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The Darfur Crisis: An African Apocalypse Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Sarah Zaaimi, Morocco Dec 25, 2006
Human Rights , Peace & Conflict   Opinions


The Darfur Crisis: An African Apocalypse

The Darfur conflict is not as simple as it seems, as it roots go back to the bitter history of magnetization of the non-Arab and non-Muslims by Khartoum, and because many actors are involved in the issue. Such that, the conflict began when years of drought touched the miserable region of Darfur (which means Land of the Fur) in 2003, when rebel groups influenced by John Guarang began attacking government targets and fertile private exploitations. They claimed that the region was being neglected by Khartoum and left in famine because of their non-Arab origins. Since then the arid land of “Darfur has been facing many years of tensions over fertile land between nomadic Arabs from one hand and farmers from the Fur, Massaleet and Zagawa communities” (www.bbc.com).

On the land of conflict there are two main rebel groups: the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). In addition to these two, there is the National Redemption Front, led by Ahmed Diraige, which units the groups opposed to the May Peace Treaty initiated by the government of Khartoum. From its side the government mobilized “self-defense militias” as they like to call them. But quickly these militias lacked of discipline and start seeking their own interests and became what is called the Janjaweed. “Refugees from Darfur say that following air raids by government aircraft, the Janjaweed ride into villages on horses and camels, slaughtering men, raping women and stealing whatever they can find. Many women report being abducted by the Janjaweed and held as sex slaves for more than a week before being released.” (Human Rights Wash report)

The Sudanese government, however, denies any relations with these groups or having any control over them. Yet after international pressure and the threats of sanctions, they promised to disarm the Janjaweed. Under such conditions about 200,000 Sudanese fled as refugees to Chad, which caused a huge diplomatic problem between the two countries. In particular, the persistent Janjaweed threat over the 600 km of borders where the refugees’ camps lay placed them under disastrous humanitarian conditions. Non Sudanese actors are trying to save the situation:

“About 7,000 African Union troops have slowly been deployed in Darfur on a very limited mandate. Experts say the soldiers are too few to cover an area the size of France, and the African Union says it does not have the money to fund the operation for much longer. Sudan has resisted strong western diplomatic pressure for the UN to take control of the peacekeeping mission. The latest plan (resolution 1706) envisages 17,000 troops and 3,000 UN policemen.”(UN Secretary General Report).

In addition, the UN mission is very active in helping refugees, and international help and NGOs have started acting to improve the situation there.


As far as the Sudanese Government position is concerned, it is clear that Sudan is in a sensitive situation; especially after the potential losing of its southern rich states in the coming referendum. The Sudanese government is also waiting for crucial elections within two years, and by allowing a foreign intervention in the Darfur crisis it will menace to throw the public opinion against the Islamic regime; a regime that many see as illegitimate. Economically the government is very friendly with China, which has an exclusive right to exploit Sudanese oil. However, in the Darfur region the population sympathizes more with America, which supplies them with food. With the Americans in Darfur, Chinese interests are being menaced and so are the government's interests and image. The government also committed a huge mistake by constituting the Janjaweed, thinking it would be cheaper. Now they are paying the high price, as their image at the international level is very poor. So Sudan continued refusing the UN resolution, and playing the card of sovereignty, but was forced to accept them to avoid a typical international intervention. Especially with Chad involved and supported by the French army.

On the Sudanese Foreign ministry web site we can read the following headlines: “There is a deep engagement to fight organized terrorism… and support peace efforts and to improve our international cooperation in terms of economic development of our entire region”. Yet, it is clear that these idealistic words are far away from the bitter reality of the ruling process.

Until Resolution 1706 Sudan was calling for non-violation of its sovereignty and calling for the reinforcement of only African peace keeping troops. Yet, the image of the humanitarian disaster are becoming more and more clear to the international community.

The frustrations of millions of Sudanese since 1956 may reach an end with the explosive file of Darfur and through the coming elections. But the price has been bloody tragedies and decades of marginalization.

The Picture is taken from Reuters.

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Sarah Zaaimi

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Sahra Ahmed Koshin | Feb 15th, 2007
thank you for this...its so important...

Sahra Ahmed Koshin | Feb 15th, 2007
thank you for this...its so important...

Sahra Ahmed Koshin | Feb 15th, 2007
thank you for this...its so important...

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