EL FASHER, Sudan (AP) — The U.N. Security Council found strong opposition to sending a U.N. force to replace African Union peacekeepers in conflict-wracked Darfur on Friday, with one tribal chief threatening a “jihad” if non-African troops come to this vast Muslim region.
The government’s reluctance to replace the African Union force was echoed by tribal and youth leaders invited to meet the council in Darfur.
Mowadh Jalaladin, a representative of the Barty tribe, which he said has about 250,000 members, said handing over to a U.N. force “would inaugurate foreign occupation and intervention” and remind Sudanese of the colonial past, echoing earlier government
rhetoric that has fanned anti-U.N. sentiment.
It was the United States that offered the motion on the UN Security Council this past February to send UN peacekeepers to Darfur. Bring on the conspiracy theories:
The cry also has been taken up by international extremists. Al-Jazeera satellite channel on Friday broadcast a videotape by the deputy leader of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri, in which he said the U.N. Security Council visit to Sudan was “to prepare to occupy and divide it.”
In a tape aired on Arab television in April, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden urged followers to fight any U.N. peacekeeping force in Sudan.
If a U.N. force comes to Darfur, Jalaladin said, “We are declaring jihad against it.
“It means death. It means defending Sudan and Islam,” Jalaladin said.
“The root causes of the Darfur conflict are the doing of the Jewish organizations who financed this armed rebellion,” he claimed. “We don’t want the Security Council to be an instrument of the ugly undertakings of the United States of America.”