Monday, April 30, 2007

Darfur and deaf ears

Protests have taken place around the world to demand an end to the fighting in Sudan's Darfur region. Organisers of the Global Day for Darfur said events were taking place in 35 capitals to mark the fourth anniversary of the conflict. But socialists know only too well that appeals to the compassion and good-will of governments seldom achieve any meaningful or lasting resolution . Prime ministers and presidents are motivated by what is in the best interests of their ruling class and rarely by any humanitarian reason .

Indeed , socialists recognise that the cause of wars can be traced back to economics rather than a racial or religious cause , although these are often cited as a motive for conflict and strife .

The war in Darfur that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions is no exception .

Darfur, which means land of the Fur, has faced many years of tension over land and grazing rights between the mostly nomadic Arabs, and farmers from the Fur, Massaleet and Zagawa communities. Desertification has increased tensions, between everybody, as tribes fight to gain control over precious water points.
According to The Independent what began as a rebellion by three non-Arab tribes against perceived marginalisation by the Arab-dominated Khartoum government has escalated into a complex multi-layered conflict. There are Arabs fighting alongside the rebels and Africans siding with the government. Arab tribes are fighting other Arab tribes - some are even fighting themselves. If it was ever as simple to describe the conflict as a "genocide" of black Africans by an Arab government - and few analysts in Sudan believe it was - it certainly is not now. Sudan's government is arming any group that is prepared to attack anyone connected with the rebels, be they African or Arab. In some cases they have even armed both sides of the same mini-conflict. It is less about ethnic cleansing and more about power. The Khartoum government , argue some analysts, may not even want the war to end. Dr Madawi Ibrahim, a Darfurian expert has said "You keep people busy with a crisis" .
President Omar al-Bashir's regime has more than one eye on winning the general elections due to be held in Sudan in 2009. The government hopes an election victory would give the dictatorship a seal of legitimacy in the eyes of the international community. It would also ensure that Sudan's booming oil revenues remain in the hands of the ruling elite.
Add to this confusion the international dimension .
The Chad governement accuses the Sudan government-backed Arab Janjaweed militia of attacking villagers in Chad and also accuses Khartoum of backing the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD), which is a coalition of small armed groups and army deserters who have launched cross border attacks from Darfur.
Sudan accuses Chad of backing Darfur's National Redemption Front rebels as they carry out cross-border raids. There have also been allegations that many of these rebels have become assimilated into Chad's national army .
The Central African Republic (CAR) says Sudan backs Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) rebels who have seized towns in CAR and says the UFDR are operating from Darfur with the support of the Sudanese authorities. French forces have already deployed against CAR rebels in support of the government . Chad says it will send troops to help CAR fight rebels attacking northern CAR. It accuses Sudan of attempting to destabilise both Chad and CAR and has suggested an anti-Sudan alliance.
As stated in the Socialist Standard the Darfur crisis is a vicious resource war between organised armed groups and the consequent murder and displacement of local populations none of whom will benefit economically from any final outcome.

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