Sudan: Not so simple after all

The NY Times has an long overdue

By Alec Brandon

The NY Times has an long overdue article on the rising complexity of the genocide in Sudan (which is becoming more and more like a hopeless conflict):

This is the new battlefield in Darfur, a blood-soaked land in which at least 200,000 people have died since early 2003, many of hunger and disease, as a result of a campaign of violence the Bush administration and others have called genocide.For the first time in more than two years, rebels fighting the government for more autonomy are making brazen, direct and successful attacks on soldiers, and are declaring that all previous cease-fires are no longer in effect.The latest peace agreement, signed in May and heavily backed by the United States but approved by only one rebel faction and the Sudanese government, is in disarray.The government vows to crush the rebellion, and as its military struggles to fend off attacks, it will likely turn again to Arab militias called janjaweed to wage its counterinsurgency campaign, analysts say….The Darfur rebels are flush with weapons taken from the Sudanese military in raids and bought through allies in Chad and Eritrea. They say that because Sudan has blocked a United Nations force from entering Darfur to protect the 2.5 million people forced from their homes there and in eastern Chad, they have a duty to stop attacks on non-Arab tribes.“The international community will not do it,” said Gen. Khatir Toor Khala, a rebel field commander based on the border. “So it is for us to protect the innocent civilians of Darfur.”With the two sides apparently bent on all-out war, and millions of displaced people and refugees caught in the middle, the people of Darfur and the aid workers who have been trying to help them await the next, seemingly inevitable onslaught.

The only thing that is curious about this article is the claim that this is the first time rebel groups have started fighting back.You might remember me blogging about the complexity of this situation in June this year (link is here) Anyways, my point is that this shouldn’t come as a shock to many. The rebel groups, have been fighting against Sudan and against one another for a long time now. They have also been rejecting peace deals with the Sudanese government for a long time now. Here is the key excerpt from a NY Times column from last June:

Darfur was never the simplistic morality tale purveyed by the news media and humanitarian organizations. The region’s blacks, painted as long-suffering victims, actually were the oppressors less than two decades ago — denying Arab nomads access to grazing areas essential to their survival. Violence was initiated not by Arab militias but by the black rebels who in 2003 attacked police and military installations. The most extreme Islamists are not in the government but in a faction of the rebels sponsored by former Deputy Prime Minister Hassan al-Turabi, after he was expelled from the regime. Cease-fires often have been violated first by the rebels, not the government, which has pledged repeatedly to admit international peacekeepers if the rebels halt their attacks.This reality has been obscured by Sudan’s criminally irresponsible reaction to the rebellion: arming militias to carry out a scorched-earth counterinsurgency. These Arab forces, who already resented the black tribes over past land disputes and recent attacks, were only too happy to rape and pillage any village suspected of supporting the rebels.In light of janjaweed atrocities, it is natural to romanticize the other side as freedom fighters. But Darfur’s rebels do not deserve that title. They took up arms not to stop genocide — which erupted only after they rebelled — but to gain tribal domination. [Emphasis added]

I’m by no means an expert on Sudan, but it just seems weird to me that there is this massive attempt in the US to stop the genocide and have colleges divest and all that good stuff, but rarely does anyone stop to think about the issue at hand. PS Blogging will continue through the day from me. I’m back in business!