October 17, 2005
Dar Fur (aka Darfur): Round and round and round again
I see there is another “Dar Fur” attention thing going on, wherein bloggers who a year ago or two had no bloody clue as to where the bloody hell the place is or who the Fur are (of course they still don’t – for all that the history of the Sultanate of Fur is actually rather intriguing) pontificate about the issue.
At the risk of being the perennial naysayer – well actually why not? Naysayers are useful, we drag the deluded back to reality. – let me again comment on Dar Fur (or if you must, Darfur).
My core comment is as follows:
(i) Dar Fur is certainly nasty ethnic nomad versus settled peoples warfare of the type that has been cropping up along the southern Sahel belt since desertification (1970s forward) began putting severe pressure on the colonial to post-colonial balance between farmer and nomad.
(ii) It is not genocide in any rationally meaningful sense of the word.
(iii) It is not in any meaningful sense "Arab versus Africa" (a strange conceit as the 'Arab' tribes are merely Arabised locals and resident in the area for centuries).
(iv) It is not, in the end, at its core a political conflict but an ecological one - the politics are merely a facade for rent extraction over what is at its core not a political conflict (in any real sense) but a pre-political resource-ecological struggle between two stressed 'economic systems' in an area of declining aggregate productivity due to sustained drought and population pressures.
(v) It has fuck all to do with al Qaeda, 'jihadis' and war on terror or other straw men raised by the ill informed or just ignorant or gullible idiots. (After all, Arab conflicts must mean....)
(vi) Ending the conflict is not going to happen by changing the Sudanese government or anything like that. Perhaps more African Union peacekeepers might be helpful, else arming the Fur and Zaghaoua, but of course that opens up the Sudan blowing up again as already the Eastern fringe is boiling. I frankly doubt anything one realistically can imagine will do anything to change the situ, any more than in Congo (which is still ongoing) or Cote d'Ivoire (ongoing) etc.
I also note that in regards to the African Union intervention (rather as in Congo and in Cote d'Ivoire), among the people taking pot shots at the peacekeepers were the "good guys" - Dar Fur side not "Arabs."
I rather suggest an 'intervention' would rapidly become a fiasco as the rather fractured tribal - group conflict side would emerge with the poor gullible intervenors caught in the midst.
Else, my prior comments:
For Dar Fur Day (Updated) [realised it's actually Darfur Fast (sic)]
Critiquing the Arab World (update link)
Dar Fur: Quaint Student Activism
Darfur - On Racism, On Ignorance, On Laziness and just plain stupidity (and Arab responses)
I should also note it was Zenpundit's that drew my attention to this, and the comment on his post regarding 'jihadis' and the 'Arab' militias that provoked my ire, as simple minded idiotic tripe usually does.
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so what does the perpetual nay-sayer recommend to solve the darfur problem?
if only there were significant ammounts of oil the axis of bush could invade.
Posted by: drdougfir at October 17, 2005 10:18 AM
Pay the African Union to put more people in harm's way and sit pat.
Posted by: lounsbury at October 17, 2005 10:59 AM
(After reading through your various links, the outside articles you commented on and some press from African bloggers who have taken a long view on the situation , I think I have a more mature and accurate view of what's happening than I did when I went off the handle at Zenpundit in Oct.)
- What interest would there be for Egypt to get involved in the process, i.e. putting 1-2,000 troops on the ground in support of the AU mission? Or does Egypt want a Sudan crippled by various conflicts in the South, East and West because it would be easier to deal with the Sudanese on water issues from a position of strength or do they want a stable Sudan to ally with on various issues like water resources, terrorism and trade?
-Among Arab/Muslim nations, could you see a role for say, a Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or Turkey to get involved in pressing a "traditional" resolution to the rebellion and responsive ethnic cleansing such as tribal conferences with the tribal elders in the region?
-You ascribe it as an environmental resource conflict, would targeted aid from the US and EU for, say, water pumps, wells and other forms of water procurement help the problem substantially in the long run?
Posted by: Eddie at February 9, 2006 07:55 PM
Well, this is a bit off the radar, but quickly:
Egypt: In general Egypt has shown an interest in Sudan being weak. Does that mean they would get involved in Dar Fur? I don't know, but am skeptical.
They certainly are concerned about Sudan's water use, givne they are above their own treaty limitations on Nile water.
Roles for KSA, Pakistan or Turkey? Turkey couldn't give a damn, Pakistan has its own problems and KSA tends to focus on more Arab issues. The only item that is going to change the dynamics is a strong presence of force, sit downs with elders is not going to change the resource situation.
It may be Pakistan is bribable to put people in harms way, but Paki performance in Somali did not seem particularly brilliant as far as I know.
Water pumps don't help if there is nothing to pump. I have no idea what 'water procurement' means, but unless rains come, there is not much chance of the area getting water. Same issue across the entire Sahel. The Sahara is moving south.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at February 9, 2006 09:03 PM
Thanks for the insight.
I need to learn more about "water procurement" but I had read various articles about well-digging using advanced techonolgies that was reaping some benefits for IDP camps in Darfur and Chad. I suppose this really doesn't help in the long run given the Sahara moving south.
I had noticed Pakistani (under two particular commanding officers) peacekeepers performed well in the Congo, actually playing an active role in fighting militias who opposed the UN presence. I also recall their prior poor performance in Somalia, so perhaps this Congo success was just an anomaly.
Given the interest Turkey still has (for the moment) in joining the EU, I always wondered if Darfur wasn't a good place for Turkish-EU mil-mil contacts to occur within the framework of an EU force spearheaded by Turkey sent to assist the AU with logistics, intelligence, etc. Probably a poor idea.
Posted by: Eddie at February 9, 2006 09:41 PM
I grant I may not be well-informed or up-to-date on the Paki capacities. They might play a decent roll, especially if they have Congo experience.
I don't see Turkey playing a role, however. I doubt they have the interest. Perhaps, but I doubt it. Of course lots of things can be sold. There is already French interest in the issue of forces due to destabilisation of Tchad. Ranking French general just made a special trip recently, when Tchad started making noises about a state of war existing btw the countries.
Possible, if they could be sold on it.
Re water, short term better drilling etc. can be labour saving, etc. but the reality is they are drawing on exhausting water reserves, and without major investment, is unlikely.
Resource wars in the Sahel belt are likely to grow with desertification. Nomad on settled, vice versa.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at February 9, 2006 09:52 PM
Thanks again for the information. Now to learn more about desertification....
Posted by: Eddie at February 9, 2006 11:00 PM
My pleasure, glad to see someone taking the time to learn about the issues rather than just knee-jerking. I did pop by your blog, I find it unfortunate you continue to use "genocide" for what is really merely ethnic conflict between nomads and settled peoples. With the added nastiness of the Sudanese government playing divide & conquer.
One of the things I have most disliked about Dar Fur is the pimping of the racialised "Native Africans" versus "Arabs" - a nasty racial conciet.
This aside, re desertification I would suggest among the issues is population and over-intense exploitation of a fragile environment. A problem of desperately needed economic development, but how the bloody hell one can achieve it.....
Posted by: The Lounsbury at February 9, 2006 11:19 PM
Obviously I blame writing roll for role on my bloody chemo meds.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at February 9, 2006 11:21 PM
Actually, I'm in the process of writing a revised outlook post on Darfur, one point of which will be that genocide is an inaccuarate term, ethnic cleansing is more fitting. This, along with the emphasis on environmental and population issues along with the role of the Sudanese regime (all of which I've noticed you have already explained in detail several times) will be the gist of my post so I can start clarifying the issue to the few who visit my blog.
I'm learning, sometimes frustratingly slowly, but I'm trying to correct my ignorance, especially in this area. I should have known better, given that I had studied in-depth what had happened in Rwanda (with its attendant resource scarcity/exploitation and population density issues) and yet ignored the final lessons I'd drawn from it.
I still a lot to learn about all this, and its high time I find some new resources online for research and analysis on this matter and other issues on the continent.
Your courtesy, again, is most appreciated when most bloggers would have ignored me now after an idiotic rant such as mine four months ago.
Posted by: Eddie at February 9, 2006 11:56 PM
Ah, well, you got lucky. Normally I am entirely abusive. But my post chemotherapy meds make me all warm and cuddly. Or addled. Hard to tell the difference.
In any case, it was easy w/o prior knowledge to get sucked into the dominate reporting paradigm - rather like what is or was going on with the cartoons.
Sadly, re Dar Fur, I expect little to nothing to happen. Unless the Janjaweed fools hit into Tchad again and set off the French.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at February 10, 2006 12:17 AM
What interests me now is what you noted earlier; what's happened in Darfur is not going to be an isolated event.
I would deserve the abuse, considering the long line of misconceptions and half-truths I floated on the blog and in numerous letters and e-mails over the last year.. and continued to parrot... even after I started to have doubts after my diatribe at ZP and the responses it got.... shit.
Any suggestions for good reading or research into the Sudan and its neighbors?
Posted by: Eddie at February 10, 2006 12:36 AM
Sadly, I have always been more oriented towards the Western end of the continent, Maghreb and West Africa I am better read in, thusly I don't have off the top of my head reading (worse much of my MENA education was in French).
I believe in the Aqoul reading list there is some general material on the Sudan. Modern I am not sure about (it tends to fall in the cracks as it were), but certainly historicla, Lapidus is a good starting orientation.
Else, one of my co-authors, Meph, might offer her expertise. I will inquire.
But in re the eco-conflicts arising out of desertification along the Sahara-Sahel belt, it's a sad but mechanical thing one can expect with declining resource bases with higher populations. Somalia is suffering something similar, actually.
I shall pose the question to my co-authors, who should drop by with thoughts, they being much better human being than I.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at February 10, 2006 01:01 AM
As one those responses to the diatribe on the Zenpundit rant I shall pitch in. There is not an abundance of contemporary reading on Sudan but some books,articles and online resources provide good background. I shall drop by later with gatherings unless our repentant Eddie prefers (less circuitous)to correspond directly.
Posted by: Meph at February 10, 2006 11:50 AM