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THE ORIGINS AND GROWTH OF THE DARFUR CONFLICT

By Vision Reporter

Added 2nd December 2008 03:00 AM

BOOK REVIEW
Title: Darfur; A New History of a Long War. Pastoralist Conflict and Small Arms
Author: Julie Flint and Alex De Waal
Publisher: Fountain Publishers Reviewer: Martyn Drakard
Available at leading bookshops


In 2005 Julie Flint and Alex de Waal wrote D

BOOK REVIEW
Title: Darfur; A New History of a Long War. Pastoralist Conflict and Small Arms
Author: Julie Flint and Alex De Waal
Publisher: Fountain Publishers Reviewer: Martyn Drakard
Available at leading bookshops


In 2005 Julie Flint and Alex de Waal wrote D

BOOK REVIEW
Title: Darfur; A New History of a Long War. Pastoralist Conflict and Small Arms
Author: Julie Flint and Alex De Waal
Publisher: Fountain Publishers Reviewer: Martyn Drakard
Available at leading bookshops


In 2005 Julie Flint and Alex de Waal wrote Darfur, A Short History of a Long War, which detailed the history of the area, its conflicts, and the designs that the Khartoum and Tripoli governments have on this border region.

In 130 pages, the average reader got an excellent grasp of the situation, owing to the clear, simple manner with which the Darfur issue was approached and recorded, with the help of first-hand accounts and photos that revealed everything.

Three years later, the authors have expanded the book to twice the size, calling it Darfur, A New History of a Long War. Several chapters have been revised and new ones added.

They deal with the wars among the rebels, the failed Abuja peace talks, the disappointment of the African Union Mission and the sustained activist campaign that brought a “protection force” of UN troops to Darfur Sudan.

The new book loses the compactness of the earlier one, but fills in gaps, giving the reader a better overall understanding, now that the conflict has evolved and captured international attention.

Darfur is a region with a glorious past, yet neglected during British colonial rule. Land became the pressing issue, as it happens in Africa’s semi-arid regions.

The first rumblings of trouble were in the 1980s when a group called the Arab Gathering decided it was their turn to take over the regional government.

But it was on February 27, 2004 when hundreds of armed men mounted on camels and horses attacked Tawila, a town in eastern Darfur. They killed 75, abducted 350 women and children and raped more than one hundred, some in front of their fathers who were later killed.

Overseeing this mayhem was Musa Hilal, the most powerful leader of the government-supported militia, known as the Janjaweed. He made it clear he was waging “jihad”, (holy Islamic war) to empty the area of African tribes.

Trouble had been brewing five years before, in an incident that Gaddafi derisively dismissed as “an incident over a camel”.

Yet the outcome was much more serious. The atrocities surpass even those of the Lord’s Resistance Army in their malice and bestiality. The Libyan leader himself, of course, had his eyes on this area as part of a corridor to spread Arab ideas and culture into central Africa.

The Khartoum government tried all means to obstruct media reports and the smooth operation of humanitarian agencies, until word got out to where it mattered and they could no longer do so.

On April 6, 2004, the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, The New York Times published a column entitled “Remember Rwanda, but Take Action in Sudan”. As was intended, President Bush began to refer to Darfur.

But the best of pressure campaigns lose their steam and, although the UN forces are let in, are we any closer to a definitive solution? the authors ask.

THE ORIGINS AND GROWTH OF THE DARFUR CONFLICT

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