[private] I find it unacceptable to blindly follow the calls of “save Darfur” and “stop the genocide.” I cannot support something which has causes and a context that have not been accurately defined. Not addressing the root causes of any violence is useless and in fact can be counterproductive and dangerous.
While the Darfur conflict is indeed savage and brutal, it is a civil war, not a genocide. The term genocide is defined as “deliberate and systematic extermination of an ethnic or national group.” The action by the Arab horsemen, the Janjaweed, is hardly systematic, nor is it deliberate. The 6.5 million people of Darfur, divided into at least three major tribes (Fur, Zaghawa, Massaleit) are far from being exterminated. These types of conflicts, with population shifts, rapes and slaughters, have been happening in the region for millennia and in Darfur itself as recently as the 1980s.
Darfur is far from being the land of the angels. Darfur is the Afghanistan of Africa and has remained semi-autonomous until 1916. In the 1980s Darfur became an active base for Sudan in destabilizing the Chadian government. The current black Muslim on Arab Muslim conflict can be traced back to 2003 Sudan Liberation Army attack on an army garrison in which 75 Sudanese soldiers were killed. The Sudanese government didn’t take to that very well.
Now don’t get me wrong: I do feel bad for the suffering Darfurians. But more importantly, I’d like to keep things in perspective. If anyone wants so desperately to find situations resembling genocide, there are plenty of them: the extermination of the Yazdi and Mandeans religious groups in Iraq. While few people may have heard about these people compared to Darfur, these groups were once prospering, contributing to cultural world heritage far beyond the numbers they represent.
Not so the Darfurian tribes who have hit a demographic peak. Even though there are 6.5 million of them, their culture resembles that of smaller pastoral tribes.
The only people I hear speaking out about Darfur on television or in print are Western journalists and Bono-like do-gooders. Even in the commercials, “ordinary New Yorkers” are asked to read statements by Darfurians who somehow never speak for themselves. So where are the Darfurians themselves in all of this?
You won’t hear Darfurians speak out on Western media because they see the conflict best kept in the family, and bringing foreigners and infidels into it would just bring them shame.
The only viable leadership Darfur tribes have are military commanders of Justice and Equality Movement and National Redemption Front. These commanders are too busy fighting each other to give a hand in American commercials supporting Darfur.
While the Darfur conflict is one of many in which Muslims are involved, what is interesting is that both the victims and the oppressors are Sunni Muslims. Muslim countries are constantly accusing Western powers of meddling, and I am inclined to join with them in saying, “Let the Muslim countries control the situation themselves, if they so wish.”
As far as unwelcomed Western intervention goes, no good deed goes unpunished. Muslims around the world, just like during Western meddling in Kosovo, Palestine and Iraq, will be criticized and their “good intentions” used against them. “Opportunistic foreign intervention has further inflamed the [Darfur] crisis,” writes Prof. Kareem M. Kamel on Ilamonline.net, an Islamic website.
The main reasons for the Darfur conflict are land and the desertification of vast areas controlled by the Arabs. Overpopulation and racial overtones are also a factor.
Millions of acres of semi-desert northern Darfur were turned into desert and this, combined with growing Arab and tribal populations, has brought on the land pressures and military conflict.
Other than calling to “stop the genocide,” I would call to bringing water and irrigation to the Arab north Sudan. Other than calling to “bring the UN troops,” I would call on bringing education opportunities to both the Arabs and tribes of Darfur.
We should all be careful to avoid developing a habit of following the do-good causes without knowing their full context. [/private]