Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Darfur: Overview of the Current Mess, and Some Background

  • Bad news:
    People are still dying in Darfur. And, the situation isn't getting any better
  • Good news:
    More people are becoming aware of Darfur.
At first glance, Darfur doesn't seem to have much to do with the War on Terror. Despite this Sudanese borderland's position outside the Middle East, I think that the humanitarian disaster in Darfur is very much part of the 21st century's first major conflict.

Sudan is run by Islamic Arabs, but isn't an Arab country:
  • Black 52%
  • Arab 39%
  • Beja 6%
  • Foreigners 2%
  • Other 1% 1
It is an "Islamic" country, but not the way Saudi Arabia, for example, is:
  • Sunni Muslim 70% (in north)
  • Christian 5% (mostly in south and Khartoum)
  • Indigenous beliefs 25% 1
The presence of Islam and Arabs isn't what makes Sudan a part of the War on Terror. It's what Islamic Arabs are doing to the blacks. And, the way that Sudan recently protected Islam from a blasphemous teddy bear.

Since Darfur is still relatively unfamiliar, I thought it might be helpful to pull together a little of what's happening, and what led up to the current situation.

Darfur in the News This Week

"U.N.: 100,000 more dead in Darfur than reported"
CNN (April 22, 2008)
  • "... 300,000 are believed to have died in the tribal conflict in the past two years, said John Holmes, who also is the United Nations emergency relief coordinator.
    "Holmes said that sexual violence has increased and that food allotments for civilians affected by the civil war will be halved in a few days."
  • " 'Darfur today is still characterized by insecurity, lawlessness and impunity,' he said. 'A particularly worrying feature is evidence of high levels of sexual violence and exploitation in the northern corridor of west Darfur over the past two months.'
    "This is shown by the increased number of women and girls seeking treatment after sexual brutality, Holmes said."
  • "Six aid workers have been killed this year, and 42 humanitarian posts have been attacked.
    "The supply line also is hurt by soaring food prices: The price of staples such as millet has doubled since April 2007, Holmes said.
    "While expressing gratitude to the Sudanese government for improved cooperation under various agreements, Holmes said there still is no physical access to internally displaced persons and some other groups.
    "He said he was 'saddened and angry' that after five years, there has been no lasting solution to the suffering."
"U.N. Says Darfur Conflict Getting Worse With Perhaps 300,000 Dead"
FOXNews (April 22, 2008)

  • "The conflict began in early 2003 when ethnic African rebels took up arms against Sudan's Arab-dominated central government, accusing it of discrimination. Many of the worst atrocities in the war have been blamed on the janjaweed militia of Arab nomads allied with the government."
  • "Darfur's main rebel chief said Tuesday he told Security Council representatives last month that no peace talks can be held until security is restored.
    " 'Wrong negotiations will only complicate the matter and prolong the suffering of the people of Darfur,' Abdulwahid Elnur, head of the Sudan Liberation Movement, told The Associated Press during an interview in Paris, where he lives in exile.
    "When former U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland brought the Darfur conflict to the Security Council's attention in April 2004, he said approximately 750,000 people were in danger.
    "Today, Holmes told the council, 'of Darfur's estimated 6 million people, some 4.27 million have now been seriously affected by the conflict.' "
  • "The U.N. World Food Program announced last week that it will have to halve the amount of food provided to Darfur's needy next month because humanitarian convoys are being attacked. The cut "could not come at a worse time ... as the rainy season approaches," Holmes said.
    "Egeland, the former U.N. humanitarian chief, estimated in 2006 that 200,000 people had lost their lives because of the conflict, from violence, disease and malnutrition. He said this was based on an independent mortality survey released in March 2005 by the U.N. World Health Organization.
    " 'That figure must be much higher now, perhaps half as much again,' Holmes said Tuesday.
    "Sudanese Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamed countered that 'in our own calculations, the total number does not exceed 10,000.'
    "He said his government counts only people killed in fighting, saying there are no dead from malnutrition and starvation 'because in Darfur there is no epidemics, no starvations.' "
Sudan's Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamed's remarkable statement reminded me of Iran's President Ahmadinejad's remarks about homosexuals in Iran in 2007. The Iranian president's claim was so outrageous that even Columbia University students laughed.

Maybe, Sunni or Shi'a, Islamic regimes that don't approve of the post-Magna Carta world have a common way of dealing with facts they don't like: pretend the facts aren't there.

Darfur: What's Happened in the Last Half-Century

I found a somewhat more complete background at another website:

"Military regimes favoring Islamic-oriented governments have dominated national politics since independence from the UK in 1956. Sudan was embroiled in two prolonged civil wars during most of the remainder of the 20th century. These conflicts were rooted in northern economic, political, and social domination of largely non-Muslim, non-Arab southern Sudanese."
  • First civil war ended, 1972
  • Civil war broke out again, 1983
    • More than 4,000,000 people displaced
    • Rebels say 2,000,000 people died
  • Peace talks with several signed accords, 2002-2004
  • Final North/South Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in January 2005
    • Granted southern rebels autonomy for six years
    • Referendum for independence is to be held after those six years
  • A different conflict broke out in the western region of Darfur, 2003
    • Almost 2,000,000 people displaced in this conflict
    • An estimated 200,000 to 400,000 people died as a result of this second conflict
  • Command of Darfur peacekeeping operation transferred from the African Union to the UN, December 31, 2007
  • Peacekeeping troops struggling to stabilize the situation, early 2008
  • The Darfur/Sudan mess is becomming increasingly regional
    • Eastern Chad is becomming unstable
    • Sudan has entered the Central African Republic
    • Refugees, mostly from Ethiopia and Chad, entered Sudan
"Armed conflict, poor transport infrastructure, and lack of government support have chronically obstructed the provision of humanitarian assistance to affected populations."1

1 Unless otherwise noted, quotes and data are from "The World Factbook, Sudan," CIA

No comments:

Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store


Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.