Bush-administrasjonen har gitt de militære ordre om å planlegge aksjoner for å få Sudan til å stanse folkemordet i Darfur. Tony Blair er med på flyforbud. Men Pentagon planlegger også blokade av havnene, slik at oljeeksporten stanser og bombing inne i landet.

Demokratene støtter også handling for å stanse drapene på forsvarsløse fra Darfur.

Så langt har Ombar al-Bashir og Khartoum sagt nei til utplassering av en hybrid-styrke bestående av African Union og FN-soldater.

Tony Blair has backed imposing a no-fly zone over Sudan’s Darfur region while military planners in Washington are also developing plans for air strikes and a naval blockade to pressure Khartoum to stop the violence, the Financial Times has learned.

The British prime minister declared his support for a no-fly zone for the first time during his visit last week to Washington, during which he told President George W. Bush that they had to deal with Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, in the next two to three months.

«We need to consider alternative approaches, with international partners,» Mr Blair warned on returning to London.

Military planning has moved ahead, one official said, adding: «The Americans mean business.»

Mr Blair said he would seek United Nations backing for a no-fly zone which would be enforced by the US and UK.

To ledende sikkerhetseksperter fra Clinton-administrasjonen leverte i oktober anbefalinger om å gripe inn militært, hvis ikke al-Bashir bøyer av.

But the intractable crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region has drawn out a series of military plans that would see Washington and London involved in a naval blockade of Sudan’s Red Sea coast, targeted airstrikes against sites within the country, or the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Darfur. That last option has received Tony Blair’s backing, with the important proviso that United Nations approval would be an essential prerequisite.

Both Mr Blair and President George W. Bush are said to feel a deep commitment to end a crisis in Darfur that London labels a «crime against humanity» and Washington alone calls genocide. Aides describe concerns about their historical legacy hanging over two leaders already weighed down by the debacle in Iraq and a fear of being seen to have allowed a repeat of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

A rare coalition of interests would be prepared to back Mr Bush over action on Sudan. While Republicans would see military moves as a blow against President Omar al-Bashir’s Islamist regime, Democrats would also support an initiative to end one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

In October, a call for US military strikes was penned by two former Clinton administration officials, Susan Rice and Anthony Lake, and Democrat congressman Donald Payne, who will soon take over leadership of the House subcommittee on Africa.

The US, they said, should press for a UN resolution to give Sudan an ultimatum to accept unconditional deployment of the UN force within one week or face military consequences, including strikes against airfields and other military assets, and a blockade of Port Sudan to stop oil exports. If the UN balked, then the US should go ahead anyway.

Blair ønsker et FN-mandat for selv et flyforbud. Frankrike har en garnison i Chad, men sier de kun vil handle multilateralt.

Iraq casts shadow on Darfur optionsBy Guy Dinmore in Washington and Daniel Dombey in Brussels

Blair backs no-fly zone over Darfur
By Guy Dinmore in Washington