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Darfur: Simplification and Moralization of the Conflict

The extremely complex situation in Darfur is being ignored by analysts and by the commentaries published in the western mainstream media, particularly in the United States. US media analysts deal with the Darfur issue only as an ethnic conflict, or more precisely as the “genocide” of “Africans” at the hands of the “Arabs”. If it is a fact that the conflict leads to massacres that cruelly affect sedentary populations, it is false to suggest that confrontation is based on such ethnic or “racial” reasons and that such a division is the cause of the conflict.

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The Darfur conflict is particularly complex and it entails a large number of possibilities to have into consideration. First of all, violence has a local origin and it is linked to traditional confrontation between pastoral tribes and sedentary agriculture groups. Such conflicts have marked the history of Darfur; however, for the past 20 years the region has witnessed a significant demographic explosion (from 3 to 6 million inhabitants), which makes the struggle for the control of resources even stronger. A bloody war had already affected the region by the end of the 1980’s, which never reached real expansion. The local dimension of the conflict now adds national problems. In view of that reality Darfur has seen the consequences of power games between factions in Sudan, a country that has never known peace since its independence in 1956. The war unleashed by the Jartum regime against the rebels of the People’s Liberation Army of Sudan, in the south, has had frequent repercussion on Darfur, since the movement led by late John Garang had supported the rebel movements in Darfur against government forces and their militias. The Darfur crisis also has a regional dimension, since Libia and Chad intervened in the conflict (Chad’s President Idriss Deby used this region to launch his offensive to take power in N’Djamena back in 1990, by imitating his predecessor Hissen Habré, who had done the same before).
Finally, lets recall that Sudan has not stopped developing oil production over the past few years. China has a strong presence there with tens of thousands of Chinese workers. Chevron is equally present in the south, as well as TotalFina-Elf is. The local oil production can still be considered as medium if compared to large oil fields, but the Sudanese have the advantage of having their fields little exploited and they could continue to be oil suppliers for the next fifteen years.

The extremely complex situation in Darfur is being ignored by analysts and by the commentaries published on the western mainstream media, particularly in the United States. US media analysts deal with the Darfur issue only as an ethnic conflict, or more precisely as the “genocide” of “Africans” at the hands of the “Arabs”. If it is a fact that the conflict leads to massacres that cruelly affect sedentary populations, it is false to suggest that confrontation is based on such ethnic or “racial” reasons and that such a division is the cause of the conflict. In effect, nomadic and sedentary populations are all made up of black people with Arabic characteristics (since more or less a long time now) after they largely mixed. However, such a population distinction allows for a rhetoric that better mobilizes western public opinion and helps hide oil-oriented interests in Sudan behind emotion and fear.

The United States has occupied the chair of the UN Security Council since early February and precisely since the very beginning of the Darfur issue, which had disappeared from the front pages of newspapers for some time, but it now comes back making headlines. US responsible ones for the issue have multiplied statements calling for a massive military intervention. Last February 3, Undersecretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer told reporters that the United States expected to take advantage of its chairing the UN Security Council to “try to strengthen the role of the African Unity in Darfur”. Later, with the support of Kofi Annan, the United States called for a deployment of NATO troops; that is to say, the implementation of an old US desire.

Such official statements are backed by press forums with the participation of democrats or people from organizations closed to George Soros, and who urge the United States to take action in the conflict as they launch a rhetoric very similar to that used in the past to justify the bombing of Serbia as a reaction to problems in Kosovo.
The leader of the democrat minority at the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, senator Joseph R. Biden Jr for Delaware, does not make a mystery out of the issue. In the Baltimore Sun and in the Gulf News, he calls for a NATO operation led by the United States similar to the operations carried out in Bosnia and in Kosovo. In retaking the rhetoric of the duty to intervention or its most recent version, the “protection responsibility”, he assures that Jartum has lost sovereignty after attacking the population. From that point, the fate of the Darfur population depends on the responsibility of civilized nations in collective, whose incarnation would be NATO.
The authors of a report on Darfur, submitted by the Physician for Human Rights NGO, John Heffernan and David Tuller, also call for an international mobilization in the San Francisco Chronicles. For these authors, there is no doubt that the Jartum regime in the only one held accountable. Let’s recall that Heffernan is also a member of the Democratic Party (he was the president of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs in Guyana) and he led the Coalition for International Justice in Washington. This organization played a major role in the issues regarding former Yugoslavia, and it was founded by George Soros.
A person of usual reference in the US press as to the Darfur issue is democrat John Prendergast, also member of the International Crisis Group, managed by George Soros. Prendergast denounces the US attitude towards Darfur in the Los Angeles Times joined by actor Don Cheadle as co-author. Both criticize the CIA indulgence in respect to Salah Abdallah Gosh, Chief of the Sudanese Secrete Services. Gosh is presented as a former partner of Osama bin Laden and as responsible for the Darfur “genocide”. For Prendergast and Cheadle there is no doubts that the United States must intervene in Sudan in order to restore its moral leadership.

However, that rhetoric does not seem to make an impact out of the United States. Even Britain, the traditional US ally, seems to follow a behaviour line different to that followed by Washington. Tony Blair’s Foreign Minister Jack Straw offers quite a different image of the Darfur situation in a forum published by the International Herald Tribune. In Abuja, Nigeria, where the Darfur rebel movements and Sudanese authorities carry out negotiations (which are fully ignored by US press analysts), the British Foreign Minister presents the Darfur events not as a genocide, but as a civil war in which the population is the victim. For Straw, the attitude assumed by Jartum is comparable to that of the rebels. On the other hand, he appears especially virulent against the rebels in Darfur who are not participating in the negotiations and who, in his opinion, are responsible for most of the violations of the ceasefire.
In the AlarabOnline, the spokesperson to the Sudan’s Liberation Army (new name given to the Darfur Liberation Army), Aissam Eddine Al Hajj, welcomes the statements by Jack Straw in Abuja, but he takes all sense out of it. He says that Jartum’s authorities are the only ones held accountable for the crisis and that is what the British minister wanted to point out.

In the same daily, journalist Moukhtar al Dobadi also rejects the US viewpoint and calls Washingto’s sudden activism as to the Sudan Issue a manoeuvre aimed at causing a blast in the country. He says the intentions to have non African troops intervene in Darfur must be understood as a new action to divide the oil-producing country. With the Iraqi precedent in mind, the author suggests that the United States has proven its willingness to attack all Arab oil producing countries in an effort to split them apart. The journalist warns Sudanese ethnic minorities: by promising to defend your rights, Washington tries to use you.

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