Looming bloodbath

The Baltimore Sun

Conditions in Darfur over the past three years have been so horrific, the Sudanese officials believed responsible and their Janjaweed militia thugs have been accused of genocide. Yet the horror appears on the verge of growing exponentially.

Sudan's Islamist regime has refused to accept deployment of 22,500 United Nations peacekeepers to enforce a May agreement between the government and one of the rebel groups in Darfur. Instead, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir seems determined to get peacekeepers from the African Union out of the way so he can send government troops to Darfur to wipe out whatever is left of the ravaged black African villages there. Once the villages are gone, Sudanese forces may go into the refuge camps and finish off the displaced villagers.

The U.S. has been a world leader in resolving the crisis in Darfur and now must take up the cause with renewed fervor. President Bush should quickly name a special envoy who could take up the mission with the skill and passion of former emissaries John C. Danforth and Robert B. Zoellick, whose links to the president enhanced their clout.

Mr. Bush should also appeal to Russian President Vladimir V. Putin and Chinese President Hu Jintao for their aid in convincing Sudanese leaders the world won't tolerate a mass annihilation in Darfur, and in enforcing that message through stiff economic sanctions.

The task won't be easy, but Mr. Bush must succeed in heading off this bloodbath. The alternative is unthinkable.

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