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Remember General Dabi?

In December 2011, Sudanese Gen. Mohamed Ahmed al-Dabi led an Arab League mission into Syria to monitor abuses during the country’s popular uprising. But the mission quickly failed, hobbled by government impediments and its own monitors’ inexperience. But Gen. Dabi, it turned out, had plenty of experience hobbling international missions. As a senior aide to ...

ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images
ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images

In December 2011, Sudanese Gen. Mohamed Ahmed al-Dabi led an Arab League mission into Syria to monitor abuses during the country’s popular uprising. But the mission quickly failed, hobbled by government impediments and its own monitors’ inexperience.

But Gen. Dabi, it turned out, had plenty of experience hobbling international missions.

As a senior aide to president Omar al-Bashir, Dabi was assigned the task last year of shepherding a panel of U.N. experts charged with monitoring the enforcement of U.N. sanctions in Darfur, according to a leaked report by the panel.

The report, which was first published by Africa Confidential last month, provides a detailed account of how Dabi and his associates thwarted the U.N. Security Council panel’s efforts to investigate abuses of a U.N. travel ban and arms embargo.

The panel arrived in Khartoum on November 23, 2011, and were immediately confronted by Dabi — who served as the government’s "focal point." Dabi criticized the panel and told them that they would be well advised to be "objective and transparent" in their work; meanwhile, assured the panel he would provide them all the support they needed.

It didn’t turn out that way.

The experts requested multiple entry visas to facilitate their travels in the region. They were denied. In fact, Sudan introduced a new system in which the panel members’ travel had to be approved by agents from Sudan’s military intelligence bureau, impeding the "free movement of the panel and its ability to discharge its duties," according to the leaked report.

When the panel settled on a travel destination they were routinely told no.

They were denied permission to visit camps for the internally displaced at Kalma and Abu Shok, and prevented from traveling to other zones, including the areas around the towns of Shangil Tobaya, Golo, Rockero Thabit, Magarin, and Nortit.

"The panel wanted to visit some places, namely the Libya-Sudan border in Darfur, South Kordofan, and to observe Joint Sudan/Chad/CAR(Central African Republic) patrols along the  western borders of Darfur, but the first two were refused and the third not arranged," according to the report. "As a result the panel was not able to carry out its mandate effectively."

The panel’s requests to interview key officials were also met with refusals. They were barred from meeting with any commanders in the Sudan Armed Forces in Darfur, police officials, or the governor of South Kordofan.

"Similarly, the panel was refused permission to inspect military aircraft and other military assets kept in Darfur and to access flight logs maintained by the Sudanese Aviation Authority," the report added. "This affected the panel’s ability to effectively monitor the arms embargo in relation to Darfur."

It remains unclear whether Dabi was involved in rejecting all the panel members’ requests, and he apparently moved on to Syria shortly after taking on the role of government liaison to the U.N. panel. But it is clear that  Dabi didn’t always say no.

At one point, Dabi "had proposed to show to the panel weapons and vehicles" Sudan seized from an anti-government rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement. The materiel, according to Dabi, had been supplied by Libya.

But while the panel tried to take Dabi up on his offer, he never produced the goods.

 

Follow me on Twitter @columlynch

Colum Lynch is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @columlynch

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