Darfur Sudan

sufi

lala
I've posted, blogged, commented about Darfur before in various places, i feel i have a conexion as i visited about 10 years ago & it left a strong impression.

here's some snaps:


perhaps i'll write up some tales in a bit...

I've watched appalled as the situation deteriorated for the last two years. What is most appallling is that there was a period when the issue had not entered the international media at all - then, more than 6 months ago articles started appearing and subsequently, as usual, appeals for aid started. at any stage the 'international community' could have made efforts to intervene, but there has been a lack of comprehension of the situation and complete absence of effective diplomatic or humanitarian action.

why is this? and what could or should have been done and what to do now and in the future?
 
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Pearsall

Prodigal Son
Not too sound too cynical, but mostly the 'international community' has been completely toothless in dealing with bloody situations in the last ten-fifteen years.

It took about 300,000 dead in the Balkan wars to do something, even with peacekeepers there for much of the time. Peacekeepers were in Rwanda the whole time - nothing happened to stop the Interahamwe, Peacekeepers have been in Congo for most of the civil war there - 3 million have still died since the mid-90's. You can go on and on down the list, but basically it's easier to set up committees and commission reports than it is to do anything. And even if something is done to stop the immediate fighting, there is usually little idea as to what to do next (see the continuing limbo in Bosnia and Kosovo). I think a large amount of the problem is that the UN is overly invested in the status quo as it were and, although officials clearly must know that the boundaries as drawn by the various colonial empires have been a disaster, they aren't sure how to re-draw the lines drawn so long ago (after all it was the Brits who incorporated Darfur into Sudan, if I recall correctly).
 

sufi

lala
what about somalia?
i had a similar experience - after visiting in 91, i watched aghast for 3 years until the us/un intervention.
that 1 followed closely gulf war 1 (which at least had a clearer ethical pretext than GWII )
i mean, look at the size of the AU forces in darfur (or UN in rwanda in 94) compared to iraq...

the somalia campaign was mainly unsuccessful due to the same idiotic gung-ho attitude that curses the us in iraq.
it always frustrates me that there is not even a pretence of concern or of wilingness to resolve the situation in darfur from the US or UK... not even a token PR effort to offset the blatant hypocrisy of their righteous war on terror.
 

Pearsall

Prodigal Son
Well, tbh, it would be impossible for the US to commit troops to Darfur. And they have done more than most in actually calling it genocide. And US officials have certainly said a lot more than most about the situation.

Ok, you're Muslim, (not too put a fine point on it, just assuming you'd know better than me) is there much of a groundswell against it in the Arab/Muslim world? I mean, are al-Arabiya and al-Jazeera covering it much? I'm not surprised that the other Arab governments have been silent, but what is the people's reaction?

Anyways, I think it's too simplistic to blame the inaction on the US. The French and, especially, the Chinese are tied up with the Sudanese government over oil concessions, and they've been flying the flag for inertia with total abandon. The rest of the international community simply doesn't want to know, or otherwise representatives of the Sudanese government wouldn't be on the UN Human Rights Commission.
 

sufi

lala
oooh lots of issues there!
Well, tbh, it would be impossible for the US to commit troops to Darfur.
absolutely, i think that US troops would be utterly unacceptable to the Sudanese population

they have done more than most in actually calling it genocide. And US officials have certainly said a lot more than most about the situation.
Aye but that's that's verbis non virtute

I'm not surprised that the other Arab governments have been silent, but what is the people's reaction?
well, as always, there is a counterpoint that is absolutely never mentioned in the western press, as folows; a few sudanese people i know in london - refugees, who are in no way supporters of Govt of Sudan - have explained the situation to me in a different way - they link the rebel groups to Chad, whose president is after all Zaghawa, and they link the general spin in the western press to an attempt to demonise arabs. In the wider geopolitical strategy this is seen as an adjunct of TWOT - the war on terror, which has suffered a mission creep away from attacking islam towards attacking arabs, since the invasion of iraq.

Anyways, I think it's too simplistic to blame the inaction on the US. The French and, especially, the Chinese are tied up with the Sudanese government over oil concessions, and they've been flying the flag for inertia with total abandon. The rest of the international community simply doesn't want to know, or otherwise representatives of the Sudanese government wouldn't be on the UN Human Rights Commission.
O Yes, I definitely wasn't trying to put the US in the frame,( tho i think ultimately they do bear a great deal of respoonsibility for the toothlessness of the UN) no doubt american troops would not be welcomed in Darfur (although wierdly there were a lot of rumors of US special forces activity in the hills of darfur before the ethnic cleansing began).
No they are always trying to put together this and that coalition for this and that brave mission - i just wish the 'international community' could muster some resources, even in terms of logistical support for the AU peacekeepers, they have the $$$ & the clout.
 

rewch

New member
American wordiness on Darfur

important to ask why the US (& Powell in particular) has been so vocal on the subject...because it is unusual...though i suspect that Powell's reasons are slightly different to those of the administration in general...as to the conflict in general i have been struck by how media present a very simple polarized situation, when in fact, if you look into it there are important historical and political factors to take into account...i.e. agricultural/pastoral/religious that go back at least a couple of hundred years...

an important reason that the international community is playing down/trying to ignore it altogether is that it is happening in africa...it just keeps happening...the examples listed above could (with more or less difficulty) have been avoided, or fallout kept to a minimum, but it never happens...after the sack of mogadishu how long was it until troops turned up (not necessarily the right action, but...) or anyone even noticed? three years? four? in rwanda with the canadian peace keeping general (forgotten his name - apologies to you sir) desperately calling for action/reinforcements/anything...congo...sudan...angola...mozambique...there is a long list of absolutely appallingly embarassing disgraces...f**king unreal...getting a bit steamed up now...off to calm down
 

Pearsall

Prodigal Son
sufi said:
well, as always, there is a counterpoint that is absolutely never mentioned in the western press, as folows; a few sudanese people i know in london - refugees, who are in no way supporters of Govt of Sudan - have explained the situation to me in a different way - they link the rebel groups to Chad, whose president is after all Zaghawa, and they link the general spin in the western press to an attempt to demonise arabs. In the wider geopolitical strategy this is seen as an adjunct of TWOT - the war on terror, which has suffered a mission creep away from attacking islam towards attacking arabs, since the invasion of iraq.
Spin to demonise Arabs? Hrm, maybe it's about time the Sudanese government was hauled into the court of international public opinion isn't it? Considering the actions towards the south over the last twenty years.
 

Pearsall

Prodigal Son
And the UN, surely, is the responsibility of not just the US but all democratic nations to fix. It's a wildly corrupt and dysfunctional institution and it's never going to change as long as the media in America (somewhat) and Europe (whole-heartedly) leaps to its defence on all occassions.
 

rewch

New member
i don't think there are many, if any, who would defend the sudanese government...(which reminds me that i was once threatened with a stabbing for referring to a president of yemen as a dog)...equally there are few who would argue that the un does not need reform...but there are even fewer with the will or the vision to achieve it...of the nations involved in any potential reform, the most important country - and currently the one acting in the least responsible way in respect to its position - is the us...but the naked self-interest that lies at the heart of all international relations is more accurately to blame...the european media generally regard the un in an idealistic way which can be blind, but this reflects european concerns about unilateral action and naked aggression...as well, obviously, as following their own naked self-interest
 

Pearsall

Prodigal Son
Well, the US Congress has been demanding reforms at the UN for years, they even withheld American dues for a while (I think they've started paying them again). I don't think their particular plans for reform were up to much, but it's something.

I think part of the problem is that no one is even certain what the UN is for any more. There is nothing wrong with the original principles, but as an organization it has grown bloated and listless. Part of the problem is that just the existence of the UN in its current form is good for inertia, as in Sudan, because the various member countries (and especially the Security Council) can ignore dealing with serious issues in a concrete way by going through the UN and setting up committees to discuss whether to set up a commission who might write a report as to whether to set up a special council, etc etc. I think the UN continues to do good work on the soft side of crises, in dealing with refugees and landmines and that sort of stuff. On the hard side, peacekeeping, it's been mostly useless, as Bosnia, Rwanda, the Congo, and other conflicts show.

Plus there's the oil-for-food program in Iraq which led to spectacular levels of corruption and for which no one (undoubtedly) is going to get punished.
 

craner

Beast of Burden
Arabize Africans

I read somewhere that the key to Darfur lies in what amounts to a palace coup: the result of a power struggle between Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Hassan al-Turabi and the current ruler and National Islamic Front leader, Omar al-Bashir, a former protegee of al-Turabi. al-Turabi has been exploiting ethnic, tribal and religious divisons in and around Darfur as a way of undermining the current NIF regime in Khartoum. Which is why black muslims were being killed too, not just by the Janjaweed, but by Darfur rebels sympathetic to al-Turabi.

It's an inter-Islamist thing and it's part of the larger Islamic, and global, debate: can a State be effective under Sharia law (introduced in Sudan in 1983)? Because a lot of non-Muslims have been killed for refusing to convert.

These pristine sharia states are theological fantasy, exclusive utopianism, and the consequences tend to be violent, and also tend not to deliver the basics: education, food, jobs. Then you get poverty and resentment, then the hardline gets harder, and aquires new recruits.

Darfur is part of the war on terror.
 
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craner

Beast of Burden
But, actually, I'd love to hear more about the Chad connection, Ed. And why your mates think that the Western media are demonizing Arabs in their Darfur reports...
 

sufi

lala
hey hey
lost patience with this thread - but you 2 nincompoops need yer heads bangin together so ...

pearsall said:
It's a wildly corrupt and dysfunctional institution and it's never going to change as long as the media in America (somewhat) and Europe (whole-heartedly) leaps to its defence on all occassions.
this is total bollocks what have the media got to do with it?
the UN cannot function without CA$H - the US has by far the biggest debt, as you go on to mention.Paying for the UN is not conditional on whether a funder agrees with organisation's policies, so the congress can demand wtf they like it doesn't entitle them to hold the UN to ransome
by witholding payments US is crippling the UN - cf. Rwanda where Dallaire bemoans that fact that the US did not even provide the minor logistical support that it had committed to.
America has been undermining the UN for years, financially and poitically - it's actions in Somalia, where it monopolised then unilaterally pulled out of the coalition set the stage for the UN's failure in Rwanda and ultimately in Darfur.

The way I see the Sudanese govt is like a jackal - it feasts happily on the carrion, stopping everyonce in a while to sniff the air and make sure the lions ain't around, then, reassured, it bites another chunk...
 

sufi

lala
Turabi

is mixed up somehow - but he's still out of favor and out of power, most recently the racist khartoum govt have been insinuating that he is partly of african descent rather than 'pure arab' - there's a good article around somewhere - search for the 'Black Book of Darfur' or read the De Waal article I linked in me 1st post :rolleyes:

I read somewhere ... Muslim Brotherhood ... Turabi ... Bashir ... inter-Islamist thing ... Sharia law etc...
i'm not quite sure what yr on about rilly olly ( i took a break from politix for the weekend cos i got a bit fed up with persil on this thread...) but a lot of this is jus kinda... wrong - so... jus to clarify

Darfur is an exclusively Muslim area, the conflict is broadly between Arabic speakers and non-arabic speakers, all are obviously 'african' and 'black' - though some tribes identify as 'arabs' and others don't. - in any case the political element of the conflict is shown by the fact that this boundary is not concrete - there are 'arabs' fighting against the GOS and 'african' tribes with the GOS.
the issue with sharia in Sudan is not forcible conversion as much as forcing non-muslims to abide by it e.g. the punishment for alcohol = 50 lashes for non-muslim 100 for muslim IIRC.
there are many brotherhoods in Sudan - a lot are international sufi brethrens like the Tijaniya, who have fingers in many political pies.

Darfur is part of the war on terror
eh?


I think the question I asked has been followed up on the American Power thread (noone mention enron ;) ) so i'm off to stir up over there now i think...
 

craner

Beast of Burden
To be perfectly honest with you, Ed, I was just quoting one stream of stuff from one particlaur article I'd read, because I wondered what you'd make of it. Anyway, I'll find the article and link it. It was just a Slate piece by some Brooklyn-based ME expert or something.

But the thing is, can you explain the forces that are at work here? Because I don't get it, and I'd like to. Who is, or who else is, actually involved? In find it far more confusing than DRCongo, which i thought was the most confusing thing ever.

I agree that the US holding back UN funds, and the general US attitude to the UN, is what undermines it so severely: that, in fact, was one of the big things illustrated in Rwanda, wasn't it?
 

Pearsall

Prodigal Son
sufi said:
this is total bollocks what have the media got to do with it?
Because (imo) the only way in which the UN is going to be reformed (which I think we all agree it should be) is if there is a public demand for it. The status quo is pretty good for the major nations, but it is bad for the UN in terms of fulfilling its mission. The major media has been pretty derelict in exposing the UN's faults so there isn't much of a groundswell for it to be fixed.

the UN cannot function without CA$H - the US has by far the biggest debt, as you go on to mention.Paying for the UN is not conditional on whether a funder agrees with organisation's policies, so the congress can demand wtf they like it doesn't entitle them to hold the UN to ransome
The US is also by far the biggest provider of UN funds - we are at least entitled to voicing an opinion on how it is run. I don't think that the US Congress should completely dictate the parameters of reform, but because the largest chunk of the UN's budget is coming from the US taxpayer I think we deserve an important voice in the give-and-take process.

by witholding payments US is crippling the UN - cf. Rwanda where Dallaire bemoans that fact that the US did not even provide the minor logistical support that it had committed to.
America has been undermining the UN for years, financially and poitically - it's actions in Somalia, where it monopolised then unilaterally pulled out of the coalition set the stage for the UN's failure in Rwanda and ultimately in Darfur.
I agree on the failure in Rwanda, but you should remember that the French (in particular) were dead set against intervention (as they'd been arming Habyarimana and the Hutu extremists for decades). America did disastrously fail to intervene, but considering how much the French were against intervention this then leads back into the question of American power and how and when or even if it can be deployed unilaterally.

The way I see the Sudanese govt is like a jackal - it feasts happily on the carrion, stopping everyonce in a while to sniff the air and make sure the lions ain't around, then, reassured, it bites another chunk...
I agree with this.
 

sufi

lala
ok quickly cos it's late
The US is also by far the biggest provider of UN funds - we are at least entitled to voicing an opinion on how it is run.
it depends to what extent you want an independent UN
the French were against intervention this then leads back into the question of American power and how and when or even if it can be deployed unilaterally.
well yeah, but you can't say the french veto is as powerful as the US, for example , oh yes, iraq ?

olly sorry i was a bit dismissive - but you wuz contentious a bit yerself, easy there ;) !

more later
soofy
 
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craner

Beast of Burden
Also, I will link the article because if anyone here can relate it to reality, then you can, Ed.
 
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