The African Union is (quite understandably) angry at the the SLA rebels today - according to a new press statement, the rebels have failed to release seven Arab nomads "...and their camels" abducted near Al Malam last month.
It seems the nomads are also pretty pissed off about all of this and have informed the African Union troops that they are sick of waiting for them to sort it out - instead, they have now "given notice of their intention to launch an attack to retrieve the abducted persons". Oh, "and their camels".
To make matters even more confusing, it seems the rebels are now pretending they were never even involved in this whole incident in the first place - well okay, the camel stealing part yes. But the rest, no way. The AU release notes, "The SLA have made statements even retracting their earlier admission of the abduction - though disputing the number of camels involved."
Sounding weary and impatient, the AU concludes, "We therefore, once again, call on the SLA to expeditiously release the abducted Arab nomads and their camels."
Aside from making silly references to camels (which, admittedly, probably only seem silly to a stupid non-camel owning Westerner like me), this statement caught my attention for the serious impacts it could have on wider political issues like the Darfur peace talks that are supposed to start again this coming Friday.
Abducting people is always nasty thing to do - abducting them in the full knowledge that this will cause a retaliatory strike and possibly another serious outbreak of violence just before a major political negotiation is simply stupid.