Khalil Ibrahim, the leader of the Justice and Equality Movement, or JEM, and high-ranking officials from the United Nations/African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, or UNAMID, met recently in N’Djamena, the Chadian capital. According to the JEM spokesperson Ahmed Hussein Adam, the goal of the meeting was to:
create a joint mechanism allowing them to work together to protect civilians and IDPs in Darfur and to enhance the humanitarian situation there.
This meeting, along with the JEM’s decision to withdraw from the town of Muhajiria in order to avoid a clash with the government troops, could be an indication that the JEM is attempting to create situation on the ground that forces “observers” to consider the JEM partners in civilian protection.
However, these recent gestures, along with JEM’s recent visit to the U.S., may also be a sign that the JEM is trying its hand at its own “charm offensive.” In other words, the JEM may be attempting to garner international support and generate an internationally-backed threat of force to buttress its own strength – a tactic used to great effect by the Kosovo Liberation Army during NATO’s 1999 intervention in Kosovo.
Although the JEM is currently showing self-restraint, it continues to warn of greater military action in the future, especially if Bashir’s likely indictment leads to “chaos.” The JEM has even offered to help the International Criminal Court capture Bashir “by all means,” even if this entails, “go[ing] into direct battle in any city in Sudan.”
All this is to say that the JEM may soon change its pacifist, cooperative agenda if such a change better suits its objectives.