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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Counter-insurgency on the cheap
Author:Waal, Alex deISNI
Periodical:Review of African Political Economy
Geographic term:Sudan
Subjects:civil wars
Abstract:The author examines the causes that underly the violence and massacres currently taking place in Darfur, western Sudan. Much of the present conflict has its origins in land rights (nomads versus villagers) and the shortcomings of local administration. But central government, too, is implicated in Darfur's plight, with neglect and manipulation playing equal parts. Within Darfur, Arabs and non-Arabs alike have been marginalized. Unrelenting poverty has been transformed into violence by imported racism when, in 1987, Arabs from western Sudan, who had served in Kadhafi's Islamic Legion, returned from Libya and formed the Arab Alliance, which became a vehicle for a new racist ideology. The description of the present war in Darfur as one of 'Arabs' against 'Africans' would have been incomprehensible 20 years ago. The 'African' label had little purchase in Sudan. One reason for this was the prevalence of radical Islam and its appeal to many Darfurians - the result of the success of a political experiment by the regime in Khartoum, masterminded by Hassan al-Turabi. When the political struggle between President Bashir and Turabi resulted in 1999 in Turabi's dismissal as speaker of the National Assembly, the Bashir-Turabi split reverberated in Darfur. The rebellion should have taken no one by surprise. A small group of security officers mounted counterinsurgency on the cheap using famine and scorched earth tactics. They sought out a local militia, provided it with armaments and declared the area of operations an ethics-free zone. One of these militias was the northern camel nomads, including former Islamic legionnaires, the Janjawiid, who carry out systematic and sustained atrocities, grossly disproportionate to the military threat of the rebellion. Bibliogr. [ASC Leiden abstract]