Darfur in the minds of different people constitutes and means different things. This is due to the fact that we, the general public around the world are getting exposed to a tirade of conflicting views and information. As that continues, so will our polarization. Therefore, the long and seemingly endless debates will keep stretching and as that happens, innocent lives will continue perishing.
There is hence a need to bring diverging opinions closer together by assessing and analyzing the views on both sides and presenting the results in a non-politicized context as best as possible. This is extremely important if we truly want to appease the situation.
Darfur in the Minds of Westerners
If you ask any person in America or the West who’s heard about the Darfur conflict what they know about it, they’ll most probably tell you, “it’s a genocide being waged by Arabs against Africans” and that “the United States and the UN must intervene to protect innocent lives”. That’s about all they know. Why is that?
When it comes to awareness, the massive majority of Americans are only listening to one main organization. The Save Darfur Coalition. It’s their story and narrative that the American people pay most attention to, a story, which doesn’t focus on important root causes such as water shortage and desertification. It’s a story that has made the conflict seem primarily racial in nature when it’s really not. Furthermore, it’s a story that doesn’t accurately portray the true situation and that some say has become politicized.
The Save Darfur Coalition is oversimplifying the Darfur conflict. That doesn’t help because when people don’t understand how complex things are, the solutions applied have a much higher possibility of exacerbating the situation rather than appeasing it.
Sleepless in Sudan, shares a similar view in a blog entry dated back 2 years ago when she was an aid worker in Darfur:
Find out more. The conflict in Darfur may be complex and the context somewhat daunting, but it’s hard to help when you’re ignorant about the issues involved. It’s going to be a lot easier for you to help the people of Darfur if you try to understand the situation and use your knowledge to take certain actions
…No matter how good your intentions, uninformed opinions or arguments will not take you very far.
Understanding the situation is indeed crucial.
Darfur in the Minds of Muslims and Arabs
For most Muslims and Arabs who have heard about Darfur, the conflict is one, which has been over exaggerated by Zionists in an attempt to use it as a pretext for invading Sudan and getting to the wealth of natural resources it possesses. These include oil and uranium. As a result many Muslims and Arabs simply downplay the seriousness of the violence. Others completely deny it even exists. Why is that?
The Khartoum government and their supporters successfully managed to deflect people’s attention away from the reality. They did that by playing “the Israel Card”. In the Arab and Muslim worlds, pointing the finger at Zionists tends to work extremely well.
The True Reality of Darfur
Arabs Vs Africans?
The portrayal of the Darfur conflict primarily as “a genocide waged by Arabs against Africans” is an inaccurate oversimplification. This article will provide you with an idea of what Darfur is really about and the complexity of its state of affairs. It doesn’t stop there though. There’s more and the following stresses it further:
Ahmed Mohamed Haroun is one of the two named by the ICC as suspected war criminals involved in Darfur. This is a picture of him.
Does he look Arab to you?
The Khartoum government is not waging war in Darfur because it’s primarily interested in wiping out certain ethnic African populations. All the Khartoum government mainly cares about is fighting the rebellion and maintaining its solid grip on power in the country. It’s primarily an issue of wealth and power sharing. Only after that do ethnic and tribal factors come into play. The recently settled eastern conflict in Sudan further proves this point. The Khartoum government has marginalized the inhabitants of eastern Sudan just like it has done to Darfur (and Southern Sudan) even though the tribes in eastern Sudan consist of ethnic Afro-Arabs and ethnic Arabs who crossed the Red Sea from the Arabian Peninsula about a century ago.
The recent discovery of oil in Darfur is also a factor. Part 4 of Inside Sudan, by VBS sheds more light on this.
The Scale of Violence
In today’s Internet Age, hiding the death and destruction occurring in Sudan’s western region simply isn’t going to work. There are thousands of videos and pictures available online for anyone to see. Moreover accessing Google Earth and zooming into Darfur via satellite, reveals extra surprises. People can disagree about statistics and numbers but there is no question as to how bad and horrific the situation in Darfur is.
Downplaying the mass violence and pretending it doesn’t exist is morally wrong. It indicates a lack of respect for Sudanese lives. Furthermore, pointing the finger solely at the Zionists and retreating back into a state of denial doesn’t help ease the suffering of millions of women and children struggling in Darfur and in refugee camps.
The Agenda Behind Darfur: The Enablers & Turabi’s Role
It would be very naïve to think that there’s no agenda behind what’s happening in Darfur. One does exist.
We always witness talk in the mainstream media about China and how it’s “the enabler of genocide”. It’s a good thing that China is being put under scrutiny for its enabling role in this conflict but… what about the rebels? Who are their enablers? From where are they getting their financing? Which parties are providing it to them and why?
How can the rebels afford their ongoing war against al-Bashir’s NCP dominated Khartoum government? How can they afford their travel expenses in and out of European countries?
Certain groups are providing them with the financial means to do so. The question is who? Moreover and more importantly what is the agenda of those financiers? They certainly have one. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be financing Darfur’s rebels in the first place. In politics, nothing comes for free.
It’s known that Chad allegedly provides the rebels support. It’s also known that wealthy Darfurian businessmen overseas outside Sudan provide support too. What isn’t well known and focused on in the Western mainstream media however is the agenda of regime change some powerful groups have in mind. The influential right-wing organization Project for the New American Century, for example has the following published on their website:
Now it’s time for the threats to end and the consequences to begin. After all, in addition to the humanitarian imperative, the United States has a strategic interest in Sudan. Khartoum is one of seven regimes on the U.S. government’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, and Sudan’s dictatorship has had ties with almost every significant terrorist organization in the broader Middle East. Al Qaeda was based in Sudan during the 1990s, and other terrorist groups continue to operate there freely. This month Die Welt reported that Syria and Sudan have been collaborating in developing chemical weapons and may have used them against civilians in Darfur. Thus, in moving against Khartoum for its human rights abuses, we will also be striking a blow in the war on terrorism.
Al-Bashir’s worries are not baseless. The United States and Israel did after all support the Southern Sudanese militarily and financially against the Northerners during the long and bloody Southern- Northern Sudanese civil war which raged on for more than 2 decades.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise. It was in their interests to destabalize a hostile regime.
Are Darfurian rebels receiving support from the United States and Israel directly or indirectly through neighbouring countries like Chad?
Professional journalists and the Western mainstream media should definitely dedicate more time to answering this question.
Many aren’t aware of Turabi’s role in the Darfur conflict. The following are excerpts highlighting his involvement:
Although analysts have emphasized the racial and ethnic aspects of the conflict in Darfur, a long-running political battle between Sudanese President Omar Hassan Bashir and radical Islamic cleric Hassan al-Turabi may be more relevant.
A charismatic college professor and former speaker of parliament, Turabi has long been one of Bashir’s main political rivals and an influential figure in Sudan. He has been fingered as an extremist; before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks Turabi often referred to Osama bin Laden as a hero. More recently, the United Nations and human rights experts have accused Turabi of backing one of Darfur’s key rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement, in which some of his top former students are leaders.
Because of his clashes with Bashir, Turabi is usually under house arrest and holds forth in his spacious Khartoum villa for small crowds of followers and journalists. But diplomats say he still mentors rebels seeking to overthrow the government.
Dr Khalil Ibrahim, a protege of Islamist hardliner Dr Hasan al-Turabi. Formed in November 2002, JEM is increasingly recognised as being part and parcel of Dr Turabi’s Popular Congress. Time magazine has described JEM as “a fiercely Islamic organisation said to be led by Hassan al-Turabi” and that Turabi’s ultimate goal is “the presidential palace in Khartoum and a stridently Islamic Sudan”.  Khalil is a long-time associate of Turabi’s and served as a state minister in Darfur in the early 1990s before serving as a state cabinet-level advisor in southern Sudan. Ibrahim was a senior member of the Islamist movement’s secret military wing.
1. A well-informed individual is a more effective and capable individual. Understanding the conflict thoroughly is vital for the achievement of any real long-term peace.
2. Just as al-Bashir’s NCP dominated Khartoum government is playing a war role, so are the rebels. Before any negotiations for a comprehensive and inclusive peace agreement take place, the fighting needs to stop. The enablers on both sides can make that happen (if they’re actually interested).
3. Turabi’s involvement needs to be addressed and dealt with.
4. The peace agreement has to be satisfactory to the rebels and the Khartoum government needs to make some concessions that address some of the key rebel demands. Otherwise any agreement will be a meaningless piece of paper.
Darfur’s innocent women and children have suffered for way too long.
PS: As usual your comments and criticisms are welcome.