN troops in Darfur.  But individual diplomats remain skeptical about the strength of Khartoum?s endorsement and its resolve to embrace a combined UN ? African Union (AU) hybrid force on its western territory.  Britain?s Prime Minister Tony Blair told reporters yesterday in London that new sanctions may be the only way to get Khartoum to bear its responsibility for stopping the  violence.  Dave Mozersky heads the International Crisis Group?s Horn of Africa project.  He tells the Voice of America that President Omar al-Bashir?s meetings this week with US diplomat John Negroponte indicate some accomplishment, but that a tough road still lies ahead.

?The government of Sudan has resisted every step of the way, and even getting the second phase agreement took almost six months since it was originally agreed to.  And the government tried to renegotiate each and every point, to the point where even the Chinese government, which is usually a stark ally of Khartoum, was getting quite annoyed.  So this is not an unexpected breakthrough, and the Sudanese government doesn?t really deserve accolades for agreeing with something they had already promised to do,? he said.

The Crisis Group?s Dave Mozersky notes how important it is for the United States to have a high-profile diplomat hold direct discussions on the troop implementation with Sudan?s president.

?I think that Negroponte?s trip was well-timed and provided very welcome high-level engagement from the US government, but probably did not make much progress on the deployment of an AU hybrid force,? he said.

Dave Mozersky believes that US engagement and the active threat of new sanctions are essential tools that will have to resonate in Khartoum so that the government gets a message that the international community is seriously opposed to Sudanese support for the janjaweed militias in Darfur.

?The UN Security Council has authorized a Sudan sanctions committee to investigate human rights abuses and obstruction of the peace process and violations of the arms embargo.  And it has come up with a number of lists of Sudanese individuals, including senior government officials, violating these terms and calling for sanctions to be imposed, but it hasn?t done so.  Similarly, with the US, it has threatened sanctions, but hasn?t implemented them.  The fact that just about every threat goes unanswered has meant that the Sudanese government has concluded, correctly so far, that it can get away with murder without any repercussions from the international community.  And therefore, it doesn?t fulfill its numerous commitments to disarm the janjaweed.  It doesn?t restrain from aerial bombardment, and it doen?t feel any international repercussions from the international community, so the imposition of new sanctions, as the US is now talking about is an important first step toward changing that dynamic,? Mozersky said.