The Hobgoblin 2008

DARFUR: ”This is not a clash of civilizations”

By Ba Karang

Going by the most recent estimates (Science Journal September 2006), in Darfur more than 200,000 people have been murdered and more than 2 million displaced as refugees. But the world seems to be more preoccupied with other business and values (sic) than the lives of Black Africans dying in the Desert.

This is not a clash of civilizations; it is common in war that oppression has created and been mixed with racial arrogance. Yes, it is the Arab ruling class of Sudan who have unleashed the Janjaweed Militia against poor Black Africans. The poverty, decadence, and oppression in Darfur is the result of many years of marginalization; first by the colonial masters, Britain, and then by Arabs. Darfur was effectively an independent state after 1898 following the Brtish war against the Mahdi. During World War One the British invaded Darfur to prevent Turkish influence and in 1916 incorporated Darfur into Sudan.
In an estimated population of 7.4 million, largely engaged in subsistence farming and cattle rearing, the Bedouin Arab migrants are mainly pastoralist, and have established themselves in Darfurian society with easy access to grazing lands. In 1980 they established the Tajamu al Arabi in Darfur, a Pan -Arab Nationalist movement, inspired by Mumar Gaddafi. Their main political message was nothing other than Arab supremacy. At the time of the war in neighbouring Chad, a back yard was created in Darfur for the Libya-supported Chadian rebel movement. The Arab vigilante group, Janjaweed, was born out of this political situation in the neighboring country.

In 1989, the Sudanese Islamists lunched a military coup and established the present Islamic State of Sudan. The Islamist government started rearming the Janjaweed, who wasted no time in unleashing their terror against the already marginalized Black population. The Janjaweed, by now very powerful, and winning greater State recognition, was assigned to deal with the Black population who had been in constant confrontation with Arab nomads over pastoral land. By this time, the war in Southern Sudan was the preoccupation of the Sudanese government, which was very confident that the low-scale peasant revolt against Arab racism and brutality in Darfur could easily be put under control by the vigilante groups.

In Southern Sudan, The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SLMP) was delighted by the news of the emerging Darfur resistance movement in 2003, when a military assault was launched against government buildings by the newly formed rebel movement.
Land grabs, the drought, the hunger and an increasing brutality from the armed Janjaweed, forced the villagers of Darfur to form the Sudan Liberation Army (SLM).

Another political movement emerged, the JEM (Justice and Equality Movement). Led by Khalid Ibrahim, the JEM joined the armed struggle as an independent group. The JEM, marginalized in the Darfur Peace process, brought together groups and individuals involved in the armed struggle in April, in the Capital of Eritrea, to form the National Redemption Front. This group consists of people who never recognized the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), which was negotiated by the African Union, EU and the USA and signed in Abuja on May 5th by the Sudanese government and SLM,

Many commentators of the Darfur crisis have observed that at every turning point of the many peace negotiations, new armed factions emerged, formed by rebel commanders who, at one time or another felt that their personal agenda was not being taken into consideration. For now, an Independent Darfur is not on either the agenda of the Rebel movements, nor that of the State. The conflict, the genocide, is as a result of the demand of the Black African Darfurians for their right to the land to be recognized and to get rid of Arab racism. Commentators have also recognized the fact that the conflict in Southern Sudan is not yet over and that Darfur poses an interesting puzzle in that conflict. By 2009 there will be an election in Sudan, (as part of the peace plan with SPLM in 2005), and the SPLM is without doubt going to control the South. Bearing in mind that Darfur consists of almost a quarter of the Sudanese electorate, the Islamist government of Khartoum will be willing to make concessions to the rebel movement. The votes from Darfur will play an important role in the composition of the parliament. By 2011 there is to be an expected referendum (also part of the peace plan with SPLM in 2005) on the question of an Independent Southern Sudan and as things stand now, there is no doubt that Southern Sudanese will vote for an Independent state.

No one can any longer be fooled into believing that the violence in Darfur is not racially motivated, as it is a conflict between the Arab migrants and Black African Dafurians. Any thing more genuine than the periodical pronouncements on the Genocide by European and American leaders will have to come to a direct confrontation with the interests of global capital. This is the back yard of the Chinese and Russian capital and Western Europe and America are very much sensitive to this fact. They have Iraq and Iran to contain and rely greatly on the support of Both China and Russia. Recently, Amnesty International accused China and Russia for selling Arms to Sudan. There is no hidden secret in the military cooperation between China and the Sudanese Government.
China, through China National Petroleum, is planning an investment of $1 billion to create Africa’s largest refinery, which will expand the Khartoum refinery from 50,000 barrels a day to 90,000 barrels a day. And oil revenue has contributed about $2 billion to the racist Sudanese State coffers. Thus the oil in Darfur, which the Chinese are confident of controlling and which the Russians are sniffing at, will determine to what extend capitalism values human life.

China met with 48 African States in May last year to form a new strategic partnership, with trade deals worth of $1.9 Billion and plans were drawn up to increase it to $100 billion in four years. But there can be no serious discussion on Darfur while Chinese-made bullets are killing Dafurians and AU members struggling to make a difference. When Amnesty International accused the Chinese government of supplying arms to the racist Sudanese government, the British foreign affairs minister insisted that China is doing all it can to help resolve the crisis in Dafur.

Not Only China, but also the USA is hypocritical in this conflict. The periodic bubbling about Sudan by the US administration in the media does give the impression that they are very concerned. It is time to ask why is it that US sanctions against Sudan are not effective and even if they are meant to be in place? They are not. If the US is serious about sanctioning Sudan, sanctions against the oil industry alone will be enough to bring the Khartoum government to its knees. But the USA has never made any serious attempt to hurt the oil industry in Sudan, because of US industrial interest.

Take the Gum Arabic, a substance used in the production of Soft Drinks and other consumer products; the company that produces this product was “mistakenly” put on the US sanction list in 1997 only to be removed from the list after a protest from American industries who depend on the supply of this product from Sudan.

Sudan has now agreed to a peace keeping force of 20,000, which will be comprised of both UN and AU forces. However some weeks back, the newly elected French President Sarkozy organized a conference in Paris on the way forward for Darfur, without a single African nation or even the AU invited to attend. What is actually known to have come out of that meeting is nothing new but just another statement from the West and the US for public consumption, while the terrible condition of millions of Black people remains the same. The US Secretary Of State, Condoleezza Rice, at the end of the meeting declared in a press conference that the world is failing Darfur. But it is not the world that is failing the people of Darfur, it is those who have a direct interest in Sudan who are failing the Dafurians. This suggests that her statement is just a logical extension of the attitude of the West and the US to the suffering of Black Africans in Darfur.

The Hobgoblin 2008