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Vietnam, Iraq…Sudan?

When the coalition forces, led by the U.S. and Britain, entered Iraq, they expected to end the war in a few months. And indeed, President George W. Bush announced 16 months ago that the war had ended.

Only it had not. And as the war has gone on, the Iraqi people seem more and more dissatisfied with what is becoming, in their eyes, the U.S. occupation of their land.

The Iraqi people suffered under Saddam Hussein, there is no doubt about it. But as a proud Arab nation, they can not stand being ruled by a foreign force, especially a Western one.

The U.S. and Britain are full of good intentions. They want to provide the Iraqis with democracy and human rights. Now they also want to save the Sudanese living in the Darfur region. And those Sudanese truly need to be saved after 15 months of bloodshed.

But do the local people of Sudan really want the Americans and Britons to help, especially if this help involves military intervention?

The Sudanese administration, for one, is very clear in its attitude to a possible military intervention. “Regarding what has happened in Darfur, the United Nations and the international community have to show their responsibility in assisting to solve the crisis through means of negotiations, instead of escalating tension and planning to enforce military intervention for the purposes of serving foreign economic interests,” Sudan’s information minister said on July 27.

In response to the British army chief of staff’s remarks, in which he said Britain is willing to send 5,000 troops to Sudan if needed, Sudan’s Foreign Minister Mu’stafa ‘Uthman Isma’il said on July 24 that, “If Britain sends forces to Darfur, the Sudanese government will withdraw its own troops out of the region, thus turning the British forces into an occupation force and further inflaming violence.”

Occupation force. Ring any bells? Yes, and not only to Iraqi ears. “Today, Britain – under the rule of Blair – is no longer a nation worthy of respect. The decision to ‘send 5,000 troops to Sudan if need be’ as declared by one of its generals, is nothing other than a revival of British colonialism in Sudan,” wrote a Sudanese journalist on July 26. “The British people need to be reminded that it was in western Sudan that the British army was humiliated and defeated before leaving the Sudan to win its independence. That spirit is still alive,” the journalist warned.

Although neither Bush nor Blair have even decided whether to send troops to Darfur, Sudan is already making it clear what its response will look if they do. “My country will defend itself in the case of a foreign military intervention in Darfur,” Isma’il said on July 28. “The government is not inclined to a confrontation and hopes it will not be forced into it. But if attacked, it will not sit with its hands tied,” added the foreign minister.

The government also called on the Sudanese people “to unite their ranks and face any development that might threaten the security of Sudan and the interests of its people,” reported the Sudanese news agency SUNA.

So, whatever the U.S. and Britain decide to do, they should be aware of the fact that Sudan’s government, and probably also its people, will not give up easily on what they perceive as their independence and honor.