Home | Comment & Analysis    Monday 30 March 2009

Darfur conflict a western conspiracy


By Mahmoud A. Suleiman

March 29, 2009 — The Speaker of the National Congress Party (NCP) Assembly in Khartoum, former Deputy to Brigadier el-Tayeb Ibrahim Kheir “AKA Sikha”, the Military Governor of Darfur, Ahmed Ibrahim al-Tahir, has been quoted by Sudanese newspaper al-Sahafa and Sudaneseonline website as accusing the Western countries of fueling the conflict in Darfur, and saying that the conflict in the region is intended to establish a non-Arabic Sudan by wiping out the Arabic race. He was reported to have said this in a speech at a rally organised by a union of al-Kerafab tribe in the hometown of the NCP Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, in support of the indicted Omer al-Bashir who remains a fugitive. Furthermore, al-Tahir said that the continuing battle with the West, which will not end for generations to come, requires thorough preparation. He described the war in Darfur as a “War of Cultures” and a clash of civilizations aimed to ostracize the Arabs in the country. He considered the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to indict al-Bashir was intended to cleanse the Arabic race and erase Arabic, the language of the Sudanese! Mr. al-Tahir asserted that his regime is ready for the battle and that his party has ignored the ICC arrest warrant for president al-Bashir who has “venomous men like snakes and scorpions capable to make the enemies perceive stars in daylight with their eyes”! The analysts assertively say that is not more than the rhetoric which the Sudanese public used to hear whenever the NCP regime gets into their endless political blunders. These are the same repeated statements by the National Congress Party (NCP) associates in Khartoum which the Sudanese public has tired to hear over and over.

Observers believe that the NCP regime is a lame duck incapable of confronting the West. The evidence for that is the news media reports that in early January unidentified aircrafts entering the skies of Sudan, bombing a convoy of trucks loaded with weapons heading to Gaza and killing hundreds of people without the knowledge of the NCP Government until only a week ago when the regime began accusing, shamelessly, Israel and America as the culprits! The elements in the NCP regime should acknowledge that the so-called their regime’s sovereignty and the country’s air space could be violated so easily.

Although Mr. al-Tahir is expected to support his president al-Bashir; nevertheless he showed extreme insensitivity towards the plight of the marginalised people of Sudan in Darfur and to his own kin in Mazroub in the region of Kordofan. It may be true that his tribe “known as Majanin” has lost its native “mother tongue” for Arabic. Nevertheless, they are indigenous Africans who happened to have adopted a nomadic lifestyle for being in the desert of North Kordofan. Based on this, it looks absurd that Mr. al-Tahir’s claim of Arabism of Sudan and its people. His nonsensical notion that the underlying cause of the conflict in Darfur is a war of cultures is a delusion, to say the least. Mr. al-Tahir might have forgotten to negotiate with his conscience and reason well prior to make his inflammatory and insulting assertions. Kordofan from where Mr. Speaker comes and Darfur are the most deprived regions in Sudan under the NCP regime and the successive defunct administrations.

Kordofan, the area between the Darfur heartland and the Nile is a former province of central Sudan. In 1994 it was divided into three new “federal” states: North Kordofan, South Kordofan, and West Kordofan. In August 2005 West Kordofan State was abolished and its territory divided between North and South Kordofan States, as part of the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Government of Sudan (GoS) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). Observers wonder and ask what services so far has the speaker of the Assembly, Ahmed Ibrahim al-Tahir, provided for his constituents who are considered among the poorest and the most deprived marginalised people in Kordofan during his tenure?!

The strong attachment of some Sudanese to Arabism is attributable to lack of vision and sense of deep inferiority complex that make them claim that they are of Arab origin and belong to the descendants of the Arabian Peninsula and kin to the companions and Caliphs or uncles of the Prophet Muhammad, blessings and peace be upon him. But the black colour of their skin and the Negroid physical features of dark skin of velvety surface, closely curling hair, flat nose, thick lips, large clumsy feet and epicanthic fold belie their claim of ethno-Arab belonging. The majority of those who claim Arabic ethnicity are in reality hybrid, mixed race, a result of inter-breeding of different races. Therefore the Claim of Arabism by some Sudanese stems from a sense of inferiority and lack of confidence for coming into terms with one’s own identity that is referred to as identity diffusion.

There are more than 600 tribes of diverse ethnic backgrounds speaking hundreds of languages beside the lingua franca of the Arabic dialect in Sudan. Culturally, the people of Sudan are African; some are Afro-Arab and very few as such remaining Arabic. The Rashayda are the most recent Arab tribe to make into Sudan. They crossed the Red Sea from the Arabian Peninsula about 150 years ago and made it to the north eastern side of the country. Since they arrived recently, they haven’t intermarried with locals. The Rashayda are a Bedouin tribe populating either side of the Red Sea as well as other parts of the Arabian Peninsula. They descend from a major Arab tribe in the Peninsula called Banu Abs. Most of the Rashayda live in the Arabian Peninsula. Rashayda people migrated in large numbers to Eastern Sudan and Eritrea where they are a tribe of recent Arab origin, keeping their traditional dress, culture, customs and religion (Sunni Islam). They speak Hedjazi Arabic. Sudanese tribal groups used to reconcile their disputes amicably and live in amity, friendly relations and harmony since time immemorial regardless of whether claiming African or Arab descents, in truth, both are indistinguishably black! The major tribal groups among the other many hundreds are Dinka, Nuer, Shilluk, Asholi, Nuba, Bari , Lotuka, Azande , Moru-Madi, Funj people, Ingessena, Majanin, Nubian tribes of Mahas, Danagla), Manaseer, Masalit, Gimir, Tam, Bert, Zaghawa, Fur people, Borg, Erenga, Mseiria Jabal, Dajo, Shaigia, Ja’Ali, , Kababish, Shukriya, Kawahla, Hamar, Jummuia, Hawazma, Hawaweer, Zubydia, Habbaniya, (tribe) Misseriya, Jawamia, Zeiyadiya, Maaliya, Hausa-Fulani-Fellata, Beni Hissain, Mahariya, Itaifat, Um Jallool, Tunjur, Beni Halba, Taaisha, Rezeigat, Beja people, Hadendawa, Bishanyiin , Bani Amer, Iregat, Bidairiya, Hawara, Mima, Didinga,Wahiya, Borno, Tama, Kofout, Kinneen and Birgid. Sudan is the land where different tribal groups of people live as Sudanese who expect from any legitimately elected national government to treat them with justice and equality at all times as Citizens without discrimination or prejudice based on background origin or else.

The identity crisis which is haunting the NCP elements seems to stem from the unresolved conflict in their ideology that Islam and Arabism are “Two Faces of the Same Coin”! Accordingly grew their obsession with Pan-Arabism and the Arab World of Arabic-speaking countries, allegedly, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the east, and from the Mediterranean Sea in the north to the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean in the southeast. Notwithstanding all this, the National Islamic Front/ National Congress Party (NIF/NCP) being Muslim brothers are opposed to the Arab Nationalism which was a nationalist ideology that rose to prominence amongst Arabs from the early 20th century onwards. The central premise of this distorted political vision that the peoples and countries of the Arab World constitute one nation and are bound together by their common linguistic, cultural, and historical heritage is not based on reality in this day and age.

The root causes of the Darfur conflict are neither a struggle over controlling an environment that can no longer support all the people who must live on it nor a Western conspiracy intended to obliterate the Arab identity of Sudan or a war of Cultures, but it is a revolution to eliminate chronic systematic marginalization imposed on the people of Darfur, Mr. Speaker!

Will the Speaker of the Sudan Parliament be aware of the above facts when talking about the conflict in Darfur next time? That is a Sixty Four Dollar Question (US$64 Question)!

Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman is the Deputy Chairman of the General Congress for Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). He can be reached at mahmoud.abaker@gmail.com

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