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February 25, 2005
A Watershed Moment For The UN?

In a report that likely will garner little attention after the Islamist attacks today in Iraq, the BBC has a flash report that several UN peacekeepers died in an ambush in the Ituri region of Congo. The report just came through and is light on details:

Several UN peacekeepers have been killed during an armed ambush in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the country's UN mission. The attack happened on Friday morning in the north-eastern Ituri region, where 4,800 peacekeepers are deployed.

A UN spokesman said there were no further details yet on the exact number or nationality of the men killed.

He said they were ambushed by "unidentified armed elements" while they were on patrol.

Ituri sits at the northeast tip of Congo, just south of Sudan and the Darfur region where Islamists have conducted a massive genocide campaign, one which the UN still refuses to officially acknowledge. While the Congolese mission started six years ago to halt a civil war -- and doesn't that sound a bit familiar? -- the attack on UN peacekeepers in that area sounds more like an attempt to inflame the Congo to keep the heat off Sudan.

In either case, whether the ambushers came from Congo rebels or Janjaweed Islamists, the UN has an opportunity to respond to this provocation. In the past, notably in Srebrenica and Iraq, the UN has set land-speed records in retreating after getting a bloody nose. In doing so, they demonstrated a complete lack of will and intestinal fortitude and signaled to the terrorists of the world that the UN has zero credibility in any war on terror, or even in peacekeeping. Kofi Annan has an opportunity to reverse that impression by increasing troop strength and going after the terrorists rather than turning tail.

Nothing in Annan's track record indicates he will take the opportunity, but nonetheless it remains for him to choose. Will the UN just act like crossing guards with pretty helmets for easy targeting, or will they start to take their role as peacekeepers seriously? It won't take long to find out.

UPDATE: Reuters reports that the nine peacekeepers killed were Bangladeshi. The UN announced that the nine were missing and "possibly killed". Attack helicopters have been dispatched to the region, but no word yet on what action they will take once there.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 25, 2005 8:15 AM

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» CAPTAIN'S QUARTERS Blog: U.N. Stuck in Congo Quagmire? from Whither The Fool?
Mon Capitan reports that the UN has taken a little body-count of its own going in the Republic of Congo, where it has been "peacekeeping" for six years or so.... [Read More]

Tracked on February 25, 2005 2:27 PM

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