Liberals look away

DARFUR: General Martin Luther Agwai, commander of the African Union Mission in Sudan, gave an interview to the BBC’s Orla Guerin a week or so ago. It dwelt on what exactly needs to be done if the new UN-AU hybrid force is to make a difference in Sudan, once the green hats of the AU are swapped for the blue hats of the UN. So far so good. But what has got the Khartoum government hot and bothered a week later? Well his choice of military heroes included Ariel Sharon, a name certain to raise liberal eyebrows and to send Arab governments – such as Sudan’s – into a tizzy. Don’t expect too many more interviews from General Agwai in the immediate future.

The general told BBC News that building a peacekeeping force of that size from scratch would take time, and he warned against high expectations, saying without peace his troops would be in a “in a very uncomfortable position”.

The former head of Nigeria’s armed forces is courteous and softly-spoken.

He told me his military heroes are General George Patton and General Ariel Sharon.

Asked if his new job is a poisoned chalice, his response is characteristically low-key.

“When I was accepting this job I did it with all sincerity,” he said, “believing that somebody has to do the job and if somebody has to do it, why not me.”

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