Conflict in Sudan

Transcript

“You could take one person from either party and put them next to each other and not be able to tell them apart. It’s not as if there’s a clear Arab population and a clear African population. And everyone in this conflict is Muslim. Really the main division between them is between people of the North, where it’s drier, where farming is not possible, so their main means of livelihood through millennia has been pastoralism, herding, raising animals. And people of the south of the region where it’s a little rainier, especially up on Jebel Marra, the big mountain out there, where there’s enough moisture that farming is possible.

”Then what happened in the early 2000s, we had that long civil war between North and South. 2005, January, they finally signed a comprehensive peace agreement. And the people of the North and the people of the South now are making deals to divide the oil reserves that are found right on the boundary between North and South. Meanwhile the people out in Darfur, they’re saying, ‘Some of that oil is on our land. South is taking some. North is taking some. And once again Darfur is being cut out of the picture.’ So an insurgency started out there, the Darfur people asserting their share of the benefits of ending the civil war.

”And the North, in my view of things, couldn’t put down the rebellion out there because they wanted to be seen as peacemakers, they’re trying to end the civil war. So what they did instead, and this is a technique they used in the civil war as well, they identified the enemies of their enemies, and supported them. He said, ‘Herdsman of the North, you’ve always wanted the land of the people in the South, and the people in the South are the ones who are making the rebellion. Go and take it.’ Because people of the North are what came to be known as the Janjaweed, the mounted riflemen.

”So once these Janjaweed realized that the North was going to support them in their efforts to take the resources of people of the South; they just went nuts. So we saw, I have to remember the numbers, something like 2 million, 2 ½ million people displaced. Something like a quarter of a million people killed. And the government of Sudan, since they were fighting this rebellion by proxy through the Janjaweed, always maintained, ‘Oh, no, we don’t support them.’ But, in fact, there’s evidence that they did.”

In this video, a Sudanese expert discusses conflict in Sudan.